WASHINGTON (Jan. 31)
Israel was exalted grandly Wednesday by Evangelical Christians, including former Rep. Mark Siljander (R-Mich.), who tried to recite part of the Shema and the Hebrew blessings over bread and wine.
Moshe Arad, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, warmly accepted the support for Israel at the ninth annual National Christian Prayer Breakfast in Honor of Israel.
Arad was so overwhelmed by what he called the “electricity” of the friendly crowd that he scrapped his prepared remarks.
The breakfast took place during the 47th annual convention of National Religious Broadcasters, but it was sponsored by unrelated pro-Israel Evangelical groups, including the Tennessee-based Religious Roundtable, the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem and Beverly LaHaye’s Concerned Women for America.
Americans for a Safe Israel was the principal Jewish group involved, sponsoring a “gold table,” as did former Jewish Rep. Herbert Tenzer (D-N.Y.)
The breakfast drew a crowd of about 400 Christians and 75 Jews. A Messianic Jew, as Jews who believe in Jesus are sometimes called, sang various Israeli songs and the prayer “Osch Shalom,” as participants clapped along.
El Salvador’s vice minister for foreign affairs was congratulated because his country and Costa Rica are the only nations that recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and have their embassies there.
The five-tier, 90-person dais featured a Who’s Who of U.S. conservatives, including Howard Phillips, chairman of the Conservative Caucus, and Phyllis Schlafly, who heads the Eagle Forum.
JEWISH LEADERS PARTICIPATE
Ultraconservative Rep. Robert Dornan (R-Calif.) was also there, sitting next to and chatting with Arad.
Also on the dais were Ruth Popkin, president of the Jewish National Fund of America, and Herbert Zweibon, president of Americans for a Safe Israel.
Douglas Bloomfield, former legislative director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, was attending his first prayer breakfast.
He said that there was “good will and support” expressed, “yet it does not seem to have translated into solid votes” for Israel on Capitol Hill.
At the breakfast, one award was given to former Attorney General Edwin Meese, who was praised by Ed McAteer, president of the Religious Roundtable, for the large influx of conservatives into federal judgeships under President Reagan.
A “Friend of Israel” award was given to Dr. Ben Armstrong, who recently retired as executive director of the National Religious Broadcasters and is strongly pro-Israel.
Jack Kemp, secretary of housing and urban development, gave the keynote speech. He received a 40-second standing ovation after saying, “I don’t think Israel ought to give up an inch” of the West Bank or Gaza Strip.
Dr. Elwood McQuaid, director of the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry in Bellmawr, N.J., quoted from the prophets Jeremiah and Zachariah, as well as from Ecclesiastes and Psalm 133.
“God has said of Jews, ‘They are the chosen people. They are people of my heart and they are a people of destiny,’” he said. “So we love you, because God said it. We should, and we do.”
Afterward, McQuaid’s ministry distributed free copies of his Bible prophecy books. Additional information about Israel was distributed by various groups, including the International Christian Embassy.
But outside the Washington Sheraton Hotel, where the breakfast took place, supporters of anti-Zionist Dale Crowley Jr. distributed pamphlets that questioned how the Religious Roundtable can honor Israel, a nation “that has no constitution, that has no First Amendment-type guarantees” and that supports a state religion, Judaism.
The pamphlet mentioned the Pollard spy affair, the accidental 1967 attack by Israel on the USS Liberty and the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres in Lebanon, carried out by Christian Phalangists while the refugee camps were under Israeli control.