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August 09, 2002 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-08-09

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Opening The Eyes Of Christians

he Christian world must stand with the Jewish
community in support of Israel's fight against
terrorism by Islamic militants, or soon become a
target itself, says an eighth-generation Israeli who
is a retired government spokesman.
In a "wake-up" letter e-mailed to "Christians of the
world," especially in Europe where a new wave of anti-
Semitism is sweeping the continent, Yechiel Amitai says,
"You have fallen asleep at the post of your own lives."
Amitai, 70, is a Jerusalem journalist who served as
spokesman for the Ministry of Transport from 1969 to
1995. In his letter, he asks: "Don't you understand that the
militant Muslims hate you, the Christians, with the same
intensity of hate that they have toward the
Amitai believes militant followers of
Islam are appealing to Christian gentiles
who have little love for Jews.
Addressing these non-supportive
Christians, he says: "And you fall prey to
the trap that these terrorists have set for
you and thus become accomplices in their
ROBERT A. hatred of Jews. You even condemn us for
our will to live and to not be killed by the
murderous suicide bombers."
"You shut your eyes and bury your head
in the sand, like an ostrich," he adds, "and
hope in your hearts that Islam and its ter-
rorist messengers will be satisfied with their
hatred towards the Jews and leave you to live in peace."
This father of two and grandfather of five warns
Christians that they will be next if the extremists tied to
Palestinian death-meister Yasser Arafat succeed in negating
the Israeli resolve.


Standing Sentry

Amitai is prone to generalizing about Christians, not all of
whom are silent about the latest Palestinian uprising,
which has taken mote than 600 lives over the past 22
months. But I can't fault his belief that too many
Christians, notably in Europe, "are falling asleep while on
guard for their lives."
"I think his letter reflects the intensity and the pressure
that people in Israel feel," says Harold Berry, a Bloomfield
Hills investor who has befriended Amitai. "What he says is
certainly applicable and accurate as far as militant Islamists
are concerned. He's telling Christians to beware: that it's
the Jews today, but the Christians tomorrow."
Christian support for Israel against Arab aggression is
strong in America — in sharp contrast to the minimal sup-
port that exists in Europe or even Israel.
I remember David Blewett, executive director of the
Southfield-based Ecumenical Institute for Jewish-Christian
Studies, speaking passionately in the cold rain at Detroit
Jewry's pro-Israel rally on April 28 . at Temple Emanu-El in
Oak Park.
"I do stand in solidarity with you, today and always," he
told the 1,000 rally-goers.
And his message was sincere.
Blewett, one of the most inclusive-thinking people I
know, is also president of the Novi-based National
Christian Leadership Conference for Israel. "We know that
Christians in the Middle East need Israel as never before,"
he said at the rally.
A frequent visitor to the Jewish state, Blewett acknowl-
edged that Christians in America have a vested interest in

ca safe and strong Israel." He said the Christian population
in Israel is growing at the same time that the Christian
population in Palestinian areas is dropping amid persecu-
tion by Arafat's henchmen.
Blewett recounted Pope John Paul II's 2000 visit to Yad
Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial, where the pontiff
declared that all Christians must "remember for a purpose."
"Today is such a purpose," Blewett said. "When we say
with you, 'Never Again,' we Christians mean that n'ever
again will we stand idly by as Jews are murdered simply
because they are Jews. 'Never Again' means now The
killing of innocent Jews must stop now!"



Building On Ecumenism

Harold Berry, a member of the American Friends of
Hebrew University board, was moved by Amitai's blunt
reminder to European Christians to remember 9-11 and
the terror attacks on America, a largely Christian nation.
"U.S. policy under President George W. Bush and
Congress has shown great empathy and sympathy toward
Israel, not at all like the many manifestations of anti-
Semitism in Europe," Berry told me in a Monday interview.
"Using a test tube of emotion and feeling, what Yechiel
writes is a good example of how besieged Israel feels today
toward the European community."
Amitai and his wife, Yochi, are confident of a better
tomorrow. "This is our life," he told me
by phone just before sending me a fax of
his letter. "And we're fighting for our life."
In the letter, he's telling Christians to
take heed.
"The day will come," he says, "when
you will be the victims of the hatred of
Islamists who hate all 'infidels' of Islam —
Jews and Christians alike.
"Open your eyes and your ears to the
David Blewett proclamation of these Islamists, to turn
the entire world into a Muslim world.
"Wake up before it is too late."
Amitai's razor-edged warning is rein-
forced by how strikingly few American
imams, who preach Islam as a religion of
peace and love, have denounced the
Palestinian penchant for suicide bombings
and anti-Jewish textbooks.

"No sensible society would say Muslim
Harold Berry
extremism or Christian silence is right,"
says Berry. "That kind of mentality is just
That is why, while Yechiel Amitai courageously calls on
Christians to strengthen their alliance with Jews against a
common enemy, I'm intrigued by what David Blewett, a
Christian Detroiter, is tangibly doing.
Next week, he and the Rev. Petra Heldt, executive secre-
tary of the Jerusalem-based Ecumenical Theological
Research Fraternity, will bring 20 concerned Christians from
across the U.S. to New York City to discuss how to inspire
Christian students, pastors and professors to study in Israel.
"We recognize that we Christians must do something to
help teachers and students take advantage of the unique
opportunities for study that exist only in Israel, specifically
in Jerusalem," says Blewett.
Small as it might be, the get-together is sure to resonate
for Israeli Jews like Yechiel Amitai, who hope they aren't
shot dead or blown up en route to helping keep Israel a
beacon of learning for Jews and non-Jews alike. ❑

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