Present at the event were a wide range of pro-Israel activists, from CUFI's Eastern Regional Coordinator Victor Styrsk, to William Harter, a member of the executive committee for the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel (NCLCI).
, a Presbyterian, is active in opposing the BDS Movement (boycott/divestment/sanctions), which seeks to marginalize Israel
"What is going on here is critical, and we have no time to waste," Harter
We would like to highlight the following blog posting which features AIFL Board Member, Rev. William H. Harter and the important work of AIFL.
Rev. William Harter (fourth from left) with his AIFL delegation, at the famed Jewish synagogue in Capernaum.
It was in a darkened basement in an Egyptian hotel where Bill Harter
first real education regarding the Middle East's various conflicts.
The date was June, 1967, and Harter, now pastor emeritus of the Presbyterian Church of Falling Spring, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, was with a tour group at the precise moment hostilities erupted between Egypt and Israel.
It was obviously a chaotic time," Harter
recently returned from leading a delegation of Presbyterians in Israel
Harter has been a key member, and serves on the AIFL board.
presence there has helped in many ways, including as a key player in the efforts to block divestment initiatives.
As a long-time Presbyterian, Harter
strongly opposes the movement:
represents a balanced voice in the often-volatile "pro Israel, pro Palestinian" church world.
Harter is neither as strident as some Christian Zionist groups, nor is he an advocate of the "Peace Now" community.
understands the need to alleviate suffering on both sides.
"Clergy and elders of the Presbyterian Church who participated in the delegation are committed to building bridges for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and to increased understanding between Jews, Christians, and Muslims throughout the world," says Harter
is committed to "the legitimate rights and aspirations of the [Jewish and Palestinian] peoples in their national homelands and a 'two-state' resolution of the conflict."
During the delegation tour of Israel
says "We became acquainted with the diverse minority populations within Israel
and saw the determination of both Jewish and Arab leaders to create equality of opportunity and increased parity in politics, the arts, jurisprudence, and economic development.
At the PCUSA's General Assembly
in Pittsburgh, in July, 2012, Harter
and friends helped narrowly defeat a motion to divest from companies doing business in Israel
is helping lead some of our study tour groups to Israel-a major priority for us-and his
knowledge and compassion for all people is helping break down walls of misunderstanding."
personal background prepared him very well for that role.
"As a young kid growing up in western New York, about 20 miles east of Buffalo, my community had exactly one Jewish family," Harter
That background and influence provided an opportunity for young Bill Harter
to develop a lifelong love for Jewish studies.
originally planned to go into medicine, but decided instead to study at Union Seminary
and later Harvard
emerged with a pastor's heart, and advocating for the Jewish community and bridge building became a hallmark.
Today, along with his friends at the AIFL
, and NCLCI
friends like Dr. Richard Lux, and evangelical scholar JoAnn Magnuson, Bill Harter
is positive about the future.