DEFENDING ISRAEL A MORAL DUTY: PASTOR AND JEWISH LEADER
Christians and Jews have a moral and biblical duty to defend Israel against those bent on its destruction, a Hispanic Christian and a U.S. Jewish leader told a Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center event in Toronto last week.
Keynote speakers Rev. Mario Bramnick, president of the Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition (HILC) and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, both emphasized the commonalities between the Hispanic and Jewish communities and the importance of uniting against common enemies.
The event, titled “Jewish-Christian Coalition for Israel,” drew a mix of about 150 Jews and Christians to Beth Sholom Synagogue Nov. 30.
A “firewall” against anti-Semitism
Rev. Bramnick, senior pastor of New Wine Ministries Church in Cooper City, Fla., explained that HILC, a subsidiary of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, was established earlier this year to engage Latino Christians in the pro-Israel movement and “build a firewall against anti-Semitism.”
We are living in perilous times, Rev. Bramnick said, and we must understand that the increased threat to Israel’s existence as a Jewish state is a moral, rather than a political, issue.
Rev. Bramnick said that Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Lutheran pastor who defended the Jews against the Nazis, showed that, “it’s not enough for the church to help those crushed by the evil actions of government. At some point, the church must stand against the state that’s perpetrating that evil.”
Christians must join Jews in standing up to rampant anti-Semitism – which he said is indistinguishable from anti-Israel rhetoric – as well as attempts to delegitimize Israel through boycotts and UN resolutions that target it, but not countries like Iran or Syria.
“The Land of Israel with Jerusalem as its undivided capital was given by God [to the Jews] through an internal covenant,” he said, and in the face of what he called “modern day Hamans” arising around the world, “in the past few years, we’re beginning to see for the first time Christians and Jews uniting a new message of solidarity… to declare ‘Never again,’ that we won’t remain silent in the midst of the vitriolic anti-Semitism.”
He cited what he said was the hypocrisy of the United States opening an embassy in Cuba, but not in Jerusalem.
He emphasized the elements that he said are shared by Jews and Hispanics, such as family values, a strong work ethic and a sense of faith, and called the evangelical Christian-Jewish alliance “one of the most important alliances of our day.”
He also listed some of HILC’s activities, including symposia in which pastors and rabbis give presentations about the Bible and plans to launch a Christian-Jewish theological institute.
Jews and Hispanics are “natural allies”
In his speech, Hoenlein noted that one-third of Hispanics in the United States are evangelical Christians and that many Latin Americans have Sephardi ancestry.
He described Jews and Hispanics as “natural allies” in a world that with borders changing, regions “in flames” and anti-Semitism and oppression of minorities rampant in the Middle East, “looks more like the 19th century than what the 20th century was supposed to look like.”
He said Jews stand with groups such as the Yazidis and Kurds, because “we know that a world indifferent to them will be indifferent to us,” and he spoke of distortions in the media that give Israel a bad name.
He praised former prime minister Stephen Harper for his loyalty to Israel and credited Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for “voting right in the United Nations last week almost a dozen times.”
“This is an age when people will be judged,” he declared, pointing to the recent opening of archives that show the Allied forces in World War II knew how many Jews were killed each day.
“They knew, but they didn’t want to know. Today we know everything… The greatest dangers are apathy and indifference.”