United Hatzalah program honors our survivors, war veterans with specialized medical care
In 1890, William Blackstone organized a conference in Chicago of Christians and Jews to respond to the pogroms then occurring in Russia. The group unanimously passed a resolution urging world leaders “to stay the hand of cruelty from these time-honored People which have given them as well as us our Bible, our religion, and our knowledge of God.”
When Blackstone introduced a resolution in support of Zionism, however, it was voted down – primarily due to Reform rabbis in attendance who rejected the concept of Jewish nationhood.
Blackstone was convinced that the only cure for the horrors confronting European Jewry was a Jewish homeland in Palestine. In 1891 he sent a petition to President Benjamin Harrison signed by 413 prominent Americans – including the chief justice of the Supreme Court, the speaker of the House, the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, many members of Congress as well as such notables as J.P. Morgan, John D. and William Rockefeller, and Cyrus McCormick. Known as the Blackstone Memorial it concluded:
Why not give Palestine back to them [the Jews] again? According to God’s distribution of nations it is their home and inalienable possession from which they were expelled by force. Under their possession it was a remarkable and fruitful land sustaining millions of Israelites…We believe this an appropriate time for all nations and especially the Christian nations of Europe to show kindness to Israel. A million of exiles, by their terrible suffering, are piteously appealing to our sympathy, justice and humanity. Let us now restore to them the land of which they were so cruelly despoiled by our Roman ancestors.
Justice Louis Brandeis wrote concerning Blackstone’s petition, “The arguments which Mr. Blackstone used in that petition were in large part the arguments which the great Herzl presented five years later in setting forth to the world the needs and the hopes of the Jewish People.”
Question: What motivated Blackstone to take on such a monumental task?
Answer: He was a devout evangelical Christian.
This historical footnote to the beginnings of Zionism came to mind some months ago when I received an e-mail from Rabbi Moshe Kushner, executive director of the Chicago Rabbinical Council, forwarding to the Orthodox rabbinate an e-mail soliciting our reactions to the report of the Iraq Study Group. Circulated by Mike Evans Ministries, its purpose was to dissuade President Bush from following through on the Study’s advice.
Evans, an evangelical minister, is the founder of the Jerusalem Prayer Team, whose purpose is to “have one million people praying daily and 100,000 houses of worship praying weekly for the peace and protection of the Jewish People.”
Today, when Israel is increasingly viewed as the underlying cause of all the tumult and terror emanating from the Middle East, it is especially important to clearly understand the deep affection evangelicals have for the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
Sadly, perhaps tragically, other than Israeli government officials and American organizations such as AIPAC, most Jews tend to express misgivings about the philo-Semitism of American Evangelicals. Yet it has become ever more apparent that their support of Israel, and Jews in general, is a major factor in determining White House and Congressional support for the Jewish state.
While not wishing to present a formal theological paper on Evangelical beliefs, I think it important for us to visit some of the major underpinnings of the faith promulgated by the fastest growing Christian churches in the U.S. today.
For many centuries, Christianity fostered something called replacement theology, according to which the Jewish refusal to accept the Nazarene as messiah resulted in the Church assuming the status of New Israel and inheriting the prophetic promises of God’s benevolence to the Jews, or Old Israel.
It is to replacement theology – the nullification of the Jews as God’s chosen people and its natural extension of ascribing to the Jew every form of evil, including deicide – that Christian anti-Semitism owes both its beginnings and subsequent growth.
Even in recent decades, most mainline churches that claim to have disavowed this significant source of anti-Semitism and replaced it with what is commonly referred to as covenant theology (in which Jews and the State of Israel enjoy no special theological status) still have tremendous difficulty dealing with the reality of the Jewish people.
About the Author: Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz is the rav of Agudas Achim North Shore Congregation in Chicago. During his 43 years in the rabbinate he has led congregations in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom and served as an officer, Executive Committee member and chair of the Legislative Committee of the Chicago Rabbinical Council.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Egypt has been more effective against Gazan smuggling tunnels than Israel’s military operations
She had many names and was many things to many people, but to me she was just Babineni.
Is ISIS in Gaza? “No, but there are ISIS loyalists here..we pray to God they unite under ISIS’ flag”
Iran knows Obama, Putin, and the Europeans don’t have a Red Line beyond which they will go to war
There is no way to explain the Holocaust. I know survivors who are not on speaking terms with G-d. I know many who are the opposite. I have no right to go there…
When a whole side of your family perishes, friends become the extended family you do not have.
“We stand with Israel because of its values and its greatness and because its such a wonderful ally”
Mr. Obama himself inelegantly cautioned members of the Senate to be careful not to “screw up” the negotiations by seeking to have input into the future of the sanctions regime that has been imposed on Iran.
For our community, Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy record will doubtless attract the most attention. And it is a most interesting one.
Mitchell Bard is nothing if not prolific. He has written and edited 23 books, including “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Middle East” and “The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East.” Bard, who has a Ph.D. in political science from UCLA, is also the executive director of both the […]
Understanding the process described in Dayenu reveals deep relevance for us today.
For Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, the tanks, planes, and uniforms of the IDF were implements of mitzvot
The law protects businessman from participating in an activity against their religious beliefs.
Islam and Christianity are “universal churches” believing THEIR truth to the exclusion of all faiths
Despite all evidence to the contrary you yet claim that “As a Jew, support for Israel is in my DNA.”
Your contention that Netanyahu wants a US-Iran war to benefit Israel is a canard of anti-Semites
Obama has an apparent inability to understand Islam in particular and Mid-East culture in general
Punishment of those waging war against Allah and his messenger…is they be murdered or crucified
Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, died recently. The other day I saw a clip of him singing “Amazing Grace.” The sincerity in his voice was unmistakable. And why not? That hymn is his only saving grace. For Byrd found his faith in the Baptist church, which teaches that all sin can be washed away “in the blood of Christ.” It is divine grace and not good works that rights the wrongs perpetrated against one’s fellow human beings.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/roots-of-evangelical-support-for-israel/2007/08/29/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: