Christian Zionism all juiced up
Esther Kaplan printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Apr 04, 2006 at 01:41:44 AM EST
According to an article in Sunday's Ha'aretz, the Israeli daily, Texas-based televangelist John Hagee announced last weekend that he plans to launch a massive new evangelical pro-Israel lobby group, Christians United for Israel. Hagee made the announcement to a gathering of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which is, together with the better known AIPAC, among the most significant of American Jewish pro-Israel lobby groups. Hagee claimed his new group, which will launch July 18 with a major meeting in Washington with members of Congress, will cause a "political earthquake" because it is poised to eclipse AIPAC--the American Israel Public Affairs Committee--in political influence. And in belligerance. According to the Jerusalem Post, Hagee supports an expansionist greater Israel, opposing any further surrender of occupied territory.
Christian Zionism dates back to the 19th century, but picked up steam after the creation of the state of Israel seemed to validate the worldview. A number of Christian Zionist organizations have proliferated in recent decades, from Americans for a Safe Israel, founded in the early 1970s, to the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, which dates to 1980, to the Christians' Israel Public Action Campaign, a lobby; the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, which emphasizes prayer; Christian Friends of Israel; and on and on. The first Christian Congress on Biblical Zionism was held in 1985, where delegates from around the world had the chance to hone their case for supporting Israel based on a literal reading of the Bible. But Hagee's new effort could be a milestone. His goal is to bring together some 35 million Christian Zionists under a single umbrella to maximize their sway on Capitol Hill--his vision that "every pro-Israel church, Para-church organization, ministry or individual in America can speak and act with one voice in support of Israel in matters related to Biblical issues."

Some 400 evangelical powerbrokers met in February in San Antonio, where Hagee's 18,000-member church is based, to set up the new lobby. Other key leaders at this Summit on Israel included familiar names such as Jerry Falwell and Gary Bauer. According to Abe Foxman, Hagee told the Conference of Presidents that evangelicals support Israel from a biblical perspective, but was vague on the details. That's likely because talking to this audience about his belief in the rapture, laid out in the 1999 end-of-times film Vanished in the Twinkling of an Eye, which Hagee narrates, and in Hagee's half a dozen end-times books, such as From Daniel to Doomsday, in which, according to Armageddon Books, "he systematically counts down the prophetic events leading to Christ's second coming." Hagee has called Genesis 12:3 ("I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you") "God's foreign-policy statement."

For a flash, it seemed as if Hagee might be a different kind of Christian Zionist, one who didn't believe that Jews were all destined to return to Israel--only to burn in the fiery pits of hell for all eternity. On March 1, the Jerusalem Post reported that Hagee had long promoted an innovative "dual covenant" theology, which grandfathers Jews into heaven in the end times because of their special covenant with God, but the pastor vehemently denied the assertion the very next day.

Hagee is no joke, having already made a name for himself as the most prominent fundraiser for the Israeli cause in the evangelical world. John Hagee Ministries claims it has donated more than $8.5 million to date to resettle Jews from around the world in Israel. "As Christians," he writes on his  ministry's website, "we must recognize the critical importance of the Jewish people in God's plan for us all." In return for his devotion, Hagee has been courted by Israel's Tourism Ministry. Could his new project change the face of the Israel lobby in Washington--and usher in an even more hard-line American stance against Palestinian rights and any kind of land-for-peace solution?

As someone who's a survivor of a church heavily involved in this (not just the denomination but the very church--the particular church I walked away from runs a group called "High Adventure Ministries" which is explicitly Christian-Zionist, promotes "Messanic Judaism", and as one of its sources of funding promotes "Bible tours" in Israel itself geared towards premillenial dispensationalists) I have to say this is troubling but not entirely surprising.

Among other things, mainstream Judaism (even extending to some voices in the Orthodox community) is starting to become very concerned about "Christian Zionism" in general.  They are starting to realise exactly what part they play in the armageddon-play of the premillenial dispensationalists--and they're finding they've been sleeping with vipers and are now trying to extricate themselves without being bitten too severely.

As the Orthodox community tends to be friendlier towards dominionists, it's not so much of a shock that the Christian-Zionists are courting that community actively (and Orthodoxy is pretty much the "sanctioned" denomination of Judaism in Israel, so they'd find support); it also doesn't hurt when the Christian-Zionists play on legitimate fears of antisemitism and even threaten to withdraw support (as evidenced with the latest dead-agenting of the ADL by many dominionist groups).

Israel itself is starting to become concerned, though.  Among others, the Knesset has in past considered restrictions on missionary activity (due to Christian-Zionist groups into "Messianic Judaism"--including most of the Assemblies of God-linked groups like High Adventure Ministries and International Christian Embassy-Jerusalem--explicitly targeting most of Israel for conversion and using some of the same abusive tactics documented in use here in the States), Israel has kicked out dominionists in past (notably a dominionist group which had long ago crossed the line to a coercive group which had a plan to blow up the Dome of the Rock in 2000), and most recently Israel has put on hold a deal with several Christian-Zionist groups to build a "Bible Park" in several archaeologically-sensitive areas of Israel due to Pat Robertson (one of the parties involved) claiming that God literally struck the prime minister down for conceding land to the Palestinians.

