I was grateful to be invited to speak at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s recent Road to Majority Policy Conference in Nashville. I was thinking about it in the context of U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel this week, wondering what the tone will be and what will come out of it.
At Road to Majority, there were dozens of speakers and participants far more significant and notable than myself. Yet, I aimed to deliver a message from Israel to the conservative, multi-ethnic, international audience that was meaningful and relevant.
As I only spoke during one session, I had the opportunity to attend many of the other sessions, and to meet and interact with a number of participants of diverse backgrounds.
My topic was “the significance of Israel in the Hispanic community,” and on the trend that seeks to understand and connect with the undeniable Jewish roots that as many as one in four Hispanics have with the Jewish people.
Preparing for the discussion, I was moved to explore both biblical Jewish history and the Jewish history that spans only several hundred years back, asking how the Hispanic community, Latin America and the Hispanic church are connected to Israel and the Jewish people.
While I might have been the only participant from Israel – and one of a literal handful of Orthodox Jews – I found that I was not the only one to discuss the significance of Israel at the Road to Majority conference.
Even though I work closely with Christians daily, I was taken by the fact that, at the largely Christian conference, Israel was in the hearts and on the minds of many of the participants. I received a warm reception from everybody I met. Some invited me to come to their states and communities to speak. Several of the speakers addressed the significance of Israel from their perspectives.
When former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley was introduced, among her achievements and credits cited were her ardent support for, and defense of, Israel. While true, I did not expect that this would be a conversation topic, particularly in that context.
The next day, anticipating the arrival of former U.S. President Donald Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham gave a riveting speech, largely discussing foreign policy. Graham was definitely preaching to the choir when he spoke about God blessing those who bless Israel. The response to his remarks was a resounding affirmation.
Graham also alluded to the fact that Trump was the “best friend of Israel in the White House” ever. As if support for Israel is a pillar of conservative politics, he received no pushback.
“Israel knows that God is on their side, but needs to know that we are on their side. I will do everything to be sure that Israel has weapons needed to stop the Iranians because one Holocaust is enough,” Graham said.
Confronting Iran is not only in Israel’s interest, he said, noting that if Iran is not stopped, the outcome will not only endanger Israel but also will threaten the United States, and will result in a Middle East nuclear arms race. It impressed me that, among this largely Christian audience, there was no dissent.
Clearly if the speakers represented the face of the coming midterm elections, followed by the 2024 presidential election, Israel is and will remain a cornerstone of U.S. policy under Republican candidates and elected officials.
As I listened, I wondered whether any Democrats today would run on a platform of staunch and unequivocal support for Israel. I know that there are many Democrats who support Israel. But would this be a pillar of any of their campaigns, giving the aggressiveness of the anti-Israel elements in the Democratic Party?
It was a stark comparison, thinking that even among largely pro-Israel Democrats, some may choose to check their Zionist credentials at the door at risk of finding themselves targeted by extreme left Democratic competition, which, sadly, has become synonymous with being overtly anti-Israel.
I’m sure there are exceptions. I don’t mean or like to paint with broad generalizations. However, it’s hard to imagine that, at any Democratic gathering, there would be speaker after speaker espousing their pro-Israel credentials, and being as well received as the Road to Majority Conference speakers.
One of the most rousing speakers at the conference was N.C. Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson. I don’t recall him speaking about Israel specifically; however, he spoke with a deep biblical grounding that made it clear his support for Israel would be solid. I thought of this while reading recently about the Democratic Party in North Carolina seeking to put virulently anti-Israel clauses into its platform. One made the other look more embarrassing.
It’s one thing to support the well-being of Palestinian Arabs. I do. It’s another thing altogether to have their platform embrace what Palestinian Arabs refer to as “the Nakba,” defined as “the catastrophe” of the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Adherents to this line of thinking do no justice to the pursuit of the well-being of Palestinian Arabs. All they do is seek to delegitimize Israel’s founding.
As egregious as that is, lacking all evidence and only citing unconfirmed news sources, the North Carolina Democratic Party decided it would censure Israel for what they allege was the deliberate, targeted killing of a Palestinian Arab journalist, who died in a crossfire between Palestinian Arab terrorists and Israeli troops in May. The U.S.’ investigation of the bullet that killed the journalist was found “inconclusive,” so it is speculative, at best, to say it was fired by an Israeli soldier, much less as a deliberate targeted killing.
Tone and substance matter. The bipartisan nature of U.S. support for Israel is hanging on Biden’s trip this week.
Biden is to be credited for going to Israel this week, resisting some of the extremist anti-Israel positions in his party.
Will he raise the bar and set a positive tone for the U.S. midterms and the 2024 elections, communicating his support for Israel? Will he (and others) become a lightning rod that party extremists will take on and resist?
Or will support for Israel in the Democratic Party become a barely tolerated anomaly – or slip through the cracks, not welcome at all?
Jonathan Feldstein was born and educated in the U.S. and immigrated to Israel in 2004. He is married and the father of six. Throughout his life and career, he has become a respected bridge between Jews and Christians and serves as president of the Genesis 123 Foundation. He writes regularly on major Christian websites about Israel and shares experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel. He is host of the popular Inspiration from Zion podcast. He can be reached at email@example.com.