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Comforting Israel during Crisis and Conflict

Forty Years of ICEJ Ministry Highlights - Part II

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11 Sep 2020
Comforting Israel during Crisis and Conflict

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is currently marking the 40th anniversary since our ministry was established in September 1980 at the first public Christian celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. From the start, the founders of the ICEJ received a clear calling from Isaiah 40:1-2 that we were to be a “ministry of comfort” to Israel and the Jewish people.

As we reflect back over the past four decades, we see how God has used the Christian Embassy to comfort the Jewish people in many ways, especially in times of crisis and conflict. Here are brief accounts of some of Israel’s more difficult moments when Gentile mercy and favor upon Zion really stood out to the Israeli people.

1980-1983 – Menachem Begin and the ICEJ
An early test of the Christian Embassy’s resolve to stand with Israel came during “Operation Peace for Galilee” in summer 1982. Prime Minister Menachem Begin sent Israeli troops into southern Lebanon to protect the Galilee from PLO rockets and terror attacks. But the incursion soon embroiled Israeli forces in Lebanon’s dismal civil war. When the military campaign lost public support back home, Begin ordered a retreat. But early in the Lebanon operation, the ICEJ arranged a special bus tour for foreign journalists to visit the northern border area for a closer look at the conflict and its underlying causes. The fact-finding mission helped clarify certain realities about the situation which positively impacted some of the media reporting on the IDF’s reasons for entering Lebanon. ICEJ leaders also quietly liaised at the time between Israeli officials and leaders of the Lebanese Christian community. Later, when Begin resigned from office, the Christian Embassy sent him a letter of gratitude for his friendship, and for his endorsement of the ICEJ’s founding in 1980. In response, Begin wrote: “Your decision to establish your Embassy in Jerusalem at a time when we are being abandoned because of our faith was an act of courage and a symbol of the closeness between us. Your acts and gestures gave us the feeling that we were not alone.”

1991 – Responding to Iraqi Scuds
When the US-led coalition pushed Iraqi forces out of Kuwait during the First Gulf War in January 1991, Saddam Hussein fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel in a bid to break up the coalition and also scare off the mass influx of Soviet Jews then entering Israel. Several Scuds landed in Ramat Gan, next to Tel Aviv, damaging rows of apartments and leaving 5,000 Israelis homeless. Thanks to the ICEJ’s long-time Israeli liaison, Gen. Zvi Givati, the Embassy was first on the scene the next day with running suits, emergency kits and toiletries for the displaced families. Israel TV Channel One broadcast a feature report on our rapid response and the decision of our entire Embassy staff not to flee the country like the diplomatic corps had done.

1996 – Third Christian Zionist Congress
In February 1996, the ICEJ convened the Third International Christian Zionist Congress in Jerusalem during what turned out to be a brutal week of deadly suicide bombings across Israel, including a bus bombing just outside the Congress venue one hour before the meetings began. The Congress resolutions made front page news nationwide for their strong stand with Israel and condemnation of Islamic suicide terrorism. The Congress concluded with a prayer and solidarity march from the Great Synagogue to the Tower of David and finally to the Western Wall plaza.

2001 – ‘The Covenant’ Lifts Israeli Spirits
After the collapse of the Oslo talks, the Palestinians launched an armed intifada in September 2000. The escalating terror campaign claimed many lives on both sides, and many Israelis were growing despondent with the terror threat on every corner. But a talented Christian couple in Jerusalem, Robert and Elizabeth Muren, wrote a musical drama meant to lift the spirits of Israelis by recounting the story of God’s faithfulness to His covenant promises to Israel since Abraham. The ICEJ began producing the colorful biblical drama, entitled “The Covenant”, which debuted during the 2001 Feast. Quickly translated into Hebrew, the musical was seen by over 50,000 Israelis, including many soldiers and school children, while several world tours took the play to dozens of cities worldwide, including to Los Angeles for the Azusa Street Centennial in 2006.

The ICEJ took many other actions to bring comfort to Israelis in those difficult years of the second Palestinian intifada, such as donating a bullet-proof bus for school children in Efrat, and bomb-sniffing dogs for security forces across the country. Dozens of ICEJ branches also held public rallies worldwide to defend the Jewish state and people from a wave of rampant antisemitism cloaked as anti-Zionism. Meantime, a number of our European branches organized a symposium in the European Parliament in Brussels and successfully confronted the EU Commission on its policy of handing over foreign aid to the PLO in cash.

