Saturday, September 29, 2007

Christian Zionists on week-long hallelujah

Christian theo-cons are back in-country and will be blowing their own horns in support of Israel all week,
the Associated Press reports:

The walls of Jericho came crashing down again at Ein Gedi spa resort on the Dead Sea, with all the bright lights and fanfare of a Broadway show.

Actors dressed in biblical garb blasting ram horns and riding camels re-enacted Joshua's siege of the ancient city for some 5,000 Christian pilgrims on Thursday, kicking off a weeklong demonstration of solidarity with Israel.

The performance at Ein Gedi, just a few kilometers south of Jericho itself, was part of a celebration marking the Feast of the Tabernacles, or Sukkot, a seven-day Jewish holiday during which the pilgrims believe the Old Testament invites all nations to come to Jerusalem.

The crowd's excitement was palpable, with believers exclaiming hallelujah and blowing large ram horns, or shofars, throughout the show.

Organizers said that Christian tourism in the Holy Land reaches its peak during Sukkot, infusing an estimated $18 million into the local economy.

Evangelical groups have forged a tight alliance with the Jewish state, and Israeli officials have welcomed the pilgrims for years. Israeli Orthodox rabbis have tolerated them but have become increasingly concerned they may have an ulterior motive: conversion of the Jews.

The Christian groups oppose territorial concessions to the Palestinians, who want to establish a state in areas Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast War. Many Evangelicals believe Jews must return to the biblical Land of Israel to facilitate a Second Coming of Christ.

This year Israel's chief rabbinate banned Jewish participation in the festivities sponsored by the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem over concerns that the foreigners may be proselytizing.

Many of the die-hard fans of Israel were upset by the decision.

"I've been coming here for 15 years, and I've never seen any proselytizing," said Larry Holder, who traveled from Murphy, North Carolina for the event. "There's been nothing pushy about it at all."

Others said they merely want to use the week to demonstrate their support.

"God asked us to bless the nation of Israel," said Donald Langford of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem has hosted Sukkot celebrations in Israel for 27 years. The embassy says that pilgrims have been instructed to refrain from missionary activity while in Israel.

"It's time for gentiles to repay their debt to the Jews," said Anthony Gibson of County Kildare, Ireland. "Without the Jews, he said, there would be no patriarchs, no prophets, no messiah, no salvation."

The weeklong festival will include a parade and a musical tribute to the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war, in addition to performances by Jewish cantor and Broadway actor Dudu Fisher.

Last year's celebrants (pictured above, courtesy of Dan Sieradski), appear to have lifted some costume cues from a notable super-Star (6-pointed variety), "Angelina Jew-lie", right.
This year's parade, on Tuesday, has been declared non-kosher by rabbis who ask Jews not to march in the midst of the Christian supporters.

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