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ICG Risk Blog - [ "No Nation Left Behind" program, Part 3 ]

"No Nation Left Behind" program, Part 3


Part 2

Having grasped the third rail of evangelical Christianity and its affect on US domestic policy, one might as well put the free hand on evangelical support of the state of Israel and its affects on both US domestic and international policy. For those readers outside the evangelical community, it is difficult to grasp their connection to, and unconditional support of, the State of Israel. The gathering and strengthening of Jews in the Holy Land is seen by evangelicals as a sign that the End Times are near.

Here is Pat Robertson speaking on the nature of evangelical Christian support of Israel:

Ladies and Gentleman, evangelical Christians support Israel because we believe that the words of Moses and the ancient prophets of Israel were inspired by God. We believe that the emergence of a Jewish state in the land promised by God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was ordained by God. We believe that God has a plan for this nation which He intends to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth.

Of course, we, like all right-thinking people, support Israel because Israel is an island of democracy, an island of individual freedom, an island of the rule of law, and an island of modernity in the midst of a sea of dictatorial regimes, the suppression of individual liberty, and a fanatical religion intent on returning to the feudalism of 8th Century Arabia. These facts about modern day Israel are all true. But mere political rhetoric does not account for the profound devotion to Israel that exists in the hearts of tens of millions of evangelical Christians.

You must realize that the God who spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai is our God. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are our spiritual Patriarchs. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel are our prophets. King David, a man after God's own heart, is our hero. The Holy City of Jerusalem is our spiritual capital. And the continuation of Jewish sovereignty over the Holy Land is a further bulwark to us that the God of the Bible exists and that His Word is true.

And we should clearly take note that evangelical Christians serve a Jew that we believe was the divine Messiah of Israel, spoken of by the ancient prophets, to whom He entrusted the worldwide dissemination of His message to twelve Jewish apostles.

It should be noted that today Christianity, with well over two billion adherents, is by far the fastest growing religion in the world. Within twenty years, that number will swell to three billion. Of these, at least six hundred million are Bible-believing evangelicals and charismatics who are ardent supporters of the nation of Israel. In twenty years, that number will reach one billion. Israel has millions of Christian friends in China, in India, in Indonesia, throughout Africa and South America, as well as North America.

We are with you in your struggle. We are with you as a wave of anti-Semitism is engulfing the earth. We are with you despite the pressure of the "Quartette" and the incredibly hostile resolutions of the United Nations. We are with you despite the threats and ravings of Wahabbi Jihadists, Hezbollah thugs, and Hamas assassins.

John Hagee, writing in A Warning to the World, states that there are five "biblical reasons why all Bible-believing Christians must stand with Israel and their claim to the land":

  1. Israel only nation created by a sovereign act of God
  2. Christians owe a debt of eternal gratitude to the Jewish people for their contributions, which gave birth to the Christian faith
  3. Jesus never denied his Jewishness
  4. Christians are to support Israel because it brings the blessings of God to them personally
  5. God judges the Gentiles for their abuse of the Jews

This process generates such groups as Christians for Israel International and Christian Friends of Israel (CFI). Christians for Israel present themselves as:

an international spiritual movement of Christians who recognise the return of the Jewish people to Israel as fulfilment of biblical prophecy and a major sign pointing toward the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ... We pray for the peace of Jerusalem and support the Jewish people in practical ways. Christians should be united in their love for the Jewish people, in their support for the nation of Israel and in their collective repentance because of Jewish suffering throughout Church history.

Christian Friends of Israel says it "exists to":

  • Comfort and support the People of Israel through practical means
  • Inform Christians around the world of God's plan for Israel and the Church's responsibility towards the Jewish people
  • Make the Jewish people aware of our solidarity with them

This "extraordinary political alliance… burst into view" in the aftermath of 11 September when Arab oil fears had temporarily diminished in parallel with a rising identification "with the kind of threats from Islamic terrorists that Israelis" had faced:

In large part, this new alignment of forces represents an unanticipated consequence of the rise of religious conservatives within the GOP… Advocates for Israel, who once looked to liberal Democrats as the bulwark of U.S. support, now find equally conspicuous support from conservative Christian Republicans they once suspected of intolerance or even anti-Semitism. That shift is having far-reaching consequences. More than any other single factor, it explains why there has been so little pressure from a Republican White House on Israel to curb its crackdown on Palestinians. President Bush, himself a born-again Southerner with far more instinctive sympathy for Israel than his father displayed, has taken advantage of the new climate by repeatedly expressing understanding for Israel's tactics in response to terror attacks. House Republican leader Dick Armey of Texas has gone so far as to suggest that Palestinians, not Israelis, ought to be the ones to surrender land in the quest for peace…

The office of House Majority Whip Tom DeLay of Texas, once seen as cool toward Israel but now one of its strongest backers in Washington, has received increased interest from Jewish donors, who are planning to hold fund-raising events for him soon here and in New York. "My phone is ringing off the hook every day with up to one dozen calls of Jewish Americans who ... want to support Tom DeLay," says Jack Abramoff, a conservative Jew who is helping raise money for Mr. DeLay.

Bush43's expressed belief that "people who didn't accept Jesus as their savior wouldn't go to heaven" shifted his stance to "I'm a tolerant person."

