Scores of Christian supporters from around the world gathered in Israel’s parliament on Tuesday, marking the 20th anniversary of the Knesset’s Christian Allies Caucus in a show of solidarity amid the war against Hamas in Gaza.
The event, which came on a somber day following the single deadliest attack on Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip since the war broke out three and half months ago underscored the growing force of faith-based diplomacy around the globe.
“Over the last 20 years, you have proven in the best possible way what true friendship is, what true love is and what shared goals and values we share,” Caucus co-chair Knesset Member Yuli Edelstein (Likud) told the gathering. The group, comprising mostly evangelical Christian leaders, some of whom have been active in the cross-party parliamentary group since its inception in 2004, had traveled to Israel for the occasion.
“We struggle on the battlefield in Gaza, in the north and in the battlefield of the media, but looking in this room I know that Israel has true friends around the world,” said co-chair MK Sharren Haskel of Benny Gantz’s National Unity Party, which is part of Israel’s emergency war government. “We are not just fighting for our country and people but for our identity and who we are,” she said.
A commemoration of faith-based diplomacy
The event, held in the Knesset’s Jerusalem Hall, began with a prayer for the State of Israel, Israel Defense Forces soldiers and the more than 100 hostages still being held in Gaza.
“It is very moving to see these alliances and the large presence of people who want to help Israel,” said Yarden Gonen, whose 23-year-old sister Romi is still a hostage after being abducted from the Supernova music festival on Oct. 7. “It gives me a lot of hope,” she told JNS.
“Today is not a celebration but a commemoration of something that happened in this building 20 years ago: the start of faith-based diplomacy,” said Caucus director Josh Reinstein. “Today everybody understands the importance of Christian support for Israel.”
The brainchild of the late Israeli legislators Yuri Shtern and Benny Elon, the bipartisan caucus has gathered strength over the years, overcoming both initial hesitation at working with Christians and concern over missionizing. It blossomed from cooperation with the largely supportive conservative evangelical community into an increasingly influential and pioneering body that has formed partnerships with over 50 parliaments around the globe and now boasts a network of over 1,500 legislators.
Most recently, the Caucus launched an international push to dismantle UNRWA, the U.N. organization that deals exclusively with Palestinian refugees and their descendants amid growing national and international concerns over its terror ties with Hamas.
A Judeo-Christian war against radical Islam
All the Israeli parliamentarians who addressed the afternoon event stressed that the war against Hamas in Gaza was not just a war on Israel but a war on shared Judeo-Christian values.
“This is a Jewish and Christian war against radical Islam and our way of life,” said MK Matan Kahana of the National Unity Party.
MK Tatiana Mazarsky of Yair Lapid’s opposition Yesh Atid Party said, “It is not enough just to express sympathy—help us get the truth out actively. We don’t have anyone to trust anymore except for you.”
The head of the largest evangelical organization in Jerusalem concurred that now was a time of action and moral clarity.
“It is not enough anymore to say we love Israel,” said Juergen Buehler, Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. “This nation needs action…in a very practical way.”
He urged pro-Israel church leaders to go beyond lip service in their prayer services.
“It is not acceptable that in our countries more Muslims are demonstrating in our streets against Israel than Christians standing for Israel,” said Buehler. “We need to speak up in our countries as never before.”