Israel, much like the rest of the Jewish community, is having to step delicately.  Among other things, much of Israel's tourism income is from various "Bible tours" run by Christian-Zionist groups and aimed at premillenial-dispensationalist dominionists.  Taking a stand against them would be, in a real way, crapping where one eats (tourism-wise)--but the Jewish community is starting to wonder if this may be a necessary evil for preservation of Judaism.  It's unfortunately a real devil's bargain and there's probably not going to be a painless way to extricate themselves from dominionist influence.  (Again, it doesn't hurt that for better part of sixty years the dominionists have cozied up to Israel, claiming they're the only friend of the Jews--with the Jews largely not realising, or ignoring, that the dominionists are essentially using the Jews as a pawn on the Armageddon Chessboard.  When the Jewish community has started to stand up--like recently--to the dominionists, they are starting to realise just how quickly a pat on the back can turn to a knife in the back. :()

(And yes, part of why I tend to find the particular branch of dominionism I left despicable is because of my realisation--after having met non-Messianic Jews and read info from the Jewish viewpoint--just what the whole point is of the pushes towards "Bible tourism", etc. are.  They may say that (and I am afraid this is a direct quote) Israel needs to be supported "even if the government commits a total genocide on the Palestinians", they may claim Jews are "God's people" along with themselves, but they aren't terribly happy about the idea of them actually being Jewish.  They see, quite honestly, the only "good Jews" being the "Messianic Jew" kosher-pentecostals, and especially when the Kosher Pentes are trying to create Greater Israel so they can hurry up and bring the Rapture (quite a number of the "Christian Zionist" groups preach the Rapture won't happen until a critical mass of people worldwide, or a critical mass of Jews in particular, are converted) so Jesus can come back, they can spend a seven-year vacation in Heaven, and then come back down in God Warrior style and whip everyone's butts--including the obstinate Jews who don't want to become Kosher Pentecostals. :P)

by dogemperor on Tue Apr 04, 2006 at 09:28:08 AM EST

Is it in fact true that since the ADL's Abe Foxman spoke out strongly against efforts to "Christianize America" that groups on the right have dead-lettered him?  Would love to hear more detail on this, if you know.

by Esther Kaplan on Tue Apr 04, 2006 at 01:05:25 PM EST
I can actually detail a nice history on this (as there've actually been a lot of posts on Talk2Action on this very subject).

It is actually true that Abe Foxman spoke out strongly: per this Talk2Action article and in fact an official press release from the Anti-Defamation League detail the increasing concern regarding dominionism.  

This is part of a general trend--among other things, Salon Magazine has written on how the Jewish community is getting leery of the "Christian Zionists"; Max Blumenthal has also written on the subject and in fact one of my first posts on Talk2Action was how the President of the Union for Reform Judaism put out an even stronger statement than Foxman's (Rabbi Eric Yoffie actually termed the actions of dominionists as blasphemous).

Shortly after this, the dead-agenting started:

a) Conservative Jews (including a few "Messianic Jews") who are known apologists for dominionists (including Rabbi Daniel Lapin--now infamous for his connections to the Abramoff scandal--and Don Feder, who operates a group that is explicitly apologist towards dominionists) begin condemning Abe Foxman in the press, including in WorldNet Daily.

b) In a move resembling that of a Mafia-style protection racket, the American Family Association's Don Wildmon issued a statement claiming that dominionists would withdraw support for Israel if Foxman did not retract his statements regarding dominionists (as it is, Foxman specifically mentioned the AFA as one of the dominionist organisations in question trying to "Christianise America")

c) In a shocking statement (none the least because of the use of a racial slur), Tim LaHaye (as in the guy who co-authored the"Left Behind" books, and also as in his wife founding "Concerned Women for America", both being central to founding of both the Coalition for National Policy and Coalition for Revival; yes, the premillenial-dispensationalist Tim LaHaye) issued a statement in his webpage (written by Stan Goodenough, who is a dominionist columnist) which literally stated that Jewish people who worked for peace and were leery of the "Christian Zionists" were "not-to-be-trusted yids".

d) Herbert Zweibon, a member of a group connected to "Christian Zionist" groups called Americans for a Safe Israel, threatened a mass outbreak of antisemitism if Israelis withdrew from the maximum historical extent of Israel.  Other dominionists have made similar statements.

e) The whole "War on Christmas" thing is largely a dead-agenting of the ADL; this post and this post detail this.

f) I have a large post (which I'll be repeating here) on groups which have specifically dead-agented the ADL.

by dogemperor on Wed Apr 05, 2006 at 10:10:31 AM EST

From a previous post in this thread:

Sadly, post-announcement by the ADL that they are taking a stand against dominionism, there are now multiple groups (including, sadly, some Jewish groups that are friendly to dominionist organisations--often not realising that many of those same groups have conversion of Jews to "kosher pentecostals" as part of their reason for support, as well as the specific role of Israel in their end-times eschatology) that are "dead-agenting"--performing character assassination on--the ADL:,2933,140545,00.html (and specifically tells of its dominionist intent)

