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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining look at a serious issue, 15 April 2007
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Match Made in Heaven: American Jews, Christian Zionists, and One Man's Exploration of the Weird and Wonderful Judeo-Evangelical Alliance (Hardcover)
This absorbing book examines Jewish-Christian relations under the headings: Among The Christians; Is It Good For The Jews? and Afterword: Wartime. The variety in the narrative which jumps from history to current affairs to personal experiences and interviews, all infused with the author's witty and irreverent style, makes it a highly enjoyable read.

In chapter 1 Chafets recounts his hilarious childhood experiences with religion in Pontiac, Michigan. In 1967 he moved to Israel where he lived for 9 years before settling in New York with his family. The rest of Part One deals with subjects as diverse as the first Jews to come to America, the philo-semitism of the Puritans, the history of Christian Zionism with reference to William Blackstone and the Balfour Declaration, and US foreign policy towards Israel after World War II.

It was interesting to learn that there are warm relations between Israelis and Christian Zionists, where the issue is not even controversial. This contrasts sharply with the political divide between Jewish Liberals and Evangelical Christians in the USA. Chafets provides outspoken but sympathetic portraits of Christian leaders and institutions like Jerry Falwell and Liberty University, and Pat Robertson and Regent University.

His description of a pilgrimage in Israel with a group of Christians is moving and sometimes quite hilarious, and includes several thought-provoking interviews where the Israelophile Christians speak for themselves. There is no stereotyping and the perspectives and opinions of the individuals concerned are presented with empathy.

In the chapter Revenge Of The Mainline, the author explores the history of the World Council Of Churches and its hostility to Israel, liberation theology and the conflicting attitudes of the evangelicals and the liberal mainstream churches towards the Jewish homeland, including the divestment attempts within the Presbyterian and United Methodist churches.

Part 2 opens with the history and work of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein's International Fellowship Of Chistians and Jews and then looks at Abraham Foxman of the Anti Defamation League and his hostile stance against the Christian Right. Next Chafets investigates the rising tide of anti-semitism worldwide and the recent spate of books attacking Evangelical Christianity with their scaremongering theme of a "theocracy" in the USA.

In the chapter titled The Iraq War And Its Aftermath, he points out the convergence of views between people like Walt & Mearsheimer, Jimmy Carter and David Duke. He could also have mentioned Pat Buchanan. Other topics include AIPAC, relations between US administrations and Israeli leaders since the 1970s and the aforementioned partisan divide. As the author puts it: "Jews are Democrats, Israelis are Republicans."

The main policy differences seem to be abortion, gay marriage, the issue of proselytising and the idea of Armageddon. I found the account of the visit of Rabbi Eric Yoffie to Liberty University in 2005 highly amusing, especially Yoffie's discomfort when Falwell used the word "barbarian" during an interview. Finally, Chafets observes that in their support for Israel, Christian Zionists are completely immune to the ideas of "progressive" intellectuals and European "sophisticates" or accusations of dual loyalty. This is significant.

The Afterword provides a vivid picture of Israel during the 2006 Hezbollah War; Chafets and his family were there. In the USA, most of the anti-Israel voices came from the Left. John Hagee's Christians United For Israel was the first to hold a pro-Israel rally in Washington, Pat Robertson visited Israel and Evangelical support for Eckstein's IFCJ soared to record highs. The book ends with the observation that the Judeo-Christian alliance does not require Jews to become Republicans or Christians, but that better understanding and more mutual respect would be beneficial. This highly entertaining and thought-provoking work concludes with an index.
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