Christian Zionism: Misguided Millennialism
3. The Political Agenda of Christian Zionism
“The purpose of this book is to warn about a rapidly expanding new movement in the Church that is subtly introducing the same errors that eventually and inevitably led to centuries of atrocities against the Jews and culminated in the Holocaust of the Third Reich... They are setting up a philosophical system that will result in anti-Semitism.”
In his controversial book, Road to Holocaust, Hal Lindsey equates those who reject dispensationalism with the Nazis because, from his perspective, both deny the Jews any separate identity or future destiny within the purposes of God. In the previous two presentations we have examined the historical roots and theological basis for Christian Zionism. Tonight I want to present its political consequences. Christian Zionists are implacably opposed to the present Road Map to peace in the Middle East. I want to show how they may be contributing to the very holocaust in the Middle East which they predict.
We are going to examine six ways in which Christian Zionist theology has been translated into political action: This outline illustrates the correlation between its distinctive doctrines and political agenda.
Standing with Israel
Facilitating the Aliyah Programme
Supporting West Bank Settlements
Lobbying for International Recognition
Funding the Rebuilding of the Temple
Opposing Peace & Hastening Armageddon
Lets consider each one at a time.
1. The Chosen People : Supporting Israeli Colonialism
The conviction that the Jewish people remain God’s ‘chosen people’ in some way separate from the Church, is deeply rooted in Christian Zionism. A recent Christianity Today survey of evangelical opinion about Israel gives an indication of the strength of Christian Zionism in America. The survey revealed that 24% believe ‘the biblical mandate for Christians is to support the State of Israel.’ This is expressed in a variety of ways:
1.1 Standing with Israel
Following the Six Day War in 1967, apart from the support given by the United States government, Israel has been largely isolated within the international community. Hal Lindsey laments:
‘Up to the time of the 1991 Madrid Conference, the Arabs were “called upon” to “comply”, “desist”, “refrain” etc. four times. Israel was “demanded”, “ordered”, etc. to do General Assembly bidding three hundred and five times. The UN voted six hundred and five resolutions between its inception and the Gulf War. Four hundred and twenty nine of those resolutions, or, sixty-two percent of the total of the UN’s resolutions were against Israel or its interests.’
Citing Isaiah 40, Christian Zionists see their role to, ‘comfort, comfort my people, says your God.’ So for example, in October 2000, for example, just days after Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit to the Haram Al-Sharif, which was deliberately timed to undermine the government of Barak for negotiating with Arafat over a shared Jerusalem, and sparked the second intifadah, an advertisement appeared in the New York Times entitled ‘Open Letter to Evangelical Christians from Jews for Jesus.’ In it they called upon evangelicals to show solidarity with the State of Israel at this critical time:
‘Now is the time to stand with Israel. Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, our hearts are heavy as we watch the images of violence and bloodshed in the Middle East ... Christian friends, “The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). So must our support for the survival of Israel in this dark hour be irrevocable. Now is the time for Christians to stand by Israel.’
1.2 The Israeli Lobby on Capitol Hill
Until the 1980s, US Middle East policy was largely peripheral to the wider global threat posed by Soviet Communism. The protection of Western Europe through NATO was a higher priority. The collapse of Communism, however, created a power vacuum in the Middle East which the US has filled. Following the Gulf War to liberate Kuwait and then more recently, Afghanistan from the Taleban and Iraq from the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein, the US has significantly increased its influence in the Middle East. Many contend that US foreign policy has become skewed through the disproportionate influence of the Zionist lobby. Michael Lind, the political analyst summarises the ways in which the Israeli lobby has distorted US foreign policy:
‘Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, enabled by US weapons and money, inflames anti-American attitudes in Arab and Muslim countries. The expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land makes a mockery of the US commitment to self-determination for Kosovo, East Timor and Tibet. Beyond the region, US policy on nuclear weapons proliferation is undermined by the double standard that has led it to ignore Israel’s nuclear programme while condemning those of India and Pakistan.’
The Christian Right came to shape US foreign policy largely through the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. His victory over Jimmy Carter gave a considerable boost to the Christian Zionist cause. Wagner claims his election, ‘ushered in not only the most pro-Israel administration in history but gave several Christian Zionists prominent political posts.’ He points out that in addition to the US President, those who subscribed to a futurist premillennial theology and endorsed Christian Zionism included Attorney General Ed Meese, Secretary of Defence Casper Weinberger, and Secretary of the Interior James Watt. White House seminars became a regular feature of Reagan’s administration bringing leading Christian Zionists like Jerry Falwell, Mike Evans and Hal Lindsey into personal contact with national and congressional leaders. In the same year, the International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem, was founded with the purpose of coordinating ‘direct political lobbying activities in cooperation with the Israeli government.’ One of its primary goals is to see the removal of PLO offices in Western countries and the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The National Unity Coalition for Israel (NUCFI) is probably the largest and most influential network of Christian Zionists to be formed in the US. Founded by Esther Levens in Kansas in 1994, the NUCFI now comprises a broad coalition of 200 different and autonomous Jewish and Christian organisations representing 40 million members who are ‘dedicated to a secure Israel.’ Their principal strategy is to lobby the US media and political establishment, to challenge what they term ‘disinformation and propaganda’ and to express ‘the truth about Israel.’ The NUCFI includes three of the largest Christian Zionist organisations: Bridges for Peace, the International Christian Embassy and Christians for Israel.
