Ambassador David Friedman praised evangelical support for Israel in explaining the prominent role of two pastors at the US embassy dedication ceremony in Jerusalem.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
US Ambassador David Friedman told The New York Times (NYT) that evangelical Christians “support Israel with much greater fervor and devotion than many in the Jewish community.”
Friedman made the comment in the context of a discussion on last week’s inauguration of the new American embassy in Jerusalem, acknowledging that it was a very deliberate act on his part to have two evangelical representatives deliver the opening and closing prayers respectively.
The ambassador had invited Pastors Robert Jeffress and John Hagee to address the ceremony because “they’re two of the most followed leaders of the evangelical community, and I wanted to honor the community for having been so constructive in helping to move this along.”
The push made by the evangelicals for the Trump administration to transfer the embassy is a symbol of the solid backing that community gives to Israel in general – and it is extremely important, Friedman said.
“You’re running a country, you need friends, you need alliances, you need to protect your people,” the ambassador, who is known as very pro-Israel himself, told the NYT.
Are American Christians more pro-Israel than Jews?
Surveys done over recent years back the view that the liberal, non-Orthodox sector of US Jewry – which comprises the vast majority of the Jewish population – is less supportive of the Jewish state, especially the younger generation.
Globally, there are an estimated 600 million evangelicals, with tens of millions in the United States alone. Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, said evangelical support has “got to be a solid quarter of the population, and that is maybe 10, 15, 20 times the Jewish population,” making that community the “backbone” of American support for Israel.
Israeli government officials, especially Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, apparently agree that the relationship between the evangelical community and Israel is well worth encouraging.
Nineteen Israeli parliamentarians belong to the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, which was established in 2004 to help forge ties with Christian leaders, organizations and political representatives in Israel and throughout the world.
Netanyahu: ‘Israel has no better friends’
In an address to a Christian media summit in Jerusalem last year, Netanyahu said, “Israel has no better friends, I mean that, no better friends in the world than the Christian communities around the world.”
Political support is also translated into monetary support, with evangelicals reportedly making up 13% of all tourists to Israel. According to an AP tally reported on Ynet recently, donations from the community also paid for about a third of all immigrants moving to Israel last year.