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.
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Jeremy Corbyn leads a pro-Palestinian demonstration in London in 2014, one year before becoming Labour Party leader. Photo: File.
This marked a massive rise from the previous such survey, in which only 39% of Jews believed Corbyn was antisemitic.
British Jews also expressed an extremely low opinion of the Labour Party in general. The poll showed that 85.6% believed Labour suffered from “very high” levels of antisemitism.
Corbyn and his party have been beset with a series of high-profile antisemitism scandals for several years, which has resulted in the resignation and suspension of several prominent officials. Corbyn himself was recently caught on video saying that “Zionists” did not understand “English irony” despite “having lived in this country for a very long time.”
Makuya in Jerusalem 201 (YouTube)
Like an apple tree among trees of the forest, So is my beloved among the youths. I delight to sit in his shade, And his fruit is sweet to my mouth. (Song of Songs 2:3)
For ten days in late August, Israeli Rabbi Benny Lau and his wife, Rabbanit Noah Lau, traveled from Jerusalem to Japan to lead Bible study for groups of Makuya Japanese Christians. The Laus traveled to five Japanese towns and spent three days together at a weekend conference with 3,400 members of the Makuya group.
Makuya is Japanese for the Hebrew word Mishkan, the tent of meeting, where human beings come into contact with God. The Mishkan was the portable sanctuary that the Israelites used in the desert, before entering Israel and building the First Holy Temple.
The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. (Psalm 11:5)
Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro. (Credit: Agencia O Globo)
Jair Bolsonaro, the front-runner in the upcoming presidential election in Brazil, was stabbed during a campaign rally Thursday and was undergoing surgery.
The far-right politician, whose heated rhetoric has electrified some voters and angered others – -who accuse him of racism and homophobia – in a deeply polarized electorate, was attacked amid a crowd in the south-east state of Minas Gerais. Bolsonaro has performed strongly in recent opinion polls.
Those same polls suggested that he will likely receive the most votes in next month’s presidential elections, especially if the country’s former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva (‘Lula’) remains blocked from standing. He is currently in prison, but is appealing against his candidacy ban – imposed after his conviction for corruption.
Republican lawmakers have made it clear they have no intention of repealing Obamacare in the current Congress.
Republicans in the nation’s top lawmaking body have never really wanted to get rid of Obamacare. They would prefer to present the program, which David Horowitz correctly describes as “the greatest assault on individual freedom and individual choice in our lifetimes,” as a villain and whip up sentiment against it and run against it every election. They view Obamacare as good for the business of politics. They may chip away at it from time to time or tinker with it at the margins, but make no mistake: these creatures of Washington want to keep it in place. This is the Republicans’ dirty secret.
The Trump administration has decided to reopen a case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, previously closed by the Obama administration in 2014, alleging that the university had allowed Jewish students to be subjected to a hostile environment in violation of Title VI of the U.S. Civil Rights Act. The issue, ignored by the Obama administration, was whether the students were discriminated against based on their actual or perceived Jewish ancestry or ethnicity. Kenneth L. Marcus, the new assistant secretary of education for civil rights, decided that the case deserved another look.
Nestled in the Han River in the middle of South Korea’s bustling capital of Seoul, Yeoui Island is hardly where one would expect to find the largest mega-church in the world. Home to the city’s business and financial district, its skyline dotted with skyscrapers, the island boasts some of the country’s most powerful institutions, such as the Korean stock exchange and the headquarters of LG, the international conglomerate.
The AfD’s opponents, who often brand the party as “far right” or “extremist,” claim that the party’s alleged ties to neo-Nazi groups pose an existential threat to Germany’s constitutional order. The AfD’s supporters counter that Germany’s politically correct establishment, afraid of losing its power and influence, is attempting to outlaw a legitimate party that has pledged to put the interests of German citizens first.
Israel’s Palestinian foes regard “martyrdom” as the supremely highest expression of Islamic sacredness. Nonetheless, there are certain conspicuously prominent disjunctions between the relevant obligations of faith and expectations of international law. Unambiguously, only the latter set of obligations can offer a suitably authoritative source for assessing Palestinian resorts to armed force.
This is the case even when the stated objective of such resorts would be “self-determination” and/or “national liberation.”
“Setting fire to the ground,” a “major catastrophe,” bringing “new instability” are the headlines that have greeted Donald Trump’s unorthodox decisions over the past year. Withdrawing from UNESCO, moving the US Embassy, leaving the Iran deal and cutting funding to UNRWA and funding for Pakistan were seen as extreme decisions in the Middle East and around the world. Insofar as there is a “Trump Doctrine,” it has been to call this bluff.
In the mind-set of Trump and his team, the time has come for the United States to move quickly to reverse decades of foreign policy norms, ending the status quo, and ripping up what the previous administrations did.
The jihadi assault on and massacre of Christians continued unabated throughout the Muslim word. According to one report titled, “Armed gangs WIPE OUT 15 villages in mass Christian slaughter in Nigeria,” several Islamic terrorists “stormed through 15 villages to massacre Christians and destroy their churches in a violent crackdown against the religion…. Dozens of people have been killed after the gangs ransacked towns and villages to clear them of all aspects of the Christian faith.
Wars are raging in various parts of the Middle East, although there is a tendency not to call the conflicts by that name because of the fear conjured up by the word.
One conflagration is the war Iran is waging against those – headed by Israel – who stand in the way of its plans to take over the entire Middle East.
Another is the Assad regime’s war to take back control of the entire country, and a third is the PLO’s battle for survival.
Much has been written about the first of these wars, and reports have claimed that from early 2017 on, Israel has launched over 200 attacks in Syria, mainly at targets connected to Iran.