The power of the pro-Israeli lobby, which ensures Israel continues to receive more than 3 billion dollars annually from the US in grants, loans and subsidies, can be gauged by the fact that George Bush Snr. was the last US President to criticise Israel in public. During the Gulf War, he enraged the Israeli lobby by pressurising Israel not to retaliate against Iraqi attacks and promised the Arab coalition partners that he would deal with the Palestinian issue. In September 1991, he complained that, ‘there are 1,000 lobbyists up on the Hill today lobbying Congress for loan guarantees for Israel and I’m one lonely little guy down here asking Congress to delay its consideration of loan guarantees for 120 days.’ Lind points out that the pro-Israeli lobby was also responsible for encouraging, ‘the greatest abuse of the Presidential pardon power in American history’ when Bill Clinton, on his last day in office, controversially pardoned Mark Rich, the fugitive billionaire on the FBI’s ‘Most Wanted’ list. In a New York Times article in February 2001, Clinton explained that he had done it for Israel:
‘Many present and former high-ranking
Israeli officials of both major political parties and leaders of Jewish communities
in America and Europe urged the pardon of Mr Rich because of his contributions
and services to Israeli charitable causes, to the Mossad’s efforts to rescue Jews
from hostile countries, and to the peace process through sponsorship of education
and health programmes in Gaza and the West Bank.’
The pro-Israeli lobby is also accused of involvement in the selection, appointing and firing of US government officials and appointees. In 1980, the former US ambassador to Qatar, Andrew Killgore, writing in The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, gave this critique of the Israeli lobby:
‘It is wrong and perverse for fanatical elements within the two and a half percent of our population who are Jewish to hold Congress hostage… America must regard the Israeli progression from penetration to direction of US foreign policy as the work of a master criminal.’
With the formation of the NUCFI bringing together 200 different Christian and Jewish organisations, it is unlikely that the power of the pro-Israeli lobby will in any way be diminished in the foreseeable future. Christian Zionists have also been influential in forging a closer relationship with Israel by facilitating solidarity tours to the Holy Land.
1.3 Solidarity Tours to Israel
Since 1967, following the capture of most of the important biblical sites associated with pilgrimages from Jordan and Syria, Israel has systematically exploited what Shirley Eber describes as a lucrative ‘touristic gold mine’, and made tourism a tool of propaganda. Israel’s greatest success, however, has been to enlist American evangelical leaders such as Pat Boone and Jerry Falwell as allies in promoting pro-Israeli solidarity tours. For example, Falwell’s 'Friendship Tours’ to Israel include not only meetings with top Israeli government and military officials but also,
.....On-site tour of modern Israeli battlefields... Official visit to an Israeli defence installation... strategic military positions, plus experience first hand the battle Israel faces as a nation.
Christian Zionists are not, however, content to support the State of Israel politically and financially. They are also active in persuading Jews to emigrate to Israel.
2. Restorationism : Facilitating Aliyah from Russia and Eastern Europe
Christian Zionists are convinced that it is God’s will for the Jewish people to return to Israel since it was given in perpetuity to the descendants of Abraham. With the fall of Communism in the Former Soviet Union (FSU) and Eastern Europe, Christians Zionists have become increasingly active in facilitating Jewish émigrés to make aliyah.
2.1 By Land and Sea : From Restoration to Transportation
Since 1980, a coalition of Christian Zionist agencies has taken the initiative in encouraging Jewish people to emigrate to Israel, seeing this as the fulfilment of prophecy. Exobus was probably the first Christian Zionist agency to turn the doctrine of Restorationism into a reality and assist Jews in the former Soviet Union (FSU) to make aliyah. Founded in 1984 by Phil Hunter and based in Hull, England, the first Exobus team was sent to the Ukraine in 1991. They have since then they have assisted over 56,000 Jewish people to emigrate to Israel in close cooperation with the Jewish Agency. Exobus is also probably the largest Christian agency facilitating aliyah, comprising 80 team members, drawn from 13 countries and operating 40 vehicles transporting approximately 1,200 Jews overland from 16 different bases in the FSU each month.
Since 1991, the ICEJ has also paid for the transportation of 40,000 immigrants, 15,000 of whom were taken to Israel on 51 ICEJ sponsored flights. ICEJ Russian team members are especially active in the more remote regions of the FSU. They locate Jews, persuade them to emigrate, help them obtain documents to prove their Jewish origins, distribute humanitarian packages and pay for exit permits, passports, debt repayment, transport and accommodation. Once in Israel, ICEJ as well as BFP assist émigrés with their resettlement costs, providing food, clothing, blankets, kitchen and school supplies as well as medical equipment.
3. Eretz Israel : Sustaining the West Bank Settlements
For religious Zionism, Jewish and Christian, the legitimate borders of Israel are considerably larger than those presently disputed with Syria, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.
Christian involvement in the realisation of Eretz Israel includes the military justification of these enlarged borders; the political adoption of the settlement programme; and economic support for the settler movement.
3.1 Justifying Eretz Israel
David Allen Lewis, President of Christians United for Israel, puts the territorial claims of Israel into the wider context of the Middle East. He observes that, ‘The Arabs already have 99.5 per cent of the land … this cannot be tolerated.’ Echoing the experience of the Israelites under Pharaoh, Jan Willem van der Hoeven offers a theological explanation for Israel’s victory in 1967 and a justification for its refusal to withdraw from ‘biblically Jewish lands.’
‘God wanted to give His people that part of the land which they did not receive in 1948. The result of what became known as the Six Day War was that Judea and Samaria - heartland of biblical Israel - and the ancient city of Jerusalem - King David’s capital - were returned to their original owner ... God has His own sovereign way to fulfil His Word and promise.’
