Colin Shindler Likud and the Christian Dispensationalists: A Symbiotic Relationship
THE AMERICANIZATION OF ISRAELI POLITICS IN THE 1990S
ISRAEL HAS, OF COURSE, CHANGED dramatically since 1967. The publication of the 1999 report of the Human Development Index by the United Nations indicated that Israel occupied 32nd position of 174 countries surveyed, ahead of Hong Kong, Cyprus, Greece, Portugal, South Korea, and all the countries in Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Arab world.1 This advance has been due, in part, to Israeli admiration for another immigrant society. Thus, Ehud Barak’s suggestion to build a bridge from Beit Hanoun near Gaza to Dura near Hebron which would link Palestinian areas on the West Bank2 was spawned from his appreciation of a similar construction in Miami. Some American immigrants to Israel, rather than building a new state and being built by it, conversely feel that they have been hotly pursued in their retreat from the worst influences of American mass culture. For them, the murder of Yitzhak Rabin marked the absolute zero of this process—the transformation of the Alt-neuland into a neu-altland.
Have we lost our moral center? Is this the unspeakable reductio ad tragediam of Zionist dreaming, the descent to the basest level of all nations, the ultimate violent Americanization of Israel?3
In the political arena, the administration of Binyamin Netanyahu (1996–1999) symbolically marked the apogee of the tendency to take the politics out of politics. Yet it was the advent of Clintonesque governance in the 1990s that seemingly terminated the primacy of ideological politics and staple items such as the party election manifesto and substituted instead the adornment of the soothing sound bite and the utterances of the spin-doctor. As a means of returning to power after long periods of demonization by right-wing governments, social democratic and socialist movements in many different countries transformed themselves into catch-all centrist liberals. Furthermore, there was cross-fertilization between these movements to graft on strategies that would “work” at home. No one could disagree with “Newness” (New Labor) or “Unity” (One Israel). Indeed, the willingness of so many diverse political parties to participate in Ehud Barak’s government in the summer of 1999 was viewed as “the end of the great ideologies.”4
This was the final triumph of American style neo-pragmatism over the purveyors of ideology—running the system intelligently instead of changing it. This coincided with a period of political transition and personal uncertainty—“when even our anxieties have been privatized”5 —thus such packaging was both attractive and psychologically comforting. Haim Ramon’s utilization of public relations consultants, billboards, and the use of the double-edged haim hadashim [new Haim/new life] slogan therefore appealed to a post-ideological electorate in Israel such that he easily won the Histadrut leadership in 1995. If Israelis embraced the new politics from America where public relations was supreme, it was undoubtedly Binyamin Netanyahu who astutely read the runes in the early 1980s and effectively changed the rules of the game in Israel.
As the first designer politician in Israel, he was acclaimed as “the Abba Eban of the CNN era.”6 Although Netanyahu was favoured by Moshe Arens and was a scion of the “Fighting family” of the Irgun Zvai Leumi, he came of political age when a neo-conservative administration influenced by the Christian Right was in power in the United States. This combined a clear ideological stand with a mastery of the means of transmitting that position in simple terms in an age of electronic communications.
Unlike Begin, Shamir, and the Betar generation, Netanyahu understood that he would not win friends by dwelling on Israel’s right to settle Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. Thus, in 1983, he made a rare reference to Jordan as “eastern Palestine.”7 But such Jabotinskyian sentiments had disappeared by 1994 when he attended the ceremony in the Arava to sign the Israel-Jordan peace accord. While he did not seemingly abandon traditional Revisionist Zionist ideology—and in particular when in the company of the Right and far Right—the issue was subsumed by concentrating on the politically unifying threat of terrorism. In taking this course of action, Netanyahu was able to avoid an open rift with the liberal American Jewish Community, who were overtly dovish in their views.8
Netanyahu’s approach also allowed a means by which the American Jewish leadership could carry on its traditional role as partners with Israel’s representatives in the United States regardless of individual personal views. The disparity between private and public Jewish opinion was accepted as part of an uncomfortable scenario caused by the political schism in Israel and a long-held belief that peace was more a rhetorical device in debate than a concrete reality to achieve. However, by 1988, when the United States entered into a dialogue with the PLO, the position of the American Jewish leadership became increasingly untenable. Moreover, a growing number of American Jews dissented from this overarching view.
As Jewish leadership became increasingly lukewarm, Netanyahu’s war in the American media gained enthusiastic admirers amongst the newly emergent Christian Right, which counted tens of millions as their adherents. As biblical interpreters of Zionism, their sympathies lay with the Israeli far Right and with successive Likud governments, whose maximalist territorial policies complimented their theological aspirations. But as Jewish leadership started accurately to reXect the views of American Jewry, and the idea of Israeli-Palestinian rapprochement became acceptable, they began to distance themselves from Likud policies. By 1990, they had become less compliant and hesitated to expound the policies of the Israel government. Likud representatives discovered, however, that the strong support of the Christian Right had not waned and indeed remained as solid as before. These Christians were dependable, whereas the Jews were not. Moreover, even in the early 1980s, they were ten times more numerous than the Jews.
The Christian Right also operated in Israel through organizations such as the International Christian Embassy. In encouraging them to operate in Israel and giving them semi-official status—at least in the eyes of the Christian world—the far Right and the Likud gained political support for their policies, financial investment, and an important public relations machine. Christian tourism to the Holy Land increased even though its participants were provided with explanations through the prism of Likud policies. As early as 1980, the Director of the Pilgrim Promoting Division of the Israeli Ministry of Trade and Tourism estimated that 100,000 out of 250,000 American visitors to Israel were Christian tourists.9 Thus, Christian tours were daily organized to visit biblical sites in Judea and Samaria. Funds raised in the United States by Christians was alleged to be funnelled to West Bank settlements.10 Indeed, the Mayor of Ariel on the West Bank estimated that two-thirds of all Jewish settlements received aid from Christian Zionists. The Colorado-based Christian Friends of Israeli Communities twinned forty churches with settlements.11 In contrast, the United Jewish Appeal refused to allocate funds for projects across the Green Line. As early as March 1981, a California-based evangelical group, “High Adventure,” was prepared to finance a television station in Southern Lebanon in support of the Israeli-backed Lebanese militias.12 “In 1992, attempts were made at the eleventh International Christian Prayer Breakfast in Jerusalem to initiate financial investments in Israel through a matchmaking conference for potential investors and a mutual fund.”13 Evangelicals were further encouraged to invest in Israel through the purchase of shares in the International Christian Investment Corporation. In government, Likud ignored Diaspora Jewish protests about the Christian Right—specifically accusations of anti-Semitism and attempts to convert Jews. Whereas some Diaspora Jews refused to cooperate with those Christians who overtly propagated a conversionist policy, Likud representatives in Israel and in the United States continued to work with them. Haredi attempts to limit missionary and conversionist practices in Israel were diluted and ultimately dismissed by the Netanyahu government following appeals from Christian organizations. A symbiotic relationship thus came into existence after 1977 that served both the ideologies of the Israeli Right and the Christian Right. However, the growing Christian Zionist movement was perceived by secular Israeli citizens and officials as simply a continuation of friendly Christian support for the Jewish State, as had been the case between 1948 and 1967. The interventionist political and theological agenda of the new Christian Zionist movement was to a large extent not understood or ignored. Although there had been expression within the early Church, the advent of pre-millennial dispensationalism in the nineteenth century played an important role in the evolution of Christian enthusiasm for the re-establishment of a Jewish State in contemporary times. Dispensationalists broke with the normative Christian understanding of the theological status of the Jews. They did not regard the Christian Church as the “new Israel.” It had not “inherited” the spiritual legacy of the Jews and had neither superseded it nor displaced it. As literalists, a dispensationalist understanding of the Hebrew Bible—especially the teachings of the prophets—referred specifically to the Jews and not to their Christian inheritors. God therefore worked, according to the dispensationalists in parallel through both the old Israel—the Jews—and the Church. Although there were several factions within pre-millennial dispensationalism, based on different interpretations of the development of history, it was commonly understood as a series of distinct epochs or dispensations, where God’s will would be scientifically revealed. It was argued that one of the factors that catalyzed the development of an erroneous replacement theology occurred when the Jews were exiled from the Land and seemed unlikely to return.
