WASHINGTON — American Jews and evangelicals need a formal mechanism
to discuss their differences and similarities on support for Israel, leaders
from both sides said April 28 at the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum
Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the
Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, spoke alongside Gary Bauer,
president of American Values and a board member of Christians United for
Israel, about Jewish groups’ concerns over evangelical support for Israel.
Much of the concern, Schonfeld said, has centered on
theological beliefs — that “the current state of Israel is part of the
(biblical) end of days scenario,” according to Christians, while Jews “value
life in its present tense,” she said.
In addition, while Jewish groups value evangelicals’ strong
support for Israeli security, the two sides tend to differ on such issues as rights
for women and gays, and religion in the public sphere.
The differences also extend to how to support Israel. While Schonfeld
said supporting Israel also means questioning its policies, Bauer called it “irresponsible
to lecture Israelis on what they should or shouldn’t do.”
Nonetheless, Schonfeld said the “organized Jewish community
does not really have a structure, a way to deepen these relationships.” There
is, she said, “a need for more.”
Bauer agreed. “The need for continuing dialogue is
incredibly important,” he said.
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