Monday 19th June 2006
Neethlingshof Estate, Stellenbosc
Christians host pro-Israel parley
Lefkovits. The Jerusalem Post.
CAPE TOWN - Reaching out to Christian supporters
of Israel in Africa, a group of conservative Israeli thinkers
and the interim head of the Knesset's Christian Allies Caucus
will take part in the first Jerusalem Summit Africa in Cape
Town on Monday, in an effort to garner support for Israel
at a time of increasing Islamic fundamentalism and anti-Israel
sentiment in the continent.
The conference, which is being hosted by the local branches
of two Jerusalem-based Evangelical Christian groups, the International
Christian Embassy and Bridges for Peace, is expected to attract
about 1,000 people, including 300 pastors.
The event, which aims to draw support for Israel by linking
the two countries' common confrontation with radical Islam,
is based on the model of the Jerusalem Summit, the annual
gathering of international right-wing thinkers which debuted
in Israel in 2003.
"South Africa is a crucial state for the entire continent
and is similar to a swing-state in the US because whatever
direction South Africa takes will be taken by the rest of
Sub-Saharan Africa as well," said Dmitry Radyshevsky, the
executive director of the Jerusalem Summit.
He noted that South African anti-Zionism was not rooted in
nationalism and religion but was a remnant of the Soviet era,
and the country's long ties with the Soviet-era bloc.
The conference comes just five years after the UN's infamous
2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban which turned
into an anti-Israel bacchanal.
"South Africans need to be informed that the story of the
blacks and the story of the Palestinians are totally different,
and that the accusations against Israel of racism, colonialism,
and apartheid are a big fraud, and are outrageous lies which
are reminiscent of Nazi-era propaganda," he said.
He added that despite South Africa's longstanding pro-Palestinian
leanings, he was surprised by the number of black Christian
Zionists who were absolutely ignorant of the realities of
the Middle East conflict - short of what they see on CNN -
and yet support Israel solely for theological reasons.
"Everybody knows the anti-Semites, but they don't know the
philo-Semites," said MK Benny Elon (National Union-National
Religious Party) who has been appointed as the interim chairman
of the Knesset's Christian Allies Caucus in the wake of caucus
founder MK Yuri Shtern's battle with cancer.
Elon, who spearheaded ties with the Evangelical Christian
world during his tenure as minister of tourism and is well-known
within the community, said Israel's Foreign Ministry is still
unaware of the full scope of possible ties with Christian
supporters of Israel around the globe, especially in unfriendly
terrain, such as Africa.
"The best language between Israel and these nations around
the world is the language of the Bible, and this is a language
which is not utilized in its full potential by the Foreign
Ministry," he said. Moreover, conference organizers stressed
that what united Israel and Africa was the ever-increasing
threat of radical Islam.
"The bloodiest war of jihad is not for the Land of Israel
but for the land of Africa," Radyshevsky opined, citing the
killings in Darfur, Sudan and Nigeria which have been largely
ignored by the world.
Elon added that Israel was fast losing ground in Africa to
growing Islamic extremism, at a time when it could be garnering
"By bringing Jews and Christians together in Africa, we can
use it as a launching pad to bring Jews and Christians together
around the world," said Knesset Christian Allies Caucus director
Israeli participants of the conference include the head of
Palestinian Media Watch, Itamar Marcus, whose organization
tracks Palestinian media coverage, and Tel Aviv University
political scientist Dr. Martin Sherman.
The leaders of the conference do not shy away from expressing
their right-wing outlook. Their position, that the formula
of land for peace has failed, stands in sharp contrast to
the position of the current government.
Yet, they stress, it is in complete sync with the worldview
of their predominantly Evangelical supporters around the world.
"There are enough think-tanks, organizations, and forums which
stray to the left of the government; we are one of the few
that takes a more conservative stand," Radyshevsky said. "People
who have an acute revulsion to anything biblical will obviously
not support out views," he added. The 38-year-old Moscow-born
and US-educated Radyshevsky first conceived of the idea of
a Jerusalem Summit, which is funded by the Michael Cherney
foundation, while studying at the Harvard divinity school
last decade. The increasingly global Jerusalem Summit plans
additional conferences in Singapore, London and New Zealand
during the course of the year.
