Unrequited Love: Evangelicals and Jews

Who would have thought that the key to battling the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Obama's United States lies in these words: "Jesus loves me! This I know, For the Bible tells me so."

The children of Evangelical Christians sing this hymn in bible schools across the country, reflecting belief in a life lived according to the will of God as revealed in the bible. No moral relativism here: on the one hand, God-honoring living, and the other, sin and defiance. Right and wrong -- it is that simple.  And it is this biblical view of the world that underlies the unwavering Evangelical Christian support of Israel and Judaism. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has noted, Israel and the Jews "have no greater friends and allies" than the 70-million strong Evangelical Christian community in the United States -- better friends, in fact, than much of the American Jewish Community.

Worldview -- influenced by the Judeo-Christian values underlying scripture -- has relentlessly led Evangelicals to the conclusion that the work-in-progress known as Israel deserves support in a region where thuggery, terror, and misogyny are status quo. Emphasizing individual value and righteous living, the Israelis possess a moral clarity that has allowed them to build a democracy that ranks sixth out of 35 democratic countries in fairness, similar to the United States.  American Evangelicals recognize this, partly counterbalancing the suicidal support a significant portion of the Jewish community provides to a Democratic Party that allies itself with those who wish to eliminate Jews, both foreign and domestic. One measure of the power of this support is the lengths to which leftists have gone, says Ed Lasky of American Thinker, to create a chasm between Evangelicals and Israel.

Christianity continues to throw aside a long history of anti-Semitism to embrace what increasingly powerful Evangelicals see as God's view of the Jewish people. The most popular mainstream Evangelical theology textbook is blunt in its direction to believers: revere and respect the special place of Jews, Judaism and Israel in God's plan for humanity. Zev Chafets, former New York Daily News columnist and Israeli politician, calls the Jewish-Evangelical alliance "a match made in heaven." Dr. Randall Price, head of the prestigious Judaic studies institute at Liberty University (Evangelical), has had a 30-year relationship with Israel based on the scriptural dictate to "love God, love Israel, and love the Jews."

This bible-based approach has produced strong Evangelical support. Christian tourism has kept the Israeli tourism industry afloat when Jews cut back. The Israeli Ministry of Tourism reports that 1.8 million of the 3 million visitors last year were Christians, capping a 40% increase in the past eight years in Christians from the United States.

Evangelicals are dramatically more supportive of Israel than the nearly half of the six million American Jews who, according to The National Jewish Population Survey, identify themselves as reformed and/or secular Jews, many of whom are hostile toward both Israel and bible-based Judaism. They reject God in favor of "peoplehood."As Dennis Prager, the columnist and radio talk host who describes himself as a bible-honoring Jew, notes, "their religion is rarely Judaism." Instead, "it is every ‘ism' of the Left. These include liberalism, socialism, feminism, Marxism, and environmentalism."  

The result: God has become the enemy for significant numbers of American Jews, and the enemies of God their allies.  Noted scholar James Q. Wilson, the former Harvard professor who won the Presidential Medal of Freedom for the "moral clarity" of his scholarship, pointed out that, in fact, God stands between the progressive, more vocal half of the American Jewish community and Evangelicals. Evangelicals look upon scripture as a guide to moral living while the former are garden-variety radicals who view God as an oppressive myth.

He continues: After "Marxist claims about the proletariat proved false and capitalism was vindicated as the best way to achieve economic affluence," the left replaced "the proletariat" with "the oppressed" as its "object of affection."  For the Jewish left "Israel has merely replaced John D. Rockefeller at the top of the (enemies) list." These Jews are part of a feverish left for which it makes sense that Evangelical Christians would support Israel, for both ensure terrorism as they oppress the "powerless." Case in point: Rabid Marxist and anti-Semitic Jew Dr. David Boyarin, a Talmud (traditional Jewish bible commentaries) professor at the University of California at Berkeley, who maintains that the highest form of Judaism is the destruction of Israel, and that the genetic composition of the Jewish race -- if allowed to grow -- will result in the oppression by Jews of other people.

American Jews need to rethink alliances.  Syndicated columnist and Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer warns the Jewish community "it is a sign of the disorientation of a distressed and confused people that we should find it so difficult to distinguish our friends from our enemies."  He may well have had in mind the comments of Rabbi Eric Yoffie, who heads the largest and largely secular (and least supportive of Israel) affiliate of American Judaism. Yoffie compared Evangelical leaders like the late Dr. Jerry Falwell to Hitler. Yet, according to Yechiel Eckstein, the Orthodox rabbi who heads the International Fellowship of Christian and Jews, Falwell had a lifelong, passionately loving relationship with Israel and Judaism based on shared biblical values -- in other words, because the bible told him so. Another American Jewish progressive, the head of one of the largest Jewish organizations in the United States, the Anti-Defamation League, recently "declared war on conservative Christians." Progressive Jews have demonstrated that, absent faith in the God of scripture and a bible-based worldview, American Jews tend toward hostility to Israel and the God-inspired morality of bible-centered Judaism (see "Progressive Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism). In fact, as American Thinker's Richard Baehr puts it, many are already "working for the enemy."

Rodney Stark, the Berkeley-educated sociologist who has made a distinguished career out of exploding the dogma of the leftist Knowledge Elites (the title of his highly praised recent study of the effects of Christianity on culture gives you an idea of his approach, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success), uses survey research to show that "irreligious Jews" comprise a significant percentage of the highly educated elites who are susceptible to new age religions and cultic movements. Irreligious Jews flock to quasi-religious movements, both political and social, because they "lack an anchorage in (the) conventional faith" of Judeo-Christian traditions. In other words, they are spiritually starved.

As Pogo, the cartoon character (and nonsectarian possum), famously said, "We have met the enemy and he is us." Without biblical standards, progressive American Jews have devolved into a self-destructive bar scene from Star Wars, a Mos Eisley Cantina of mainstream liberals, academic Marxists, and political and media elites snarling their way toward annihilation.

Perhaps it is time for the other half to speak up. The less vocal religious portion of the American Jewish community would, like Israel, find a staunch ally in Evangelicals, together embracing Judeo-Christian traditions and an Israeli nation that has consistently displayed morality and restraint toward those who seek to destroy it.

What would it take? The first step for the American Jewish community is to adopt the slogan that arose out of its biblical traditions, providing the foundation for Christian support of Jews and Israel: "In God We Trust."

Stuart H. Schwartz, Ph.D., is a former newspaper and retail executive. He is on the faculty at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
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