NEW YORK (Mar. 8)
The Rev. Jerry Falwell, president of the Moral Majority, sought to alleviate concern within the Jewish community that Christian Fundamentalist support for the State of Israel may be based on efforts to have the Jewish people return to Israel for enmasse conversion.
“While I do believe in the imminent return of Christ, I do not believe that there is anything in relation to the Jewish people of the State of Israel that must yet occur in order for the messiah to come,” Fal-well told some 200 persons at the Theodor Herzl Institute last night. “So the devotion of most Christians to the State of Israel is not tied to that.”
Falwell also distanced himself from Christian groups whose primary activity is to proselytise Jews and to engage in missionary activity. He described the Moral Majority as a “political organization” and said his group does not provide any financial support to these groups.
While acknowledging that his mission is “to preach the Gospel,” Falwell said the Moral Majority, “is not singling out or zeroing in on any segment of the population, and that includes the Jewish people.” He said he is an advocate of “religious freedoms everywhere,”and called on Israel to “go the extra mile in the area of religious liberty.”
“To ask conservative Christians to reject what they feel is part of their responsibilities to their belief, is unrealistic,” Falwell said. “No, we do not support Jews for Jesus. Yes, we do want to evangelicalize the world. No, we’re not zeroing in on anybody.”
Falwell, who was warmly received by the audience, was speaking on his “perspective of U.S.-Israel relations.” He himself brought up the topic involving the reason for Christian fundamentalist support for Israel, and this issue was also raised during a brief question and answer period.
Falwell reiterated his well-known strong support for Israel, saying, “I would think that every American should be totally committed to the welfare of the State of Israel.” He said he and the Moral Majority support the bill now in Congress which calls on the Reagan Administration to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
He called U.S. policy in Lebanon an “embarrassment” and said the U.S. should never have interrupted the Israeli “liberation” of Lebanon from Syrian and Palestine Liberation Organization “slavery.” According to Falwell, the Israeli invasion was “surgical” in its implementation.
Falwell said that among Israel’s best friends in the U.S. are “bible-believing conservative Christians.” He added: “The time has come for Israel to recognize who her friends are, who her enemies are and who can be counted on in crisis.”
Speaking with reporters before addressing the Institute, Falwell described the Palestinians as a “genuinely suffering people.” But he asked why Israel is being asked to solve the Palestinian problem and suggested that Jordan is a Palestinian state. He also rejected the idea that Israel should relinquish the West Bank, saying it would be a fatal mistake.