In response to international calls on Israel to give back the West Bank, Bridges for Peace asks the rhetorical question: ‘What is so sacred about the June 4th, 1967 line?’ Nothing, they argue since historically this was all part of biblical Israel and ‘squarely won in defensive battles in 1967 and 1973.’ This conviction that the entire West Bank is integral to Israel has led many Christian Zionists to ‘adopt’ exclusive Jewish settlements to strengthen their claim to the land.
3.2 Adopting the Settlements
Since 1967, using various economic and tax incentives as well as appealing to biblical rhetoric, Israel has encouraged over 400,000 Jews to colonize East Jerusalem, The West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights through 190 illegal settlements. Several Christian Zionist organisations have given their full support to this judaization of the Occupied Territories. Jews for Jesus, for example, compares Israeli settlements in the Palestinian Territories with the settlement of Texas by the United States. The Christian Friends of Israeli Communities (CFOIC), founded by Ted Beckett in 1995, works in partnership with Christian Friends of Israel (CFI) and defines a settlement as:
‘A piece of land where brave, Jewish pioneers have taken up residence. In most cases it is a barren rocky hilltop set up to establish a Jewish community where none had existed for thousands of years. In some case, such as Shiloh, settlements are established on the original site of an ancient Jewish city. In others such as Hevron and Gush Etzion, a Jewish community is established on the site of a community destroyed by Arab armies during or prior to Israel’s War of Independence.’
So far, CFOIC claims 39 illegal Israeli settlements have been adopted by 50 churches in the USA, South Africa, Germany, Holland and the Philippines. For example, Ariel has been adopted by Faith Bible Chapel, Arvada, Colorado; Hevron by Greater Harvest, Tallahassee, Florida; Alei Zahav by Calvary Chapel, Nashville; Revava by the United Methodist Church, Green Forest, Arizona; and Psagot by Tarzana Baptist Chapel, Tarzana, California. To strengthen the settlers’ claim to the land, CFOIC publish maps on their website showing the few areas of the West Bank given back to the Palestinian Authority. CFOIC lament the ‘partition’ of the land as ‘the reality of the “peace process” for those living in the Land G-d promised the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for ever!’ Christian Zionists have not only made a clear stand in justifying Israel’s illegal settlement of the West Bank. Their ‘adoption’ programme is also intended to be a means by which financial assistance as well as practical support for the settlers is delivered.
3.3 Funding the Settlers
Besides facilitating the emigration of Jews to Israel, several Christian Zionist agencies are active in funding illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank. During the 1991 ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles celebration, for example, representatives from 12 countries presented cheques to the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitshak Shamir, to help finance the settlements. Through their ‘Social Assistance Programme’ ICEJ also provides financial support for projects in the Jewish settlements, including bullet proof vests to strengthen the resolve of settlers, living among what they describe as ‘3 million hostile Palestinians.’ ICEJ’s ‘Bulletproof Bus for Efrat’ appeal is also raising $150,000 to purchase an armour plated bus to transport settlers in and out of the West Bank from Efrat settlement. Bridges for Peace (BFP) has a similar scheme called ‘Operation Ezra’ which funds over 50 otherwise unsustainable projects such as the settlement farm, Sde Bar, near Beit Jala and the Herodian. CFOIC call upon Christians to pray for ‘The safety of the Jewish settlers and for terrorist incidents to stop (and) the giving away of land to the PLO will be reversed.’
Integral to this strategy is Jerusalem and the progressive Judaizing, occupation and settlement of Arab East Jerusalem and the Old City. For Zionism there can be no compromise, since controlling Jerusalem has always been a barometer of their existence as a nation.
4. Jerusalem : Lobbying for International Recognition
At the core of Christian Zionist support for Israel’s claim to the Occupied Territories lies the conviction that Jerusalem is, and must remain, the exclusive and undivided Jewish capital. Attempts to reach agreement in the wider Arab-Israeli conflict have so far stalled or stumbled over the final status of Jerusalem. Christian Zionists are strongly opposed to any proposal for joint sovereignty or the creation of a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.
As early as February 1984, the ICEJ sent a representative, Richard Hellman, to testify before the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in Washington to urge the US to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognise the city as the capital of Israel. Jerry Falwell and the AIPAC lobby also spoke in favour of such a move. Senator Bob Dole later introduced legislation in the American Senate which required the US Embassy to be rebuilt in Jerusalem by 31 May 1999, and authorised $100 million for ‘preliminary’ spending. In October 1995 he stated, ‘Israel’s capital is not on the table in the peace process, and moving the United States embassy to Jerusalem does nothing to prejudice the outcome of any future negotiations.’ Lamenting the failure of the US President to ratify the Senate decision, Dole commented:
‘Jerusalem is today as it has been for three millennia the heart and soul of the Jewish people. It is also, and should remain forever, the eternal and undivided capital of the State of Israel ... The time has come ... to move beyond letters, expressions of support, and sense of the Congress resolutions. The time has come to enact legislation that will get the job done.’
In 1997 the ICEJ also gave support to a full page advert placed in the New York Times entitled, ‘Christians Call for a United Jerusalem.’ It was signed by 10 evangelical leaders including Pat Robertson, chairman of Christian Broadcasting Network and President of the Christian Coalition; Oral Roberts, founder and chancellor of Oral Roberts University; Jerry Falwell, founder of Moral Majority; Ed McAteer, President of the Religious Roundtable; and David Allen Lewis, President of Christians United for Israel:
‘We, the undersigned Christian spiritual leaders, communicating weekly to more than 100 million Christian Americans, are proud to join together in supporting the continued sovereignty of the State of Israel over the holy city of Jerusalem … we believe that Jerusalem, or any portion of it, shall not be negotiable in the peace process. Jerusalem must remain undivided as the eternal capital of the Jewish people.’
