The Power of Faith-Based Diplomacy: A Conversation with Josh Reinstein
September 10, 2020
The Combat Anti-Semitism Movement sat down with Josh Reinstein to discuss a range of issues including rising global anti-Semitism, Israel, the work of his organization and the launch of his new book. Josh Reinstein is the Director of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and the President of the Israel Allies Foundation.
Could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Josh Reinstein. I am the director of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus which is a group of members of Knesset from 7 political parties – left to right, religious to secular – that work together to build direct lines of communication and cooperation with Christian leadership around the world. We now have 43 Israel Allies Caucuses in countries around the world including over 1,000 members of parliament in our network. We coordinate activities between our sister caucuses through the Israel Allies Foundation, of which I am also President. I am also the host and founder of a TV show called Israel Now News and now newly the author of Titus, Trump and the Triumph of Israel: The Power of Faith Based Diplomacy.
How does your organization work to combat anti-Semitism?
Anti-Semitism is one of the most important issues that we focus on. We’re seeing it all over the world through the BDS Movement. The Israel Allies foundation spearheaded the anti-BDS legislation in South Carolina, which was then passed in Florida and is now in 32 US states. We also spearheaded the anti-Semitism legislation that passed in South Carolina and Florida. We educate our network of parliamentarians on the importance of fighting anti-Semitism and how BDS is the newest form of anti-Semitism, how anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.
You wrote a new book called Titus, Trump and the Triumph of Israel: The Power of Faith Based Diplomacy. Can you tell us about the book and what its main theme is?
The main theme is the power of faith-based diplomacy. The reason we have so much success whether it be anti-BDS legislation or the US embassy being moved to Jerusalem, or the bloc of African countries that we work with, is because people of faith are getting involved in the political process. We see Christians taking their Biblical support and turning it into real political action. The book details why Christians should get involved in political discourse, how they’re getting involved, and what is the future of the relationship between Christians and Jews in the 21st century. I look at the issue of Jerusalem from not just a political lens, but also a biblical lens. I show that if you don’t understand Israel from a biblical point of view, you miss the story. I start with the history of Israel back in the time of Titus and how he misdiagnosed the situation. I finish the book today, when Donald Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem. I follow that story through a biblical point of view.
Who is the target audience for your new book? Is it primarily for Christians?
I expect Bible-believing Christians to be the number one readers of this book, but I am hoping that other people will read this book. I am hoping that Jews will read it of course. It is after all written from a Jewish perspective. I hope that people who are on the fence will read the book because it makes the case for Israel. It explains not just from a biblical point of view but also politically, legally, historically, why we have the rights to the land of Israel. People that want to know really what is going on in Israel and the history of Israel and how it plays into political discourse today, should read this book.
What do you hope is the main thing that readers take away from the book?
I think the most important thing is to get involved. People need to get off the sidelines. A big part of the book focuses on anti-Semitism. It talks about historically where it comes from and how it flourishes and why BDS is the new form of anti-Semitism. I hope people use the book to understand that BDS is not just something that is a political opinion. It’s the same anti-Semitism that we saw in the 1930s and the middle ages. I lay that out directly so that people have a better understanding of where this comes from and how to fight it.
What motivated you to write this book now?
I’ve been involved in faith-based diplomacy now for 16 years. People come to me with questions all the time such as, “Jews want to know why Christians are standing with Israel,” and Christians want to know, “what do Jews think about Christian support?” Both want to know why mainline Christians are not standing with Israel. Both want to know why people who are supposed to be defenders of human rights and values, like activists on university campuses, are chanting death to Israel, the only place that has freedom of religion and democracy in the Middle East. There’s so much confusion out there and it was the time to put pen to paper and explain why this is all happening.
How do you specifically address the issue of rising anti-Semitism in the book?
I show anti-Semitism as this virus that spreads around the world. People don’t always understand where it comes from or how to combat it. But it’s the same virus all the way from our forefathers until today. I track that. I show in different periods what anti-Semitism looked like and how it was couched. Today it has been couched with anti-Israel sentiment. I dissect this in the book. I show in the 1930s that the same tropes they’re saying about Israel today, they were saying about the Jews in the 1930s. They literally just took the word “Jew” and replaced it with “Israel.” Instead of saying “don’t buy from Jewish businesses”, they say “don’t buy from Israeli business.” Instead of saying “we don’t want Jewish professors in our universities,” they say, “we don’t want Israeli professors in our universities.” It’s the exact same tropes that we’ve seen throughout history, just couched in a different package. I go into detail on that in the book and I think for people that want to fight anti-Semitism, this book is an incredible resource.
