Christian Zionism, American Exceptionalism, and the Protestant Roots of U.S. Middle East Policy

In his speech to the Knesset in January, Vice-President Mike Pence declared that, “in the story of the Jews,” Americans have “always seen the story of America.” This observation, says Samuel Goldman, is hardly a new one, and indeed is necessary to understanding U.S.-Israel relations. Taking Pence’s comments one step further, Gershon Greenberg explains that the idea of America as the Promised Land can be traced all the way back to Christopher Columbus, and American history cannot be understood without reference to the land of Israel as portrayed in the Hebrew Bible. Looking at more recent history, Michael Doran explains how certain strands of American Protestant thought shaped the U.S.-Israel alliance, and how opposing strands informed, and continue to inform, this alliance’s discontents. The three explore these ideas further in an in-depth discussion. (Video, 72 minutes.)

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More about: American exceptionalism, American Religion, Christian Zionism, History & Ideas, Mike Pence, US-Israel relations


Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

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More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security