NEW YORK (Jun. 15)
A full-page advertisement appeared in the August 24, 1982 Keene, New Hampshire daily “Sentinel,” with an eye-catching large-type headline: “The Untold Story of the War in Lebanon: An Eyewitness Account.”
The ad contained a strong endorsement of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon and an equally strong denunciation by the signers of the ad of what they felt was anti-Israel reporting by the general media about the Israeli action.
The ad was not placed by any of Keene’s estimated 100 Jews. After a series of questions and replies highly favorable to Israel on “What About Civilian Casualties?” “Why Did Israel Go All the Way to Beirut?” and “Why Did Israel Allow Foreign Reporters to Film and Publish?” a headline at the bottom of the ad asked: “Where Do We as Christians Stand Regarding Support for Israel and Jews Worldwide?”
The replies included this statement: “We are committed to the security of Israel … We –constrained by the love of Jesus — abhor anti-Semitism; mourn the Holocaust; and repent of the Church’s silence.”
The replies also urged support of American Jewish community efforts for Israel which “should never be made the basis for accusing our Jewish friends of dual loyalty … we believe that Jews everywhere remain a Chosen People of God and that God blesses those who bless them.”
HEADS SHALOM FELLOWSHIP
The ad was sponsored by 12 Christian clergymen, four from Keene, six from nearby towns and two from Vermont churches. One of the Keene signers — and organizer of the advertisement — was Rev. Frank Eiklor, president of the Shalom Fellowship.
The Shalom Fellowship is one of about 100 Christian-organized projects affiliated with the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel. They carry on programs of varying degrees of intensity and scope, supporting what they see as Israel’s Biblical rights to sovereignty, opposing Israel’s and Jewry’s secular and religious foes and — some of them — staging gatherings to persuade other Christians to agree to their views and to contribute funds to help Israel.
Rev. Eiklor, in response to a letter from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, spelled out in detail the development of his decision to dedicate a large part of his life to fighting for Israel and against anti-Semitism. The JTA wrote to Rev. Eiklor after getting a letter last February from Gerald Ferman, executive director of the Jewish Federation of the North Shore, which has offices at Marblehead, Mass.
Ferman described Rev. Eiklor as the sponsor of “a unique radio ministry dedicated to building bridges of love with the Jewish people and fighting anti-Semitism.” Ferman enclosed clippings from local newspapers about the Shalom Fellowship.
The minister sent JTA a Shalom Fellowship brochure, carrying a message about the Fellowship’s goals of “building bridges of love to the Jew first and also to the whole world.” According to the brochure, Eiklor was “a Gentile raised in an anti-Semitic home,” who later spent 20 years directing a worldwide missionary effort.
In 1979, he and his wife “re-evaluated their motive for reaching out to people,” after observing the Jewish people “either targeted for evangelism” or ignored “in their pain of 2,000 years of past and present anti-Semitism.” Driven to a study of Jewish history, the brochure reported, Eiklor “was left aghast at the appalling persecution suffered by Jews from so-called ‘Christendom.'”
The Eiklors then established the Shalom Fellowship, with its first headquarters at a 50-acre site of a former lodge resort near Keene where, according to the brochure, “God showed them step by step how to build bridges of unconditional love to Jews … and to the Gentiles.”
Denouncing extremist-inspired descriptions of the Holocaust as “a Jewish myth” perpetrated by Jews “wanting a restored Zion,” the brochure declared “it is appalling to think of the Jews having to answer such a lie.”
DOESN’T REQUIRE JEWS TO ACCEPT CHRISTIANITY
In his letter to the JTA, Rev. Eiklor reported that, about five years ago, “I saw my love” for humanity “as a conditional love — especially toward the Jewish people.” Declaring “I have never hidden the fact that I would tell the whole world about what I believe if given the opportunity,” Eiklor wrote “However, and this is vital, my standing with the Jewish community and the nation of Israel in no way hinges on a Jewish acceptance of Christ.”
He reported he had a staff “of around 14 people here in Keene. Each serves sacrificially for room, board and adequate compensation. They are Christians who carry Jewish hearts as I do.”
A January 10, 1983 report in the Manchester Union-Leader by Nancy Costello, a staff writer, said that “funded entirely by private donations,” Eiklor “purchased and refurbished the old Palmer Lodge … north of Keene. As an interdenominational church and conference center, which uses the Star of David as its insignia, the Shalom Fellowship now runs its operation out of 12 buildings, including a chapel, visitor dormitories and conference halls.”
The Costello report added that Rev. Eiklor “also has spoken at synagogues and colleges around New England and offers more than 36 different taped lectures on topics such as ‘How Will God Finally Solve the Palestinian Puzzle?’ and ‘Answers to Tough Questions on Israel and the Jews’.”
SOUGHT TO RALLY CHRISTIANS
After his visit to Lebanon, he made a public statement that “as a Christian, I am going to rally Christians across America and hopefully across the world to stand by Israel and I am going to challenge them to do that unconditionally.”
He reported that his taped talks were being heard on stations in ten cities, including Keene, Nashua, Boston, New York City, Lancaster, Pa., Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle and Atlanta. He said the 15-minute broadcasts are aired daily, Monday through Friday.
Asked by the JTA whether the Shalom Fellowship collected funds for Israel and Jewish causes, he replied that “right now, we do not collect funds for Israel because we’re trying to collect funds to keep us on radio so we can engender support for Israel.” He added that the Fellowship “gives a monthly amount to our North Shore Jewish Federation which helps in Israel.”