Israeli Politicians to Speak at Freedom Federation's "The Awakening 2010"
Rachel Tabachnick printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 08:18:22 PM EST
Part Two of Camouflaging a Christian Nationalist Worldview Behind A "Pro-Israel" Facade

The Freedom Federation is a movement with an explicitly Christian nationalist agenda including the rewriting of American history and promotion of a John Birch Society worldview.  So why are Israeli government leaders going to be speaking at The Awakening 2010?  The answer is complex, but it is one that progressives need to understand in order to avoid driving more American Jews into the waiting arms of the Religious Right.  Christian Zionism is the ultimate "wedge issue," a tool of the culture wars used to  divide Jews in the way that other culture war issues have divided Christians and ripped apart denominations.

On the list of scheduled speakers is the Vice Prime Minister of Israel, Moshe Ya'alon, and the Chairman of World Likud and Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, Danny Danon.  I have previously written about  Worldwide Biblical Zionism (WBZ), a creation of Danon's World Likud and their evangelical arm, which is building a center to facilitate moving Christian Zionists into the West Bank.  The poster for the Freedom Federation conference also featured Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon, who served as the former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. and has worked extensively with U.S. Christian Zionists.

The impact of this "Biblical Zionists" coalition of Christians and Jews could also be seen on March 8, when Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke at John Hagee's Christians United for Israel (CUFI) event at the International Jerusalem Convention Center on the evening of Joe Biden's arrival in Israel.  Netanyahu's partnership with Hagee and Christian Zionist leaders dates back to his previous term as prime minister when they coordinated their attacks on the policies of President Bill Clinton's administration.

A partnership between a subset of American evangelicals and a segment of Israeli and American Jewish leaders has been in place for almost forty years, originally formed to combat the policies of President Jimmy Carter.  Netanyahu has long been a favorite of Christian Zionists and is now in power at a time when this religious/political movement is reaching out to Hispanic, Asian, and African American evangelicals.  The movement is also rapidly going global and becoming more politically aggressive.  Another change in the movement is its shift from a fundamentalist phenomenon to one dominated by independent charismatics, including leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation.

Interspersed throughout "The Awakening 2010" will be performances by Maurice Sklar, a talented violinist of Jewish background who graduated from Julliard School before converting to charismatic Christianity.  He teaches at Oral Roberts University and has been a regular fixture in the charismatic broadcast world including 700 Club, and appearances with Benny Hinn and Richard Roberts, and Messianic programming like Sid Roth's "It's Supernatural."   Messianics are Jews who convert to Christianity but retain some Jewish cultural and ritual practice. Increasingly Messianic congregations are a combination of those who have converted from Judaism along with charismatic Christians who are embracing their "Hebrew Roots" in preparation for the end times, including a growing number of charismatic Messianic congregations in Israel.

This combined Messianic and charismatic evangelical world is a curious mixture of "pro-Israel" enthusiasm and fiercely anti-Judaism and anti-Pharisaic rhetoric, like that seen throughout the media of Christian Zionists.  They love Israel, or at least their view of what Israel will be, once it is the headquarters of a Christian millennial kingdom. They embrace those "Hebrews" who will help to move the hands of the prophetic clock.  This includes rejection of "land for peace" since a greater Israel is a primary prerequisite in their end times drama.  

The political partnership with Christian Zionists aids those right wing Israeli politicians who wish to stall the peace process for as long as possible, recognizing that the window of opportunity for a two-state resolution is rapidly closing due to a number of demographic and political factors.  Some of these Israeli politicians have clearly latched onto "Biblical Zionism" for reasons that have little to do with religion, but due to the potential for exploiting religious based Zionism.  Nir Barkat was elected as the secular candidate for mayor of Jerusalem, but recently justified building in East Jerusalem (considered illegal by international law) to BBC correspondent Owen Bennett-Jones by stating,

"Jerusalem is mentioned in the Bible 663 times... Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Koran even once..."  

Jones was noticeably taken aback.

Bennett-Jones: "Are you really saying that because it was Jewish 2000 years ago, it should be Jewish now? And the basis of it is that you were there 2000 years ago and it's mention in the Bible more often than the Koran talks about Jerusalem?

Barkat: "That's number one and the other of course is natural - we are the majority in the city and we claim it more than anybody else, and indeed it was united in `67..."

Bennett-Jones: "If everyone went back to where we were 2000 years ago, I mean, it would be a crazy world. There would be wars everywhere."

Barkat: "So what's your point then?"

Barkat also spoke at the March 8 CUFI event in Jerusalem.

