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Christians have a duty to support Jewish causes

Evangelicals should not abandon the Jews or Israel when it matters most.

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Christians have a duty to support Jewish causes

Courtesy of the New York Times

Courtesy of the New York Times

Courtesy of the New York Times

Brian Brooks, Freelance Writer

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On October 27, the horrifying killings at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania shocked the nation to its core. The massacre in which 11 Jewish worshippers were killed recall similar incidents within the last century that continue to haunt us. For one moment in our divided nation, every well-meaning faction of this country came together to condemn the senseless killings. It is my hope that, during this difficult time, Americans will recommit themselves to Jewish causes, particularly toward a renewed effort to defend the State of Israel.

CHRISTIANS HAVE A SPECIAL CONNECTION TO THE JEWISH PEOPLE

As Christians, these killings ought to stir up a particular revulsion. Jesus Christ was a Jew. 64 of the books of our Bible were written by Jews. The Mosaic Law was given to and preserved by the Hebrew people. However, for thousands of years, Christians have not only tolerated the persecution of Jews, they have participated in it for both ethnic and religious reasons.. During the crusades, soldiers on their way to reclaim the Holy Land ransacked Jewish communities. In his later years, Martin Luther wrote virulently anti-semitic attacks on European Jews, most notably in his 1543 tract “On the Jews and Their Lies,” in which he advocated for looting, enslaving and murdering German Jews. Hundreds of years later, this tract was reprinted by the Third Reich to religiously justify the Nazi’s hateful characterization of Jews as subhuman.

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, a new generation of Christians reflected on how practitioners of their faith had perpetrated anti-semitism. By the middle of the 20th century, Christian leaders such as Billy Graham and Pope John Paul II publicly argued for an end to anti-semitism, citing not only the universal Christian command to love one’s neighbor, but also invoking the eternal centrality of Jewishness to Christianity and the Gospel. This concern naturally translated into widespread Christian support support for the newly-created Jewish state of Israel.

WHAT’S AT STAKE FOR CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS

The Pittsburgh tragedy reminds us that Christians cannot and should not be apathetic about Jewish issues. Generations of Christians have been either antagonistic or apathetic to their “elder brothers in the faith,” to use John Paul II’s language. The terrifying incidents that have followed this apathy led to the creation of a state specifically designed to keep Jews safe.

Recently, interest in bridging the historical gap between Christians and Jews has been met with heart-wrenching silence and dangerous apathy. Only 58 percent of young American evangelicals have positive views toward the world’s only Jewish state, with 41 percent of the remainder saying that they have no opinion of the country.

This safe haven has come under ideological attack, not only by unapologetic anti-semites but also by well-meaning people earnestly concerned with the rights of other people groups in the region. The concern is admirable and as with any open nation’s actions, questions can and should be raised about Israel’s practices toward its non-Jewish neighbors. Nevertheless, causes which deny the existence, livelihood or safety of the one country on earth specifically designed keep Jews safe from Pittsburgh-esque tragedies, should be utterly and unequivocally opposed by Christians.  

The Palestinian question has been used as a weapon against Christian support for Israel, but make no mistake about it, the international forces propagating movements like “Boycott, Divest and Sanctions” are not interested in having patient dialogues with Jewish leaders. Most organizations that dedicate themselves to condemning the Israeli government do not want a two state solution.  The only scenarios these organizations are interested in discussing involve the complete dissolution of the Jewish State. The cooling of support among Westerners and Christians is merely the first hurdle they will have to overcome before the complete destruction of Israel.

Christians should not fall for lies which make our Jewish brothers and sisters less safe.  Centuries of tragic experience have shown us what happens when Christians refuse to stand with this vulnerable minority. Christians should not take Israela state which has only existed since 1948for granted. Evangelical Americans are one of the most important lines of defense for the security of Israel. We should not neglect that duty.

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Christians have a duty to support Jewish causes