Balfour Books, a division of ICON Publishing, was established in 2003 “to educate Christians about what is going on in the Middle East,” and specifically about Israel, according to its publisher, Jim Fletcher. The Evangelical Christian company recently published Alex Grobman’s book, “The Palestinian Right to Israel.” (British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour wrote a famous letter in 1917 expressing sympathy with “Jewish Zionist aspirations.”)
Fletcher, who is based near Oklahoma City, says that running the outfit is a labor of both business and love.
“Our market is both the Jewish and Christian worlds,” he told The Jewish Standard in a telephone interview. “Really, we wanted to penetrate the Christian market and educate Christians about what’s going on in the Middle East.”
So far (although not by design), the “15 or 16 books” published by Balfour Books have all been by Jewish authors, Fletcher said.
The publisher’s work emerged from his pro-Israel activism.
“I took my first trip to Israel in the ’90s and that ignited my activism,” he said.
Several years ago, he was introduced to Grobman and they have collaborated on several projects since then.
Another of Grobman’s books, “License to Murder: The Enduring Threat of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” will be published by Balfour Books in coming months. It chronicles how the notorious Czarist Russian forgery of the late 19th century finds expression in modern anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.
Fletcher said he and his staff are all Evangelical Christians. Asked why he is so supportive of Israel, he shared some personal history.
“I grew up in the Bible Belt here in the South,” he said. “In the churches, being pro-Israel was considered a biblical mandate….While I’ve retained that, I’ve developed a sense [that] Israel and the U.S. are natural allies with a common enemy we need to concentrate on.”
Asked if his support is based more on a biblical ideal than on understanding and supporting real Israeli and other Jewish communities today, Fletcher said it is based on both.
“I live in a community that loves Israel for biblical reasons, but I [also] support Israel for personal reasons…. I don’t separate my love for Israel biblically with who [Israelis] are…. I have a great deal of admiration and respect for the Jewish people.”
He added, “Pro-Israel Christians are much more sophisticated in their thinking than they are given credit for. They are capable of understanding Israel’s security needs, Israel’s standing in the international community, and the importance of [those things].”