MK Yuli Edelstein addresses Christian supporters of Israel at the Knesset in Jerusalem, May 2, 2023. Courtesy.
by Etgar Lefkovits
(JNS) — The relationship between the Jewish state and the Christian world is a strategic imperative unparalleled in two millennia, Israeli lawmakers said on May 2.
The remarks, made to visiting Christian leaders at the Knesset, come at a time of burgeoning relations between Israel and the global evangelical community that has yielded increasing diplomatic, political and economic results.
“Our relationship with our greatest Christian supporters is not just a matter of shared spiritual affinity, but it is also a strategic imperative,” said member of Knesset Sharren Haskel, co-chair of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, which hosted the meeting.
“The importance of strengthening cooperation between Christian leaders and the State of Israel cannot be underestimated,” said MK Yuli Edelstein, who also co-chairs the caucus. “We look around and we see your love for Jerusalem and the State of Israel.”
Established in 2004, the caucus has 17 members from five parties including the ruling Likud as well as the two largest opposition parties — Yesh Atid and National Unity.
Over the last two decades, it has formed partnerships with 52 caucuses the world over — including 17 in Europe and 12 in Africa — with a network of 1,250 legislators working to promote Israel in their parliaments based on shared Judeo-Christian values.
“It’s Christians, not countries, that stand with Israel,” said Josh Reinstein, director of the Christian Allies Caucus. “You are the generals in the war of public opinion.”
Faith-based diplomacy is the most important tool in Israel’s diplomatic arsenal, he argued, crediting it for the vast majority of Israel’s diplomatic successes.
“With antisemitism rising around the world, it is more important than ever that we continue strengthening political support for Israel while developing relationships with Bible-believing Christian leaders around the world,” Reinstein said.
Christian leaders at the packed event held in the parliament’s Jerusalem Hall spoke of strong interfaith relations not seen for two millennia.
“This is something for most of 2,000 years that you did not see — Jews and Christians coming together,” said Rev. Peter Fast, incoming CEO of Bridges for Peace, an international evangelical organization.
“My duty as a man of God is to plant love and peace in the hearts of people,” said Dr. Naim Khoury of the First Baptist Church of Bethlehem.
“People are confused over what to do with all the conflict, hatred, bloodshed and animosity,” said Khoury, who was targeted in the past by Muslim attackers over his support for Israel. “We need to live in peace and harmony together.”
In an era of “social justice” and political correctness and with public opinion polls showing a drop in support for Israel among young Christians, including in the largely supportive evangelical community, the leaders are working to buttress the relationship that has blossomed over the last quarter century.
“Things are working out for this nation because God is blessing you,” said Dr. Jürgen Bühler, executive director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, an evangelical group.
Eliciting cries of “amen” from the crowd for his biblical citation, he called the Knesset caucus a “hub” for Christians around the world to connect with Israel.
Reinstein said the International Christian Embassy has been working with archipelago nations in the Pacific in an effort to have them open embassies in Jerusalem.
Indeed, Bühler will host President Wiliame Katonivere of Fiji in October to open his country’s embassy in Jerusalem, Reinstein said.
In the next month alone, the Christian Allies Caucus plans major events in the parliaments of Guatemala, the U.S., Canada and the Czech Republic marking the reunification of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War.
“When you look at the support of people like you from all over the world, I understand that we will prevail,” Edelstein said.