By Jim Fletcher
I wanted to give a brief report this week about my trip to the NRB convention in Nashville (National Religious Broadcasters).
Traditionally, NRB has been strongly pro Israel. In particular, the late Brandt Gustavson served as NRB president and advocated for Israel during critical times. Janet Parshall currently serves as treasurer, and Kay Arthur serves on the board of directors. CBN's Michael Little is also a leading figure in the NRB family.
At this year's breakfast sponsored by the Israel Ministry of Tourism, Woodrow Kroll gave a stirring keynote, and the ballroom was packed, which was a wonderful site, given the inroads made by anti-Israel "evangelicals" in America. There was a strong show of support for Israel at NRB.
It was fascinating to note how far Christian and Jewish relations have come in the past several years, as Malcolm Hoenlein (executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations) gave a video address at the breakfast. Hoenlein, and others like him such as the America-Israel Friendship League (chaired by Kenneth Bialkin - http://www.aifl.org/) are very good friends to the evangelical community. Many of us recognize that the greatest challenge in our generation is that presented by the jihadists, and it must be fought arm-in-arm.
I can tell you that many of these people are personal friends, and their affection for pro Israel Christians is genuine. This was much in evidence at the NRB breakfast.
Also, Tim Wildmon and American Family Radio broadcast from the convention; Tim and his father Don, founder of American Family Association, are staunch friends of Israel.
It was away from the convention that I saw the other side, so to speak. At dinner one night with friends, I sat next to a marketing executive who attends a mainline church in the Nashville area. As we were introduced, he picked up on my pro Israel activism and began sharing his worldview.
He gave the usual lip-service to Israel's security, but then motored on down the road of Replacement Theology. He told me that Israel's "settlements" were the obstacle to peace, and then proceeded on to his next talking point, the biblical directive for the Jews to practice justice and mercy.
I listened to him for a while. Then I asked him if he was aware that Israel had tried to give the West Bank back to the Arabs for a decade following the Six Day War. He said, no, he didn't know that. (It helped that I'd read my friend Alex Grobman's new book, The Palestinian Right to Israel.)
I then briefly outlined the ongoing terror war against Israel, and mentioned the examples of Jews such as Jonathan Jesner, an Israeli soldier murdered by a homicide bomber on Tel Aviv's Allenby Street, on September 20, 2002. Named for the famed Jonathan Netanyahu, Yoni Jesner not only defended the land of Israel, but one of his kidneys saved the life of a seven-year-old Palestinian girl.
No, my dinner companion wasn't aware of such things. I don't think I changed his mind, since decades of Arab propaganda and left-wing worldview from mainline churches has left him with a distorted perspective.
But it gave him things to think about.
The thing that struck me listening to this fellow was the fact that true justice and mercy must be more than lip-service. If the world does not see that the Jews are a noble people long-committed to helping their fellow man, then none of us can accomplish the wider goal of loving all people. God also loves the Arabs, and it should grieve all of us that they are oppressed by demagogues and dictators. I long for the day when this is permanently part of the past.
The irony in the lie that the Jews today need to step up and practice justice and mercy is the fact that they have done so for a long time. If Haym Salomon had not financed the American Revolution, America would not have been available in later years to fight for our way of life.
What if modern Israel had not been born? Do you seriously believe that without this front-line defense against radical Islam that we would be able to enjoy our way of life? I would argue that the flow of oil to America has been enhanced and not hindered by Israel's presence. I do not hesitate to say that Israel's magnificent army has also helped to keep the West safe, serving as an impenetrable barrier to radical Muslim aggression.
And, dear friend, none of us have any idea how Israeli technology has advanced our own capabilities, and their advances in medicine are the envy of the world.
At the end of the day, however, we need more than a good PR campaign for the Jewish state. We need the love, passion, and commitment to her that I saw at the NRB breakfast. Jews and Christians must rely on each other in order to show the world exactly what justice and mercy really are.
Science and technology in Israel - Wikipedia
Boehner Tells Religious Broadcasters National Debt a Moral Issue - Christian Post
Christian radio, TV wary of 'Net neutrality' - The Washington Times
Evangelicals Honor Israel at Celebrate Israel Breakfast at National Religious Broadcasters Convention - International Press Association
Israel Through The Eyes Of Scripture - SpiritandTruth.org (Tony Garland)