A Word to the Nations
by Pastor Gary Cristofaro
January 25, 2011
calling on the earth is to be a light to the nations. Thus Israel was
entrusted with the Oracles of God. The Torah is unparalleled not only
within the history and experience of the Nation of Israel but it has
set the standard for laws of free nations around the globe. Israeli
Ministry of Foreign Affairs public diplomacy efforts are called
"hasbara", which literally means "explanation". The term also
encompasses the idea of influence. There is no doubt that Israel has
the ability to influence people of faith of every nation. Yet
unfortunately the policy of hasbara does not derive from "Torah for the
nations". It was developed for the purpose of answering the perpetual
barrage of international challenges to every move Israel makes.
For example, the UN committee on Palestinian rights made this statement
on January 17th 2011: "Palestinian homes continue to be demolished to
make room for illegal settlers in defiance of universal condemnations
of such unlawful and provocative practices." The Committee was
referring to recent activities in East Jerusalem, more specifically the
Shepherd Hotel Compound, which was originally built as a villa for the
Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. The mufti never lived there and an American
Jewish businessman purchased the property in 1985. The truth is, the
last residents of this compound were the Israeli border police. When it
was demolished on January 10th 2011 to make room for apartments, not
one Palestinian was displaced.
I believe it is important to expose truth of this nature, but this is
hardly an earth-shattering revelation. Israel spends a great deal of
time, effort and energy defending itself before the jury of public
opinion. As do those of us who love her. It can be exhausting
attempting to counter every lie. I'm afraid hasbara can be a losing
Divine truth, however is another story. I imagine the whole earth shook
when God delivered Torah to Moses on the mountain. The Torah and the
prophets transcend public diplomacy. It's my feeling that Israel has no
need to explain itself to the nations, particularly in reference to
following the word of God.
"Many people shall come and say, come and let us go up to the mountain
of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He shall teach us His
ways and we shall walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the
law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the
nations and rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into
plowshares, and the their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not
lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war
Please note that Isaiah identifies the God of Jacob, Zion and Jerusalem
and it's no surprise that there is no mention of the U.N. in the
accomplishment of world peace. Oh house of Jacob come and let us walk
in the light of the Lord. (Isaiah 2:5) And my prayer is that the
nations may be drawn to your light.
Two of Israel's brightest lights were recently in Fort Lauderdale
Florida, the stars of "Tuesday Night Live in Jerusalem" Ari Abramowitz
and Jeremy Gimpel. Ari and Jeremy are living Torah, not hasbara.
Tuesday Night Live is a refreshing, unapologetic look at the modern
state of Israel. This program represents how Israel can go on the
offensive for public opinion and be successful. Jeremy said the
following about the thriving communities of Judea and Samaria. "The
settlements are not the problem in the Middle-East. The
settlements are the best thing that ever happened to the middle-East."
I believe scripture supports Jeremy's proclamation. Chapter 36 of
Ezekiel describes the rebirth of these cities or "settlements" in the
mountains of Israel. Firstly God declares that Israel's re-gathering
was for His Holy name's sake. Secondly, it is an obvious blessing for
His people Israel and others to prosper in this region. But thirdly and
most importantly, God reveals His desire that the nations who witness
these events shall know that He is the Lord. Psalm 102:16 says: "The
Lord shall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory." A bold
biblical proclamation is much more powerful than a clever explanation.
As Christian Friends of Israeli Communities we, therefore, owe no one
an explanation for our undying support for the cities of Judea and
Samaria. They are meant to be a blessing to the nations. By your
steadfast support may you influence others that this is the will of God
and may the Holy One of Israel bless you abundantly.
Director of Outreach and Development
Liberalism Is Not Our Religion
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Special To The Jewish Week
I believe in equality for all. I support civil rights, women’s rights,
gay rights, universal health care, feeding the poor, social justice,
separation of church and state, access to education, diversity, the
arts, animal rights (I have not eaten meat or poultry in 33 years), and
more. I marched against the war in Vietnam, protested the bombing in
Cambodia, and advocated for affirmative action.
In terms of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I met with the
Palestinian leadership, including Yasir Arafat, as part of my peace
activism. I believed, up to a point, in Oslo, and maintain that while a
failure, it was not a mistake. I am hopeful that the two sides will
keep talking until there is a deal.
