A group of more than 200 evangelical faith leaders, organized by the Latin Coalition for Israel, gathered at the Aish Hatorah World Center in the Old City of Jerusalem on Wednesday to celebrate the one-year anniversaries of the American and Guatemalan embassies’ moves to Jerusalem.
The meeting, which overlooked the Western Wall plaza and the Temple Mount, was attended by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman; First Lady of Guatemala Patricia Marroquín, the wife of President Jimmy Morales; and Guatemalan Ambassador to Israel Mario Bucaro Flores.
Speaking of the positive developments for Israel that have come about thanks to U.S. President Donald Trump, Latin Coalition for Israel President Mario Bramnick likened him to Cyrus, the Persian king who permitted the Jewish people to return to Israel to build the Second Temple.
“As a Cuban American, I have never felt more proud to be an American than now having President Trump as our President. President Trump has done more to support the nation of Israel than any other President in the history of the United States,” Bramnick said.
Friedman likened him to the biblical prophet Daniel, and extolled the group to do its utmost to support Israel and to spread that support to others.
He praised the group’s support for Israel, saying “to see how the Jewish people have so many friends is deeply moving, and I am deeply appreciative.”
“Not everyone thinks like us,” he added. “Not everybody appreciates the miracles we are living. I think people take much for granted.”
Bramnick pointed out that along with all the positive developments, Israel’s enemies are intensifying their efforts to harm the Jewish state. “We see these two forces moving simultaneously,” he said.
“We are seeing an unprecedented rise of anti-Semitism in the United States,” he said. “We’ve never seen synagogue shootings. We’ve never seen anti-Semitic cartoons in The New York Times. We’ve never seen an anti-Semitic congressman on the Foreign Affairs Committee. We’ve never seen the Democratic Party stand silent.”
He suggested that “communities as large as the evangelical community in the United States get up and make these complaints as much as possible. There is strength in numbers. Don’t be afraid to use that strength.”
At the same time, he voiced his faith in Israel’s ability to meet the challenges facing it. “Israel today, like it was thousands of years ago in history, is still facing formidable enemies in all directions. The risk is growing, but Israel’s strength is growing faster,” he said.
Friedman then spoke of the new forms of anti-Semitism taking hold around the world.
“We used to think of anti-Semitism in terms of Nazis and neo-Nazis,” he said. “Those are ugly and despicable people, but they’re easy to spot. The more difficult form of anti-Semitism that has emerged, not more lethal but more difficult, is anti-Zionism.”
It is anti-Zionism, he said, that “accounts to some extent for rocket fire that Israelis experience.”
To fight this new anti-Semitism, the ambassador said he recently “led a delegation of ambassadors from various European countries on the March of the Living from Auschwitz to Birkenau, trying to send the signal as powerfully as we could that the disease of anti-Semitism—and it is a disease—has to be eradicated.”
Commenting on growing anti-Semitism in America, Friedman said “there are people who hate Israel that are given platforms all over the United States. They apply double standards to Israel that they wouldn’t think of applying to other countries in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world.”
‘We hate the violence, we hate the rejectionism’
In preparation for the Mideast peace proposal set to be released by the Trump administration, Friedman said the discussion on Israel and its relationship with the Palestinians “is too often presented as a zero-sum game—that someone has to win and someone has to lose. The issue is always put in political terms and almost never in human terms.”
“The politics [of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas] we are totally against,” he said. “We hate the violence, we hate the rejectionism. But we don’t hate the Palestinian people. And that message doesn’t get out enough. We can be strong Zionists, but we can be sure that every person of any religion that lives on this soil can have the human dignity that every[one] should have under God.”
Guatemalan First Lady Marroquín told the audience in Spanish that she had just prayed at the adjacent Western Wall and “thanked God for the great privilege that he has given us to live in these times. Because he has chosen President Morales to serve his country, to do what is right” in moving the Guatemalan embassy to Jerusalem.
Friedman related his personal journey from son of a Long Island rabbi, to New York City lawyer, to ambassador to Israel. He took special note of the location of the gathering, calling it “a beautiful venue 100 yards from … the site where [biblical prophet] Abraham brought [his son] Isaac to the altar, and the place that David purchased for the nation of Israel—the place where David wrote so many psalms.”
Speaking about a nearby archeological excavation at the City of David that has uncovered a pathway leading from a large pool to the Temple Mount, Friedman told the Christian leaders, “if you asked what is the probability that Jesus walked that pathway, archeologists would tell you: 100 percent.”
Friedman said he will attend an opening ceremony for this path in June together with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Citing the biblical episode of the 12 spies, in which only two out of 12 spies sent into Canaan by Moses encouraged the Jewish people to enter the land, Bramnick said that “President Donald Trump and President Jimmy Morales are like Joshua and Caleb,” the righteous spies that urged the Jews to enter Israel.