The impossibility of the situation led to a false re-interpretation of God’s word. Christendom has since paid the price, for God confounded her unbelief in 1948 with the restoration of the state of Israel and exposed the tragic and wicked fruits of replacement theology.15
The return of the Jews to their land therefore became a prerequisite for the unravelling of future dispensations; the rapture when the Church—true Christian believers—will ascend to heaven; the Jews who remain on earth will all but be destroyed by the anti-Christ in the time of the seven years of tribulation—“a potential dictator waiting in the wings somewhere in Europe who will make Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin look like choirboys.”16 Influenced by the apocalyptic prophetic imagery of Daniel and Ezekiel, dispensationalists expect a climactic apogee of destruction and annihilation at Armageddon—Megiddo—where a remnant of the Jews will be saved by the intervention of Jesus, who will reappear as the true messiah to rule the Land of Israel. The Jews will then finally recognize Jesus as the Messiah and convert. The Jewish character of Jesus’s millennial reign will be paramount and the Church’s role will be almost secondary.
The appearance of Christian Zionism in America was essentially the initiative of William E. Blackstone, a Chicago dispensationalist who organised a petition “Palestine for the Jews”—the Blackstone Memorial—which was presented to President Harrison in March 1891. Jews were actors in this supreme drama. Blackstone taught dispensationalists that they could understand the unfolding of events and their own place in them by considering the Jews to be “God’s sundial.” Although the petition emerged out of Blackstone’s own beliefs, it also appealed to many Christians removed from dispensationalism. Its appearance was influenced by the establishment and development of Zionist settlements in Palestine and the activities of BILU and Hovevei Zion in the 1880s. 17 The recent settlement in the Balkans served as a precedent whereby Christian nations were removed from Ottoman control.
Why shall the powers which under the treaty of Berlin, in 1878, gave Bulgaria to the Bulgarians and Serbia to the Serbians not give Palestine back to the Jews? These provinces, as well as Romania, Montenegro and Greece were wrested from the Turks and given to their rightful owners. Does not Palestine as rightfully belong to the Jews?18
Copies of the Blackstone Memorial were sent to several imperial rulers of “the Christian nations of Europe.” The Wrst on the list was Tsar Alexander III of Russia. Indeed, it was a visit to the Holy Land and the continuing discrimination against Russian Jews that propelled Blackstone into organising a conference on the “Past, Present and Future of Israel” in November 1890 in Chicago. Palestine was designated as the homeland for the Jews of Russia. It was from these deliberations that the Blackstone Memorial emerged. In a personal letter to President Harrison, Blackstone concluded by quoting from Genesis 12:3 that “I will bless them that bless you”—a tenet of dispensationalist faith in the status of the Jews. The Russians were viewed as the self-evident candidate for “the enemy from the North”—from where, according to Jeremiah 16:14,15, God would “bring up the children of Israel.”
The satanization of the Russians was further accentuated with the outbreak of revolution and the triumph of Bolshevism. “The godless trio of communism, nihilism and anarchy, so alarmingly permeating the nations today, are unclean spirits preparing the way for the Antichrist.”19 Moreover, the anti-Christ, in Blackstone’s estimation, was likely to be Jewish as well. Jewish participation in universalist rather than in particularist movements was viewed as diversionary and counter-productive. Thus, Jewish revolutionaries such as Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Martov and many others could thereby be understood as satanic Figures. Moreover, as revolutionary socialists, they opposed Zionism and other forms of Jewish nationalism.
These Jews could not be cast in the role of participants in the Jewish means to the dispensationalist end. However, they enhanced the dispensationalist belief that the enemy from the north was undoubtedly Soviet Russia. Similarly Reform Judaism which preferred the status of Jewish American to that of American Jew and was unsympathetic to Zionism was similarly a target for Blackstone’s criticism. Their espousal of biblical criticism was tantamount to an abandonment of faith—and thus to a lack of understanding of the significance of the return of the Jews to the Holy Land. Blackstone’s options for the Jew on the eve of the Versailles Conference in 1919 were to convert to Christianity, assimilate, or become a Zionist. The anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox, who adhered to the three oaths 20 not to return to the Land, was decidedly ignored. Hilton Obenzinger has commented that “the antisemitic overtones to Blackstone’s three option taxonomy are palpable.”21 Avowedly secular Zionists, such as Nordau, and those with little Jewish background, such as Herzl, who galvanised the resurgent Zionist movement puzzled and perplexed Blackstone.22 He referred to them as agnostics whose central belief was Jewish nationalism. Blackstone did not conceal his opinion that Jews should convert to Christianity and actually carried out missionary work through the Chicago Hebrew Mission. Thus the signatories to the Memorial included several “witness” and missionary organisations as well as public figures such as John D. Rockefeller, numerous congressmen, eminent rabbis, Jewish leaders and the Chief Justice of the United States. Even at this early stage of Dispensationalist-Zionist co-operation, the Memorial was not totally welcomed by American Jewry—even by those sympathetic to the Zionist experiment. This arose from Blackstone’s dual dispensationalist motives to both convert Jews and to use them as an unwitting instrument to facilitate the Second Coming.23
LOCATING THE LAND: DEFINITIONS OF PALESTINE’S BOUNDARIES
In the Blackstone Memorial, its author states that:
The land of Palestine is capable of remarkable development, both agriculturally and commercially. Its geographical situation, as the halfway house between Europe and Asia, is unequalled. That the Railroad now building from Joppa to Jerusalem, if extended via Damascus, Tadmor and the Euphrates valley could not fail to become an international highway.24
This echoed a broader belief that a “great movement” was about to return the Jews to “their own country as a nation” which influenced major Victorian figures in Britain such as Lord Shaftesbury. At a meeting of the Society for Converting the Jews in Birmingham, England in 1883, the Vicar of Tunbridge Wells, the Reverend Canon Hoare, suggested that the resettlement of the Jews would also be beneficial in furthering British imperial interests.
If the Euphrates Valley railway should be constructed, there would be two highways from India . . . the precise country given to Abraham would be the country that would command the two high roads from the west to the east.25
Both Hoare and Blackstone defined the borders of the new Jewish homeland as those of the old Biblical one: “To your seed I give this land from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.”26 In present-day terms, such a definition would include parts of Egypt, Lebanon and part of Iraq. It encompassed the area where the Jews had roamed from Abraham’s birthplace to the site of slavery and exodus. In a subsequent article in 1891, Blackstone quotes this verse from Genesis and several others which confer ownership to the Land to the seed of Abraham.27
A second definition, which Blackstone took from Deuteronomy 34:4 characterizes the borders during the exodus from Egypt on the verge of entering the Land. This is generally held to be synonymous with the borders of Canaan: “And the border shall turn about from Atsmon unto the Brook of Egypt.”28 The third definition, although not stated in the Blackstone Memorial—the broadest and perhaps most popular term “from Dan to Beersheva”—refers to a general description of the Land.29 David Lloyd-George and Lord Curzon used this in their deliberations in defining the territorial limits of a homeland for the Jews at the end of World War I. Despite this convergence of Christian interest in the Jews, British imperial interests, and the resurgent Zionist movement, the latter’s policies were governed by ideological and pragmatic concerns rather theological and pre-millennial ones.
