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The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party

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Middle East and Biblical Prophecy

"I believe that we are seeing prophecy unfold so rapidly and dramatically and wonderfully and,
without exaggerating, makes me breathless."

Ed McAteer, Godfather of Religious Right

In this section:

    Folly in the West Bank
    Village Voice, Elliott Abrams Meets Apostolic Congress
    Harris County Texas Republican Party on Palestine
    Duane Oldfield
Missionaries to Iraq
Lt. General Jerry Boykin
Biblical Prophecy, The Second Coming
    Premillenialists and Postmillenialists
        Political Activism: Keys to the Kingdom
        It is dominion we are after
        Susan Friend Harding
        60 Minutes, Zion's Christian Soldiers
        Jerry Falwell:, Nuclear War and the Second Coming of Christ
        Settlements in West Bank and Gaza
        Donald Wagner
        Grace Halsell
        Gershon Gorenberg
        An Empire of Their Own
American Jews on Israel
Jewish Settlers in Israel
President Bush


Israel Egypt Negotiate Pledge, Eye curbing hostilities with Palestinians, Boston Globe, December 8, 2004

Two Extraordinary Events:

New York Times, December 3, 2004: Egyptian Leader Urges Palestinians to Work With Israel for Peace

Ha'aretz, December 3, 2004, Senior Hamas man: We accept Israel living in peace, security

Folly in the West Bank, New York Times Editorial, August 24, 2004:

The Bush administration is driving American credibility as a Middle East peacemaker to a new low with its support for a major expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

New York Times, August 21, 2004, U.S. Now Said to Support Growth for Some West Bank Settlements:

The new policy has not been enunciated publicly. It came to light this week when Mr. Sharon's government announced that 1,001 new bids for construction would be issued for subsidized apartments for settlers in the occupied territories.

For the last three years, American policy has called for a freeze of "all settlement activity," including "natural growth" brought about by an increase in the birthrate and other factors. As a result, when settlement expansions have been announced, American officials have called them violations.

Christian Science Monitor, July 7, 2004, Mixing prophecy and politics by Jane Lampman.

Village Voice, May 18, 2004, has documented that the Bush White House checked with rapture Christians before its latest Israel move.

The Harris County Texas Republican Party on Palestine

Harris County Republican Party Convention was held on March 27, 2004 to begin the process of updating the Texas Republican Party Platform for 2004. Harris County, home to Houston, is the most populous county in Texas. Author George Monbiot wrote in The Guardian, April 20, 2004 about their stand on Palestine:

I don't know what the original motion said, but apparently it was "watered down significantly" as a result of the shouting match. The motion they adopted stated that Israel has an undivided claim to Jerusalem and the West Bank, that Arab states should be pressured to absorb refugees from Palestine, and that Israel should do whatever it wishes in seeking to eliminate terrorism. Good to see that the extremists didn't prevail then.

The Evangelical Roots of American Unilateralism by Duane Oldfield

Although the Christian right's unilateralism is not new, its proximity to power is. Three developments have helped make the Christian right a significant player in U.S. foreign policy: the election of a president with close ties to the movement, the growth of the Christian right's grassroots organizational strength, and the development of an alliance with neo conservatives, who have come to play a crucial role in the present administration.

Missionaries to Iraq

Neo conservatives such as Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle may have designed the policies that have led to an invasion of Iraq, but groups like Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse and the Southern Baptist Convention take advantage of those policies to send thousands of missionaries to that country. Their work has proven effective -- helping to rebuild hospitals, offering food aid and hygiene kits -- and they have been commended for their sensitivity to the local populations. Missionaries do much good work in places of great need.

But we must not lose sight of the ultimate goal -- conversion of most of the world to Christianity. From the Los Angeles Times, March 18, 2004:

Every Sunday, more than 400 Iraqis travel to this well-to-do neighborhood far from the protection of an American base to worship in the National Biblical Christian Federation Church. Converted from Islam and from other branches of Christianity, they are the first ripple of a tidal wave that evangelical leaders pray will inundate the Middle East.

