Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, October 05, 2015

Clasp Friends Wherever You Find them

"We feel that their support is genuine and not deriving from any ulterior motive."
"The number of Jewish communities is limited. When there are large numbers of Christians who are interested in visiting Israel and understanding Israel -- that, of course, is very, very helpful toward improving our international standing."
Akiva Tor, Israeli Foreign Ministry
Thousands of Christian Evangelists among marchers in a parade in the center of Jerusalem, marking the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. October 01, 2015. (Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Thousands of Christian Evangelists among marchers in a parade in the center of Jerusalem, marking the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. October 01, 2015. (Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90)
An unusual collection of people representing delegates from 80 different countries gathered in Jerusalem to show their care and support for the Jewish State. An event that stands out as hugely at variance with the judgemental lack of esteem with which Israel is viewed in many countries of the world, as an 'occupying power', one that seeks to oppress the Palestinians, held to be victimized by the very creation of the State of Israel on lands Palestinian Arabs claim as their own.
And so it is with a different interpretation of the situation that the Christian Zionist movement exemplified in the world's Evangelical Christian movement with its pro-Israel International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, views Israel and its presence in its historical homeland. An organization which arranged a summit meeting in Jerusalem to coincide with the Judaic festival of Sukkot. Where a stadium was packed full of cheering pilgrims waving flags from Angola, Brazil China, Germany, Italy and the United States; even Egypt had its delegates.
ICEJ International
Recognized as one of the world's fastest-expanding religious movements, Evangelical Christianity is in full support of Israel's existence and its expansion as a Zionist-inspired homeland for Jews returning to the geography of their Biblical heritage. Roughly 700 million of the world's two billion Christians are evangelicals. Theirs is a movement in expansion in Latin America, Africa and Asia representing regions which "hold great potential for the nation of Israel in political, diplomatic and economic terms", according to a position paper presented by the group to Israel's Foreign Ministry last year.

Using the Jewish holiday of Sukkot to highlight their annual summit, the Evangelicals term their week-long gathering of celebration, as the Feast of Tabernacles. In the Biblical era the holiday of Sukkot was characterized through a pilgrimage to the ancient Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. At this year's summit there were prayer rallies and concerts where believers sang Hebrew songs. An annual flag-waving parade marched through the streets of Jerusalem.

Although Israel is hugely condemned throughout the world for the establishment of settlements by Orthodox Jews reclaiming Judea and Samaria as their traditional homelands, now situated in what is called the West Bank which Palestinians claim for their future state, some evangelicals, in particular those from the United States, volunteer as workers on Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

In parliaments worldwide, 32 pro-Israeli caucuses exist, according to the Israel Allies Foundation, a Jewish-Christian political group responsible for bringing two dozen lawmakers from 18 countries to Jerusalem for the summit, to meet with Israeli lawmakers and officials. The purpose of the Israeli parliament's Christian Allies Caucus, initiated in 2004 was to link Christian leaders and Israeli lawmakers; re-launched at this year's summit.

International Christian Embassy Jerusalem director Jurgen Buhler introduced 20 lawmakers from the Ivory Coast who flew to the summit at the Ivory Coast parliament's own expense. They were greeted by a 12-ram's-horn recognition from Taiwanese evangelicals using shofars, the traditional Jewish instrument used at sacred occasions. Nigeria was represented by Rev.Mosy Maduga, head of a network of Christian ministers.

An evangelical South African lawmaker, head of the African Christian Democratic Party, explained his usefulness in blocking anti-Israel motions in South Africa's parliament, one of which represented an effort to label Israeli products produced in the West Bank as "settlement" products. Where once such robust Christian support of Jews and the Jewish homeland would have been regarded with suspicion, the situation now calls for celebration.

What the evangelical Christians are doing is recognizing the historical fount from which the religion they worship emanated from. As the crucible of Christianity, Jerusalem, Judaism and a Jew who has been recognized by Christianity as the Messiah, are simply being given credit where credit is due. And, in the process, redeeming Christianity itself by acknowledging its debt to Judaism, to the Jewish tribe, to the support of the state dedicated to Jewish perseverance in a hostile world.

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