Bishop P.A. Brooks with The Fellowship Founder and President Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. (Photo: Justin McMahan)
President Donald Trump’s recent announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and declaring that the U.S. will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem did not happen in a vacuum or come out of nowhere. It did not happen solely because of Jewish influence, either. It happened because millions of good Christians in America urged the president to do so.
But where did this groundswell of Christian support come from?
It was exactly 40 years ago when I initiated some of the earliest dialogues ever between evangelical Christians and Jews. Little did I realize then that these Christians, whom most people never even heard of, would grow in numbers and influence both in America and around the world, and would become such a crucial base of support for Israel and the Jewish people.
Five years later, in 1983, I founded the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), with the goal of building bridges of cooperation and understanding between evangelical Christians and Jews as well as broad, grassroots support for the State of Israel.
The notion of changing 2,000 years of bitter history and replacing it with a partnership marked by friendship and acts of unconditional love (without missionary activity) was regarded at the time as an unattainable pipe dream. But I went ahead nonetheless, despite the criticism, skepticism and attacks. I began bringing evangelical leaders to Israel to meet various prime ministers, starting with Menachem Begin, and to the White House to press for pro-Israel policies. Later, we launched the “Christian tourism to Israel” industry, in partnership with the National Religious Broadcasters, the umbrella organization of all those involved in evangelical Christian media. Today, more than 1 million Christians visit Israel each year.
From there we proceeded to grow broad-based political support for Israel among evangelicals, opening an office in Washington, D.C., and a Stand for Israel advocacy program that today reaches millions of people around the world every day. Finally, 20 years ago, we began raising funds from Christians, primarily through TV and direct response marketing, to help Jews immigrate to Israel from the former Soviet Union, feed and care for needy Jews in Israel and around the world, and provide security for Israel and Jewish institutions worldwide. It would take four decades of hard work as well as the financial support of just a few hundred Jews in the earlier years, and later of 1.7 million Christians, to reach the point where we are today—the largest global source of Christian support for Israel.
Over the years The Fellowship often came under attack, initially by Reform and liberal Jews and establishment Jewish groups, and later mostly by extremist haredi Jewish leaders and rabbis who even refused our overtures of help because the funds came from Christians. Some still refuse to accept our help even today.
But eventually The Fellowship was, in the words of former Sen. Joe Lieberman, “vindicated.” Today, The Fellowship helps roughly 1.4 million people each year, in Israel and around the world. Our $140 million annual budget supports the most vulnerable segments of Israeli society—the poor, the elderly, Holocaust survivors, people with disabilities, immigrants, minorities, terror victims, veterans and others. Indeed, The Fellowship is today the largest philanthropic welfare organization in Israel.
In addition, we provide $30 million a year from Christians to help the world’s most destitute Jews in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere with basic needs such as food, medicine and heating fuel. We’ve brought more than 750,000 Jews on aliyah from 28 countries where they were threatened by anti-Semitism, terror and economic despair, and helped found the U.S. aliyah organization Nefesh B’Nefesh. We provide millions of dollars in security assistance to more than 100 Jewish communities worldwide.
Over the years our Christian partners have contributed more than $1.4 billion—mostly with an average sacrificial donation of $76 per person—to help Israel and the Jewish people. These are not wealthy mega donors, but people who care wholeheartedly for Israel and relate to her and the Jewish people with unconditional love.
I am recounting this not to herald our organization’s impact, but to remind us all of how the growth of Christian support for Israel and the Jewish community during the past four decades contributed to President Trump’s historic announcement on Jerusalem.
Today, phrases like “Jews and evangelical Christians supporting Israel” barely raise an eyebrow; as if it were a given. But Christians’ faithful support for Israel was never a given. Nor is it today—especially if we measure it in terms of the dwindling level of support for Israel from the next generation of evangelicals.
We owe these Christians a debt of gratitude—of “hakarat hatov” (Hebrew for the recognition of good).
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews)
There are an estimated 100 million Pentecostal Christians in China alone, and hundreds of millions more in Latin America, the Far East and other regions. Most of them are where the evangelical community in America was 40 years ago, when I first began working with them. They have not yet been taught that it is their biblical duty to stand with Israel and to bless the Jewish people.
It is imperative that the Jewish community invests in educating them, reaching out to them, and rallying their continued support—and that of their children—in the years ahead. Much more needs to be done if we seek to rely on evangelical support in the future.
Evangelical Christians remain an essential, steadfast, strategic partner for Israel, both in the U.S. and around the world. But their continued friendship is not a given. We need to invest in their burgeoning communities and in the next generation of evangelicals to ensure that they too stand with Israel and that their support grows rather than diminishes in the years to come. Our survival, and that of the State of Israel, depend on it.
Most of all, we need to unequivocally and unabashedly say “Todah rabah” (Hebrew for “Thank you very much”) to President Trump and to our evangelical Christian friends.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein is founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
Share the knowledge!
