In Whippany, Christians rally for Israel
Evangelical supporters gather to ‘pray, support, and stand with Israel’
A Jewish survivor of the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau told an audience of nearly 500 Christian Zionists that he saw distinct parallels between the Nazi Holocaust and current attacks on Israel.
“It is done very simply,” said Irving Roth, a native of Czechoslovakia and director of the Holocaust Resource Center at Temple Judea of Manhasset, NY. “It is done through demonization, through lies. It is a bit reminiscent of what today the world is saying about a small country of six million Jews at fault for every single ill the world has.”
Roth was the keynote speaker at the “Night to Honor Israel” at the Abundant Life Worship Center in Whippany.
The event was sponsored by Christians United for Israel, an organization that defines itself as “a national grassroots movement focused on the support of Israel.”
Joining Christians in the packed church were some 25 people from the local Jewish community, including members of the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ and the Holocaust Council of Greater MetroWest.
Founded by evangelical Pastor John Hagee, CUFI has emerged in recent years as a potent pro-Israel force, rivaling and sometimes surpassing Jewish organizations in terms of fund-raising and membership. This summer it launched a political lobbying arm called the Christians United for Israel Action Fund, whose inaugural effort was to oppose the Iran nuclear deal.
Kicking off an evening that was part speechmaking and part pep rally was Abundant Life senior pastor Joseph Arminio. He told the audience he was drawn to support Israel because he had a close Jewish friend as a child.
“Maybe that’s where it started — the love for the Land of Israel and the Jewish people,” he said. “We are committed at the Abundant Life Worship Center to pray, support, and stand with Israel…. [T]he most beautiful, the most blessed, the most prophetic place on the planet is under fire. We take very seriously the words of King David: ‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.’”
Also addressing the rally was Dumisani Washington, CUFI’s national diversity outreach coordinator, who is a frequent speaker on college campuses.
“The climate is not good now,” he said. “It is becoming more and more anti-Semitic, more and more anti-Christian. It is not on every campus. It is in pockets.”
He cited the University of California at Berkeley as one such “pocket.”
“The Students for Justice in Palestine had a demonstration in which they were supporting the stabbing and murdering, the violence going on in Israel right now,” Washington asserted. “One of the leaders yells at the top of his voice, ‘Intifada, Intifada. We support the Intifada.’ Then he urged his audience to chant it louder ‘so that people can hear you in Palestine. Intifada, Intifada. We support the Intifada.’ It hit me that their hearts weren’t in it.”
On another campus, Washington said, he spoke privately with a leader of SJP after a rally.
“He admitted there is nothing Israel can do to bring peace, and Israel’s enemies will seek its destruction regardless of what Israel does. So when the people at Berkeley said, ‘Intifada, Intifada, we support the Intifada,’ I was reminded that the job that CUFI and other Israel advocates do on these campuses is as much for Israel and the Jewish people as it is for these students who have been brainwashed and dragged into this.”
Roth, who lost grandparents, a brother, and several cousins in the Shoa, told his audience that six hours after Israel was born in 1948, the new country was “attacked by six Arab armies. And since then, nothing but wars, nothing but terrorism — demonization.”
He recalled a UN-sponsored regional conference against racism held in Tehran in 2001, which devolved when “Iran began to talk about Israel, calling it an evil country, calling it an apartheid country,” said Roth. Later that year, a follow-up conference in Durban, South Africa, featured anti-Israel resolutions introduced at the Iranian warm-up.
“That was a hate fest against the Jewish people. BDS — boycott, divestment, and sanctions — was born,” said Roth. “The BDS movement is a fraud. It has nothing to do with human rights. It has to do with the destruction of Israel. Today, if you go to a college campus they use human rights as a methodology — the destruction of Israel. That is where we are today.”