I had an unsettling experience recently. I found myself –a Jew—outnumbered by Gentiles at a march and rally for Israel.
This happy event, with balloons and flags and shofars, was sponsored by a local group, Christians and Jews United for Israel. One’s heart was warmed by the ecclesiastical banners, the crosses, the priestly benedictions, and yet, the spirit sagged a bit when it became clear that, of the more than 500 enthusiastic participants, we Jews were clearly outnumbered.
On an occasion like this, with its faint odor of sanctity, I would say—though Jewish folks were cheering and calling out encouragement from balconies and windows—that Jews tend to avoid public prayer like the flu. Jews squirm when the Bible, Old or New, is invoked in the open air.
The point here is that when you say “Christians,” Jews of all stripes tend to dive under the bed the way the old ones did when they heard the Cossacks coming. “They’ll kill us! They’ll convert us! They’ll baptize our children! They’ll use us for the Second Coming!” We all know the drill. Replacement theology. The rapture.
They don’t necessarily pander with such incendiary language. For example, take Rabbi Eric Yoffie (please). According to the Jewish World website, Rabbi Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, says that “synagogues in the movement” should have nothing to do with “the Rev. John Hagee, a Christian Zionist, calling him an ‘extremist’ on Israeli policy who disparages other religions.”
Now, the only religion Pastor Hagee “disparages” is Islamism, a belief system that Yoffie apparently includes in his capacious Outreach, as you can see at the URJ website. Pastor Hagee’s website proclaims,
We believe that the Jewish people have a right to live in their ancient land of Israel, and that the modern State of Israel is the fulfillment of this historic right.
Rabbi Yoffie, meanwhile, according to a recent speech to his board, has no difficulty slicing off pieces of Jerusalem, and Israel, like Hebrew National salami.
Pastor Hagee pledges “to stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel” until all attacks stop and “they are finally living in peace and security….” And he puts his money where his heart is: since 2001, he has raised $60 million for Israel.
According to David Brog, in his book Standing With Israel,
Pastor Hagee has raised more than $4.7 million for the Exodus II project of the United Jewish Communities, a fund dedicated to supporting Jewish immigration to Israel.
If there is any “second coming” involved, says Brog, it is the second coming of the Jews to their homeland.” Last week, the Jerusalem Post listed Hagee as one of the world’s fifty non-Jews with the most positive influence on shaping the Jewish future.
But Rabbi Yoffie, let us recall, is your standard-issue Leftist, for whom an evangelical Christian is—as his casting out of Pastor Hagee suggests—anathema. Versions of this primal fear also emanate from marginally more representative Jews. Peter Beinart of The New Republic says that
Christian conservatives…don’t merely misunderstand the moral tradition, they disfigure it….