Christian Clergy Support Israel
By Henry Levy
Dozens of Evangelical Christian leaders from the greater New York area united at the Faith Exchange, hosted by Rev. Daniel Stratton in New York City on Friday morning, July 25, to express their support for Israel in its current conflict with the Palestinian terrorist Hamas group. They spoke out to expose the utter moral disparity between Israel and Hamas. The evangelical leaders repeatedly affirmed their love of both the Palestinian people and the Israeli people. They also urged “all people of conscience to speak against the malignant morals of the Hamas movement that terrorizes both their own Palestinian people and Israel,” according to Dr. Paul de Vries, president of the NY Divinity School, who organized the press conference.
Evangelical leaders joined media and Ambassador Ido Aharoni, consul general of Israel in New York, to discuss the importance of supporting Israel during this time of conflict and violence. Several important topics were discussed by the ministers, including what they believe to be a clear distinction of good versus evil between Israel and Hamas in the way they treat their own citizens.
“Love is our primary response, equal love to Palestinians and Israelis,” according to Rev. Marcos Miranda, president of the NY Chaplaincy Services. “Because of the morally disgusting use of people as human shields and Hamas seeking to increase Palestinians’ own casualties, the real issue is our support of human life. For life we must stand with Israel and the Palestinian people, and strongly against Hamas.” He mentioned the trend in the media to paint Israel as a bully but added that the stronger man or woman in a fight doesn’t make them a protagonist. He called on Abbas to break all ties with Hama for only then can his statements be taken seriously.
Rev. Daniel Delgado, executive director of Third Day Missions based in Staten Island, urged that we restore truth. “So much of the media and social media distort the truth that they, in effect, support terrorism!” He added, “Truth should never be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, to please an already misinformed public.”
“The media tries to paint this as two forces that we have to bring together and try to resolve their differences. One is terroristic and the other supports the core biblical values of life, liberty and justice. There really is no problem choosing sides between Hamas and Israel,” according to de Vries. “The Palestinian people are the ones we love, along with the people of Israel, but the abuse by the tyrannical leaders of the Palestinians is just incalculable.” An example that Dr. de Vries mentioned was the heavy investment Hamas has made in dozens of very long cement-reinforced tunnels to deliver death and terror to the Israelis—but Hamas has not used its tons of cement to build any underground shelter for Palestinian civilians.
De Vries insisted that it is in the U.S.’s best security interest to support Israel, saying: “Hamas is terrorizing its own people and the people of Israel, and if they had a chance they would terrorize America, too.”
Several pastors argued that while in Israel the basic human rights are respected—including the rights to life, liberty, and freedom of religion—Hamas embodies a mentality of death and is against liberty, against the lives of their own people, and against freedom of religion. Two of the pastors at the press conference have ministered in Gaza, and they talked firsthand about the vicious torture, abuse and murder of Palestinian Christian ministers and leaders whom they have known. "The only country in the Middle East where there is freedom of religion is Israel," these two ministers said clearly—an observation that was echoed by several speakers. One of them, Pastor William Devlin of the Infinity Church who worked in Gaza since 2007 said, “Every day I see Gazans transported to Israel for free medical treatment. We love Israel.” As for his commitment he said, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”
Reverend Dimas Salaberrios of the Infinity Bible Church and Concerts of Prayer, representing 1000-2000 clergy said that Hamas must have a new vision, that we have seen them blow things up and it is now time to see them build things up.
Pastor Clem Salerno of Calvary Tabernacle, New Jersey, told those present, “We are not here for talking points. Propaganda knows no limits. Palestinians have been hijacked by Hamas and this is a global humanitarian conflict to be taken seriously. Until Hamas is lifted out of Palestine, there will be no hope for they are truly evil! Repeating talking points do not make them facts … facts are facts. Hamas does not have the right to perpetrate genocide.”
Pastor Gasper Anastasi of Freeport said that the real battle is about the one and only true God. He continued, “There is a spiritual battle. If the nature of people is bent on destruction where they live is of no importance. We are dealing with an anti-Christ spirit and anti-Semitism. We have to tell our people, if we are taking the side of God we have to take the side of Israel because Israel is the apple of God’s eye.”
The Rev. Robert Stearns, executive director of Eagles' Wings ministry, said it was important to call together different streams of Christian faith leaders in the tri-state area to show that this conflict is not just an issue important to Jews or evangelicals, but rather that Hamas’ whole orientation is a human rights offense that must be addressed by all "decent human beings." Sterns added, "If Hamas was neutralized and the Palestinian people put down their arms tomorrow there could be a Palestinian state of peace and security in the area," Stearns said, adding however that if "If Israel put down their arms, there would be no Israel. That's the reality."
Ambassador Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York, was welcomed warmly and gave a master class on the state of the current crises. Setting the stage, he mentioned that over 2000 missiles were dropped in a space smaller than Rhode Island. He reminded us that years ago, in Washington D.C., a sniper lead to emptied streets, movie theatres, stores and highways and that was only one sniper. Understand what 2000 real bombs, meant to kill people means to the tiny State of Israel. He mentioned some common misconception. Such as when ten years ago the founder of Hamas, Sheik Yassin, was eliminated by Israel and the media called him a spiritual leader. “Hamas is not operating in the name of God. It is a godless people, putting people in harm’s way to inflict harm and thus damage Israel’s image cause international pressure on Israel. It is their ideology and strategy. How many suicide bombers are sons of Hamas leaders? None! Hamas is morally corrupt. In the past when Palestinians were asked how hostilities can end replied that Israel can end the occupation of Gaza. In 2005 Israel and every citizen left Gaza. Eighteen thriving communities were destroyed, greenhouses and farms were offered to them and they said no. The idea was to turn Gaza into the Singapore of the Middle East. Since then over 15,000 rockets and mortar shelling ensued upon Israel. In a period of less than 48 hours, 300 missiles paralyzed Southern Israel. The Egyptians put a truce on the table. Israel said yes immediately and Hamas said no. A few days later the United Nations asked for a 5 hour ceasefire for humanitarian purposes. Israel said yes and Hamas kept on firing. There is only one conclusion to draw when dealing with an enemy that wants us dead. It is not about compromise, not about reaching agreements, not about occupation and not about territory. It is a clash of civilizations between people that celebrate life and people that celebrate death.” Aharoni said this is nothing new, Around 1860 the Steinbeck family who settled in Tel Aviv were murdered by Arabs with the sole survivor being the author John Steinbeck. In 1929 Jews were murdered in Hebron, many while sleeping. The same sentiment exists today – the refusal to accept the other. In the current war, which he describes as perhaps the most transparent military operation to date, people are warned of impending attacks via cell phones messages, hospital administrators are warned to empty buildings (from which missiles were fired or stored) and every day hundreds of trucks deliver food and medicine to the Palestinians. “Plus our society investigates itself – we don’t need others to do that. We use missiles to protect people. They use people to protect missiles. In the end, it’s not what we do that bothers them, it’s what we stand for,” Aharoni concluded.
This was an amazing outpouring of positive sentiment towards Israel and condemnation of Hamas. Too bad they can’t take this tutorial on the road. Heaven knows the media and the nations of the world need it.