Readers were invited to ‘Join us in our holy mission to ensure that Jerusalem will remain the undivided, eternal capital of Israel.’ They claimed, ‘The battle for Jerusalem has begun, and it is time for believers in Christ to support our Jewish brethren and the State of Israel. The time for unity with the Jewish people is now.’
In 2002, Falwell controversially linked the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre with Israel’s exclusive claim to Jerusalem, calling upon his supporters to petition the US President to ‘Keep Jerusalem Free.’ Christian Zionists have therefore been resolute in their efforts to get the international community to recognise Jerusalem as the de facto capital of Israel. However, even more critical to a Christian Zionist reading of prophecy is the necessity for the Jewish Temple to be rebuilt.
5. The Temple : Identifying with Religious Zionism
Dispensational Christian Zionists, are convinced the Jewish Temple must be rebuilt because, based on their futurist eschatology from Daniel, the anti-Christ must desecrate it just prior to the return of Christ. Brickner claims that the preparations for rebuilding the Temple began in 1967 with the capture of the Old City of Jerusalem. Lindsey is equally sure that, ‘right now, as you read this, preparations are being made to rebuild the Third Temple.’ Contemporary Christian Zionists are working to achieve this.
5.1 Promoting the Temple Mount Movement
Randall Price is the leading dispensational expert on the imminent plans to rebuild the Jewish Temple. In his 735 page The Coming Last Days Temple, he provides comprehensive details of all the Jewish organisations involved in attempts to seize the Temple Mount, destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, rebuild the Jewish Temple and re-institute Temple worship, priesthood and sacrifices. These include the Temple Institute and Temple Mount Faithful. Gershon Salomon is the controversial figurehead of the movement and founder of The Temple Faithful. Zhava Glaser, of Jews for Jesus, praises Salomon for his courage to talk about ‘the most important subject in the Jewish religion.’
Speaking as a guest of the ICEJ, at the Christian Zionist Congress in 1998, Salomon insisted:
‘The mission of the present generation is to liberate the Temple Mount and to remove - I repeat, to remove - the defiling abomination there ... the Jewish people will not be stopped at the gates leading to the Temple Mount ... We will fly our Israeli flag over the Temple Mount, which will be minus its Dome of the Rock and its mosques and will have only our Israeli flag and our Temple. This is what our generation must accomplish.’
In a London Times, interview Salomon insisted that the Islamic shrine must be destroyed:
‘The Israeli Government must do it. We must have a war. There will be many nations against us but God will be our general. I am sure this is a test, that God is expecting us to move the Dome with no fear from other nations. The Messiah will not come by himself; we should bring Him by fighting.’
Between 1967 and 1990 there have been over 100 armed assaults on the Haram Al-Sharif by Jewish militants, often led by rabbis. Grace Halsell regrets that ‘in no instance has any Israeli Prime Minister or the chief Sephardic rabbi or the chief Ashkenazi rabbi criticized these assaults.’
5.2 Facilitating the Temple Building Programme
In order to sustain a fully functioning Temple it is also necessary to identify, train and consecrate priests to serve in the Temple. According to the Book of Numbers, the ashes of a pure unblemished red heifer, itself previously offered by a ritually pure priest, must be mixed with water and sprinkled on both them and the Temple furniture. With the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD the ashes used in the ceremony were lost and the Jews of the Diaspora have therefore been ritually unclean ever since.
In 1998, however, Clyde Lott, a Pentecostal Mississippi rancher, formed Canaan Land Restoration of Israel, Inc. for the purpose of raising livestock suitable for Temple sacrifice. According to Newsweek, in 1997, the first red heifer for 2000 years was born at the Kfar Hassidim kibbutz near Haifa and named ‘Melody’. Unfortunately she eventually grew white hairs on her tail and udder. Undaunted, Chaim Richman, an Orthodox rabbi and Clyde Lott, the Pentecostal cattleman, have teamed up to breed red heifers in the Jordan Valley, in the hope of saving Israel’s cattle industry as well as producing a perfect specimen for sacrifice.
The design and construction work, furnishings and utensils, the training of priests and breeding of sacrifices all require funds and in large measure, like the red heifer, these are being provided by Christian Zionists. According to Grace Halsell, Stanley Goldfoot, a former member of the Jewish Stern Gang, raises up to $100 million a year for the Jerusalem Temple Foundation through American Christian TV and radio stations and evangelical churches.
As Lawrence Wright has also observed, ‘Jewish longing for the Temple, Christian hopes for the Rapture, and Muslim paranoia about the destruction of the mosques [are being] stirred to an apocalyptic boil.’
6. The Future : Opposing Peace and Hastening Armageddon
6.1 The US-Israeli Alliance
While Christian Zionists in general are committed to standing with Israel, there is a particularly close relationship between Israel and America. Jerry Falwell offers a simple explanation. God has been kind to America because ‘America had been kind to the Jew.’ Gary Bauer, president of American Values and a republican presidential contender in 2000, put it like this. “Terrorists don’t understand why Israel and the United Styates are joined at the heart.” Mike Evans, founder and President of Lovers of Israel Inc. describes the special relationship between Israel and America:
‘Only one nation, Israel, stands between ... terrorist aggression and the complete decline of the United States as a democratic world power ... Surely demonic pressure will endeavour to encourage her to betray Israel … Israel is the key to America’s survival … As we stand with Israel, I believe we shall see God perform a mighty work in our day. God is going to bless America and Israel as well … If Israel falls, the United States can no longer remain a democracy.’
