When Jews are bigoted against Conservative Christians


Over the last 20 years, I have probably spent as much time with Evangelical Christians as with fellow Jews — in private settings, speaking at churches, on listener cruises, in my home and in their homes.

I have come to admire and in many cases love these people. 

Unfortunately, this is likely to strike many American Jews as foolish, naïve, politically driven or all three. After all, these people are overwhelmingly conservative both politically and religiously, precisely the group — the “religious right” — that many American Jews fear and even disdain.

In 1994, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a famous report, “The Religious Right: The Assault on Tolerance and Pluralism in America,” whose title summed up the Jewish organization’s — and much of the Jewish community’s — view of Christian conservatives. Commentary Magazine wrote at the time that the ADL “has become guilty of the one bigotry that seems to be acceptable these days — bigotry against conservative Christians.”

In 2005, Rabbi James Rudin of the American Jewish Committee published a book titled “The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right’s Plans for the Rest of Us,” an attack on the Christian right, which he described as an “immediate and profound threat to our republic.”

“The campaign to permanently transform America into a faith-based nation where one particular form of Christianity is legally dominant over all other religious communities constitutes a clear and present danger,” Rudin wrote.

That same year, at the Union for Reform Judaism’s (URJ) biennial conference in Houston, its then-head, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, in the words of the URJ press release of Nov. 19, 2005, “criticized the Religious Right for its exclusionary beliefs and statements that say ‘unless you attend my church, accept my God, and study my sacred text, you cannot be a moral person.’ ” 

I could cite similar prominent American Jews’ irresponsible attacks on conservative Christians for pages. The most accurate word that describes these and other American Jews’ views is “bigoted.”

Take Yoffie’s statement. It is a textbook example of bigotry in that it imputes to a group dark actions or beliefs that are not true — just what Jews have too often been subjected to when accused of saying or doing things they do not and have not said or done. I have never met nor read nor heard one Christian conservative who has said, “Unless you attend my church, accept my God and study my sacred text, you cannot be a moral person.”

Assuming the rabbi’s organization quoted him correctly, Yoffie simply made it all up.

Likewise, Rudin’s charge that conservative Christians seek “to permanently transform America into a faith-based nation where one particular form of Christianity is legally dominant over all other religious communities constitutes a clear and present danger.”

What is he talking about? 

For one thing, as regards transforming America into a faith-based nation, count this Jew as among those who wish to see this occur. It is not, however, a “transformation.” America was founded as a faith-based nation by faith-based people (including those often and erroneously called “deists”). Not one founder foresaw America as anything but a faith-based nation. What they opposed was establishing a state religion. 

If anyone is engaged in a “transformation” of America, it is those who wish to make America a non-faith-based nation, a secular or even an atheist nation. They project their attempt to transform America onto their opponents.

And what is this about conservative Christians seeking to make “one particular form of Christianity legally dominant over all other religious communities”?

Name one example. Making most abortions illegal? Are there no Orthodox Jews who seek this? Or religious Muslims? Or even some secular individuals who deem abortions on viable fetuses immoral? Keeping marriage defined as between one man and one woman? Likewise, millions of non-Christians believe in that.

Too many American Jews — primarily because they politically oppose the conservative positions held by Evangelicals — fear 50 million of their fellow Americans. Fifty million people, most of whom are particularly decent, particularly charitable, disproportionately involved in charitable volunteer work, and who form the bulk of America’s support for Israel.

It is a shame. And it is a shame on the Jewish community. American Evangelical support, and often even love, of the Jewish people and Israel is the most unrequited love I have ever seen on a large scale.

I know that Evangelicals believe that those who do not accept Jesus as their savior will not be saved. Obviously I don’t share this view, or I would be a Christian. But so what? Why would Jews lie about these people and fear them just because we reject their theology? Aren’t we Jews supposed to judge others by their behavior, not their religious beliefs?

Muslims are beheading innocent human beings in the name of Allah, exterminating Christian communities, rendering tens of thousands of kidnapped women forced wives and/or sex slaves, murdering tens of thousands of people, seeking to mass-murder Americans and destroy Israel. Yet the very Jews who fear the American religious right, the greatest American supporters of Israel and Jewry, label anyone who says a critical word about the contemporary Islamic world “Islamophobic” bigots.

It is perfectly acceptable to oppose the positions of the religious right. It is bigotry to lie about and demonize it.

At least one Jewish organization seems to have come to this conclusion. Although it did not apologize for its 1994 report, eight years later the ADL issued this statement:

“American Jews [should be] highly appreciative of the incredible support that the State of Israel gets from a significant group of Americans — the Evangelical Christian Right. In many ways, the Christian Right stands out as the most consistently supportive group of Israel in America. … In sum, American Jews should not be apologetic or defensive about cultivating Evangelical support for Israel. The need for support of an Israel under siege is great. Fortunately, Evangelical support is overwhelming, consistent and unconditional.”

It’s time for all Jews to rethink their attitude toward America’s conservative Christians. So here’s an invitation to Jews who still fear the religious right. Attend just one of the many “Salute to Israel” events that churches and organizations, such as Christians United for Israel, put on each year. Listen to these Evangelicals speak, and talk to them privately. You may still oppose them politically, but as a Jew and as a human being with a heart, you will no longer demonize them.

Local Christian Leaders Maintain Support for Israel


Even in the face of recent international criticism of Israel’s war tactics, American Christians, especially Evangelicals, have remained steadfast in support of Jews and the Jewish state. Whereas vicious anti-Zionist attacks in much of Europe and the Arab world have lately bled into rank anti-Semitism, even those American Christians critical of Israel’s recent actions have gone to great lengths to stress their support for the nation’s right to exist.

As a tenuous cease-fire takes hold in Lebanon, local Christian leaders, like the majority of Americans, appear largely supportive of Israel’s military campaigns, according to Board of Rabbis of Southern California Executive Vice President Rabbi Mark S. Diamond. He says that for the most part they believe that Israel has acted properly to ensure its security and bring about a lasting peace.

Simply put, as David Brog pointed out in his recent book “Standing With Israel” (Front Line, 2006), American Christians have a more favorable view of Israel than Christians almost anywhere else in the world, and that sentiment has not abated in the face of the recent embattlements.