Still, I have not elevated liberalism to the status of religion. I do
not blindly follow the liberal agenda and my convictions take a
backseat to my commitment to the well-being of Israel and the Jewish
people. Unfortunately, this is not the case for the majority of U.S.
Jews, who have substituted liberalism for Judaism and whose actions are
often governed by misguided priorities. In lieu of traditional Jewish
belief or value systems, many American Jews have adopted what is
essentially a theology of universalism and tikkun olam, or social
justice. In doing so, much of American Jewry has essentially become
When the lives of my family, my friends, and my people are in jeopardy
because we are Jewish, when there are very real threats to the
continued existence of the State of Israel and by extension the Jewish
people, when our enemies have declared that their intention is to
annihilate us and are acquiring tools to this end with the world
standing by, then my pro-humanist beliefs give way to my commitment to
the sanctity and security of Israel and the Jewish people.
American Jewry’s loyalty to the liberal political dogma is disturbing
when things are going well for the Jews. But when things are not going
well, this behavior is self-destructive and helps our enemies.
The future of Israel is at stake. Not only is Israel threatened by the
soon-to-be nuclear Iran and its satellites, but its right to exist is
being questioned by a virulent, global delegitimization campaign that
is being led and energized by the academic left and supported by the
elements of the liberal wing. In not speaking out, many Jews are, in
effect, endangering Israel and abdicating their responsibility as Jews.
Many American Jews have become distanced from Judaism’s larger core
values and are uncomfortable making moral judgments concerning the
distinction between good and evil, which is an inherent part of our
heritage. In addition, many are uncomfortable with the notion of the
exceptionalism of Israel, and even with the exceptionalism of the U.S.
Historically, the vulnerability of diaspora Jews led many to make a
habit of ingratiating themselves to their non-Jewish hosts. For some
Jews, this knee-jerk accommodation, while no longer a survival
technique, seems to have become integrated into the genetic code —
hence, the quintessential galut (diaspora) Jew. History has shown us
over and over again that this approach is ultimately unsuccessful.
Witness the tragic outcomes of previous golden ages of Jewry in Spain,
France, and Germany. We must not allow these genes to express
themselves; we must show strength and become proactive.
When our ancestors were permitted to exit the ghetto, they gravitated
towards those expressing universalist ideas, which were most often part
of the ideology of the left. It was from the universalists that they
experienced the first indications of tolerance. It’s therefore not
surprising that they proceeded to derive intellectual sustenance and a
modicum of physical security from the left, hence our historic loyalty.
But today it is the American right that has evolved to the point where
it is much more philo-Semitic and more pro-Israel than the left. The
hawks and the evangelicals among them are the most fervent supporters
of the State of Israel. From the perspective of our own survival, we
must gravitate to, and work with, those who wish us well and support
our standing in the world.
Despite the pacifist attitude espoused by many children of Holocaust
survivors, despite the anti-war rhetoric spouted by many of the Jewish
baby boomers, and despite what for many of us is an innate opposition
to war, ultimately it is only the strength of Israel that earns us the
respect of our enemies. It is not our intellect, not our Nobel prizes,
not our supposed financial acumen. As the Italian-Jewish intellectual
Alain Elkann noted, the only antidote to Auschwitz is Israel — and its
military might. As such, Israel is fighting not only for itself, but
for all Jews. I would argue that by extension, it is fighting for the
well-being of the Western world and its values.
Liberal Jews should be making the case for Israel as a bastion of
liberal values. Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a
free press. It is the only true democracy in the Middle East, with
equal rights for women and, in practice, a refuge for gay Arab men from
neighboring countries. In Israel there are no honor killings, no
stonings, no capital punishment, no cutting off of the hands of thieves.
Throughout our history there have been Jews who have opted out, and
this is an acceptable reality. What is not acceptable is that today,
entire legions of Jews, in the name of liberalism, are in effect
working against the survival of the Jewish people, whether out of
ignorance, different priorities, or a lack of understanding of the
Confronted with both old and new enemies seeking to destroy us, and
vilified by anti-Zionism — anti-Semitism in new clothes — the majority
of American Jewry needs to look in the mirror, re-examine its
convictions and make a shift.
Abiding by one’s political philosophy, values and convictions is a
noble way of living — but not when they are coming to chop your head
off. At that point, and I believe we are there now, one’s moral and
political compass needs to revert to survival mode.