Some controversy in the online world today, in which religious Jews in charge of a well-known interfaith organization have appealed to Christians to build churches here, made me think again about these signs. I photographed them a while ago, when we were new here, but now barely notice them every day as I walk past…
These both reflect what was probably a minor campaign for this huge organization, the John Hagee Ministries, but still, some very substantial donations raised to help the Jewish Agency build this Merkaz Klitah in 2005, presumably – at the time – to house incoming Ethiopian families.
Hagee himself – a controversial figure in some circles – is known for being very pro-Israel. Now, when evangelical Christian organizations come out as “pro-Israel”, usually what that means is that they need us all to be here so that the messiah can return, which will preface untold years of suffering and varying degrees of torment (depending on the denomination) for the perfidy of not believing in him all these years.
However, unlike some of these organizations, Hagee’s organization (based in Texas) does not try to negate the significance of our eternal covenant and seems to take a softer-sell approach. On their website, they list 7 points outlining why Christians must support a Jewish Israel, including the fact that gentiles only deserve blessing if they have done something practical to bless the Jewish people. For attitudes like this, Hagee has been lauded by organizations like Bnei Brith
Still, I don’t fully trust it, especially when I find writing like this on the same website, about the same Jewish people: “Today, the Jewish people are still Christ’s family and they are still the apple of God’s eye. No, they don’t see Jesus for who Christians believe He is, but they will in the future when He comes to deliver them. Until then, we, like Esther, have a duty to speak out and defend them.” Friends, sure, but perhaps an uneasy kind of friendship, given that they believe we will ultimately be persuaded.
However, this is a complicated issue and I haven’t even scratched the surface. It’s my understanding that some of the money Nefesh b’Nefesh uses comes from Christian organizations. Not only that, there are other organizations which exist independently to assist Jews with the aliyah process, and our family personally may or may not have received aid from one or more of them.
It’s hard to shake off the creepy feeling of being nothing more than a pawn in someone else’s eschatology (end-times theology). And it feels slimy to take their money and run, taking advantage of people we ultimately believe are misguided in their heartfelt donations.
Let’s be honest: we think they’re WRONG. They think we’re WRONG. Not everything is black and white like that, but in this case, that’s how it comes out: flip of a coin.
So I guess we just have to go on believing we’re right… at the same time as they believe just as resolutely (putting their considerable financial resources where their mouth is) that they are. Fortunately, it’s not up to me: I plan to sit back and let Hashem flip the coin…. but that doesn’t mean we don’t know how it’ll turn out in the end. :-)