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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Should Israel accept support from Christians?

Should Israel accept support from Christians? Here's a fascinating perspective on an age-old dilemma from Giulio Meotti, who is himself an Italian Christian.
Certainly, some US Evangelicals would like to convert Jews, and Israel must fight them. However, the vast majority simply wants to bless Israel because that is what they believe is the right thing to do. The origins of Christian support can be traced back to the Gutenberg press (1456), which popularized ideas of “The Promised Land” and “The Chosen People.”

The hostility toward Israel encouraged by liberal Christians, such as the World Council of Churches and the Vatican, poses a much greater near-term threat to Jews than anything the evangelicals espouse. Last week, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales offered the Palestinians a powerful tool of propaganda: The comparison with Jesus’ passion.

“We are to be freshly attentive to the needs of those who, like Jesus himself, are displaced and in discomfort, a shadow falls particularly heavily on the town of Bethlehem tonight,” Archbishop Vincent Nichols said during his Christmas Mass sermon at Westminster Cathedral. This propaganda is much more dangerous for Israel than the pro-Israel fever of the US Evangelicals.

Israel’s leaders urgently need to set up a moral platform rejecting the “Judeo-Christian” blend, which theologically fuses Jews and Christians together without protecting the Jewish faith and maintaining Israel as an independent single-faith Jewish community. But the Bible teaches also that if there is the “gentile” who is jealous and aggressive (Amalek), there is also a “Righteous gentile” who is admiring and willing to help (Jethro.)

Israel will continue to struggle against Amalek-like governments and groups that utilize terror against innocent citizens, but it will be blessed by establishing Jethro-like partnerships with those who recognize the unique role and place of the Jews and Israel in this world.
Read the whole thing.

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At 3:21 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

ellen said...
It's nice that Meotti's article draws from Rav J.B. Sovoleitchik z"l and recognizes the urgent need for red lines:

"…Israel’s leaders urgently need to set up a moral platform rejecting the “Judeo-Christian” blend, which theologically fuses Jews and Christians together without protecting the Jewish faith and maintaining Israel as an independent single-faith Jewish community..."

In fact, the renowned Talumdist opposed the term “Judeo-Christian” and wrote in his essay "Confrontation", which is still upheld as halacha that,

“people confuse two concepts when they speak of a common tradition uniting two faith communities such as the Christian and the Judaic.”

But the entire pro-Israel evangelical enterprise is advocating the "Judeo-Christian blend", and is promoting that toxic blend via the messianic and Hebraic roots movements in Israel. Indeed, folks like Pastor Hagee, Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee, Tommy Waller, and numerous pro-Israel evangelical members of American Congress have their hearts set on implanting the "Judeo-Christian" spirit "in Israel's heartland, and strive to break down the theological barriers between Jew and Christian.

Meotti uses the Jethro vs. Amalak model, but it is incorrect to couch this issue in terms of the philo-Semitic church versus the anti-Semitic church. When it comes to concerns of Jewish spiritual continuity this argument is irrelevant. Even if Christians had been kind to the Jews for two millennia, a distance and separation of faiths would still be a core principle and concern of Judaism.

Pro-Israel Christians are fond of usurping the biblical figures of Ruth and Jethro for their cause, yet both of these figures were converts to Judaism. As far as Amalek goes, it was Amalek who – like the missionaries of today – attack the weak and vulnerable sectors of our nation while the Jewish leaders at the front of the line turn a blind eye to the danger -while proudly declaring that they are secure in their faith and that nobody can convert them.

When it comes to the church and our grappling with the new Christianity versus the old Christianity, perhaps the biblical model of Esau would be more appropriate. Because, while "Esau's bite" in the form of anti-Semitism is obvious, "Esau's kiss" may ultimately be more deadly.

Some commentators, like Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, the Beis HaLev (not to be confused with his great-grandson Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik) infers that Yaakov was more frightened of Esau as a brotherand friend than as Esau the man of violence.

In fact, Rav J. B. Soloveitchik followed in is great-grandfather's footsteps and in the 1960's expressed concern of the new evangelical direction of the Catholic church and feared the camaraderie which would result between Jew and Christian. Spiritual assimilation rather than anti-Semitism was his concern.

So the real issue is not one of which church is nicer to the Jews, but whether or not the Jews are equipped to play with this evangelical fire in a responsible manner. It's clear that red lines need to drawn in Israel's relationship with pro-Israel evangelical Christians and that there should be an accountable framework with which to monitor the relationship on an ethical, political, spiritual, financial, and legislative level.


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