Susanna Kokkonen
Speaker on Jewish-Christian relations; anti-Semitism; the Holocaust and persecution

Representing Israel in the Nations

In the past few weeks there were many occasions where Israel’s allies, and I mean the Christian allies, were publicly recognized and lauded for their contributions towards Israel’s PR and diplomacy around the world. Of course, there are people who think this is a mixed blessing at the best.  But, regardless, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke at the Christian Media Summit opening night in Jerusalem and he strongly identified Christian support with Israel’s continued success; many Israeli dignitaries attended the ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles Celebrations during Sukot and finally, on a personal note, my own personal contributions have been celebrated on many different occasions too. It is all of this that got me thinking.

An ambassador represents someone or something that is so powerful and large that one single man is courted and feted because behind him is the authority of an entire state or quasi-state organization. An ambassador acts under the orders of his government – should he forget for one careless moment whom he represents, he would be swiftly recalled home. Should he become too enamored with his new place of residence, he would be recalled home. Should he exceed his authority, he would be recalled home and perhaps reprimanded by his host country’s government. Am ambassador is like a bridge – sometimes it will take years of hard work before anyone can walk on it.

Undoubtedly, Israel has many skillful ambassadors in the Jewish communities around the world. But, in a hostile world, increasingly, Christian leaders and denominations want to be part of this effort and proudly declare themselves ambassadors for the Jewish State. Bridges are being built by different people around the world in the hope that one day they will be strong enough to carry many people. In the age of BDS and continued media wars, this Christian contribution is being valued and recognized for its value. It is a historic moment – we are living in it and do not see it clearly enough. But the truth is that up to this point in time Jewish-Christian relations have never ever been at this level. Something has shifted theologically and morally and spiritually. Those, who recognize and celebrate this moment, are part of a historic moment.

I am currently in Finland, starting a book tour in the Swedish-speaking areas. The book is about the Holocaust and the Christian theology that preceded it. For years I have been traveling and speaking about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. But, it is now, that I feel I am part of a change and representing something even bigger than the topics, certainly big, which I will be addressing. From the Holocaust and its shadows, we, that is Jews and Christians, have moved on to something new.

Never forgetting who we are and never forgetting what we represent.

 

 

 

About the Author
Dr. Susanna Kokkonen, originally from Finland, has lived in Israel for the past twenty years. She has a doctorate in Holocaust Studies and has pioneered Jewish-Christian relations including at Yad Vashem, as the Director of the Christian Friends of Yad Vashem. She travels around the world speaking about Israel; the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and current issues.
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