Archive for October 7th, 2014

The End of Evangelical Support for Israel?

General (Ret) James David (who is mentioned on the cover of the third edition of former Republican Congressman Paul Findley’s ‘They Dare to Speak Out’ book about the power and influence of the Israel lobby on the US government and media) sent through the following this morning:

James David wrote:

This is great news.  For the first time Christian Zionists are turning away from supporting Israel.  The only question that I have is why has it taken so long?  After Israel’s 47 long years of brutal and illegal occupation of Palestine, and after dozens of disproportionate attacks on Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza, and after killing more than 70,000 innocent civilians during this period, why has it taken so long.  Since 1967 Amnesty reports that Israel has demolished more than 25,000 Palestinian homes and have confiscated two thirds of their land, while building illegal Jewish settlements, something that is even escalating today.   Why has it taken so long?  And we all know the results of this latest attack this year on Gaza which has nearly wiped the small area off the map and in the process have killed more than 2000 men, women, and especially children.  Why has it taken this long?  American taxpayers, with the support of Christian Zionists, have dished out more than $200 billion with arms and supplies in order for Israel to commit such crimes.  And this sum doesn’t include the $ billions in tax write-offs that the U.S. gives to such pro-Israeli groups.

The End of Evangelical Support for Israel?: The Jewish State’s International Standing :: Middle East Quarterly

The End of Evangelical Support for Israel?
The Jewish State’s International Standing

by David Brog
Middle East Quarterly
Spring 2014
A mere decade ago, Christian Zionism was seen as an emerging force in American politics. As if out of nowhere, a block of fifty to one hundred million friends of Israel were poised to enter the national debate and safeguard the U.S.-Israel relationship for generations to come. Evangelical love for Israel appeared so solid that the only debate within the Jewish community was whether or not to “accept” it.

Just a few years ago, almost every significant evangelical leader, such as pro-Israel stalwart Pastor John Hagee (right), here with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, came out squarely behind the Jewish state. But now, questioning Christian support for the Jewish state is fast becoming a key way for millennials to demonstrate Christian compassion and bona fides.

How quickly things change. The days of taking evangelical support for Israel for granted are over. As they are increasingly confronted with an evangelical-friendly, anti-Israel narrative, more and more of these Christians are turning against the Jewish state.[1]

There is troubling precedent for such an about-face. At one time—prior to the 1967 war— the mainline Protestant denominations were among Israel’s most reliable American supporters. Israel’s opponents, therefore, targeted these denominations with mainline-friendly, anti-Israel messages. There are still many mainline Protestants who support Israel today. But to the extent the mainline denominations act corporately in connection with the Jewish state, it is to divest from it. And it is from Israel—not Iran—that they seek to divest.

In a similar fashion, Palestinian Christians and their American sympathizers are successfully promoting a narrative aimed at reaching the rising generation of evangelicals and turning them against Israel. As a result, more leaders of this generation are moving toward neutrality in the conflict while others are becoming outspoken critics of Israel. Questioning Christian support for the Jewish state is fast becoming a key way for the millennials to demonstrate their Christian compassion and political independence. In short, this population is in play.
The Shift

There is nothing new about the efforts to drive a wedge between America’s evangelicals and Israel. Many in the anti-Israel camp have been working for years to do exactly that. Anti-Israel Palestinian Christians such as Sami Awad and Naim Ateek have traveled the country telling American Christians how their “brothers and sisters in Christ” are being oppressed by Israel’s Jews. Left-leaning evangelicals such as Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, and Serge Duss have echoed this narrative in their corner of the Christian world. Duss’s sons, Brian and Matt, have worked diligently to mainstream their father’s views within the fields of Christian philanthropy and Democratic Party policy-making, respectively.

Until the past couple of years, however, there was little reason to believe that these individuals were influencing Christians beyond their own narrow circles. Almost every significant evangelical leader who took a position on the issue came out squarely behind the Jewish state. A center-right evangelical world simply was not taking its political cues from these stalwarts of the left.

This situation is changing dramatically. With every passing month, more evidence is emerging that these anti-Israel Christians are succeeding in reaching beyond the evangelical left and are influencing the mainstream. In particular, they are penetrating the evangelical world at its soft underbelly: the millennial generation. These young believers (roughly ages 18 to 30) are rebelling against what they perceive as the excessive biblical literalism and political conservatism of their parents. As they strive with a renewed vigor to imitate Jesus’ stand with the oppressed and downtrodden, they want to decide for themselves which party is being oppressed in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Whoever first defines the conflict for these young people will win lifelong allies.