The Rev. Lorraine Coconato of the Leaves of Healing Tabernacle in Northridge considers herself among Israel’s staunchest supporters. She said the 70 members of her new Evangelical congregation pray often and passionately for Israel.

Coconato, has visited the Jewish state twice, including a nine-day mission in 2005; she said she has a special relationship with the country.

“To me, Israel is a home away from home,” Coconato said. “The Bible comes alive in Israel.”

She also serves as vice president of the Israel-Christian Nexus, a pro-Israel group.

“When I was there, I felt like this is God’s land; these are God’s people, and I’m connected to them by faith in the one, true living God,” she said.

David Hocking leads weekly Bible classes in Orange County and believes God made an unbreakable covenant with Israel and the Jewish people. Hocking also runs a national radio ministry called “Hope for Today,” and he said he regularly speaks out in support of Israel and encourages all Christians to do the same.

“You know, the biggest subject in the Bible next to God himself is Israel. It’s mentioned 2,655 times,” Hocking said. “Whether we like it or not, God chose [Israel] above all nations of the world to show his love and faithfulness. His covenant is everlasting.”

If Evangelical Christians base their support for Israel and the Jews largely on theological grounds, at least one African American Israel partisan would add the shared histories of Jews and blacks to that equation.

The Rev. Sherman Gordon of the New Philadelphia African Methodist Episcopal Church in Rancho Dominguez said Jews and African Americans have both experienced brutal repression — the Jews with the Holocaust and African Americans with slavery. Both groups also have survived — not always comfortably he added — in diasporas far from their original homelands.

Given those commonalities, Jews and blacks should “come together and sit down at the table of brotherhood,” Gordon said.

Mormons have long felt an affinity for Israel and the Jews, said Mark Paredes director of Jewish relations for the Mormon Church in Southern California. As a reflection of that affinity, he said, the Mormon church recently contributed $50,000 to Magen David Adom, the Israeli affiliate of the International Red Cross, to help with ambulance response, among other needs. The church also sent aid to Lebanon.

On a personal note, Israel has held a special place in Paredes’ soul since childhood. Growing up in Michigan, he said he felt “at home” visiting synagogues. Later, Paredes had several “marvelous spiritual experiences” while posted in the mid-1990s as a U.S. Foreign Service officer in Tel Aviv.

“My support for Israel in this conflict is unconditional,” Paredes said. “I really think they are battling for their survival, and I think all decent peoples need to side with those who are battling terrorism.”

Peter Laarman’s support of Israel is anything but unqualified. As the executive director of Progressive Christians Uniting sees it, Israel’s military campaign in Lebanon went too far and only succeeded in galvanizing support for Hezbollah.

Still, Laarman described himself as a “reluctant critic” and stressed his support for a two-state solution. He said he condemned the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers by Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as the latter’s rocket attacks on the Israeli city of Haifa.

“I would never vilify Israel as a bad actor here,” Laarman said. “But I would say I have serious questions about proportionality and where this is leading for Israel and for the region.”

The Rev. Gwynne Guibord also said he has no interest in vilifying Israel or any of the other combatants in the Middle East. Assigning blame, said the officer of ecumenical and inter-religious concerns for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, does nothing but waste time. Instead, everybody, whether Christian, Muslim or Jew, should push to end the fighting throughout the region, she said.
“Everybody lay down your arms!” Guibord said. “Take off your shoes! The ground on which you stand is holy: Palestine, Israel, Iraq and Lebanon. At some point, as the family of humanity, we need to say enough is enough.”

Evangelicals Slate Pro-Israel Lobbying


Some 2,000 extremely pro-Israel community and religious leaders will meet in Washington on July 19, fan out across Capitol Hill and, in effect, tell their legislators: If you want our political backing, you must support the Jewish state — no ifs or buts.

There won’t be a single Jew among the citizen lobbyists. They will all be evangelical Christians, mainly ordained and lay pastors, embarking on the first major public action of the newly formed Christians United for Israel (CUFI).

The founder and leader of the group is the Rev. John C. Hagee of the 19,000-member Cornerstone Church of San Antonio, Texas, and a televangelist whose broadcasts reach millions in the United States and 120 other countries.

In 1978, in the first of his 21 trips to Israel, “I went as a tourist and returned as a Zionist,” Hagee said.

Last week, Hagee visited Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego to enlist support for his 4-month-old organization –both among fellow evangelicals and in front of generally enthusiastic, but occasionally skeptical, Jewish audiences.

Addressing the Board of Rabbis of Southern California at the L.A. Jewish Community Building, Hagee outlined two major projects, in addition to the July summit in Washington:

  • Expand the existing “rapid response network” of 12,000 pastors, who can mobilize their congregations instantly to flood the White House and Congress with e-mails on any legislation affecting Israel’s security and well-being.
  • Institute an annual “Night to Honor Israel” in every major American city to assure Israel and Jews everywhere that “you do not stand alone.” The emotional event is already a fixture in large Texas cities and in other Southern states.

Hagee and his followers have given a total of $8.5 million to Israeli causes, including an orphanage and for absorption of Russian immigrants, he said, but the major impact of CUFI is likely to be on the political scene.

The pastor didn’t spell it out, but his associates made clear that they view CUFI as a kind of super American Israel Public Affairs Committee, representing some 50 million evangelical Christians. This constituency, in sharp contrast to the Jewish community, shares the conservative social outlook of the present administration and represents its hardcore political base.

This kind of influence cannot be ignored by U.S. Jews, said Shimon Erem, founding president of the Israel-Christian Nexus, who introduced Hagee.

“We don’t have too many friends; we cannot prevail without them,” said Erem.

CUFI’s purpose, according to its official brochure, is “to provide a national association through which every pro-Israel church, parachurch organization, ministry or individual in America can speak and act with one voice in support of Israel in matters related to biblical issues.”

The last six words may sound vague, but they are key to the evangelicals’ deeply rooted advocacy for Israel. As unquestioning believers in the inerrant truth of Scripture, Hagee and his followers are convinced that every inch of the God-given land belongs to the Jews alone and forever.

Hagee insists that he never interferes in the decisions of the Israeli government, but his opposition to the withdrawals in Gaza and the West Bank, for instance, gives concern to liberal Jewish organizations.

However, it is mainly Orthodox spokesmen, who otherwise agree with Hagee’s social and biblical views, who have publicly questioned whether the pastor’s underlying motive is the conversion of Jews in Israel and the Diaspora.

