Well, since I am in fact a supporter of Israel and of G-d’s Chosen People—I’m even a card-carrying member!—I suppose the thick packet I recently received, which addressed me as those things, hadn’t been misdirected. But I won’t be responding to its request.
At the top of the cover letter were the Hebrew words “Yedidei Yisrael,” and beneath it the words “Friends of Zion.”
The letter was signed by FOZ’s president, Dr. Mike Evans, who had written to make sure I knew of “wonderful things” that have happened, like “the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem and America’s recognition of Israel’s control of the Golan Heights,” and how his “good friend Ambassador David Friedman” had told him “that [FOZ’s] support of Israel played a key role in those decisions.”
Cut to the chase. For a $30 donation, Dr. Evans will gift me with a Friends of Zion travel mug that not only can hold beverages but also, though I’m not entirely clear how, can serve as “a wonderful prayer reminder.”
For $60, he’ll throw in a FOZ Star of David bracelet, too, which includes a bead with the Hebrew letter shin (“the first letter of…one of the names of G-d”).
And for a Benjamin, I will receive a “Ram’s Horn Shofar” as well.
One of the letter’s inserts provides testimonials about Mr. Evans’ support for Israel from people like Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Olmert, Danny Ayalon, Mike Huckabee and Dr. Jack Hayford.
The latter is the pastor and president of something called “The King’s Seminary,” which, as it happens, offers a doctoral studies program in “Messianic Jewish Leadership.” That is to say, the effort to lead Jews to embrace Christianity.
Which brings me back to Dr. Evans. Born, he says, to a Jewish mother, he became an adherent of Christianity after a traumatic event (his father’s attempt to kill him). My experience with meshumadim is that family trauma is almost always part of their personal histories. And while he does not overtly missionize to Jews, he clearly wishes them to follow in his own footsteps.
As do many, if not all, evangelicals—followers of the Christian movement whose American adherents are estimated to number some 90 to 100 million people, more than 30 percent of the populace. Not a segment of the citizenry to be taken lightly.
With one poll finding that fully 80 percent of evangelicals believe that Israel’s establishment in 1948 was a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, it is one we might celebrate. Though in light of the same poll respondents’ further belief that Israel’s creation is part of a plan to convert the world to Christianity…perhaps not so much.
In May 2018, when the US Embassy in Jerusalem was officially opened, in addition to remarks by Ambassador David Friedman, senior presidential advisor Jared Kushner and Prime Minister Netanyahu, two evangelical leaders spoke. One, John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the nation’s largest pro-Israel organization, called the holy city the place “where Messiah will come and establish a kingdom that will never end.”
While we ourselves might well voice those very same words, it’s important to note that Pastor Hagee, as his writings and preachings make abundantly clear, intends something very different from what we look forward to. He sees the “messiah” for whom he pines bringing Jews to “fulfill their spiritual destiny”—what we would call shmad.
Which is not to say that we don’t owe hakaras hatov to Christian supporters of Israel, no matter how divergent our visions of the future may be. All well-wishers deserve our recognition and thanks.
But, as per the words of Chazal in a not-unrelated gemara (Sotah 47a), there are things that, while we properly draw them closer with our right hand, we do well to keep at a distance with our left. l