Evangelical Christians Seek to Enhance Relationship with Jews

( [email protected] ) Mar 27, 2004 12:39 PM EST

Whereas Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” was anticipated to incite anti-Semitism between Christians and Jews, such movement seems unlikely to arise as many Christians actively participate in providing financial support to Israel.

Recently, thousands of evangelical Christians have recently donated millions of dollars to support Israel, the Washington Post reported. .

"We get 2,000 to 2,500 pieces of mail a day, most of them with checks," said Yechiel Eckstein, president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, founded 21 years ago to foster better relations between the two religions.

According to Eckstein, the organization collected $20 million, mostly from evangelical Christians. The money was used to help Jews relocate to Israel from different parts of the world, for food, medical care, and for other assistance to poor Jews.

The names of the organizations that are helping Israel include Bridges for Peace, Christians for Israel, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and Chosen People Ministries.

Evangelical Christians have supported Israel since the 19th century, when Christian Zionists called for the return of Jewish exiles to Palestine to fulfill biblical prophecies.

One of the notable figures of evangelical leaders who were actively involved in bridging Christians and Jews would be the Rev. Jerry Falwell. He began lobbying for greater political support of Israel from the U.S. government and urging financial support from the rapidly growing evangelical movement.

The 1977 election of Likud Party leader Menachem Begin as prime minister marked a new era in evangelical-Israeli relations. Begin was so pleased with Falwell's pro-Israel activities that in 1979 he gave the evangelical leader a Lear jet.

Today, the tension between Christians and Jews seems to fade away. Earlier this year, various political leaders of Israel such as Likud Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, have met with evangelical leaders to enhance the relationship between the two groups and to stop any anti-Semitic incidents around the world.

Tomorrow, Israel Tourism Minister Benny Elon will be speaking at a conferment at Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, Colo. Faith Bible Chapel contributes $100,000 to welfare projects in Israel annually, especially for children. On Feb. 15, Elon spoke at the National Association of Broadcasters Convention in Charlotte, praising Pat Robertson for saving Israel by promoting pilgrimage to Israel. Israel depends on tourism to maintain economic stability.