View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Friday, July 09, 2004

Israel's Tourism Ministry Discovers Christians 

I don't usually listen to Laura Ingraham, but since the alternative here in town is either Morning Sedition or a fairly lame replacement for Tony Kornheiser, I do check in from time to time. It's on the Salem network, which carries Hugh, Michael Medved, and Dennis Prager. A lot of the advertising is geared to religious Christians, of which, obviously, I am not one.

This morning, though, an ad did catch my attention. The Israel Tourism Ministry ran an ad geared towards that demographic. Israel's tourism economy began suffering mightily after the 2000 Intifada started. Most Israeli tourists were American, and most Americans don't consider "Quick, Spot the Bus Bomber" to be the ideal family game. Even for most American Jews, a trip to Israel was now considered more an act of solidarity than a vacation.

Evidently, the tourism ministry figured out that there were as many American Christians who cared about Israel as there are American Jews. (Yes, there are plenty of Jews from Europe, but they're probably more interested in pitches from the Housing Ministry at the moment.) A local church, Faith Bible Chapel, paid to bring Bus 19, the skeleton of a bus destroyed by a suicide bomber, here to Denver. "Friends of Israel" logos decorate conservative Christian web sites. Clearly, this is a market waiting to be tapped.

Most Jews are still uncomfortable with all this attention. Historically, the Christians who haven't been trying to kill or get us to move on have been trying to convert us. Then they try to kill us or get us to move on. So we're not quite sure how to handle a religious Christianity that takes itself seriously, and yet doesn't treat us with condescension or hostility. Having been burned by trusting before (see Europe, 18th, 19th, 20th Centuries), we're a little wary.

But unlike European Christians, these are people comfortable with the idea of living Jews, not just remorseful over the dead ones. And apparently, the Israelis have figured this out.

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