Contrary to Popular Belief, Christian Support for Israel Has Little to Do with Apocalyptic Prophecies

Sept. 13 2019

Among many Jews—and indeed among many non-Jews who have spent their lives in America’s secular urban enclaves—there is a widespread belief that evangelical Christian enthusiasm for Zionism is motivated solely by a desire to bring about the messianic era, rather than from any genuine affection for the Jewish people. Jarvis Best, himself a Christian Zionist raised in a fundamentalist church, explains how far this crude stereotype is from the truth, and urges Jews to “take Christian support of Israel at face value.”

In the fundamentalist, conservative church I grew up in, with hymns and organs, long skirts for the ladies and young-earth creationism, preachers frequently borrowed an image from the New Testament book of Romans to explain the relationship between Christians and Jews. It said that Jews were like an olive tree with a strong root in the law, the prophets, and the Torah. . . . Christians were not one with Judaism, but were supported and nourished by it. We were taught that Christians and Jews are natural allies.

Sure, there were political differences; my church was almost 100-percent Republican, and we knew that most American Jews were Democrats. But we did not care. The biblical mandate to support Jewish people trumped the fleeting controversies of partisan politics. I eventually abandoned the fundamentalism of my youth. But I retained my Christianity, and with it, the love of the Jewish people and Israel.

A 2017 survey of evangelicals who support Israel found that the primary reasons for their support were their beliefs that God gave the Land of Israel to Jews and that Israel is the historic Jewish homeland. Only 12 percent of evangelicals cited fulfillment of prophecy as the most important reason to support Israel. . . . In my decades of church attendance, I have heard just two or three sermons on the “end times.”

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Forward

More about: Christian Zionism, Evangelical Christianity, Jewish-Christian relations

Why the Recent Uptick of Israeli Activity in Syria?

Sept. 23 2022

On September 16 and 17, the IDF carried out airstrikes in the vicinity of Damascus, reportedly aimed at Iranian logistical centers there. These follow on an increase in the frequency of such attacks in recent weeks, which have included strikes on the Aleppo airport on August 31 and September 6. Jonathan Spyer comments:

The specific targeting of the Aleppo airport is almost certainly related to recent indications that Iran is relying increasingly on its “air bridge” to Syria and Lebanon, because of Israel’s successful and systematic targeting of efforts to move weaponry and equipment by land [via Iraq]. But the increased tempo of activity is not solely related to the specific issue of greater use of air transport by Teheran. Rather, it is part of a broader picture of increasing regional tension. There are a number of factors that contribute to this emergent picture.

Firstly, Russia appears to be pulling back in Syria. . . . There are no prospects for a complete Russian withdrawal. The air base at Khmeimim and the naval facilities at Tartus and Latakia are hard strategic assets which will be maintained. The maintenance of Assad’s rule is also a clear objective for Moscow. But beyond this, the Russians are busy now with a flailing, faltering military campaign in Ukraine. Moscow lacks the capacity for two close strategic engagements at once.

Secondly, assuming that some last-minute twist does not occur, it now looks like a return to the [2015 nuclear deal] is not imminent. In the absence of any diplomatic process related to the Iranian nuclear program, and given Israeli determination to roll back Iran’s regional ambitions, confrontation becomes more likely.

Lastly, it is important to note that the uptick in Israeli activity is clearly not related to Syria alone. Rather, it is part of a more general broadening and deepening by Israel in recent months of its assertive posture toward the full gamut of Iranian activity in the region. . . . The increasing scope and boldness of Israeli air activity in Syria reflects this changing of the season.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Jonathan Spyer

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria, War in Ukraine