The Rabbinical Council of America, representing Orthodox rabbis and congregations, has officially protested the Israeli government’s license to Daystar, the second largest Christian network in the United States, to broadcast 24/7 over an Israeli satellite network.

Hagee, a major Daystar supporter and on-air personality, has consistently affirmed that he will not proselytize Jews, although the network’s lineup also includes “messianic” Jews with long pro-conversion records.

When Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz, head of the anti-cult Jews for Judaism, raised this issue with Hagee at the Los Angeles meeting, the pastor did not respond directly, but his genial Southern folksiness took on a harder edge.

“If rabbis would put more emphasis on putting Jewish kids into Jewish schools, young Jews would never want to become Christians,” Hagee said.

 

AIPAC Will Focus on Policy at Gathering


Inside the massive Washington Convention Center, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be talking about the Gaza Strip withdrawal and the Iranian nuclear threat.

However, in the hallways and the social gatherings of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual policy conference next week, talk is likely to focus on the investigation into two former AIPAC staffers and the effect it could have on AIPAC’s ability to lobby for Israel.

AIPAC will be tasked with keeping its members focused on the important issues facing Israel and maintaining support in Congress if the Gaza pullout, planned for this summer, goes awry. The effort to keep attention focused on Iran’s presumed drive for nuclear weapons is also high on its agenda.

The organization is still perceived as a “behemoth,” congressional officials say, and will be taken seriously when it meets May 22-24 — but a cloud will linger over the proceedings.

“You deal with them as you would normally deal with them,” one congressional staffer said. He compared it to a friend who has a health problem: You don’t talk about the problem, and you hope that it resolves itself quickly.

There are two traditional success markers to an AIPAC policy conference. One is a roll call of members of Congress, diplomats and administration officials attending the Monday night dinner — last year there were nearly 200, including more than 40 senators — and the other is a lobbying day Tuesday, when thousands of AIPAC members descend on Capitol Hill.

How many lawmakers turn up Monday night and how the lobbyists fare Tuesday will be closely watched by the organization, its supporters and its critics. Some insiders, who asked not to be identified, say there may be apprehension about working with AIPAC, because of the FBI probe.

“I think most members of Congress and staffers who are invited to meet with AIPAC constituents and go to the dinner will still go,” a congressional aide said. “But I’m convinced, in the back of everybody’s mind, there is a kernel of concern and doubt that maybe we shouldn’t be playing ball with AIPAC the way we always have.”

AIPAC’s problems stem from an FBI investigation into Lawrence Franklin, a Pentagon analyst arrested earlier this month and accused of verbally passing classified information to Steve Rosen, AIPAC’s research director, and Keith Weissman, a top Iran analyst at AIPAC.

AIPAC fired both men last month, and Rosen associates tell JTA he expects to be indicted. AIPAC officials claim that they have been assured the probe is not targeting the organization or any other staffers.

“Nobody knows what the implications of this legal situation are,” a congressional staffer said. “It could be a blip, and AIPAC has had blips before.”

AIPAC has gone to great lengths to stress its bona fides, publicizing Rice, Sharon and other scheduled speakers, including leaders of both congressional chambers from both parties. Sharon’s presence is considered particularly significant. Israeli prime ministers rarely travel to the United States if they don’t have an audience with the president.

Sharon is expected to meet with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York before heading to Washington, but has planned no political meetings, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington said. Sharon also is expected to be welcomed in New York at a rally Sunday, a measure of American Jewish support for the disengagement plan.

“Prime Minister Sharon is coming to stand with the American pro-Israel community at a crucial moment in the history of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” AIPAC spokesman Andrew Schwartz said.

AIPAC also is boasting about attendance at the conference, which is expected to top 5,000 people, including nearly 1,000 students.

Such self-promotion is unusual for the organization, which generally feels it can be most effective if it keeps its achievements behind the scenes. In the past, major speakers have not been confirmed until the week before the conference, and officials play down the expected attendance, instead of talking it up.

AIPAC officials insist that this year’s conference is business as usual, though they referred questions to Patrick Dorton, a Washington publicist whose experience in scandal management includes shepherding accounting giant Arthur Andersen.

“We’re promoting the policy conference the same way we’ve done it in years past,” Dorton said. “AIPAC continues to be proud of the work it does on behalf of its membership.”

A source close to AIPAC said Howard Kohr, the group’s executive director, will touch on the investigation briefly in a speech to delegates Sunday, but mostly will focus on AIPAC’s policy agenda.

The organization has real work to do. Topping its agenda will be preparing Congress for the Israeli withdrawal. The lobby is preparing a letter for lawmakers to send to President Bush, underscoring how the United States should support the peace process. Bush already has expressed interest in assisting Israel in the development of the Negev Desert and the Galilee, the regions likeliest to absorb some 9,000 settlers from Gaza and the northern West Bank. Israel has suggested that resettlement costs could run as high as $3.5 billion.

AIPAC will be charged with laying the groundwork for pushing through any additional aid packages. In addition to direct aid, that could mean new U.S. loan guarantees for Israel.

It will be important for AIPAC to show that it backs the disengagement plan, especially since it has a hawkish reputation in Washington. A draft of the group’s action agenda, which will be debated in executive committee at the conference, calls for supporting the “U.S. government’s backing” of the plan, rather than the plan itself. Officials said that was in keeping with the group’s philosophy of lobbying the U.S. government, not trying to influence Israeli policy.

In a twist, the disengagement plan could soon pit AIPAC against a traditional ally — Christian evangelicals, including several prominent lawmakers, who believe the disengagement violates biblical precepts and offers Palestinian terrorists a triumph. Dovish groups welcomed the tilt.

“It’s very significant that AIPAC intends to adopt formal policy language that embraces disengagement, and specifically the Bush administration’s endorsement of disengagement,” said Lewis Roth, assistant executive director of Americans for Peace Now.

Disengagement opponents said they won’t try to scuttle AIPAC’s support for the plan, which they believe is inevitable. Instead, they’ll try to ensure that any resolutions reflect the trauma it will impose on settlers.

Morton Klein, Zionist Organization of America president, said language should refer to the evacuation of thousands of “women and children from Gaza” and the northern West Bank “by force if necessary, and abandoning Jewish homes, schools and synagogues where Jews have been living for 35 years.”