The contours of the first Zionist map of Eretz Israel in November 1918 were based on economic factors, such as good agricultural land, access to water such as the Litani and the upper Jordan, and efficient transportation facilities. The borders thus followed the natural boundaries of the area with the exception of the north and northwest. Here, the natural boundary lay beyond Damascus, and the political interests of the imperial powers, England and France, took precedent.30 Significantly, the Zionists did not use their Biblical claim to “Reuben, Gad and Mennaseh” and even abandoned settlements on the Golan Heights in 1920 because of the imposition of the French Mandate. In February 1919, Menachem Ussishkin addressed the delegates of the Versailles peace conference in Hebrew. This, too, was of biblical significance. Ussishkin demanded “the restoration to the Jews of the land that was promised to them four thousand years ago by the Power Above; the land in which our forefathers dwelt and . . . was forcibly taken from the Jewish people 1800 years ago by the Romans.”31
The borders promised by God in Genesis were not those lost to the Romans in 70 C.E., however. Neither were they the geographical basis for the Zionist claims to a Jewish homeland. Although Ussishkin’s address was partly public relations, it did capture the essence of the sense of spiritual belonging that pervaded Jewish culture. Both Britain and France significantly utilized the concept of historic association by deferring to the description that Eretz Israel was defined as being “from Dan to Beersheva.” This also captured the Victorian passion with the Holy Land.
Significantly, both the modern Zionist movement and the British government differentiated between “the Promised Land” of Genesis and the area of later Israelite settlement. If God’s promise to Abraham defined the ideal, then the reality of changing political circumstances was reflected in the different definitions of the borders in other parts of the Hebrew Bible such as Deuteronomy 1:7–8, II Samuel 24:2, and Joshua 15:47. Both Zionist and British policies were grounded in the latter—an association with ancient Jewish history. On the other hand, Dispensationalist beliefs were based on a divine promise made at the dawn of time. Indeed the Zionists laid claim to the East Bank, which was never part of the Promised Land although two and a half of the Israelite tribes were given permission to settle there once the Land itself had been conquered.32
The establishment of the Hashemite Kingdom of TransJordan at the Cairo Conference in March 1921 and the publication of the Churchill White Paper of 1922 were clearly a step back from the promise of the Balfour Declaration to establish a “Jewish homeland” within Palestine. This partition led to the resignation of Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky from the Zionist Executive at the beginning of 1923. First, through the founding of the Union of Zionist Revisionists, then through the New Zionist Organization after 1935, Jabotinsky made it clear that he believed that Eretz Israel should stretch across the banks of the Jordan. He argued that both banks could hold a population of over twelve million.33
BEGIN AND THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT
Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky laid in place the territorial elements of a Zionism that dispensationalists could warm to—a Zionist militancy directed at attaining borders that overturned partition. Even so, the approach of Jabotinsky was based on a different interpretation of modern Zionism; like his Labor Zionist opponents, he did not use God’s promise to Abraham as an ideological yardstick. Moreover, Jabotinsky regarded religion as a private matter,34 although he understood the national role of religion in creating the unity of purpose during the millennia of exile.
One aspect of Jabotinsky’s teaching of Jewish self-respect and dignity to his followers was the use of Jewish tradition as a value, a means of solidarity. Yet while he inculcated tradition as an ethnic tool to inspire his disciples, Jabotinsky himself believed that the inner meaning of Judaism had been lost over two millennia.
If the people voluntarily encased their religious consciousness within an iron frame, dried it out to the point of fossilization, and turned a living religion into something like a mummified corpse of religion—it is clear that the holy treasure is not the religion, but something else, something for which this mummified corpse was supposed to serve as shell and protection 35
Since many members of Betar came from a traditionalist background, he had no wish to create schisms by expounding his own position on religion. In addition, Jabotinsky was willing to utilize tradition to criticize the attractions of secular socialism. He suggested that the Bible was a superior text to that of Das Kapital since it was based on entrepreneurial endeavour and private enterprise. But he also realized that capitalism created injustices that required a controlling mechanism.36 He utilized Jewish tradition to promote disarmament and the abolition of poverty as an alternative to following the socialist cause.
The Revisionist Zionist movement effectively fragmented after Jabotinsky’s death in 1940. Avraham Stern established the Irgun B’Yisrael—the Stern “Gang”—and infused his organization with a messianic religiosity which had been dormant under Jabotinsky’s leadership. In his Eighteen Principles of Renaissance, Stern referred to the proposed borders of the new Jewish state as those of the Promised Land. He further proposed the construction of the Third Temple.37 Menachem Begin stood ideologically between Jabotinsky and Stern and thus imbued his politics with both militancy and religiosity, which had hitherto been absent in the Revisionist Zionist movement. Jabotinsky’s personal rejection of religion was obscured by his successor, Begin, who was more influenced by Jewish tradition. It was not simply that he came from a traditional background, but also because he was influenced by, as well as by Jabotinsky, the religiosity of figures on the far right of the Zionist movement, such as Uri Zvi Greenberg. Thus, Malkhut Yisrael, the kingdom of Israel, became part of the vocabulary of the far right. Between 1948 and 1977, he astutely unified the national camp to include factions as diametrically opposite as the liberals and the radical right. The Six-Day War undoubtedly advanced Begin’s political fortunes. In 1967 he became a member of the Israel government and the control of the territories was now the status quo.
If Israel’s victory had fortified the Israeli Right and was revelatory for the national religious, it had dispensationalist implications for the Christians: 1967, like 1948, had profound significance in the progression toward the end times and Armageddon. Christian interest had been aroused by the establishment of a Jewish state. In the early years of the state when there was considerable uncertainty about the future, all manifestations of support were welcome. Thus, the well-known evangelical philanthropist Oral Roberts visited Israel and met Ben-Gurion in 1959. The return of the Jews to Jerusalem and to the site of the Temple in 1967 aroused dispensationalist hopes. Not surprisingly, Jerry Falwell, the founder of the Moral Majority as well as numerous other Christian evangelical leaders made their first visit to Israel after the Six-Day war. They returned regularly bringing with them ever-greater numbers of Christian tourists.
The growth of the Christian Right during the 1970s thus paralleled the growth of the Israeli Right—and both phenomena had been catalyzed by the Six-Day War. Indeed 1977 the year of Begin’s election victory was dubbed “The Year of the Evangelical” by Newsweek.
The Christian Right also empathized with the Likud’s perceived traditionalism and opposition to socialism—particularly when expressed by Menachem Begin. The latter did not differentiate between “Christians” and dispensationalists—yet another blurring of difficult ideological edges as evinced by his obfuscation of the different stands of the PLO and the Abu Nidal group. It may also have been promoted by a psychological need to demonstrate Jewish status after his experiences in pre-war Poland—a desire he clearly manifested in his abortive alliance with the Maronite Christians in Lebanon in the early 1980s. There were thus several reference points for both movements. Ironically, a doyen of the Christian Right, Pat Robertson, proposed— probably unknowingly—the adoption of “biblical” economic proposals such as the abolition of debts during a jubilee year—which Jabotinsky had similarly put forward as an alternative to socialism half a century earlier.38
THE LIKUD-EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE
On the eve of Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem, several Christian Zionist advertisements appeared in the United States and Israel that warned against making territorial concessions. In the Washington Post, 39 the signatories stated that “as evangelicals we affirm our belief in the promise of the land to the Jewish people” and that the restoration of Israel “in our time is one of the momentous events in all human history.” It significantly stated that,
from the perspective of Israel’s security requirements as well as from our understanding of her legacy, we would view with grave concern any effort to carve out of the historic Jewish homeland another nation or political entity, particularly one which would be governed by terrorists whose stated goal is the destruction of the Jewish state.40
This statement not only confirmed the evangelical resurgence 41 and manifested confidence in their willingness to state their views on a political issue, but also indicated a determination to ensure that Israel would not have to return Judea, Samaria, and Gaza to the Palestinians, since this would inhibit Jewish control of the “Promised Land” and probably delay the arrival of the end time. The statement symbolized the birth of an alliance between the evangelicals and the nationalist right. Indeed the very term historic Jewish homeland [shlemut historit] is a term out of the Revisionist Zionist lexicon. It significantly betrays an historic association with Israelite settlement rather than a specifically religious commitment to the Promised Land.