About the International Mission Board, the missionary arm of the Southern Baptists:

Organizing in secrecy, and emphasizing their humanitarian aid work, Christian groups are pouring into the country, which is 97 per cent Muslim, bearing Arabic Bibles, videos and religious tracts designed to "save" Muslims from their "false" religion. The International Mission Board, the missionary arm of the Southern Baptists, is one of those leading the charge. John Brady, the IMB's head for the Middle East and North Africa, this month appealed to the 16 million members of his church, the largest Protestant denomination in America. "Southern Baptists have prayed for years that Iraq would somehow be opened to the gospel," his appeal began. That "open door" for Christians may soon close. "Southern Baptists must understand that there is a war for souls under way in Iraq," his bulletin added, listing Islamic leaders and "pseudo-Christian" groups also flooding Iraq as his chief rivals.

Not all missionary groups proselytize, and, as a result, there is some friction between those older missionary groups and the new wave of evangelical missions. From the Los Angeles Times:

Although proselytizing is usually forbidden, most countries in the region are eager to have Western religious groups running hospitals and clinics, and working on economic development and education. Some long-established missionary groups in the Middle East have come to terms with this by focusing their work on serving the social needs of the local population, and hoping that they might draw Muslims to Christianity more indirectly, through example.
     But other missionaries, including many evangelicals, say it is part of their faith as Christians to try to spread the gospel.
     Sometimes, these efforts have led to friction not only with Muslims, but also with other Christian missionary groups, which fear that such efforts put them in danger and their work in jeopardy.

Christian Missionaries Battle For Hearts and Minds in Iraq From the Washington Post, May 16, 2004.

In 2002, House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay, R-TX, visited pastor John Hagee's Cornerstone Church. (From the Godly Must Be Crazy, Glenn Scherer, Grist, October 27, 2004:)

Hagee preached a fiery message as simple as it was horrifying: "The war between America and Iraq is the gateway to the Apocalypse!" he said, urging his followers to support the war, perhaps in order to bring about the Second Coming. After Hagee finished, DeLay rose to second the motion. "Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "what has been spoken here tonight is the truth from God."

With those words -- broadcast to 225 Christian TV and radio stations -- DeLay placed himself squarely inside the End-Time camp, a faction willing to force the Apocalypse upon the rest of the world.

Lt. General Jerry Boykin: Ambassador from a "Christian" nation

From the Dallas Baptist Standard:

Appearing in uniform during a speech at the Oregon church, Boykin said: "Why do they (radical Muslims) hate us? Why do they hate us so much? Ladies and gentlemen, the answer to that is because we're a Christian nation."

The British Telegraph News reports: Investigative reporters from the Los Angeles Times and NBC television have dug up two years' worth of incendiary comments from Gen. Boykin. He has repeatedly told Christian groups that President George W Bush was chosen by God to lead the global fight against Satan.

He told one gathering:

"Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him. He's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this."

General Boykin has repeatedly said that America 's enemy was

"a spiritual enemy ... called Satan." The enemy will only be defeated, according to General Boykin, "if we come against them in the name of Jesus."

Rather than fire Boykin to reassure Iraqi's that we aren't really fighting a holy war, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said:

"There are a lot of things that are said by people that are their views," he said, "and that's the way we live. We are free people and that's the wonderful thing about our country, and I think for anyone to run around and think that can be managed or controlled is probably wrong."

A Pentagon investigation has concluded that a senior intelligence officer violated regulations by failing to make it clear that he was not acting in an official capacity when, in speaking at churches, he cast the war on terrorism in religious terms, a Defense Department official said.

