Christiane Marie Sarah writes on Jewcy about the complexity of the Christian Jewish Relations and the importance of new ways of engagement:
Jerusalem was busy last week as thousands descended on the city for Sukkot and the annual Jerusalem March. This year’s march drew around 70,000 people, up from the 35,000 who participated in 2008. 20,000 police stood by on Tuesday to oversee the controversial event, after what has already been a tense week in Jerusalem. Thousands of Christians also took part in the march, attending as part of a Feast of Tabernacles celebration hosted by the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem (ICEJ).
Christian presence is a by now a familiar part of the Sukkot milieu, but Israelis have yet to decide what to make of these “friends of Israel.” Rabbi Tovia Singer has warned that the Christian congregants want to “prey on” rather than “pray for” Israel, and in 2007 the Chief Rabbinate forbade Jews from taking part in the march and other events with ICEJ presence. Minister of Tourism Stash Misezhnikov, however, has justified the event, stating that the Feast of Tabernacles is the largest annual tourist event in Israel, and is expected to generate between $16 and 18 million in revenue.
Who are these “Christian Zionists,” and should they be welcomed by Israelis? These questions return each year, and have also surfaced occasionally during events like the death of Christian fundamentalist Jerry Falwall in 2007. Israeli journalist Evan Goldstein at the time pointed out that “philo-Semites, like Falwell, seem to relate to Jews more as mythical figures from the Bible than as real living, breathing people.” His analysis was based on the thoughts of German philosopher Ernst Bloch, who wrote that a “philo-Semite is an anti-Semite that loves Jews.”
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