Israel in the News Feb/Mar 1992
Support from the Bible Belt
Israel finds favor among America’s Christian fundamentalists
from Jewish Exponent
More than 100 Christian leaders, representing more than 20 million “Bible-believing” Americans, visited Israel recently with the Memphis-based Religious Roundtable. They came, along with a small group of Jews, to express their support for the right-wing Likud government in Israel.
As early as 1977, former Prime Minister Begin recognized that fundamentalist Christians in the United States represented a massive, untapped potential pool of support for his right-wing politics. Nearly 40 million strong, fundamentalist Christians in America see the reestablishment of the State of Israel as a sign of the coming End of Days and the imminent return of Jesus.
Moreover, their literal reading of the Bible leads them to believe that God promised the Jews all of the land of Israel from “the river Egypt to the Euphrates.”
Everywhere the Christian leaders went in Israel this summer, Israeli officials told them their help was needed now more than ever.
“We need moral backing. We need material support,” Ariel Sharon told the Christian leaders. “When you come here we know a group of friends have come to our homeland.”
Although not all of the Christians who traveled to Israel with the Religious Roundtable see the coming of the Messiah as imminent, they all believe that the United States must back Israel in all its endeavors because God said so—and also because Jews have a moral claim on the Christians for letting the Holocaust occur.
“If the U.S. ever turns her back on Israel, the sun of God’s blessing will set on us,” said Elwood McQuaid, who publishes Israel My Glory magazine and who runs The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry in Deptford, NJ.
In a telephone interview shortly after he had brought that message to an audience at the National Press Club in Washington, McQuaid expressed strong support for Israel’s request for $10 billion in loan guarantees to help resettle Soviet and Ethiopian Jews. President Bush has tabled the request.
“Generally, the Christian position is that the United States should certainly sustain these guarantees for Israel. Christians prayed and hoped for the release of these Jews—which now, thank God, has come—and it’s inconceivable for us now not to assist in the resettlement of these Jewish people in Israel,” McQuaid said.
He also expressed the fear that U.S. recalcitrance on the loan issue has sent an unfortunate message to the world—one that the Arabs seized upon during recent peace talks in Madrid.
“My deep concern is that the Arabs have read America’s position [on the loan guarantees] as an endorsement of their demands; that the United States has sided with the Arabs. And that’s a great danger, a great danger,” McQuaid said.
Rabbi Leon Klenicki, director of the JDL department of interfaith affairs, said that while many Jews may be dismayed by talk about the return of Jesus, they still have a solid ally in fundamentalist Christians.
Klenicki called what the fundamentalists are doing “much needed support after seeing what other Christian groups do—the way … others have sided with the [Palestine Liberation Organization.]”
David Rose, a Jewish filmmaker from Los Angeles who traveled with the group to Israel, said Christian support for Israel was “a very good thing … In America there are tens of millions of people who say they believe in the Bible, and I believe this is Israel’s greatest support,” Rose said. “Fundamentalists have been alienated from Jews in America—there’s a liberal-conservative split. But these very same people come out very strongly on the side of Israel because of religious belief.”
Herbert Zweibon, chairman of Americans for a Safe Israel, also went on the trip. Zweibon said he didn’t care what motives people had in supporting Israel, just as long as they did. “The bottom line is, they do support Israel,” Zweibon said.
German railmen apologize
from The Jerusalem Post
A group of railroad workers visiting from eastern Germany have expressed sincere regret to the State of Israel for its members’ role in transporting Jews to the death camps. The group was affiliated with the Christian Association of German Railway Workers.
Scrolls mention ‘piercing’ of a ‘Messiah’
from The Jerusalem Post
A newly released text from the Dead Sea Scrolls mentions the execution of a Messiah-like leader, suggesting that some ancient Jews held the “Christian” belief in the slaying of a Messiah, scholars said recently.
One fragment contains five lines of text that describe a “leader of the community” being “put to death” and mentions “piercings” or “wounds,” said Robert Eisenman, a professor of Middle Eastern religions at California State University, Long Beach.
The text also uses Messiah-related terms such as “the staff,” “the Branch of David” and the “Root of Jesse,” said Eisenman, who helped translate the fragments.
Its language is close to that in the Book of Isaiah, which says: “For our sins he was wounded.” Many Christians claim Isaiah’s words prophesied the coming of Jesus.
Eisenman said he did not know whether the leader mentioned in the text was Jesus, but he said the text has “far-reaching significance” because it shows the scrolls’ writers and early Christians shared similar Messianic ideas.
“We’ve known for a long time that there are connections between ideas contained in the scrolls and Christianity. However, this particular idea—the idea of a dying Messiah—is new and explosive,” said Michael Wise, a University of Chicago professor of Aramaic.
Wise, who helped translate the fragments, said it was always thought that Jews at the time of Jesus expected a Messiah who would restore Israel to dominance politically. Yet the newly released text shows that the Jewish scroll writers had the idea of a Messiah who would suffer and die. “That shows this was not an idea unique to Christianity,” Wise said. “Anything which potentially impugns the uniqueness of the Christian message can be seen by some people as invalidating it or weakening it,” said Wise.
Kiev and Anti—Semitism
from The Jerusalem Post
Education Minister Zevulun Hammer said Ukranian President Leonid Kravchuk promised him the Baltic republic’s new parliament will pass a law against anti-Semitism when it convenes in the near future. Hammer was in Kiev to head an Israeli delegation to the official Ukranian ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Nazi Massacre of Jews in Babi Yar.
12 percent of American Jews are Christians
from Zionist Record
In a national religious survey, 12 percent of Jews interviewed stated that they attended Christian churches regularly.
“We underestimate the number of Jews who simply opt to go to church,” said Jack Wertheimer, associate professor of history at the Jewish Theological Seminary, when asked to comment on the findings. “This is a phenomenon which has been under-reported. We’ve paid more attention to cults, but a far larger population of Jews are joining mainstream churches, whether Protestant, Evangelical, or Catholic.” That 12 percent of ethnic Jews in the poll said they are now Christian religiously is “startling” said Wertheimer. “It’s not evident that people in the past would admit to that.”
Major urged to help repeal UN resolution
from The Jerusalem Post
Prime Minister Major is considering a call from Britain’s pro-Israel lobby to back President Bush’s demand that the UN overturn its resolution equating Zionism with racism.
Labor MP Greville Janner, vice chairman of the Britain-Israel parliamentary group, asked the government to raise the matter in its dealings with countries that support the resolution.
FRANCE: Immigration chief fired for criticizing Islam
from The Miami Herald
The government has fired the head of its immigration office because he wrote a book that strongly criticizes Islam, saying that it wanted to dissociate itself from his views.
The book by Jean-Claude Barreau was published in September. It called Islam the most intolerant and anti-democratic of all religions. He wrote that France’s 3.5 million Muslims would be able to integrate into French society only if they gave up “archaic Muslim practices.”