Few Israelis know about the strangers who ensure their survival.
Thousands of evangelical Christians descended on Washington for the annual Christians United for Israel conference. They showed enthusiastic support for the Jewish State, grounded in a deep attachment to the Bible. The horrific attacks of September 11 have reinforced their fatalistic sense of identification with the Israeli citizens. They are natural friends in a dangerous world.
In previous years, US Evangelicals invested million of dollars in school equipment, playgrounds, medical supplies and bulletproof buses to protect the Jews in Judea and Samaria, Israel’s first line of defense. Other groups, such as Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, played a crucial role in protecting Sderot’s residents from Hamas’ rockets.
The group “Christian Friends of Israeli communities,” based in Samaria, is now appealing to Evangelicals to fund different security projects: binoculars and ambulances in Neve Tzuf ($ 7.500), night security guards in Bat Ayin ($12.500) and cameras and fences in Maaleh Shomron ($ 22.500).
Very few people know the Christian role in defending Israel against chemical threats (Syria just threatened to use lethal gas and germs against “external forces.”)
The Beit El’s (Hebrew for “House of God”) air filtration systems, installed in the Israeli hospitals, schools and homes, will protect Jews against chemical or biological attacks. Today, the Beit El Christian factory, based in Zichron Yaakov, is the country’s only producer of complete NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) filtration systems for communal shelters.
These Christians work far from the glare of publicity, but are motivated by the haunting legacy of the Second World War. As self-styled “Christian Zionist,” the tiny community seeks to keep Israelis safe from harm to aid what they believe is the biblical prophecy of the ingathering of Jews in the Holy Land.
The first community members, under the leadership of Emma Berger, arrived in Israel in the 1960s, and some who have come are children of members of the German resistance against the Nazis. Berger wasn’t welcomed favorably by the local Israelis. It could not be otherwise, among those who survived the Holocaust, and among those fierce peasants who could not bear to see their land sold to the Germans. The Christians were also accused by ultra-Orthodox Jews, who even stoned them, of being missionaries.
In Beit El they learned engineering to develop the filtration system, and released the initial versions in 1980. No official standards then existed in Israel for civilian protection from non-conventional warfare, only for military facilities.
Beit El Industries became a great success when the Israeli government enacted rules in 1995 requiring all new hospitals, kindergartens and nursing homes to be fitted with air filtering systems. The system is designed to protect people sitting in a shelter from nuclear, biological or chemical attack.
After gas masks, the Beit El's system has become the most widely used protection device by Israeli civilians. In 1991, during Iraqi missile attacks in the Gulf War, the Christian group ushered Israeli residents into their factory shelters. Their invention will be used again in case of war against Iran.
It’s astonishing and sad that very few Israelis know about those strangers who ensure their survival.
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