Strategic Cooperation -- Deeper Ties between Israeli and Christian Leaders
The New Year on the Hebrew calendar, 5770, began on the eve of September 18th, as Christians and Jews from all over the world began their journey to Israel to celebrate the Fall Feasts. Among them, more than 1500 believers from over 100 countries attended the All Nations Convocation between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. And, more than 5,000 believers from 80 countries attended the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) Feast of Tabernacles during Succot.
Among those pilgrims who came up to Jerusalem to pray and worship the Lord in His Holy City were Christian government leaders. They met with members of the Israeli Knesset, and forged new ties of understanding and cooperation between Israel and the international community.
MK Yuli Edelstein, Minister of Public Affairs and the Diaspora spoke to government leaders from Switzerland, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Morocco, Mali, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Ethiopia, Uganda, India, Australia, Finland, and Jordan. He gave a short history of Israel’s political dealings, especially concerning the peace process with the Palestinians. He expressed concern that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might be trapped into accepting pre-conditions from Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas before negotiations get underway between the two parties. He also said he does not want to see a division of Jerusalem, or any attempt by the U.S. or other nations to push Israel into a quick and final deal.
The continued attempt by human rights organizations to accuse Israel’s Defense Forces (the IDF) of committing war crimes during Israel’s war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009 (Operation Cast Lead), is also a concern for the Israeli government. According to Edelstein, the recent Goldstone report "makes it very difficult for us to stand firm and explain our case." As head of communications and information for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Edelstein is responsible for explaining Israel’s case to the world. He claimed that in many countries there are those who do not want to accept the fact that the Jewish people are in Israel because it is their Promised Land. "We are here not because of the Holocaust, but because we’ve always been here," he declared. Laying claim to the land, Edelstein added, "This is the state of Israel...this is the center of Jewish life."
The Israeli government is looking for ways to cooperate with internationals in order to enlarge the circle of friends that Israel has around the world. As nations become more and more anti-Semitic, indulging in anti-Israel Jewish hatred, Edelstein wants to spread the message of Israel’s goodwill deeds as the only flourishing democracy in the Middle East. Pro-Israel Christian government leaders are developing new relationships with Israeli officials in an attempt to influence the global diplomatic community.
For example, Edelstein, as well as other Israeli leaders, have been speaking to Christians throughout the Fall Feasts about a "united Jerusalem". The ICEJ has chosen this issue as a theme for a future diplomatic campaign. Passing out thousands of T-Shirts at the Feast of Tabernacles, inscribed with the city of Jerusalem logo, the ICEJ is hoping that believers will go back to their home countries and engage in a grass roots effort to keep Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty. This means, however, being able to effectively win the hearts of parliamentary leaders in their respective governments.
Giovanni Isella is a Christian government leader from Switzerland. In 2005, he formed a political party in the Swiss government based on the Bible. It is the only political party that claims Israel has a right to exist and defend itself. The official party papers also declare that there should be no division of Jerusalem. Isella’s vision is to fill every parliament in every nation in the world with a pro-Israel lobby. He is working with the Israeli Allies Caucus to try and accomplish this.
Speaking about Jerusalem being the undivided capital of the Jewish people, Isella commented, "We said this to the people, and we made a proclamation in Bern two years ago. The people need education about why we stand for Israel." But, Isella admits that most Swiss politicians are not that interested in Israel. Invited to join an Israeli Allies Caucus meeting in Washington, D.C. several years ago, he asked forgiveness for some of the anti-Israel stands his government has taken. Isella plans to continue his goal of securing support for Israel throughout the world.
While government leaders like Isella look for ways to change the hearts of men who are in global leadership, Israeli officials are reflecting on how well they have explained Israel’s position to the international community. Israeli MK Uzi Landau, Minister of National Infrastructure admitted Israel’s failings at a hotel dinner hosted by the Jerusalem House of Prayer for All Nations. Speaking to Christian government leaders he said, "We have talked too much about security, and we have forgotten the spiritual roots."
Continuing on that theme, an Arab pastor from Jordan, Afeef Halasah, spoke directly to Israeli officials at the dinner. He tried to convince them that not all Arabs are Israel’s enemies. Halasah explained that there are Christian Arab leaders in his country who love Israel and pray on a daily basis for the government. He proclaimed, "I believe nobody can defeat Israel, but Israel can defeat itself." Halasah appealed to Israeli leaders to be more accommodating towards their Arab friends. And, he gave a warning to Israel to remain faithful to the Lord. "Don’t turn your back for any reason. Don’t try to trade the God given inheritance to you. If you are faithful to God, He will never abandon you."
As the Fall Feasts conclude, one thing is certain, Israeli government leaders are looking the world over for new friends. Christian leaders in the nations are looking for greater influence within Israeli government circles. As this partnership deepens, it brings to the Middle East a new refreshing spiritual dynamic, and may move the hearts of men to seek a deeper faith in God.
"For unto us a Child is born. Unto us a Son is given: And, the government will be upon His shoulder. And, His name will be called, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace, there will be no end. Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom; to order it and establish it with judgment and justice; from this time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." Isaiah 9:6-7.
Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting from Israel on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues affecting the nation.
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