When the European Union passed a resolution in January to label products made in the West Bank and Golan, it wasn’t only Israel that was up in arms. A Dutch Christian organization that promotes Israeli products for Biblical and ideological reasons has picked up the gauntlet, challenging the EU as well. But the organization’s connection to Israel and the Jewish people goes much deeper than that. For the van Orrdt family that heads the organization, supporting Israel as part of their religious devotion is a family tradition.
Karel van Oordt founded the International Christians for Israel (CFI) organization and its import agency, the Israel Products Center (IPC), in 1979 to support Israel economically. Motivated by his Biblical beliefs, van Oordt wanted to help practically to return the Jews back to Israel in order to bring the Messiah. His message was specifically for his fellow Christians but had a universal element as well.
In CFI’s announcement of his death in 2013, Karel was quoted as frequently saying, “Our task is to comfort Israel. The promises that were given to Israel are being fulfilled for Israel. The promises that were given to the church will be fulfilled for the church.”
In fact, Pieter van Oordt, Karel’s son, who now leads CFI with his brother Roger, told Breaking Israel News that his family has been praying for Israel to come into existence since 1835. “Israel is God’s friend and all of the promises God made to Israel are coming true. That is how Israel came to be,” he said.
The family’s support for the Jewish people is not only theoretical, but practical. CFI joins together with Jewish organizations to advocate for Israel, and Roger van Oordt is close to the Jewish community. When the home of the Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands, Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, was attacked by anti-Semitic vandals during the 2014 war in Gaza, Roger van Oordt, a close friend, of Jacobs’, went to the rabbi’s house with his wife and two of his children to personally clean up.
Pieter van Oordt is very modest. He says that the family is happy they can do a small part to help Israel in order to serve God, but the movement his father started is anything but small. Now led by Karel’s sons, the Christians For Israel movement has branches and affiliates in more than 30 countries. Its import agency, which brings in shipments of Israeli products to sell worldwide, has millions of dollars in revenue. Its substantial profits show that their idea has considerable support around the globe.
The IPC’s imported products are sold from their warehouse headquarters in Niijerk, whose exterior is decorated with the largest fully-functional menorah in Europe – a 36-foot tall Star of David mounted on a six-ton base to stand against the North Sea wind and any anti-Semitism that may come its way.
The IPC imports 120,000 bottles of Israeli wine every year, as well as tons of Dead Sea cosmetics and thousands of every-day goods, such as Israeli-made cleaning detergents and Israeli snacks and foods. Its best customers, most of them Protestant members of the Christians for Israel movement, share the van Oorts’ ideological and religious views of Israel, buying Israeli goods through a feeling of moral duty to help Jews return to their land.
CFI supports Israel not only financially but through charity and goodwill, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect Israeli children at risk from Hamas rockets and needy Israeli Holocaust survivors. JTA reported that after a Jewish guard outside Copenhagen’s main synagogue was killed last year, CFI groups from all over Europe donated over $20,000 to improve the security at the two Jewish schools in the Netherlands.
Reflecting Karel van Oordt’s original Messianic vision, the CFI movement also assists Jews in making aliyah. In conjunction with the Jewish Agency, CFI groups have helped over 100,000 Jews come to Israel and aided them in settling after they arrive.
Ongoing persecution of Israel and Jews only strengthens the van Oordts’ cause. In a letter Pieter van Oordt wrote in February to his thousands of loyal customers, he objected to the recent EU policy of labeling products from the “occupied territories” – Judea, Samaria, and the Golan. The company waived shipment costs last month in order to stimulate sales.
Van Oordt argued in his letter that the policy was prejudicial, focusing on Israel while ignoring numerous other cases of disputed territories. He accused the EU of going against the Bible by denying Israel’s Biblical right to the land and condemned the EU policy for humanitarian reasons, citing the loss of livelihood to the Jewish and Arab residents of what the EU labeled “occupied territories”.
“Regardless of the Biblical and political arguments against the decision to partition Israel in such a way, it is also inhumane. These people deserve a salary to support their families,” he wrote.
The van Oordts and Christians like them support Israel and the Jews as a part of their religious service. This warm connection between Christians and Jews is unprecedented in the 1,700 year history of the two Abrahamic religions.
Pieter van Oordt certainly thinks it is a sign of the times, asking Breaking Israel News, “It seems clear the Messiah is close, don’t you think?”