EUGENE — Days before President Obama sparked new debate on Israel’s future, a Christian group drew 794 people to a rally here for the tiny Mideast nation as it faces unprecedented international challenges. Michael Medved, a Seattle-based radio talk host who is Jewish and who has close family ties to Israel, was keynote speaker at Eugene’s annual Night to Honor Israel. Sponsored by the local chapter of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and promoted by several churches, it took place Sunday evening, May 15, at the Lane Events Center.
“What you are doing to support the great nation of Israel is living the truth,” said Medved, whose daily national three-hour radio program on the Christian-owned Salem Radio Net-work is heard locally on stations in Albany, Hills-boro and Vancouver, Wash. He spent much of his talk focusing on what he said were false notions about modern-day Israel that Christian supporters need to combat.
In a move widely condemned within the evangelical community, Obama on May 19 called for Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders as a step toward establishing a Palestinian state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately rejected Obama’s proposal, saying the 1967 borders would leave his nation indefensible.
Founded in 2006 by popular Texas pastor and evangelist John Hagee, Christians United for Israel now boasts 625,000 members nationally and is moving rapidly toward a million, said CUFI Western Regional Director Randy Neal. In brief remarks before Medved’s talk, Neal urged concerned Christians to stand up for Israel.
“If you don’t already pray for the peace of Jerusalem, then start, and if you do, then do it more,” he said.
Medved said “toxic lies” that many perpetuate are:
— that Israel was “created” in 1948 by international leaders. He said it instead is “an intrinsic nation that built itself up through the work of its citizens and ancestors” and “with the help of God, the clear guidance of divine Providence and the involvement of committed individuals.”
— that the way to quell terrorism and bring peace to the Middle East is to force a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. Regarding terrorists, Medved said “you cannot negotiate with pure evil.” He challenged the audience to name all the long-term world conflicts that were settled by negotiation. “The answer is none,” he said.
— that Israel was formed “out of the ashes of the Holocaust.” Acknowledging that this point “might hurt some feelings,” Medved said survivors of the Nazi’s World War II?Holocaust are actually a tiny percentage of the Israeli population. He said the 600,000 people who lived in Israel in 1948 had come there well before Hitler came to power in Germany, and that many of them were refugees from Arab and Islamic perscution. He said Israel is actually a “happy, upbeat country” and that it is a big mistake to associate Israel with the Holocaust.
Among other speakers were Pastor Brian Cuff of Church of the Harvest in Eugene, Rabbis Moshe Derfler of Eugene and David Zaslow of Ashland; Pastor Dave McGarrah of Salem First Church of the Nazarene; Charlie Schiffman of Jewish Federation of Greater Portland and Northwest Christian University President Joe Womack.
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