As withdrawal nears, evangelicals and Jews mount a protest mission

A Jewish-Evangelical protest mission to Israel represents one of the latest acts of opposition to Israel’s Gaza Strip withdrawal plan — and an uncommon step for members of both groups. New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) is coordinating the trip, which leaves New York on June 5, to support the Jews of Gaza. Hikind is part of a vocal minority staging demonstrations against the withdrawal plan, which has broad backing from Israelis, American Jewry and the Israeli and U.S. governments.

Some have opposed the withdrawal on religious grounds, stressing that Gaza has a long Jewish history and belongs under Jewish control. But Hikind thinks it’s just bad policy: He takes issue with Israel’s move because it’s a unilateral decision, meaning that for uprooting some 8,000 Jews, Israel won’t receive any corresponding concessions from the Palestinians.

“How do you take these people and throw them out of their homes? For what?” Hikind said. “What is Israel getting in return?”

“Palestinians are doing zero, zilch, nothing,” he said, suggesting that the withdrawal would elate Palestinian terrorist groups, who have yet to be disarmed and who view Israel’s withdrawal as a surrender to violence.
Hikind helped organize a May 22 rally opposing the plan when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was in New York to address Jewish leaders.

Hikind also will speak at an anti-disengagement rally the evening his mission departs for Israel. That rally, in Manhattan’s Central Park, will follow New York’s annual Salute to Israel Parade, the country’s largest pro-Israel event, where tens of thousands of synagogues, schools and Jewish groups march along Fifth Ave. The upcoming mission will draw on the momentum of Evangelical Christians, many of whom oppose the Gaza withdrawal.

That includes Pastor James Vineyard of Oklahoma City. Vineyard has raised more than $600,000 and spent more than $750,000 to protest the withdrawal plan, taking pastors to Israel, coordinating lectures and rallies and taking out full-page ads in the Washington Times. For Vineyard, the mandate is biblical and dates from Genesis, where God told Abraham that he would bless those that bless Israel and curse those that curse Israel. The withdrawal plan puts a curse on the Jews of Gush Katif, Vineyard said, referring to a bloc of Jewish communities in Gaza.

“The judgment of God will fall on America if this goes through,” he said predicting another catastrophe like the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes.

Vineyard has written daily letters to President Bush on the matter, but doesn’t have the president’s ear.

Read the rest of the article here: Jews and Evangelical Christians mount a protes mission

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