Beliefnet
Is it the End of the World?

Americans and the global Jewish community have a long, rich, and warm history. This fact alone is unique in world history, as most civilizations have treated the Jews poorly, often with devastating consequences.

Ancient Near East powers did their best to rid the world of Israel.

Middle Ages pogroms, followed by the stain of Spain’s expulsion of the Jews were a seamless bridge to the Holocaust.

Yet, for a few historical moments during the American Revolution, the stage was set for a great power to arise that would welcome Jewish immigrants—almost all of whom have helped make this the greatest country in all of history.

Most know at least a bit of history from the Revolution: the rag-tag Colonial Army is about to be swamped by the powerful British. In those days especially, vulnerable governments needed some type of aid from a foreign power to at least be competitive. During the Civil War, the Confederates received some aid from European countries.

Haym Salomon

Haym Salomon

But in the earliest days of the American Experiment, Washington’s Colonial troops needed an infusion of arms, clothing and…cash.

Enter Polish immigrant Haym Salomon. The financial broker, now living in New York City, helped finance our war efforts, thus providing the critical piece necessary to stare-down the world’s then-only superpower.

Salomon risked it all. He joined the Sons of Liberty and was arrested twice and escaped execution. From his fundraising efforts and his own fortune, Salomon gave the Colonials $650,000—almost $17 million in today’s dollars.

At the pivotal (and final) battle at Yorktown, Washington’s army was completely out of money, but had the army of Cornwallis trapped and ripe for defeat. Incredibly, the Colonial Army had no credit options, so Washington sent one message: “Send for Haim Salomon.” The Polish immigrant provided the funds, and this helped open up the famed America Horizon.

I enjoy thinking that my visits to Mt. Vernon were made possible in part by this wonderful Jewish benefactor. In truth, his generosity and farsightedness have opened up countless opportunities for all of us who are privileged to live in the great United States of America.

Today, the Jewish people continue to be our great ally and warm friend. Salomon’s brethren in the state of Israel help us in ways most of us will never know—and we return the friendship.

On this 241st anniversary of the American Experiment, let us remember our great friend, Haym Salomon, and our eternal friends and Greatest Ally, the Jews.

Once again, I have the pleasure of being in Israel, landing today at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. This week is the 50th anniversary of the capture of the Old City of Jerusalem by the Israel Defense Forces, during the astonishing Six Day War.

But there is another, essentially obscure anniversary I am also celebrating with gusto. Especially here in the Jewish homeland (I have seen many happy Israelis today, thriving in an historic success story).

Seventy five years ago today, the Nazi beast Reinhard Heydrich was killed in an ambush by a Czech-Slovak team, trained by the British.

Reinhard Heydrich

Reinhard Heydrich

Bravo to all who exterminated this fiend. Heydrich and his SS were responsible for scores of murders of women and children. The Nazi reprisals for Heydrich’s trip to hell were vicious, but at least he was gone from the earth. He lived for one week after a grenade ripped through his body.

I celebrate this week the noble spirit of the Jewish people, who today live the best revenge.

Seventy five years ago today, a man who thought he would exterminate all Jews joined Pharaoh in the pit.

Good riddance.

Israel is eternal.

The Bible often refers to “watchmen” and “watchmen on the wall,” the latter specifically in place to protect Israel in a variety of ways. In our own day, that involves advocacy work.

In the American church, that role is less popular than it used to be. In fact, a watchman for Israel is seen too often as divisive and politically incorrect. Sadly and ironically, the Evangelical community in America is hyper-vigilant about being politically correct. One of those slices of PC is that we must temper our support of Israel. After all, goes the conventional “wisdom,” Israel is not and has not tended enough to the needs and aspirations of the Palestinian people.
Jon in Israel

What though are the aspirations of the Palestinian people? I well remember an interview with a journalist years ago. He was asked what the Syrian people want (in the context of Israel returning the Golan Heights). He said, “Who knows what the Syrian people want? We know what Assad wants.”

So true. I don’t quibble that the Palestinian people probably want their own state. The problem is, the leadership is corrupt and still an enemy of the Jewish people. But until practical leadership emerges among the Palestinians, I believe the two-state solution is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

But I digress.

There are several marvelous pro Israel groups that cater to an evangelical audience. I applaud the wonderful work they do. I do take exception in one area, however.

People “on the right” or “conservative” tend to be less confrontational than their left-wing counterparts. Put another way, one conservative icon once told me that conservatives don’t like to fight.

Correct. For the most part.

That mindset has caused us to shrink from aggressively advocating for Israel, while the so-called “Christian Palestinianists” viciously and relentlessly oppose Israel. They do this through publishing, conferences, and ministry focus.

Some will take issue with my claim that we aren’t advocating aggressively enough for Israel. Let me be more specific.

I am convinced that a huge key to advocating for Israel in the church is to name names of those who oppose God’s people. Most if not all of my compatriots disagree.

Two years ago, two large pro Israel groups asked me to write an article for them, outlining the problems with the erosion of support for Israel in the church. This necessarily involves naming ministry names, etc.

I was shocked (I could still be shocked then) that both groups passed on the articles I submitted. Keep in mind, they came to me. Both told me that in essence, the articles were too “hot.”

This mindset is why we are seeing an erosion of support for Israel. To shine a light on Lynne Hybels’ advocacy for the Palestinians (she masks it with her “pro, pro, pro” clap-trap) is to poke the eye of the monolithic Willow Creek Association. To point out Russell Moore’s social progressive agenda, and his silence about Israel is to incur the wrath of his friends in the Southern Baptist Convention. Citing the anti-Israel writings of Millennial leaders like Cameron Strang and Donald Miller invites criticism from their followers. Pointing out the anti-Israel stance of World Vision brings out those who accuse me of opposing relief efforts for the poor.

That last point, of course, is classic deflection. I don’t oppose helping the poor in other countries. I do oppose WV’s opposition of the Jewish state.

Until we are willing to expose the villains in this drama, things will continue as they are.

Within one more generation, support for Israel in America will look very different from its predecessors.

And we wonder whether certain prophetic passages in the Hebrew Scriptures are meant for our time?

For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. (Zechariah 14:2,3)

President Trump yesterday spoke at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, and one suspects his words have real meaning behind them and will be backed up with action; the President promised that anti-Semitism will be confronted. Among his remarks:

Sadly, this year marks the first Day of Remembrance since the passing of Elie Wiesel, a great person, a great man. His absence leaves an empty space in our hearts, but his spirit fills this room. It is the kind of gentle spirit of an angel who lived through hell, and whose courage still lights the path from darkness. Though Elie’s story is well known by so many people, it’s always worth repeating. He suffered the unthinkable horrors of the Holocaust. His mother and sister perished in Auschwitz. He watched his father slowly dying before his own young eyes in Buchenwald. He lived through an endless nightmare of murder and death, and he inscribed on our collective conscience the duty we have to remember that long, dark night so as never to again repeat it.

The survivors in this hall, through their testimony, fulfill the righteous duty to never forget, and engrave into the world’s memory the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people. You witnessed evil, and what you saw is beyond description, beyond any description. Many of you lost your entire family, everything and everyone you loved, gone. You saw mothers and children led to mass slaughter. You saw the starvation and the torture. You saw the organized attempt at the extermination of an entire people — and great people, I must add. You survived the ghettos, the concentration camps and the death camps. And you persevered to tell your stories. You tell of these living nightmares because, despite your great pain, you believe in Elie’s famous plea, that “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”

Israeli jets over Auschwitz (Israel Air Force)

Israeli jets over Auschwitz (Israel Air Force)