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Confronting BDS: Israeli Christians and Illinois

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- The biblical accounts of the angel Gabriel portray him as a messenger imparting God's plans, first to the prophet Daniel and later to the priest Zechariah and his long-awaited offspring, John the Baptist.

Like his biblical namesake, Father Gabriel Nadaf, an Arabic-speaking Greek Orthodox priest from Nazareth, the town where Jesus spent his childhood, has made it his life's work to help Christians better understand his homeland, the Jewish State of Israel.

The Christian Empowerment Council in Israel published a new guideline this week to help Christians respond to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel.

Entitled "Test the Spirits: A Christian Guide to the Anti-Israel Boycott Movement," the 12-page pamphlet, can be downloaded as a PDF file from CEC's website.

Father Nadaf serves as the organization's spiritual leader.

"As the spiritual leader of the Christian Empowerment Council here in Israel, it is my responsibility to encourage Christians around the world to think about Israel in biblical and moral ways," Father Nadaf writes in the introduction.

He encourages Christians to consider their personal views toward Israel, asking that God guide them "in great wisdom."

According to its website, CEC has made headlines internationally "for its pioneering work integrating Israel's Christian community into the wider Israeli society and supporting and guiding young Christians in the IDF [Israel Defense Forces]."

In 2013, Father Nadaf's 17-year-old son was brutally beaten by a 21-year-old affiliated with the anti-Israel Hadash Party near his home in Nazareth. At the time, his father said their goal was "to intimidate me and my family."

In an interview earlier this year, Father Nadaf told CBN's Scott Ross, "Despite all the threats and incitement against me, I will not turn back from my way."

In addition to its work in Israel, CEC also monitors Christian denominations abroad, such as the Episcopal and Mennonite churches and the United Church of Christ that have adopted BDS.

"There is much confusion in the global church about Israel, and God is not the author of confusion," Father Nadaf writes in the introduction.

"Rather, God wants us to seek after his heart, to get wisdom and to get understanding. God does not want his church to be ignorant about such an important topic as Israel; yet, there are many in the church today sowing confusion, spreading hatred of the Jewish state," he writes.

Meanwhile in America Thursday, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner made history signing an anti-BDS law, the first state to pass such legislation.

In the press release, the governor said "We need to stand up to anti-Semitism whenever and wherever we see it."

"This historic legislation is an important first step in the fight against boycotts of Israel, and I hope other states move quickly to follow our lead," Gov. Rauner said.

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About The Author


From her perch high atop the mountains surrounding Jerusalem, Tzippe Barrow tries to provide a bird’s eye view of events unfolding in her country. Tzippe’s parents were born to Russian Jewish immigrants, who fled the czar’s pogroms to make a new life in America. As a teenager, Tzippe wanted to spend a summer in Israel, but her parents, sensing the very real possibility that she might want to live there, sent her and her sister to Switzerland instead. Twenty years later, the Lord opened the door to visit the ancient homeland of her people.