Klein plans to continue protesting the plan but has pledged not to lobby against U.S. funding related to it.

As usual, the conference will see some protests. A coalition of right-wing Jewish groups are coordinating buses from New York to Washington, and plan to sleep outside the Convention Center in tents, simulating Gaza settlers who will be expelled from their homes under the withdrawal plan. The Council for National Interest, a pro-Arab group, also will protest, claiming undue Israeli influence in American foreign policy.

AIPAC is not shutting out disengagement dissenters. Natan Sharansky, who resigned recently from Israel’s Cabinet because he believes the time is not ripe for the withdrawal, will speak Sunday night. The former Soviet dissident was expected to speak of democratic ideals, not disengagement.

Another crucial plank at the conference is backing for the Iran Freedom Support bill, a measure to strengthen sanctions against Iran by penalizing foreign countries that invest in Iran’s energy sector and to provide funding to democratic groups in the Islamic republic.

The legislation, introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), codifies much of what already is in the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, but includes a provision that would notify investors if a fund they own has shares in a company that is subject to sanctions. The goal is to create an investor backlash against companies that deal with Iran.

AIPAC also will focus on the Iranian nuclear threat. Delegates will learn about the nuclear fuel cycle and how Iran appears to be seeking a nuclear bomb.

The lobby will continue to stress the annual passage of foreign aid. This year’s aid package includes $2.28 billion in military aid for Israel and $240 million in economic assistance, as well as $150 million for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

 

Letters to the Editor


Causing Harm

Rabbi David Rue, the head of an Orthodox beit din, admits that of the 1,500 people who contacted the beit din last year because they were interested in becoming Jewish, he or the beit din managed to discourage more than 95 percent. This is a shondah and should be condemned (“A Retreat to Comfort Converts,” Oct. 8).

The Talmud tells us (Sanhedrin 99b) that the Jewish people were attacked by Amalek, a descendant of a woman who was turned away when she desired to become Jewish. If she had been welcomed, her descendants would have been pro-Jewish rather than anti-Semites.

This is not an isolated opinion. Rabbi Johanan (Talmud Nedarim 32a) even criticized Abraham for not acting strongly enough to encourage non-Jews to become Jewish. Indeed, the rabbi taught that Abraham’s descendants were enslaved in Egypt because Abraham didn’t make a stronger attempt to encourage conversion to Judaism.

I taught Introduction to Judaism classes for more than 30 years, and I know hundreds of potential and actual converts. While some potential converts have mixed motives, there is no doubt that the majority is sincere and will make a wonderful contribution to the Jewish community.

Any beit din that rejects a majority of those interested in becoming Jews is harming the Jewish people and sinning against God.

Rabbi Allen S. Maller
Temple Akiba
Culver City

Evangelical Help

In response to James D. Besser’s article on the evangelicals and Israel, after all these years, I find it odd that Jews still live in the past as victims (“Should Jews Oppose Evangelical Help?” Oct. 8).

The bigotry is so strong among Jews that they are blinded by the fact that it shouldn’t matter why Christians support Jews or Israel, as long as you have their respect and support. The assumption is Christians only support Israel for the return of Jesus. So what?

If your house was on fire and a neighbor saved your house by putting out the fire only because he was concerned the fire would travel to his house, would you not still be thankful?

The Christians are taught “those who bring harm to the Jews will have to answer to God later.”

You don’t have to believe in their beliefs to appreciate their help. Get over your bigotry and start thinking rationally.

Oh, by the way, they aren’t out to convert every Jew, since they believe it is already written that the Jews must first return to Israel before Jesus returns, at that time he is to reveal himself to the Jews and let them have a second chance to decide on his deity classification.

Steven Feiles
via e-mail

Looking Beyond

In response to Bill Boyarsky’s column urging readers to “look beyond Israel” when voting and assuring them that [George] Bush and [John] Kerry are “not only in the same ballpark on Israel, they are in the same seat” (“Look Beyond Israel,” Oct. 1).

Boyarsky gives no evidence (even if only verbal) to back this statement. Then he urges Jews not to be one-issue voters.

Unfortunately, not making Israel a priority is not easy for those of us old enough to remember when Europe was a gigantic graveyard and seeing it erupt into a hotbed of anti-Semitism right now. We hope nothing like that can happen again here, but we can’t rest easy.

Bush, because he is a born-again Christian, is a staunch supporter of Israel. It’s the right posture for the wrong reason, but, as an Israel friend has said to us, “We’ll deal with the second coming and the conversion of the Jews when it happens. In the meantime, we are not in a position to choose our friends.”

I have yet to hear Kerry make any strong positive statements about Israel (but then, the only strong statements I have heard him make are how Bush has botched everything).

Looking beyond Israel is a luxury no Jew (American or otherwise) can afford. A lifelong Democrat, I am now one of the many “undecideds” on this presidential race, mostly because I just don’t trust Kerry on Israel and Boyarsky has not made me change my mind.

Dina Adler
Westlake Village

Not Alone

Dahlia Scheindlin (“Kerry Offers Hope for Israel,” Oct. 8) should not feel alone in expressing her support for John Kerry.

On Oct. 5, the Arab American Political Action Committee overwhelmingly endorsed the Kerry-Edwards ticket. Thus Jewish voters who support Kerry can feel comfortable when they step into the voting booth, knowing that most Arabs in America will be joining them in voting for the Kerry-Edwards ticket.

Myrna Strapp
Los Angeles

Dahlia Scheindlin wrote, “During the worst four years in Israel’s history, George W. Bush has done a resounding nothing.”

Let me remind Dahlia that Israelis no longer have to worry about Saddam firing Scud missiles with chemical weapon warheads at Israel, nor do they have to worry about Saddam paying large sums of money to the families of homicide bombers, because President Bush removed him from power.

And the U.S. military is now sitting on Iran’s doorstep, which just might make the Iranians think twice about launching any attacks on Israel.

Steve Stillman
Redondo Beach

Not a Friend

I’ve got news for Dan Cohen (“Why George W. Bush?” Sept. 14). Bush is not a friend of the Jews.

He is supported by the Christian right and the evangelicals who are big on converting nonbelievers. They are also anti-abortion, anti-gay and anti-stem-cell research.

