Last month, the Annapolis Summit began resuscitating a Middle East peace plan which began in 2003. Secretary Condoleezza Rice did a masterful job of bringing the Israelis and Palestinians together along with many of their regional neighbors. She hosted over 40 invitees and at least began the long awaited process of negotiating peace. Together, the Israelis and Palestinians made statements to the press that indicated that progress would soon be made.
Contrary to these public statements, Middle Eastern pundits predicted that the summit would not yield a great deal of fruit. They referenced behind-the-scenes disputes about nearly everything - including the list of attendees. In fact, the "common declaration" did not even get settled until it was nearly “show time” in Annapolis. The document had been worked on for months and is supposed to serve as a basic guideline for future peace negotiations.
These early difficulties do not bode well for any quick progress on the deeper, final issues. In fact, last week Palestinian sources posted press releases that accused Israel of conducting 22 raids on Palestinians and kidnapping 28 citizens. Although I am not certain that this data can be trusted, I am certain that the peace process will be contested in the future. The U.S. is obligated to continue to help peaceful negotiations continue, but I do not hold out much hope for peaceful reconciliation between Palestinians, Jews, and their Middle Eastern neighbors in the near future.
Many evangelical Christians are locked into supporting Israel, come what may. Many groups like Christians United For Israel led by Pastor John Hagee and The Jerusalem Connection International led by Dr. Jim Hutchens feel strongly that America will soon be challenged to back away from Israel for internal political reasons. They are seeking to expand the base of American voters who will encourage U.S. politicians to remain solidly behind Israel. They will work hard at developing a broader multi-racial, multi-ethnic group of U.S. supporters. This means working with both the black and Hispanic religious communities. The easiest minority for pro-Israel groups to access will be the black community.
Why will they partner with the black church? The answer is simple. They have the common ground of the Old Testament to build strong unity. They also could be attracted by the historic importance of the black vote to the Democratic Party. Black advocacy for Israel will increase the bi-partisan political power of the movement. The black church in America has grown significantly in recent years and will become an even greater factor in mainstream politics nationally.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
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