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AIPAC’s inaugural summit to court Christians

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Screen shot 2012 08 23 at 1 27 12 PM
Participants pose for a group photograph during AIPAC’s Inaugural Christian Leadership Summit in Atlanta, Georgia, 2012. (Photo: AIPAC-Southern States/Facebook)

During July the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, marked an escalation in the lobby group’s strategic courting of non-Jewish members by hosting the Inaugural Christian Leadership Summit. From July 23rd to the 24th, 68 Christian community leaders who previously traveled to Israel on a 2010 AIPAC-sponsored trip reconvened in Atlanta, Georgia.

From AIPAC’s website:

Participants included pastors, ministers as well as community and national leaders who represent large and important Christian constituencies. The robust program featured a keynote address by Israel Defense Force Major (res.) Elliot Chodoff on the state of the Middle East, a political panel featuring Ralph Reed and John Anzalone, and expert presentations and briefings by AIPAC National and Southeast professional staff.

Conference attendees included community leaders, a former Mississippi mayor and now Democrat congressional candidate, Heather McTeer, and a Christian lifecoach, Lyndon Allen, who blogged about his “zeal for Israel.”

From Allen’s personal website, Total Victor Life:

Two years ago, I travelled to Israel with a group of Christian leaders (pastors & ministers), elected officials and business professionals as a guest of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

My zeal for Israel is rooted in my relationship with Yeshua (Jesus, a Jew). God declares in the Bible that HE is “Zealous with great zeal” for the land of Israel (Zech 8). How can I not share in the same? I gladly support the purposes of God for Israel.

Shalom

In March 2012 the Forward‘s Nathan Guttman explained the expansion of non-Jewish recruitment is tied to a “shrinking Jewish population,”

Several demographic and political trends now guide the pro-Israel lobby as it seeks to grow and maintain its role as one of the nation’s leading political powerhouses. First is the mere fact that the proportion of Jews in America is constantly shrinking. In a March 4 presentation at the AIPAC conference, the lobby’s national political director, Robert Bassin, noted that while in 1940, American Jews made up 3.5% of the population, they are currently 2.1% of all Americans, and if the trend continues, by 2080, Jews will be only 0.8% of the population.

Compounding the problem are geographical trends that have weakened the political power of American Jews as more Americans have moved to the Southern and Western regions from the Northeast and the Midwest. In terms of Jewish political clout, this is yet another source of concern. In his presentation, Bassin gave the example of North Carolina. The state is home to a Jewish population of only 30,000 people but has more congressional districts than New Jersey, which has a Jewish population of 500,000.

The bottom line is clear: A shrinking Jewish population with less local power requires a boost from outside the community to get across the message.

milstein
Student participant on AIPAC-sponsored trip holds
an Ethiopian child at the Zion Absorption Center
outside of Jerusalem, 2012.
(Photo: AIPAC/the Near East Report)

This year’s inaugural assembly is not AIPAC’s first foray into wooing non-Jewish members. In 1999 the lobby group ran its first advocacy training trip to Israel for non-Jewish participants, signing-up 43 students from historically black and Christian universities. Today AIPAC has institutionalized outreach to the African American Christian community through the Milstein Foundation Campus Allies Mission to Israel, where African American, Latino and Christian students are  aggressively swayed to campaign for Israel during a 10-day subsidized trip.

“Now, when I go to engage members of Congress or speak with students on my campus, I am in a position to say, without a doubt, ‘these people want peace,’ and to argue that the foreign aid we give Israel concretely protects both lives and democracy,” said Skip Carlson, from Brigham Young University, after returning from a Spring 2012 AIPAC trip to Israel.

Allison Deger
About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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19 Responses

  1. Blake
    Blake
    August 24, 2012, 9:41 am

    Imo, America is still the world’s only superpower that is why the “Israel lobby” focuses tirelessly on keeping that American support/financial & military aid and the UN security council veto.

  2. seafoid
    seafoid
    August 24, 2012, 9:53 am

    “God declares in the Bible that HE is “Zealous with great zeal” for the land of Israel”

    I’m sure HE’s delighted with that MRSA in Gaza and all the human rights violations.
    Jesus has presumably been sidelined by the Father and the Holy Spirit

    • Blake
      Blake
      August 24, 2012, 10:14 am

      As any cursory reader of the Bible could tell that gullible fool “Israel” is nothing biblical. The mostly atheist secular zionist ideology simply picked its name out the Bible 64 years ago. As Christian theologians could also inform the gullible that “Israel” is not of this earth. It’s the worship of God.

