This week’s third annual Christians United For Israel Summit in Washington, D.C., commenced amid predictable media chatter over the political implications of the burgeoning Christian-Jewish alliance. But the summit’s true purpose — to foster greater respect and understanding between Christians and Jews — was rooted in a much deeper insight into the relationship between these two faiths: that the future of Western Civilization may well depend on it.
Mid-way through the conference, I was approached by a young Israeli Jew who grabbed me by the shoulder and thanked me for my work on behalf of Israel. He also told me that he was “astonished” by the level of support for Israel by Americans and particularly by conservative Christians. At first, he told me, he had been skeptical of Christians’ intentions for supporting Israel, believing that there must be some sort of “hidden agenda” in our concern for the beleaguered state. Only recently had he come to realize that Christian support for Israel is sincere.
And it’s true. Most American Christians have long recognized an obligation to support Israel. A poll conducted this month by the Washington-based Joshua Fund, an evangelical organization, found 82 percent of American Christians felt they have a “moral and spiritual obligation” to support Jews and Israel.
Christians support Israel because the Bible commands us to pray and act for the peace of Jerusalem and to speak out for Israel’s sake. But Christian support for Israel is important also because Israel is the sole democracy in the Middle East, America’s only reliable ally there and the only nation in that region rooted in the Judeo-Christian values that have allowed Western Civilization to thrive. American Christians, and all Americans of goodwill, must recognize that Israel and America’s futures are inextricably linked.
The media, United Nations and European elites often trumpet the notion that Israel is the primary impediment to peace in the Middle East. They claim that if only Israel would agree to a few concessions — to divide Jerusalem, abandon Judea and Samaria, give up on the Golan Heights and accept unlimited refugees — peace could be established. But it is becoming clear that the intention of Israel’s enemies is not to argue about the details of peace agreements but rather to debate a much more fundamental issue: whether Israel has the right even to exist.
The enmity that fuels that debate is inculcated early. Israeli children are taught to reject bigotry and racism and to be tolerant of other faiths. But in many Muslim countries, children are taught to hate Jews and Christians. A recent report by the Hudson Institute revealed that the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Education teaches literal hatred of “unbelievers.” Even Palestinian television programs aimed at young children showcase Islamic radicalism and teach that nothing is more glorious than to become a suicide bomber for Islam.
But the lack of reciprocity goes further. While Israel’s judicial system relentlessly protects the rights of Israel’s Muslim citizens, a culture of hatred of the “infidel” is endemic in much of the Muslim world. A new report by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center found that Gaza’s 3,500 Christians are increasingly at risk of violence, that Christian schools have become targets of terrorist attacks and that the tiny Christian minority living in Gaza lives in daily fear and intimidation and often tones down Christian holidays and observances in order not to provoke the extremists. In much of the Islamic world, Christianity is illegal and Christians who worship openly are imprisoned or worse.
At the end of my conversation with the young Israeli Jew at the CUFI Summit, he told me that he already fully appreciated the threat of Islamic terrorism. “What I want is hope,” he said as he recounted how he had spent four years in the Israeli Defense Forces and attended the funerals of at least 10 friends killed by terrorists before he was 21 years old. He also told me that he had a 17-month-old child whose name means hope in Hebrew. This young man wanted reassurance from me that there was hope that his child would grow up in a peaceful Israel.
There is hope. Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” It’s certainly true today. The biggest threat to the peace and security of Israel, and the peace and security of the West, is not Iran’s Ahmadinejad or Hamas or Osama bin Laden but rather our own complacence and inaction. What happens in the battle against Islamo-fascism ultimately depends on us, our resolve and courage to do what it takes to defend our way of life.
The only way we lose this battle is if we decide it’s not important enough to us to win. If good people do nothing, the enemy will win. But the good news is that we ultimately have control over this battle’s result.
There is reason to hope, then, and that hope was palpable at this week’s CUFI summit. Hope for a peaceful future begins with Christians, Jews and all people of goodwill deciding that the values of Western Civilization are values worth defending.