Gen. Boykin's "Kingdom Warriors" On the Road to Abu Ghraib and Beyond
By Katherine Yurica, October 12, 2004:

First the hard right dominionists took over the Southern Baptist Convention with its 16 million members and a fortune in corporate businesses. Then they took over the Republican Party. Now there is evidence dominionists are trying to take over the U. S. military. The article examines several new questions: Is there a direct connection between the Southern Baptist Convention and Pentecostal churches like John Ashcroft's Assemblies of God to General Boykin, Stephen Cambone and Donald Rumsfeld? Is it true that U.S. taxpayers are paying the seminary bills to educate chaplains who are planning to supplant the U.S. government? Was a chaplain sent to Abu Ghraib to torture prisoners on Rumsfeld's orders?

New York Times, August 20, 2004, General Said to Be Faulted Over Speeches

Biblical Prophecy: The Second Coming of Jesus Christ

Premillenialists and Postmillenialists

There are competing theories about Biblical Prophecy and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Premillennialists and Postmillennialists disagree about the timing of the Second Coming.

Premillennialists believe that God has a plan for the end of time which will be preceded by a cataclysmic battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil, referred to as the apocalypse. Christ will return at the end of these events which are coming soon.

Postmillennialists believe that Christ will return after the millennium. Some believe the millennial phase of the kingdom of God is present, and others hold that it will happen after the world has been Christianized.

Political Activism: Keys to the Kingdom

Postmillennialists advocate political activism. From George Grant, a leading post-millennial writer in The Changing of the Guard, Biblical Principles for Political Action:

Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ -- to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.

But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice.

It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.

It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.

It is dominion we are after.

World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less... Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land -- of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ. (pp. 50-51)

Premillennialists believe that since God has a plan the future is already set in motion. Historically premillennialists had focused on saving souls rather than political involvement. That changed in 1980 when preacher and best-selling author, Tim LaHaye published The Battle for the Mind. LaHaye named humanists as the great evil which threatened to destroy America. He coined the term "pre-tribulation tribulation" to characterize what will come about if humanists are allowed to take control of the government. The Great Tribulation, LaHaye wrote,

is predestined and will surely come to pass. But the pre-Tribulation tribulation -- that is the tribulation that will engulf this country if liberal humanists are permitted to take control of our government -- is neither predestined nor necessary.

Susan Friend Harding, a Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz has published widely on fundamentalist Christianity. She wrote Chapter 3, Imagining the Last Days, the Politics of Apocalyptic Language in the fourth Volume of the Fundamentalism Project. The Fundamentalism Project was sponsored by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to study the rise of fundamentalism worldwide. The volumes are published by the University of Chicago Press. Harding writes:

LaHaye urged Christians to pray and witness as usual and also to help the victims of humanism ... to join the national drive to register Christian voters ... to run for public office ... (pp. 69)

[Falwell] argued that unless born-again Christians acted politically ... they would lose their ... [ability] to fulfill Biblical prophecy. (p. 70)

In other words, political involvement was required to get raptured. Of the many theories about when Christ will return, the most popular is called premillennial dispensationalism. It is depicted in the best-selling Left Behind novels by the Reverend Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.

60 Minutes aired a television special, Zion's Christian Soldiers on June 8, 2003 featuring interviews with leading apocalyptic thinkers. From Jerry Falwell:

"There are 70 million of us. And if there's one thing that brings us together quickly it's whenever we begin to detect our government becoming a little anti-Israel."

Reportedly tens of millions of people in the United States believe the apocalyptic worldview that comes from the Biblical book of Revelation. When evil is conquered, true believers enter the millennium of peace and harmony under God's rule. This period marks the return of Christ.

Biblical Prophecy tells of a "glorious time for all believers" Jerry Falwell explains in his book Nuclear War and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Nuclear War Believers will be Raptured - They will rise up in the air to meet the Lord, and unbelievers will be left behind in a terrible state of confusion and suffering to endure seven years of tribulation.

During the Tribulation period which follows the Rapture, "a powerful ruler led by Satan and referred to as the Antichrist will rise to power ... God will be pouring out his wrath upon the earth and mankind, unlike anything that has ever taken place. It will be a time of terrible persecution and suffering ... At the end of the Great Tribulation, Jesus Christ will come in great glory and power to defeat the forces of Satan at the battle of Armageddon." (Nuclear War and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, Jerry Falwell, 1983.) The return of Christ marks the beginning of the Millennium, or one thousand years of earthly paradise with the Lord.

