Since Prime Minister Netanyahu and his far-right coalition have sought to curtail the powers of the Israeli judiciary, effectively seizing power in perpetuity, Israeli society has erupted into some of the largest sustained protests in its history. The world has watched for months as hundreds of thousands of Israelis demonstrate to prevent Israel’s slide into outright authoritarianism.
As the protests have grown, however, a number of Israel’s Christian allies have grown frantic at the discord while calling on their followers to pray for the unity of the Israeli people. Some of these Christian Zionist leaders even blame “liberal” Israeli protesters—and their supposed foreign “deep-state” funders—for widening rifts that threaten the security of the Jewish State which, they believe, plays an integral role in God’s plan.
On March 27, after the 12th consecutive week of Israeli protests against judicial overhauls, Capitol Hill Prayer Partners (CHPP), a Christian Nationalist ministry based in Washington DC, emailed an ‘Emergency News Alert’ stating: “Israel as a nation has never been in as much danger as she is right now!” The ministry names “external forces from the Deep State/globalists [who] have used their sway to funnel monies to the liberals in Israel, to fund these protests.”
In addition to being an antisemitic trope, the idea that a group of liberal elite power players is orchestrating mass protests against authoritarian power grabs—or in favor of LGBTQ rights, racial equality or other progressive causes around the world—has become a main far-right talking point according to expert Ben Lorber, my colleague at Political Research Associates.* Many far-right pundits have attributed blame to these same forces for, among other things, inciting the Arab Spring in 2011 and orchestrating the supposed theft of the 2020 election from Trump.
CHPP laments how internal strife is making Israel vulnerable to enemies like Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, and encourages followers to pray for forgiveness for the U.S. taxpayer money it believes is funneled to the protests. Making no mention that these protests are the result of antidemocratic judicial reforms initiated by the most extreme, authoritarian government in Israel’s history, the CHPP blames Israeli protesters and—again, using antisemitic code—their supposed “globalist” funders for dividing Israeli society.
(To add to the irony, just last week U.S. evangelical groups railed against Netanyahu’s far-right government for authoring a bill that would limit Christian groups’ ability to proselytize in Israel. In response, Netanyahu froze the bill).
This isn’t the first time Christian Zionists have condemned Jews who push back against Israel’s far-right policies—including with antisemitic conspiracy theories. Following Netanyahu’s failed election in 2021, evangelical author Mike Evans, who claims millions of followers, blamed the anti-Netanyahu bloc for risking Israel’s downfall in a Times of Israel blog post titled “Israel’s political striptease show.”
Drawing a comparison between Netanyahu’s opposition and German Jews who supposedly allowed the Holocaust to happen because they were too “busy insulting each other [and] drunk on the wine of pride,” his underlying message is that Jews who resist Israel’s far-right agenda—even in the slightest—constitute one of the greatest existential threats to the Jewish people themselves. To some prominent Christian Zionists, the destruction of the Jews and the Jewish State threatens the critical role that Israel is meant to play in the fulfillment of certain biblical prophecies, including Jesus’ Second Coming.
The International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (ICEJ)—one of the largest and most influential Christian Zionist organizations in the world—takes a somewhat more “both-sides” approach. While acknowledging that Netanyahu has been rushing his judicial reforms and leaving little room for broad consensus, David Parsons, ICEJ Vice President & Senior Spokesman, also blames the protests, specifically calling out reservist pilots who vowed to not report for duty for placing Israel in danger “right when Iran is poised to cross the nuclear threshold.”
At the same time, the ICEJ is comforted by Netanyahu’s recent decision to delay the judicial changes and “attempt to achieve broad consensus.” This may allow time for tensions to quell and Israeli society to reunify—or it may simply take the wind out of protesters’ sails as Netanyahu seeks a more opportune moment to push his reforms through.
Regardless, in the wake of Netanyahu’s decision, Dr. Juergen Buehler, President of the ICEJ, reassured his followers that most of the Israeli protesters would identify as Zionists, who ultimately “want Israel to be a Jewish State as Theodor Herzl envisioned.” Indeed, the Israeli protests are filled with Israeli flags, and call for few if any changes to the current political system, let alone racial justice for Mizrahim or the end of apartheid or rights for Palestinians who’ve been denied democracy since Israel’s founding. The Israeli protesters are Zionist enough, and opposed enough to Palestinian Rights, for the ICEJ.
Christian Zionists have long upheld their goal for unity amongst Jewish people around a Jewish-majority State in Palestine. Many Christian Zionist organizational missions go beyond simply investing in to actually relocating Jews to the State of Israel; in addition they’ve supported legislation that equates Jews with Israel and criminalizes criticism of Israel, even by Jews, as antisemitic. Cracks in Jewish unity pose a threat to Israel’s future, which is, according to some biblical interpretations, essential to God’s plan for salvation.
It’s important to note that Christian Zionist movements include tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people around the globe who undoubtedly take a range of positions on the Israeli protests, and even on Israel itself. In an ongoing debate, some scholars have challenged the notion that End-Times theology is a significant factor for many Christian Zionists, correctly citing the prevalence of Prosperity Gospel and Reconciliation, among others, for motivating support while rightfully pointing to the Israeli government’s role in bolstering the power of Christian Zionism. Indeed, Netanyahu has long pandered to Christian Zionist supporters (and often reinforces the same antisemitic conspiracy theories espoused by U.S. far-right groups).
While complicating simplistic notions that Christian Zionists globally are uniform in their beliefs or developed independent of any strong alliance with Israeli and Jewish groups, some studies have overcorrected by doubting the importance of Christian theologies as the foundation of contemporary Christian Zionism and undermining the ongoing existence of End-Times theologies, particularly in the growing New Apostolic Reformation movement.
These studies also risk minimizing the anti-Palestinian, anti-Muslim, and antisemitic underbelly of many Christian Zionist leaders, even as they do so in partnership, and often in conjunction, with right-wing Jewish groups. It’s a recurring pattern for prominent Christian Zionist leaders to deride liberal and progressive Jews—and especially Palestinians and Muslims—who oppose their far-right agenda. And it’s certainly not new for Christian Zionists to promote conspiracy theories that invoke deep-state and globalist references to elite liberal, and even Jewish, power ruining the State of Israel and God’s plans.
Insisting on Jewish unity and relocation to Israel interferes with the sustainability of Jewish communities in the Diaspora, and becomes particularly manipulative when driven primarily by Christian prophetic goals, including, at times, End-Times scenarios.
While they’re frequently omitted from the discussion, Christian Zionists are the largest, and most far-right base of support for Israel in the world, as well as the backbone of U.S. support for Israel, according to former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer. It can be difficult to parse out their professed “love” for Jewish people from an underlying agenda that reinforces Israeli apartheid and marshals Jews to carry it out. All in Jesus’ name. Amen.
*Political Research Associates is the publisher of Religion Dispatches, though RD maintains editorial independence.