An Orthodox Rabbi’s Case for Interfaith Prayer with Christian Zionists

Jan. 14 2019

On Israeli Independence Day in 2015, Rabbi Pesach Wolicki took part in organizing an interfaith service at an Orthodox synagogue in Jerusalem, in which Christians joined Jews in the recitation of Psalms 113-118 (known as Hallel). The service, which had the imprimatur of Shlomo Riskin, a leading American-Israeli rabbi, naturally drew sharp criticism from some rabbinic opponents. Undeterred, Wolicki has continued to organize such interfaith activities; he also conducts programs for Christians visiting Israel and defends the rights of Israeli Christians—once arguing for the presence of a Christmas tree in the University of Haifa’s cafeteria. In an interview with Alan Brill, Wolicki explains his positions:

For every Bible-believing Jew the ultimate goal is the redemption of the world. This redemption is described differently by different prophets, but the basic idea is the same. In Isaiah’s words, the goal is to reach a state wherein “knowledge of God covers the earth as water covers the sea,” or in the words of Zephaniah, when “all are calling on the name of the Lord and serving Him shoulder to shoulder.” The goal is for the entirety of humanity to believe in and worship the same God—the God of Israel. . . .

Joining in prayer with those who are not Jewish is not a deviation from [this] mission. In its ideal form, it represents the realization of that mission. . . .

The Christian Zionist/Jewish Religious Zionist relationship is not really an interfaith relationship in the traditional understanding of the term. It’s not a relationship based on the liberal idea of tolerance for and acceptance of the value of the difference of the other’s faith system. It’s more of an intrafaith relationship; it seeks and expands upon common points of faith and builds the relationship around what is shared. My understanding is that Christian Zionism is not primarily a political movement. It’s a theological redefinition of Christianity that leads directly to a Bible-based Zionism, which then produces political activity.

Critical responses to Wolicki’s arguments can also be found by following the link below.

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Read more at Book of Doctrines and Opinions

More about: Christian Zionism, Hebrew Bible, Interfaith dialogue, Jewish-Christian relations, Redemption

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy