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Christian Zionists celebrate another victory under Trump, reversal on settlements policy

Opinion
on 24 Comments

On Monday, November 18, 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the Trump Administration would be “reversing the Obama Administration’s approach towards Israeli settlements” and asserted that “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements is not per se inconsistent with international law.” According to Pompeo, this move was all about advancing the peace process. “Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law,” Pompeo suggested, “has not advanced the cause of peace. The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace.” 

Although reversing another Obama era position was undoubtedly a selling point for much of Trump’s base, this isn’t the first time such a claim has been made from a sitting Presidential Administration. As the historian Gershom Gorenberg pointed out recently on Twitter, Ronald Reagan said the same thing nearly forty years ago. 

In addition to holding views on Israeli settlements that are inconsistent with international law, there is another, related, an issue that Trump shares with Reagan; namely, a tremendous amount of support from the Christian Right. As has been frequently repeated since his victory, 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016, and they continue to be his most steadfast supporters. There are numerous reasons for the Evangelical support for Trump: His choice of Vice President; his willingness to stack the supreme Court with conservative judges; his promotion of “religious freedom” (code for the ability of Evangelicals to discriminate while citing their “beliefs” as the reason, rather than old-fashioned bigotry), and, as Anthea Butler showed us recently, plain old racism. Although it is unclear that Trump needed to do anything further to maintain evangelical loyalty, this announcement, is one of many gifts he has offered up to his evangelical supporters in return for their loyalty. 

I say gifts because these announcements have made official what have been long-held beliefs among the subset of evangelicals commonly referred to as Christian Zionists for decades. And through their political activities, not to mention the fact that the two Mikes—Pence and Pompeo—are counted among their ranks, Christian Zionists have helped make their religious views aspects of American foreign policy. 

Christian Zionism is a term that is used to describe a subset of evangelicals for whom the modern state of Israel holds important religious meaning. For them, modern Israel’s formation in 1948 and expansion in 1967 fulfilled prophecy, and serve as visible affirmations that God remains active in history, demonstrating that the Bible is true in its entirety, and thus vindicating their self-identification as a rarefied group of true believers who have privileged access to the truths about the world to which others remain ignorant. 

For Christian Zionists of this persuasion, Israel is not simply another nation state, it is God’s country. Any attempt to alter the terms of Israel’s borders, or create a Palestinian state within those borders is seen as a direct affront to God. Additionally, because this theology is also predicated on an escalation of violence that will reach its peak during the future battle of Armageddon, Christian Zionists tend to view human attempts at reaching peace is futile at best, and satanic at worst. 

In his most recent bookEarth’s Last Empire: The Final Game of Thrones,” prominent American Christian Zionist and Trump cheerleader, John Hagee, outlines the theological significance that Christian Zionists place on Israel: 

“God chose the nation of Israel to provide the source of divine truth on this earth for the generations to come. Through Israel, the Almighty gave mankind His sacred Word, the Patriarchs, the prophets, and our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Because Satan hates what God establishes, the spirit of anti-Semitism has prevailed through the ages in an effort to destroy this thread of redemption.”

As I point out in my bookRighteous Gentiles: Religion, Identity and Myth in John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel,” (and as the excerpt above suggests) Christian Zionists view the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as an earthly manifestation of a cosmic conflict between God and Satan. Viewed through this theological lens, it is not difficult to see who is standing in for Satan at this particular juncture: the Palestinians seeking self-determination and those who advocate on their behalf. This type of demonology has a dehumanizing function. Humans are quite literally stripped of their humanity and invested with demonic forces, rendering opposition or indifference to their plight that much easier to come by for many believers. Why, they might ask, would anyone want to negotiate with the devil? 

Head of Christians United for Israel John Hagee speaks at a rally at the Jerusalem convention center, April 6, 2008. (Photo: AP/Sebastian Scheiner)

Hagee is perhaps America’s most well-known and politically active Christian Zionist. In 2006 he founded Christians United for Israel (CUFI) a lobby group that has grown to become the largest pro-Israel organization in the world with over 7 million members. In 2008 Hagee endorsed John McCain, only to have the endorsement rejected by McCain himself after a 2005 sermon surfaced in which he claimed God sent Hitler to get Jews to leave Europe and return to Palestine in the lead up to Jesus’s return. Despite vowing to “Never again” endorse another candidate, Hagee enthusiastically supported Trump in the 2016 election, and told Americans that God would not hold them harmless if they failed to send Trump to the White House. When Trump did win the election, Hagee credited Trump’s victory to divine influence, stating that  “when Donald Trump started saying good things about Israel, the winds of heaven got behind his political sails and pushed him right to the White House.” 

The claim that saying good things about Israel is what thrust Donald Trump into the White House is based on a verse from the biblical book of Genesis. In Genesis 12:3, God speaks to Abraham and tells him that those who bless Israel will be blessed, and those who curse Israel will be cursed. Christian Zionists frequently cite this verse when explaining their support for the state of Israel, and also use it as a warning when they fear America might be straying from that support. 

During the Obama years, organizations like CUFI worked with Republican Congressional representatives to shape policy toward Israel and the Middle East. They fought against the Iran Nuclear Deal, and, according to Hagee, were instrumental in having Jerusalem described as the “undivided” Capital of Israel in the Republican platform, creating their own set of “facts on the ground” and ensuring that East Jerusalem was no longer a disputed territory in Republican eyes. 

Since Trump took office, Hagee has had a close relationship with the Trump Administration, and Christian Zionists have enjoyed a great deal of success in achieving their long term aims. Trump has repealed the Iran Nuclear deal, recognized Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel, and recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Trump also invited Hagee to give the benediction of the opening the US Embassy in Jerusalem, during which he happily described it as the place where Jesus would return, “and establish a kingdom that will never end.” Likewise, over the past three years, current and former members of the Trump Administration including Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, and Mike Pompeo have spoken at CUFI’s annual meeting in Washington, DC. 

One of CUFI’s underlying aims is to transform their version of pro-Israel support into a form of cultural common-sense, at the same time making it equally a part of what counts as acceptable Christianity. They achieve through a language of mythmaking that blends theological beliefs about Israel into the language of American exceptionalism and Christian Nationalism, wherein support for the even the most far-right Israeli policies become acts of religious and national piety. In short, Christian Zionists and their collaborators are working to define what means to be truly American and truly Christian. Among other things, support for Israeli expansion into the occupied territories and opposition to a two-state solution are part of that litmus test. It is hard not to view the Trump Administration’s latest declaration about the legality of Israeli settlements as anything but a success for Christian Zionists, and the further blurring of lines between the Christian Right’s beliefs in biblical laws and this Administration’s. For Christian Zionists like Hagee, the settlements have never been illegal because God’s law supersedes international law—and now, it seems, so do the laws of Israel and the United States. 

Palestinians watch Israeli bulldozers inside of the West Bank settlement of Beit El, July 29, 2015. (Photo: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)

One of the arguments that I make in my book is that one of CUFI’s underlying aims is to transform their version of pro-Israel support into a form of cultural common-sense, at the same time making it equally a part of what counts as acceptable Christianity. One way I argue they achieve this is through a language of mythmaking that blends theological beliefs about Israel into the language of American exceptionalism and Christian Nationalism, wherein support for the even the most far-right Israeli policies become acts of religious and national piety. In short, I argue that Christian Zionists were working to define what it meant to be truly American and truly Christian. Among other things, support for Israeli expansion into the occupied territories and opposition to a two-state solution became part of that litmus test. At the time that I was writing the book, I didn’t make any predictions about whether they would be successful. However, it is hard not to view the Trump Administration’s latest declaration about the legality of Israeli settlements as anything but a success for Christian Zionists, and the further blurring of lines between the Christian Right’s beliefs in biblical laws and this Administration’s. For Christian Zionists like Hagee, the settlements have never been illegal because God’s law supersedes international law—and now, it seems, so do the laws of Israel and the United States. 

With that in mind, when, at the same press conference, Pompeo asserted that “The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace” It reminded me a great deal of something that one of CUFI’s leaders explained to me and others in attendance at one of CUFI’s pro-Israel events that I attended a few years ago. “The solution to the conflict in the Middle East is probably going to require the return of the Messiah. It’s extremely complicated to come up with a solution.”

 

Sean Durbin

Sean Durbin is the author of "Righteous Gentiles: Religion, Identity and Myth in John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel." It is being published in January 2020 by Haymarket Books (with whom Mondoweiss.net shares sponsorship).

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24 Responses

  1. Hemlockroid on December 2, 2019, 11:58 am

    They’re called Protestants, the same ilk that built Derry, the Protestant Jerusalem 250 years before Lord Shaftesbury was prepping Palestine for an onslaught of foreign Jews.

    • MHughes976 on December 2, 2019, 1:17 pm

      Gavin D’Costa of Bristol University has – in a book and many magazine publications – been proclaiming and commending the existence of what he calls ‘minimal Catholic Zionism’, though to my mind what he describes is quite strong stuff, not that minimal. The key thing for Catholics, as he presents matters, is Romans 11:29 – the promises of God are irrevocable – and its interpretation in a Zionist direction. The interpretation of that passage is a question for my fellow Protestants too.

      • echinococcus on December 3, 2019, 12:56 am

        Henceforth I will be strongly prejudiced against anyone, even if innocent, who writes hisher name with an apostrophe followed by a consonant.

      • RoHa on December 3, 2019, 7:50 pm

        Not before time, Echi.

      • echinococcus on December 3, 2019, 10:31 pm

        We must soon have at it hammer and tongues.
        Especially M’d’rn H’br’w.

  2. brent on December 2, 2019, 3:10 pm

    Many observers have concluded for some time that a two state arrangement is no longer feasible. I wonder on what basis those who do, envision it being worked out. Discussions of land swaps have been discussed between the parties but I have yet to learn specifics.

    Having the end game in question makes working toward it confused and problematic. I understand some in the Mondoweiss community advocate for Europeans to get out, but ,noting the financial and political power amassed, that seems highly unlikely now or in the future.

    If a consensus is reached on an endgame, by primary parties, there will be a much better chance of getting there.

    It appears Trump has concluded only one state can work. He has said he’s good with that so long as both parties are too. I doubt Palestinian, Jewish, American, Evangelical or world opinion will be good with codifying inequality under law in Israel or anywhere.

    • RoHa on December 2, 2019, 9:27 pm

      Pssst, Brent –

      “I wonder on what basis those who do” is a subject clause, so there should be no comma after it.

    • MHughes976 on December 3, 2019, 5:58 am

      If by endgame one means final settlement then I think that a consensus about it is very far away.

      • Misterioso on December 3, 2019, 10:43 am

        Zionists have always underestimated the indigenous Palestinians. Here’s a recent important example:

        https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-bibi-is-the-past-ayman-odeh-lawmaker-israeli-unavoidable-is-the-future-1.8138525

        “Bibi Is the Past. Ayman Odeh – Lawmaker, Israeli, Unavoidable – Is the Future”

        “Odeh, as a child the only Muslim in a Christian school in a Jewish city in the state of Israel, is 10 times the Israeli Bibi is. One day, he may be 10 times the prime minister.”

        By Bradley Burston, Haaretz, Nov. 18/19

        “Ayman Odeh is 10 times the Israeli I am.

        “Not just because I’m an immigrant and he was born here. And not just because he has the kind of sociological X-ray vision and political second sight which are the province of those born into an intelligent, culturally savvy, and discriminated-against minority within a self-satisfied, tunnel-visioned majority.

        “Ayman Odeh is, in fact, 10 times the Israeli that Benjamin Netanyahu is.

        “Odeh sees right through him. And Bibi can’t take it.

        “The 44-year-old Odeh, as a child the only Muslim student in a Christian school in a Jewish city in the state of Israel, is the chair of Israel’s third-largest political party, the Joint List, which took more than one of every 10 votes in the most recent election.

        “As Netanyahu, aging before our very eyes, seeks with mounting desperation to offset eroding electoral support with unsheeted racism, Odeh’s incisive pragmatism – once the hallmark of successful Israeli politicians – is driving the sweat-soaked prime minister stone nuts.

        “The rising strength of the Joint List, most of whose leaders and voters are Palestinian citizens of Israel, has been a key element in denying Netanyahu a Knesset majority, something he hasn’t had since way back last Christmas.

        “Netanyahu has done his best – which, in his case, is also his worst – to pump hatred of Odeh and the Joint List and transform it into electoral gold. So far, though, the prime minister’s storied alchemy has drifted into lead balloon territory.

        “When Bibi’s under pressure, Bibi makes mistakes. And, thanks in no small part to Ayman Odeh, Bibi is under pressure he’s never known before.

        “Take Sunday, for example.

        “Netanyahu, addressing a Likud ’emergency rally’ to warn of the perils he saw in having the Joint List play any role in statecraft. Lying through his spittle, Netanyahu described the party, and thus its voters, such:

        “‘At exactly the time when we were at war, when we were being attacked by rockets, when our citizens were sitting in bomb shelters and our soldiers were risking their lives, you were holding talks with those same MKs who support terrorism and want to annihilate the state.’

        “If the Joint List tacitly supports a centrist minority government led by Kahol Lavan chief Benny Gantz, he continued, crowds will ‘celebrate in Tehran, Ramallah, and Gaza,the way they celebrate after every terror attack.’ Such a government, Netanyahu told the sparse crowd – overwhelmingly male and, yes, aging – would be an ‘historic national terror attack on the state of Israel’ and an ‘existential threat.’

        “Odeh’s response was two-fold, and showed just how deeply and effortlessly the Joint List leader knows how to get under Netanyahu’s thinning skin.

        “On his Twitter account, Odeh posted a photograph in which he’s reading to his pajama-clad children, cuddling around him.

        “‘At the end of a long day,’ his caption read, ‘these three existential threats need to be put to bed.’

        “The tweet followed another, in which Odeh sent a spear calmly into the heart of the history-minded Netanyahu’s tarnished and already fading legacy:

        “‘There’ll be no ‘Benjamin’ freeway interchange, or ‘Netanyahu High School.’ This evening he sealed his legacy as a bitter criminal who didn’t know how to lose, just how to attack and incite against those he was supposed to serve.’

        “‘All of us, Arabs and our Jewish partners, will breathe a sigh of relief the day he leaves, and we’ll continue to struggle for peace, equality, democracy and social justice.’

        “In fact, Netanyahu’s unabashedly racist speech may have had an effect opposite to what the Likud leader had intended.

        “Netanyahu hinted at treasonous scheming between three former army chiefs of staff, all leaders of the Kahol Lavan party, and the Joint List, while fighting raged this month in Gaza and southern Israel. As Netanyahu tried to silence the booing he himself had incited, he may have actually burnished Odeh’s standing and credibility as a public servant – and a full-fledged citizen of Israel – rather than as a negligible, avoidable, dismissible critic.

        “By Netanyahu’s own account, Odeh and his Joint List colleague Ahmed Tibi were meeting not with the Islamic Jihad and Hamas, but with three former heads of the Israeli military.

        “At the same time, as Odeh’s posts demonstrated, the most radical element of the Joint List leader’s policy is his willingness to step out of a framework of dogmatic radicalism.

        “He has also broken ground in a campaign to allow him as Joint List chair to serve as the first Arab leader of the opposition in Knesset, a position which would entitle him to monthly top-level security briefings and the right of response to major policy addresses by the prime minister.

        “Most significantly, Odeh said after the September election, the position of opposition leader is ‘an important platform to meet with the prime minister and meet with world leaders and tell them about the Nation-State Law,’ the Netanyahu right’s most controversial and racist legislative achievement. ‘Finally, there will be an opposition.’