It also sent Begin an indirect warning that he should not make any attempt to negotiate away any part of the Land of Israel. Significantly, Begin’s Information advisor, Shmuel Katz, who was responsible for the dissemination of information to the Jewish and Christian worlds resigned shortly after Sadat’s visit.42
The warning was also directed toward another evangelical Christian, President Jimmy Carter, who was attempting to adopt a more even-handed approach to the Israel-Palestine question, and thereby distanced dispensationalists from the mainstream liberal Protestant churches, which, in the past, had defended Israeli policies, often as a stand against anti-Semitism and out of guilt for the Holocaust. Now, with the passage of time and the rise of Palestinian nationalism, these congregations began to perceive the plight of the Palestinians differently and thus found it more difficult to automatically support the policies of an Israel government.
The approach of the empowered evangelicals was exemplified in Falwell’s comment that “the US government should not be a party to any pressure that could create a peace that is not lasting, equitable and scriptural.”43 There were also advertisements protesting Soviet involvement in the peace process. Begin was happy to utilize such pressure against the United States government and to use Falwell and fellow evangelicals as interlocutors with Cairo and Amman.44 In return, he was willing to record a broadcast for Falwell’s television program on the Camp David agreement and happy to issue residence visas to evangelicals “beyond the customary quotas which allowed for the building of new congregations.”45 Falwell supported the Begin governments” policies not to make territorial concessions, announcing on numerous occasions that the retention of Judea and Samaria was “partially justifed by scripture”46 During a visit to Israel in 1981, he strongly condemned the National Council of Churches” criticism of Likud settlement policy on the West Bank.47 Begin utilized Falwell to counteract criticism by other Christian groups by telephoning him two days after the raid on the Iraqi nuclear reactor in July 1981. Indeed his close ties with the Reagan White House allowed Falwell to continue his pressure on government not to press Israel to make concessions on the West Bank,48 and that, instead, there should be “total military and financial support for Israel.”49 There was similarly support for Operation Peace for Galilee—Israel’s less than successful invasion of Lebanon in June 1982. Although the war divided Israel politically and was the cause of huge demonstrations in Israel against the invasion, Moshe Arens spoke at the fifth annual convention of the Moral Majority in Jerusalem and described the war as “a great victory, not only for Israel but also for the free world.”50
The support of Falwell and the Moral Majority proved to be important for successive Likud governments because there was a common ideological denominator in retaining territory and a willingness vociferously to promote it in the White House and US government circles. Moreover, the evangelical-fundamentalist vote for the Republican candidate in US elections increased from 33 percent for Gerald Ford in 1974 to 85 percent for Ronald Reagan in 1984. 51 Falwell’s own church budget increased from $58 million in 1980 to $90 million in 1984. Membership of the Moral Majority more than tripled to over six million in the same period.52 Begin had appointed his long time supporter, Harry Hurwitz, as his liaison with evangelical groups. During the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, the Israel Embassy in Washington and AIPAC all had representatives designated to work with evangelical movements and churches. In the early 1990s, CIPAC (Christian-Israel Political Affairs Committee) was established. In addition, pro-Likud organizations such the Zionist Organization of America and leading members of Herut53 remained in close contact with Falwell. Despite the fact that both Likud and the Christian Right were perceived as anti-intellectual, this broad alliance was also supported by the neo-conservative intelligentsia in its flagship publication, Commentary. 54
In both Likud circles and the Christian Right there was an aversion, both psychological and political, to distinguishing between support for Israel per se and support for the policies of its government. Thus Falwell wrote that “to stand against Israel is to stand against God.”55 The schism in Israel and in the Diaspora during and after the Lebanon war was never recognized by Falwell. Thus, although he was instrumental in introducing Israel to countless millions of Americans through televangelism and bringing thousands of Christian tourists to the Jewish State, the view projected to his followers was a dispensationalist reflection of Likud’s policies.56 Only politicians from Israel’s Right met the participants of these tours and only on rare occasions did they talk to those who proposed different views such as Shimon Peres. It has further been claimed that the proceeds of Christian fundraising in the United States were earmarked for West Bank settlements and these funds were channeled through Israel’s Washington Embassy.57
The very idea of a peace agreement was considered to be nonsensical. As Hal Lindsey, author of the best-selling The Late Great Planet Earth, commented:
As the Bible tells United States, the dispute over Jerusalem and Israel’s borders will never be settled by any peace agreements nor any whiz bang diplomatic breakthrough.58
Clearly a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians would confine the Land of Israel to the territorial demarcations of the State of Israel and thus delay any expansion to the borders of the Promised Land. A Palestinian state could not, it was argued, bring peace. In his numerous books, Lindsey condemned the “Land for Peace” approach.
As the Israeli-Palestinian rapprochement proceeded in the 1990s, Lindsey argued that a possible evacuation of West Bank settlements could spark off a civil war in Israel.59 On the question of Jerusalem, he accepted the view that the Third Temple should be constructed on the Temple Mount on the site of the Dome of the Rock. In The Late Great Planet Earth, which has reputed global sales of forty million, he quoted Israel Eldad, the doyen of the far Right in Israel that this would happen shortly.60 Eldad had been a follower of Avraham Stern and the intellectual interpreter of Lehi in the 1940s. He thus accepted the borders of the new state as that of the Promised Land and advocated the building of the Third Temple. Following the sinking of the arms ship, the Altalena, in 1948, he urged Begin to take the “revolutionary path,” overcome the Arab siege of Jerusalem, and take the Holy City, but Begin refused to pursue this course of action.61
FALWELL, ROBERTSON AND THE UNEASE OF AMERICAN JEWS
The close alliance between the Israel government, the governing Republican Party and the Christian Right was a source of great unease amongst many American Jews who perceived themselves as liberal, mainstream, and lifelong Democrats. There was a perception that the Christian Right differentiated between the Jews of Israel, who were an instrument in bringing about the second coming, and the Jews of the United States, who were seen as liberals, dissenters, and the target of conversionist efforts.62 Indeed, the latter was construed by many American Jews as manifestations of anti-Semitism and a dislike of Jews per se.
Such resentment welled up at an early stage when Falwell was awarded the Jabotinsky Medal by Prime Minister Begin in November 1980 at a ceremony in New York to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the founder of the Revisionist movement. Former Senator Frank Church refused to accept his medal because he felt that the Christian Right had eVectively forced him from oYce amidst an undercurrent of anti-Jewish innuendo. Rabbi Alexander Schindler, head of the Reform movement in the United States actually condemned the award to Falwell as a representative of “right wing evangelists who constitute a danger to the Jews of the US.” In maintaining his pro-Israel credentials, Falwell was careful not to adopt a conversionist line; yet in remarks to non-Jewish audiences, he occasionally revealed a populist streak, which did not endear him to Jews.
