JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – Ten days into the brutal war between Hamas and Israel, the New York Times today published a lengthy article about why Evangelical Christians in the United States so strongly support the Jewish state.
Among the pastors and ministry leaders quoted in the story, the NYT turned to Joel C. Rosenberg – founder and editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and host of THE ROSENBERG REPORT on the TBN television network – to get his insights and expertise.
Rosenberg spent about 30 minutes on the phone yesterday with Ruth Graham, one of the reporters assigned to the story, while he was driving back to Jerusalem after reporting from the Israeli communities of Sderot and Ofakim, which were under rocket fire.
Rosenberg explained the long history of deep theological and practical support Evangelicals have shown towards Israel and the Jewish people.
He also told Graham that pro-Israel Evangelicals should also show love and compassion toward the Palestinian people, especially the 2 million in Gaza who have been suffering under the Hamas terrorist organization’s reign of terror since 2006.
As he told the NY Times, that very year – 2006 – Rosenberg and his wife launched a non-profit organization to educate and mobilize Christians in the U.S., Canada and around the world “to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus,” including Israel’s Palestinian neighbors.
Over the past 17 years, he noted, The Joshua Fund has raised and invested nearly $100 million to provide humanitarian relief to Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region, to strengthen the Church in the Epicenter, and to educate Christians about what the Bible teaches about God’s love and heart for both Jews and Arabs.
The Joshua Fund is currently raising support for a “rapid relief fund” to meet emergency humanitarian relief needs arising from the war and recent Hamas attacks.
In September 2020, Rosenberg and several Israeli and Palestinian colleagues launched ALL ARAB NEWS – a news and analysis media platform – along with ALL ISRAEL NEWS.
One of the first columns Rosenberg wrote for ALL ARAB NEWS was headlined, “Are Evangelicals anti-Palestinian? To the contrary, the Bible teaches us to love both Arabs and Jews.”
Rosenberg told the NY Times that, as an Israeli from a Jewish background (on his father’s side) and as an Evangelical, he is deeply grateful for – and encourages – Evangelical support for Israel.
But he’s also deeply committed to persuading more Evangelicals to demonstrate love and mercy toward the Palestinian people, as well.
None of this, however, made it into the New York Times article: “For American Evangelicals Who Back Israel, ‘Neutrality Isn’t an Option’ – Conservative Christians’ strong connection to Israel forms the backbone of Republican support, and is tied to beliefs about biblical promises and prophecy.”
“Overall, the Times’ story this morning is interesting and timely and gets some things right, including the belief that many Evangelicals believe that the rebirth of Israel is directly connected to Bible prophecy and signs that we’re living in the ‘last days’ before the return of Jesus Christ,” Rosenberg told ALL ISRAEL NEWS.
“Unfortunately, the Times’ story misses a very important element of biblical theology,” Rosenberg explained.
“Jesus commanded His followers to ‘love your neighbor’ and ‘love your enemy,’ and for Christians who love Israel, that means also loving the Palestinians. That’s what my wife and I are trying to do with The Joshua Fund and ALL ARAB NEWS, and our delegations to meet with Arab leaders, including Palestinian leader Hussein al-Sheikh."
As Evangelicals, we don’t necessarily have to agree with our neighbors theologically or politically," Rosenberg continued. "But we do have to be faithful and proactive in loving them. I’m disappointed the Times didn’t find that important. Or, perhaps, it didn’t fit their narrative.”
“American evangelicals are among Israel’s most ardent advocates, compelled in part by their interpretation of scripture that says God’s ancient promise to the Jewish people designating the region as their homeland is unbreakable,” the NY Times article began.
“Some evangelicals also see Israel’s existence connected to biblical prophecy about the last days of the world before a divine theocratic kingdom can be established on earth. Now, one week after at least 1,300 people in Israel were killed in Hamas attacks, and as the number of dead in Gaza soared past 2,400 in Israeli airstrikes, evangelical leaders across the United States are voicing that support in sermons, public statements and calls to action.”
“There’s probably no greater friend to the state of Israel than American evangelical Christians,” Daniel Darling, director of Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, told the Times.
“Conservative evangelicals have long formed the backbone of the Republican Party’s support of Israel,” the article noted, adding that “Evangelicals cheered when President Donald J. Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017, announcing that he would move the United States Embassy there.”
“Many evangelical pastors condemned the assaults by Hamas and urged their congregations to pray for a country to which many of them feel intense spiritual, cultural and political connections,” the reporters noted.
“An ‘Evangelical Statement in Support of Israel’ was signed by about 90 pastors and other leaders last week, including the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Bart Barber, and the editor in chief of Christianity Today, Russell Moore.”
“The statement condemned the attacks by Hamas and affirmed ‘Israel’s right and duty to defend itself against further attack,’ citing Christian just-war tradition and a passage from the New Testament book of Romans on governmental authorities as agents of God’s justice.”
The reporters focused a good deal of the article on Evangelical interest in Bible prophecy.
“The intensity of American evangelical attachment to the state of Israel is impossible to disentangle from popular beliefs about the role of the state of Israel in the end times,” they wrote.
“In Plano, Texas, the pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church, Jack Graham, who advised Mr. Trump when he was in office, evoked the specter of the end times.”
“The last days are coming and are here, when you will come again, for your church and for your people,” Graham prayed.
“More than 60 percent of American evangelicals believe humanity is living in the end times, according to a survey last year by the Pew Research Center,” the article explained.
“For comparison, 39 percent of American adults overall shared that belief. And many evangelicals see Israel as a key setting for those events.”
“Four out of five American evangelicals say that the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948 and the return there of millions of Jewish people were fulfillments of biblical prophecy, according to a survey conducted in 2017. Almost half of respondents said the Bible is the primary influence of their opinions on Israel.”
The survey, the NY Times noted, was conducted by LifeWay Research, which is associated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
The article correctly reported that Joel C. Rosenberg was one of the survey sponsors.
Rosenberg “was born in the United States but has lived in Israel for almost a decade,” the article states. “He hosts ‘The Rosenberg Report,’ a show broadcast on the conservative evangelical Trinity Broadcasting Network that offers a ‘biblical perspective’ on Middle East news, often with an eye to how news events line up with biblical prophecies.”
The article stated that “in an interview,” Rosenberg “described American evangelicals’ support for the country as primarily theological, not political.”
“God has laid out his love and his special plan for Israel and the Jewish people, starting in Genesis 12 and going right through to the book of Revelation,” he said.
“That’s true, I said that,” Rosenberg told ALL ISRAEL NEWS. “But that’s not all I said.”
“I guess that’s why I started our own media platforms, and started doing THE ROSENBERG REPORT, as well,” he added.
“No matter how pleasant a reporter for a mainstream media platform is, I just can’t trust that they’re going to get the story right. I’ve learned that from 30 years of experience. And that’s why rather than be perpetually outraged, we just decided to build our own platforms run by Evangelicals for Evangelicals who want a source of news they can completely trust.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.