      • FreddyV
        FreddyV
        August 24, 2012, 11:39 am

        Not if you’ve been led to believe that Israel must exist and the temple be rebuilt in order for Christ to return.

        Most fundi’s don’t actually do any proper study of their Bibles, instead most treat it like a box of fortune cookies and leave matters of doctrine to be spoon fed into them from the pulpit.

        I pointed out scripture after scripture to a fundi that proves Israel, Zion and all the promises of God are fulfilled in Christ according to Christian teaching. I was told I was ‘cherry picking’ verses out of the Bible. Well argue with the Bible, not me.

        Simply, they won’t hear any different, which isn’t very surprising. The reality is that all the exciting stuff from the Bible happened thousands of years ago. These people want that kind of Biblical experience in their own lifetimes and the existence of Israel mingled with a dubious interpretation of the Bible gives that to them.

      • Blake
        Blake
        August 24, 2012, 12:20 pm

        Why would the temple need to be rebuilt though when Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24 the destruction of the Jewish Temple 40 yrs after His death in AD70 (a specific reference by Jesus Christ to the national judgment on Israel because they had rejected the Lion of the tribe of Judah) ? They have definitely cherry picked and the Rapture is in the (Zionists funded & convicted felon) Scofield Reference Bible addition (just over a hundred years old now) and not in the original Bible.

      • FreddyV
        FreddyV
        August 25, 2012, 5:28 am

        Interesting comment about Matt 24. The thing is, Christian Zionists interpret the Olivet Discourses in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 as two separate prophecies with one referring to AD70 and the other an end time, yet to occur event. Reading the text of each, they’re virtually identical.

        Here’s an interesting set of YouTube vids on the subject with a 2006 debate between Gary Demar and Tommy Ice.

  3. FreddyV
    FreddyV
    August 24, 2012, 10:04 am

    ‘while in 1940, American Jews made up 3.5% of the population, they are currently 2.1% of all Americans, and if the trend continues, by 2080, Jews will be only 0.8% of the population.’

    I think this explains precisely how untenable Zionism is. Israel is actively promoting Aliyah from the US to support it’s dwindling demographic against the Arabs, then trying to garner support from outside the Jewish faith to maintain political and financial support from another nation.

    At what stage do people actually realise the parasitic nature of the whole project and decide they don’t want to support it? The religious blackmail tactic has worked well for a long time, but it’s starting to fall apart under scrutiny. What then?

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      August 24, 2012, 10:33 am

      Don’t tons of Jewish Israelis vote in American elections as dual citizens? SCOTUS reversed itself on the litmus test for loss of US citizenship just so such folks can do this–in a 5 to 4 decision, swing vote being an arch Jewish Zionist.

    • seafoid
      seafoid
      August 24, 2012, 10:51 am

      There is virtually no aliyah from the States any more. The only growth in the Israeli Jewish population comes from the Orthodox. The qualitative component is is in decline. Israel is becoming less tolerant and less world savvy . More fundi, less capable of earning a living.

  4. piotr
    piotr
    August 24, 2012, 11:54 am

    Blake is entitled to his reading of New Testament. However, I read from the second hand that the Book of Revelation does mention that “the Messiah will return to earth and defeat the Antichrist (the “beast”) and Satan the Devil in the Battle of Armageddon.”

    Thus to defeat Satan it is crucial to secure presence of two huge armies in what is now vicinity of Jenin. One could interpret that IDF could be one of them. But what about the second one! If IDF gets to much firepower, it will never allow another army to approach anywhere close. I conclude that Christian Zionists should be very careful about advocating aid to Israel: to little, not even one army at Armageddon (Har Megiddo), too much, only one.

    • Blake
      Blake
      August 24, 2012, 12:15 pm

      Pitr: There would be no “Israel” if there was no Zionist ideology (whose leaders considered the bible folklore anyway). True Torah Jews believe the Messiah would lead them out of exile so this “State of Israel” is blasphemy. In fact it was not known until the state of “Israel” was self-declared what it was to be named. “Zion” was even considered as a possibility, but rejected, as the result would have necessitated referring to “Palestinian Arab Israelis”, the Arab citizens of Israel, as “Arab Zionists”.

    • tombishop
      tombishop
      August 24, 2012, 1:16 pm

      piotr, You are making an assumptions about Biblical prophecy that are not based on scientific reality. The Book of Revelation was written by a Jewish sect (the followers of the rabbi Jesus did not yet refer to themselves as Christians at this time) under siege by the Roman Empire. Given the date of its writing and the coded references it refers to, most Biblical scholars believe the “Antichrist” referred to is the Emperor Nero. The hoped for end of the world that the Book hopes for is the end of the Roman Empire.

