The U.S. just marked Black History Month in February, but reaching out to the African-American community and other minority populations has become a year-round endeavor for pro-Israel organizations.
Over the course of the past year a number of delegations of black Christians, particularly clergy members, have made pilgrimages to Israel. These groups are increasingly coming from traditional black churches in America.
In a show of solidarity with the Israeli government, a group of prominent black clergy members last year publicly denounced the decision by the Congressional Black Caucus to boycott Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress about the Iranian nuclear threat.
While the incident ostensibly involved political disagreement rather than a racial dispute (over former House speaker John Boehner’s not having consulted President Obama before inviting Netanyahu) the public discourse about the prime minister’s speech took on racial overtones, in part because of the Black Caucus’s decision to boycott the speech. At a press conference organized by Star Parker, president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education think tank, the black clergy members made clear that the Black Caucus does not represent all black Christians and that they stand with Israel.
Other organizations such as Christians United for Israel (CUFI) have been working behind the scenes for several years in outreach to the black community. They host programs in black churches to motivate black Christians to support Israel and have taken dozens of clergy on tours to the Holy Land. In fact, CUFI started such efforts with an African-American outreach coordinator, Pastor Michael Stevens of Charlotte, N.C., and has since expanded outreach efforts to other minority sectors.
“It has never been CUFI’s intention to focus on only one denomination of black Christians,” Pastor Dumisani Washington, CUFI’s diversity outreach coordinator and the director of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, told JNS.
“Our former African-American outreach coordinator, Dr. Michael Stevens…did a great job bringing CUFI’s message to his colleagues. We have sought to continue Dr. Stevens’s efforts, while reaching out to all Christians regardless of affiliation or ethnic background. This is why our diversity outreach team includes African, Asian, Hispanic, and [soon] Native American coordinators.”
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SOURCE: The Jewish Press