Paul McCaleb, 73, from Tennessee, and some 7,000 mostly evangelical Christians from across the world flocked to the Holy Land this week to celebrate the Jewish festival of Sukkot and to show support for Israel. “Coming here just does something inside of me,” McCaleb said at Shilo, a holy Jewish site in the West Bank where the Bible says the Ark of the Covenant once rested. “This land belongs to God, and God gave it to the Jews.” Some pilgrims toured army bases and donated gifts to Israeli soldiers, while others gave money to buy mobile bomb shelters for communities near the border with Gaza, which are often targeted by rockets from Palestinian militants.
The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, which organizes the annual festival, argues that Christians and Jews share the same spiritual roots and says it wants to help erase the legacy of anti-Semitism. “There is no dark agenda,” David Parsons, ICEJ media director said. “Christians are realizing that God still loves the Jews and their return to Israel is of great biblical significance.”