2006 – Relief During the Second Lebanon War
In summer 2006, northern Israel was pounded by over four thousand rockets launched by Hizbullah in the Second Lebanon War. The ICEJ responded by providing food for needy families and recreational escapes for children stuck in sweltering bomb shelters during the five weeks of conflict. In one memorable outing, several buses of Galilee youths were able to enjoy a day at a popular water park near Herzliya.

2008 – Bomb Shelters for Gaza Border Towns
For years, Israeli communities in the western Negev were suffering under the constant threat of rocket attacks by Hamas in neighboring Gaza. In response, the ICEJ began raising funds to place portable bomb shelters in the embattled city of Sderot, in partnership with Operation Lifeshield. With only 15 seconds to find safety once the sirens sound, the bomb shelters are a life-saving measure for these embattled Israelis. In the twelve years since, the Christian Embassy has now donated 110 reinforced bomb shelters to Israeli towns and villages along the Gaza border.

2009 – Relief for Israelis During Gaza Rocket War
In late December 2008, Israeli forces were finally ordered to confront Hamas over its increased rocket attacks. As tensions escalated, the ICEJ swiftly came to the aid of the besieged Israeli communities along the Gaza border. Our efforts in early 2009 enabled hundreds of battle-weary teens, seniors and low-income families from the Gaza periphery to enjoy quiet reprieves in the Galilee and Eilat, far away from the frontlines. Meanwhile, ICEJ branches around the globe staged mass rallies in their nations to support Israel’s right to defend its citizens from Hamas.

2010 – Branches Rally Over Gaza Flotilla
When Israel was widely condemned for intercepting the Gaza flotilla in May 2010, ICEJ branches around the globe organised rallies in support of Israel’s actions of self-defence. These included a rally of 35,000 Christians in Brazil, a march of 5,000 Christians in Finland, and a gathering of 4,000 Christians in Norway. Similar pro-Israel demonstrations were held in Canada, Czech Republic, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, and the USA, among other nations.

2012 – Defending Israel During Another Gaza War
In November 2012, Israel faced yet another rocket war with Hamas in Gaza, but this time the whole southern half of Israel was under fire, including Jerusalem. The ICEJ’s rapid response included providing food, clothing, first aid kits, blankets, toiletries, toys and games, and shelter to those most affected by the hostilities, while helping elderly Holocaust survivors relocate to safe housing in Haifa and Netanya. The ministry’s global network of national branches also leapt into action once again to advocate for Israel’s right to defend itself.

2014 – ICEJ Rallies Again During Third Gaza Conflict
In summer 2014, a third major rocket war erupted between Israel and Hamas along the Gaza border. During the 50-day conflict, the ICEJ delivered ten more portable bomb shelters to vulnerable communities, took groups of children and the elderly on respites to safer areas of the country, and sponsored a trip abroad for 40 youths from hard-hit Ashkelon. Meanwhile, numerous ICEJ branches rallied once more to defend Israel against the threat of Islamist terror.

2018 – Fire Equipment for Gaza Border Towns
As Israel marked its 70th anniversary in 2018, the Hamas regime in Gaza launched the “March of Return”, a series of daily violent protests along the border meant to break through the security fence and attack Israeli communities. Palestinian protesters eventually began launching incendiary balloons and kites with explosives to cause wildfires and other harm on the Israeli side. In response, the ICEJ and its Christian partners donated 18 all-terrain firefighting trailers and five specially designed ATVs to equip Israeli first responders with the means to effectively deal with the arson threat. The ICEJ also continued placing portable bomb shelters in the western Negev to protect local civilians.

These are just some of the instances when the ICEJ has been a timely source of comfort, encouragement and relief to Israelis caught in crisis and conflict. The ICEJ has proven again and again that Christians genuinely care for and support the Jewish state and people.

 

If you would like to learn more about the history and legacy of the ICEJ in standing with Israel, please check out our 40th Anniversary Journal today. You can order it at: icejstore.com

And make sure to join us for the upcoming online Global Feast of Tabernacles 2020. Learn more and register today at: feast.icej.org 

  

 

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