Focus on the Here and Now

Few things are ever clear cut or risk free.

Gerald A. Honigman,

OpEds Honigman
A good friend of mine and myself were having a discussion recently about Christian support for Israel. Neither of us are naive, and both of us are seasoned observers of the Jewish scene.
When it comes to skeptics on this issue, I'm no greenhorn.

I remember growing up and having Christians knocking on my door telling me that my family was going to Hell. In Philadelphia, no less, with some 400,000 Jews in its environs. Imagine what it's like out yonder ways. As a doctoral student, I remember studying Christian theology as part of my interest in first century Judaism and the revolt against Rome. So I know the theological reasons for some Christians' support of Israel, as well as the fate of Jews after the Second Coming in that theology.

While doing those graduate studies, I also worked for years for an organization which monitored Christian proselytizing groups (among other things). So, when it comes to skeptics on this issue, I'm no greenhorn.

Having said this, I'm convinced that groups like Pastor John Hagee's Christians United For Israel (CUFI) and Christian Action For Israel (CAFI) are among the best friends both Israel and Jews have right now; at a time when any such friends are indeed a rarity. CAFI has helped me spread such articles as "Thinking Jerusalem" around for years now. And check out CUFI's Nights to Honor Israel and tell me you see something other than good there.

Few things are ever clear cut or risk free; and many Christians still embrace replacement theology. But here in the United States, tens of millions of these folks have more clout than a relative handful of Jews - over half of whom don't really care about Israel anyway. I deal with the latter, too. They're funding Barack Obama, crying about the "poor Palestinians" Israel allegedly abuses, asking Israel to make suicidal concessions, and so forth. I worry more about these tribal members than I do about the Evangelicals right now, especially since there are plenty of similar Hebrew morons in Israel, too.

I've worked with local pastors involved in John Hagee-type activities (Peace For Israel celebrations, interfaith pilgrimages to Israel, and the like) for years now. I've seen tears in their eyes as they and their flocks embraced Jews and asked them for forgiveness for past Christian sins towards the Jewish People. Thousands of folks - mostly Christians - attended these local events. Not a Jewish dime was involved; all Christian sponsored, raising huge amounts of dollars for Israel at the same time.

But again, as I stated, I'm not naive. I understand Christian theology quite well. They believe what they believe; we believe what we believe. But as long as they're not forcing it upon us (as was done in the past), and they're focusing on what they're focusing on instead, I don't know what else one can ask for, given the huge amount of crucial support they give us.

These particular folks are not actively proselytizing us. Indeed, I have openly discussed this with them. And they have rejected replacement theology and frequently speak of this rejection. Do some other Christian groups engage in proselytizing, including some associated with CUFI?

I'm sure. But that's more our problem than theirs.

Would they like us all to be good Christians? Probably. And I'd like them all to see where they strayed as well. So what?

On this issue, the real question is: What are we doing wrong if the beauty and messages of our Hebraic Prophets, Psalms and Torah are being ignored or simply bypassed by our own people? Sorry, but if you want someone to blame, then start with our own religious leaders.

If our Bible teaches, "Love thy neighbor as thyself", "What does the Lord require of thee but to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with thy G-d", "Offer Me not vain sacrifices if ye do not justice for the widow and the
If one has never seen thousands of Christians at a rally for Israel, lobbying Congress, the President, etc., then please try to imagine it.
orphan", and more, and our kids still think they have to go elsewhere to find a G-d of love, then whose fault is it? Not CUFI's, that's for sure.

If one has never seen thousands of Christians at a rally for Israel, lobbying Congress, the President, etc., then please try to imagine it. I have seen it. Such support is critical here in the States and thus, for Israel too. We have too many Hebrews like James Baker's Dan Kurtzer (now Obama's Middle East point man) in the government. To get ahead, they accept the oil-tainted State Department's view that to be pro-America one has to be hostile to Israel.

I'll take my chances with John Hagee any day over such fellow tribal members.

CUFI, CAFI, et al, are fighting for a better here and now for Israel - something some landsmen don't think twice about undermining. Are they concerned about the Hereafter, too? Sure. But the deal is that they don't get the latter without the former.

So, along with my Christian friends (and not all Christians are our friends), I'll worry about the World to Come after this one is made safer for Israel and Jews right now.