For Jews who want a peaceful Israel and Palestine existing side by side, the Christian Zionist partnership with Israeli politicians has created a no-win situation.  Zionism has become a dirty word, seen as a tool of both the Jewish and Christian Right to impose an aggressive, bloody, and racist agenda for a "greater Israel" with little regard for the lives of her neighbors. Christian Zionists market a narrative in which this "greater Israel" spreads from the Nile to the Euphrates, involving the brutal death of millions, a narrative which incites fear and hatred and obstructs attempts at peace.

Progressive Jews can be demonized by the Right and the Left at the same time - by the former for being a the source of evil, secular, liberal humanism/socialism/communism/feminism, etc. and the latter for being evil Zionists.  

For the Religious Right this is a strategic victory. Not only have they enveloped millions of Hispanic and Asian evangelicals and African Americans into their movement, but they are perfecting the "wedge issue" to divide American Jews, particularly at the national leadership level. This is a community which has long been a stalwart block of  support for separation of church and state and fierce protectors of religious pluralism. The Religious Right understands that if "Biblical Zionism" can become the rule of law in regards to Israel, they have broken open the door for a "Biblical worldview" to be expanded to other areas of American society and government.  

Meanwhile Christian Zionists broadcast narratives which demonize liberal Jews, rewrite Nazi Germany as a liberal phenomenon, and objectify Jews as supernaturally controlling the destiny of the planet, all with little or no objection from those who are supposedly monitoring anti-Semitism.  From Pat Robertson's 1991 publishing of his book New World Order to the present, Christian Zionists have legitimized grand conspiracy ideology as legitimate religious belief and have played a significant role in reinvigorating 1920s and 1930s conspiracy theories which are generally associated with white supremacist groups. These revived narratives target Jews as the source of the socialism/communism which is supposedly swallowing up America and paving the way for the Antichrist, the coming one-world dictator who John Hagee claims will be "partially Jewish."  

One narrative seen throughout Christian Zionist media is referred to as fishers and hunters.  Christian Zionists describe themselves as the fishers who are to lure Jews to Israel prior to the time of the "hunters" who will force Jews to leave their current home nations in a second holocaust.  Bruce Wilson and I have both written previously about Tom Hess (an apostle in the NAR who works with the Israeli Knesset's Christian Allies Caucus) who uses his book Let My People Go to warn American Jews to disentangle themselves from the "fleshpots of America" and flee to Israel before it is too late.  The cover of the book is a graphic of a Jewish businessman tied to a Wall Street sign.

This end times scenario has a prerequisite of a second Holocaust which will force all remaining Jews to move to Israel and therefore requires a massive wave of worldwide anti-Semitism which, despite Christian Zionist efforts, has not yet developed. But the perverse genius of Christian Zionism is that they can spread their anti-Semitic conspiracy ideology well beyond white supremacists and to nations around the globe, thus helping to advance their own prophecy narrative while appearing to be "pro-Israel."  (View a short video example of Cindy Jacobs subtly, or maybe not so subtly, promoting negative Jewish stereotypes at a conference in Indonesia in 2008.)

The intentional promotion of hatred against those Jews who refuse to partner in this "Biblical Zionist" venture is not limited to the Christian Right. This week an Israeli blogger sent me advertisement from the April 7 issue of the Jerusalem Post, placed by Shuva - The Israel Emergency Aliyah Network.  Shuva is led by Shifra Hoffman, a disciple of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the Kach party and movements which were outlawed in Israel as terrorist organizations.  The ad warns that Jews must leave the U.S. now before it is too late.  The headline reads,

Last Chance to Escape!

President Obama Reportedly Has Just Signed An Executive Order Authorizing Martial Law in the United States.


The warning about President Obama is right out of the "New World Order" conspiracy ideology which is loaded with references to FEMA concentration camps with guillotines.  Of course in the Christian Right version it is not Jews, but Christian Patriots who are on the "red and blue lists" to be exterminated after martial law is proclaimed.  And in most versions of this New World Order (NWO) conspiracy ideology, Jews are clearly targeted as pulling the strings of the NWO.  There are previous articles on Talk2action about the role of merged prophecy and conspiracy theories and in NWO ideology including claims that the headquarters are in the Negev in Israel. See links 1, 2, and 3.

The Shuva ad is also similar to the themes found in Christian Zionist media designed to frighten Jews into moving from the U.S., Russia, Ukraine, and other locations through warnings that the second Holocaust is coming.  The warnings are, of course, overhyped sensationalism and manipulation of the term anti-Semitism to include anyone who objects to just about anything in Israeli policy and all Muslims.  However, there is a bit of truth in their warnings, thanks to the fact that they themselves are working frantically to fulfill their own prophecies.  

This alliance of right wing Christians and Jews is trying to harass Jews to move to Israel, each for their separate reasons, through an obscene abuse of warnings of anti-Semitism. The campaign has not succeeded to a large extent in the U.S., but it is not for lack of trying. They have, however, succeeded in irrevocably altering the meaning of the word anti-Semite.

