[Vision2020] Trump, Israel and Christian Zionism
thansen at moscow.com
Thu Jan 4 02:00:21 PST 2018
Courtesy of today’s (January 4, 2018) Moscow-Pullman Daily News with thanks to Nick Gier.
His View: Trump, Israel and Christian Zionism
By Nick Gier
Republicans join the Israelis in proclaiming that Jerusalem is the "eternal and undivided" capital of Israel, but they are undermining any hope of a lasting peace in the Middle East. When President Donald Trump recently made this the official U.S. position, he ripped off the disguise, which Americans diplomats have worn for decades, that we are legitimate mediators between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
In a speech in May, Christian Zionist Mike Pence declared that "the establishment of Israel in 1948 was a prophecy literally come to pass." He stated further that a prosperous, democratic Israel is "a sign of God's faithfulness."
In his rash decision, Trump explained he was simply recognizing "reality," but the fact is Jerusalem is a divided city, between the western sector, where the Israeli parliament is seated, and the mainly Arabic eastern sector, where the Palestinians want to establish their capital.
Jerusalem's Old City is also divided among Christians, Muslims and Jews. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is where Christians believe Jesus was buried; the Dome of the Rock is where Muhammed is said to have ascended into heaven; and Jews pray at the "Western Wall" of the ancient Jewish Temple, destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70.
Thirteen Christian leaders in Jerusalem have written an open letter to Trump predicting his decision "will lead to increased hatred and conflict in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division."
Pence's proposed trip to Egypt and Israel has now been put on hold because of backlash from Trump's decision. He was to focus on the persecution of Egypt's Coptic Christians, but their Pope Tawadros II announced he will not meet with him because Trump's decision "did not take into account the feelings of millions of Arab people."
Pence fortified his identity as a Christian Zionist with a recent keynote speech at meeting of Christians United for Israel. Former administration officials have wisely refrained from directly engaging with Christian Zionists, so Pence's appearance plowed new and dangerous grounds.
Christians United for Israel, three million members strong, was founded in 2006 by John Hagee, an early supporter of Trump and pastor of a megachurch in San Antonio, Texas.
Christian Zionists, comprising about 25 percent of the nation's evangelicals, believe the Second Coming of Christ is necessarily connected with the reestablishment of Israel. According to their interpretation of the Bible, Christ will rule the world from the holy city of Jerusalem. This scenario leaves no room for the Muslims, who must be destroyed, or for those Jews who refuse to become Christians.
A 2013 Pew Research poll showed 82 percent of white evangelicals believed God gave the land of Israel to the Jews. Remarkably, only 40 percent of American Jews held this view. Only Orthodox Jews polled higher at 84 percent.
On the question of what Christian Zionists believe constitute the "Land of Israel," the most extreme answer is "Greater Israel," which would include Lebanon, Syria, parts of Turkey and Iraq, a vision based on a mythical Davidic kingdom.
Christian Zionists have God's "word" on this plan: "On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, 'To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates' " (Gen. 15:18).
When Trump arrived in Israel early last year, he was greeted with billboards reading, "Trump is a Friend of Zion" and "Trump: Make Israel Great." Many may have thought they had been financed by prominent Israelis, but instead they were paid for by Christian Zionist Mike Evans.
True to form and preparing for End Times, Evans has, since 1977, been sponsoring summer camps in the U.S. and Israel designed to convert young Jews to Christianity.
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