For Christian Zionists such as Falwell and Evans, America is seen as the great redeemer, her super-power role in the world predicted in scripture and providentially ordained. The two nations of America and Israel are like Siamese twins perceived to be pitted against an evil world dominated by Communism and Islam both antithetical to the Judeo-Christian democratic values of America and Israel.
6.2 Antipathy Toward Arabs
Ramon Bennett illustrates how such prejudices remain common today describing the modern Arab nations as ‘barbarous’. ‘The customs of hospitality and generosity have changed little in 4,000 years,’ he claims, ‘nor have the customs of raiding (thieving, rustling), saving face or savagery.’ Bennett argues that the Arab ‘is neither a vicious nor, usually, a calculating liar but a natural one.’
Comparisons between Hitler and the Arabs are now frequent in the writings of contemporary Christian Zionists. Van der Hoeven of the ICEJ is typical. ‘Just as there was a definite ideology behind the hatred and atrocities of Hitler and the Nazis, there is one behind the hatred and wars by the Arabs against the Jews and people of Israel.’
Franklin Graham, President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, made similar but unguarded remarks in a US newspaper interview in 2000:
‘The Arabs will not be happy until every Jew is dead. They hate the State of Israel. They all hate the Jews. God gave the land to the Jews. The Arabs will never accept that.’
Hatred of Arabs is personified in attitudes toward Yasser Arafat.
In February 1999, for example, Arafat was invited to attend the 47th annual Congress-sponsored National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. The breakfast is normally attended each year by more than 3,000 political and religious leaders and his invitation generated considerable controversy. The Traditional Values Coalition, founded by Pat Robertson and representing 40,000 churches, urged congressmen to boycott the breakfast. The ICEJ said that attending the breakfast with Arafat would be ‘like praying with Satan himself.’ Despite considerable pressure from pro-Israeli groups the invitation was not withdrawn. It was left to the White House press secretary, Joe Lockhart, to defend the invitation. He lamented, ‘it’s done every year in the spirit of reconciliation. And it’s unfortunate that there are some who don’t fully understand the spirit of reconciliation and inclusion.’
6.3 Justifying the
Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
Frequently, defending Israeli security leads Christian Zionists to deny Palestinians the same basic human rights as Israelis. Some are even reluctant to acknowledge the existence of Palestinians as a distinct people. Dave Hunt is typical of those who equate Palestinians with the ancient Philistines, and use the term Palestinian in an entirely pejorative sense.
Central to the Middle East conflict today is the issue of the so-called Palestinian people... Palestinians? There never was a Palestinian people, nation, language, culture, or religion. The claim of descent from a Palestinian people who lived for thousands of years in a land called Palestine is a hoax!.
Based on Hunt’s logic presumably the same arguments could be used against the right to self-determination of citizens of the United States or indeed of several dozen nations founded in the 20th Century. The history of the persecution of the Jews illustrates how easily the denigration of an ‘inferior’ people or a denial of their existence as a distinct people can lead to the rationalizing of their eradication.
In May 2002, Dick Armey, the Republican Senate House Majority leader, made ground breaking news by justifying the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the Occupied Territories. In an interview with Chris Matthews on CNBC on May 1st 2002, Armey stated that:
‘Most of the people who now populate Israel were transported from all over the world to that land and they made it their home. The Palestinians can do the same and we are perfectly content to work with the Palestinians in doing that. We are not willing to sacrifice Israel for the notion of a Palestinian homeland … I’m content to have Israel grab the entire West Bank … There are many Arab nations that have many hundreds of thousands of acres of land, soil, and property and opportunity to create a Palestinian State.’
Matthews gave Armey several opportunities to clarify that he was not advocating the ethnic cleansing of all Palestinians from the West Bank, but Armey was unrepentant. When asked, ‘Have you ever told George Bush, the President from your home State of Texas, that you think the Palestinians should get up and go and leave Palestine and that’s the solution?’, Armey replied,
‘I’m probably telling him that right now … I am content to have Israel occupy that land that it now occupies and to have those people who have been aggressors against Israel retired to some other arena.’
Armey’s view that Palestinians should be ‘retired’ is only the latest in a series of calls in the mainstream US and UK media for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the Occupied Territories.
While such racist attitudes among Christian Zionists toward Arabs are common, as are the stereotypes that Palestinians are terrorists, it is more especially Muslims who are demonised.
6.4 Demonising Islam
Anti-Arab and Islamaphobic sentiments have become even more widely tolerated since 11th September 2001. Such views have recently been described as a form of new ‘McCarthyism’. In February 2002, for example, Pat Robertson caused considerable controversy when he too described Islam as a violent religion bent on world domination. He also claimed American Muslims were forming terrorist cells in order to destroy the country. Robertson made the allegations on his Christian Broadcasting Network ‘700 Club.’ After clips showing Muslims in America, the announcer, Lee Webb asked Robertson, ‘As for the Muslim immigrants Pat, it makes you wonder, if they have such contempt for our foreign policy why they’d even want to live here?’ Robertson replied:
‘Well, as missionaries possibly to spread the doctrine of Islam ... I have taken issue with our esteemed President in regard to his stand in saying Islam is a peaceful religion. It’s just not. And the Koran makes it very clear, if you see an infidel, you are to kill him … the fact is our immigration policies are now so skewed to the Middle East and away from Europe that we have introduced these people into our midst and undoubtedly there are terrorist cells all over them.’