This belief in Biblical Prophecy has been popularized by the Reverend Tim LaHaye and author Jerry Jenkins in Left Behind, their best selling series of novels about the End Times. The final book in the series has been recently released. Glorious Appearing details the Second Coming of Christ.

The New York Times points out that "Writers and artists have been imagining the Second Coming of Christ for 2,000 years, but few have portrayed him wreaking more carnage on the unbelieving world than Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins."

"Men and women soldiers and horses seemed to explode where they stood," Dr. LaHaye and Mr. Jenkins write. "It was as if the very words of the Lord had superheated their blood, causing it to burst through their veins and skin.'' The authors add, "Even as they struggled, their own flesh dissolved, their eyes melted and their tongues disintegrated."

An Expanded Israel

Certain events have to occur for Falwell's version of prophecy to be fulfilled. The late Grace Halsell, author of Prophecy and Politics, participated in two Falwell-led pilgrimages to Israel in 1983 and 1985, and quotes a fellow Christian pilgrim on the tour:

"The Jews must own all of the land promised by God before Christ can return. The Arabs have to leave this land because this land belongs only to the Jews. God gave all of this land to the Jews." (p.87)

Ed MacAteer, considered to be the godfather of the Religious Right, and one of the founders of the Moral Majority talked about his expansionist dreams for Israel in an interview on CBS' 60 Minutes in October, 2002.

"I believe that we are seeing prophecy unfold so rapidly and dramatically and wonderfully and, without exaggerating, makes me breathless. Every grain of sand between the Dead Sea, the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea belongs to the Jew." When asked if that includes the West Bank and Gaza, his answer was "Every bit of it."

From Mother Jones, Born Again Zionists, "The best friends that Israel has are those people who believe the Bible does not contain the word of God, but that the Bible is the word of God," said McAteer at a prayer breakfast.

When McAteer left the business world in 1976 to help organize the Christian right, the idea of the Israeli government working hand in hand with conservative Christians would have been difficult to imagine. At that time, some evangelical groups were openly anti-Semitic and associated with the John Birch Society and other far-right groups. Today, though, Christian conservatives provide Israel -- and in particular the hard-line Likud Party of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon -- with its most important political support in the United States.

The Reverend Tim LaHaye describes the fate of the Jews in the book Left Behind.

"The final battle in the history of the future will be fought on this ancient battleground in Northern Israel called Armageddon. And the Jews? Well two-thirds of them will be wiped out by now and the survivors will accept Jesus at last."

Settlements in West Bank and Gaza: Key to Fulfilling Prophecy

Falwell was invited to Israel by Prime Minister Menachim Begin in 1978. This began a strong relationship between the Likud Party, the hawkish party of Israel, and the Religious Right in the United States. Falwell has led many groups of Christian Zionists on pilgrimages to Israel, and the Religious Right has been subsidizing settlements in the West Bank ever since.

A Colorado-based group called Christian Friends of Israeli Communities - communities translates as settlements in the West Bank and Gaza - runs an adopt-a-settlement program. According to the director of its Jerusalem office, one-third of the 145 settlements receive funds from Christians. (Reported by Danielle Haas, San Francisco Chronicle Foreign Service, July 10, 2002).

The Jerusalem Prayer Team, a Christian Zionist organization that opposes Israel giving up land in exchange for peace, raises money to adopt settlers.

Israel Link is linking churches overseas to villages and settlements in Israel.

From Donald Wagner, Professor of Religion and Middle Eastern Studies at North Park University in Chicago and executive director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He wrote a series of commentaries on the phenomenon of Christian Zionism for the Lebanon Daily Star. This comes from Part 4:

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, led by a former Anti-Defamation League employee and Orthodox rabbi, Yechiel Eckstein, claimed to have raised over $5 million, mostly from fundamentalist Christian sources. 

