ALL ISRAEL NEWS Editor-in-Chief Joel Rosenberg recently spoke at the Jerusalem Post’s conference, "The Second Front," where he said the Israeli government must prioritize an outreach to Evangelicals.
Rosenberg began by answering a question relating to his public petition calling for a day of prayer and fasting.
“I want to be clear,” Rosenberg said during the conference on Nov. 27. “We’re not saying that nobody in the Jewish world is calling people to pray,”
He noted that there had been calls by individual rabbis and Jewish leaders for prayer, but not from the government or Israel's chief rabbis.
“It is a little baffling,” Rosenberg stated. “We were 40 days into the war and the chief rabbis had not called for a day of prayer and fasting.”
“The fact that the chief rabbis have not called for a national day of prayer and fasting for most Evangelicals is curious, but we don't mean it as a criticism: Just as a concern,” he said.
“We are passionate about prayer,” Rosenberg said. “We need to plead for God's help. Not because we don't trust the IDF but because the IDF alone, according to the Bible, isn't enough.”
Rosenberg’s interview partner, Rabbi Tuly Weisz, said he didn’t entirely agree with the sentiment.
“I don't agree with the undertones that Israel is not turning towards God,” Weisz replied. “We are seeing an unprecedented religious revival in Israel right now.”
“On the other hand, I do agree that it would be nice if the government took a more active role in the religious revival,” Weisz said. “But we have to remember that we have a secular government, and the people are more religious and more spiritual. And I think that when the dust settles, there will be a government that does look more religious, embraces the God of Israel, and is more faithful to the words in the Bible.”
Rosenberg also said Evangelical efforts to mobilize prayer for Israel were based out of love for the Jewish nation.
“We need to intercede on behalf of a friend – a friend in need,” Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg was asked about the seemingly dramatic shift from a history of antisemitic attacks coming from Christian institutions to the modern pro-Israel Evangelical Christian movement.
He argued that many who persecuted Jews in the early 20th century were “Christians in name only.”
“Hitler hated Christians,” Rosenberg said, before continuing, “At the same time, it would be hard to make the case to the Jewish people that Christians were not involved [in their persecution].”
Rosenberg shared that his father’s family fled to the United States because of persecution under the Russian Orthodox czar.
“However, people who actually read and believe in the New Testament cannot possibly be antisemitic,” Rosenberg argued. “Jesus was Jewish, his disciples were Jewish; they were devout Israelis following the Torah.”
“However, those who were proclaiming themselves religious leaders, for much of the first half of the century, in very high political positions, they were Christians in name only.”
He tied the change in behavior to the Evangelical insistence on personal Bible reading and study: “This is why it is crucial for people to read the Bible themselves and not just rely on a priest.”
“This is the moment for Jews and Christians to work together,” he said, stating that Christian young people also needed to become better educated about their biblical history, and also Jewish history.
He urged Christian leaders and pastors to “reach out to rabbis and Jewish leaders and say, ‘Can we sit, can we talk...?’ What can we do to stand together in this moment of crisis?”
Rosenberg also addressed the issue of the Palestinian Christians in Gaza, who have suffered severely during the war.
“There’s a lot of international effort being done [to help the citizens of Gaza], but the Christians are being forgotten,” he explained, saying that was why ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS decided to write about their complicated situation.
Rosenberg again shared his suggestion that the Israeli government move Palestinian Christians from Gaza to the West Bank territories.
“That’s their culture, that’s their language, there are Palestinian Christians that could welcome them, and want to.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.