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December 29, 2014 / 7 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Christian Zionists’

Dutch Christians’ Mega-Menorah Helps Jews Come Out of their Shell

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Amsterdam’s Chabad Rabbi Binyamin Jacobs lit the candles on the first night Hanukkah Wednesday on a 36-foot menorah with a six-ton base that was made with donations by Christian Zionists.

Klaas Zijlstr designed and built the menorah, in the shape of a Star of David, in his metal workshop in the northern tip of the Netherlands. Possibly the largest in all of Europe, the handiwork of a Protestant metal contractor is meant to be a sign of solidarity by Christian Zionists with the Jewish people.

“It’s exactly like the rabbi wanted,” Zijlstra said.

Rabbi Jacobs helped Zijlstra and a group called Christians for Israel design the nine-branch candelabrum so it could be used for the eight-day holiday, which began Wednesday night and which was lit in front of hundreds of Christians and Jews during a public ceremony in Nijkerk, not far from Amsterdam.

Though commonplace in the United States and even in Russia, public Hanukkah events are a recent and revolutionary development in the Netherlands. Here they signify the growing self-confidence and openness of a Jewish community whose near annihilation in the Holocaust left a deeply entrenched tendency to keep a low profile.

“Twenty years ago, this wouldn’t‎‎ have been possible,” said Arjen Lont, the Christian Zionist businessman who donated $40,000 to build and transport the menorah. “It requires a lot of openness.”

Lont says the purpose of the giant menorah, which can be used either with electric bulbs or oil lamps, is to send a message.

“After unspeakable suffering, the horrors of the Holocaust and most recently the attacks on Israel, Jews may feel they are alone,” Lont told JTA. “This is our way of saying you are not alone; we are behind you.”

The first public Hanukkah lighting ceremony in the country was organized in 1989 in Buitenveldert, near Amsterdam, by the wife of a Chabad rabbi, according to Bart Wallet, a historian of Dutch Jewry at the University of Amsterdam.

Today, such events are held annually in 19 municipalities, from the northern city of Leeuwarden, near Berlikum, to the southern border city of Maastricht, according to Rabbi Jacobs.

He said that public menorah lightings in the country signify the Jewish community’s confidence in asserting its place in Dutch society.

“Nowadays it’s also saying we are here; we are also a part of the fabric of religious communities and society,” he explained.

Dutch Jewish reticence toward public displays of faith dates back at least to the 19th century, according to Wallet, when Dutch rabbis decreed that no Jewish rituals should be held in the public domain. At the time, Dutch Jews were keen on integrating into a democratic society as equal citizens, and they considered it counterproductive to showcase religious customs that set them apart from their compatriots.

The tendency was greatly reinforced after the Holocaust, when three-quarters of Holland’s population of 140,000 Jews perished — a higher percentage than anywhere else in occupied Western Europe. Today, about 40,000 Jews live in the Netherlands.

Wallet says things began to change in the 1970s, when Dutch Jews began displaying greater activism around anti-Semitism and Israel.

Even today, however, many Dutch Jews retain a sense of reticence when it comes to public displays of religion.

“There’s nothing wrong with these Hanukkah events, but to me they don’t seem familiar,” said Jaap Hartog, chairman of the umbrella group of Dutch Jewry, called the Dutch Israelite Religious Community, or NIK. “To me, Hanukkah is more a holiday that you celebrate at home with your family. The public candle lightings are more of an American thing.

“On a personal level, I’m not too keen on participating.”

Initially, Chabad rabbis organized candle lighting ceremonies as part of their efforts to reach lapsed Jews, but today the menorah lightings are not organized exclusively by Chabad. Nathan Bouscher, a Jewish activist who is not himself religious, has co-organized candle lightings at the Dam, Amsterdam’s best-known square.

“It’s a way to build bridges between Jews and the non-Jewish environment, but also within the community and between Dutch-born Jews and the thousands of Israelis who live here and the tourists from Israel,” Bouscher said.

Back at Zijlstra’s metal workshop, his menorah is attracting attention from neighbors. During the test run last week, a few of them stopped by to admire his handiwork and congratulate him.

New Christian Israeli-Arab Party Fed Up with Anti-Zionist Arabs

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

An Arab-Israeli ship captain announced he is founding a Christian-Arab political party that will recognize Israel as a Jewish state and will promote civilian national service.

Bashara Shlayan’s party will be called Bnei Brit HaHadasha, a Hebrew term that can be translated as “new allies” and also “children of the New Testament.” The party is sponsored by Christians from northern Israel and he plans on running a party list in the next Knesset elections, which can take place anywhere up to four years from today.

Approximately 10 percent of Israel’s Arab citizens are Christian, which comes out to approximately 2 percent of Israel’s population.

