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Israel, You’ve Got Friends

February 18, 2011

 

In a world filled with millions of Facebook friends, it often seems that Israel has none. Ten European Union nations have strengthened their ties with the Palestine Liberation Organization and five Latin American countries have formally recognized the state of Palestine—“free and independent with its 1967 borders.”

Helen Thomas may be representative of much of the world when she tells “Jews to get the hell out of Palestine.” Even Time Magazine has criticized Israel in its recent article, “Israel’s Rightward Lurch Scares Some Conservatives,” (Karl Vick, Time Magazine, January, 11, 2011). Vick states that Israel’s current government is “extreme” and quotes historian Ron Pundak who calls current Israeli politics “the ugliest in the nation’s history.” “This is reminiscent,” Pundak says, “of the dark ages of different places in the world in the 1930s. Maybe not Germany, but Italy, maybe Argentina later.”

When we read Israel being de-legitimized and compared to fascist countries in the 1930s, it’s easy to wonder if Israel has any friends left.  Yet, even during the Holocaust, there were some righteous Gentiles who gambled with their lives to speak out against this type of blatant anti-Semitism. One of them was a Dutch reformed pastor who was actively involved in hiding Jews, imprisoned several times during World War II. His son, Willem J.J. Glashouwer, followed in his footsteps after undergoing major brain surgery when he became a minister in Holland and then full-time President of Christians for Israel International in 1999.

“Israel is the greatest sign of hope the world has ever seen,” Glashouwer said on his website, www.c4israel.org, and its pro-Israel video on YouTube. And when I received an email petitioning the UN to indict Ahmadinejad for the “crime of incitement to genocide,” it wasn’t from ADL or the World Jewish Congress. It was from another important supporter of Israel, the Christians United for Israel (www.cufi.org.)

CUFI is not only fervently pro-Israel; its message is to “educate Christians across America about why and how they must stand up and speak up for Israel in her time of need.” The mission of CUFI is stated clearly on its home page: “We believe that the Jewish people have a right to live in their ancient land of Israel, and that the modern state of Israel is the fulfillment of this historic pledge. We maintain that there is no excuse for terrorism against Israel and that Israel has the same right as every other nation to defend her citizens from such violent attacks. We pledge to stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel and to speak out on their behalf whenever and wherever necessary until the attacks stop and they are finally living in peace and security with their neighbors.”

CUFI has a tremendous YouTube video highlighting its mission. It also focuses on colleges to develop politically-minded student leaders as “effective advocates for Israel on their college campuses,” and offers local events around the country, educating Christians about Israel. On January 26, CUFI offered a “Standing with Israel” event at the University of Detroit campus, featuring special guest speaker, Irving Roth, a Holocaust survivor and international educator, talking about his experiences and promoting a more accepting and diverse world.

Thankfully, there are hundreds of thousands of Christians who are friends of Israel, including 4,000 Christian Zionists who gathered in Washington, D.C. last July to show its supportive message to Congress. “When the world condemns Israel for defending yourself from thousands of missiles and mortar attacks, we proudly proclaim I am an Israeli,” said CUFI founder, Pastor John Hagee. “When terrorists threaten to kill you, we proudly proclaim I am an Israeli. When your allies grow weary of fighting tyranny and oppression and seek the easy way out, we stand with you and say I am an Israeli.”

Last year, Hagee presented members of Congress with a petition signed by over 100,000 American Christians, expressing solidarity with the state of Israel. This does not stop many Jews from being skeptical or at least ambivalent about evangelical Christian support of Israel, nervous about prophecies of the “end of days.” Yet, it is abundantly clear to me and to many other Jews that Israel truly does have a large number of Christian friends who stand with Israel.

If Jews feel lonely in a world pushing hard for a Palestinian nation in the tiny land of Israel or if we feel guilty when Israel does something “controversial,” we can take solace from thousands of Christians who demonstrate support and friendship for the nation of Israel.

No matter how harsh the condemnations are from so many in the world, we do still have friends. And for that, we should be grateful.

 

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