Staunch Friends


(October 2) -- 'If there are attacks against us, they are always preceded by terrible vilification. If there's been any wellspring in the history of antisemitism, it is to describe the Jewish people as the poisoners of the wells.... It is that same repetition of libelous slander... that has always sparked the worst attacks against our people." Last weekend TV news viewers watched Prime Minister Netanyahu utter these words in an uncompromising speech that included the assurance that his government would not close the Hasmonean Tunnel. Some watching Netanyahu would have noticed that a banner covering the podium bore the word "Christian." They may have heard mention that the premier was addressing "5,000 Christians." On some networks enthusiastic applause for Netanyahu's firm stance would have been observed.

Israelis more used to seeing Christian spokesmen throw in their lot with the Arab cause might have wondered about the audience that gave the prime minister such a warm reception, in sharp contrast to the flak he had come under during his most difficult week since the elections.

Since 1980, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has represented Christian supporters of Israel worldwide, believers who ardently obey the biblical injunction: "Comfort ye My People." Many millions of Christians, particularly Evangelicals, share our positions on Israel. They represent a swelling force within Christianity, as evidenced by the phenomenal growth in the Evangelical church in Latin America.

Among its many activities the Embassy has for the past 16 years organized a week-long Christian celebration in Jerusalem during Succot, drawing thousands of visitors. This year they gathered from more than 100 nations.

Traditionally Israeli prime ministers have accepted invitations to address the opening night of the event, and have received standing ovations.

Netanyahu earned the loudest cheers last weekend when he enunciated the type of positions that make Arabs seethe and left-wing Israelis cringe. "It is a special delight to see you tonight, here, in Jerusalem, the eternal capital, undivided, of the Jewish people."

Christian friends of Israel hold the views we do because we believe the Bible, absolutely; and it states unequivocally that the Jewish people has an eternal, God-given right to all this land.

Undeterred by the criminal bias prevalent in much of the world media, we attempt to uphold Israel's cause wherever we go, challenging our friends, our churches, our media and our governments.

OUR STAND makes us unpopular, not least among some of our co-religionists, one of whom was quoted this week as saying we do not represent Christianity. This is neither new, nor particularly surprising.

For years we have seen "Christian representatives" ally themselves with the Arab and Moslem positions on Israel. We have witnessed their ceaseless condemnations of Israel, even as they ignore their fellow Christians' suffering under Islamic oppression in Lebanon, Egypt, Iran and Sudan.

We have heard them warp history and the Scriptures for political gain, in the process making such bizarre assertions as the one that pops up like a bad smell every Christmas in the vicinity of Bethlehem that Jesus was a "Palestinian." And we didn't need a compass on Monday to dismiss as yet another ludicrous fabrication the claim by a churchman in Ramallah that the Hasmonean Tunnel "goes like a sword through Christian and Moslem holy places."

Our position is clear: we will support, in prayer and action, Israel's right to exist within secure and feasible boundaries, and Jewish communal life to flourish in the disputed areas and on the Golan. We will fight the battle of truth wherever and however we are able. We will stand together with Israel whatever happens, even when - especially when - no one else does.

(The writer is a South African journalist working for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.)

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