For example, John Hagee, pastor of the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, announced in February 1997 that his church was donating over $1 million to Israel. Hagee claimed the funds would be used to help resettle Jews from the Soviet Union in the West Bank and Jerusalem. "We feel like the coming of Soviet Jews to Israel is a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy," Hagee stated.

When asked if he realized that support of Likud's policies and the increase in Jewish settlements was at cross-purposes with US policy, Hagee answered: "I am a Bible scholar and a theologian, and from my perspective the law of God transcends the laws of the United States government and the US State Department." 

Grace Halsell's book, Prophecy and Politics, is no longer in print, but can be found in some libraries. It was published in 1986 by Lawrence Hill and Co. She grew up in rural Texas in a fervently fundamentalist Christian culture. She remembers a time as a child panicking when she arrived home and her mother wasn't there. She thought her mother had been raptured.

Halsell attended two pilgrimages organized by the Reverend Jerry Falwell -- one in 1983 attended by 630 pilgrims, and a second in 1985 attended by 850 pilgrims. She also attended the First Christian Zionist Congress in 1985. One resolution at that Congress called for all Jews living outside Israel to move to Israel.

The Christians also urged Israel to annex that portion of occupied Palestine called the West Bank, with its near one million Palestinian inhabitants. An Israeli Jew, seated in the audience, rose to suggest that perhaps the language might be modified. He pointed out that an Israeli poll showed that one-third of the Israelis would be willing to trade territory seized in 1967 for peace with the Palestinians.

"We don't care what the Israelis vote!" declared van der Hoeven [spokesman for the International Christian Embassy]. We care what God says! And God gave that land to the Jews!" After his impassioned outburst, the Christians by a nearly unanimous show of hands passed the resolution. (p.133)

Halsell interviewed Charles Fischbein, executive director of the Jewish National Fund, who described his work with the American Christian Trust headed by Mrs. Bobi Hormas, wife of a top official with a West Coast defense contractor:

"The trust enjoys 501(c)(3) status and receives funds from private individuals, estates and large evangelical-fundamentalist organizations.. The Trust in turn gives this money to Israel, expressly for Jewish settlements in the West Bank.. Mrs Hormas told me the Trust planned to raise a hundred million dollars to purchase land for Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the present target area being in the Palestinian town of Hebron... This I was told would help fulfill biblical prophesy. (p,170-171)

Gershon Gorenberg, an American-born Israeli journalist who is an associate at the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University, told 60 Minutes:

"They don't love the real Jewish people. They love us as characters in their story, in their play, and that's not who we are. If you listen to the drama that they are describing, essentially it's a five-act play in which the Jews disappear in the fourth act."

Melani McAlister in "An Empire of Their Own," The Nation, September 22, 2003, writes:

"The remarkable influence of the Christian right and more specifically Christian Zionism on the current Bush Administration's Middle East policy has been hard to miss ... Right-wing figures in Congress like Oklahoma Republican Jim Inhofe and House majority leader Tom DeLay have close working relationships with evangelicals like LaHaye, Falwell and Ralph Reed. These evangelists and politicians are in turn deeply connected to the Israeli right, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his finance minister, Benjamin Netanyahu."

House Majority leader, Tom DeLay, is a strong supporter of Israeli expansion as fulfillment of Biblical Prophecy. When President Bush began to propose a road map for peace in the Middle East that would lead to a two-state solution, DeLay was speaking to members of the Israeli Parliament saying, "Israel is not the problem. Israel is the solution." (Meaning the settlements are not the problem. They are the solution.)

Jewish Extremists in Israeli settlements

Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg writes about the Jewish settlers of faith in the West Bank and Gaza strip for the New Yorker magazine, May 31, 2004. These settlers, who believe they are following a Biblical Mandate, make up only one-fourth of the Jewish population in those areas, but are having a strong impact on Israeli policies. There are many parallels between these settlers of faith, and the Christian Zionists.

