ATLANTA (Oct. 27)
The Rev. Dr. Billy Graham, in remarks prepared for delivery tomorrow at the annual meeting of the American Jewish Committee’s National Executive Council, declared that “the vast majority of evangelical Christians in this country and abroad support the State of Israel’s right to existence,” and called on evangelical Christians and Jews to work together for “the peace of Jerusalem” and to end terrorism.
In his address, his first at a major national Jewish organization in an open meeting, Graham also stated: “In biblical history and secular history Israel has every right to exist as Syria, or Egypt, or Russia or the United States. The Palestinians also have a right to existence under legitimate leadership committed to the peace of the Middle East.”
Prior to his address to the AJCommittee leaders who are meeting here at the Omni International Hotel through Sunday, Graham is to receive the organization’s National Interreligious Award for “his contribution to human rights, the support of Israel, combatting anti-Semitism, and strengthening mutual respect and understanding between the evangelical and Jewish communities.”
Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum, the AJCommittee’s national interreligious affairs director, who is to make the presentation, described Graham as “one of the greatest friends, next to Pope John XXIII, of the Jewish people and of Israel in the entire Christian world in the 20th Century.”
Graham, in referring to Israel’s right to exist, cited in particular the Book of Isaiah (19:25), which states: “Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance,” but added that the Scriptures made many other references to the right of Israel to exist as a State. In addition, he pointed out that the Bible contains instructions to “pray for the peace not only of the world, but especially of Jerusalem,” which, he prophesied, would be “the capital of the world” in the end of days.
URGES END TO TERRORISM
Calling on the Palestinians to create a “legitimate leadership committed to the peace of the Middle East,” Graham urged them to renounce terrorism as a political tactic. “Human life, created in the sacred image of God, should never be used as a means to realize any group’s ideology or political program,” he declared, adding: “Peace is not enhanced by a policy of terrorism, whether in the Middle East, Ireland, Africa, America or anywhere else.”
He deplored such examples of terrorism as “the hijacking of planes, the wanton slaughter of tens of thousands in central Africa, the kidnappings in Italy, the hijacking of a train in The Netherlands, and the killing of children at Maalot,” and stated; “Lasting justice and peace for the State of Israel, as well as the Palestinian people…demand an end to killing, an end to the shedding of blood.”
Graham condemned anti-Semitism, saying, “the institutional church has sinned through much of its history and has much to answer for at the Judgment, especially for the anti-Semitism practiced against the Jewish people.” He declared that those Christians who practiced anti-Semitism were “false Christians, who dragged the name of their Master into the mire of bigotry, anti-Semitism and prejudice.”
Graham called on Christians and Jews to work together toward establishing better race relations and higher ethical and moral codes and strongly criticized “the zeal of some clergymen–Catholic, Protestant and Jewish–to secularize America.” While asserting that he would “stand and fight to the last for the separation of church and state,” he warned that the “push toward secularism must be halted and reversed, otherwise democracy and freedom will not survive in this country. Total secularization will lead to a rising tide of both anti-Semitism and anti-Christianity,” he declared.