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July 26, 2002 - Image 35

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-07-26

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truth is that today we are witnessing
two distinct religious civilizations in
conflict: that of elle Koran, allied
with the believers in no God, violent-
ly challenging the civilization of the
Bible, of Christianity and Judaism."
If this sounds curiously like the
"clash of civilizations" rhetoric post-
Sept. 11, it should. Armed by the
belief that the "civilized world" is
engaged in a battle for the preservation
of humanity against Islam, conserva-
tives suggest that the new fault line
isn't between communism and capital-
ism, it's between Judeo-Christian cul-
ture and the godless other — namely,
the followers of Muhammad.
So why have some American Jews
joined this bandwagon? Ultra-conser-
vatives, like their Christian brethren,
believe that "secular humanism" can
only be kept in check through tradi-
tional morality and the free market.
The benefits they reap from this
alliance — including a ready audience

of perhaps 50 million evangelical
Christians connected via an enormous
media empire — are certainly not
immaterial. On his Web site, Rabbi
Eckstein hawks Dead Sea bath salt
and other tempting gift items. For his
part, Rabbi Lapin has a syndicated
radio talk show, as well as a manage-
ment training and consulting firm
that claims to "help organizations
apply the ancient wisdom used over
centuries by Jews to excel in business
and translates it into modern-day
management tools for enhanced orga-
nizational performance."
A more vexing question is why mod-
erate Jews — who have long opposed
the Christian right on such fundamen-
tal issues as church-state separation and
civil rights — have joined up with book
banners, opponents of abortion,
activists whose support for Israel is
based on inflexible theological and

the past 20 years, it has translated into
my organization's donating more than
$60 million to Israel and to support
Jews in need around the world.
It has gone to build and run soup
kitchens in Jerusalem and B'nei
B'rak, and supply armored school
buses for Israeli children. It has fed
elderly Jews in the former Soviet
Union and paid for job training for
Ethiopian immigrants. It has under-
written the rescue and aliyah of Jews
from Argentina and Ethiopia, and
brought over 400 American Jews to
Israel just last week — the largest
immigration of American Jews to
Israel in quite some time.
While other Christian groups have

remained shockingly silent during
Israel's ordeal by terrorism during the
past two years, the evangelical corn-
munity has poured huge amounts of
money into terrorism response, con-
demned it in no uncertain terms and
literally taken to the streets through-
out the world in support of Israel.
After years of building bridges of
understanding and cooperation with
the evangelical community, I realize
these bridges have remained essentially
one-way streets. It is time to build a
bridge toward the Jewish community.
Here is an invitation for Jews to build
this bridge. The road is still under
construction, but the view is fantastic
and the horizon is limitless. ❑

STEIN on page 36



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Semitism based on an old theology
that Jews deserve punishment
because they rejected Jesus. But that
perspective has been superseded by
the new special role of the Jews in
the modern State of Israel. Indeed,
evangelical leaders such as Ralph
Reed have apologized for anti-
Semitism in the past and have elo-
quently spoken to their communities
about rejecting any element of anti-
ADL polls on anti-Semitism in
America show no greater inclination
of evangelical Christians to harbor
hateful views of Jews than other
groups in American society. As to the
one area of legitimate concern —

efforts to proselytize Jews that con-
tinue among some evangelical minis-
ters — ADL and others have vigor-
ously denounced such efforts when-
ever they surface.
In sum, American Jews should not
be apologetic or defensive about culti-
vating evangelical support for Israel.
The need to support an Israel under
siege is great. Fortunately, evangelical
support is overwhelming, consistent
and unconditional. And the fears that
such support will undermine our
impact on other concerns that
American Jews have are overblown,
since we will continue to articulate in
forceful ways our significant disagree-
ments on social issues.

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