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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Why Glenn Beck is in Israel

I think Zev Chafets is correct about why Glenn Beck is in Israel, and if he is, no one here needs to worry about it.
Such fervent philo-Semitic rhetoric is rare, even among the United States’ Christian Zionists, a group whose operational alliance with Israel dates at least to the days of my former boss, Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin. Jimmy Carter was in the White House and he had a palpable distaste, even then, for Israel. At the same time, rising evangelical leaders such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were making support for Israel and its policies a pillar of their Christian Republican philosophy. Begin asked his staff how many of these evangelicals there were in the Unites States. The answer was upward of 20 million. And that settled that.

American Jewish leaders, virtually all of whom were (and are) liberal Democrats, were (and remain) scandalized. They argued that evangelical Christians believe that Jews don’t go to heaven and that they will die in some end-of the-world scenario. Begin — and every subsequent Israeli prime minister of both the left and the right — preferred to let God sort out eternity. Here on Earth, actions speak louder than words.

The Christian right has no obvious political motivation for its Zionism. Republicans are not going to get American Jewish votes or much in the way of contributions. So what makes them love Israel?

“Many Christians support Israel for the same reason other Americans do,” I was told by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. “They see Israel as a pro-American democracy in a region of anti-American dictatorships. Or they think that after the Holocaust, supporting Israel is the moral thing to do. But the main motivator for evangelicals is the Bible, Genesis 12:3. ‘I will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel.’ ” If you believe that literally, standing up for Israel isn’t just a political preference but a divine commandment.

The fervor gap is reflected in public opinion polls. Support for Israel is a rare matter of bipartisan agreement in the United States, a fact demonstrated recently when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a public spat with the Obama administration, got a wildly enthusiastic reception from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress. A Gallup poll released in late February showed that 63 percent of Americans sympathized more with the Israelis, compared with 17 percent with the Palestinians. But it is also true that Democrats are less enthusiastic than Republicans. That might seem counterintuitive; Jews, after all, are the very heart of the Democratic Party. And, indeed, 57 percent of Democrats prefer Israel to the Palestinians. But 80 percent of Republicans do.

Evangelicals express their support not only at the polls, but with their pocketbooks. The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews raises $120 million a year for Jewish philanthropy from more than a million born-again donors. Eckstein estimates that other American evangelical organizations, including Christians United for Israel, send an additional $20 million, much of it to strengthen Jewish settlement of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Chafets' argument is that Beck has no interest in playing to Israelis. He's not meeting any government officials here (and in fact, when he was last here, he did not meet with the Prime Minister or with any of the other senior ministers). He's interested in becoming the leader of the Christian Evangelical movement. With Pastor Hagee in his 70's and Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson gone or elderly, the position seems to be open. In fact, the biggest question here might be whether the Evangelicals will accept the leadership of a Mormon.

Read the whole thing.

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At 12:29 AM, Blogger DallasMike said...

But the main motivator for evangelicals is the Bible, Genesis 12:3. ‘I will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel.’ If you believe that literally, standing up for Israel isn’t just a political preference but a divine commandment.

Amen. I am an evangelical who has been taught this verse since I was a small child. I have been blessed tremendously by my Jewish friends.

Those who teach that evangelicals have some secret motive, want Jews to die so that Jesus can return, and so on, are seriously mistaken. If it weren't for evangelicals, the US would be just as anti-semitic as Europe.

At 1:35 AM, Blogger Torotx said...

Well Jesus (Yeshua) and the first disciples were all Jewish. A true Christian will honor that fact and yes take the promise of Genesis 12:3 to receive blessings for blessing Israel and the Jews around the world. it's not so much that jewish people are so special in themselves because so many are atheists but to honor the Word of God and bless the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

At 1:39 AM, Blogger dan said...

I have watched Glenn Beck for almost 2 years in FOXNEWS. He is very authentic pro-Israel and pro-Jewish in mind and heart. We should welcome him warmly and with love and go along with him as a beacon of promoting the truth of Israel and the region in the US. So it is very annoying to see how Ynet @ Maariv gave a free speech last week to MJ Rosenberg http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4109886,00.html and this week http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART2/273/392.html?hp=1&cat=479 to besmirch and vilify Glenn Beck.


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