Bush has breached the wall that separates church and state, the very foundation of our democracy and principal protection for minorities. Public money is now being used to fund religious schools, and it is acceptable to refuse to hire Jews for publicly funded positions.

Regarding that old canard that Bush is good for Israel, he is only doing what every president has done – and maybe less. Clinton acted personally as a mediator; Bush stands on the sidelines. The “road map” to peace was a political ploy that led to nowhere and has since been forgotten.

His unprovoked invasion of Iraq has created turbulence in the Arab world and increased the threat of terrorism everywhere – including Israel.

Bush has made this election a referendum on religion, and Jews have never fared well in a religious-dominated state.

Edward Koblitz,
Los Angeles

Pet Peeve

Your article, “The Shabbos After” (Sept. 17), regarding getting synagogue members back for regular Shabbat services after they have crowded into the High Holiday services, goes directly to one of my pet peeves.

The twice-a-year Jews come to services for the High Holidays, find them long and heavy and think, “I’m glad that’s over for another year.” Thus, they never sample the typically uplifting, inspiring and warm weekly service.

My solution would be to require members to attend at least four regular Shabbat services a year to qualify for High Holiday attendance.

Martin Brower
Corona del Mar

Jamie Court

It is hard to imagine a better example of puff-piece journalism intended to advance the anti-business, pro-Kerry agenda than the simplistic article by Marc Ballon relating his interview with Jamie Court.

How about some questions that actually challenge the assumptions of Court, such as the role of personal responsibility in the supposed takeover of popular culture? Isn’t the role of free choice something that Court learned in Hebrew school?

Cola companies don’t become official soft drink companies of school districts by adopting districts by force. They offer compensation, and the districts accept it. It is the role of the school boards to “just say no.”

To compound the problem, the interviewer proceeds to accept without question the argument that an election of John Kerry will solve all the problems of corporate accountability, while a George Bush election will lead to more excess.

Your interviewer doesn’t feel it necessary to mention that all the actions of the corporate scandals that came to light during the last few years actually took place during the eight years of the Clinton administration, or that it was President Bush who signed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which actually does hold corporate executives accountable in a way that never existed before.

Roy Glickman
Sherman Oaks

Seder With Brando

It might interest your readers that the shul where “My Seder With Brando” (Oct. 8) event took place was Temple Israel of Hollywood, and Louie Kemp’s description matches very much one that I gave in a letter to a friend of mine.

The rabbi conducting the seder was Rabbi Haskell Bernat, successor to my husband, Rabbi Max Nussbaum, who had passed away the year before in 1974.

Ruth Nussbaum
Sherman Oaks

Bergen-Belsen Survivors

The Simon Wiesenthal Center and its Museum of Tolerance library and archives has been asked by the director of the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp Museum and Memorial to assist in compiling a database of the more than 100,000 Jews who were deported to Bergen-Belsen. This database includes both those who perished and those who survived.

On Sunday, Oct. 31, we will pay tribute to the victims and survivors of Bergen-Belsen.

If you are a Bergen-Belsen survivor or know someone who is a survivor from there, please contact Adaire Klein of the center’s library and archives at (310) 772-7605.

Adaire J. Klein
Director of Library & Archival Services
Simon Wiesenthal Center-
Museum of Tolerance

Should Jews Oppose Evangelical Help?


In Israel this week, televangelist Pat Robertson inveighed against giving territory to the Palestinians, claiming that the goal of Islam is to “destroy Israel and take the land from the Jews and give East Jerusalem to Yasser Arafat. I see that as Satan’s plan to prevent the return of Jesus Christ the Lord.”

It would be hard to find a more revealing expression of why most Jews continue to feel uneasy about the evangelicals who have become Israel’s new, best friends.

However, Robertson’s comments also came in a week that saw mainline Protestant groups, for years skewed in their view of the Middle East, move toward a policy of divestment against Israel. That harsh economic penalty is intended to brand Israel as one of the worst human rights abusers in the world.

The Jewish community is caught between Christians who love Israel, but maybe for the wrong reasons, and who vehemently oppose almost every domestic position of the Jewish majority, and Christians who continue to be important partners on the domestic front, while embracing a particularly virulent anti-Zionism.

Balancing those conflicting relationships will be one of the most daunting challenges facing Jewish leaders in the years to come.

Robertson was in Israel for a gathering of Christian pilgrims to express solidarity with the Jewish state — and, in some cases, to register their opposition to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Gaza disengagement. According to wire service reports, Robertson said that “only God” can decide whether Israel should cede land to the Palestinians.

Still, it was a veritable love fest as more than 4,000 Christians celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles and heard Robertson and others preach on the biblical imperative to support Israel. They were greeted enthusiastically by Israeli officials.

However, poll after poll suggests U.S. Jews aren’t much impressed. Instead, a Jewish majority continues to see the pro-Israel evangelicals as adversaries on the domestic front and as a source of anti-Semitism.

Their support for Israel has been welcomed by single-issue pro-Israel groups, but its prophetic basis remains a source of deep concern for many Jews. Some are justifiably scared that these Christians might wield their considerable political influence to help advance apocalyptic beliefs that insist war is inevitable and peace efforts are a trick of the devil. That’s what Robertson seemed to suggest when he said that taking land from the Jews and giving it the Palestinians was “Satan’s plan.”

It’s a reason many of the evangelicals bitterly opposed the Oslo peace process, and why some will oppose any peace process that could throw a monkey wrench in their end-of-days prophecies of an Israel consumed by warfare until the Second Coming.

On the domestic front, these groups and the mainstream Jewish community are on opposite sides on almost every big issue: abortion rights, civil rights, homosexual rights, public funding for religious schools and institutions, social justice, stem cell research and gun control, to name but a few. More to the point, many Jews, probably a majority, see some of the key domestic positions of the religious right as direct threats to Jewish security in this country.

On the other side of the Christian divide are the mainline Protestants who are vital coalition partners for the Jewish community on all of those domestic issues, but who are increasingly harsh critics of Israel and seem utterly deaf to the pleas of their Jewish friends, blind to the reality of Palestinian terror.

