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What Jews Got Wrong about Billy Graham

Feb. 26 2018

More than a few obituaries of the evangelical preacher Billy Graham, who died last week at the age of ninety-nine, mentioned the bluntly anti-Semitic statements he made while in conversation with Richard Nixon, preserved on the president’s infamous tapes. To Jonathan Tobin, these comments should not overshadow Graham’s positive attitude toward the Jewish people and the Jewish state:

Graham publicly apologized [for his remarks after the tapes became publicized] and asked the Jewish community for forgiveness. The real damage here was not so much the hurt feelings that the comments caused as much as the way they confirmed the negative opinions that so many in the community already held about evangelical Christians.

The profound distrust among liberal American Jews bordering on contempt for evangelicals in general and Christian conservatives in particular is so pervasive as to be unremarkable. That it often crosses over into religious prejudice is something few in the American Jewish community—which tends to think of religious bias as something only done to them, rather than what they can possibly do to others—think actually occurs. Most Jews also rarely consider the vital role these same Christians play in maintaining support for Israel and opposing anti-Semitism. . . .

The salient point about Graham is [that he] was an early and impassioned supporter of Israel. A much-publicized tour of the country in 1960 helped galvanize support for the Jewish state among evangelicals at a time when sympathy for Zionism in the U.S. was far greater among liberals than among conservatives, who were Graham’s base of supporters. He was willing to stand with Israel when it was both popular and unpopular, publicly urging it not to endanger its security and even producing a film about it that’s still popular among Christian audiences. He was also an early and influential supporter of the cause of freedom for Soviet Jewry.

There will be those who will look back on his anti-Semitic remarks as “proof” that evangelicals are not sincere about their love for Israel and their friendship for the Jews. But such reasoning ought to be rejected by thinking people. . . . [A] Jewish rejection of Graham and the tens of millions of other evangelicals not only makes no sense, but also is deeply self-destructive. . . . At a time when Israel remains beset by hatred and many are urging boycotts rooted in anti-Semitic animosity, friends like Billy Graham—and all the many other evangelicals who followed in his footsteps in support of Israel—should be embraced, rather than disdained. To do otherwise says more about our own prejudices against Christians than it does about the shortcomings of evangelicals.

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More about: American Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Evangelical Christianity, Israel & Zionism, Jewish-Christian relations, Soviet Jewry

Germany’s Bid to Keep Israel off the UN Security Council

March 21 2018

The Jewish state has never held a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. For the first 50 years of its existence, it was denied membership in any of the UN’s regional groups, which control candidacies for these rotating seats. Then it was finally admitted to the Western European and Others Group, which promptly agreed to wait another twenty years before approving Jerusalem for a Security Council candidacy. Now, Benny Avni notes, Germany is poised to block action:

As a good-faith gesture, the Western European and Others Group promised Israel that it and Belgium would run uncontested for the two open 2019-20 [Security Council] seats. Then, in 2016, Germany announced it would also run—even though it already served as a council member [multiple times, including] as recently as 2011-12. . . . [U]nless Belgium yields, Israel’s hopes for UN respect seem doomed for now—and maybe for the foreseeable future.

Why? Diplomats have been telling me Israel violates too many Security Council resolutions to be a member—as in the one passed during the last weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency, which marked Jewish holy sites as occupied Palestinian territory. But is building a porch in [the West Bank town of] Ma’ale Adumim really such a huge threat to world peace?

How about, then, a report released last week by UN experts on the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions? It found Germany violated a council ban on sparkling wines, exporting $151,840 worth of bubbly and other luxury goods to Kim Jong Un’s cronies. Or how about, as the Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal reports, German companies exporting to Iran banned materials that were later used in chemical attacks in Syria?

Never mind. Germany (and Belgium) will surely benefit from the UN’s habit of magnifying Israel’s violations beyond all proportion. Thus, Israel’s petition to join the most prestigious UN club will likely be rejected, thanks to a late entry by a shameless [and] cynical German power play against the Jewish state.

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More about: Germany, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-German relations, United Nations