... there are roughly two hundred and thirty-five thousand settlers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. There are an additional hundred and eighty thousand Israelis living on land in eastern Jerusalem, captured in the 1967 war.

Perhaps three-quarters of the Jews in the West Bank and Gaza could be considered economic settlers ... The remainder of the settlers, fifty thousand or so, came to the territories for reasons of faith.

The most hard-core settlers are impatient messianists, who profess indifference, even scorn, for the state; a faith in vigilantism; and loathing for the Arabs. They are free of doubt, seeing themselves as taking orders from God, and are an unusually cohesive segment of Israeli society. Hard-core settlers and their supporters make up perhaps two per cent of the Israeli populace, but they nevertheless have driven Israeli policy in the occupied territories for much of the past thirty years.

Jeffrey Goldberg pleas for Sharon's life

Goldberg writes in the New York Times, August 5, 2004:

Over the past year, I've heard at least 14 young Orthodox settlers - in outposts, and in yeshivas in the West Bank and Jerusalem - express with vehemence a desire to murder Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his men, in particular the deputy prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and the defense minister, Shaul Mofaz.

American Jews

Esther Kaplan writes in the Nation, July 12, 2004, "The Jewish Divide on Israel that American Jews are at least evenly split on how to secure Israel. :"

... AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents, along with their powerful fellow travelers, Christian Zionists, have forged a bipartisan consensus in Washington that Middle East policy must privilege the "special relationship" between the United States and Israel. In practice, this solid consensus means putting Israeli security before peace; supporting even such extreme Israeli measures as the separation wall and assassinations; and delegitimizing the Palestinian leadership.

Jews of the Diaspora

An editorial in the Jewish Forward, June 30, 2004 dicusses a new report issued by the Jewish Agency for Israel. The report calls for closer consultation between Israel and Diaspora Jewish communities on policies that affect each other's welfare.

In particular, the report says, Israel needs to consider how its policies toward the Palestinians affect the global atmosphere of Islamic rage that is fueling antisemitism and endangering Jews in Europe and elsewhere.

"Seemingly permanent turmoil in the Middle East continuously polarizes attention in a dynamic world, tarnishing Israel's image and international standing, and adding pressure on Diaspora Jews," the report says.

Compounding the danger, "The U.S.'s pro-Israel leanings antagonize other countries, including some in the West, thus generating hostility against Jewish communities."

President Bush

In Road Nap journalist and author Gershon Gorenberg differentiates between perception and reality in President Bush's relationship to Israel::

Here's the conventional wisdom, stated at a sadly conventional Israeli news event: "With respect to Israel, [George W.] Bush has been one of the best presidents we have ever had."

Martin Indyk, former U.S. ambassador to Israel and veteran of Middle East diplomacy explains, "People who say Bush has been a great friend of Israel have to explain how come, after four years of [a] Bush administration, Israel is in the worst shape it's been for decades."

Indyk tells Gorenberg,

"Bush has done nothing effective to help Israel end the intifada. There were multiple occasions in which effective presidential intervention to ... restart the peace process would have done much more to help Israel then a veto in the [United Nations] Security Council."

Gorenberg cites an example of the President's failure in Israel:

The clearest example of Bush's failure, experts say, came after the Iraq War, when the president presented his road map for peace and the Palestinian Authority met U.S. demands for new leadership by appointing the moderate Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) as prime minister. "This was a potential Palestinian [Anwar] Sadat," who told people "in Arabic about how bad terrorism was," Indyk says. Bush held a summit with Sharon and Abbas in Aqaba, Jordan, invited Abbas to Washington -- and then dropped out. He offered Abbas paltry economic aid and did nothing to pressure Sharon to show Palestinians that embracing the moderate Abbas could improve their lives. (It's almost grotesquely ironic that Sharon is now talking about evacuating Gaza Strip settlements unilaterally: Had he negotiated just such a pullout last summer, he could have shown the Palestinian public that moderation pays major dividends. Instead, Abbas was pushed out of office by September, and the road map was effectively dead.)