At the 2002 Southern Baptist Convention held in Florida, the former national convention leader, the Rev. Jerry Vines, pastor of the 25,000 member First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, brought applause from several thousand participants of the pastors’ conference when he described Muhammad as ‘a demon-possessed paedophile’
Such antipathy toward Arabs, denigration of Palestinians and hatred of Islam invariably leads Christian Zionists to also oppose any peaceful resolution of the Arab Israeli conflict which might require or coerce Israel to relinquish territory or compromise its security.
6.5 Opposing the Peace Process
While Christian Zionists endorse Israel’s unilateral claim to the Occupied Territories, they oppose similar Palestinian aspirations to self determination since they believe the two are intrinsically incompatible.
Christian Zionists have been most vociferous in opposing the Road Map to Peace initiative of the US government, UN, European Community and Russia. Hal Lindsey, for example lamented “I am heartbroken over the latest stage of the “road map to peace”, describing it instead as a “Odyssey to Holocaust” He went on to rebuke the US president.
“I was sickened to watch a well-meaning Christian American president talk incessantly about his vision for a Palestinian state and Jewish state living side by side in peace.” At the Interfaith Zionist Leadership Summit, held in Washington May 2003, Jewish and Christian Zionist leaders met to consider how to turn the “road map” into a road-block. Gary Bauer, called the president’s initiative “a Satanic roadmap”. Peace talks are not only a waste of time, they demonstrate a rebellious defiance toward God’s plans. Such infallible certitudes lead some Christian Zionists to anathematise those who do not share their presuppositions.
6.6 Forcing God’s Hand
Christian Zionists often attempt to silence critics with the threat of divine retribution. For example, Brickner warns evangelicals who do not share a Zionist perspective that they are fighting against God.
‘Peril awaits those who presume to say that God is finished with His chosen people ... Just as God judged the nation of Egypt for her ill treatment of His people, so will He judge nations today. Evangelicals who would understand the Middle East must pay close attention to the teaching of Scripture, and take note of the cosmic forces that now do battle in the heavens but will soon do battle on earth. They must choose carefully which side to uphold.’
Hal Lindsey affirmed the same view when he said this week,
“My great fear is that President Bush is ignorantly leading the United States into God’s judgment. For God warns that He will judge all nations that have contributed to keeping Israel from living in the land He sovereignly gave them.”
Christians are left in no doubt which side to ‘uphold.’ On the 1st January 2002 edition of the CBN 700 Club, Pat Robertson warned that if the US
‘wants to interfere with Bible prophecy and wants to move in and wrest East Jerusalem away from the Jews and give it to Yasser Arafat … heaven help this nation of ours … If the United States takes East Jerusalem back and makes it the capital of the Palestinian State, then we are asking for the wrath of God.’
Robertson even suggests that Rabin’s assassination was an act of God, a judgement for his betrayal of his own people: ‘This is God’s land and God has strong words about someone who parts and divides His land. The rabbis put a curse on Yitzhak Rabin when he began cutting up the land.’
Such pronouncements coming from highly influential Christian leaders appear little different from those of Muslim fundamentalists who call for a ‘holy war’ against the West. Dave MacPherson has noted that the danger of such Armageddon theology is not so much that it is fatalistic, but that it is so contagious. Karen Armstrong is not alone in tracing within Western Christian Zionism evidence of the legacy of the Crusades. Such fundamentalists have, she claims, ‘returned to a classical and extreme religious crusading.’
7. Conclusions: The Political Implications of Christian Zionism
We have seen how Christian Zionism as a movement has profound and lasting political consequences. Christian Zionists have shown varying degrees of enthusiasm for implementing six basic theological convictions that arise from their literal and futurist reading of the Bible:
1. The belief that the Jews remain God’s chosen people leads Christian Zionists to a justification for Israel’s military occupation of Palestine.
2. As God’s chosen people, the final restoration of the Jews to Israel is therefore actively encouraged and facilitated through partnerships between Christian organisations and the Jewish Agency.
3. Eretz Israel, as delineated in scripture, belongs exclusively to the Jewish people, therefore the land must be annexed and the settlements adopted and strengthened.
4. Jerusalem is regarded as the eternal and exclusive capital of the Jews, and cannot be shared with the Palestinians. Therefore, strategically, Western governments are placed under pressure by Christian Zionists to relocate their embassies to Jerusalem and thereby recognise the fact.
5. The Third Temple has yet to be built, the priesthood consecrated and sacrifices reinstituted. As dispensational Christian Zionists, in particular, believe this is prophesied, they offer varying degrees of support to the Jewish Temple Mount organisations committed to achieving it.
6. Since Christian Zionists are convinced there will be an apocalyptic war between good and evil in the near future, there is no prospect for lasting peace between Jews and Arabs. Indeed, to advocate Israel compromise with Islam or coexist with Palestinians is to identify with those destined to oppose God and Israel in the imminent battle of Armageddon.
Clearly, not all Christian Zionists embrace each of these six tenets, or with the same degree of conviction or involvement. Nevertheless, as has been argued, the overall consequences of such uncritical support for the State of Israel, especially among American Evangelicals, is inherently and pathologically destructive, not least to the very Jewish people they claim to love.