        “Odeh has made clear that the Israel he envisions is one of pro-active cooperation between Jews and Arabs, and movement toward equality for all its citizens. He has, for example, appealed to the ultra-Orthodox Mizrachi Shas party to work together on social issues affecting their respective constituencies.

        “His message has clearly resonated with a mounting number of Jewish Israelis.

        “Already during the 2015 elections, former Knesset speaker Avrum Burg, once among the leading figures in Labor, announced his support for the Joint List. Speaking to AP at the time, Burg offered a prediction for the future:

        “‘We will witness a new landscape for the entire democratic camp in Israel, in which Israeli Arabs are no longer excluded as pariahs.’

        “Ayman Odeh? He’s 10 times the Israeli that Bibi is. One day, he may be 10 times the prime minister.”

      • annie on December 3, 2019, 12:18 pm

        “‘At the end of a long day,’ his caption read, ‘these three existential threats need to be put to bed.’

        brilliant response

    • Talkback on December 3, 2019, 11:34 am

      brent: “I understand some in the Mondoweiss community advocate for Europeans to get out …”

      IMHO ecchi is the only one. My personal approach was always that the Jews in Palestine are not the problem, but that they keep Nonjews expelled to maintain a Jewish settler Apartheid regime.

      • echinococcus on December 3, 2019, 2:20 pm

        “brent: “I understand some in the Mondoweiss community advocate for Europeans to get out …”
        IMHO ecchi is the only one. ”

        Objection, Your Honor. I just advocate the concept that the invaders (not necessarily European) have no right at all to be there, unless as — who knows? — freely consented by a general plebiscite of all Palestinians, including the Palestinian diaspora and excluding the invaders and their offspring. An absolute sine qua non for even a semblance of justice. In the presence of occupation or any duress.

        Obviously impossible to achieve a freely conceded consent, ie without any kind of menace or duress, which requires a voluntary lifting of the occupation of all Palestine by Zionists; logic therefore shows that the absence of duress, if at all possible, will unfortunately need an Algerian-style solution or worse. This is unarrestable except by extermination of the Palestinian people. Zionists are therefore eagerly working toward that goal.

      • Talkback on December 4, 2019, 2:58 am

        But most if not almost all of the time you leave that part out: “… unless as … freely consented by a general plebiscite of all Palestinians, including the Palestinian diaspora and excluding the invaders and their offspring.”

        Maybe you shouldn’t.

      • echinococcus on December 4, 2019, 9:58 am

        Talkback,

        Repeating a big mouthful everytime just because unreasonable attackers pretend to ignore that one’s position is the appropriate, default, correct position lands one in the political correctness marshes we’ve been discussing re Corbyn.

        What’s the objection to Zionist presence in Palestine? The absence of a valid plebiscite. Did the Z obtain it? No. As long as they did not obtain it, it’s them who are on the defensive, not the guy who questions legitimacy.

        In the absence of a plebiscite, now. Was there an unmistakable majority opposition to Zionist presence, from the legitimate Palestinians? You betcha. Almost a hundred years of it, nonstop.
        Being in control of a colonial conquest places the damnedest burden on conquerors: either they retire and let a fair plebiscite be organized, or a national liberation war becomes the plebiscite. Not our problem, theirs.

      • Talkback on December 4, 2019, 5:51 pm

        echi: “Repeating a big mouthful everytime …”

        It doesn’t need to be a “big mouthful”. I get your position. Others won’t if you leave out the context. It’s up to you.

    • James Canning on December 3, 2019, 12:16 pm

      Perhaps Trump, and Pompeo, will tell us what they think should be done with the millions of non-Jews living in the occupied West Bank.

      Is anyone asking John Hagee what he thinks should be done with non-Jews living under Israel’s domination?

    • Mooser on December 3, 2019, 12:28 pm

      “Brent”, don’t get discouraged. Scientists are very close to developing a method of doubling the land area and resources of Palestine, making the two-state solution a definite possibility.

    • James Canning on December 3, 2019, 4:14 pm

      @brent Why should the presence of illegal Jewish settlers make it impossible for an end to the occupation (of West Bank, incl. East Jerusalem)? Let them make a deal with the government of Palestine.

