Carla Debbie Alleyne, student government president at Princeton Theological Seminary, has visited Israel several times.
“When I went, I fell in love with the land, the history there, and the people,” she said.
Alleyne grew up Catholic, but after finishing college, she became a Pentecostal Christian, which caused her to look at both Scripture and Israel in a different way, she said.
“That’s where Jesus is from, so it has strong spiritual implications for who I am as a Christian and my heritage as a Christian,” she told NJJN.
So when she received an invitation to attend the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee with expenses paid, she looked up the organization and decided it would be great to attend in order to learn more about Israel.
Alleyne and a friend, Kate Gardner, a Princeton University junior studying English, attended the March conference as part of the pro-Israel lobbying group’s outreach efforts to student government leaders. This year, some 16,000 Israel supporters attended the conference in Washington, which focused largely on Iran policy and the controversy over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.
Alleyne suggested that the conference left her a little confused about the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians.
“It was informative, and it seemed like the panelists talked about wanting to improve the relationship, but I wasn’t very clear by the end of it how that was going to happen,” she said.
Netanyahu, in his March 2 speech to the conference, didn’t provide much clarity, she said. “I didn’t feel like I got any clear information on exactly what Israel is going to be doing to bring some sort of peace or agreement in that relationship,” said Alleyne.
Gardner, whose parents are Presbyterian but who is herself active with the evangelical Christian Union at Princeton, said her faith had given her the emotional sense that Israel is wonderful and part of her heritage. She learned the importance of blessing Israel, but before the conference she didn’t really know much about the country.
Gardner said she took note when someone at a panel on Zionism mentioned God’s promise to Abraham to make him a nation. “That really struck me, that God really promised that this group would be a nation,” she said. “It got me thinking about the implications it might have today for Israel being a nation, from a biblical perspective.”
She added that she and Alleyne talked at the conference about how Romans 9 mentions that God still cares about the people of Israel and their future.
Gardner felt the conference expanded her knowledge both about what is happening in Israel and issues around Iran. The AIPAC conference, in fact, left her with a perspective that differs from that of her Presbyterian parents, whose national movement has angered Jewish groups with its support for pro-Palestinian positions.
“But we’re all still learning,” Gardner said. “It was really cool to see the other side of things, the idea that Israel from a biblical as well as a political and even an economic standpoint is a wonderful place and should be a nation for spiritual as well as American interest reasons.”
Added Alleyne: “I feel like it is a place as Christians, as peacemakers, we should be in a prayerful state for.”