GALEN HOLLEY: Dining with Jews and evangelicals in Memphis

Last Tuesday I attended a dinner in Memphis where Christians gathered to voice their unqualified support for Israel.
I was there with a friend from Tupelo, as well as a Christian journalist and a few other good folks.
We were immersed in a good cross section of the evangelical community, seated among Baptist and non-denominational preachers as well as conservative business leaders and even a politician or two.
There were also three rabbis from Memphis there and several members of the synagogue down the street.
Even as we were being served our salads I could tell this was going to be an evening of strong opinions. There’d be no talk of a two-state solution on this night. This was not a Jimmy Carter crowd.
A young friend of mine who works in publishing gave the opening remarks.
“Israel is an island of democracy, a beacon of freedom in a desert where Islamic dictatorship reigns,” he said. “Now is not the time for the U.S. to get cold feet in supporting Israel.”
The speakers who followed gave brief, poignant addresses, most implying that whether because of political correctness, the rising tide of secularism or the current presidential administration the U.S. isn’t doing all it can for Israel.
Polls showed that 77 percent of Jews voted for Obama, but many right-leaning Jews and evangelicals have taken exception to his unsympathetic stance toward Jewish expansion in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. They haven’t cared much for the conciliatory tone he’s taken while speaking in places like Turkey, either.
Since day one there’s always been a hard line remnant of the far right that insists Obama is really a Muslim masquerading as a Christian.
The Memphis crowd was opinionated but nobody wanted to risk having their Ahi and rice digest poorly, so they kept their criticisms general and infrequent.
Prayer carried the evening and folks steered clear of political discussion.
We watched a video listing Israel’s accomplishments, such as that it has the highest percentage of female entrepreneurs and the highest number of university degrees per capita in the world.
We ate our bread pudding and called for more coffee.
The journalist and I bounced a few ideas off each other and I decided that, for good or ill, most of my readers would probably agree with the opinions I’d heard expressed at the dinner.
The journalist’s parting words to me were about how he chronicles the fight between Islam and the people of God. I shook his hand politely and went home to my wife.

Contact Daily Journal religion editor Galen Holley at 678-1510 or galen.holley@djournal.com.

Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal