Hispanics have emerged as a voice for Israel in the United States in recent years and they were among the thousands who came out to show their support at the eighth annual Christians United for Israel (CUFI) summit this week in Washington, D.C.
"The majority of the Hispanic community are very pro-Israel and I believe it has to do with the religious ties behind it since most come from a Christian background and have grown up with the mentality that it is a mandate to love Israel and the Jewish people," said Melyssa Salazar, a CUFI member based in Las Vegas, to The Christian Post.
"Hispanics believe exactly what the Bible says and in fact it says that we are blessed if we bless Israel according to Genesis."
Salazar has been involved with CUFI for the past three years and this time around, she says Hispanics brought a different perspective to the summit.
"We have different views as to why we support Israel. Not only is it a Biblical mandate, but there is also a political reason.There are many Latin American countries that have been engaged with anti-Israel supporters and it has become a security issue for these Hispanics. Now more than ever, they are uniting alongside the Jewish people to stand up for Israel."
Israel maintains full diplomatic relations with most Central and South American nations, including those in the Caribbean. But Cuba severed ties in 1973 and participated in embargoes and sanctions against Israel. In addition, former Cuban president Fidel Castro said they were cutting relations "in support for the just cause of the Arab people and rights of the Palestinian people," according to a 1973 Palm Beach Post article. And Venezuela and Bolivia broke off relations in 2009 over Israel's war operation in Gaza.
Another CUFI member that has seen the strong support from Hispanics for Israel is Cammie Wires from Virginia. Wires says Latinos have come forward strongly as supporters, and believes the reason that some Hispanics don't publicly support Israel is because of lack of information.
"During the summit, I met two women from Mexico who explained that they felt it was important for Hispanics to be pro-Israel because not only did God call us to bless Israel, but not many people from the Hispanic community truly understand what is currently happening in the Israeli region," said Wires. "They also explained to me that as Christians, and pro-Israel activists, it's also important for us to be able to tell other Hispanics what is truly happening and how we can get them more involved in the organization, sometimes all you need is a word-of-mouth."
Wires became involved in supporting Israel several years ago through her church's relationship with CUFI. In 2010, her church (she requested it to not be identified) hosted a Hispanic Night To Honor Israel event and her pastor even traveled to the Holy Land with CUFI, a trip organized by John Hagee Ministries.
"I get protesters and foul language thrown at me for standing up for Israel. However I know that at the end of the day God will show the world that Israel is the land of the Jewish people. It's also my duty as a member of the Hispanic church to get more Latinos involved."