I know a few of you here today don’t like Jews, and I know why. He can make more money accidentally than you can on purpose . . . still [the Jews] were the apple of God’s eye.63
Such comments were indeed rare, but, from the Likud’s viewpoint, his support for their policies far outweighed any damage caused to diaspora sensibilities. Indeed, as a countermeasure, Begin introduced him to a sympathetic writer who subsequently produced a book, Jerry Falwell and the Jews. 64
Pat Robertson, a fellow televangelist and founder of the Christian Coalition, held views similar to those of Falwell on the importance of retaining the West Bank and Gaza, but he often alluded to the admixture of Jewish Communists, Jewish Capitalists, the conspiratorial nature of world Jewry, and the supremacy of Christianity—all views that were common on the Right in pre-war Europe.65 In his writings Robertson refers to Nesta Webster’s publication Secret Societies and Subversive Movements, which was required reading for British Fascists both before and after World War II.66 Jacob Heillbrunn has drawn attention to the fact that Robertson also referred to the works of George Sylvester Viereck, who was indicted as a German agent during World War II and sentenced to four years in prison.67 Thus, “Communism was the brainchild of German-Jewish intellectuals” and Moses Hess—“the Communist rabbi”—was the link between German Illuminati and the beginning of world Communism.68 Despite such stereotypically conspiratorial and often debunked views, Robertson could still allude to Blackstone’s sundial analogy: “The nation of Israel is God’s prophetic time clock.”69 In his writings, Robertson still adhered to the Armageddon syndrome in which most of Israel’s Jews would be destroyed by the forces of Satan—probably the Soviet Union before its dissolution. Significantly, he implied that the day of reckoning would be hastened by liberal Jewish provocation of American Christians.70 Despite this, the Christian Coalition’s support for Likud’s policies was all-important; thus, Robertson was the guest of honour at a dinner in 1987 hosted by a government minister, Avraham Sharir.71
The Christian Right’s determination to press their political program in the United States inevitably met opposition from liberals—and that opposition included an often-disproportionate number of Jews, particularly in the legal profession. Although there were cultural and religious hints of the past, the Christian Right essentially opposed the historic liberal agenda of American Jews rather than American Jews per se. Even so, this concerted opposition, plus a frustration at the Jews’ refusal to see the theological light and convert to Christianity, sometimes produced instances of anti-Semitism or anti-Jewish prejudice at worst—an indifferent insensitivity at best. Pat Robertson’s primitive conspiracy theories, which evoked the subtle criticism of Jews in the past under “Christian” authoritarian regimes such as those of Franco or Verwoerd, added to the sense of unease amongst American Jews.
None of these sentiments made any impression on the leadership of the Likud, who, on the contrary, wished to fortify the alliance with the Christian Right—and thereby with the Republican Party—in order to maintain a Congressional bulwark against Presidential moves toward a peace settlement in the Middle East. This was strengthened by the Likud’s historical disdain for liberalism, anti-traditionalism, the United States as the goldene medina and an alternative to Zion, and a belief that the enemy of my enemy could be my friend.72
However, once Likud was out of office, the Anti-Defamation League published a two hundred page report in 1994 entitled “The Religious Right: The Assault on Tolerance and Pluralism in America”—in essence a reversion to their historic liberal agenda. This caused a counter-attack from the Jewish neo-conservatives, who glossed over and downgraded Robertson’s antipathy toward Jews because of the Christian Right’s support for Israel.73
LIKUD AND CONVERSION
Even so, there were at least two arguments for a dialogue between these two political, cultural, and religious sub-cultures. Firstly, there was a need for the two groups to understand each other religiously and thereby combine their efforts to support Israel. Secondly, there was a political need to bring together both Jewish and non-Jewish neo-conservatives to work for Israel within Republican Party circles.
Although only 20–25 percent of Jews voted Republican, Jewish adherents formed the National Jewish Coalition in 1985 in the heyday of Reaganite America. It essentially performed a co-ordinating function between the Jewish community, the Republican Party, and the Christian Right. It attempted, particularly during the Clinton Presidency, to present a more acceptable face of the Christian Right to Jews. This effort was assisted by the young director of the Christian Coalition, Ralph Reed, who tended to downplay Pat Robertson’s more extreme views and broaden his organization’s approach—more a religious neo-conservatism than radical dispensationalism. Although Reed wrote to Senate Majority leader Bob Dole and Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1995 that Jerusalem should remain undivided, an official invitation for him to visit Israel was blocked. Yossi Beilin, the deputy Foreign Minister in the Rabin government justifed his decision by suggesting that Reed represented “a grave phenomenon of the American Right.”74 Although Reed was a highly influential figure and had certainly attempted to neutralize Robertson’s faux pas, he had little sympathy with the policies of the Rabin government. He believed that Israel should not return the Golan Heights and that the PLO should not receive aid.75
Part of the National Jewish Coalition’s tactics was to accuse the Christian Right’s detractors as “scare-mongers” and hidden Democrats. Yet, although efforts were made to build bridges, even Jewish Republicans continued to have reservations about the Christian Right.76 It was, however, difficult to categorise the Christian Right.
There were even liberals who suggested that such accusations of anti-Semitism were wide of the mark. What threatens Jews is something else, something more insoluble. It is the Christian fundamentalist belief, protected by the First Amendment, that their religious precepts are the only ones that will save everyone else. In all good conscience then, would it not be ill-willed of them not to want the political state to pass laws that their religion says are necessary for everyone’s salvation? If Christian fundamentalists were a large majority in this country and gained political control, they would have to do just that—not because they are evil or anti-Semitic, but because of their integrity.77
This integrity also had implications for a religious dialogue. In the early 1980s, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein established the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. He understood evangelism to possess an “exclusivist” character—the belief in the centrality of Jesus to achieve salvation. His partnership with evangelicals was based on the premise that there is “a difference between “theological intolerance”—the fundamental belief of evangelicals that they have the ultimate truth—and “practical intolerance”— for instance, denying Jews the right to pray.”78
Eckstein utilised his organisation to raise funds from Christian organisations—reputedly $17 million in the mid-1990s to underwrite the cost of bringing Russian Jews to Israel and another $2 million to bring the Kwara Jews of Ethiopia in 1999. 79 Despite the dispensationalist motivation in such donations, Eckstein’s distinguishing between latent and overt proselytisation was manifested in his refusal to attend a Christian celebration in 1998 to commemorate Israel’s fifty years because it was sponsored by the Christian Alliance for Israel—on the grounds that they target Jews for evangelisation.
In the early 1990s, “Voices United for Israel” was established to promote Jewish-Evangelical support for Israel. At the outset, its executive committee included senior representatives of the Anti-Defamation League, the National Jewish Coalition, and Rabbi Eckstein’s International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Within a couple of years all these organisations had pulled out citing proselytisation of Jews and overt support for the Republicans. Eckstein resigned because Voices United for Israel was partisan, “anti-Rabin, pro-Likud.”80 Even so, it provided a platform for Netanyahu in April 1997, where he addressed an audience of mainly evangelical Christians and Messianic Jews. The only non-messianic Jews to attend were the President of the pro-Likud Zionist Organisation of America, the executive director of the Council of Settlements in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, and representatives from Americans for a Safe Israel and the Women in Green— all opposed to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Voices United for Israel expanded its horizons when it asked other groups to join it after Netanyahu’s election to form a “National Unity Coalition for Israel.” Only those Jewish organisations that supported the Israeli Right joined. Its mission statement declared:
This coalition includes a variety of Jewish and Christian organisations. The Jewish organisations are understandably resistant to Christians whose main goal is to covert Jews to Christianity. On the other hand, some of the Christian partners represent organisations that feel a strong call to share their faith with everyone, including Jews. Voices for Israel/National Unity Coalition did not attempt to resolve this problem. From the beginning of this coalition the ground rules have been “no proselytising will be permitted in connection with the National Unity Conference or Voices United for Israel functions.”81
The Israeli Right’s acceptance of such parameters was indicative of its desire to retain the support of the Christian Right—perceived primarily to be a political asset for the Likud rather than an opponent of the social agenda of United States Jewry. Yet both organisations were critical of Netanyahu’s policy to return Hebron to the Palestinians. In an advertisement in the Jerusalem Post, they commented:
When Gamla and Massada fell two thousand years ago, Jerusalem fell. Today Hebron, tomorrow Jerusalem. You have almost lost the battle for Hebron, and as you back away from your right and your decision to build homes for Jews on Jewish-owned land next to the Mount of Olives (Ras el-Amud), we see that even the red lines within Jerusalem are being whittled down.82
Despite their disdain for the Hebron Accord, the Christian Right continued to support Netanyahu. In 1996, Netanyahu forged an alliance between the Israel-Christian Advocacy Council and the Ministry of Tourism. The three thousandth anniversary of Jerusalem was utilised by calling for a united Jerusalem and to urge Netanyahu not to give way. At a mass meeting in January 1998, organised by the National Unity Coalition, Netanyahu’s presence on the eve of the Lewinsky affair became a symbolic rallying point of opposition to the Clinton administration. Following Netanyahu’s speech, the crowd of evangelical Christians chanted “not one inch.” The rally evoked an unusually open criticism from Jewish leaders in the United States—that it was undermining Jewish communal opposition to the Christian Right and “poking a finger in the [Clinton] administration’s eye.”83 The proximity to the Republican Party was further cemented through Netanyahu’s meeting with Newt Gingrich, who promptly attacked the White House for its Israel policy. Falwell once more called upon an American President not to pressure a Likud Prime Minister and offered to mobilize evangelical churches to oppose an Israeli redeployment on the West Bank.84
THE INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN EMBASSY
In September 1980, the International Christian Embassy was formally opened in Jerusalem (ICEJ) at a reception at which Chaim Landau, the Minister of Transportation, welcomed the new institution. It had formally been the embassy of Pinochet’s Chile,85 which, together with a dozen other embassies, had evacuated their abodes to protest the Jerusalem Bill. The idea of a “Christian” Embassy had already been mooted by dispensationalists who were living in Israel when these buildings became vacant. Its raison d’être was to represent the many new evangelical groups that had grown up in the United States and elsewhere since the Six-Day War. It opened its doors on the eve of the festival of Succoth—the time when King Solomon dedicated the First Temple and when Zerubavel led the Jews back from Babylon to build the second. Indeed, Succoth was regarded by the ICEJ as a prophetic foreshadowing of the Feast of the Messiah, which would take place after the second coming. It was also the inspiration of the Pilgrim Fathers to institute a day of thanksgiving in the United States.
