WHY I SUPPORT ISRAEL by Ray Pritchard A week ago I received a letter inviting me to join the Board of Governors of an organization called Churches United With Israel. The letter said that I had been nominated to become one of 120 evangelical leaders on the board, and that the list already included Tim LaHaye, Pat Robertson, E. V. Hill, Pat Boone, John Maxwell, and others. This is not a political organization nor will it be involved in policymaking. It is simply a group of Christian leaders who believe in Israel’s right to exist in safety in the Holy Land. Would I care to join? Before I tell you my answer, I should note a recent article by Ralph Reed in the Los Angeles Times, offering five reasons why evangelicals tend to support Israel so strongly. First, we see the re-establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948 as an amazing proof of the sovereignty of God. Second, we cannot ignore the repeated attempts throughout history to destroy the Jewish people, especially the systematic genocide that killed six million Jews during the Holocaust. Third, Israel has been a friend and a reliable ally to the United States for over 50 years. Fourth, because Israel is the only genuine democracy in the Middle East, we share many common values. There is a fifth reason that goes even deeper. Israel is the cradle of our faith. Our Old Testament forefathers lived and died in the land of Israel. Jesus was born there. In 1986 Marlene and I traveled to the Holy Land for the very first time. I remember getting on the tour bus at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv and listening as our tour guide, Susan Marcus, told us that we were passing through the biblical Plain of Sharon where the “Roses of Sharon” grows. When she said, “Welcome to Israel, land of the Bible,” tears came to my eyes. In the days that followed we would visit the places we had heard about since childhood–the Sea of Galilee, Jericho, the Jordan River, Jerusalem, Bethlehem. Israel didn’t feel like a foreign country to me; it felt like home. Leaving other issues aside, there is a strong and unbreakable connection between Israel and the Christian faith. And if you believe (as I do), that the modern state of Israel is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy, then, yes, Israel will be special to you and different from other nations in other places. I pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for a solution that will end the cycle of violence. And I have a deep concern for Arab-Christians who are neither Muslims nor Jews. They need our prayers and our support. My bottom line is simple: As a Christian, I feel a unique solidarity with the nation of Israel. That’s why I said yes to the invitation and that’s why I stand on Israel’s side in the current conflict.