CAMERAS Partnership of Christians and Jews
Dear Christian Leaders, There is no time like the beginning of a new calendar year to make a fresh commitment to stand in solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people. This is more important now than it has ever been, as antisemitism and anti-Zionism continue to rise worldwide, in both the secular and Christian realms.
Just this past Christmas, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Jerusalem issued a joint statement warning of a concerted effort to drive Christians out of the Holy Land. The statement implies that the future of Christians in the Holy Land is threatened by Israel, rather than by Arabs, whose actions have caused a significant decline in the Christian population of what once were Christian majority locales. The recent warning appears to have been based, at least in part, on unverified allegations by Church leaders of rising Israeli violence against clergy, supposedly carried out by young Jews. However, as CAMERA's Tamar Sternthal points out in her December 22nd article, "This unsubstantiated, vague assertion fails to even specify which time periods are in question or what the alleged figures are." Indeed, this false accusation is just part of "the anti-Israel campaign by heads of various Christian denominations in Jerusalem charging a 'systematic' Israeli campaign to drive Christians out of Jerusalem and other parts of the Holy Land." As Barry Shaw, Senior Associate at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies, notes in "Where persecution of Christians exists in the Holy Land," the suggestion that the future of Christians in the Holy Land is challenged by Israel "is nothing short of a barefaced lie." Furthermore, "it more than hints of disgraceful replacement theology," which is a false doctrine used by the Church for almost two thousand years to justify persecution, pogroms, forced conversions, and murder of Jews. As Shaw so accurately documents, the fact is " the Christian population in Israel has grown. Indeed, there are now more Christians in Israel than Druze. Christians have been free to follow their faith and various churches have taken root in Israel including Roman, Armenian, Syriac, Maronite, Chaldeans, Greek Catholic, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, as well as Anglican and Protestant." Shaw continues, "...the real danger to Christianity lies in the locations that Israel handed over to the Palestinian Arabs to administer. Bethlehem is a prime example. When Israel was established in 1948, Christians composed 80% of the town so holy to Christians. Today, Bethlehem Christians are a shrinking minority, less than ten thousand strong. They pretend it’s because of Israeli checkpoints. At least this is what the replacement theologians behind the Kairos campaign allege." The reality is that the future of the Christian population of Bethlehem, as well as other former Christian-majority locales, is threatened because of persecution at the hands of Muslims. This most recent false allegation against Israel is just one of many in the intensifying campaign to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish State. This is why we, as Christian leaders, must make a fresh commitment to strengthen our stand in solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people. To do so, we need to stay informed and know the facts in order to equip ourselves and all those within our circle of influence to counter the lies, combat anti-Zionism, and speak the truth about Israel. The Power One Person Has to Make a Difference In this tumultuous time in which we live, a moving story from a very dangerous time in history will inspire us all concerning the power each one of us has to make a difference by doing what is right in the face of great evil. Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds served in the US Army during World War II. In the course of his service, he was taken prisoner by the Germans. Along with other American POWs - including Jews - he was taken to Stalag IXA, a camp near Ziegenhain, Germany. In January of 1945, the camp commandant announced that all Jewish POWs in Stalag IXA were to report the following morning. This was consistent with the German policy of singling out Jews in order to send them to forced labor or extermination camps. Knowing this, and as the highest ranking officer in the camp, Master Sergeant Edmonds ordered all POWs—Jews and non-Jews alike—to report together.
When the commandant saw that all the POWs reported, he said to Edmonds, “They cannot all be Jews.” Edmonds replied, “We are all Jews.” When the officer held a pistol to Edmonds' head and demanded that he identify the Jews, Edmonds responded that if he wanted to shoot the Jews he would have to shoot all the prisoners. He then reminded the German that if he shot all of them, he would be tried for war crimes after the war. The commandant lowered his pistol and walked away. As a result of Edmonds' heroic stand, he is credited with saving the lives of at least 200 Jewish POWs. In 2015, he was recognized posthumously by Yad Vashem as a "Righteous Among the Nations," which is Israel's highest honor given to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. Please watch this 14 minute video for more of the story of Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds and the lives of the Jews he saved from certain death. Be inspired by the power you have to make a difference in the world by doing what is right - even in the face of great evil!