Friday, January 14, 2005

Christian evangelicals launch daily Western Wall vigil

Why does it seem like Christians love Israel more than Jews do? This is truly amazing and I have no doubt that Mr. Cox will find many other Christians willing to join his prayer vigil - but can you imagine a Conservative or Reform Jew (or most Orthodox Jews) willing to do this sort of thing? - EoZ

There was no fanfare surrounding Earl Cox as he set out to launch his year-long prayer mission in front of the Western Wall on Sunday. Alone and hunched over a book of psalms, the evangelical Christian from South Carolina sat, undisturbed, praying for the peace and security of the State of Israel. It was to be the first prayer session in his effort to ensure an American Christian presence at the Western Wall every day, for at least eight hours a day, for the entire year of 2005.
'We want to make sure that true, pure Christians will pray that God will look over the people of Israel,' he said during a rare break from prayer on Sunday morning.

Cox, who moved to Jerusalem last week to oversee the year long program and is the founder of the pro-Israel American Christian Reserve (ACR), led a group of evangelical Christians on the inaugural prayer mission this week. A former Republican strategist and an active figure in the campaign to draft Elizabeth Dole for the U.S. presidency in 2000, he became an active pro-Israel voice three years ago during what he calls his religious 'metamorphosis.'

'I'd be happy to give someone a prize if they could tell me why I love you people so much,' Cox, who is also the host of the Christian Zionist radio show Front Page Jerusalem, said of his new pro-Israel persona. 'I know this sounds fanatical, but I am not a fanatic. In the past, I thought evangelicals were crazy, and to be frank, many of them have been crazy with the things they've done. But what we're bringing is absolute, pure, true love without an agenda.'

Cox, a real estate tycoon who has spent a great deal of his personal fortune funding pro-Israel efforts, founded and funds both ACR and Front Page Jerusalem. Back in his home base in Charleston, he sat in the town square nearly every Thursday with a bottle of water, an umbrella and a sign that read `pray for the people of Israel.' The vigil in the Old City, his partners in prayer explain, seemed like a natural way to give his prayer added power, significance, and attention.

Cox is hoping to enlist hundreds of Christians from abroad to participate in the effort and reported this week that a number of interested worshipers have already signed up for time slots on his Web site, www.supportforisraelstartswithme.com. Still, he's not worried about a shortage of volunteers, because as far as Cox is concerned, he can come out to the Western Wall everyday.

"I believe that prayer to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is an important part of our lives," he says. "I could talk to you for six months straight and still not explain my love of the Jewish people. God just called on me to take a stand with Israel."