Both Jewish and Christian Zionist leaders have conflated the term with those who object to Israel's political policy.  While this might have seemed reasonable to some Jewish leaders and certainly could be a correct conclusion is some cases, the end result of the abuse of the term it has become virtually meaningless.  Pastors making statements that would have been considered virulently anti-Semitic thirty years ago are now given awards from Jewish and Israeli organizations, while many Jews, even those dedicated to both their faith and to a peaceful Israel, are tagged as anti-Semites.  

Masada 2000, a Kahanist site list thousands on their S.H.I.T. list of "Self Hating and/or Israel Threatening Jews" along with vulgar epithets and pictures.  While the site is still grotesque, it is actually somewhat tamer than what I remember from a few years ago when it featured guillotines, nooses, and dripping blood.

It is imperative that progressives make the distinction between the Zionism of the Religious Right and their right wing Israeli and Jewish partners, and the Zionism of most American Jews. The majority of American Jews support a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the Middle East, not expansion of a "greater Israel" to bring about a biblically based utopia sought by a subset of millennial-minded Christians and Jews. A poll in 2008 indicated that 78% of American Jews believed at that time that Jewish groups should not partner with John Hagee's CUFI or other Christian Zionists. Polls taken over the last few years consistently indicate that over 70% of Israelis favor a two-state resolution.

The culture war currently taking place between those Christians who cherish social justice and the Glenn Becks of America who view social justice as evil, is also taking place in the Jewish community.  Vicious broad-brushed attacks on Israel and Zionism only serve to drive many Jews further into this right wing "Biblical Zionist" partnership or at least causes them to question supporting liberal causes.  As I read comments on liberal blogs I am seeing comments that are frighteningly similar to those coming from the far Right and I have talked with many progressive Jewish activists who are hesitant to participate in events if they fear their will be anti-Israel undertones.

Those who are fighting for Jewish social justice in Israel sometimes do so at great personal costs, and need support from progressives across the spectrum.  The outcome of this struggle impacts us all.

In one of my recent Zeek articles I wrote about Israeli blogger and activists Didi Remez, who regularly participates in protest against the removal of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem.  Remez, who was a combat officer in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is the great grandson of David Remez, who served as the Minister of Transportation and was a close friend of the first Prime Minister David ben Gurion and Remez's grandfather was a former commander of the Israeli Air Force.  A few weeks ago Didi Remez was shot five times with plastic bullets by the IDF as he protested in Bili'in in the West Bank.  Like many others, he is taking increasingly dangerous risks due to his deep commitment to Jewish social justice and to a peaceful and just resolution of the conflict in the Middle East.

Americans who desire peace will no doubt be angered by Israeli officials cozying up to the Religious Right but please remember that this does not represent all Israelis, all Jews, or even all who consider themselves ardent Zionists.  Please be cautious in the statements that you make.  Don't drive more American Jews into the waiting arms of John Hagee, Cindy Jacobs, and Lou Engle.




Display:
I was shocked surfing TV and finding Jews for Jesus types, dressed in Jewish religious clothes promoting old myths about conspiracy theories and Jewish links!  Go figure. It fit the model of the end of times crystal ball wizards in the pre-mill movement.

by wilkyjr on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 11:28:17 AM EST

is that all discourse has been reduced to soundbites. We seem to be unable to see any territory between the two extremes, "with us or agin' us" thinking.

Human beings are a wildly diverse lot, but the portrayals by fringe elements -on both sides - reduce it to two kinds: Us and Them, right and wrong.

We quit teaching critical thinking in favor of turning out cogs for the corporate machines - which requires mindless drones. So we shouldn't be surprised when people act like what they have been trained to be.

Of course the situation is complex. Of course there are all kinds of Christians, all kinds of Jews, and all kinds of Muslims. All kinds of Americans, all kinds of Israelis, and all kinds of Palestinians. It would be wonderful if the media would air the voices of those who see beyond the polarization, but I don't think that is what the media is paid to do.

by phatkhat on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 01:37:53 PM EST

