Israel Today interviewed Dr. Gustavo Perednik on several occasions – on Judeophobia, on Bibiphobia, and on Christian Zionism. We received numerous requests from our readers to ask Dr. Perednik to teach a course on Christian Zionism, and we are happy to announce that he has agreed! The course begins Sunday, September 5.
Israel Today: Congratulations on the forthcoming course on Christian Zionism. This is probably the first-ever international course on the subject.
Perednik: My congratulations to Israel Today for this encouraging initiative. It is very important to explain the history and role of Christian Zionism in the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. My hope is that learning about the people, the politics, and the practical impact Christians have had on helping the rebirth of the Jewish nation will encourage and inspire Christians around the world to appreciate their own efforts.
Israel Today: But the history of Israel is already taught everywhere. Why is this particular course relevant now?
Perednik: I wish that statement were true. Moreover, even if it was the case, the contribution of Christians to Zionism is frequently minimized, or it is reduced to the involvement of a few individuals considered exceptional. But Christian Zionism is a movement, and it must be understood and valued for its real-time historical and modern-day involvement in helping the Jewish people return to their ancient homeland.
Israel Today: You are Jewish and a highly respected lecturer in Israel. What is your interest in Christian Zionism?
Perednik: We cannot overestimate how much Israel owes to Christian supporters. In some cases, they take the lead and Jews follow. The historical connection between the Jews and Eretz Israel was present both in Jewish and in Christian traditions. Zionism is the movement that dreamt of the rebuilding of the land of Israel by the People of Israel, and acted in accordance with that dream. You do not have to be Jewish either to share that vision or to celebrate its fulfillment in modern times.
Israel Today: Many people from several countries have already registered for your course, and some of them even sent us questions about the content.
Perednik: I’d be glad to be directly in contact with them. The content was published in Israel Today in the syllabus that tries to cover several centuries and many personalities. Our emphasis is on how the overall idea of Christian Zionism developed and how it responded to the many challenges it had to overcome.
Israel Today: For instance, they ask us whether the course focuses on any specific denomination within Christianity.
Perednik: I do not deliberately stress denominations. The course attempts to cover many aspects of the topic. Objectively, however, Christian Zionism was manifestly active among the Puritans and the Evangelicals, but is also present among other Christian trends, and I try to show this as well.
Israel Today: Can you give us an example of why this movement is so crucial?
Perednik: Take the case of Laurence Oliphant for example. Many of the Zionist forerunners -like Moses Lilienblum, Rabbi Samuel Mohilever, and Peretz Smolenskin- hailed him as a savior, as a hero of biblical proportions. He published his Zionist book –The Land of Gilead– in 1880, some twenty years before Theodor Herzl’s. Oliphant was also a man of action. He tried to influence the British and the Turkish governments before almost anyone else did. Oliphant even moved to the Galilee with his family and helped the Jews who fled the Russian pogroms. The Jewish settlements in the North survived only thanks to his devotion. After him, the Baron Rothschild got involved. And Oliphant was not the only one indeed.
Israel Today: Are there present-day cases of such a commitment?
Perednik: Well, during President Trump’s administration, the Christian Zionists were the ones who gave forthright support to his Zionistic endeavors to legitimate Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria. The Christian Zionists were even more enthusiastic than most Diaspora Jews.
Israel Today: Is this also part of your course?
Perednik: We will refer to this aspect in the last lesson, but it is not the main part of the course. There is a lot to learn about the history of Christian Zionism, and we still need to investigate its impact with perspective on what is happening in the geo-political world today.
Israel Today: What is the profile of the person you expect to meet in your course?
Perednik: Someone who considers that the rebirth of Israel is a momentous achievement and wants to have a greater understanding of how Christians and Christianity have been involved in so many aspects of the Return to Zion. In addition, anyone who wants to know more about Zionism in general, and especially those chapters of Zionism that are almost unknown.