U.S. Christians Create Umbrella Organization to Lobby for Israel

Christians United for Israel to be headed by evangelical leaders like Jerry Falwell and Gary Bauer.

WASHINGTON - A new group in the United States, Christians United for Israel, will serve as an umbrella organization for Christian congregations that support Israel, and will lobby for Israel.

Some 400 Christian community leaders met in San Antonio, Texas, two weeks ago to establish the group, which Christians United officials said represents about 30 million Americans.

The organization's main goal is to create a rapid-response network "targeted to reach every senator and congressman" in the United States. It is led by evangelical leaders Dr. John C. Hagee and George Morrison; fundamentalist Baptist minister Jerry Falwell; and Gary Bauer, president of the American Values organization aimed at protecting marriage, family and faith.

All are renowned supporters of Israel, and considered hawkish. For instance, they will pressure the American government to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Christians United members decided to hold meetings with legislators in Washington for two days in July to tell them about the organization and its platform, and express their support for Israel. They are also planning a large annual event called "A Night to Honor Israel" that will be held in several cities simultaneously.

The event, according to the group, will give American Christians the opportunity to fight anti-Semitism and express "their debt of gratitude to the Jewish people for their contribution to Christianity." The organizers stressed that the events are "non-conversionary."

"We see Christians in the United States as true friends and important supporters on the basis of shared values, and we welcome their efforts to strengthen the ties between Israel and the U.S.," Israeli Ambassador to the United States Danny Ayalon said Wednesday.

Stephen Strang, publisher of Charisma magazine and a founding member of Christians United, has said he wants the organization to be as strong as the pro-Israel lobby known as AIPAC.