They are full of compassion for the Palestinians but refuse to acknowledge how leaders like Arafat have compounded their misery and pushed the goal of Palestinian statehood out of reach. They commit the sin of distorted perspective; they seem to consider Israel’s security fence a far greater human rights abuse than mass killings in parts of Africa, deliberate starvation in North Korea or the wholesale deprivation of civil rights in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. How else to explain why Israel alone is singled out for harsh economic sanctions?

When the Presbyterians called for divestment early in the summer, some Jewish groups were quick to demand an end to Jewish-Presbyterian dialogue. The same call is likely to go out if the Episcopalians move down that path.

But we need some balance of our own.

Some of the Jewish leaders who blithely overlook the prophetic foundation of evangelical love for Israel now demand an end to dialogue with the mainline Protestant groups that still want peace, not Armageddon, in the Middle East, however unbalanced their political attacks on Israel.

More and more Jewish groups are welcoming the help of groups with which our community has absolutely nothing in common on the home front, while jeopardizing vital coalitions with groups like the Episcopalians and Presbyterians that affect our futures in this country. Those coalitions, Jewish leaders report, have been unraveling in the last few years, because of justifiable Jewish indignation about their bigoted Mideast positions.

That represents a double loss for the Jewish community. It means we won’t have the opportunity to change their distorted Mideast views through hard-hitting dialogue, and it means we are losing vital partners on a host of domestic issues that the Jewish community continues to regard as critical.

For a Jewish majority, the mainline Christians may be outrageously unfair on Israel — but they remain critical partners on the domestic front. The answer isn’t to pull out of coalitions but to redouble efforts to strengthen them, while more aggressively confronting the Christians on the destructive impact they are having in a part of the world they claim they are trying to help.

Evangelicals Back Israel at RNC


"Well, umm, it’s interesting," Air America radio talk show star Al Franken opined on the future of the growing coalition between Jews and evangelical Christians who support Israel.

We’re at the Republican National Convention, walking across the overhead bridge linking Madison Square Garden and the U.S. Post Office’s James A. Farley Building, where the media are encamped.

"Evangelical Christians support Israel because according to prophecy, Jews have to be in Israel in order for the apocalypse to happen, and the messiah and all that stuff," he said.

"And when that happens, of course, Jews will all burn in hell," Franken said. "And so I think at that point the coalition will break up."

Hades humor aside, the evangelical Christian support that the Jewish community’s position on a secure, safe Israel is becoming more prominent. The phrase "Christian Zionism" in the past few years has entered the lexicons of Israel’s Jewish American supporters as well as liberal Protestants, who usually ally themselves with liberals on issues like abortion and gay rights and are opposed to evangelicals’ alliances with Jews.

This week’s Republican National Convention continued to press the case for Israel and continued Jewish-evangelical Christian fraternization. On Aug. 29, a pre-convention Chelsea Piers party hosted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the main draw was U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, the Tennessee Republican who is popular with evangelicals.

"Look, they’re not traditional allies on some social justice issues," said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of The Israel Project, a public awareness campaign that spent a combined $1 million on pro-Israel advertising during the Republican and Democratic conventions. "That doesn’t mean that we can’t be a big tent and work together on issues that are near and dear to our hearts."

Dan Israel, a Jewish telecommunications executive and a GOP alternate delegate from Georgia, said Christians’ love of Israel is not predicated on converting Jews or wishing them hellfire.

"They don’t want to convert all the Jews, because they feel there has to be Jews in the land of Israel for the messiah to come," Israel said. "They don’t feel that every single Jew has to be converted because if that ever happened, the messiah wouldn’t come because there’d be no Jews left in the land of Israel."

Much Christian support for Zionism is often more personal than biblical.

"I had a tremendous experience when I was serving in the Middle East, and certainly recognize the importance of Israel’s security," said Geoff Davis, a former 82nd Airborne commander and a conservative Christian running for Congress in the open seat in the Northern Kentucky’s suburbs of Cincinnati, where his Democratic opponent is Nick Clooney, George Clooney’s dad.

"People are motivated by many different perspectives," Davis said. "I’ve seen it from a wide variety of perspectives. I think what opened my eyes the most was running U.S. Army flight operations on the ground in a multinational force, and the importance of seeking a peaceful solution that preserves the only democratic government in the Middle East. Israel has to have a right to defend itself."

When Franken’s fellow Minnesotan, U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, took to the podium at the Plaza Hotel this week near Manhattan’s Central Park, the freshman Republican made it plain to the mostly Jewish audience of 1,500: "I wouldn’t be in the United States Senate without the strong support of the Republican Jewish Coalition," he said.

Coleman was one several senators praising the RJC at the growing Jewish GOP group’s swank afternoon party, with police keeping about 120 loud and animated, but nonviolent protesters across the street from the Plaza. Like many senators, Coleman also counts evangelical and fundamentalist Christians as part of his political core. But while Jews and conservative Christians find common ground in supporting Israel’s right to exist, how the Jewish state will exist can at times divide liberal and centrist Jews and evangelical Christians.

"Where it becomes complicated is when many of them oppose the idea of territorial compromise," said David Bernstein, Washington, D.C., chapter director for the American Jewish Committee (AJC), which this week in New York held not only a forum on Jewish Republicans plus talks on the Sudanese crisis and anti-Americanism, but also four separate discussions on Jewish American relations with Latinos, Korean Americans, Indian Americans and Turkish Americans.

"There is no Jewish-evangelical alliance," said Bernstein, explaining the frustrations that can occur between some Jews and some Christians. "There’s an illusion of alliance because both evangelical Christians and Jews [support Israel]. That doesn’t mean that they’re coordinating in any way, shape of form. Their support is valuable, but that doesn’t mean there’s coordination."

Bernstein said that some evangelical and fundamentalist Christians he knows feel more comfortable with more conservative Jewish-oriented Israel advocacy groups that present tough, no-compromise policy scenarios which may appeal to Christians with Bible-driven views of what modern Israel should be.

Republican National Committee Chairman and former Montana Gov. Mark Racicot downplayed any Evangelical-Jewish rift on policy specifics, saying that the party has, "bridges built to virtually all of the faiths."

Washington pundit Norman Ornstein said policy disagreements between Jews and Christians are found in abortion and gay marriage, so therefore Israel should not be an exception just because evangelicals support Jews with a basic, upfront Christian Zionist support for Israel’s right to exist.

