Political leaders who ardently and obsessively love and support Israel have many motivations. You have the Jews who have an ethnic and/or religious loyalty to the place and whose personal devotion also usually reflects the views of their Jewish constituents. Two that come to mind are Reps. Eliot Engel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Then you have those who are not Jewish who seem to be motivated by pro-Israel lobby donations and/or genuine adoration of the military and imperialistic character of the Jewish state. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham come to mind.
A third group of politicians who are staunch defenders of Israel are Christian Zionists, who believe that the fate of the Israeli nation is linked to the time of the second coming of Jesus and that God promised the land of Israel to the Jews. They are among Israel’s most loyal friends. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe is a good example of a member of this group. It is often said that former President George W. Bush was another, although he kept his religious fervor for the Jewish state hidden from public view.
During the last few days, two staunch Christian Zionist supporters of Israel were in the news. Rep. Louis Gohmert, a Republican from Texas, is much like Inhofe, up front and over the top. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is more similar to Bush; he is a head of state and he keeps his religious fervor under wraps. However, Harper is quite clear about his pro-Israel positions.
Rep. Louie Gohmert Likens Netanyahu To King David
Eric W. Dolan and Raw Story got the scoop on Gohmert and posted the video below. On Sunday Gohmert told an audience in South Carolina that Netanyahu could become as great as King David. He complained the U.S. is pushing Israel “into a corner,” referring to the Kerry peace negotiations. Gohmert also suggested that only religious Israelis should make political decisions that concern the fate of Israel.
Gohmert said that he suggested to Netanyahu that he organize a national day of prayer for God’s “direction and protection.”
And I know you’ve got secularists, and I called off a couple, that you have to deal with here and tell them this is not for you, it is only for people who believe, but I’m declaring a national day of prayer and fasting in this crisis for God’s direction and protection, and for all of those who believe, and I said, I promise you God will answer that prayer, the secularists will hear, the world will see, and even people in the United States will see, and Israel will be blessed because of you doing that.
Barak Ravid, the political columnist from the Israeli daily, Ha’aretz, was the first to pick up the Raw Story post on his blog. He added the following gem:
By the way – the same Gohmert met with Netanyahu in 2011 in Jerusalem and presented him with a copy of “The Tehran Initiative” – an apocalyptic thriller about the day Iran gets a nuclear weapon. It is not clear if the book met with Netanyahu’s literary tastes, however it certainly reflected his worst nightmare. Trans. mine.
Harper speaks at Knesset accompanied by over 200, mostly Canadian Jews
On Monday, during a four day visit to Israel and the West Bank, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave a speech (full text here) to the Knesset (Israeli Parliament). Although Harper’s speech did not specifically mention his Christian Zionist world view, John Bell makes the case that Harper’s extremely strong support of Israel is personal.
Bell wrote in Al Jazeera that Harper’s political interests are not served by his pro-Israel stance and that the love affair the Canadian PM has with Israel comes solely from his Christian Zionist worldview.
This general bafflement may be because Harper’s stance is personal and ideological, not calculated interest. He may embrace a deeply held view of Israel’s place in Christian eschatology, a “moral” position where Israel’s existence rights historical wrongs, while also heralding of a Christian messianic future. This translates politically into a view that Israel is a country under threat that needs to be defended….
The Economist also had a piece on Harper and Israel making similar points.
There are about 329,000 Jews in Canada, compared with just over 1m Muslims, so the electoral advantages of such a pro-Israel stance are not obvious. The economic advantages are also slight. Although Canada has had a free-trade agreement with Israel since 1997, total bilateral trade of C$1.4 billion ($1.3 billion) is less than what Canada and the United States trade in a single day.
Shunning religious declarations, Harper praised Israel lavishly as a modern democratic state and referred to it as “a start-up nation,” using that nation’s own public relations term. He went on at length about the “special relationship” between Canada and Israel. Harper made the usual stops in reflecting back the Zionist narrative to the Israelis. He mentioned the Holocaust, antisemitism, and Israel as a nation who seeks peace in a dangerous neighborhood.
Harper said that Canada supported the two-state solution and the current nuclear agreement with Iran, two items that may not have pleased the majority of his listeners. However, most of those present were glad to hear the Prime Minister declare, “But, for now, Canada’s own sanctions [on Iran] will remain fully in place.”
Ahmed Tibi, a prominent Palestinian member of the Knesset, heckled Harper (a common behavior in the Knesset, although probably not usually directed at a visiting head of state) when the Canadian called the academic boycott of Israel, antisemitic. After angrily shouting at the Canadian, Tibi walked out in protest. Tibi’s remarks were not audible in the video below. After the walkout, Harper was given a long standing ovation by the Jewish members, who were probably reacting more in protest over Tibi’s actions than to the content of the speech of the Prime Minister.
Here is Harper’s complete text on the issue of the boycott:
As once Jewish businesses were boycotted, some civil-society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel.
On some campuses, intellectualized arguments against Israeli policies thinly mask the underlying realities, such as the shunning of Israeli academics and the harassment of Jewish students.
Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state.
Think about that.
Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that: a state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish, as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history, that is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism.
It is nothing short of sickening.
But this is the face of the new anti-Semitism.
It targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel and attempts to make the old bigotry acceptable for a new generation.
Toward the end of Harper’s speech, the Prime Minister used an odd locution in order to pledge Canadian support.
And therefore, through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.
I searched for the fire and water phrase and could not come up with any more likely source than this biblical quotation.
When thou passest into waters, I am with thee, And into floods, they do not overflow thee, When thou goest into fire, thou art not burnt, And a flame doth not burn against thee.
Isaiah 43:2 Young’s Literal Translation
Maybe this oblique allusion was the way Harper chose to mark the Christian eschatological origins of his love and misdirected support for the Jewish state.