(ALL of these on the "ADL is trying to destroy Christmas" myth) (on Alliance Defense Fund dead-agenting)

There is also a lot of dead-agenting going on by dominionists claiming the ADL has an "anti-Christian agenda": (article by David Brog, assistant to Sen Arlen Specter (R), also Christian Zionist linked with dominionist groups on several levels) (website for a quisling group in the Jewish community actively courting dominionists, and which actually seems to be fostered by a dominionist group) (group founded to be confusingly similar to the ADL and is a pro-dominionist legal group which also seems to be involved with military personnel; interestingly, the "supporters" page is the only dead page) (dead-agenting of the ADL in the "they're trying to destroy Christmas" canard--this is now heavily being used in general to dead-agent the ADL) (another dominionist group claiming to be a "Christian alternative to the ADL" (think about that for a minute--they're claiming to be a dominionist alternative to a Jewish group fighting antisemitism) and list the ADL as an "enemy" along with most other progressive groups) (from dominionist whinging about the ADL's stand against dominionism; mentions writer who blatantly has promoted "Messianic Judaism" and has written a series of articles advocating a religious theocracy) (mentions dominionists, including a former Christian Coalition worker who is now on the "Democratic Leadership Council" (great, now we have to worry about dominionists in BOTH major political parties), claims ADL is "overreacting") (history of blatant antisemitism in AFA journals) (dead-agenting of ADL for relation to party suing Michael Marcavaige) (dead-agenting of ADL for promotion of tolerance education for children) (blatant dead-agenting of ADL for opposition to dominionist candidate associated with Illinois Family Institute) (dead-agenting of ADL over their being a party in a lawsuit against a group practicing "stealth evangelism" targeted at children) (dominionist group in Catholic community dead-agenting ADL over stand against dominionism) (attempts to dead-agent multiple groups including ADL) (evidence that opinions columns are starting to dead-agent ADL) (ADL dead-agenting by Washington Times, which is newspaper controlled by the Moonies) (dead-agenting of ADL leaders for call for national Jewish congress on subject of dominionism) (dominionist-apologist again dead-agents ADL for statements against dominionism) (pro-dominionist, very-right-wing site demonises ADL for statements against dominionism) (yet more dead-agenting by pro-dominionist writer Klingenhoffer against ADL) (dominionist-apologists in Jewish community dead-agent ADL for statements against dominionism) (dominionist dead-agents ADL, essentially claiming "hey, it's not like we're doing actual Nazi-style progroms or anything") (detailing dead-agenting of ADL for "possibly driving our most devoted supporters away" (no matter that their "supporters" merely want to convert them); article writer is supportive of ADL)

Another person to watch besides Feder is David Klingenhoffer, who is a frequent champion of dominionist causes, including trying to bully the Smithsonian Institution to include creationism aka "intelligent design" in its exhibits, and even borderline antisemitic claims such as a claim that the Holocaust was divine punishment against the Jewish people.  Klingenhoffer, of note, is one of those who has been performing a bit of dead-agenting  of the ADL in regards to the latter's rejection of dominionism.

As it is...the Southern Poverty Law Center has now been the target of similar "dead agenting"/character assassination in dominionist press after beginning to report on dominionism (dating back to being a party in a lawsuit against Roy Moore, and the attacks stepped up especially after Chaldecon, American Vision, and Family Research Institute being formally listed as hate groups by SPLC).

Nor is ADL likely to be the only Jewish group targeted in such a manner.  Firstly, the ADL has called for a national congress of all Jewish congregations to discuss the threat of dominionism to the Jewish faith in America and worldwide; secondly, the head of the Reform Judaism congregation in the US has condemned dominionism as well and  it is strongly suspected that the Conservative Judaism congregation heads will issue a similar statement soon.

by dogemperor on Wed Apr 05, 2006 at 10:22:58 AM EST

"...will cause a "political earthquake" because it is poised to eclipse AIPAC--the American Israel Public Affairs Committee--in political influence."

Wow.  That's a tall order, and a hard-to-stomach claim for someone who knows the history and long-standing significance of AIPAC.

It's also a scary thought - it's clear that these folks are bent on reframing traditionally Jewish political causes as Christian ones.

I fear this may cause issues for Jewish/Israeli interests when the backlash comes... will support for Israel become so strongly equated with the religious right, that America rejects Israel in its haste to eject the theocrats?


by EmilyWynn8 on Tue Apr 04, 2006 at 11:40:34 AM EST

But on the other hand, I've heard from people who do beltway lobbying that the Christian Zionist presence on Capitol Hill has been more and more significant -- that AIPAC has already ceased to be the only big muscle in town on this issue. So efforts to consolidate and organize these lobbies under one roof, and to create response teams in every Congressional district, as Hagar has says he intends to do, could accelerate this shift.

by Esther Kaplan on Tue Apr 04, 2006 at 01:07:49 PM EST

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