Blasting their shofars, waving their Israel and American flags and singing Israeli songs, more than 500 Christian supporters of Israel on September 26th gathered at the Love & Unity Christian Fellowship church located in Compton— a suburb city of Los Angeles for a Night To Honor Israel.
The event was sponsored by “Christians United For Israel” (CUFI), the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States with more than 7 million evangelical Christian members, in an effort show their public support Israel and stand against anti-Semitism in the U.S.
“We are modern-day Mordecais and Esthers advocating both spiritually and socially for Israel and the Jewish people, and we will shine our pro-Israel light on the darkness of anti-Semitism,” said Peter De Jesus, CUFI’s National Hispanic Outreach Coordinator.
CUFI leaders on hand said they were pleased to see wide range support of Israel from different local ethnic groups and also officers from Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department-- one of the largest law enforcement organizations in the U.S.
“Seeing the Christian community in Los Angeles come together to stand in solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people was beautiful,” said Pastor Dumisani Washington, CUFI’s national diversity outreach coordinator. “The fact that that Christian community was African-American, Latino, clergy and law-enforcement was even more beautiful”.
The gathering in support for Israel this year was the not the first in Los Angeles for CUFI. In November 2018 the non-profit had their first Night To Honor Israel at a Latino church in downtown L.A. and have had many other pro-Israel events since at a various Southern California churches since that time.
Speaking at the event, Los County under Sheriff Timothy Murakami thanked CUFI members for their support for local law enforcement but encouraged them to continue their vocal public advocacy for Israel.
“At the Sheriff's department we try to be politically correct-- but at the same time we know we have to be biblically correct by supporting Israel and remaining in God's favor,” said Murakami.
Israeli diplomats based in Los Angeles also attended the event and praised CUFI members for their steadfast support of Israel at a time when some anti-Israel movements in California have been trying advance their agendas in the state.
“The people of Israel know only too well that you, our friends in the Christian community have always been one of our most vocal and passionate supporters over the years,” said Eitan Weiss, Deputy Chief of Mission at Israel’s Consulate in Los Angeles during his speech at the CUFI event. “I’m here to thank you for everything you do every day to keep the ties between America and Israel strong and for standing with us”.
Interestingly, the event was likewise attended by more than two dozen Los Angeles area Iranian Jewish pro-Israel advocates who said they came to thank CUFI members for their strong support for Israel.
“We find comfort in knowing that we can count on the friendship and support of our evangelical Christian brothers and sisters and the might of CUFI to support the Jewish people and Israel,” said Frank Ariel, a member of the West Hollywood-based Iranian American Jewish Federation in his speech at the event.
With the Iranian regime’s increasing growing calls for Israel’s destruction and support for terrorism against Israel, in recent years a growing contingency of Iranian Jews-- who number between 40,000 to 45,000 in Southern California, have become increasingly involved in pro-Israel national advocacy with groups including The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and CUFI.
Many L.A. area Iranian Jews have long forged friendships with CUFI’s leadership after 2016 when CUFI launched the “Mizrahi Project”, an advocacy program helping to educate Christians and others about the plight of nearly 800,000 Jews who were forced to flee or were exiled from the Arab lands and Iran during the 20th century.
Washington said he was honored and touched by the friendship L.A.’s Iranian Jewish community had shown him and CUFI by attending their gathering in Compton.
“Many of our Jewish brothers and sisters in the audience were from the Persian Jewish community of Los Angeles, a group of people very dear to me personally and to Christians United for Israel-- without whom CUFI’s Mizrahi Project would not have come into being,” said Washington.
CUFI leaders said they will continue to build on current ties between Christian Zionists in Southern California and the Jewish community through additional pro-Israel events in the coming year.
Karmel Melamed is an award-winning internationally published journalist based in Southern California.