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Next week President Donald Trump will become the sixth U.S. President to visit Israel.

On May 14, 1948, President Harry S. Truman recognized the newly created State of Israel, against the advice of his own State Department. With his bold action, Truman set into motion what has become one of the closest and most sincere alliances in modern history: the U.S. – Israel relationship.

Since Truman’s time, five sitting U.S. presidents have visited Israel (Nixon, Carter, Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama), demonstrating to the world our nation’s determined and eternal commitment to the safety and security of the Jewish State.

On May 22, President Donald Trump will become the sixth U.S. President to visit Israel. Trump’s visit is all the more historic for its timing and itinerary: his trip comes just a day before Jerusalem Day, which this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem by Israeli forces in 1967. Trump will also be the first sitting U.S. President to visit the Western Wall – Judaism’s holiest site.

So why the big American attention for such a small strip of land?

The Jewish State is much more than a New Jersey-sized country in the Middle East. It is the embodiment of generations of Jews who yearned to return to their ancient land.

There are plenty of arguments to be made that the U.S. – Israel alliance is founded in practical politics, the need for security cooperation or any number of other reasons.

Yet, I believe this unique relationship is based squarely on the Judeo – Christian values shared by Americans and Israelis alike. We both cherish religious liberty; we treasure personal freedoms; and we value God as central to our lives.

Israel stands as a symbol of hope and faith, not just for the Jewish people, but for tens of millions of Christian Americans as well. These Christians, who share a deep love for the State of Israel, add to the strength of the U.S. – Israel relationship. Christian support of Israel is rooted in the biblical belief that God called the Jewish people to be a light unto the nations, while promising them the land of Israel as an everlasting possession. Israel’s restoration confirms that God keeps His promises.

As Executive Director of Christians Care International (CCI), I have seen first-hand the affection that Christians feel toward Israel and the Jewish people. As a global Christian ministry, CCI supports impoverished Jews of the former Soviet Union (FSU) and has helped over 87,000 Jews make aliyah (immigrate) to Israel.

When presidents visit the Jewish State, they carry certain political agendas – peace negotiations, trade deals and the like. Perhaps more importantly, their visits also serve to focus the world’s attention on Israel and remind us all of the challenges still faced by Jewish communities around the world.

Tragically, anti-Semitism high on the list of dangers confronting the Jewish people. While the “new” anti-Semitism arising in many European nations and college campuses around the U.S. poses new threats to the state of Israel and the Jewish people, the “old” anti-Semitism remains ever-present in places like the FSU.

At CCI, I work on the front lines of the “old” anti-Semitism, caring for thousands of vulnerable Jews in the FSU. Endemic anti-Semitism and persecution have trapped many of these Jews in inescapable lives of poverty and hopelessness.

It is heart wrenching to visit Holocaust survivors living alone, unable to afford the food and medicine they need to survive; to find neglected and abused Jewish children living in broken homes and on the streets. Yet through the love and support from Christians around the world, CCI helps thousands of these impoverished Jews lead better lives through our on-the-ground programs including humanitarian aid, children’s homes, senior care centers, vocational training and aliyah programs.

The word aliyah in the Jewish tradition means to “rise up.” The term describes Jewish immigration to Israel – when Jews immigrate to Israel, they make aliyah.

It is my hope that when President Trump visits Israel, the world’s attention and love for Israel will rise up. I am not a politician and I am certainly not privy to the private discussions the President is sure to have with Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. I can only pray that this visit, like others, will move the U.S. and Israel toward an ever-closer friendship and bring Christians and Jews together in the spirit of aliyah – to raise up those around the world who still dream of a better future.

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