Christians, neoconservatives push for tougher terror tactics

jerusalem (jta) | While thousands of Christian tourists danced through Jerusalem’s streets during the annual Christian Feast of Tabernacles parade, on the holiday of Sukkot, a group of well-funded neoconservatives were gathering on the other side of Israel’s capital for the first annual “Jerusalem Summit.”

The three-day conference, which ended Tuesday, united right-wing thinkers, activists and journalists primarily from the United States and Israel. Organizers hope the conference will help launch a new umbrella group aimed at providing an alternative to the “road map” peace plan and supporting a harder line against terrorism in Israel.

The conference was planned to coincide with the Christian celebration of Feast of Tabernacles. Every year, more than 3,000 Christians come to Israel on Sukkot to express their support for the Jewish state and walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

“Jewish people remind the world that they are accountable to God,” the Rev. Malcolm Hedding, executive director of the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem, said at the Jerusalem Summit. Hedding’s group, which is staunchly pro-Israel, sponsored the Tabernacle celebrations.

The summit conference underscored the growing ties between evangelical Christians and conservative Jews, and the meeting in Jerusalem included multifaceted representation from the right.

There was Middle East analyst Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum and member of the U.S. Institute for Peace, who advocates resuming peace negotiations when the Palestinians halt terrorism. There was one-time presidential candidate and former U.N. ambassador Alan Keyes, who says Israel should secure its victory over Arab terrorists through military means.

Israeli speakers included Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Tourism Minister Benny Elon and Cabinet member Uzi Landau. Several foreign government officials also were in attendance.