"Friends in a broad issue may not be friends in the specifics," Ornstein said. "Some evangelical organizations are going to have clashes, with the more centrist and liberal Jewish organizations that are pro-Israel because they ally themselves with very tough-minded positions. But it’s not true of all evangelicals, and a lot of evangelicals who support Israel don’t necessarily adhere to a no-compromise position. So you’re going to find shifting alliances."

Other Jewish political activists are unfazed by policy differences with Christians and welcome not only their U.S. support but also how their religious tourism dollars have been a bulwark keeping alive Israel’s tourism industry, which has suffered due to terrorism, which has kept many Jewish American tourists away in large numbers in the past few years.

Stanley Treitel, an L.A. Jewish community activist who attends Young Israel of Hancock Park, dismissed AJC concerns about the influence that more conservative Zionist groups may have on Christians, such as the Zionist Organization of America.

"I think that’s internal Jewish fighting," Treitel said. "I don’t think that anybody can control any one group. They [evangelical Christians] see that the right step to be taken with Israel is on the right side of the aisle, not on the left side, as we see with the AJC or the American Jewish Congress; they’re on the left side of the aisle."

Watergate legend and radio talk show host G. Gordon Liddy also understands why Jews and Christians break bread together on Israel.

"People who are religiously observant, as Christian evangelicals are, are respectful of other people who are religiously observant, as are so many Jews," said Liddy, whose GOP "Radio Row" microphone table was about 15 yards away from Al Franken’s Air America table. "Both religions have strong senses of good and evil, right and wrong. And so I would suggest that they are natural allies."

We Should Not Reject Evangelical Alliance


The lesson to be learned from recent differences between many American Jews and conservative Christians — on Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of the Christ,” and on equal rights for gays — is not to walk away from relationships with evangelicals.

It is not to reject evangelical support for Israel. It is not to view the evangelical community in a simplistic way. It is not the lesson Arlene Stein offers in her op-ed piece (see above).

It is, rather, to reinforce a dual approach: working for and welcoming conservative Christian support for Israel at a particularly difficult time for the Jewish state, and, at the same time, never backing off or toning down our principled positions on social issues about which we vehemently disagree with evangelical approaches.

One of the fascinating manifestations of the turmoil over Gibson’s film has been to observe many on the left in the Jewish community saying, “We told you how bad evangelicals are,” while many on the Jewish right, in a foolhardy effort to placate the religious right, defend a film with the potential to set back Christian-Jewish relations and to generate anti-Semitism.

There is too much at stake — Israel’s security and the well-being of Jewish life in America — to be blinded by narrow ideological approaches.

Israel needs the support of America today more than ever. The threats to the Jewish state from Islamic extremists, the bias of the international community and the poisoning of young people’s minds have never been greater.

The role of the United States is critical not only in standing with Israel, but also in influencing others — particularly the Europeans — toward some fairness vis-a-vis Israel.

American support for Israel rests on many pillars. Most importantly, it is bipartisan.

There is no doubt, however, that evangelical activity on behalf of Israel is among the most significant elements in that support, not least because of that community’s influence with President Bush. Whether it is in congressional initiatives, administration positions or public opinion polls, evangelicals matter. It behooves us to act accordingly.

On the other hand, for many of us, conservative Christian perspectives on social issues that are critical to a healthy American society and Jewish life within that society are disturbing. Whether it is church-state separation, which is at the heart of the comfort level that Jews enjoy in this country, or opposition to any religious group imposing its views on society — as seen in the struggles to maintain choice on abortion and equal rights for gays — we are deeply concerned about conservative Christian views and policy initiatives.

And we don’t pull any punches in our opposition. We engage fully to prevent those religious-right policies from predominating in legislation, in the courts and in executive decision making. Moreover, when some evangelical leaders articulate prejudicial views toward any religious group, as several did in anti-Muslim stereotyping, we speak up.

During the current controversy about the Gibson movie, we have been unhappy that more evangelical leaders have not acknowledged Jewish pain, the history of anti-Semitism associated with the deicide charge and the potential for recurring hatred of Jews.

But we shouldn’t rush to judgment on the impact of the film on evangelical Christians. We need to be clear where we stand and encourage sensitivity and education about Jews and Jewish history.

The bottom line remains what it has always been: Evangelical Christians have never demanded a quid pro quo from American Jews for their support of

Israel.

If they were to say that they would only work on Israel’s behalf if American Jews halt their activity in opposition to them on social issues, would say, “Sorry, no thanks for your support.”

That has not happened.

They stand with Israel for theological reasons and because, as Christian activist Gary Bauer has said, the United States and Israel are on the front line together in the current struggle for freedom and democracy.

That’s good enough for us.

Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, is the author of “Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism.”

Evangelicals Are Not Our ‘Natural Allies’


A few years ago, a few moderate American Jewish leaders tried to allay Jewish fears that the Christian right was a threat.

American Jews had it wrong, they said — former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, the Rev. Pat Robertson and their ilk really were quite nice, even open-minded fellows and strongly pro-Israel to boot. They were our friends.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) publicly praised Reed’s pro-Israel stance and invited Christian conservatives to ADL banquets. Christians, in turn, organized nationwide prayer vigils and lobbying campaigns to support Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s vision of a greater Israel.

Basking in the glow of this newfound friendship, Reed proclaimed that the Jewish-Christian alliance for Israel was as important as the black-Jewish coalition for civil rights in the 1960s.

Then, a Hollywood film star produced, directed and bankrolled a cinematic portrayal of Jesus’ final hours that depicted Jews as Jesus’ killers, promoting an age-old anti-Semitic theme. Fearing that the film would stoke new anti-Semitism, ADL National Director Abraham Foxman pleaded that Gibson alter the film, the pope disavow it and the Christian evangelicals that had become Foxman’s allies sermonize against it — to no avail.

Foxman should have seen it coming.

For all their talk of loving Jews and Israel, conservative Christians’ No. 1 priority always has been to expand their influence and numbers at home and abroad.

Several years ago, I interviewed dozens of Christian activists for a book I was writing about a campaign against gay rights that bitterly divided many Oregon communities, where I was living at the time.

When I disclosed my Jewishness to the evangelicals I met in the course of my research, they responded with boundless curiosity and kindness. A few asked if they could accompany me to synagogue, professing their great affection for the Jewish people. Several spoke excitedly of their trips to Israel or their desire to visit there.

