WASHINGTON (Nov. 16)
Evangelical Christians from across the country and Jews held two days of meetings aimed at support of Israel and greater dialogue between the Evangelical and Jewish communities.
Douglas Shearer, president of TAV Evangelical Ministries, a California-based group which supports Israel, told a press conference that the millions of Evangelicals who support Israel will demonstrate this through meetings and demonstrations in order to change the shift in American foreign policy away from support of Israel back to the support Israel “enjoyed in the past.” He also stressed that the Evangelicals support Jews in the U.S. and throughout the world and are opposed to anti-Semitism.
Dan Betzer, the “Voice of the Assemblies of God Revival Time, ” said that Evangelicals are at a “crossroads” in which they can either take the easy path and return to “the barbaric senseless harping against the Jews’ influence by ecclesiastic pressures and material benefits” or turn to “total acceptance and complete understanding to our Jewish brethren.” He called for a “new era of dialogue” and “not pograms, not forced conversions, not ghettoes, not discrimination of any kind.”
Rabbi David Ben-Ami, president of the American Forum for Jewish-Christian Cooperation, noted that he spent the first 13 years of his life in Germany, five of them under Nazism. He said that if the German Christian churches had been willing to engage in dialogue with the Jewish community and had understood that despite differences a common theology existed, Hitler would not have been able to come to power in Germany. Ben Ami’s group was one of the co-sponsors of the two day event along with TAV and the Washington Hebrew Congregation.
EIGHT-POINT EVANGELICAL DECLARATION
At a press conference here , Shearer read an eight-point Evangelical declaration which affirmed that Evangelicals “are committed to the security of Israel” and “believe that Jerusalem is the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish State and should not be internationalized or made the subject of any negotiations or compromise.”
The declaration also said that “Israel should not be required to cede disputed land for ‘peace’ since much of the disputed land is within Israel’s biblically mandated borders” and thus “a fair and unbiased application of accepted international justice may well permit Israel the option of retaining the disputed territories.”
The statement also said that Evangelicals “abhor anti-Semitism, mourn the Holocaust and repent on the Church’s silence.” It stressed support of “the efforts of the American Jewish community in behalf of Israel, these efforts reflect a natural affinity and must never be made the basis of accusing our Jewish friends of dual loyalty.”
The declaration denounced anti-Zionism and said while the policies of the government of Israel can be criticized, “we are opposed to a blind irrational hatred of Zion — a hatred which demands that Israel be judged by an impossible standard of righteousness.” The Evangelical statement also urged the Arab leaders “to unequivocally renounce the use of terror and embrace the legitimacy of the Israeli state.”
CITES SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MEETINGS
Rabbi Joshua Haberman, senior Rabbi at the Washington Hebrew Congregation, said the two days of meetings were of “historic significance” because it was an “opening of doors” between Evangelicals and Jews. He said Jews and Evangelicals may not agree on every point but “there is no need to disagree on every point.”
Rabbi Herzel Kranz, rabbi for the Silver Spring Jewish Center and chairman of the local United Zionist Revisionists, who has been seeking for 10 years to bring Evangelicals and Jews together, said that while “religious” Jews and Christians have been expressing support for Israel it is now for them to work together and act in support of Israel. The participants at the press conference spoke in front of banner which quoted from the 101st Psalm. It said “Arise and have mercy upon Zion; for the set time to favor her is come.”