In the minds of many Americans, Christian support for the Jewish state stems from various ideas about the end of history. And indeed, dispensationalism—a school of Christian thinking about the unfolding of history—has played an important role in Christian Zionism. But increasingly those devout Christians who believe it to be their duty to support the Jewish state do so because of a new theology that sees the Jews’ status as God’s chosen people as irrevocable. Gerald McDermott, among the foremost scholarly proponents of this theory, explains his thinking to the Christian Hebrew Bible scholar Dru Johnson, who poses tough questions about anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and the place of Jews in Christian notions of salvation. (Audio, 34 minutes.)
The New Christian Zionism Is about God’s Covenant with Israel, Not the Apocalypse
Why the Recent Uptick of Israeli Activity in Syria?
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.