Stuart Schwartz
Stuart Schwartz

American Jews: Embrace your inner Evangelical!

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American Jews need to imitate their Israeli cousins. Or is it brothers, sisters, or the more politically correct, U.S. university-certified noun, the gender-neutral ‘zeiders’ (not to be confused with Zeiders of Lebanon hospitals in Miami and Los Angeles).

But I digress. Israeli Jews are remarkable in their embrace of evangelical Christians. A quick search online yields hundreds of groups staging thousands of tours and, I’m sure, countless other evangelicals arranging personal tour guides. Israelis love their visiting evangelicals, who are hugely supportive of Israel, its culture and worldview.

But American Jews? Not so much. There are so many misconceptions of evangelicals by U.S. Jews, who often view evangelicals — who have traditionally hailed from the south—with both suspicion and distaste. Much of this is cultural: American Jews are largely secular (more than a third identify themselves as Jews-Sans-Religion, what I call JSR’s) and have been educated at universities — so much so that 59 percent have graduated college, while that number is only 27% for the nation as a whole — that have evolved to the point where ‘woke’ is the major goal of its faculties (who are largely not in possession of their faculties). This is the faculty lounge view, which produces arrogance, haughtiness, and an overwhelming sense of superiority over the average American.

These secular Jews, who have taken over many of the larger Jewish lobbying organizations, suffer from a peculiar from of anti-Semitism, what I call Solomonic Anti-Semitism: “I love Israel but I don’t agree with its policies,” “I love Israel but not its apartheid policies,” etc. Solomonic Anti-Semites — Solomon without the wisdom — are always splitting the baby (that’s a Bible reference, BTW, 1 Kings 3:16-28), aka Israel, in half, always inserting a ‘but’ or other qualifiers. This lets other university-educated progressives know that, although they love bagels with a schmear, they’re still down with the struggles of the oppressed, in this case Palestinians.

Which brings us back to US evangelicals. Secular Jews often view American evangelicals in the same way a dad regards a dirtied diaper: best kept at arm’s length or, even better, not even touched. This is more a matter of class than religion; the university-educated class in the U.S., of which secular Jews are card-carrying members, frequently views evangelicals and other believing Christians as toothless bumpkins who lack sophistication. Walk on water? Yeah, right, a sure way to drown! Support Israel? Well, look who’s choosing the Oppressor over the Oppressed — how droll! And, by the way, it’s not ‘lox,’ it’s sushi — so take that!

This cultural gap keeps them from embracing evangelicals, all the while hanging on to so many misconceptions as to their support of Israel. For example, the claim that evangelicals only support Israel because they need all the Jews gathered in one place to be killed; this would allow God to return in the person of Jesus. To that, I say (tongue solidly in cheek, of course), “Huh? And that’s sophistication?”

Well, give me hillbilly Baptists any day, who realize—in their unsophisticated way — that values matter, that God matters, that the Bible matters, that all of us would be better off embracing our Judeo-Christian heritage and the shining light of democracy and opportunity in the Middle East, Israel, warts and all. As do so many evangelicals and observant Jews.

Time for America’s Jews to embrace their Inner Evangelical. L’chaim.

About the Author
Stuart H. Schwartz, Ph.D., is a retired dean and award-winning professor at Liberty University, the largest evangelical school in the world. He came to the university after a 25-year career as an executive with media and consumer merchandising organizations. In addition, he was a popular blogger for a leading political/cultural website, talk radio guest, and the author of a social media textbook. He can be contacted at stuartschwartz89@gmail.com
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