Lefkovits. The Jerusalem Post.
The ruling South African political party
boycotted a pro-Israel conference held in Cape Town Monday
that was sponsored by South African Christians, the organizers
of the event said.
Three prominent Christian members of the governing African
National Congress Party, including former Cape Town mayor
Normaindia Mfeketo, did not even respond to invitations to
attend the conference, said Dave Wilken, deputy chairman of
the South Africa branch of the Jerusalem-based International
Christian Embassy. The Embassy cosponsored the event together
with another Jerusalem-based Evangelical Christian group,
Bridges for Peace.
In contrast to the ANC's conspicuous absence, five South African
members of parliament from two opposition parties attended
the event, as did several legislators from other African countries.
"The message that has come out today is that this government
is not friendly at all towards Israel," said Chris Liebenberg,
a parliamentarian from South Africa's main opposition party,
the Democratic Alliance.
Liebenberg said the government's aversion to anything Israel-related
was so great that it was even willing to forgo Israeli offers
of economic assistance.
"How can you refuse such help?" asked Reverend Joe
Cloetel, who quit the ANC to join the Democratic Alliance.
The African National Congress, which has strong historical
ties with the Palestinians, has ruled South Africa since the
end of apartheid in 1994.
Israel has proposed an array of educational and medical assistance,
including one involving Israeli-discovered drip irrigation
and another for infant and children's health care.
South African opposition members said the ANC's refusal to
come to the conference was symptomatic of the party's general
anti-Israel positions since the end of apartheid.
"There is a very strong anti-Israel sentiment prevailing
in government," said Steve Swart, an MP from the African
Christian Democratic Party.
He cited the government's silence about Iranian threats against
Israel, its support for Teheran's nuclear program, an invitation
to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to speak
at the parliament without any similar invitation being extended
to Israel, and an upcoming visit by Hamas officials as the
latest examples of South Africa's one-sided policies on the
"We are so pro-Palestinian our credibility is just gone,"
Citing a busy schedule, Israel's ambassador to South Africa,
Ilan Baruch, was also absent from the event. Organizers suggested
that the conference's right-wing outlook was likely the real
reason the diplomat shied away from the conference.
The first-ever Jerusalem Summit Africa, which aimed to draw
support for Israel by linking the two countries' common confrontation
with radical Islam, was modeled on the Jerusalem Summit, the
annual gathering of international right-wing thinkers that
debuted in Israel in 2003.
The Cape Town conference came five years after the UN's 2001
World Conference Against Racism in Durban, which turned into
an anti-Israel fest.
"If Jews do not have a right to their land, then the
bible is wrong and your story is wrong," Dmitry Radyshevsky,
the executive director of the Jerusalem Summit, told a highly
supportive audience of Evangelical Christians in a Cape Town
He warned of a growing tide of radical Islam, which, he said,
was winning a political, educational and economic Jihad in
"The battle for Jerusalem has begun and it is not just
a physical battle, which we witness every day on the streets,
but a spiritual battle," said Knesset Christian Allies
Caucus director Josh Reinstein.
The interim head of the parliamentary lobby, MK Benny Elon
(National Union-National Religious Party), said in his address
that Israelis were also facing a spiritual crisis as they
veered away from the bible. He was repeatedly interrupted
by shouts of "amen" from the enthralled crowd.
"It took many years to get the Israelites out of Egypt,
but it is no less difficult to take the exile out of the Jews
in Israel," he said.
The Jerusalem Summit Africa conference, which followed last
year's Jerusalem Summit Asia in Seoul, epitomized the ever-burgeoning
relationship between Israel and Christian Evangelicals over
the last several years after decades when such relations were
frowned upon by both the Orthodox and non-Orthodox establishment
in Israel due to concerns over proselytizing and conflicting