WASHINGTON -- For centuries, Christians and Jews had a rocky relationship that was frequently marred by anti-Semitism.
But times have changed.
Today, America's largest pro-Israel organization is run by evangelical Christians.
That group -- Christians United for Israel -- holds its annual conference in Washington this week.
The event has featured scenes that would have been unthinkable not too long ago: from Christians and Jews dancing side-by-side to the Hebrew folk song "Hava Nagila," to a crowd of over 4,000 people -- overwhelmingly Christian -- proudly waving the flag of the Jewish state.
Pastor John Hagee founded Christians United for Israel in 2006 as a way for Christians and Jews to come together in support of Israel. Judging by the group's annual conference -- which is being held at the Washington Convention Center -- his vision is being realized.
Several prominent Christian and Jewish lawmakers, journalists and media personalities have taken the stage to stand for Israel. Sen. Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., received the groups' Defender of Israel award, while Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., Fox News's Fred Barnes, and talk radio hosts Michael Medved and Dennis Prager also delivered addresses.
A highlight Tuesday was a live satellite appearance by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Today, millions of Christians stand with Israel because they stand for freedom," Netanyahu said. "Millions of Christians stand with Israel because they stand for truth. And millions of Christians stand for Israel because they want to see a genuine peace in the Holy Land."
The Christians United for Israel conference is always a very festive occasion. You'll see people blowing into ancient biblical shofars, singing traditional Hebrew songs, dancing, and praising God. But there is also a serious message. Attendees say the threats gathering against Israel -- including increased U.S. Pressure -- have never been greater. And leading those threats is Iran.
"The message is, the clock is ticking," Christians United for Israel's Executive Director, David Brog, told CBN News.
"We are extremely worried about Iran's steady progress towards obtaining nuclear weapons. The window is closing. If we don't use every means at our disposal to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapons, then we will have to confront this threat of a nuclear Iran. Which is an unacceptable situation not only for Israel, but for the United States as well," Brog added.
Another major topic at the conference has been the Obama administration's demand that Israel give up all settlement activity. Rep. Shelly Berkley, D-Nev., called the settlement issue a "red herring."
"There is no way that Israel should be restricted from having natural growth in their settlements," she said. "It is their right, and they should be able to do that."
CBN president and Christians United for Israel board member Michael Little read from the book of Zechariah at Tuesday night's event.
The conference closes Wednesday with attendees heading to Capitol Hill to lobby lawmakers in support of Israel.
*Originally published July 22, 2009