On April 15, President Bush endorsed a plan by Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon. The New York Times wrote: "In a costly blow yesterday to America's credibility as an honest broker for a Middle East peace."

Bush's proposed road map, now effectively dead, was the peace plan supported by the United States and the other three members of the so-called Quartet (Russia, the European Union and the U.N.), which required that Israel stop settlement building and the Palestinians stop terror attacks as part of a process leading to the creation of an independent Palestinian state by 2005.

From Salon on Bush's endorsement of the Sharon plan:

Palestinian moderates who had urged concessions have been rendered irrelevant. The last embers of Palestinian faith in a Bush-brokered two-state solution have been snuffed out. And Israeli opponents of the occupation have been cut out of the debate inside their country.

Sharon isn't the only winner, though. "Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been very much strengthened," says Daniel Levy, a Middle East analyst at the International Crisis Group and co-drafter of the Geneva Accord, an unofficial peace initiative put forward by liberal Israelis and Palestinians, including several key participants in the Camp David and Taba peace talks and two of Israel's most famous writers, Amos Oz and David Grossman. "The whole unilateral thing strengthens them. The guys who have spent 10 years sitting with Israelis, negotiating, are humiliated."

What does Bush believe ?

While Bush's road map may be "effectively dead," the concept itself was inconsistent with the unbridled expansion of Israel sought by pre-millennialists. Unlike Ronald Reagan who talked openly about his fascination with Armageddon, President Bush has not publicly referred to that event. We don't have concrete evidence of the President's true beliefs, but his policies seem more in line with core values of the Christian Reconstruction movement, a subgroup of the Religious Right that believes the Second Coming is not imminent. Reconstructionists believe that the return of Jesus Christ will come after "bible-believing" Christians have turned the United States into a Christian nation that follows the call of Saint Paul to "make disciples of all nations."

Some core values of the Christian Reconstruction movement reflected in Bush administration policies are: the federal government should recede into the background through massive tax cuts, and then churches would assume responsibility for welfare and education. Bush's signature issues such as tax cuts, faith base initiative and school vouchers fit the Reconstructionist model.

Whatever Bush believes, his environmental policies are accelerating the destruction of the natural world, and his nuclear policies are increasing the risk that nuclear weapons will proliferate and be used. Whether or not President Bush is actively seeking a fulfillment of Biblical Prophecy, his carelessness about the fate of the earth has the same kind of naive magic one finds in pictures of the new Millennium. Following the Great Tribulation, the Lord returns to an earth with clear blue skies and lush green meadows. After the final battle at Armageddon, Christ will come back to a pristine planet.

Personal Note from Joan Bokaer

I have written this page as a Jew who supports the state of Israel. I have observed with great concern the role of the Christian Zionists, in league with the Likud, or Hawkish Party of Israel, subsidize settlements thereby attracting what Jeffrey Goldberg calls in his New Yorker article "economic settlers" (approximately three-quarters of the Jewish population in the occupied territories.) I believe that these settlements have served to fan the flames of antisemitism worldwide and increase the isolation of Israel in the United Nations. I had hopes for President Bush's road map for peace, and was deeply disappointed when he not only abandoned it, but also abandoned his role as a neutral broker.

As a Jew, it's sometimes difficult to sort out what is anti-semitism, and what is anti-Israeli expansionism, and we can find ourselves caught somewhere in the middle. While I support a two-state solution with a viable Palestinian State, I also cringe when I hear people express deep anger at Israel without any acknowledgement of the role played by Yassir Arafat who released the most violent terrorists from prison and allowed the infitada to begin. And it's hard to talk with people who don't acknowledge the role anti-semitism has played in the history of western civilization.

It's equally hard to talk to Jews in the United States who form alliances with Christian Zionists who have been subsidizing settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. I am sad to see my fellow Jews believe that people seeking to turn the United States into a "Christian" nation are our friends. Strong elements of anti-semitism can be found in the writings of Christian nation activists.


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Last updated: December 8, 2004