Published: 10.02.07, 08:04 /
This year 7,000 Zionist Christians from all over the world will once
again march in Jerusalem to fulfill that which is written in the Book
of Zechariah, whereby all nations will make pilgrimage to Jerusalem in
the messianic era to celebrate Sukkot.
Their parade is the highlight of an ongoing effort to stand by our side
for better or for worse, unconditionally and without receiving anything
in return. On the contrary, they are grateful that we accept their
outstretched hands. In the US, their ranks comprise tens of millions
who are well organized and who have substantial political clout.
Their belief in the Bible is the key to this rare phenomenon of
Christian love towards Israel, which is not anything new. Christian
Zionism emerged in England 32 years prior to the "harbinger of Zionism"
Moses Hess (author of Rome and Jerusalem.) The Earl of Shaftsbury
(1853) saw "a land without a people," which God allocated to the
"people without a land."
His contemporary, British Prime Minister Palmerston pressed the Turkish
Sultan to encourage European Jewry to return to the Land of Israel.
Author George Eliot called for the revival of the organic center of
Jewish existence in the Land of Israel (in her novel Daniel Deronda) 20
years prior to the publication of the "Jewish Homeland."
Herzl’s loyal follower, Reverend William Henry Hechler, partook in the
Zionist congresses. Even Lord Balfour and his Prime Minister Lloyd
George had religious motives. The latter said: I was taught a lot more
about Jewish history than the history of my own people. Wingate (the
"friend") didn’t go anywhere without the Bible.
Yet despite this, the evangelist Christians are rejected by liberal
Jews in the United States and by leftists in Israel who label them
"rightists" and proponents of the notion of Greater Israel. Their
Zionism is rejected with the hollow argument that it is premised on
their faith that Jesus will only return after the Jewish people return
to the Land of Israel.
This year, the Zionist Christians have also encountered opposition from
the Chief Rabbinate, which banned Jews from participating in the
convention and in their parade. The reasons: They lend the Jewish
holiday of Sukkot a Christian character, and among the participants
there are those suspected of engaging in missionary work.
Non-Jews wearing Star of David
Let’s think about this for a moment before we turn a supporter into an
enemy, something we tend to excel at: The International Christian
Embassy in Jerusalem that organizes the Sukkot events was founded in
response to the international diplomatic boycott of Jerusalem and as a
gesture of solidarity, not because of missionary work. Even the
Rabbinate doesn’t maintain that the evangelist support is missionary in
essence. And if there are those among them who exploit it, does that
mean an entire movement should be rejected?
Indeed, they instill their own content into the Sukkot holiday. What is
it that we are after? Shouldn’t Christians be Christians? Jews are not
invited to their ceremonies, but only to the parade and the events at
the Jerusalem International Convention Center where they are careful
not to include any Christian ritual. What more could we ask for?
The contact with Christian Zionists is creating a reverse phenomenon:
Churches in the American Midwest are waving the Israeli flag, non-Jews
are wearing the Star of David, they are opening up to Jewish music and
other Jewish symbols. The Bible is what creates the encounter between
us, and according to Reverend John C. Hagee, they support Israel
because it is a fundamental value of Christianity, see the Book of
Genesis: "And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses
you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be
After 60 years of independence in our land, it’s time for a little more
self confidence and fewer ghetto-like complexes. In an alienated world,
with anti-Semitism rearing its head, how can we reject those who
honestly seek our company, the sons of a movement that heralded our
Welcome to our Sukkot, dear friends, may there be many more like you.