What role do Christians have to play in supporting Israel and combatting anti-Semitism?
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said it best in our second meeting of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus: “There are a billion Christians and there are 13 million Jews, but together we’re one billion thirteen million.” Faith-based diplomacy, what we call Christian support for Israel in the political realm, is one of the most effective weapons that Israel has in its diplomatic arsenal today. Many of the foreign policy successes that we have seen in the last 10 years have come from Christian support for Israel and this is only growing. Guatemala moved their embassy to Jerusalem, not because of a strong Jewish lobby but because Bible-believing Christians wanted their government to do so. We’re seeing the same thing happening in Brazil and in places in Africa and Eastern Europe. The key is how do we organize that support into a powerful movement. That’s why I applaud the work of the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement because CAM recognizes that and went out and said, “we need to make coalitions.” Jews and Christians are coming together in an unprecedented burst of activity.
You’ve mentioned several of the countries and regions where you are doing work. Where do you see bright spots in the future in terms of supporting Israel, combating anti-Semitism and supporting the Jewish people?
Eastern Europe is really coming together and standing with Israel like never before. It’s ironic that a place that had such a tradition of anti-Semitism, is now saying, “We’ve seen what it has done to our countries and we want to fight back.”. We’re going to see incredible legislation, movements and power coming from Eastern European countries who have we have had enough of anti-Semitism. Latin America – It’s unbelievable to see the support we have there because Bible-believing Christianity is exploding there. We’re seeing this not just in Guatemala and Brazil, but in Honduras, El Salvador, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Colombia. We have caucuses in all these countries. I think people are going to be shocked in the next 10 years to see what these countries are doing against anti-Semitism, BDS and anti-Zionist movements. We’re also seeing a lot of support out of Asia, Australia and Canada as well.
One of the most exciting places today though is Africa. Africa had really been pulled away from Israel in the 1960s. Today they want to support and stand with Israel. There are places like Zambia, Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, and Malawi, that as Christian nations are really moving ahead like wildfire with this idea of faith-based diplomacy. I think we’re going to see embassies moved to Jerusalem. We’re going to see votes in the UN. We’re going to see a very big stand against anti-Semitism in Africa in the years to come.
When you talk about all these different nations and groups supporting Israel, how does your organization or Israel itself work to make this a reciprocal relationship?
My organization works with Christians at the grassroots level. The State of Israel has had their hands open to these countries all along. We have the technology, the know-how and the ability. We are the first in every disaster scene to help. I think what’s different now is that they’re saying, “OK we want this support.” In Africa for example, a lot of these nations have been dependent on foreign aid. These countries want to be self-sufficient. So today they can use Israeli technology and they’re able to be leaders in different industries in their region. Instead of having 1 yield per year of food, you have 3 yields per year because of Israeli agricultural technology. Instead of using a lot of water, they can use Israeli drip irrigation systems and so on. These countries are realizing that by working with Israel there is so much to offer their people. From a Christian point of view, they look at Genesis 12:3 – “I will bless those that bless you.”
Going back to the book, tell us a little bit about its launch.
The book is written in English and can be ordered on Amazon starting on September 1st, 2020. We’ve already started doing media to promote it and have been endorsed by several prominent people. I think it’s going to be very exciting for people who do support Israel but also for people who are on the fence. Maybe people want to reconsider their position based upon what Israel really has to offer. I’m excited about getting it out there and hope people will go online and buy it right now!
How would you explain to Christian audiences, the idea of Zionism from a biblical perspective?
Ronald Lauder once made a joke at one of our events. He said, “You don’t just believe in the Bible, you’ve actually read it.” You know what Zion is if you’re a Christian because you have read the Bible. You know that Zion is Jerusalem. You know the origins of Zionism. Christian Zionism is one of the fasted growing political movements in the world. For Christians the real question is now that you’ve read the Bible and believe in Israel, “how can you stand with Israel?” I try to answer that in my book with ways people can get directly involved, not just watch it from the sidelines or pray about it.
Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share with us about your new book?
This book really sums up the whole Combat Anti-Semitism Movement because you’re trying to unite Jews and Christians together to fight anti-Semitism. In order to do that, people must be empowered with the information. That’s what the book does. I want to thank the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement for what they’re doing. I hope this is used as a manual to get Christians more involved and to understand why Christians support is so important. Without that, you won’t have the strong foundation needed to get everyone in the same boat and working together. That’s the key.
Josh Reinstein’s new book, Titus, Trump and the Triumph of Israel: The Power of Faith Based Diplomacy, is available for sale on amazon here.