Fed up with Israeli’s Muslim Arab Knesset Members, most of whom frequently preach hate and incitement against Israel, Shlayan said, “You need to be like any citizen. If you were in America, you wouldn’t be an American? At least in Israel, those who stayed here have been given the right to be a citizen and to integrate. But Israel’s first demand, which I support — and which needs to be understood — is that Israel is the home of the Jewish people.”

“We saw that we have to establish a political party, so we advertised in local Arab newspapers and the initiative took off [attracting] Christians who recognize that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews,” Shlayan said. He explained that the Muslim Arab parties in Israel have an agenda that does not benefit Christians.

He told the Israel HaYom newspaper that he was promoted to form his party after he ran into difficulties in helping his son and nephew enlisting in the IDF. His nephew now is in a combat unit.

Shlayan and supporters have established a pro-enlistment forum that he said has boosted the number of Christian Arab youth who have joined the army, to the extent that the IDF has appointed a coordinator for the Christian Arab sector.

“We… invited the priests of the church to a conference we held in Nazareth Illit. One of them is the patriarch of the Church, Father Gabriel Nadaf, who has drawn the ire of Arab Knesset members after encouraging Christian Arab youth to join the Israeli army. The priest supported us,” Shlayan added.

Nadaf was excommunicated by the Orthodox Church Council after he urged Christian youth to serve in the IDF or in civilian national service.

“The current Israeli Arab leaders think being against Israel is Arab nationalism, and if you object to this way of thinking, you are a traitor. This is what needs to be changed. It is utter stupidity. Therefore, we demand that we Christians be recognized as loyal citizens of the state of Israel.”

Shlayan has lamented harassment from Muslim Arabs in Nazareth who he charged with trying to push Christian Arabs out of the city.

Open Letter: Dear Pastor Hagee and Christian Zionists

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

[Pastor John Hagee is the head of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) - an American pro-Israel Christian organization that defines itself as "a national grassroots movement focused on the support of Israel." It is the largest Christian pro-Israel organization in the United States.]

Dear Pastor Hagee and Christians Zionists,

Thank you for the work that you are doing. Christians supporting Israel is a beautiful phenomenon and it is beginning to heal the many wounds that Jews suffered at the hands of persecutors in the name of the Church for almost two-millennia. It is amazing to see Christians singing Israeli songs in beautiful harmony, waving the flag of Israel along with the flag of the USA, and even donating their hard-earned money to many causes of Israel. It is a sight that past generations could not have imagined, and it is a blessing for Israel and a blessing for Christians as well.

To be sure, there is still lingering suspicion between our two worlds. Among the Jews, there are many who doubt the sincerity of Christians with regard to Israel. Jewish skepticism is understandable since the dark past is still fresh while some Christian circles continue to practice underhanded missionizing tactics against Jews and maintain a goal of infiltrating Israel. These keep many Jews from believing that there are Christians who truly love Israel without ulterior motives.

For its side, the Christian world is certainly not homogeneous. While Israel-lovers make their voices heard, Israel-haters, like those who recently organized the “Christ at the Checkpoint Conference” in Bethlehem seek to undermine Israel’s sovereignty. These Christians do not see the ingathering of the Jews to the land of Israel as a fulfillment of prophecy but rather an obstacle to their theological supremacy. For them, replacement theology is alive and well, with Christianity attempting to best Judaism and Palestine aiming to replace Israel.

This is why true Christian Zionism is so important: it gives a platform for Bible-believing pro-Israel Christians to show their real love for Israel, to heal the painful past, and to offset the forces that want to use Christianity to bring Israel down.

However, if Christian Zionism to is win the ideological war against replacement theology, and earn Jewish trust, Christian Zionism needs to take a stand on real issues. Standing with Israel means backing Israel when we face our enemies. Today, those enemies use, more and more, the tool of delegitimization to remove the underpinnings of the Jewish State. Shockingly, some of the US Government’s own policies lend a hand to the delegitimization campaign, and it is in this arena where Israel-loving American citizens in general, and American Christian Zionists in particular, can make a difference.

Here is one example among many:

When I speak with American Christian groups I ask: “Do you know that the US is the number-one delegitimizer of Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem?”

People are invariably shocked when I explain that the US refuses to place its embassy in Jerusalem because it does not recognize Jerusalem as part of Israel, let alone the capital of Israel. The State Department does not even add the word “Israel” to the word “Jerusalem” in any official document including birth certificates, passports, and death certificates, so that children born in Jerusalem (like my daughter) have no “country of birth” listed in their American papers.

As Ambassador Yoram Ettinger has written: “Israel is the only country in the world, whose (3,000 year old) capital is not recognized by the State Department and by the Presidents of the US. However 71% [of the American people] support (and 9% oppose) Jerusalem as Israel’s indivisible capital.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/dear-pastor-hagee-and-christians-united-for-israel-cufi/2012/06/07/

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