American Christians: The Righteous Gentiles of Today?
By Miriam Tenenbom
In an enthusiastic evening at the Capitol Hilton in Washington DC, Christian and Jewish leaders were honoring the outgoing Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon and his wife, Anne, at a Gala dinner.
At the opening, words from President George W. Bush were read, congratulating the Ambassador for the many years of service and for his dedication to enhance friendship between the peoples of Israel and the United States. Believing that the two peoples are rooted in the same values, the President emphasized America’s commitment to Israel’s well-being as a Jewish State as well as his vision of Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security.
Video messages from Vice PM Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Zipi Livni, Former PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Former PM Ehud Bark were projected on a huge screen.
Participating in this event were many people of prominence from the political and religious arenas. From Congress: House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer; House Minority Whip, Roy Blunt and Congressman Tom Lantos.
Among the religious leaders were: Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Gary Bauer, Pastor Paula White and others.
The beautiful ballroom was packed with about four hundred VIPs. ABC’s news reporter, Sam Donaldson, served as the Master of Ceremony and led the event in his charming way throughout the evening. Everybody in attendance was of the same mind: We are committed to show unconditional support to “the Jews.” When I asked my prominent table-neighbor Peter Rosenblatt, ex-Ambassador and Vice-president of the American Jewish Committee, what he thought about this nearly unrealistic outburst of Christian friendship and sympathy, he assured me that it was truly genuine with no strings attached.
Gary Bauer, who served as Under Secretary of Education and as President Reagan’s Chief Domestic Policy Advisor said in his speech to the outgoing Ambassador: ”Tell the Israeli people that even if the UN lets you down, we in the US will stand with Israel.” But when asked in private later on to explain this love and support, he said: “Israel is the apple of God’s eye. It just puzzles me why so many people hate the Jews and their motives behind it. I’m weary of explaining my belief.”
Dudu Fisher, who gave a moving performance when he sang Kol Nidre and “Bring me home” from Les Miserables, said that he had no doubt that the American Christians were “the righteous gentiles” of our generation. “My family was saved by a Polish Christian family.”
Congressman Roy Blunt vowed that Congress would always support Israel.
There was no room left for difficult questions like: Is there any hidden agenda behind the Christian support? Is there a selfish reason behind the giving to Israel? Or, since there is a new-found love between Jews and Christians, would the Jews reciprocate the support to the Christians?
All I heard was: “This is genuinely done by the organizers…,” “These Christians believe strongly in Israel,” and “This relationship is utterly sincere.”
But the highlight of the evening was Mrs. Anne Ayalon, who was brought up in a deeply evangelical family in the US. She met her husband, Dany, during a trip to Israel many years ago, which changed her life. Before marrying, Dany had his first diplomatic course during endless nights of theological discussions with Anne’s father about religion and whether Jesus was the Son of God. She said: ”My Christian family always showed Dany faith and love for Israel. It is one thing to say you love Israel, but it’s another to welcome a Jew into your family. Dany was always welcome. But they also received a big lesson of what it means to be a Jew, what it means to have a Jewish heart. They realized that as much as they wanted to share their faith, they also had to learn from the wisdom of Judaism and the rabbis.”
PM Sharon gave Dany two tips before coming with him to the US. Number one: When you are invited for dinners, never forget to take your wife along. Second advice: Reach out to the Christians, they are our friends. He followed both.
1: House Minority Whip, Roy Blunt;
2: Outgoing Israeli Ambassador to the United States Danny Ayalon and his wife Anne;
3: Gary Bauer, President Reagan’s Chief Domestic Policy Advisor
4: Miri Ben Ari, Grammy Award Winner Violinist;
5: Israeli performer Dudu Fisher;
6: Noa Meridor, wife of new Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Salay Meridor;
7: Susan Michael co-founder and USA Director of the International Christian Embassy;
8: Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, President of George Washington University with New York Times writer William Safire;
9: Naomi and Peter Rosenblatt, ex-Ambassador, Vice-president, American Jewish Committee.v
Photos: Isi Tenenbom