  3. DaBakr on December 3, 2019, 4:39 am

    “…….and thus vindicating their self-identification as a rarefied group of true believers who have privileged access to the truths about the world to which others remain ignorant. “

    a statement which applies to many MW commentators as well.

    • Misterioso on December 3, 2019, 9:28 am

      @DaBakr

      Good grief, yet another childish, utterly meaningless comment that only further demonstrates your appalling ignorance and utter desperation to “make a point,” albeit a phony one.

      Meanwhile, here’s a dose of reality:

      https://whtt.org/2019/11/23/why-american-evangelical-christians-turn-their-backs-to-palestinian-christians#comments

      “American Evangelicals Seem Oblivious to Erosion of Palestinian Christians”
      By John Mason,/Arab America Contributing Writer, Nov 20, 2019, arabamerica.co

      “Despite themselves, American evangelicals, in siding with U.S. government and Israeli policies, have undermined the very Christians in Palestine who are the guardians of the birthplace of Christianity. Blinded by ideological-religious politics, these evangelicals have ignored the precarious situation of the remaining Christian population in the homeland of Christianity.

      “Swept up in U. S. Politics, American Evangelicals have forgotten the true Guardians of Christianity’s Major Shrines: Palestine’s Christians

      “We noted previously in these posts that American evangelicals have been captivated by the Trump administration. This has happened, based on two critical points: first, evangelical pro-life sympathies and, second, their adherence to a pro-Israeli stance in opposition to Palestinian interests. Unfortunately, this anti-Palestinian stance has dampened American evangelical sympathy towards the very descendants of Christianity’s founders, the Palestinian guardians of Christianity’s holiest shrines.

      “The combined interest of Trump and American evangelicals has allowed Israel more and more control over occupied Palestine. This is not only contrary to previous agreements, which support a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine problem, namely the provision of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. It has resulted in disempowering Palestinians of both Christian and Islamic faiths. A viable Christian population on the occupied West Bank depends on a healthy community of both Muslim and Christian Palestinians.

      “With President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem—thus recognizing the latter as the capital of Israel— and Pompeo’s recent announcement that Israel’s settlements are not illegal, the fate of evangelicals has become united with Trump’s political agenda of drawing white Christians into his re-election orbit. Since Jerusalem is also beloved by Arab Muslims as critical to their Islamic beliefs, they have felt cheated by this one-sided decision by the U.S. Complicating this American marriage of religion and politics is that evangelicals have bought hook-line-and-sinker into the Trump paradigm of Islamophobia. This marriage builds on the illusion that Islam and terrorism are forever linked.

      “A Charge of “Ethnic Cleansing” of Palestinian Christians that few talk about

      “Whether it’s ‘ethnic cleansing’ as some have stated or simply the steady decline in the Christian population of the West Bank is a judgment call. The cause of this demographic event is perhaps not so debatable: Israel. A recent Palestine Chronicle editorial states that ‘…the number of Christian inhabitants of Palestine has dropped by nearly ten-fold in the last 70 years.’ While 98% of Palestinian Christians or 47,000 live in the occupied West Bank, mainly in the centers of Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem, only 1,100 live in the Gaza. As Christians leave, the proportion of Muslims, of course, increases.

      “Following the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war and the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, the residence of Christians has shifted. In time, Israel has constructed illegal settlements and a separating wall that cuts off Bethlehem from Jerusalem. The wall was also intended to isolate Bethlehem from the rest of the West Bank, meaning that only 13% of that district is open to Palestinian use. As of 2016, according to the Chronicle, this holy city has lost significant numbers of Christians, down to only 12% of its population or only 11,000. Even optimistically, estimates of the number of Palestinian Christians residing in the West Bank are less than 2%. This means the majority of inhabitants are comprised of Muslim Palestinians and increasing numbers of Jewish settlers.

