The wedding reception I attended last night was full of joyful people. The backdrop was a gorgeous, Victorian-era hotel, and when I arrived, the portico was a beehive of activity: official wedding photos being taken on the lawn, young people chasing each other, adults talking quietly.
Inside, I found friends immediately. One asked about my only assignment for Wedding Week: transporting a few wedding guests from the airport to their hotels. As the guests come from a faith tradition different from mine (I am an evangelical Christian), this apparently became an issue.
I was told — by amused friends — that the groom’s family was concerned (even though I’d been asked to chauffer) because, “Jim is a Zionist.” This reality caused them some anxiety, as if I had intended to hand each a copy of Sir Martin Gilbert’s Israel, along with a yarmulke.
I was probably the only non-Democrat at the reception, and even though the family has long known me (and my conservative ways), still I must be something of a concern.
My joke, in response to this revelation, was to retrieve my iPhone, with its Magen David “skin” and say, “I’d love to get a photo of the groom and friends,” as I held up the phone. This bit got quite a bit of laughter, but on the drive home, some sobering thoughts hit me.
I’d spent the evening with sophisticated people. Regular Americans, if a bit leftwing. And this was in the South, not in Dearborn. I’d grown up with these people. But it bothers them that I am a Zionist.
That is their problem, not mine.
In a world in which the Protocols are still published, and international “displeasure” with Israel’s defensive posture in Gaza is growing at an alarming rate, it is troubling to me that more people are not Zionists.
I have been a pro Israel activist since Benjamin Netanyahu’s first premiership. Although I don’t know the prime minister at all, I spent evenings with his late father, Benzion, listening to the old man describe the nascent Jewish state, and state eloquently and forcefully the moral case for Zionism.
I have many Jewish friends, whom I deeply love. Why do I love them, and perhaps a larger question is, why do I feel the need to explain it?
Yet I will.
I love Israel and the Jewish people because I choose to love them. They are a noble people, upholding moral values for a world often too cowardly to lead, except from behind (such as the regime in Washington).
I love them because God loves them, passionately and perhaps more importantly, forever. I am a biblical Zionist, a Christian Zionist. My belief in the Bible stems not from surface emotionalism, which is the cotton candy of belief systems, but from the sheer force of its self-evident truth.
I believe the Bible, God’s Word, because it is provable, reliable, and sensible.
I also love the Jewish people because they are humanitarians. This at a time when barbarians add to their own ranks, seemingly daily.
I love the Jewish people and Israel because at key moments, they cut off the head of the snake (Entebbe, Lebanon, Lod Airport, etc.) and, by extension, make the rest of us safer when terrorists think twice about kidnapping innocents.
Bill Clinton once famously said that if necessary (there’s the Clinton Clause), he’d get in a ditch with a rifle and fight and die for Israel. We all know of course that he wouldn’t fight and die for anyone, especially a besieged, small state surrounded by Arabs.
But if an obscure friend of the Jews can resolve to do so, I have chosen to remain with you, my friends, for the duration. Whatever that may bring. I have a bit of a different view of the existential threat to Israel, in that I believe Scripture, which states clearly that the Jews will endure. You are a permanent part of the landscape (unlike, for example, Haman, Hitler, and Hamas).
If in the meantime, however, before the God of your forefathers concludes history, you find yourself in need of a friend, I will stay with you, come what may. In the words of the simple Moabitess:
“Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. (Ruth 1:16)
Jim is a Zionist.