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   SEPTEMBER 2002 -  Issue #148    

PUBLISHED BY AMERICANS FOR A SAFE ISRAEL



The Rise of Christian Support for Israel

Herbert Zweibon

The October 11 "Christians for Israel" rally in Washington, D.C. will send this powerful and much-needed message to President Bush: your core constituency demands that you stop promoting the creation of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.

Although the president's rhetoric has often (but not always) been strongly pro-Israel, and although he has rightly refused to meet with arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat, the Bush administration's policy still has defined a goal more extreme than any previous administration: the establishment of a sovereign, independent Palestinian state along Israel's 1967 border. Mr. Bush's pro-Israel words keep Israel's supporters at bay, while the State Department continues guiding American foreign policy in the same pro-Arab direction it has always counseled.

None of this sits well with the millions of conservative Christian voters in the American heartland, who constitute the base of the Republican Party's electoral support. Supporting Israel is a crucial element of their religious beliefs. They consider the Bible the Word of God. They look at the Jews as the Bible describes them, as God's Chosen People.

There are, of course, many perfectly good, non-theological reasons to back Israel. It shares America's democratic and humanitarian values. It is America's only reliable partner in the Middle East. It is America's most important ally in the war against terrorism. But no motive for supporting Israel is more unyielding than a theological motive. The Bible is unchanging. Believers will not bend their beliefs in response to political calculations or media reports. Conservative Christians have thus become the Jewish State's most steadfast supporters.

Conservative Christian support for Israel first came to public attention in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Two factors converged: as the Rev. Jerry Falwell began organizing the Moral Majority, Israel was naturally at the top of its agenda; and as the Carter administration's pressure on Israel intensified, Christians were outraged and vigorously protested.

The surge of Christian support for Israel during the past year has been widely noted by the media. A recent front-page story in the Wall Street Journal was headlined "How Israel Became a Favorite Cause of Christian Right." A "Sixty Minutes" segment that will air in early October will focus on Christian support for Israel, with evangelical pro-Israel activist Ed McAteer as one of the main interviewees. Even the far-left magazine Mother Jones recently published a feature story on the subject.

The unprecedented terrorist war waged by the Palestinians against Israel has galvanized large numbers of conservative Christians to take an active role in pro-Israel lobbying, letter-writing, and rallies. The October rally, organized by the Christian Coalition under its new president, Roberta Combs, will provide a vivid demonstration of the large numbers of Christians who are deeply concerned over the Bush administration's plan to reward Palestinian terror with a sovereign state.

Christians will turn out in force for the rally, and they can expect widespread appreciation from the American Jewish community. Most grassroots Jews are deeply grateful to Christian conservatives for helping Israel in its time of need. The fact that many Jews -- given the large proportion of liberals among them -- disagree with Christian conservatives on certain domestic issues is now widely regarded as irrelevant. Only a handful of diehard Jewish liberals continue to make the absurd argument that Jews should reject conservative Christian friendship for Israel because of disagreements on other issues.

At a time when Israelis are being murdered almost daily, and when Israel is in danger of being forced back to the pre-1967 "Auschwitz lines," the pro-Israel community needs -- and has deep appreciation for -- its friends in the evangelical Christian community.

Herbert Zweibon is chairman of Americans for a Safe Israel.



IN THIS ISSUE:

Palestinian Lies ...3

The IDF Chief of Staff Speaks Out ...7



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