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Yael Eckstein had to pinch herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. There she was, an Orthodox Israeli Jew, at a 500-year-old synagogue in Marrakesh, distributing food parcels to Muslims for Ramadan. It seemed too good to be true. But as she quickly learned, it was just another day in Morocco, a country that defies norms, defines tolerance and is home to a dwindling population of 2,500 Jews. What legacy do Jews want to leave in Morocco? Eckstein, the senior vice president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, gives her take in an essay for JNS.org.
The strategic importance of Christian Zionism was featured this week at the 2017 Herzliya Conference, one of Israel’s most prominent annual policy summits. “We’re excited to be here…taking part in the Herzliya Conference, and being able to communicate the love of Christians to Israeli decision makers, policy makers, academics and all. It’s a great privilege for us and we hope it has real practical impact for the state of Israel,” David Parsons, vice president and senior spokesman for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, told JNS.org.
Every few years, a young far-left activist discovers Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and they are appalled. The idea of conservative Evangelicals advocating for the Jewish state runs counter to every prejudice about Christians the young advocate was raised to harbor. So the individual scours the internet, desperately hunting for that one item that will confirm their bigotry. And when they come up dry, they ignore, tinker with or amend the facts because they cannot confront a simple reality: they are intolerant of Evangelical Christians, writes Ari Morgenstern, CUFI communications director, in JNS.org.
Pastor Victor Styrsky and his congregation were celebrating Jerusalem’s reunification when they were disrupted by agitators from the leftist, anti-Zionist Jewish group IfNotNow. Evangelical Christians today are arguably the Jewish people’s staunchest allies. To disrupt Christians in their place of worship is an affront to all Christians and to the larger Jewish community, writes columnist Abraham H. Miller.
Described as one of the most significant archaeological finds in modern Israel, the Magdala Stone, unearthed in 2009, has been unveiled to the public for first time as part of a joint exhibition on the history of the menorah May 15-July 23 between the Vatican Museums and the Jewish Museum of Rome. “This is a dream that finally comes to fulfillment,” said Father Juan Solana, general director of the Magdala Center, whose work focuses on the stone dubbed a “crossroads of Jewish and Christian history.” Scholars contend the Magdala Stone’s menorah depiction is the oldest carved image of the Second Temple’s menorah ever found.
Lutheran church leaders are again asking the U.S. to pay some of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) unpaid debts to the Lutheran-sponsored Augusta Victoria hospital in eastern Jerusalem, but the American Jewish Committee (AJC), in a reversal, is declining to assist the effort. JNS.org reported in March that the AJC had quietly pressed U.S. officials and lawmakers to help pay the PA’s bills to the hospital. Farley Weiss, president of the National Council of Young Israel, praised the AJC for “properly correcting its policy so that it will no longer fall victim to this duplicitous strategy of the Palestinian Authority,” which “has perfected a policy of deliberately using aid for improper purposes and then getting more aid.”
At the 2017 Evangelical Press Association (EPA) convention, the quest for “inspiration, instruction and interaction” could not escape the specter of dissension and controversy that has haunted the evangelical Christian media since President Donald Trump’s election. Political discourse aside, the conference lived up to its intended purpose of fostering unity by enabling media professionals to build relationships with representatives from Israel and the Jewish community. “I would say the majority of those who are a part of the EPA really have a commitment and a strong feeling toward Israel, in terms of supporting Israel,” said Jill Daly, Midwest director for Israel’s Ministry of Tourism, which was an EPA conference sponsor.
As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan assumed near-dictatorial powers following his dubious victory in a constitutional referendum April 16, Andrew Brunson, a Christian pastor from North Carolina, was marking his sixth month in a Turkish prison over an unsubstantiated charge. What makes Brunson’s case particularly outrageous, writes JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen, is that his imprisonment comes in Turkey—traditionally an ally of the U.S., a member of NATO and widely regarded in the years prior to Erdoğan’s rise as the ideal model for a secular state with a Muslim majority.
As the Islamic State terror group faces setbacks in Syria and Iraq, its affiliate in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula has turned its sights on the region’s Coptic Christian minority as part of its ongoing insurgency against the Egyptian government. More than 350 Christian families have recently fled from the Sinai city of El Arish, near the Egyptian border with Gaza and Israel. The mass displacement of Coptic Christians from the Sinai was prompted by a string of murders and threats by Islamic State terrorists in that region since late January. “The Islamic State is losing in Iraq and Syria, and has decided to lash out through its affiliates in places like the Sinai Peninsula,” said Robert Nicholson, director of the Philos Project, an organization that promotes “positive Christian engagement in the Middle East.”
“There is no place in the Bible…that any of these people can hang their hat on,” said Laurie Cardoza-Moore, founder and president of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, in a rebuke to Christians who promote the BDS movement against Israel. “It is fake theology, like it is fake news!” she said, earning a thunderous applause at the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) International Christian Media Convention. NRB—whose stated mission is to “advance biblical truth; to promote media excellence; and to defend free speech”—made Christian support for Israel a major theme at its conference this year.
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.