Josh Reinstein, director of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, discusses his new book on the power of faith-based diplomacy.
By Atara Beck, World Israel News
In recent years the support for the State of Israel from the Evangelical Christian community has been outstanding. On the other hand, many Christian churches have taken an anti-Israel position and actively support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the Jewish State.
Josh Reinstein, co-founder and director of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and president of the NGO Israel Allies Foundation, explains the division in his new book, Titus, Trump and the Triumph of Israel: The Power of Faith-Based Diplomacy, due to be released September 1.
Reinstein is also the producer and founder of Israel Now News, a half-hour weekly news broadcast, and owner of the Israel-based JSR International Marketing.
The “battle for Israel, at its core, is a spiritual one,” Reinstein explains in the book.
“One of the questions I’m most frequently asked is why there is such an upsurge in Bible-believing Christians who strongly come out in support of Israel in the word, while many mainstream churches criticize Israel and even promote anti-Semitism,” he writes. He then goes on to explain in detail the theology behind the discrepancy.
The book covers a gamut of historical and current events affecting Israel and the Jewish People – whether directly or indirectly, positively or negatively – that influence one’s decision to support or oppose the Jewish State. It also includes the “strong legal basis for Jewish sovereignty in Israel,” although, Reinstein says, these rights “pale in comparison to the biblical rights of the Jewish people to the land.”
Reinstein recently discussed his new book with World Israel News.
Q: Evangelical Christians are Israel’s biggest supporters, as you explain in the book. Over the years, however, there has been a great deal of missionary activity in Israel. Can you comment on this issue?
“Missionary activity in Israel is illegal, it’s a serious problem. We work very carefully on not cooperating with any organization that funds or assists attempts to convert Jews to Christianity. For us, that’s a red line.
“There are a lot of organizations out there who support Israel not because of any ulterior motive or desire to convert Jews, but because of a genuine love of Israel and the God of Israel. That’s where we focus our cooperation.”
‘Netanyahu-Trump Doctrine is working’
Q: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, just days ago, announced a peace agreement with the UAE. He agreed to President Trump’s request to delay his plan for Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria – the biblical heartland of the Jewish People – in order to make this agreement. Does that not seem to be based more on political perspective than on biblical perspective?
“We have to be very careful when we see what’s happening diplomatically for the camera… I don’t think it’s one or the other. The agreement with the Emirates is an incredible achievement and testament to the fact that the Netanyahu-Trump doctrine is working. Netanyahu and Trump believe that peace can come when Israel is strong. It’s the opposite of the Obama Doctrine, which strengthened Iran.
“I don’t think it [UAE-Israel agreement] precludes support from both Trump and Netanyahu for [Israeli] sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. I believe it’s more of a strategy issue than a political issue. It’s all about timing.”
Q: Many senior Israeli politicians are secular, including some on the extreme Left who are in fact anti-religious and not interested in any biblical perspective when dealing with issues such as peace. What is their relationship with the Christian Allies Caucus?
“The Caucus, from its inception in 2004, has been made up of seven political parties from left to right, secular to religious… The common denominator is they want to work with people who love Israel by using faith-based diplomacy. The secular look at it as working with people who want to be our friends. I think [Opposition leader Yair] Lapid has been more helpful working with us against BDS than almost everyone else. He might be secular, but he appreciates Christian support because he thinks it strengthens Israel.”
Q: You discuss at length the persecution of Christians in the Middle East – other than in Israel, “the only country in the region where the Christian population has increased since 1948 – by more than 400 percent.” You say that “Christians living in the Muslim world,” including the Palestinian-administered areas, “are much like the Jews of the 1930s in Europe…yet the world remains silent with few exceptions.” Why is the Western world silent?
“I think there’s a double standard. It used to be basically against the Jews, but now its focus is on Judeo-Christian values… Hundreds of thousands of Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa, and the media is silent.”
Q: In one chapter, you discuss gender politics, pointing to the Women’s March in January 2017 that was joined by millions of women under the leadership of Linda Sarsour. Why would it take belief in the Bible to see the absurdity of marching for women’s rights with someone who, as you note, supports Shariah law, which dehumanizes women and deprives them of basic human rights? Can they not sense danger in their own neck of the woods?
“I think that people are willing to cut off their nose to spite their face… looking at the short-term results. In this case, they took the gender-equality issue and turned it into an anti-Israel issue. Intersectionality brought them all together with their common hatred for Judeo-Christian values and the God of Israel. They lost focus on the real issue of equal rights for women, which only Israel supports in the Middle East.
“As for Zionists who joined the march, I think many people don’t understand the issues, and who wouldn’t be for gender equality? Eventually, as we saw, people started to leave because they saw who was leading the movement.”
Q: You discuss the increasing lack of morality in the U.S., giving the example of celebrities and politicians who revere the likes of Castro and fight for values that are essentially anti-American. Is the future of America at risk?
“I think America is at a turning point, a fork in the road. America, just like Israel, was founded on Judeo-Christian values. If they embrace their heritage, we’ll see more support for Israel and a brighter future for America. Otherwise, of course it’s at risk. When you stop believing in something, you believe in nothing – and that, too, is a belief system.”
Q: So would you say it goes back to the quote [Genesis 12:1-3]: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
“It’s even deeper when it comes to America. America and Israel are the only countries founded on Judeo-Christian values. It’s about understanding the foundations of America. If they erase what the Founding Fathers did and start a new course, then the country is at risk.”
Q: In the book you point out that “Bible-believing Christianity is the fastest-growing religion in the world.” What does that mean for the future of Israel?
“Our future is brighter in spots where Bible-believing Christianity grows. We’ll see more support from Latin America, Africa and Asia because that’s where Evangelical Christianity is growing and where pro-Israel sentiment is on the march.”
Q: Israel has a similar situation as in the States, where elites, in art, media, music and so on, have a progressive outlook. In your dealings with evangelicals, have they ever complained to you about Israel’s progressive aspects – for example, Israel has a gay pride parade every year – since their support for Israel comes from a biblical perspective?
“They’re mature in the way they look at how Israel deals with family values and cultural events. They don’t support it, but they still support Israel. I don’t think we’re penalized… We’re looked at from a biblical lens, that God promised the Land of Israel to the Jewish people.
“There is unconditional support. I would hope that Jewish people would look at Christians like that too. We don’t have to believe in their theology in order to work with them. It’s about shared support for the State of Israel and for what God is doing for Israel.”
Q: What are some examples of the Caucus’s success?
“Faith-based diplomacy brought about the transfer of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. My book explains how Trump basically did it for the Evangelical community.
“Anti-BDS legislation started as a church movement in South Carolina in 2016. They were the first. Rep. Alan Clemmons is there, and therefore South Carolina is always the first.”
(Clemmons, an Evangelical member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, is a staunch defender of the Jewish claim to Judea and Samaria, the Jewish biblical homeland, and has been a leading advocate for withholding state contracts from businesses and individuals that choose to boycott Israel.)