"Progressives" Turning Evangelicals Against Israel
Today’s CAMERA conference focuses on an insidious leftist agenda.
Having infiltrated segments of the Christian community, the anti-Israel Left is becoming increasingly aggressive in its well-funded efforts to undermine support for Israel among Evangelical Protestants.
“Christian anti-Zionism is the new form of Christian anti-Semitism,” Tricia Miller told FrontPage in an interview last week. “There is an unsuspecting evangelical audience that is being subjected to this.”
Miller is a senior research analyst at the Boston, Mass.-based nonprofit Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. Miller will join other speakers at CAMERA’s daylong conference today titled “The Assault on Christian Support for Israel,” that begins this morning in West Hollywood, Los Angeles.
Other speakers at the CAMERA conference today include CAMERA executive director Andrea Levin; Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, director of interfaith affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center; Randal Neal, western regional coordinator for Christians United for Israel; and Laurie Cardoza-Moore, founder and president of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations. David Suissa, president of TRIBE Media Corp., will deliver the keynote address.
Founded in 1982, CAMERA describes itself as a media-monitoring, research and membership organization devoted to promoting accurate and balanced coverage of Israel and the Middle East.
The Left’s anti-Israel agitation efforts in the form of the BDS (boycott, divest, and sanction) movement, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described as a campaign to destroy Israel, have long met with considerable success.
Just last week those who control pension funds at the (mainline-Protestant) United Methodist Church blacklisted five Israeli banks for so-called human rights reasons. “It appeared to be the first time that a pension fund of a large American church had taken such a step regarding the Israeli banks, which help finance settlement construction in what most of the world considers illegally occupied Palestinian territories,” the New York Times reports.
But in recent years, Palestinian Christians and their allies, many of whom have connections to Sabeel, a Jerusalem-based Christian anti-Zionist group, have opened a second front against Israel. They have worked hard to stigmatize pro-Israel evangelicals in the U.S. by “portraying them as zealots intent on engineering a showdown between Christianity and Islam,” according to CAMERA.
The anti-Israel message took hold in some mainline-Protestant churches that have been losing worshipers to evangelical churches for the past half-century.
Other Palestinian Christians, sometimes affiliated with Bethlehem Bible College in the West Bank, have worked with Israel-haters in the U.S. to turn American evangelicals against Israel by means of “Christ at the Checkpoint” conferences in Bethlehem every two years. Attendees are told that Christians shouldn’t support Israel because their support makes it difficult to proselytize in Muslim-majority countries, and because it is a haven for Jews, the people who rejected Jesus as their messiah.
Anti-Zionist films have also been used to influence evangelicals, portraying rocket-launching Palestinians as peace-loving victims of brutal Israeli aggression. One, titled “With God on Our Side,” features a young Palestinian claiming his people “really want his peace.” Another, produced by Hobby Lobby heir Mart Green, portrays Israelis as warmongers.
Christ at the Checkpoint, which claims to encourage people to “take an active role as followers of Christ in spreading justice and peace,” has gone even farther, employing Third Reich-style propaganda techniques against Israel.
A video promoting a conference last year equates Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) with the State of Israel.
As Miller explains, in the video, produced by people who claim to be Christians:
Images of ISIS captives about to be beheaded are juxtapositioned with images of the security barrier Israel was forced to build to protect its citizens from suicide bombers during the second Intifada. Images of the Jordanian pilot about to be burned alive in a cage are juxtapositioned with scenes of Palestinians going through a checkpoint. And images of the ISIS flag are juxtapositioned with those of the Israeli flag.
The obvious implication is that the security measures Israel has been forced to take in response to Palestinian suicide bombers is equivalent to what ISIS is doing to people as it seeks to forcibly establish a caliphate ruled by an extreme form of Islamic law.
The video also equates Israel and ISIS with the H1N1 virus, or swine flu. In so doing, the contagious spread of swine flu is equated with the terrifying ease with which ISIS is conquering territory, and with the existence of Israel, or at the very least, Israel’s need for a security barrier with checkpoints.
Comparing Israel to contagious diseases isn’t much different than Adolf Hitler railing against Jews as a “dangerous bacillus,” Miller notes. And equating Israel to swine flu is similar to likening Jews to pigs, a common rhetorical technique used by Nazis and Islamists.
The Left views Evangelical Protestants, known for their fervent support of Israel, as an attractive target for anti-Israel indoctrination because there are so many of them. Every evangelical who leaves the pro-Israel fold weakens American support for Israel.
Evangelicals, a huge voting bloc in the United States, say they number about 90 million in American society and have eclipsed mainline Protestants as a group. Evangelicals are more likely even than American Jews to believe that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people, according to CAMERA.
The political campaign to delegitimize Israel is helped by a fallacious narrative that identifies Jesus of Nazareth as a Palestinian rather than a Jew, says CAMERA’s Miller, who earned a Ph.D. in the Hebrew Bible from Claremont Graduate University, and is author of the recent book, Jews and Anti-Judaism in Esther and the Church. Having Jesus as a Palestinian unravels the foundations of the Christian faith, which grew out of Judaism, she notes.
This kind of revisionist thinking that rewrites the history of Jesus is already on display in American culture. President Obama’s Jew-hating former pastor, Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, has claimed that “Jesus was a Palestinian,” that Palestinians were the “original people” in the area, and that Israel is an “apartheid state.”
Such sentiments are also popular on college campuses across the nation.
And they may become mainstream in an evangelical church near you, thanks to the efforts of anti-Zionist activists.