Thus the dispensationalist message was implicit from the beginning. The International Christian Embassy under its spokesman, Jan Willem van der Hoeven, aligned itself quickly with Likud policies. It congratulated the second Begin government for annexing the Golan, “knowing that the Golan was part of the Promised Land of Israel—the tribe of Manasseh.” In the hope of seeing Israel’s return to the borders of the Promised Land, it demonstrated in support of the invasion of Lebanon, chaperoned the Christian media to Lebanon, and took issue with those who opposed the war. It condemned a Vatican meeting with Arafat, but criticized the Likud when Begin agreed to return Sinai to Sadat: “The Bible does not say you will receive half the land of Canaan. We are better Zionists than you Israelis. You don’t fully believe in your cause.”86
Such views were further propagated through an information service encompassing news digests, radio, television, and, in more recent times, the Internet. It faithfully reflected the official explanations of the Likud except where the latter parted company with the maximalist approach of Genesis. It also began to enlist evangelicals outside of Israel to campaign actively against the return of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.87
The goals of the dispensationalist interpretation of Christian Zionism in the 1980s were very clear:
Secular Zionism is in effect the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. It is historically tenable to support secular Zionist aspirations, Christian Zionism, however must by definition be first of all biblical in its motivations and goals. Valid humanitarian, historical and political factors may and should be enlisted, but only in support of a basic biblical perspective.88
It also projected a different Christian approach, which suggested that the path to a peaceful world did not ultimately lie in support for protests against nuclear proliferation or apartheid, but in an inner spiritual cleansing.
Will they (the protesters), without Christ, be able to follow these injunctions and at least live like Him, even if they do not believe in Him? Is this not asking for the impossible? How then will this world be changed into a place where peace and justice will cover the earth as now the waters cover the sea and when will the earth be Wlled with the glory of the Lord and the earth again be changed into a paradise? The answer is, when the kingdom will be restored to Israel, and so Israel will become the channel she was always meant to be as a blessing to all the nations of the world.89
The policy toward the Palestinians followed the traditional Revisionist Zionist position of individual autonomy and functional rights rather than transfer. It also reflected the religious categorization of the Palestinian as a ger toshav (resident alien) and dispensationalist antipathy toward Islam.
Those Arabs who are willing to live within Israel’s borders, as faithful Israeli citizens, must have all their rights concerning property and individual freedom fully protected. This is a clear command from the God of Israel (See Ezekiel 47:22–23). But the creation of a Muslim Palestinian State between Israel and Jordan would be a disaster and a source of continual friction. In all likelihood it would be used as a Cuba-style stepping stone by the Soviet Union, to the detriment of both Israelis and Arabs.90
For some dispensationalists, the mountains mentioned in Ezekiel and Jeremiah were seen as synonymous with the West Bank. The PLO was regarded as setting itself against God by aspiring to a state in the same region. To oppose Jewish settlement in the West Bank was to oppose the will of God.91 In the United States, nearly four thousand evangelicals gathered in Dallas “to pray for Jerusalem during the Gulf War.”92
The great emigration of Soviet Jewry in the early 1990s was seen as a fulfilment of dispensationalist hopes, rivalling the events of 1948 and 1967. With other Christian organizations, such as the annual International Christian Prayer Breakfast, the Christian Embassy supported Shamir’s campaign to overturn the American refusal to grant loan guarantees to Israel.93 The Soviet emigration stimulated the establishment of ICEJ offices in St. Petersburg and Moscow. The ICEJ further claimed that it had brought out 10,000 Russian Jews via Finland between 1990 and 1997. 94 It further sponsored 51 flights during the same period, which assisted more than 40,000 immigrants. A Raoul Wallenberg Center in Hungary provided transportation for Ukrainian Jews through Budapest.
Similarly the ICEJ assisted in the absorption of Ethiopian immigrants in 1991.
The Oslo Accords and the general reconciliation with Palestinian nationalism—which meant returning parts of the Land of Israel—were opposed by dispensationalists in Israel. The response of the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, shortly after the Arafat-Rabin handshake, that it had been a great day for Zionism was found to be “puzzling.”95 Ambassador Itamar Rabinovich further argued that the PLO had accepted Zionist goals. Clearly this was not the Zionism that Christian dispensationalists adhered to. The task of the ICEJ was seen to be to encourage the Jews to live up to their historic mission. To assist in a process of “God’s winning back the hearts of His people.”96
In between the signing of the Declaration of Principles in 1993 and the assassination of Rabin in 1995, there was an atmosphere of both incitement and opposition by both the IECJ Center and the far Right. The International Christian Embassy reflected this development, albeit more mildly, when it spoke about “the enemy—both within and without—through a watering down of Zionist principles.”97
The ICEJ took a thousand Christian tourists to stage a peaceful demonstration at Rachel’s tomb at the end of 1995 prior to the handover of the town to the control of the Palestinian Authority. The resolutions at the Third International Christian Zionist Congress in February 1996, when Peres was still Prime Minister, proclaimed that “the truths of God are sovereign and it is written that the Land which He promised to His People is not to be partitioned. . . . It would be further error for the nations to recognize a Palestinian state in any part of Eretz Israel.”98
In the 1996 election when Netanyahu defeated Peres by the narrowest of margins, the Embassy published a breakdown of the Christian vote by the Mechric Institute. It showed that most Christians—Maronites, Catholics, Assyrians, Copts, Armenians, Evangelicals—strongly favoured Netanyahu because of his perceived anti-Islamic stand. The Embassy estimated that 30,000 Christians voted for Netanyahu—the approximate size of his majority over Peres.99 Likud’s drift away from its traditional ideological stand, however, distanced dispensationalists in Israel. The Hebron Agreement in early 1997 brought the strongest disagreement from the International Christian Embassy. “Our support for Israel and the Jewish people is based not on Likud policy or Labor policy—but on our understanding of God’s Word.”100
During Succoth 1996, the Embassy took hundreds of Christian tourists to Hebron to stage a peaceful protest in support of the Jewish settlers of Kiryat-Arba. On the eve of the Wye Agreement at the end of 1998, many of the Christian visitors to the annual Succot celebrations met Benny Elon, a member of Knesset for Moledet, which opposed any rapprochement with the Palestinians and espoused a policy of transfer. Other visitors toured the settlements and held discussions with representatives of El-Ad, which buys houses and settles Jews in Arab areas of the old city of Jerusalem.101 “The Embassy ‘doesn’t see a border’ between Israel and the Territories and supports educational and defence projects for both Jews and Arabs on the West Bank.”102
For all its reservations about Likud’s policies, the ICEJ would have preferred Netanyahu over Barak.103 When Netanyahu addressed the Embassy’s traditional Succot celebration in 1998, he told his audience that “we shall keep the land of Israel and we shall protect the State of Israel.”104 Following Barak’s victory, Netanyahu’s approach was portrayed by the Embassy as “a stand on God’s word as the foundation for Israel’s modern existence.”105 Although it had strongly opposed Labor policy, the ICEJ had maintained good relations with the Rabin government, which understood—as Likud had done—the intense commitment of dispensationalists. The ideological difference between the Embassy and a seemingly post-ideological Israel was effectively downgraded. In part, this was due to the need to make an accommodation with the new political reality and also to the departure from the Embassy of Jan Willem van der Hoeven, whose views were perceived to be too radical and too much in sympathy with Israel’s now marginalized far right.
