Those seeking insights into the source of
Conspiracy theorists and secular scholars and journalists in the
United States and abroad have looked to a Jewish conspiracy or, more euphemistically, to a "Jewish lobby" to explain how U.S. support for Israel can grow while sympathy for Israel wanes among what was once the religious and intellectual establishment. A better answer lies in the dynamics of U.S. religion.
Mead notes that there is a long history of evangelical support for
In fact, American Protestant Zionism is significantly older than the modern Jewish version; in the nineteenth century, evangelicals repeatedly petitioned
U.S. officials to establish a refuge in the Holy Land for persecuted Jews from Europe and the Ottoman Empire.
Here is an excerpt from Mead’s explanation of the evangelical view:
Evangelicals . . . find the continued existence of the Jewish people to be a strong argument both for the existence of God and for his power in history. The book of Genesis relates that God told Abraham, "And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee. . . . And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee all families of the earth be blessed." . . .
In standing by
Israel, evangelicals feel that they are standing by God -- something they are ready to do against the whole world. Thus John Hagee -- senior pastor of an 18,000-member evangelical megachurch in San Antonio, Texas, and author of several New York Times bestsellers -- writes that if Iran moves to attack Israel, Americans must be prepared "to stop this evil enemy in its tracks." "God's policy toward the Jewish people," Hagee writes, "is found in Genesis 12:3,” and he goes on to quote the passage about blessings and curses. . . .
That U.S. foreign policy now centers on defending the country against the threat of mass terrorism involving, potentially, weapons of apocalyptic horror wielded by anti-Christian fanatics waging a religious war motivated by hatred of Israel only reinforces the claims of evangelical religion.
Mead contrasts the evangelical view with that of the liberal Christian movements:
For liberal Christians, the Jews are a people like any other, and so liberal Christians have supported Zionism in the same way that they have supported the national movements of other oppressed groups. In recent decades, however, liberal Christians have increasingly come to sympathize with the Palestinian national movement on the same basis.
In 2004, the Presbyterian Church passed a resolution calling for limited divestment from companies doing business with
Israel (the resolution was essentially rescinded in 2006 after a bitter battle). One study found that 37 percent of the statements made by mainline Protestant churches on human rights abuses between 2000 and 2004 focused on Israel. No other country came in for such frequent criticism.
Thirty-seven percent. Targeting as the No. 1 abuser not
But they're not anti-Semites. Heavens, nay. Don't you dare question their philosemitism! No, they looked at the entire world, including countries that lop off your skull if you convert to Presbyterianism, and what did they choose as the object of their ire? A country the size of a potato chip hanging on the edge of a region noted for despotism and barbarity. By some peculiar coincidence, it happens to be full of Jews. . . .
According to the hard left's script, Israel was created when some Europeans (hisssss) invaded the sovereign nation of Palestine, even though we all know the Jewish homeland is somewhere outside Passaic, N.J. Then for no reason Israel invaded the West Bank and Gaza -- which for some reason had not been set up as New Palestine by the Egyptians and the Jordanians, but never mind -- and made everyone stand in line and get frisked. . . .
Don't tell the Presbyterians about
Tibet or Sudan. It would absolutely ruin their day.
Between 1965 and 2005, Mead reports, membership in the
Mead writes that more than 25% of the members of Congress are self-identified evangelicals. In 2004, self-identified evangelicals provided roughly 40% of George W. Bush’s total vote. Among white evangelicals, Bush received 78% of the vote.
Almost enough people to form a Lobby.