As Israeli bombs fell on Lebanon for a second week last July, the Rev. John Hagee of San Antonio arrived in Washington with 3,500 evangelicals for the first annual conference of his newly founded organization, Christians United For Israel. At a dinner addressed by the Israeli ambassador, a handful of Republican senators and the chairman of the Republican Party, Mr. Hagee read greetings from President Bush and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel and dispatched the crowd with a message for their representatives in Congress. Tell them “to let Israel do their job” of destroying the Lebanese militia, Hezbollah, Mr. Hagee said.Yeah, that "many" would include us here at TWM. It's not so much the influence that evangelicals may have on the White House that's worrisome, it's what Bush himself believes, being as he is of the same school of thought as these conservative evangelicals.
He called the conflict “a battle between good and evil” and said support for Israel was “God’s foreign policy.”Many conservative Christians say they believe that the president’s support for Israel fulfills a biblical injunction to protect the Jewish state, which some of them think will play a pivotal role in the second coming. Many on the left, in turn, fear that such theology may influence decisions the administration makes toward Israel and the Middle East.
Why do these evangelicals support Israel so strongly? Setting the elements of the rapture aside:
Evangelical Christians love Israel because they believe God loves Israel. "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed," God's promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, is the driving force behind that belief, according to David Brog, author of "Standing with Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State." "The real motive behind Christianity's support for Israel is the promises of Genesis, not the prophecies of Revelation," says Brog, a practicing Jew who once served as chief of staff to Republican senator Arlen Specter. To Christians, those promises indicate that Israel's continued existence as a nation is God's will.Except, archaeologists no longer believe that's the way it happened:
That's a primary reason many believers supported the establishment of Israel. It's also why substantial numbers of the American faithful stood by Israel during the Six Days' War in 1967, after which Israel captured Jerusalem, occupying the Gaza strip, the Sinai Peninsula and beyond. After all, this was the territory the Bible says God promised Israel after delivering the Hebrews from Egypt. The Bible maintains that God was, and is, on the side of Israel.
Rather than revealing that Canaan was entered from the outside, analysis of ancient settlement patterns indicated that a distinctive Israelite culture arose locally around 1200 B.C. as nomadic shepherds and goatherds ceased their wanderings and began settling down in the nearby uplands. Instead of an alien culture, the Israelites were indigenous. Indeed, they were highly similar to other cultures that were emerging in the region around the same time--except for one thing: whereas archaeologists found pig bones in other sites, they found none among the Israelites. A prohibition on eating pork may have been one of the earliest ways in which the Israelites distinguished themselves from their neighbors.
Thus there was no migration from Mesopotamia, no sojourn in Egypt, and no exodus. There was no conquest upon the Israelites' return and, for that matter, no peaceful infiltration such as the one advanced by Yohanan Aharoni. Rather than conquerors, the Hebrews were a native people who had never left in the first place.
In other words, perhaps the Israelites were gifted only in the sense that they got there before anybody else, which isn't much more than just about any other group of people can say about where they arose.
This is the danger of basing foreign policy on religious doctrine. Historically incorrect belief, combined with religious zealotry and ignorance/prejudice towards and fear of the Muslim "other", results in seemingly devout Christians dismissing moral proscriptions against the killing of innocents. I do not for an instant believe that we permitted Israel to wage a disproportionate campaign against the people of Lebanon because of Christian zealots. The Bush administration's foreign policy approach, which puts the danger of terrorism against even our allies above all other legitimate foreign policy concerns, was the primary factor in us failing to reign in the Israelis. But President Bush believes much of what these Christians believe, and they certainly have his ear. To what extent is our President attempting to abide by a biblical "mandate" when he acquiesced to the bombing of civilians, including children in fleeing convoys of cars? What would someone who doesn't hold these beliefs have done?