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President Donald Trump recently stated that persecuted Christians in the Middle East would be given priority as refugees. If Iraqi Kurdistan were to aid in the rebuilding of the Assyrian national homeland, it would represent a goodwill gesture that would reverberate to Washington and send a powerful message that the genocide of Middle East Christians will not be tolerated. A new U.S.-backed alliance between Kurdistan, Assyria and Israel that enshrines Western principles of freedom and democracy would create an oasis of peace and prosperity in an area of the world that desperately needs it, writes columnist Bradley Martin.

Did you know that the transformation of Tu B’Shvat from an obscure Kabbalistic holiday to its current incarnation can trace its origins to a Christian-oriented, proto-environmentalist activity in 19th-century Nebraska? Hizky Shoham, a research fellow at the Jerusalem-based Shalom Hartman Institute, recounts the story behind a little-known quirk of timing and history surrounding the “Jewish Arbor Day,” which falls on Feb. 11 this year.

Aside from its centrality to Jewish peoplehood as the home of the ancient Jewish Temples and now the modern state of Israel’s capital, Jerusalem is also synonymous with Judaism for many Bible-reading Christians. As such, prominent pro-Israel Christian organizations are lining up to express their support for President Donald Trump’s promise to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and to hold the president accountable for his words. “Hundreds of millions of Christians around the world understand from their Bible the spiritual significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people, and that it was established as the capital of Israel some 3,000 years ago by King David,” said Susan Michael, U.S. director for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, adding that Christians “want to see the U.S. standing in support of Israel and enjoying the blessings of doing so.”

Hours before leaving office, former President Barack Obama quietly released $221 million to the Palestinian Authority (PA), thereby encouraging Palestinian terrorism against Israel by actually funding it. Additionally, Obama’s State Department forced Iraqi Christian militias to join the Popular Mobilization Force militia, an Iranian proxy, in order to qualify for American support in their fight for survival against the Islamic State terror group. Through his final act of betrayal on PA funding, Obama solidified his legacy as having nothing but contempt for the state of Israel and for Mideast Christians who are victims of genocide, writes columnist Bradley Martin.

The recent military victory of Syrian government forces in Aleppo could prove to be a major turning point in the country’s bloody civil war, which has lasted nearly six years. Similarly, in Iraq, government forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition and Kurdish allies have been engaging in an operation to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State terror group. Yet the major military operations in Syria and Iraq have come with the costs of devastation and immense human suffering. This has been especially true for the region’s minority groups, such as the Christians, who have been targeted for genocide by Islamic extremists while getting caught in the crossfire between more powerful Sunni and Shi’a Muslim governments and armies. As such, upon the arrival of this year’s Christmas season, the ancient and dwindling Mideast Christian community still finds itself fighting for survival.

Western policy towards Middle Eastern Christian refugees is an abysmal failure. Despite Secretary of State John Kerry designating the Islamic State terror group as being responsible for genocide against Christians and Yazidis, President Barack Obama still hasn’t prioritized efforts to rescue them. Out of all the Syrian refugees admitted into the U.S., only 0.5 percent were Christians, while even fewer were Yazidis. This leaves Israel as the last hope for Mideast Christians. Since the West cannot be counted on to provide refuge for Christians, Israel should lead the way for Christians to achieve self-determination and statehood in an increasingly hostile region, writes columnist Bradley Martin.

Marcie Lenk recently saw worlds being created. Her students, 50 Catholic participants in the four-year degree program of the Salesian Pontifical University housed at the Ratisbonne monastery in Jerusalem, together with four priests, traveled north to spend a day studying with students at a yeshiva. Lenk, a Shalom Hartman Institute research fellow as well as a teacher of both Jewish and Christian texts, recounts the unique interfaith experience in an op-ed for JNS.org. 

Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds never spoke about his experiences as a prisoner of war during World War II. Captured during the Battle of the Bulge, Roddie survived an arduous march through frozen terrain and was interned for nearly 100 days at Stalag IXA, a POW camp near Ziegenhain, Germany. “Son, there are some things I’d rather not talk about,” Roddie would tell his boys, Kim and Chris Edmonds, when they were young. When Roddie died in 1985, Chris, now a Baptist pastor, inherited his father’s war diaries. Now that his father’s wartime stories are known, Chris said his life has been “turned upside down.” The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, an organization that identifies non-Jewish rescuers of Holocaust survivors and pays tribute to their courage, honored Roddie’s memory Nov. 28 with the Yehi Ohr Award during the foundation’s annual dinner at the New York City Public Library. 

With Iraqi forces on the march to liberate Mosul from the grips of the Islamic State, Iraq’s beleaguered Assyrian Christians have renewed hopes of returning to their ancestral homeland in the Nineveh Plains region surrounding Mosul, the country’s second largest city.

