I was in Stamford, Connecticut, last night, speaking to a group of enthusiastic Jews, most of whom were politically conservative. There was a particularly noteworthy moment. As I usually do at these gatherings, I encouraged those attending who want an answer to the question “What can I do to help Israel?” to work on breaking down the antipathy and sometimes outright antagonism that American Jewry has displayed toward pro-Israel Christians. I suggested that a broad alliance of pro-Israel supporters — Jews and Gentiles — is frankly necessary, given the often tepid stance of mainstream Jewish groups (at least when a liberal is in the White House). When I say this, I often get skeptical looks, a crack about Sarah Palin, or lukewarm applause. Last night, there was a sustained burst of applause, and one gentleman stood to relate his experience at a CUFI Night for Israel, which are held around the country by the group Christians United for Israel to raise money for the Jewish state and to present some rousing oratory in its defense.
One anecdote does not make a trend. But perhaps the last year or so has been instructive for pro-Israel American Jews. They’ve seen that, unfortunately, under a liberal president who is quite hostile to Israel, the broad-based bipartisan coalition in support of Israel is fraying. Recent polling confirms that the divide between Democrats and Republicans on Israel is significant. Regardless of party identification, then, it is critical to redouble efforts to bring together pro-Israel Americans across denominational lines. While many American Jews still grit their teeth at the thought of embracing evangelical or other Christians with whom they have significant political differences, perhaps they will consider whether desperate times will justify “extraordinary” measures. As I said last night, Israel needs all the friends it can get.