JERUSALEM (EJP) --- An annual demonstration by evangelical Christians took to the streets of Jerusalem Thursday to show solidarity with Israel.
The march, which was organised by the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem, a group promoting Israeli interests to global Christian communities and which also sponsored a conference of pro-Israeli parliamentarians from around the world this week.
Co-hosted by the World Jewish Congress (WJC), the convention of 25 Christian parliamentarians from 17 different countries issued a statement condemning the “clear and present danger” that Iran poses on a global scale, considering “its stated goal of destroying Israel”. Parliamentarians from Brazil, Canada, South Africa, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the US also committed to supporting “the government of Israel (as) acting within its rights and obligations to its citizens when it stands resolutely in defence of its sovereign territory and acts pre-emptively, if necessary, to ensure the protection of its citizens and the survival of its national existence”.
Thursday’s demonstration came at a fragile time for Israel-Christian relations, after a series of anti-Christian attacks have recently occurred, including the graffiti of churches and monasteries. In the latest incident, Hebrew slogans sprayed overnight were discovered on the walls of the Dominion Abbey in Jerusalem’s Old City, including one anti-Christian tag proclaiming “Jesus is the son of a bitch”. Israeli President Shimon Peres called the attack on the site where many Christians claim Jesus’ mother Mary died, served as a “negation of Judaism” and damages the Jewish State, concluding that “we must not reconcile ourselves to these attacks”. Israel is home to approximately 155,000, constituting less than 2% of its overall population.
The evangelical movement is particularly active in the US and provides significant financial and political support for Israel, which is also of biblical importance for the Christian community. Whilst many Israelis have expressed discomfort at the evangelists support of the Jewish State, considering many sectors of the movement oppose conceding territory in the West Bank as part of any peace agreement, Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat has advocating stronger links with the community, accepting its donations.
Amongst Tuesday’s conference of pro-Israeli lawmakers was South African representative Reverend Keenneth Meshoe, who slammed recently vetoed South African legislation to ban produce originating from Israel settlements from being labelled as Israeli goods. Contending that creating a law that only targets Israel is discriminatory, the MP issue with groups and individuals choosing to draw parallels between Apartheid South Africa and the Jewish State.
“If Israel is an apartheid state like South Africa was, then apartheid would not have been so painful,” he said. “I have seen Israelis and Palestinians living together,” he continued, “They use the same public transportation and go to the same stores, schools and beaches. It was not like that in apartheid South Africa – stores had separate doors for blacks and whites.”
Speaking of the importance of the Christian-backed initiative in demonstrating to the international community that Israel does not stand alone, World Jezwish Congress Secretary General Dan Diker said: “This conference was ample proof that Israel has Christian supporters in parliaments and governments around the world on which it can count. The World Jewish Congress will continue to work on widening this important coalition and increase cooperation with our Christian friends”.