Skip to comments.Jewish rejection of evangelicals rooted in cynicism, ignorance, fear
Posted on 07/25/2002 6:50:55 AM PDT by SJackson
JERUSALEM, July 16 (JTA) If ever there was an issue that merited the scrutiny and attention of the organized American Jewish community, it is the support of Israel and the Jewish people by evangelical Christians. Yet, if ever there was an item conspicuously absent from the Jewish communal agenda, it is this one. As the only Jew who has been involved in the field of evangelical Christian-Jewish relations for the past 25 years, I can personally attest to the Jewish communitys selective avoidance of fairly scrutinizing this issue.
The result is that despite the proactive involvement of the Christian right over the past two decades, there is still a reflexive rejection of this important friendship by many Jews.
The rejection is rooted in cynicism, ignorance, fear and simplistic, stereotypical thinking about evangelical Christians and their motives for supporting Israel.
The rejection is founded on the fear that these would-be friends of Israel are out to Christianize America, promote an ultra-right-wing agenda and hasten the Second Coming by getting all the Jews to Israel as quickly as possible.
Suspicious that the short-term support of Israel by evangelicals would, of necessity, result in long-term tsuris, or trouble, for American Jews, there has been an unwillingness to seriously debate the matter publicly. But this suspicion is an extreme perversion of the beliefs of most mainstream evangelicals. It is tantamount to prejudice, to the intellectual tarring and feathering of an entire and diverse community.
But it is not individual Jews I hold responsible for this state of affairs. Instead, I lay the blame squarely at the feet of the organized Jewish community, who have sinned by omitting serious discussion and consideration of this matter for the better part of the last 20 years.
As an Orthodox rabbi, it is hardly in my best interest to embrace a community of individuals who are out to convert me from my faith. It would be spiritual suicide for me to pursue a friendship with an individual or group that sees me as but a pawn in the unfolding of their personal destiny.
I could not accept the conditional love of those who expect a payback on behalf of my people. I could not embark on a relationship that would compromise my personal integrity and ideals or that of the Jewish community I represent.
But having been the first and most often the only Jew to build bridges with the right-wing Christian community, I have a view and understanding of their pro-Israel fervor that most people on the outside lack.
What is clearly visible to me from my vantage point is that the majority of evangelicals are passionately pro-Israel because it is part of their theology to love and support the Jewish people. Based on their understanding of Scripture, the Jews are indeed the am segula Gods special people. Yet according to the same Scripture, Christians play an important role in history by blessing the Jewish people. As it says in Genesis 12:3 I will bless those who bless you.
This verse is key to unlocking the mystery of their motivation. What it reveals is that standing for Israel is considered a mitzvah within the evangelical Christian world. Loving the Jewish people is an article of their faith, something in which they are deeply invested.
But this faith is hardly ephemeral; over the past 20 years, it has translated into my organizations donating more than $60 million to Israel and to support Jews in need around the world.
It has gone to build and run soup kitchens in Jerusalem and Bnai Brak, and supply armored school buses for Israeli children. It has fed elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union and paid for job training for Ethiopian immigrants.
It has underwritten the rescue and aliyah of Jews from Argentina and Ethiopia, and brought over 400 American Jews to Israel just last week the largest immigration of American Jews to Israel in quite some time. According to Sallai Meridor, head of the Jewish Agency for Israel, the support of the evangelical Christian community, through the gifts of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which I serve as president, is responsible for the immigration of more than 200,000 Jews to Israel.
Which brings up the matter of the dissonance between the ready acceptance of Christian support within Israel and the suspicious avoidance or attacks of the same from within the American Jewish community. Having made aliyah to Israel, where the International Fellowship is now headquartered, I am in regular contact with the prime minister, with whom I work closely, with the president and with the rabbinic and political leadership of Israel across the spectrum, from Yossi Sarid to Avigdor Lieberman. The work of the International Fellowships has the respect and appreciation of the Israeli government, press and general population.
Moreover, it is a widely accepted fact in Israel that this Christian community from which I raise support is a staunch and reliable ally of Israel. While other Christian groups have remained shockingly silent during Israels ordeal by terrorism during the past two years, the evangelical community has poured huge amounts of money into terrorism response, condemned it in no uncertain terms and literally taken to the streets throughout the world in support of Israel.
In countries where gathering in a public place is an immediate threat to ones life, the visual and emotional impact of Christians marching for Israel is overwhelming. Even the most resistant of my Israeli Jewish friends have had their anti-evangelical beliefs challenged by this sight.
Being intimate with the true nature of evangelical Christian support of Israel, it is therefore especially disheartening to read diatribes such as the one penned by Arlene Stein. Her one-sided antipathy toward this community is typical and outlandish. They are book banners. They are anti-democracy. They hate Muslims, she writes. Moreover, they are a voracious yet savvy political beast, out to devour America, possibly the world.