I found it all disarming and even a little flattering.

But then the invitations to attend their churches arrived, along with offers to pray for me. I declined them graciously and heard little else until my book, a critical but empathetic account of conservative Christian activists, was published.

The messages then began to get meaner and were often tinged with anti-Semitism.

“How could a Jew possibly write an unbiased account?” one asked.

Another told me to “go back to New York, where you belong.”

Today, some of those activists have gone on to mobilize support for Israel, working to insure that the Holy Land stays in Jewish hands so that “saved Christians” like themselves can enjoy their final rapture out of harm’s way.

Ever since Sept. 11, 2001, these Christians have felt further justified for their alliance with Israel by the conviction that Judeo-Christian culture must protect itself against the followers of Mohammed, in preparation for the coming “clash of civilizations.”

My travels in evangelical America tell me that despite the claims of Jewish conservatives, and even moderate leaders like Foxman, conservative Christians are not our “natural allies.” In fact, most American Jews find themselves deeply at odds with the Christian right over a host of issues.

Witness the overwhelming support that the American Jewish community has given to the issue of gay marriage. In Massachusetts, a near unanimity of Jewish communal leaders support gay marital rights, and opinion polls nationally show Jews to be the most solidly in favor of gay marriage of any religious group.

Christian conservatives, needless to say, are champing at the bit to make gay marriage the next major battle in the “culture war.”

Even when it comes to Israel, evangelicals are out of step with American Jews and Israelis — most of whom would agree to trade land for peace if a viable peace plan were proposed. Evangelicals, by contrast, support the maximalist ideology of the most fundamentalist Jewish settlers, who view territorial concessions as suicidal.

The Jewish-Christian alliance was based on the idea that Israel needs as many friends as it can get. But it needs good friends — friends who believe in the importance of a democratic Jewish homeland, not those whose support for Israel is based on inflexible theological explanations for Israel’s right to exist.

The rift over “The Passion” should be a wake-up call to American Jewish leaders: The Jewish-Christian evangelical honeymoon is over. It may even be time to file for divorce.

Arlene Stein is a professor of sociology at Rutgers University and the author of “The Stranger Next Door: The Story of a Small Community’s Battle Over Sex, Faith, and
Civil Rights.”

Unorthodox Alliance


The idea is supposed to make me tingle warmly: While I sit in my home here in Jerusalem enjoying

the Friday evening calm, thousands of Christian Coalition supporters will be gathering at the Ellipse in Washington to proclaim solidarity with Israel. According to pre-rally PR, my prime minister will speak by satellite hookup, pleased to have the backing of an American constituency more hawkish than most of his Israeli voters. At least some American Jews, including leaders who once wanted nothing to do with the Christian right, may point to the rally as proof of an important new political alliance. With Israel facing a danger to its existence — so they argue — Jews should welcome the help of a group that loudly proclaims its love for the Jewish state.

I’m not tingling.

Having spent years researching the Christian right’s tie to Israel — listening to leading "Christian Zionists," reading their sermons and examining the links of some to Israeli extremists — I have to conclude that this is a strangely exploitative relationship. Accepting the embrace of conservative evangelicals poses problems of principle for Jews and Israel, in return for an illusory short-term payoff. Jews would do better to follow the Hebrew maxim, "Respect him and suspect him," maintaining a polite distance and publicly delineating their differences from the Christian right, even while at times supporting the same policy steps.

The Christian right’s view of Israel derives largely from a double-edged theological position: Following a classic anti-Jewish stance, it regards the Jewish people as spiritually blind for rejecting Jesus. Yet it says that divine promises to Jews — to bless those who bless them, to return them to their land — remain intact. Indeed, it regards Israel’s existence as proof that biblical prophecies are coming true — heralding an apocalypse in which Jews will either die or accept Jesus. Israel is loved as confirmation of fundamentalist Christian doctrine. "The most dramatic evidence for His imminent return," the Rev. Jerry Falwell has stated, is "the rebirth of the nation of Israel." Evangelist Chuck Missler once told me that Israel gets more support in America from Christian fundamentalists than from "ethnic Jews" — yet he has asserted that Auschwitz was "just a prelude" to what will happen to Jews in the approaching Last Days.

Jews who advocate working more closely with the Christian right say this is irrelevant. "These religious beliefs … speak to an unknown future," while evangelicals are providing support right now, Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman wrote recently. This answer misreads millennial belief. To long for the end is to assert that our world is deeply flawed. One whose millennial vision is, "Gonna lay down my sword and shield" says one thing about what’s wrong today. Those who look forward to the Jews’ converting or dying proclaim another, very different "flaw" in our world. It’s no accident that evangelical support for Israel often comes bundled with efforts to proselytize to the Jews.

By ignoring this theology, Jews both demean themselves and condescend to conservative evangelicals. They also risk undermining decades of dialogue with Catholics and mainstream Protestants who have undertaken the difficult task of reassessing Christianity’s attitude toward Jews. It will be hard for Jews to affirm that reassessment if prominent Jewish groups are working closely with Christian groups that negate Judaism.

Does Israel’s current crisis justify ignoring such long-term considerations in order to ensure immediate, tactical backing, as some argue? Living in Jerusalem, I don’t underestimate today’s dangers. But as frightening as Palestinian terror is, it does not threaten Israel’s existence. Palestinian demographics do threaten Israel, as long as it holds all the land from the Mediterranean to the Jordan. Within a few years, there will be a Palestinian majority in that land, and Israel will either cease being a Jewish state or cease being a democracy. No wonder a recent poll showed a majority of Israel’s Jews favoring a Palestinian state. The Christian right’s position, on the other hand, is exemplified by Sen. James Inhofe’s (R-Okla.) statement last March on the Senate floor that Israel should keep the West Bank "because God said so." Rather than support for Israel, this is support for hard-line policies that endanger Israel in the name of fundamentalist theology.

Jews have every reason to speak with conservative evangelicals — in forthright interfaith dialogue, plainly stating differences as well as points of agreement. In the political realm, however, Israeli and Jewish interests are better served by working with politicians and religious groups that champion renewed American diplomatic efforts to end bloodletting in the Holy Land. Seeing negotiators sit down again to talk peace — now that would give me a warm tingle.


Gershom Gorenberg is the author of “The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount” (Oxford University Press, 2002).