© Stephen Sizer
27 May 2003
1 The Final Battle (Palos Verdes, California, Western Front, 1995), back page & p. 3.
 Cited in Prior, op.cit., p143.
 Hal Lindsey, ‘The UN & Israel’ International Intelligence Briefing, 29th October (1998): http://www.iib-report.com/pages/transcripts/10.29.98/oct29.htm. Emphasis in the original.
 In July 2001 the Rabbinical Council of Judea, Samaria and Gaza called on all rabbis to bring their communities to visit the Temple Mount. This was the first time that a group of rabbis representing a significant proportion of the religious Jewish community had ruled that it was permissible for Jews to ascend the Temple Mount. Previously this had been forbidden to orthodox Jews. The rabbis also called upon the Yesha Council of Jewish settlements to organise mass visits to the Temple Mount from the settlements which comprise the more right wing religious Jews. See N. Shragai, ‘Rabbis call for mass visits to Temple Mount,’ Ha’aretz, 19 July (2001).
 ‘Open Letter to Evangelical Christians from Jews for Jesus: Now is the Time to Stand with Israel.’ The New York Times, 23 October (2000).
 Michael Lind, ‘The Israel Lobby’, Prospect, April (2002).
 Donald Wagner, ‘Beyond Armageddon,’ The Link, New York: Americans for Middle East Understanding; October-November, (1992), p5.
 Wagner, Anxious., op.cit., p107.
 Ibid., p108.
 Lind, op.cit.
 Shirley Eber, ‘Getting Stoned on Holiday: Tourism on the Front Line’. In Focus: Tourism Concern. 2, Autumn (1991), pp4-5.
 Glen Owen ‘Tourists warned to avoid flashpoints.’ The Times, 14 August (1997), p2.
1 Don Wagner, 'Beyond Armageddon'. The Link (Americans for Middle East Understanding) Vol. 25 No. 4 October/November (1992) p. 3.
 ‘Aliyah’ means ‘going up’ and is used to describe going up to Jerusalem on pilgrimage. The Israel government plays down the involvement of Christians in bring Jews from the FSU. Brearley claims only 2% of the Jewish Agency budget for ‘airlifting’ Soviet immigrants has been contributed by Christian Zionists. This only includes donations made directly to the Jewish Agency. Margaret Brearley, ‘Jerusalem for Christian Zionists’ in Jerusalem, Past and Present in the Purposes of God, edited by P.W.L. Walker (Croydon, Deo Gloria Trust, 1992), p112; http://www.christiansforisrael.org
 Patricia Golan, ‘On Wings of Faith’ Jerusalem Post, 20 December 2001.
 Wagner, op.cit., p108; Golan, op.cit.
 David Allen Lewis, ‘Christian Zionist Theses’, Christians and Israel, (Jerusalem, International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem, 1996), p9.
 Lindsey, Final, op.cit., p122.
 Jan Willem van der Hoeven, Babylon or Jerusalem? (Shippensburg, Pasadena, Destiny Image Publishers, 1993), p151.
 Bridges for Peace ‘The Golan Heights Déjà vu’, Despatch from Jerusalem, September (1999), pp10-11.
 ‘Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Territories’ Foundation for Middle East Peace, March (2002). FMEP list 190 settlements with a total population of 213,672 in the West Bank and Gaza; 170,400 in East Jerusalem; and 17,000 in the Golan Heights, making a total of 401,072 settlers based on 2001 figures.
 Wagner, Anxious, op.cit., p108.
 International Christian Embassy, http://www.icej.org.il/about.html; ‘Life in the Settlements’, Word from Jerusalem, May (2002), p7.
 International Christian Embassy, ‘Bulletproof Bus for Efrat’ appeal, Word from Jerusalem, May (2002).
 Bridges for Peace, ‘New Life on the Farm’ Despatch from Jerusalem, January (2000), p5.
 Donald Wagner, Anxious, op.cit., p108.
 ‘Bill to re-locate the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem’, http://www.usdoj.gov/olc/s770.16.htm
 Middle East Realities 'Lie of the Week' MiddleEast@aol.com, 01/11/95
 Donald Neff, ‘Congress has been irresponsible on the issue of Jerusalem’, Washington Report, January (1998), pp90-91.
 ‘Christians Call for a United Jerusalem’ New York Times, 18 April (1997), http://www.cdn-friends-icej.ca/united.html
 Jerry Falwell Ministries, ‘Keep Jerusalem Free Petition,’ http://falwell.com/
 Brickner, Future, op.cit., p137.
 Lindsey, Planet, op.cit., p156; Final, op.cit., p103.
 Rich Robinson, ‘Israeli Groups Involved in Third Temple Activities’ Jews for Jesus Newsletter 10, (1993), http://www.jewsforjesus.org
 Nadav Shragai, ‘Dreaming of a Third Temple’, Ha’aretz, 17 September (1998), p3, cited in Price, Coming, op.cit., p417.
 Sam Kiley, ‘The righteous will survive and the rest will perish’ The Times, 13 December (1999), p39.
 Grace Halsell, ‘The Hidden Hand of the Temple Mount Faithful’ The Washington Report, January (1991), p8.
 Randall Price incorrectly attributes this story to Time when it actually appeared in Newsweek. He also misspells one of the contributor’s names. Price, Coming, op.cit., p375. ‘Red Heifers’ New York Times, 27 December (1998), cited in Halsell, Forcing, p65.
