Christian Zionists, Bibi, Obama, and Armageddon

At Think Progress, Lee Fang highlights how Florida Congressman Dan Webster (of “Taliban Dan” fame) told a local televangelist that if the U.S. were to cut off aid to Israel, “we lose God’s hand and we’re in big time trouble.”

Par for the course among Christian Zionists. Genesis 12:3 is their seminal verse, proof-texted to support anything from foreign aid to Israel to maintaining the occupation to bombing Iran. In Genesis, Christian Zionists maintain, God said he would “bless” those who “bless” Israel and “curse” those who “curse” it. The peace process, a two-state solution, ending aid to Israel — watch out, America, God’s wrath will come raining down.

It’s not just the blessings and curses drawn from Genesis 12:3 that motivate Christian Zionists, however, although it’s a powerful bludgeon. Many — polls show a clear majority — of American evangelicals believe the state of Israel is the fulfillment of God’s plan for the Second Coming that they believe is laid out in the Bible.

A 2003 Pew poll found that 63% of white evangelicals believe that Israel fulfills biblical prophecy about the Second Coming, far more than any other religious group. And a 2008 Pew survey of Pentecostalism found “also finds that sympathy toward Israel, common among evangelical Christians in the United States, is generally more common among pentecostals” than other Christians.

The creation of the state of Israel is one step toward fulfilling that prophecy, Christian Zionists believe. Israel’s expansion after the 1967 war is another. And steps towards peace with the Palestinians interfere with that conquering of the land by the Jews that Christian Zionists believe is a necessary pre-condition for the Second Coming.

John Hagee, founder of the leading Christian Zionist organization Christians United for Israel, wrote in his 2006 book, Jerusalem Countdown, which argued that U.S. military intervention to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions was required lest America risk God’s wrath:

Those nations who align with God’s purpose will receive His blessing. Those who follow a policy of opposition to God’s purpose will receive the swift and severe judgment of God without limitation.

At Hagee’s church in 2007, at a “Night to Honor Israel” that featured a video montage of Jerusalem from which the Dome of the Rock disappeared, I met a woman who believed that Hurricane Katrina was a result of the Israeli pullout from Gaza (or, as she put it, “the Gaza land giveaway.”) The peace process, she added, was against God’s word and would result in curses on America. Hagee himself believes that the peace process is evidence of the appearance of the Antichrist.

Last week, after President Obama’s speech led Republicans, and even some Democrats, to accuse him of abandoning Israel, CUFI sent out a request to its members to deliver Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu a letter of support. “King Solomon described Prime Minister Netanyahu’s courageous words well,” Hagee wrote, ‘The righteous are as bold as a lion.’ (Proverbs 28:1).” According to Charisma magazine, 50,000 people sent such greetings to Netanyahu over the weekend.

Ah, righteousness. Meanwhile, at home, Netanyahu, lauded by the United States Congress, is no hero to human rights advocates. Writing at the blog +972, Hagai El-Ad, executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, argues that Netanyahu’s speech to Congress this week was “diverting any attention from Israel’s own failures as we stumble and fall on the path of liberty.” And the Moussawa Center, which advocates for the rights of Arab citizens of Israel, called on both Obama and Netanyahu to recognize the rights of those citizens. Netanyahu, the statement read, “is oblivious to the fact that the Arab citizens of Israel are systematically discriminated against.” His trip to the U.S. is widely viewed as a diplomatic failure that will obstruct, not advance the peace process.

That’s what has his Christian Zionist fans in America cheering him as a righteous lion. They think God is pleased.