By Abraham H. Miller/JNS.org
With more than 3 million members and the ability to mobilize activists in a heartbeat, Christians United for Israel (CUFI) is one of the strongest and most effective pro-Israel lobbies. Its efficacy has sidelined the pseudo-Zionist J Street, and has served as a bulwark for elected officials whose support for the Jewish state might otherwise waver.
CUFI’s impact is not limited to the national level. Through its network of Zionist churches, it also acts on the vital grassroots level. The essence of American politics is that it is local, and CUFI clearly understands that.
With this year’s 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and the restoration of long-denied Jewish rights to their holy places under the illegal Jordanian occupation, CUFI has joined their Jewish brethren in celebrations that have been taking place in local churches.
The 1967 Six-Day War liberated historic Jewish holy places and made them accessible to Jews for the first time since 1948. Jordan had illegally occupied eastern Jerusalem, as it did the entire area of the “West Bank.”
While Christians, many of them fundamentalists, have embraced the Jewish state and are committed to its survival, the Jewish left has found this as appalling as they have found the very existence of a Jewish state.
Pastor Victor Styrsky and his congregation were celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem June 4 at their church in Stockton, Calif., when they were disrupted by agitators from the leftist, anti-Zionist Jewish group IfNotNow.
There is something absolutely horrifying about the idea of Jews—any Jews—entering a Christian place of worship, or any place of worship, and being disruptive. These agitators lack any knowledge of Jewish history.
Evangelical Christians today are arguably the Jewish people’s staunchest allies, not to mention the righteous gentiles who saved countless Jewish lives during the Holocaust.
To disrupt Christians in their place of worship is not just an affront to those Christians; it is an affront to all Christians and to the larger Jewish community. It should be vigorously condemned by all Jews and Jewish organizations, whatever their stand on Israel’s right to exist.
Leftists—especially young ones—believe they possess the moral high ground, giving them the right to prevent fellow students from attending classes, shut down administrative offices, block emergency services and now disrupt places of worship.
The IfNotNow activists are as ignorant of American history as they are of Middle East history. The “West Bank” was taken by Israel in a defensive war from an illegal occupying power—not from a mythical Arab state of “Palestine,” but Jordan. Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir asked King Hussein not to join the armies of Egypt and Syria. He did anyway.
After the 1967 war, the Israelis sought to negotiate with the Arabs, seeing the “West Bank” as an inducement. Instead of negotiating, the Arabs responded with the three “no’s” of Khartoum: no negotiations, no peace, no recognition.
If the leftists of IfNotNow weren’t so ignorant, they’d be protesting Arab intransigence, incitement and terrorism instead of shutting down churches that stand with Israel.
IfNotNow has a jaundiced notion of who are the victims and who are the oppressors. The Jewish sage Hillel would remind them, “If we Jews are not for ourselves, who will be for us?” And if we were “only for ourselves,” Israelis wouldn’t be the first responders at every disaster in the world. Peace: “If not now, when?” Indeed.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a distinguished fellow with the Haym Salomon Center. Follow him on Twitter: @salomoncenter.