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The Christian Right is Israel's Closest Ally

  

 

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) - a major American Jewish organization dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, expressed concern over the "threat" of the Christian Right. Speaking before the League's national commission in NYC, he stated, "…we face a better financed… and organized coalition of groups in opposition to our policy positions on church-state separation… Their goal is to implement their Christian worldview, to Christianize America."

The American Jewish Community and most liberals are in an uproar over the Christian Right. Aligned as most Jews are to the left of the political spectrum, they (and other liberals) see grand conspiracies to create a Christian theocracy behind every evangelical pulpit. This fear mongering borders on the paranoiac. For Jews, it is also counter productive. At a time when Jews and Israel are under genuine threat around the world, the American Jewish establishment spends its time bashing Israel's biggest ally over emphatically non-Jewish issues such as abortion and gay marriage - this, while Jews and Israel are increasingly unpopular around the world.

Abraham Foxman is concerned about the Christianization of America. But America is a Christian nation and has been so from the start. That has never meant, however, that people of other faiths were not welcome. Nevertheless, the role of Christianity in our formative years is undeniable. The original settlers of our nation were devout Christians. Liberals today would probably refer to them as religious fanatics. But, as David Gelernter discussed in a recent essay in Commentary, from these Christian colonists emerged an American creed based on freedom, equality, human rights, and democracy that was drawn directly from their interpretation of Holy Scripture. Puritans, coming to the New World, thought of themselves as God's new chosen people, living in God's new Israel. They and the founding fathers were inspired by the Exodus story as they designed a new nation predicated on freedom. The principle of equality and human rights emerged from the belief that each of us was created in the image of God, this very point stamped into our founding document, the Declaration of Independence. Democracy in America too can be traced back to the Bible, not Greece, Rome, or the Enlightenment. Our most important leaders drew frequently from their Judeo-Christian legacy. Thomas Jefferson during his second inaugural address: "…I shall need…the favor of that Being… who led our fathers as Israel of old…" Abraham Lincoln declared his wish to be "…a humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty and of this, his almost chosen people." Woodrow Wilson believed that "…American Christian democratic ideals could and should be universally applied…" Reagan wanted the US to be a "shining city upon a hill."

The point is that the early colonists, founding fathers, and many of our greatest leaders since, were religious Christians, deeply moved by their faith. It was Christians, inspired by their Judeo-Christian heritage - not Buddhists, Hindus, or Moslems - who created the greatest, freest country on earth, a place where all religions could worship freely. Jews living in America today are part of a Jewish community that is the most prosperous and secure in Jewish history. They owe much of this to pious Christians acting on their belief in fashioning a tolerant, liberal nation.

There have been no Religious Wars, Crusades, Inquisitions, pogroms, or Holocausts on American soil - unlike in Europe. Christianity in America has been a benevolent force, a different strain from its European predecessor, and poses no danger to Jews. But the American Jewish community should recognize that Evangelical Christians have the same democratic right to oppose abortion and gay marriage as liberals do in supporting them. This, by the way, may concern Jews as liberals, but it does not threaten them as Jews. Liberal Jews must also decide where their primary allegiance is: to liberal social issues or securing the fate of its people. At a time when traditional allies on the Left are attacking Israel, it makes no sense for Jews to demonize the Christian Right - Israel's greatest bastion of support. Jews should realize that they could face a backlash that would threaten them if Christians began to perceive them not just as liberals but as anti-Christian.

Liberal Jews should also realize that conservative Christians probably want the same thing they want: to reverse the disintegration of our families, schools, and culture by injecting morality and decency back into the public discourse. It is decidedly not their ambition to create a theocratic Taliban-like state. Most conservative Christians respect the principle of separation of church and state; they are simply responding to years of radicalizing changes that have altered their country beyond recognition. Now is the time for Jews and Christians to build a coalition in defense of our shared Judeo-Christian values and of Israel. Such an alliance could heal old wounds and ensure continued US support for Israel. The US is a Christian nation, if not institutionally than in spirit, and people of all faiths living here including the Jews should be thankful for it.

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