defending the First Amendment against the Christian right ...
Jews On First!
... because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind
By Frances Vega, JewsOnFirst.org, December 12, 2010
On December 5, 2010, during the fifth night of Hanukah, Sinai Temple in Los Angeles
called residents of the Los Angeles community to listen to a "special message" from
Israel's deputy Prime Minister Moshe "Bogey" Ya'alon. The message -- and those of
speakers representing sponsoring groups -- was largely focused on opposing "radical
Islam" and the establishment of a Palestinian state, which Ya'alon (pictured right) portrayed as
a victory for "jihad."
The event was sponsored by a variety of groups on the pro-Israel right, the Los
Angeles Jewish Federation, Israel Christian Nexus, La Iglesia en El Camino and Arabs
for Israel. Speakers from many of these organizations spoke before the deputy prime
minister to emphasize his message.
One of the first speakers of the night was the founder of the Israel Christian Nexus,
General Shimon Erem. According to its website, the Israel Christian Nexus aims to
strengthen the alliance between Jews and Christians in defense of their "shared
Judeo-Christian values." The group says that it educates and mobilizes the two communities
for sustained action in solidarity with the nation and people of Israel.
General Erem, who served in the British army during World War II and has been a
community activist in L.A. for many years, began his speech by saying that the event
was "the first mobilization of our community." He then told a story about the Holocaust
and how, with Christian allies like today’s Christian Zionists, it might have been
Christians "closest friends of Israel"
"After visiting the death camps, I have not the slightest doubt that if in every
country in Europe, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Poland, Hungary… we would've
had the presence of the Christian community which is supporting Israel to the tune
of between 30-50 percent of the population, this would not have happened. And it’s
not going to happen here because we have it here," Erem said. "Tomorrow we are going
to have in Orange County 3,200 Christians, among them between 150-180 pastors and
they are the closest friends of Israel. At least as close as the Jewish community
if not more."
Erem's story about the Holocaust helped him lead into his main message of the night,
the threat that radical Islam poses to the U.S. and Israel.
"It is a mobilization for two reasons, both of them affect every single one of us
here, it will affect our children and grandchildren," Erem said. "There are already
in this country, cells of Al Queda and cells of Hezbollah. They are crossing the
border with the help of the drug people. They are here and we have to stop it. And
who can do it better than a joint coalition of Christians, Jews, and moderate Muslims.
This must be done without delay."
Erem went on to say that those in charge of immigration in the U.S. need to be alerted
of the dangers posed by radical Muslim groups. He said the U.S. must keep Iran from
acquiring nuclear arms because the consequences would be catastrophic. Erem also
gave a warning, stating that, "if we do nothing, we will be very sorry."
The audience agreed with his message and gave the general a standing ovation.
Many pastors and Christian leaders attend
The audience of about 300 was a combination of Jewish and Christian members of the
local community. Many pastors and Christian leaders from various churches throughout
the Los Angeles area were also in attendance.
The president of the Jewish Federation, the major fundraising organization for Jewish
charities in Los Angeles and Israel, Jay Sanderson, spoke after the General. Sanderson
spoke about the importance of working together with Christians to help the state
of Israel. He also introduced some of the Christian speakers for the night.
Several Christian pastors gave speeches reiterating the main message of the night.
They emphasized the need for Christians to support Israel and work against radical
Islam. Christian speakers and special guests for the night included Jim Tolle from
La Iglesia en El Camino, Roger Cochran from Calvary Chapel in Long Beach, and Angela
Evans from the Crenshaw Christian Center.
Pastor James Allen Tolle (pictured left) is the senior pastor of La Iglesia en El Camino (the Church
on the Way) in Van Nuys. It is a Spanish-speaking evangelical Christian church.
The majority of Tolle’s sermons are in Spanish. He also hosts a Spanish language
radio show called Respuestas (Answers).
Pastor praises Ya'alon
Tolle opened his speech by saying, "Right now as we are here at the campus of the
church I pastor, there are 10-15,000 people for an event, I chose to be here to
show my solidarity with Israel."
Tolle spoke about Ya'alon and what Tolle termed the great things Ya'alon has done for the state of Israel.
Tolle called "Moshe" a great example to the U.S. He said he himself is a supporter
of Israel because of its love of life and liberty.
"I partnered with Israel because I love its history. Its history has prevailed during
all seasons of its existence even in the face of the most atrocious things done
against it. I partner with Israel because I love its perseverance. Truly every free
society is indebted to Israel for its persistence," Tolle said.
The Consul General of Israel, Jacob Dayan, followed Tolle's speech. Dayan is the
senior representative of the State of Israel in the southwestern United States.
Dayan spoke about the recent forest fire in Israel in which 41 people died. He expressed
his appreciation for all the calls he has received and all the support the U.S.
has given the state of Israel. He then went on to speak about Jewish identity.
"I want to speak about an internal fight that the Jewish people have been fighting
for the last 2,000 years," Dayan said. "This fight is for our identity. We are still
fighting this fight today, every generation. If you look at society, the people
here are fighting for their Jewish identity. Today, here, you choose to be a Jew.
Each and every one of you is a Jew by choice. You don't feel the anti-Semitism like
you do in Europe; you don't feel the threat, but still each and every one of you
choose this identity. And this is an on-going fight that we have battled for 2,000
years, a fight that we have to win."
Photographs by Frances Vega
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