Inside View Jan/Feb 2019
I was sitting in a room with approximately 5,000 people last summer in Washington, DC, listening to then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. She delivered a remarkable speech that reflected on her year and a half at the UN and the challenges she was facing in opposing Israel’s unfair treatment by many of the UN member countries.
Too often the international community has argued that to have moral clarity, countries must remain neutral and not take sides between Israel and its opponents. Ambassador Haley exposed this false premise when she declared, “The United States has no moral duty to be neutral between right and wrong. On the contrary, we have a moral duty to take sides, even when that means standing alone.”
Her words reminded me of the founding of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry more than 80 years ago, when Jewish people in Europe faced extreme persecution. What Nazi Germany was doing to them was wrong; and even though the U.S. government chose to remain neutral at the time, there were men in the city of Philadelphia who could not.
The Friends of Israel was birthed shortly after the horrific pogrom of November 9 and 10, 1938, when the Nazis instigated and led barbaric riots in Jewish communities across Germany. Kristallnacht, meaning “Night of Broken Glass,” was the name given to the event. In the course of one evening, bloodthirsty mobs smashed the windows to Jewish stores, looted Jewish businesses, threw Jewish scrolls and holy books into heaps in the street and burned them, torched Jewish synagogues and burned them to the ground, and invaded and robbed Jewish homes.
As if that weren’t enough, they raped scores of Jewish women, beat multitudes of Jewish people, and murdered hundreds more. By the time the violence ended, the Nazis had arrested 30,000 Jewish men and deported them to concentration camps.
The United States responded feebly. Though the government expressed outrage and withdrew its ambassador to Germany, it did nothing to help the Jewish people there. It refused to relax U.S. immigration restrictions that prevented masses of persecuted German Jews from immigrating to the safety of the United States. In addition, America remained neutral in the growing European conflict until Japan attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
Though the government did nothing to help, there were Christians in Philadelphia who did. The beginnings of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry are rooted in the same principle Ambassador Haley articulated. We have a moral duty when it comes to right and wrong, regardless of the consequences. In fact, it is more than a moral duty. It is a divine command that demands we do what is right and stand against what is wrong. The right thing to do was clear to those who founded this ministry.
On December 1, 1938, three weeks after Kristallnacht, a handful of Christian men met to consider their moral responsibility to help God’s uniquely chosen nation. The issue of right and wrong was clear to them, and they brought into existence The Friends of Israel Refugee Relief Committee.
Eighty years later, we carry on the work these faithful men began, communicating biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah while fostering solidarity with the Jewish people. Our Israel Relief Fund continues the benevolent aspect of the work started in 1938.
I appreciated what Ambassador Haley shared because it reminded me yet again why this ministry was founded, and I pray all of us at The Friends of Israel will continue to stand strong and serve the Lord as He tarries.