Israel may take actions that seem suicidal. We cannot interfere with the political process, nor do we wish to do so. Even if Israel makes mistakes, we follow the principles of Biblical Zionism and continue to stand by Israel in her struggle for survival.106
Significantly, the Embassy seems to be moving away from its traditional dispensationalist roots. While the events of 1948 and 1967 “opened a lot of eyes about the accuracy of the prophecies,” the intense identification with the destiny of the Jews has led to a questioning of the Armageddon scenario, when a probable majority of the Jews would perish. There is a perception that this “hard moment of shaking” has already taken place in the Holocaust.
Is it a condition for Jesus’s return that two-thirds of the Jews must die? It is hard for us to fathom. It is hard for us to agree that this will happen. What happened during the Holocaust was enough of a fulWllment of the Word. It was painful enough. If the Holocaust drove the Jewish People away from God, what will another one do? If another shaking is coming, why can’t we pray to change God’s heart? We have had to challenge our beliefs.”107
The Christian Embassy portrays itself as a “Ministry of Comfort” to the Jews “as Ruth was to Naomi.” It avoids conversionism and even leaves open the possibility that the Jews would definitely embrace Jesus as the Messiah in the second coming. While they have accepted a compromise situation and remain “evangelical in viewpoint,” there has been a definite movement toward understanding Jews and Judaism. They have ironically been criticized by some Messianic Jews in the United States and in Israel, who have been moving in the diametrically opposite theological direction.
Thus the Executive Director of “Jews for Jesus” remarked on the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the state:
Some Christian Zionists are so eager to be for Israel that they seem to care little about Jews being for Jesus. They are so in love with the idea of Jewish people being in the Land that they don’t think of the implications of those same people being outside of Christ. Militant Christian Zionists want to see Israel graced with the blessings that can only come through faith in Jesus. They claim unquestioning support of Israel but fail to be evangelists—watchmen on the walls. The blood of Israel will be on their hands (see Ezekiel 33:6). Christians who truly love Israel will express their love most powerfully by proclaiming the redemption found in the blood of the Lamb, Jesus our Messiah.108
Other messianic Jewish organizations, however, adopt an approach for “land for peace” which is very similar to the ICEJ and other dispensationalist groups. The Messianic Jewish Alliance of America, which claims to represent 100,000 messianic Jews in the United States placed an advertisement in Ha’Aretz in early 1992 to indicate its disquiet after the Madrid Conference.109
It is certain that the Christian Right will play a role in the next election in the United States. Both the Republican George W. Bush and the Democrat Al Gore have uttered soothing comments to win the evangelical vote. Integrated into this will be support for Israel even if led by the minimalist Barak. However, the Christian Right is divided about the degree of proselytization among American Jews. Support for Israel does not mean support for American Jews and their liberal agenda—as Pat Robertson has demonstrated. The emergence of armed militias and attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions by “Christian patriots” who oppose the “Zionist Occupation Government” of the United States suggests a radicalization at the political fringes of the Christian Right. In the final analysis, this may signal an increasing polarization of the adherents of Christian dispensationalism— a movement which may have simultaneously catalyzed total love for the Jewish State while unwittingly unleashing a wave of anti-Semitism against the Jewish people.
NOTES 1. Amnon Rubinstein, Ha’Aretz, 25 August 1999. 2. Ha’Aretz, 18 June 1999. 3. Stuart SchoVman, Jerusalem Report, 30 November 1995. 4. Sever Plotsker, Yedi‘ot Aharanot (Weekend Supplement), 2 July 1999 [Hebrew]. 5. James Laxer, In Search of a New Left: Canadian Politics after the NeoConservative Assault (Toranto, Canada, 1996) 1. 6. Sunday Telegraph, 5 September 1993. 7. Wall Street Journal, 5 April 1983. 8. In a series of annual surveys carried out by Steven M. Cohen for the American Jewish Committee throughout the 1980s, American Jews continually opposed the annexation of the West Bank and the expansion of settlements, and espoused the view that “Palestinians have a right to a homeland on the West Bank and Gaza, so long as it does not threaten Israel”; Steven M. Cohen, Ties and Tensions, an Update: The 1989 Survey of American Jewish Attitudes Toward Israelis and Jews, American Jewish Committee (New York, 1989). 9. Washington Post, 23 March 1981. 10. Grace Halsell, Prophecy and Politics (Westport, CT, 1986) 168–77. 11. Christian Science Monitor, 24 April 1998. 12. Washington Post, 23 March 1981.Likud and the Christian Dispensationalists • 179 13. Jerusalem Post, 24 March 1992. 14. Michael J. Pragai, Faith and FulWlment: Christians and the Return to the Promised Land (London, 1985) 273–4. 15. Malcolm Hedding, “Christian Zionism,” in Christian Zionism and its Biblical Basis, International Christian Embassy publication (Jerusalem 1986). 16. Hal Lindsey, Planet Earth 2000 AD (Palos Verdes, CA, 1994) 232. 17. The name Bilu is derived from Beit Ya’akov Lekhu V’Nelkhah [House of Jacob, come let us go (Isaiah 2:5)], and was founded in 1882 as a reaction to Russian anti-Semitism. Its members were pioneers who initiated new settlements in the preHerzlian period. Hovevei Zion [Lovers of Zion] were adherents of Hibbat Zion [Love of Zion], a broad movement that spanned the period from the precursors of Zionism to the appearance of Herzl. 18. William E. Blackstone, “Palestine for the Jews: A Copy of a Memorial Presented to President Harrison, 5 March 1891,” in Christian Protagonists for Jewish Restoration (New York, 1977). 19. Ya’akov Ariel, On Behalf of Israel: American Fundamentalist Attitudes toward Jews, Judaism and Zionism (New York, 1991) 65–6. 20. Avi Ravitsky, Messianism, Zionism and Jewish Religious Radicalism (Chicago, IL, 1996) 211–34. 21. Hilton Obenziger, “God’s Sun Dial: The Construction of American Christian Zionism and the Blackstone Memorial,” Stanford Electronic Humanities Review, 5(1) 27 February 1996, www.stanford.edu/group/SHR/index.html. 22. William Blackstone, Jesus Is Coming (Chicago, IL, 1908) 238–41. 