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Pastor and Jewish Activist to Debate on BBC

Inspired by an Israeli radio program, some 30 Christians protested at a Florida church against its pastor's national call for a Palestinian state.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 8/28/2007, 5:37 PM

Inspired by a IsraelNationalRadio program, some 30 Christians protested at a Florida church against its pastor's national call for a Palestinian state in the Land of Israel.

Holding signs imprinted with Biblical verses, including one from the Book of Joel against "scattering My people and dividing My land," the demonstrators were responding to an open letter to President Bush favoring a Palestinian state.  The letter equates Israelis with Palestinians, stating, "Both Israelis and Palestinians have legitimate rights stretching back for millennia to the land of Israel/Palestine.  Both Israelis and Palestinians have committed violence and injustice against each other."

The signatories numbered more than 30 evangelical leaders, and among the leading names was that of Pastor Joel Hunter of Northland Church in Longwood, Florida.

The Sunday protestors were outraged at the pastor's stance so blatantly against the Bible whose message he preaches.  John Hellein, of a church just two miles away, told Arutz-7, "I heard the news while riding my bicycle and listening to an Ipod radio broadcast - and I nearly fell off my bicycle.  I was amazed that the pastor of a church so close to home would say something so opposed to the Bible.  I knew right then that I wanted to organize some kind of protest."

Hellein said that many of the church members were unaware of the controversial stance their pastor had taken, and "thanked us for informing them of it and protesting.  This is not to say that everyone agreed; there were also other opinions."

Light Unto the Nations
The radio broadcast he was referring to was that of Jeremy Gimpel and Ari Abramowitz, hosts of Arutz-7-IsraelNationalRadio's Light Unto The Nations program.  They issued a call to the pastor to explain his position, from a religious standpoint, on their show.  Hunter declined, however, with his assistant explaining that it "just isn't the best forum for Dr. Hunter to explain his position on this issue."

Gimpel and Abramowitz noted Hunter's refusal, evoking many emails in protest of Hunter's position. They issued another call to debate the issue with him when Gimpel arrives in Florida this week for a speaking tour.  Facing strong pressure within his own constituency, this time Hunter agreed - and National Public Radio was contacted to be the host.

Once again, however, the event did not materialize, because of scheduling problems at NPR.  Both Hunter and Gimpel have now agreed to debate the issue on BBC Radio this Thursday, Aug. 30, at 10:20 AM EST.

Gimpel and Abramowitz say they have received dozens of irate listeners' emails in response to the call for yet another Arab state.  "I am deeply distressed about this misguided pastor who advocates a Palestinian state in the Heart of Israel," wrote one listener.

The two Israeli show hosts added, "Pastor Hunter would be wise to heed the warning issued by his namesake, the prophet Joel, who prophesized, '...there will I deal with and execute judgment upon them for their treatment of My people and of My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations and because they have divided My land.'"  

"It is one thing for Pastor Hunter to stand against G-d on his own," they aver, "but to lead his congregation into such error is tragic indeed."

Abramowitz told Arutz-7 he is happy to be able to debate the issue in purely religious terms.  "There are many truth-seekers in the Christian community who are willing to stand with Israel even if they have to defy their own leaders," he said.  "Truth resonates. As the Jewish people, we are not seeking allies; we have a responsibility to share the truth and clarify it to a world that may not want to hear it."