November 29th marked the 66th anniversary of the UN vote, which led to the reinstatement of the Jewish State within its modern borders. Since 1947, the international scene has drastically changed. The same institution that was instrumental in the independence of Israel more than six decades ago is today serving as a platform for hate-speeches directed against the country it once helped to build. World powers are today partnering with rogue states overtly and covertly calling for the destruction of Israel. Once the closest partner of the Jewish State, the US is now cozying up with the Islamic Republic of Iran who is strategically positioned to cause harm to Israel diplomatically and militarily.
From Europe to South Africa, a new type of modern anti-Semitism is flourishing under the banner of socially accepted anti-Zionism. Radical Islamists supported by the multiculturalist, pro-Palestinian and anti-conformist left are spreading a message of hate whose bluntness and reach echo the 1930s. These facts aside, the support for the State of Israel keeps on being perceived as an almost exclusively Jewish matter.
The relation the Jewish Nation has with the land of Israel is beyond the realm of discussion. However, non-Jews have a strong case for feeling strongly related to what Israel is today and what it has been since God has promised the land to Abraham. Beyond political, strategic and theological arguments, Israel represents a clear and quasi-personal link to the message of God for Christians.
During a Sunday service in a Church in the heart of Paris, the Priest pronounced the following words as part of his weekly sermon: “There are cases in which hope can be personified. We may not want to adopt every single characteristic of the person’s character but we take it as an example to follow.” Societies in Western Europe have a precise difficulty in grasping the political and personal credo of a loosely defined tendency, a tendency which may be coined as Christian Voices for Israel. This concept may be used to represent those who, without being part of a political movement or a civil society association, believe that one of their daily goals should be to help and support the State of Israel with the best of their abilities. In Western Europe, the choice of Christians to take action to address Middle Eastern political and security matters without directly denigrating the Jewish State seems to be incomprehensible to many. However, the above mentioned words pronounced during a Christian religious service clearly highlight the reason why such an idea should not be treated as a social aberration.
While Christians’ understanding of their relation with God differs from the one espoused by the Jews, the State of Israel can tangibly personify a concept both religions have in common – the concept of hope. Hope may come from different sources and from different reasons. However, it does play a structural role in the Christian and Jewish mindsets. For this, without wanting to “adopt every single characteristic of the person’s character”, Israel as a nation and as a modern state is an example in which Christians around the world and especially in crisis-ridden Western Europe can find great inspiration. As a distinct a social community and a political group, European Christians are experiencing a frontal attack against their core values. In this case, Israel’s example of hope should enable Christians to have faith in the future and better understand their relations with the Jewish State.
From the slavery endured in Egypt to the lamentations pronounced on the shores of Babylon’s river, from the European ghettos to the barracks of Auschwitz, the Land of Israel represents a religious and social cohesive force that allows to render God’s promise to Abraham tangible. Through the understanding of the religious attachment to the Land and the Zionist political enterprise, Europe’s Christians can see in Israel a clear personification of centuries-long hope.
While many consider the current crisis as a possible end of Christianity in Europe, Israel can be taken as an example resilience and perseverance: the resilience that led Auschwitz inmates to secretly celebrate weddings; the resilience that motivates Israeli officials to push for peace with the country’s neighbors while clearly understanding the needs of securing its borders and its population.
Christians may have a different understanding of faith in regard to the Jewish people. They may have persecuted Jews for long centuries. However, today Christians should come to see Israel as a living miracle that has bypassed the worst obstacles of History. For this, when hearing indiscriminate attacks against the Jewish State, non-Jews should understand that beyond political tendencies and historical adversities, these aggressions are meant to weaken and delegitimize an expression of everlasting faith in God that serves as a much needed example to follow.