      I suggest you read “Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, & Politics in the Book of Revelation” by Elaine Pagels.

      • Blake
        Blake
        August 24, 2012, 3:20 pm

        That sounds logical Tom and thanks I learnt something new today.

      • piotr
        piotr
        August 24, 2012, 3:20 pm

        Book of Revelation is a bit too complicated for me, so I relied on Wiki etc. I am trying to figure what should make sense to Christian Zionists. Judging on the “Left Behind” series, bringing the Battle of Megiddo/Armageddon is important, because it will result it sending the Satan to a pit and afterwards the faithful will enjoy 1000 years of righteous government (and some will be raptured, o frabjous joy). Also, what is relevant here is not what was written almost 2000 years ago but what is available now in American bookstores. Here are some titles:

        The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Book of Revelation

        The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Last Days

        Bible Secret: An Idiots Guide to the End of the World

        Jacket of the last one:

        Last few days of the world’s civilizations.
        The texture is that of diamonds, infinitely solid, incomprehensible in its hardness. The color is a dark blue. A deep plateau stretches out in every direction. There stands an individual, a figure of a human. Tall beyond dimensions, (He is) clothed in light. His shoulders are broad. His feet seem as blocks. His hands appear gentle. His face reveals no features. The eyes are felt rather than seen. Surrounding the light that clothes Him is an aura of light blue. Behind Him a deep blue goes back forever. He is the Beginning and the End and has decided the moment when time shall stop. “…The rebuilding of the Temple is the key to all of it. The actual events like the war in Iraq, the 11th September, the terror all over the world and the campaign of the UN and other powers in the world to take Jerusalem and parts of the Biblical land of Israel are actually the opening stages of the end time war and all of it is focused on Israel and Jerusalem as G-d shared with us in prophecy.”

        But a battle needs two armies, and I did not see any good explanation how that want to achieve it. If God and Magog are to come from the north, then something should be done so they will be able to reach Megiddo or Jerusalem.

      • tombishop
        tombishop
        August 24, 2012, 11:14 pm

        piotr, Are you heavy into video games? This reads like you are playing one.

  5. American
    American
    August 24, 2012, 1:00 pm

    I can’t see the AIPAC program to bring in non main stream christies, blacks and hispanics working in the long term to replace the dying out born and bred into zionism among the Jewish population.
    In my observation some amount people are ‘joiners’ anyway, who if approached for some cause they don’t see any arguement against say “sure” I’m with you’.
    But unless they are born, died in the wool, committed to Israel out of religion.etc. or totally raised in any kind of cause for that matter , ‘before’ being signed up or ‘brought in’, they tend to drift away just as easily.

    • seafoid
      seafoid
      August 24, 2012, 2:56 pm

      Most of the most committed ziobots are over 50 and they will slowly pass on to the next world.

  6. tombishop
    tombishop
    August 24, 2012, 1:52 pm

    There is an exhibit at Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute which I found disturbing in a way some its creators probably did not intend.
    http://www.fi.edu/scrolls/?gclid=CKedjq_igLICFQjf4Aod2GEApA

    The first thing that you are greeted with entering the exhibit is a quote from the Torah (and Bible) promising the land to Abraham. This is the theme throughout. While the historical artifacts are of interest and some of the historical narrative quite good, the overall message intended for an American Christian is that what happened in the area thousands of years ago is relevant to today. The exhibit has a disturbing tribalistic feel to it.

    I experienced the skillful way that Zionism is presented to Americans by the Israeli government when I went on a tour of Israel, Jordan and Egypt with a secular organization last November. Our Israeli guide was very well versed in the fundamentalist Christian narrative and exploited it in a subtle way whenever possible, to get the American Christians in our group to identify with Zionism.

    While we had a lecture from a Palestinian from the West Bank about the situation the Palestinians are in (our Israeli guide hovered very close and intrusively when I had a conversation with him after his lecture), the tour was otherwise very controlled with a Zionist narrative to prevent us from seeing the reality before us.

    The metaphor for the whole experience for me was when we left Jerusalem and headed for northern Israel. The separation wall was obviously designed so tourists could be directed to places away from it because we never saw it. As we went through the West Bank our previously verbose guide turned off his mike and many in our group fell asleep!

  7. annie
    annie
    August 24, 2012, 2:33 pm

    and who could forget The pro-Israel lobby courts influential African-Americans http://mondoweiss.net/2011/10/the-pro-israel-lobby-courts-influential-african-americans.html

    and What was your major? AIPAC! http://mondoweiss.net/2012/01/what-was-your-major-aipac.html

    they court any and everyone. with seemingly unlimited funds …why not!

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