Armstrong Williams, a conservative columnist and television personality, came to Cornell yesterday to discuss support among Christians for Israel.
The speaking engagement, which was sponsored by the Cornell-Israel Public Affairs Committee with the help of the Cornell College Republicans, was attended by people from diverse religious and racial backgrounds.
Williams emphasized the long-standing support of Christians for the state of Israel.
“Whether religious or secular in nature, a deep support for Israel resonates with millions of Christians throughout the world,” he said. “Undeterred by the ongoing Israel-Palestinian conflict and the widespread hostility toward Christians throughout the Middle East, throngs of Christians emigrate each year to the Holy Land.” He discussed the various reasons why support for Israel among Christians is so strong.
“Christians’ firm support for Israel originates from Old Testament passages that bestow Israel to the Jewish people, refer to the Jews as God-chosen people and promise that God will bless those who bless the Jewish people,” he said.
“Other Christians have more secular reasons for supporting Israel. They believe that a united Jewish state represents the vast hope of curbing the persecution of Christians throughout the Middle East, and the hope of preserving the Holy Land. In many ways the Christian Right stands out as the most consistently supportive group of Israel in America,” Williams added.
Williams, who hosts a nationally syndicated television show, The Right Side with Armstrong Williams and appears on Fox News and other news networks, also spoke of his own conservative viewpoints.
“I assumed Israel would be one of the most religious and God-fearing pinnacles of morality in the world – and I’ll tell you – Israel is more liberal than the United States. And many people there are very secular, and many of them don’t even believe in God,” he said, adding, “I am just as fervent about condemning racism and anti-Semitism as I am against gay marriages in this country, and abortion.”
The audience had mixed reactions to Williams’s lecture, which became evident when he fielded questions.
“There were certainly people that disagreed with him, both within CIPAC and without, but I think overall everyone enjoyed the experience and learned a lot,” said Jamie Weinstein ’06, coordinator of the event and vice president of political affairs for CIPAC. “I’m glad that the Cornell community was able to hear a different perspective that we don’t often hear.”
“Half of the things he said I completely agreed with, and half of the things he said I completely disagreed with,” said Stephanie Rabin ’06. “I wish he had stuck to the point, rather than making his opinions about other irrelevant things known.”
Overall, officers of CIPAC and the College Republicans were pleased with the event.
“The topic of Christian Evangelism is one that is very important to pro-Israel students and to Jewish students,” said Jennie Berger ’04, president of CIPAC. “It’s a group that has a lot of influence in this country and is politically active and it’s very important for us to understand each other and to know each other’s beliefs and where we’re coming from, in order to have a productive dialogue. Having events like this are helpful along that path.”
“A lot of the issues like Evangelical Christian support of Israel aren’t covered much at Cornell, or anywhere else for that matter, and I think it’s very good that he came down here and explained all the reasons behind the cause,” said Mike Lepage ’05, chair of the Cornell College Republicans.
Archived article by Andrew Beckwith
Sun Staff Writer