      “A survey of 1,000 Palestinians from the West Bank, half Muslim, half Christian, on reasons for the decreasing Christian population, reported by the Chronicle, revealed the following: ‘the pressure of Israeli occupation, ongoing constraints, discriminatory policies, arbitrary arrests, confiscation of lands added to the general sense of hopelessness among Palestinian Christians.’ Furthermore, the survey indicated for Palestinian Christians, ‘a despairing situation where they can no longer perceive a future for their offspring or themselves.’

      “Included in the array of Palestinian Christian complaints is that Israeli walls and checkpoints have cut them off from their own kinsmen and business opportunities in communities and cities on the West Bank, but more especially from their holy sites, even including Easter services in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. On one recent Easter, the Israelis granted only 200 permits to Christians to visit Bethlehem, and only to those who were 55 years or older. No visits, per the Chronicle report, were permitted to Jerusalem. In effect, many Palestinian Christians believe it is Israel’s intention to drive them out so that Israel can define itself, according to the Palestine Chronicle, ‘as a beleaguered Jewish state amid a massive Muslim population in the Middle East. The continued existence of Palestinian Christians does not factor nicely into this Israeli agenda.’

      “American Evangelicals side with the State of Israel rather than Palestinian Christians

      “A poignant statement from the Christian Post perfectly captures for American evangelicals the dilemma of Palestinian Christians: ‘When Americans sing carols about the ‘Little Town of Bethlehem’ this Christmas, they should keep in mind who lives there.’ Reinforcing this point is found in another quote from Bethlehem’s mayor, Vera Baboun: ‘Bethlehem is the city that gave the message of peace to the whole world…But today, Bethlehem does not live the peace that it gave to the whole world.’

      “At issue in this story is the fact that many evangelical Christians are conservative, aligning with a view that puts Israel’s security above all other priorities. This support blinds them to the issues confronting Palestinian Christians. The Christian Post writes about American evangelicals, suggesting that in missing the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they are missing an opportunity to live out the message of peace that Jesus, born in Bethlehem, gave to the world.’

      “Under the Trump administration, Palestinian Christians are going to fare no better than Palestinian Muslims. In this sense, U.S. policy is an equal opportunity for human rights abuses, since the Christians and Muslims on the West Bank suffer equally under American-Israeli policy. That American evangelicals should support this policy is both wrongheaded and undoubtedly un-Christian.”

      References:
      “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinian Christians that nobody is talking about,” Ramzy Baroud, The Palestine Chronicle, 10/20/2019

      “The Suppressed Plight of Palestinian Christians,” Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, 06/17/2019

      “Evangelicals side with Israel–that’s hurting Palestinian Christians,” Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, Washington Post, 12/23/2016

      John Mason, who focuses on Arab culture, society, and history, is the author of LEFT-HANDED IN AN ISLAMIC WORLD: An Anthropologist’s Journey into the Middle East, New Academia Publishing, 2017. He has taught at the University of Libya, Benghazi and the American University in Cairo, served on the United Nations staff in Tripoli, Libya, and consulted extensively with USAID and the World Bank worldwide.

    • Talkback on December 3, 2019, 11:21 am

      DaBakr: “a statement which applies to many MW commentators as well.”

      Yeah, that’s called the Zionist-beam-in-your-own-eye-syndrome. It’s terribly disgusting and almost pathological, but we got used to it.

  4. James Canning on December 3, 2019, 11:39 am

    How sad, and indeed pathetic, that “Christian” conservatives have fostered Israel’s destruction of almost all of the ancient Christian communities in the occupied West Bank. Their foolish support of Israel’s contempt for international law threatens the national security interests of the American people.

    The Financial Times calls Mike Pompeo and member of Trump’s “C-Team”. That is, Pompeo is a third-rate secretary of state who endorses Israel’s contempt for international law.

  5. ckg on December 3, 2019, 12:05 pm

    CUFI very nearly counted a fourth former speaker among Trump’s cabinet, but alas Tulsi didn’t get the nod.

    • James Canning on December 3, 2019, 4:18 pm

      Should one suggest CUFI is intentionally undermining the national security of the US, in pursuit of religious fanaticism?

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