‘Shortly after this Rev. Lott (who is also a cattleman by trade) came to possess a red heifer that met all the biblical qualifications of Numbers chapter 19. Since that historic time in, November 11, 1994 God has miraculously unveiled His divine plan for the restoration of Israel, to the Church. The Holy Ghost has worked during this time to reveal to Apostolic ministers and laymen the need to unify their efforts in order to see this project move forward, both in the Spirit and in the natural. August 11, 1998 Israel is expecting to receive from Canaan Land Restoration, 500 head of registered Red Angus Heifers.’ Joe Atkins, ‘Biblical mystery of the red heifer affects farmer in Mississippi’ The Daily Mississippian, 23 July (1998); Ethan Bronner, ‘Portent in a Pasture? Appearance of Rare Heifer in Israel Spurs Hopes, Fears’, The Boston Globe, Sunday, April 6, (1997), pp1, 22.
 Kendall Hamilton, Joseph Contreras & Mark Dennis, ‘The Strange Case of Israel’s Red Heifer,’ Newsweek, May 19, (1997).
 Jeremy Shere, ‘A Very Holy Cow’ Jerusalem Post, May 25, (1997).
 Halsell, Prophecy, op.cit., p106.
 Lawrence Wright, ‘Forcing the End’, Frontline, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/apocalypse/readings/forcing.html
 Cited in Halsell, Forcing, op.cit., p100.
 Julia Duin, “Zionists meeting brands ‘road map a heresy’ The Washington Times, www.washingtontimes.com/national/20030518-114058-5626r.htm
 Mike Evans, Israel, America’s Key to Survival, (Plainfield, New Jersey, Haven Books, 1980), back page, xv.
 Noah Hutchings, U.S. in Prophecy, (Oklahoma City, Hearthstone Publishing, 2000); Arno Froese, Terror in America, Understanding the Tragedy, (West Columbia, Olive Press, 2001); Mark Hitchcock, Is America in Prophecy? (Portland, Oregon, Multnomah, 2002); Hal Lindsey, Where is America in Prophecy? video (Murrieta, California, Hal Lindsey Ministries, 2001).
 Michael Lienesch, Redeeming America: Piety and Politics in the New Christian Right, (Chapel Hill, North Carolina, University of North Carolina, 1993), p197.
 Simon, op.cit., pp71-72.
 Bennett, op.cit., p23.
 Ibid., p21.
 Ibid., p23; John Laffin, The Arab Mind, (London, Cassell, 1975), p70.
 Jan Willem van der Hoeven, Babylon or Jerusalem?, (Shippensburg, Pasadena, Destiny Image Publishers, 1993), pp132-133; Bennett, Philistine, op.cit., p134.
 van der Hoeven, Ibid., pp132-133.
 Charlotte Observer, 16th October (2000).
 Christian Daily News, 4 February, (1999) http://www.christiannews.org/archives/1999/20499/news/full.html
 Dave Hunt, ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem.’ TBC, September 2000.
 Dick Armey, ‘Hardball with Chris Matthews’, CNBC, 1st May (2002), cited in ‘Republican Party Leader calls for Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians on Prime Time Talk Show’ The Electronic Intifada, http://electronicintifada.net/actionitems/020502dickarmey.html
See also ‘Rep. Dick Armey calls for Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians’ Counterpunch edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, http://www.counterpunch.org/armey0502.html. Dick Armey and his family are members of Lewisville Bible Church, Lewisville, Texas.
 Charles Krauthammer, ‘Mideast Violence: The Only Way Out’, Washington Post, 15 May (2001); Emmanuel A. Winston writing in USA Today called for the ‘resettling the Palestinians in Jordan’ USA Today, 22 February (2002); John Derbyshire, ‘Why don’t I care about the Palestinians?’, National Review, 9 May (2002); Clarence Wagner, ‘Apples for Apples, Osama Bin Laden and Yasser Arafat’, Dispatch from Jerusalem, May (2002), p1, 6, 17.
 A term coined by William Safire, a former Nixon speechwriter and conservative Republican who thought George Bush Snr. was insufficiently pro-Israel. Cited in Lind, op.cit.
 Alan Cooperman, ‘Robertson Calls Islam a Religion of Violence, Mayhem.’ Washington Post. 22 February (2002), pAO2.
 The Southern Baptist Convention is a coalition of 42,000 churches with 16 million members. Since the 1980s it has become increasingly fundamentalist. See http://www.sbcannualmeeting.org/sbc02/
 Richard Vara, ‘Texas secession rumor, attacks on Islam mark Baptist meeting’, Houston Chronicle, 10 June (2002); Alan Cooperman, ‘Anti-Muslim Remarks Stir Tempest’, Washington Post 19 June (2002). According to Cooperman, the newly elected president of the Southern Baptists, the Rev. Jack Graham defended Vine’s speech as ‘accurate’.
 Hal Lindsey, ‘If the blind lead the blind.’ WorldNetDaily.com 5 June 2003.
 Duin, op.cit.
 Brickner, Don’t, op.cit.
 Lindsey “Blind” op.cit.
 Howard Mortman, ‘Don’t ignore Pat Robertson’, The Frontline, 7 January (2002). http://www.hotlinescoop.com/web/content/columns/extrememortman/020107.htm
 Pat Robertson, ‘Pat answers your questions on Israel,’ 700 Club, Christian Broadcasting Network, http://cbn.org/700club
 Dave MacPherson, cited in Halsell, Forcing, op.cit., p10.
 Karen Armstrong, Holy War, The Crusades and Their Impact on Today’s World, (London, Macmillan, 1988), p377.