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“Israel’s Evangelical Approach” and Nazareth
If the facts would only go away…
On Saturday, May 07, 2011, a notice appeared on the BiblePlaces.com blog’s Weekend Roundup:
ICEJ [International Christian Embassy Jerusalem] News reports on Israel’s plans to invest in Nazareth: On Wednesday, Israeli tourism minister Stas Meseznikov announced that the government is planning to invest more than NIS 12 million [$3.5 million] over the next four years in Israel’s largest Arab city, Nazareth, which is also a major tourist attraction due to its status as the town where Jesus grew up, being visited by over 40% of the tourists who arrive in Israel every year. One of the strategies used in order to develop the city is to encourage local residents to open their own businesses, and grants of up to 30% of their start up investments are therefore offered. “The program to boost development of the tourism industry in Nazareth is part of a 2010 government initiative to encourage development in the Arab sector,” Meseznikov said.
What, we may ask, is the ICEJ? We learn the following from its website:
“Comfort ye, comfort ye My People” [Isaiah 40:1-2]… was the “mandate from heaven” given to the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem three decades ago… For over thirty years the ICEJ has embarked upon a journey of giving comfort to Israel. This journey has involved deeds and compassion and every town, village and city has been impacted, in some way, by our benevolence ministry that has helped the poor, healed the sick, housed the lonely, encouraged the children and cared for the elderly… [We have] impacted more than a hundred thousand Christians with the biblical perspective of recognizing the hand of God in Israel’s modern day restoration and the need to work with what God is doing, and bless it… As Israel moves steadily but surely to her God-given destiny, we are determined to “stay the course” with her…—Rev. Malcolm Hedding, Executive Director
As regards Mr. Hedding, he is a South African-born anti-apartheid activist, theologian, and evangelical minister. From 1991 to 2000 Hedding served as Chairman of Christian Action for Israel, a “biblical Zionist organization” based in Geneva. He is also associated with a certain “King of Kings Community Jerusalem” and says “that the Palestinians remain committed to Israel’s destruction.” Hedding has several books to his credit.
None of the above should surprise us. A revealing article entitled Israel’s Evangelical Approach appeared in the Washington Post already a decade ago (Jan. 26, 2002). Authored by Mark O’Keefe, it is subtitled U.S. Christian Zionists Nurtured as Political, Tourism Force. The piece is still valuable today, for it attests to the long-standing strategic cooperation between Israeli and Christian interests, a cooperation which is now bearing considerable fruit in Nazareth. The article begins:
In an effort to solidify its relationship with American evangelicals, the government of Israel has launched initiatives that include expense-paid trips to the Holy Land and strategy sessions with the Christian Coalition and other conservative groups. The objectives: to revive Israel’s sagging tourism industry and strengthen grass-roots support in the United States. The target audience is the estimated 98 million U.S. evangelicals, but especially a subset of that group, Christian Zionists.
The Israeli government hired an American PR firm and approved a “multimillion-dollar marketing plan… with certain aspects dependent on funding by the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.” So, Christian conservatives, Zionists, and Israeli tourism interests are now all solidly united in celebrating the alleged hometown of Jesus… Of course, that combined juggernaut has little interest in the proposition that the town of Nazareth did not even exist in the time of ‘Jesus.’ Most inconvenient! If only the facts of archeology and history would go away. Alas, those facts are becoming clearer by the day, as doubts continue to grow that ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ himself did not exist—and now (dare we mention it?) that perhaps even ‘King David’ did not exist…
The Annunciation is such a nice story. In a way, it’s melancholy that the beloved Christian fable most of us grew up with is giving way to the inexorable march of science, and that it must soon be generally acknowledged as but a childish myth. Today tourists stream into Nazareth, yet one can only wonder how the accumulating facts of history must impact them tomorrow—and hence impact the Christian conservatives, Zionists, and Israeli tourism interests so supportive of those precious tourists.—RS
Updated June 30, 2014.
Coverups relating to Nazareth archaeology.
Hidden tombs under the house of Mary
(the Church of the Annunciation)
The shell game with Nazareth evidence
Alleged Hellenistic finds
“Herodian” and the misdating of Nazareth evidence
The Nazareth Village Farm Report
A ‘House from the time of Jesus’?
The Nazareth coin boondoggle
The 1962 forgery of the “Caesarea inscription”
Nazareth archaeology leads to peer review breakdown
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