True, as Stein rightly points out, the evangelical community is united in the fight against worldwide terrorism, seeing the events of 9/11 within the framework of a clash of civilizations. But while Stein maligns their motivation as being baselessly anti-Muslim, the evangelical community is in fact united with the innumerable people worldwide who bemoan the hijacking of mainstream Islam by its radical wing.
Rather than being anti-democratic, this group has been most savvy in bringing their agenda to the fore in an inherently democratic manner. Their political presence and power is formidable. That some of their views may dissent from those of Ms. Steins and mine is an undeniable reality.
But that they are our friends no strings attached is also undeniable.
Finally, this is a friendship without a quid pro quo. Yet there are boundaries to this friendship, as there are to all. Were there to arise a situation where my Jewish convictions were in danger of compromise, I would speak out loudly as I have indeed done numerous times in the past. When the need arises to disagree, I disagree though I try to do so agreeably. My life and career over the past 25 years has been built on the following pithy dictum: Cooperate whenever possible/Oppose whenever necessary/Teach and build bridges at all times. This is, I am convinced, a pre-eminently sensible position for the Jewish community to adopt.
After years of building bridges of understanding and cooperation with the evangelical community, I realize these bridges have remained essentially one-way streets. It is time to build a bridge toward the Jewish community. Here is an invitation for Jews to build this bridge. The road is still under construction, but the view is fantastic and the horizon is limitless.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein is founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christian and Jews.
Not so, unfortunately. Some may have this opinion, but other evangelical groups pour tens of millions of dollars into efforts to convert Jews (see "Jews for Jesus" and the proliferation of "messianic Jewish" groups).
And they tend to vote. New Yorks 9% or so Jewish population translates to nearly 14% of the vote. My only point was that in a political context, at least on FR, it may get too much of attention as a race determinate (outside of New York, New Jersey maybe Florida) other than in a very, very close race. And I know how close Florida was.
Look at Hillary, she got around 53% of the Jewish vote vs 80% in NY for Gore. A major failure for her, and I'd suggest a major defection of democratic Jewish voters. But it was an easy election for Senator Hillary. I wouldn't want to base my hopes for California on a shift in Jewish votes, which isn't to say I don't want to see it.
Need to get your own private BB if you want to wallow in erroneous self-indulgence without public critique.
Can you offer an alternate explanation of what happened to millions of the House of Israel and the origin of the celts with some hard evidence? When a length of red string passing in front of the eyes changes to blue, one has to conclude it is still the same string based on prima facie evidence. Hard evidence is necessary when one wants to claim that the string were switched.
Do you have any alternate interpretation that would change the meaning of the plain words of Hosea 1:10, 11? One that makes sense? If you do, it's time to offer it. Much more delay will tend to change, "I just don't believe it." into "I just don't want to believe it." And from there the position deteriorates quickly.
You might be very surprised how many of us are watching, but not saying very much. I think Lost Tribe is right on target and I've been following his posts for a long time. If that offends your superior sensibilities, well ;;;;;
Ha! Do you really think historic accuracy is in any way dependent on some kind of a vote? IMHO your time would be better spent examining why you are so fearful of confronting historic truths. Do you have something to lose?
This is prima facie evidence for the accuracy for his information. Each time someone posts a comment other than alternative information or evidence, it just reinforces the prima facie aspect.
"I just don't believe it." don't get it, friend. That actually impresses folks the other way. Now, I'd recommend that you get on with something of substance other than merely bitching that I support losttribe.
You are right and the rest of the world is wrong. Sure. Sorry, but just because people are tired of hearing you repeat your eccentric theories and spamming threads with the same nonsense, does not mean that you have proven your case. Maybe, just maybe, you are so far out there that no one takes you seriously.
What sets people off more than anything else is the hijacking of this and other threads from whatever topic is being discussed to LT's peculiar agenda. You could start a thread over on the "Religion" forum and post up a storm about the "British Israelites" and nobody would would say boo. But it is barging into threads where people are discussing current events and changing the topic. It is not from having inadequate data to be able to refute your hypotheses (it's quite easily done) but THAT IS NOT THE TOPIC BEING DISCUSSED HERE.
This is my absolute, penultimate post on the topic of "LostTribe's" agenda which has absolutely nothing whatever to do with this thread or any other thread in the News/Activism forum.
What "rest of the world"? Show me the rest of the world.
Nobody can "change the topic". FReepers talk about what they want to talk about.
A review of my posts over the years will show that my comments on the subject of The Lost Tribes of Israel and related topics have always come in response to something someone said on that thread which was in conflict with historic truth. That activity simply does not meet the definition of "barging into a thread ... and changing the topic".
>It is not from having inadequate data to be able to refute your hypotheses (it's quite easily done)
Talk is cheap. Put your money where your mouth is. And say it in YOUR OWN WORDS, not something you have hacked from some other site.
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