23. Some, such as the editor of Hovevei Zion’s Ha-Pisga, welcomed the enthusiasm for Zionism while distancing themselves from the embrace of evangelism. Ha-Pisga, III (8 May 1901) 1, quoted in Marnin Feinstein, American Zionism 1884– 1904 (New York, 1965) 61. 24. The Blackstone Memorial. 25. The Christadelphian, 1 October 1883, 475. 26. Genesis 15:18. 27. Numbers 32:16–34. 28. Numbers 34:1–4. 29. I Sam 24:2; I Kings 5:5. 30. Arnon Sofer, Ha’aspekt ha’geographi, ha’histori v’ha’politi shel medinat yisrael v’aretz yisrael, in Adam Doron (ed), Medinat Yisrael v’Aretz Yisrael (Tel-Aviv, 1988) 6 [Hebrew]. 31. Quoted in Joseph Klausner, Menachem Ussishkin (London, 1944) 61–2. 32. Deuteronomy 3:20. 33. Vladimir Jabotinsky, The Jewish Call, 3(8) Shanghai, August 1935. 34. Vladimir Jabotinsky, Greater Zionism in Speeches 1927–1940 (Tel-Aviv, 1947) 192 [Hebrew]. 35. Vladimir Jabotinsky, “Tsiyonut V’Eretz Israel” [Zionism and the Land of Israel] (1905), in Eri Jabotinsky (ed), Ketavim Tsiyoniyim Rishonim (Jerusalem,180 • israel studies, volume 5, number 1 1947) 107–30 and quoted in Raphaella Bilski, Ben-Hur’s Every Individual a King (Washington, DC, 1993) 123–4. 36. Vladimir Jabotinsky, Socialism and the Bible, Jewish Chronicle, Supplement no 1, 21 January 1931. 37. Colin Shindler, Israel, Likud and the Zionist Dream: Power, Politics and Ideology from Begin to Netanyahu (London, 1995) 30. 38. Jabotinsky Socialism and the Bible. 39. Washington Post, 1 November 1977. 40. Christian Science Monitor, 3 November 1977. 41. Thomas Wiley, American Christianity, the Jewish State and the Arab-Israeli ConXict, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University (Washington, DC, 1983) 18. 42. A former oYcer in the Irgun, Shmuel Katz dissented from the emerging Camp David Agreement and aligned himself with the far Right. Katz later spoke at the Wrst Christian Zionist Congress in 1985. 43. Jerusalem Post, 24 November 1978. 44. Jerusalem Post, 17 April 1978. 45. See p. 42 in Ya’akov Ariel, “Born again in a Land of Paradox: Christian Fundamentalists in Israel,” Fides et Historia, Journal of the Conference on Faith and History XXVIII(2) (1996) 35–48. 46. Jerusalem Post, 7 November 1980. 47. Washington Post, 23 March 1981. 48. Jerusalem Post, 21 November 1983. 49. Jerusalem Post, 6 April 1982. 50. Jerusalem Post, 20 November 1983. 51. Jerry Falwell, Strength for the Journey: An Autobiography (New York 1987) 379. 52. Dinesh D’Souza, Jerry Falwell, Before the Millennium: A Critical Biography (Chicago, IL, 1984) 10. 53. Falwell, Strength for the Journey, 370. 54. Irving Kristol, “The Political dilemma of American Jews,” Commentary, 98(III) (1984) 23–9. 55. Moral Majority Report, 14 March 1980. 56. For commentary on Falwell’s sponsored tours of Israel, see Halsell Prophecy and Politics. 57. Ibid., 170–1 58. Lindsey Planet Earth 2000 AD, 162. 59. Hal Lindsey, The Final Chapter (Beverly Hills, CA, 1998) 122. 60. Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth (London, 1970) 57. 61. Joseph Heller, The Stern Gang: Ideology, Politics and Terror 1940–1949 (London, 1995) 234–5. 62. Jerusalem Post, 10 August 1981. 63. Roanoke Times and World News, 14 September 1979, B-1. 64. Merrill Simon, Jerry Falwell and the Jews (New York, 1984).Likud and the Christian Dispensationalists • 181 65. For a detailed analysis of Robertson’s views in The New World Order, see Michael Lind, New York Review of Books, 2 February 1995. 66. See Jacob Heilbrunn, New York Review of Books, 20 April 1995. 67. Idem. 68. Pat Robertson, The New World Order (Milton Keynes, 1992) 69. 69. Pat Robertson, The Secret Kingdom (Milton Keynes, 1993) 253. 70. Pat Robertson, The Collected Works of Pat Robertson (Milton Keynes, 1994) 256–7, quoted in Lind New York Review of Books. 71. Jerusalem Post, 3 April 1987. 72. Letter of Menachem Begin to Shimshon Yunitchman, 8 January 1940, Jabotinsky Institute, Tel-Aviv. 73. Midge Decter, “The ADL and the Religious Right,” Commentary, Vol 98(III) (1994) 45–47. 74. Ha’Aretz, 12 June 1995. 75. MetroWest Jewish News, 23 June 1995. 76. Marshall J. Breger, “Talking to the Religious Right,” National Jewish Coalition Bulletin, May–June (1994) 3, www.rjchq.org/bulletinframe.html. 77. Earl Raab, Jewish Bulletin of Northern California, 15 September 1995. 78. Washington Jewish Week 17 December 1998. 79. Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 12 February 1999. 80. Jerusalem Post, 4 May 1995. 81. www. israel-unity coalition.com 82. Jerusalem Post, 30 December 1996 83. Jewish Bulletin of Northern California, 23 January 1998. 84. Donald Wagner, “Reagan and Begin, Bibi and Jerry: The Theopolitical Alliance of the Likud Party with the American Christian Right,” Arab Studies Quarterly, 20(4) (1998) 33–51. 85. Donald E. Wagner Anxious for Armageddon (Scottdale, PA, 1995) 97. 86. Zechariah 14:16. 87. Jerusalem Post, 24 July 1981. 88. Jerusalem Post, 1 February 1982. 89. Joel Baker, address to the First International Christian Zionist Congress, Basle, 27–29 August 1985 (ICEJ, 1986). 90. Jan Willem van der Hoeven, Christian Zionism and Its Biblical Basis (ICEJ, 1986). 91. Ibid. 92. See Norma Archbold, The Mountains of Israel: The Bible and the West Bank. A Phoebe’s Song Publication (1993). 93. Jerusalem Post, 10 March 1991 94. Soviet Jewry Newsletter, ICEJ, Autumn 1997. 95. The quotation is from p. 15 of David R. Parsons, “Jerusalem: Thy Years are Determined,” in Parsons (ed), Zionism and the Question of Jerusalem, a Special Edition of the ICEJ publication, Christian Zionism (1996).182 • israel studies, volume 5, number 1 96. David R. Parsons, interview by the author, Jerusalem, 10 August 1999. 97. Johann LuckoV, Executive Director ICEJ, “Forward,” Christian Zionism ICEJ, (1996) 5; see Note 95,above. 98. Resolutions of Third International Christian Congress, ICEJ, Jerusalem, 1996. 99. www.virtual.co.il/clients/judea/index1.html , Judea Electronic Magazine, 31 May 1996. 100. Kathy Kern, Blessing Israel? Christian Embassy Responds, Christian Peacemakers Team, quoted from www. virginiawater.co.uk , in Stephen Sizer, The Promised Land: A Critical Investigation of Evangelical and Christian Zionism in Britain and the USA since 1800, Ch. 7: The International Christian Embassy. 101. Jerusalem Post, 9 October 1998. 102. Interview with Parsons. 103. Christian Science Monitor, 24 April 1998. 104. IMRA [Independent Media Review and Analysis], 5 October 1998. 105. A Word from Jerusalem, ICEJ, July/August 1999. 106. David Allen Lewis, Christian Zionist Theses on Christians and Israel: Essays on Biblical Zionism and on Islamic Fundamentalism (ICEJ, 1996) 9. 107. Interview with Parsons. 108. David Brickner What Do We Think about Modern Israel? Jews for Jesus Newsletter April 1998 109. Ha’Aretz, 20 March 1992.
Israel Studies, volume 5, number 1 Spring 2000