Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses participants at the 13th annual CUFI summit, held from July 23-24, 2018. Screenshot: YouTube.
The deepening ties between Christians and Jews within the framework of their mutual support for Israel were reflected in Christmas Eve messages from Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, and Pastor John Hagee, head of Christians United for Israel.
In a video released the day before Christmas, Netanyahu reiterated his appreciation for the support Israel receives from the Christian community worldwide.
“Merry Christmas to all our Christian friends in Israel and around the world,” he said. “The State of Israel is the culmination of so many prophecies and our deepest held values. We share the common civilization, the Judeo-Christian civilization, that has given the world the values of freedom, individual liberty, the sanctity of life and the belief in one G-d.”
“We are proud of our traditions. We are proud of our Christian friends. The State of Israel would not have come into being if it weren’t for the avid support of Christians in the 19th century, in the 20th century as well and in the 21st century,” he continued. “We know that we have no better friends around the world than our Christian friends. So thank you. Thank you all for standing up with Israel, standing up for the truth.”
Hagee, a Texas-based pastor who leads CUFI, a pro-Israel advocacy group with over 7 million members, sent out an email on the day before Christmas thanking members for supporting Israel.
“Thank you for standing with over 7 million Christians United for Israel members as we speak with one voice in defense of Israel and the Jewish people,” wrote Hagee.
“We pray that the New Year is one of supernatural abundance as together we shine the light of truth regarding God’s covenant people and nation. We ask that the Almighty’s holy presence surround you like a shield as you continue to obey His mandate to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”
Widespread Christian support for Israel and the Jewish people, especially among Biblically-inspired Evangelicals, is a relatively new phenomenon that has evolved over the past 40 years. It began in the late 1970s with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s outreach to prominent American Christian leaders, including Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Among Israeli prime ministers since then, Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, has made reaching out to the Christian community a priority.
Inspired by Falwell and Robertson, among others, many of Israel’s Christian friends today embrace Genesis 12:3 — God’s promise to Abraham that “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you” — and interpret it as a directive to stand with Israel and the Jewish people.