For two years, Joel Rosenberg sat on the scoop of a lifetime.
After meeting with kings, crown princes and presidents around the Middle East, Rosenberg knew that something huge was brewing in the region and that many of these leaders would soon boldly take steps to declare peace with Israel.
But until news emerged of the Abraham Accords in August 2020 when the United Arab Emirates was first to declare full normalization with Israel, Rosenberg was unable to share his encounters.
“How a Jewish Evangelical Won Trust with Arab Muslim Leaders,” the article’s headline reads from Oct. 1. If anything, the fact that Rosenberg kept these stories to himself all this time only served to build more trust.
“By not leaking it, it created a sense of safety,” he said of Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, in the interview. “He could judge that these people are sitting on a massive headline but, they have self-restraint to care more about the relationship.”
It was the same with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ), who met with Rosenberg in 2018.
Rosenberg details these meetings – some of which were private and some which involved him leading Evangelical delegations to the Middle East for these high-profile meetings – in his nonfiction book, “Enemies and Allies: An Unforgettable Journey inside the Fast-Moving & Immensely Turbulent Modern Middle East,” released in September.
In the interview with Christianity Today, Rosenberg sought to answer why Arab Muslim leaders would “trust a Jewish evangelical U.S.-Israeli citizen.”
“I think it has much more to do with being a follower of Jesus Christ. They didn’t know me, but they seemed to trust that followers of Christ who call themselves Evangelicals would be trustworthy,” Rosenberg said. “That we are genuinely interested in peace, in security in the region, and in a U.S. alliance with the Arab world. And in terms of the expansion of religious freedom, all of them wanted to talk about these things.”
“They were making a bet that the evangelical community in the United States, while being deeply—though not uniformly—pro-Israel, still has a deep interest in peace and assessing their countries and their reforms fairly. It was the sincerity of our faith that led to trust.”
Rosenberg and his delegations were also able to press the leaders of these nations on religious freedoms and human rights.
“The baseline for religious freedom in most of these countries is miserable,” Rosenberg said, but describes some sparks of progress made during his visits.
“I don’t want to overstate this, but it was part of our core values to ask how we could strengthen the local Christian community rather than work around them. So there may not have been tangible gains, but there were intangible.”
Christianity Today asked Rosenberg if Evangelicals were less influential with President Joe Biden in the White House.
The magazine also asks Rosenberg whether he would ever accept an invitation to Iran or Turkey to bring an evangelical delegation.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.