Rachel, I do not disagree with your article. I have read Bruce Wilson's articles on the "Rainbow Right" and the danger of the Common Ground. But, Bruce assumes that there are not really any cleavages within the Freedom Federation. I would like to include in this comment analysis which suggests that on the issue of Hispanic immigration and health care for undocumented immigrants that Rev. Sammy Rodriguez is isolated. The Freedom Federation includes many groups that were active either in the Secure Borders Coalition or the Families First in Immigration coalition. This Freedom Federation is, in my view, susceptible to cracks on the issue of race. They were going to hold a conference, according to RightWingWatch, on immigration. That never happened. Instead, they are holding a conference on what they have in common. Here is my analysis: In 2006 reacting to the joint John Tanton-Alan Keyes Secure Borders Coalition, Reverend Rodriguez complained to the Southern Poverty Law Center that "`[b]efore immigration came along, we were building an alliance. ...Immigration threatens to become the definitive divide.'" While Reverend Rodriguez did not believe that "`white evangelicals are racist'" he did believe that the "`risk of polarization is real.'" The Washington Post quoted Reverend Rodriguez questioning why other Christian Right groups were not supporting comprehensive immigration reform. "`Where we were you when 12 million of our brothers and sisters were about to be deported and 12 million families disenfranchised?'" complained Rodriguez. In 2007, Reverend Rodriguez reacted negatively to the formation of the Christian Right's Families First on Immigration coalition. Right Wing Watch reported Rodriguez as saying, "`It's great that white evangelicals are finally speaking out on this issue....But so far, I'm not sure I'm comfortable with what we're hearing.'" In September 2009 the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, headed by Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, and the Hispanic National Association of Evangelicals, supported undocumented immigrants being able to purchase health care insurance and opposed the requirement that persons needed to prove American citizenship in order to get access to health care. Reverend Rick Garza, the Conference's chief operating officer complained that requiring "`immigrants to prove citizenship in order to purchase Health Care coverage stands as a defacto endorsement of racial profiling and continues to exacerbate the anti-immigrant sentiment currently embedded within the immigration reform debate.'" Garza added that excluding 12 million Hispanics from health care coverage is "`deportation via attrition or better yet, some may label the scheme as Xenophobic Health Care Reform.'" Garza's terminology--`deportation via attrition'--is probably a reference to John Tanton's strategy of conducting a "war of attrition" against Hispanic immigrants so that they deport themselves. In October 2009, Reverend Rodriguez warned Republicans (and Democrats who had joined in barring undocumented immigrants from access to health care insurance) that it is "`impossible to win national elections without Hispanics'" and "`impossible to win Hispanics without immigration reform.'" Following the electoral victory in November 2008 of Proposition 8 in California against gay marriage, Reverend Rodriguez proclaimed, "`White evangelicals by themselves cannot preserve a biblical worldview or a biblical agenda within American political and public policy arena. It is impossible. 2008 said it is over.'" THE ANTI-IMMIGRANT SIDE OF CHRISTIAN NATIONALISTS: The Secure Borders Coalition was formed around the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps and included anti-immigrant groups linked to the white nationalist John Tanton who controls the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the Center for Immigration Studies, and NumbersUSA. The coalition included Eagle Forum, Bishop Harry Jackson, and the Traditional Values Coalition. The Families First in Immigration was premised on accepting citizenship for undocumented immigrants in exchange for the end of guaranteed birthright citizenship under the Fourteenth Amendment. Included in this coalition were the American Family Association and Gary Bauer. In addition, Concerned Women for America's California chapter has been working for years against Hispanic immigration and is a member of the FIRE coalition. The Values Voter Summit and the Take Back American conference were strong on anti-immigration. The Tea Party movement itself will be anti-immigrant. It is no accident that Tom Tancredo and NumbersUSA were at the Nashville Tea Party convention. We are seeing signs that the KKK is now starting to become active in opposing immigration reform legislation. It is only a matter of time before this much larger white nationalist movement comes to the fore to oppose comprehensive immigration reform. In conclusion, I hope you and Bruce, who do excellent work, do not assume that this Freedom Federation does not have strategic problems related to race. They may want to global into Africa and South America, but they cannot handle what to do with Hispanics here in America.

by JAMESCAMINACIIII on Fri Apr 16, 2010 at 10:02:24 AM EST
 I think much of what is taking place in the Religious Right at the moment could be described as a struggle between its racist factions and those who believe they need multi-racial coalitions in order to gain more political power.  The latter is led by charismatics who have had remarkable success with missions  work around the globe.  This effort has been greatly aided by their ability to partner with Asian, African, and Central and South American populations.

The racist segment is getting press everyday, meanwhile the continued efforts to form a multi-racial Religious Right are getting very little attention.  And I worry that the attention given to the racist segment could actually end up acting as a foil for the other camp.  You bring up a good point that this coalition is made up of organizations of both camps and one wonders how Rodriguez can coexist with Religious Right leaders who are so rabidly anti-immigrant.  However, on all other issues he is on board with this coalition. It is alarming that Rodriguez has been labeled as a "moderate evangelical" by the mainstream press based solely on his stance on immigration.  This is an example of the danger of over-reliance on racism as the defining characteristic of the Religious Right.  

by Rachel Tabachnick on Sun Apr 18, 2010 at 09:55:14 PM EST
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