The faith may be different but the politics are the same.
That’s the bottom line when Evangelical Christian leader Rev. Jerry Falwell cohosts a huge prayer meeting to support Israel with Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert next month at Falwell’s church in Lynchburg, Va.
The event, called the "Jerusalem Prayer Summit," is designed to show support for Israel and raise money for terrorism victims in Jerusalem, according to press reports.
Rev. Falwell, the founder of the Christian Moral Majority movement in the 1990s, has raised the ire of Jewish leaders in the past, most recently by saying that the anti-Christ is a living Jewish male. Evangelical Christians are also dedicated to converting Jews.
Scheduled for Oct. 27, the prayer summit is being sponsored by a coalition of about 300 U.S. churches.
It’s part of a campaign launched by Olmert in Dallas last June. He reportedly raised more than $400,000 for the New Jerusalem Foundation for terrorist victims in Jerusalem.
Olmert plans to host a World Jerusalem Prayer Summit in his city this month for some 300 of America’s most influential Christian leaders.
Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman said he was unconcerned about the Olmert-Falwell team-up. "There’s nothing wrong with a prayer service for the safety and security of Israel and terrorist victims. I welcome it."
Interfaith expert Rabbi James Rudin said the relationship is not new, and once again demonstrates the paradox of Evangelical Christianity’s relationship with Jews. "This group is so strong for the survival and security of Israel yet at the same time some of the very same people playing host to Olmert are also the very ones committed to converting Jews," he said. "I think the Jewish community needs to know who they are dealing with."
He noted that the late Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin gave an award to Rev. Falwell 22 years ago. Other Israelis, most notably former Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, have also had close relations with American Evangelical leaders who pour millions of dollars into Israeli coffers.