Evangelical Christians rally en masse for the Jewish state

jerusalem | “I Stand by Israel” reads Christel Diekmann’s T-shirt as Star of David earrings dangle above her shoulders.

On her 34th pilgrimage to Israel, she is one of more than 4,000 evangelical Christians from across the globe who have gathered here to pledge their unconditional support for the Jewish state.

“If I believe in the Bible I have to help Israel,” said Diekmann, 51, who runs a Jewish-Christian outreach organization in Oberursel, Germany.

Dismissing any skepticism about the unflinching support for Israel offered by the evangelists, high-profile leader and American television evangelist Pat Robertson said, “I’m one of the best friends you’ve ever had.” He has spoken out vehemently against Palestinian statehood and militant Islam. As other Christian groups consider divestment campaigns against Israel and anti-Israel sentiment across the world grows, many here welcomed the visiting Christians.

The Christians gathered in Israel to celebrate the Sukkot holiday in what they call their annual Feast of the Tabernacles, a festival they say was traditionally a time for non-Jews to celebrate along with Jews during the period of the ancient Temples.

Orthodox Jews here worry about missionary activity “of which there is no small amount in Israel,” said Jonathan Rosenblum, director of Jewish Media Resources, an Orthodox media resource organization.

Singing “We Love Israel,” waving Israeli flags and blowing shofars, thousands of pilgrims from the 80 countries represented at the Sukkot gathering took to Jerusalem’s streets Monday, Oct. 4, to express their support for Israel.

People are here “because we believe in God and God is the God of Israel, so we love the people of the land,” said Ruben Pavia, 43, a bank clerk from Belem, Brazil.

Dancing with a group representing the Ivory Coast, 34-year-old Jean Paul Dogo, who works as a translator for his West African country’s first lady, praised Israel. “We love Israel, our hearts are with Israel without conditions. They are our brothers,” he said.