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration — which seeks to criminalize criticism of migration — is nothing more or less than a dangerous effort to weaken national borders, to normalize mass migration, to blur the line between legal and illegal immigration, and to bolster the idea that people claiming to be refugees enjoy a panoply of rights in countries where they have never before set foot.
One thing about the agreement, in any event, is irrefutable: almost nobody in the Western world has been clamoring for this. It is, quite simply, a project of the globalist elites. It is a UN power-grab.
The waterfront in the Chilean city of Valdivia. Photo: Arvid Puschnig via Wikimedia Commons.
Top Jewish groups have welcomed a Chilean government decision made earlier this week to ban municipalities across the country from boycotting Israel.
The ruling — issued by the Comptroller General of Chile – stemmed from a complaint filed by the Chilean Jewish community over a move of the Valdivia municipality to ban the city from signing contracts with Israel-linked companies.
Spurred by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s resignation and the realization that elections will likely be moved to early 2019, the leaders of the Druze community are determined to fight against the Nationality Law.
Leaders from the Druze minority and others take part in a rally to protest the Jewish nation-state law in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Israel, Aug. 4, 2018
It certainly seems like Israel is headed toward early elections. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who resigned Nov. 14, and Education Minister Naftali Bennett were both part of the current right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu, competing over which of them was its most right-wing member
Israel has started uncovering and destroying Hezbollah’s attack tunnels under the Lebanese border, but destroying the group’s ambitious precision missile project will be much more difficult.
The Israel Defense Forces placed a camera into Hezbollah’s secret cross-border attack tunnel before sunrise on Dec. 4. They pushed it into the Lebanese side, under the Blue Line that separates the two countries. At dawn, two Hezbollah operatives reached the spot on their morning rounds. In the video disseminated by the IDF on Tuesday evening, one of the operatives is seen approaching the camera with suspicion. He stuck his nose in its direction and started to sniff around until something exploded in his face and he ran back the way he’d comVisibilitye.
The timing of Operation Northern Shield, to destroy Hezbollah tunnels leading from Lebanon into Israel, suggests that considerations other than security were behind the decision to launch it.
An Israeli commando from Yahalom, an engineering unit, takes part in a tunnel-hunting drill near Tel Aviv, March 7, 2012.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech to Likud activists on Dec. 2 that was both defensive and combative toward law enforcement authorities. He complained about the supposedly suspicious timing of the police announcement recommending his indictment for taking bribes in Case 4000, coming as it did one day before Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh concluded his term in office.
This week, for the first time, Israel made public its discovery of the tunnel constructed by Hezbollah and reaching into Israel’s sovereign territory. This brought to an end a long period during which a large number of Israelis living in communities adjacent to the Lebanese border reported hearing sounds of digging as well as feeling tremors in the walls of their homes.
Attack tunnels are intended to allow for significant numbers of armed infantry bearing weapons, artillery and supplies, to traverse them within a minimal time span, avoiding Israeli lookouts and thereby gaining the element of surprise.
Last Saturday, Iran’s “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani called Israel “a cancerous tumor” in a speech at the regime’s annual Islamic Unity Conference.
Rouhani’s fellow speakers included deputy Hezbollah chief Naim Qassem and Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh. Both terror bosses called for the destruction of the “cancerous tumor.”
With the predictability of a Swiss clock, the Europeans rushed to condemn Rouhani. The EU in Brussels condemned Rouhani. The German Foreign Ministry condemned Rouhani. And so on and so forth.
We could have done without their statements.
It was clear that with the onset of Operation Northern Shield—meant to neutralize terror tunnels Hezbollah has constructed along the Israel-Lebanon border—some would call it a public relations stunt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Those who believe the timing of the police’s recommendations in Case 4000—announced on the last day of Roni Alsheikh’s tenure as the police commissioner—was reasonable, somehow complain about the timing of the operation.
On Sunday evening, December 2, the people of Sderot, Israel – a town located a mere kilometer from the Gaza border – gathered to light the first candle of the town’s menorah to commemorate the first day of Hanukkah. Jews around the world celebrate this holiday, which marks the time some two millennia ago when the Jews regained control of Jerusalem and rededicated the Second Temple.
What makes the candle lighting in Sderot worth mentioning is the fact that it is particularly symbolic of how the Jewish spirit looks for ways to turn tragedy into triumph.
This is obviously a short-lived honeymoon that will end the day after the UN General Assembly vote on the anti-Hamas resolution. The morning after the vote, Abbas will wake up to the realization that Hamas was a strange bedfellow indeed.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s hatred of Hamas is far from secret. But Abbas is now defending Hamas because he despises the Trump administration, which has sponsored a UN draft resolution that condemns Hamas. Pictured: Abbas (right) meets with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on May 30, 2007 in the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Abu Askar/PPO via Getty Images)