Scholars warn Israel taking risk embracing support of Evangelists

“This [Israeli] government is using the [support of the] rising Evangelical movement of the world in a way that is destroying local Jewish communities and splitting them, using the far-right of the Jewish communities and destroying the very idea of the Jewish people as a global people.” These were the words of Dr. Marcos Silber of Haifa University’s Jewish History Department.He made the comments to The Jerusalem Post during a three-day conference entitled Politics and Religion in Brazil and the America’s held at Haifa University, which highlighted the importance of understanding the role of Evangelical Church in Brazil and the America’s and its relationship to Judaism, Israel and ZionismSilber organized the conference together with Dr Michel Gherman of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Several of the panels looked at the history of Evangelical Christianity, the Evangelist movement in the world and looking at the international relations between the movement in Brazil, the United States and Israel, among others.“The Evangelical community could be used as political support but it’s very, very risky,” Silber told the Post. “On the one hand, we are gaining some support, and we are receiving votes in the United Nations. But on the other hand, we are losing even the essence of this state as being Jewish.”Silber stressed that constructing coalition in between the ultra-Orthodox Jews in the local communities and Evangelism “is very dangerous.“In this way, it is creating another kind of Judaism that is completely different, it is completely detached from the Diaspora, as they exist today,” he addedFor Gherman, he believes “it’s an illusion if we think we’re talking about Brazil here.“We are talking about Jewish people, we are talking about Israel, and we are talking about Zionism,” he said. “We are talking about these dangers that Marcos [Silber] just said… We are seeing a situation where the Evangelical people seem to be more important to a specific type of Zionism than the Jewish people.”Silber added that in Brazil and the United States “we are seeing a wave where Evangelism is growing, but I’m not sure the next government will be Evangelist in this way” and continue to be united with Israel.“The problem is what we are destroying now,” he said. “It will be very hard to reconstruct and rebuild.”Gherman also warned that antisemitism could be the backlash we are seeing “a day after.“Every time you talk about [US President Donald] Trump, there is an after Trump,” he continued. “We’re not talking about if it’s going to be good for the Jews, we’re talking about if it’s going to be good for the Jews there [in the Diaspora], not here.”Silber called this situation a “tragedy” making it clear that the cooperation of the Israeli government is what’s led to this situation.“Dividing the Jewish people and the Jewish community and destroying the very idea of the Jewish people as the Jewish people is a tragedy û it is of course anti-Zionist,” both Silber and Gherman said. “By using the Zionist rhetoric, they are destroying Zionism, using the the rhetoric of Jewishness of the Jewish state, they are destroying the essence of the Jewish state.”According to Gherman, what inspired them to put the conference together, Gherman said that they had seen the effect the rising Evangelical movement was having on Israel and Zionism, which was something scholars in Brazil were discussing. “It’s not so researched, it’s sort of a terra-incognita and we came here together with some elite scholars from around the world to discuss this point,” Gherman and Silber said. “This is the very first conference about this in the world.”They also witnessed how enthusiastic people were about this subject, with not being able to accept all the proposals.“We were expecting to receive two or three papers, but we got 73,” Gherman added.Asked about what the next steps were, both said that “we are putting this on the table and the policymakers are the ones who have to make a decision about what to do next.“I am very skeptical that our leadership will take this seriously, and not just see it as a tool to get more votes in the UN or a few more dollars,” Silber said. Gherman said that last week he had met with some members of some of the country’s political parties, and he said that they were beginning to understand that “something is happening – and not in a good way.”Silber said that they are putting “our data and our analysis on the table and that we are trying to share it with the broader public and policymakers.”With a smile, he added that as historians, “we in a decade will give our opinion on their decision.”In a message to policymakers, the two stressed that “you need to think about Zionism and the State of Israel, not only the Evangelical help… you need to think about the risks, and this idea of adopting these kinds of streams without having second thoughts.”