Some time back, I wrote an OpEd with the title of “I Stand with Christians Who Stand with Israel.” At first glance many people might say, “Well, isn’t that obvious – that a Zionist and a Jew would appreciate the few who stand with his nation during difficult times?” But in fact, this should not be taken for granted. Many Jewish people are not thrilled to see Christians waving our Blue and White flag and trying to be allies with Israel. You might wonder, “Why would that be?”
The State of Israel has so many enemies – Iran, Hamas and Hizbollah – on all sides. Knifings and car ramming attacks occur in the streets, homes and shopping centers. BDS outfits around the Western world try to convince people to boycott Israeli goods and vandalize stores who sell them. International governments pressure Israel on her internal affairs and force labeling of products manufactured in her heartland. And on top of that, well funded propaganda machines spread lies about Israel on the internet and in universities everywhere.
So when Christians come and say “We love you,” shouldn’t Jews hug them and say, “Thank G-d”? I will briefly touch on two key reasons that Jews are skeptical (to say the least) about Christians who love Israel. One is our very long and very bad experience living as a diaspora in Christian lands. For many hundreds of years, Jews have been victims of crusades, inquisitions, forced conversions, pogroms and holocausts. Most of these crimes were committed under the cross by people who believed that they were fulfilling a Christian obligation to punish the Jews for not accepting Jesus.
The other very disturbing experience of Jews with Christians has been untiring efforts and schemes to preach the gospel to the Jews by Christians who felt it was their obligation to “save” us. Proselytizing has to be one of the most offensive gestures to a Jew.
In short, Jewish people have a poor rapport, as far as Christians are concerned. In the Jewish collective memory, if a Christian extended his arm, it was best to get out of the way because in most cases, it had a fist on its end, and there was a good chance of getting hurt. And if the hand was being extended in any form of compassion, chances were that it was pushing the New Testament at us.
That brief can give us an idea why Jews would be skeptical and even suspicious of Christians who say that they want to be our friends. On top of that, there is a lot of ignorance on both sides about the other’s beliefs, concerns, fears and motivations. This page is too short to touch on them in detail, and that is less important right now.
Some years back, I realized that on one hand we do have a very sorry mutual history, but that there is value in the potential of Christian support for Israel if it is indeed sincere. And so I set out to learn who is who, and what real dangers and potentials exist. Over the years, I have met with many groups in Israel and around the world; I have met rabbis and Christian leaders and found encouragement, support, but, also concern and opposition.
After this long journey, I came to the conclusion that there are Christians who are sincere friends of Israel. They wish to help and do not wish us harm. Yes, there are also missionaries who wish to steal our Jewish souls and bring us over to the Christian faith. We need to keep our eyes open and keep those bad guys out. But at the same time, use our good relations to teach all people the important mission of the Jewish people, who against all odds survived all of the hardships of exile while remaining loyal to the rabbinical teaching of Torah and unlike any other exiled nation, we the Jewish people succeeded in regrouping on our ancestral homeland and re-establishing our sovereign state. That is not a simple thing.
As I said before, I have met with many rabbis and other Jewish leaders on this issue. Some have given me great encouragement to continue to foster good relations with our Christian friends. Others were not so enthusiastic, and some were outright opposed.
But aside from the intellectual, rabbinic Halachic discourse on the issue of Jewish-Christian relations, I have been confronted with a totally different form of discourse – a discourse that could be described as no less than thuggery. Individuals who have no position or communal authority have posted demagogic blogs on the internet accusing me or implying that I am collaborating with Christian missionaries who have “set up shop” to steal Jewish souls. Posters with my picture and similar claims have been posted on facebook groups. My events for the Shomron have been sabotaged. Young hooligans have been sent in to vandalize my property and to chase away customers at my farm visitor center.
I am not directly affiliated with any specific Christian group, nor do I speak on behalf of one. I have met many who I believe sincerely wish to support Israel with no strings attached as far as getting something in return from the Jews. There are those who believe that their blessing Israel will result in G-d blessing them in return, which is actually something that the Jewish Bible teaches in Bereshit 12:3. So when I say that I stand with Christians who stand with Israel, please do realize that this is not a simple thing that could be taken for granted.
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