The United Nations cultural body, UNESCO, passed a resolution Thursday that condemns Israeli actions at Jerusalem’s holy sites and ignores any Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall complex.

Among the world's estimated 100 million to 150 million Beni Anusim (descendants of forced Sephardi Jewish converts to Christianity), some from Spanish and Portuguese communities are reconnecting to their roots in Israel.

 

Jonathan Elkoury, who fled the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah's rule in his homeland,  says that to improve the life of Christians everywhere, Israeli Christians should speak out about their positive experiences as minorities in the Holy Land.

When Father Juan Solana, a Catholic priest, wanted to construct a guest house for Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land in the Galilee region in 2009, he couldn’t have imagined he’d become the leader of incredible archaeological findings, exposing the rich Christian and Jewish history of the area. The findings include the remains of a first century synagogue, dated to the Second Temple period and the time of Jesus’s life, and most recently a domestic water installation and water channel from the same era.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), the largest Lutheran denomination in the U.S., passed two Israel-related resolutions earlier this month at its triennial assembly in New Orleans, La. While some pro-Israel groups are decrying the Lutheran church's "scapegoating of Israel" and its apparent movement towards embracing divestment, other Jewish leaders detect hopeful signs with the church's most recent positions.

Since being elected as the leader of the world’s roughly 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in 2013, Pope Francis has never shied away from breaking with traditional Catholic dogma by speaking his mind. However, recent comments by the pontiff on radical Islamic terrorism have overshadowed his first official visit to Poland and Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, writes JNS' Editorial Assistant Shalle' McDonald.

“In each and every generation they rise up against us to destroy us,” Israeli MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) reminded a packed Knesset hall earlier this month during the premier joint meeting of the Knesset Caucus to Fight Delegitimization of Israel and the Christian Allies Caucus. The focus of the event: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), and how Jewish and Christian supporters of Israel can work together to quash the economic warfare movement against Israel.

During the Holocaust era, there could have been greater numbers of Christians who actively helped stand up for what is right. Today, we see Christians who make the choice to ignore what they hear about new forms of anti-Semitism. There are Christians who join “peace and justice” activists and embrace a cause they think is good and right. They are being swayed by the fashionable attitudes of the “progressive left” when the truth is that anti-Semitism is beginning to shake the world again. Christians must be more engaged in learning not only about the historical oppression of Jews, but about the current overt hatred of Jews through the promotion of lies and misinformation about Israel, writes Carla Brewington, a doctoral graduate of the Fuller Theological Seminary in California.

While much of the media focused on the recent terror attack in Nice, the failed coup in Turkey, and the Republican National Convention, thousands of evangelical Christians gathered in the nation’s capital this week to show their support for Israel as part of the 11th annual Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Washington Summit. Although world events may have overshadowed its latest gathering, CUFI’s base of support—3.1 million members—is louder than ever. CUFI has become not only the self-described largest pro-Israel organization in America, but also likely the largest evangelical Christian organization of its kind. Much of CUFI's momentum stems from how Israel has become “one of the top issues for evangelicals” in a post-9/11 world. “All of a sudden [after 9/11] this distant land of Israel, battling these Islamic enemies, many realized that we are also facing the same threats and enemies,” said David Brog, one of CUFI’s founders and the director of its executive board.

Dr. Tim Shepherd raised his son Adam, a pre-law student at the University of North Texas, to become a devoted supporter of Israel. The Shepherds not only support Israel from their vantage point as Christian Zionists, but they also prioritize connecting fellow Christians to the Jewish community in order to foster deep, lasting friendships. “We need to be best friends,” Tim Shepherd told JNS.org, detailing how he and his Jewish friends attend each other’s birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, weddings, and funerals. Tim and Adam Shepherd are both supporters of the Bnai Zion Foundation, a century-old Jewish organization that funds Israeli humanitarian projects. Last month, Adam was among the Christian honorees at Bnai Zion’s Texas Region Spring Reception in Dallas. The event—a night to honor Jewish and Christian donors who have helped raise money to support the Ahava Village for Children and Youth in northern Israel, a Bnai Zion beneficiary—embodied an interfaith community of generosity and special kinship.

“When it comes to apartheid, Israel sucks.” It’s a key quote delivered by American comedian Brad Stine, a devout Christian and a featured personality in the new documentary film “Hating Israel: In Search of the Truth Behind BDS.” The premiere of the film produced by Laurie Cardoza-Moore—founder and president of the Christian Zionist organization Proclaiming Justice to the Nations—was held in Jerusalem on June 8. Stine shapes his opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while traveling throughout Israel and the Palestinian territories. He carries out a series of interviews with Jews, Christians, and Muslims to get their thoughts about what life is really like. The comedian is hopeful that his humorous interviews will be an effective tool to help the film's viewers digest a serious message. “Humor helps people ‘take the medicine’ of a documentary,” Stine tells JNS.org.