Matthew Brooks, executive director of the Washington-based Republican Jewish Coalition, claims a "tectonic shift" in support that has included unusually successful fundraisers around the country for 2002 Republican Senate candidates… Lobbyists for Israel have encouraged the shift, not merely with contributions but also by flying politicians to Israel to experience the Holy Land. The one overseas trip Mr. Bush took as he prepared to run for president in late 1998 was to Israel… [H]undreds of prominent Christians, ranging from religious-broadcasting executives to John Ashcroft [traveled to Israel].

Despite the sale of Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft to Saudi Arabia over Israeli objections and Bush41's refusal to assist Israel to obtain billions in US loan guarantees (unless Tel Aviv halted new settlements in West Bank and Gaza), by 2002, Israel had begun to command "enthusiastic support from a wide range of conservative sources," recently elected GOP legislators voted along consistently pro-Israeli lines, and conservative Christians had "donated more than $60 million to help Israel since 1994" into 2002.

Yet Daniel Pipes chided the media (including the WSJ article above) for focusing "on Christian Zionism as though it were something new… The real story is how Christian Zionists are increasingly the bedrock of Israel's support in the United States, more solidly pro-Israel and more robustly Zionist than many in the Jewish community." Pipes reminded readers that the 1891 "Blackstone Memorial" petition signed by prominent US nationals asked the president and SecState to "use their good offices and influence... to secure the holding at an early date of an international conference to consider the condition of the Israelites and their claims to Palestine as their ancient home":

To those who wonder why Washington follows policies so different from the European states, a large part of the answer these days has to do with the clout of Christian Zionists, who are especially powerful when a conservative Republican like George W. Bush is president. (In contrast, Christian Zionism has nearly died out in Great Britain.)

One anti-Israel writer, Grace Halsell, recognizes this fact and deems Christian Zionists a "more dangerous" influence in Washington than are the Jewish Zionists. Put positively: other than the Israel Defense Forces, America's Christian Zionists may be the Jewish state's ultimate strategic asset.

[Despite citing Pipes, one must use his materials with great care. Despite its title, Daniel Pipes, the expert of hate, is the most balanced view of a supremely polarizing individual - and is well worth the read. Pipes has been venomous to all that disagree with him on Israel and Arabs, to the point of creating Campus Watch, a list of "questionable" academics and encouraging students to "out" their professors, virtually coining the phrase Islamophobia and establishing concepts such as "new anti-Semitism" and "militants of Islam." Pipes' views demand that readers address his Middle East Forum and Middle East Quarterly with care.

I am as disappointed in Daniel Pipes as I was admiring of his father, Richard Pipes, the Cold War Sovietologist and historian who "pushed for a hard line toward the Soviets, arguing that U.S. pressure could induce changes in the Communist system. This flew in the face of conventional analysis, and received considerable vindication in the years up to and through the Soviet Unions collapse." (In the 1970s, the elder Pipes ran "Team B," a panel of outside experts, in counterpoint to the CIA's "Team A" in assessing Soviet nuclear strategy.)]

The struggle between evangelicals and the rest of us will be waged much along the lines of an interchange between a Republican legislator and a constitutional law professor. (Note that this is the correct exchange; a bogus slimmed version is here.):

Clergy, constitutional law experts and children of gay parents were among those who packed the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee room to speak out on the issue [of same sex marriages and civil unions].

The marriage debate dominated the opening weeks of the legislature after a Baltimore judge sided with 19 gay men and women, ruling that Maryland's 33-year-old law defining marriage between a man and a woman was unconstitutional. The discussion shows few signs of dying down.

Sen. Nancy Jacobs, a Republican who represents Harford and Cecil counties, engaged in an impassioned debate with Jamie Raskin, a constitutional law professor from American University, over the influence of the Bible on modern law.

"As I read Biblical principles, marriage was intended, ordained and started by God - that is my belief," she said. "For me, this is an issue solely based on religious principals."

Raskin shot back that the Bible was also used to uphold now-outlawed statutes banning interracial marriage, and that the constitution should instead be lawmakers' guiding principle.

"People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution; they don't put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible," he said.

Some in the room applauded, which led committee chairman Sen. Brian E. Frosh, a Democrat from Montgomery County, to call for order. "This isn't a football game," he said.

Next: AIPAC in Part 4

How the GOP Became God's Own Party
By Kevin Phillips
Washington Post
April 2, 2006

Emotions flare over same-sex marriage
Capital Notebook
Baltimore Sun
March 2, 2006
[Cited on Jamie Raskin's election site]

Daniel Pipes, the expert of hate
New world order
Voltaire Net/Voltaire, édition internationale
Paris (France)
2 March 2006

Why Evangelical Christians Support Israel
By Pat Robertson
The Herzliya Conference, Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy, and Strategy
December 17, 2003

A Warning to the World
Five Bible Reasons Christians Should Support
By John Hagee
(Source: Jerusalem Countdown
A Warning to the World by John Hagee, Frontline, A Strang Company)

A Hardliner's Life
By Kenneth Silber
Tech Central Station Daily
20 Nov 2003

Christian Zionism: Israel's Best Weapon? or The Clout Of Christian Zionism
by Daniel Pipes
Same text appears under two titles, all in July 2003:

How Israel Became a Favorite Cause Of the Conservative Christian Right
The Wall Street Journal
Updated May 23, 2002

Gordon Housworth

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