The support of young American evangelical Christians for Israel transforms the Israeli-Palestinian conflict news

After the latest round of conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians, American television evangelist John Haji delivered a speech to his congregation at the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, every Sunday.

“Supporting Israel is not a political issue. It is a biblical issue,” Haji declared in his sermon on May 23, which he called the “Battle of Jerusalem.”

Hagee is the founder of Christians United for Israel, an umbrella Christian group composed of 10 million members. Ron Dermer, the former Israeli ambassador, recently stated that their support for Israel is as important as American Jews. Maybe even more important.

“Whenever Jesus returns, Israel will become the dominant country in the world,” Haji said, which touched the belief of many evangelicals that Jesus will return soon and save his followers from this earthly world. .

The Jews are God’s chosen people and have become the legal owners of the entire Palestine through a “blood alliance.” Haji declared and warned: “U.S. support for Israel is weakening; the media is weak, and Washington is weak.”

In fact, U.S. political support for Israel is Increasingly dividedThe newly elected and more progressive Democrats of the US Congress strongly condemned the 11-day Israeli bombing operation that killed 254 Palestinians and left 200,000 people need assistance.

“Support for Israel is greatly reduced”

Poll experts and some church leaders say that even though Israel is increasingly concerned about the support of American evangelicals, young evangelicals who are more diverse and less rigid in Zionist theology have switched from a Jewish state to a Palestinian. .

The large church pastor John Hagee, the founder of the Israel Christian Union (appears with former Vice President Mike Pence), cheered Israel during the recent conflict, even if the young Evangelicals are gradually moving away from Christian Zionism [Patrick Semansky/AP Photo]

Brian Zahnd, pastor of the Words of Life Church in St. Louis, Missouri, is one of a new generation of large church pastors who reject strong Christian Zionism and support a more balanced view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Christian Zionism “was flawed in theology” and did not follow the teachings of Jesus and the Hebrew tradition. “Those who take the Bible seriously cannot use the Bible as an excuse for being unfair to others,” Zander told Al Jazeera.

What “keep people away from the reflexive dualism of’Israelis are good people and Palestinians are bad people’… is to hear The story of the Palestinian people“About life under Israeli occupation, Zander said.

University of North Carolina political science professors Motti Inbari and Kirill Bumin recently released a new survey of young evangelicals, showing that the evangelical community’s view of Israel is undergoing major changes.

“Young evangelicals, especially those between 18 and 29, are far less supportive of Israel than their elders,” Bumin told Al Jazeera.

Bumin said that young evangelicals “have a different concept of justice and fairness related to conflict from their elders.”

The survey found that nearly 45% of young evangelical Christians support the establishment of a Palestinian state, and a majority of 42% do not support both parties to the conflict.

The analysis of Bumin and Inbari found that the views of young evangelicals are less influenced by biblical beliefs, that is, the second coming of Christ and the imminent end of the day.Conversely, if a young evangelical interviewee believes Israel treats Palestinians unfairly, They are unlikely to express support for Israel.

In addition, the socialization of their elders’ views does not necessarily translate into support for Israel. For young evangelicals, the more they are exposed to discussions about Israel’s importance to the evangelical community, the less they are optimistic about Israel.

“The theological premises that used to dominate evangelicalism are now being changed and transformed into something new,” Imbari told Al Jazeera.

The University of North Carolina survey was conducted on an online group of 700 evangelical Christians between the ages of 18 and 29 between March 22 and April 2. Its margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

Ron Dermer, former Israeli ambassador to the United States, calls for expanded outreach to evangelical Christians [J Scott Applewhite/AP Photo]

The importance of the evangelicals for the pro-Israel cause

American Evangelicals is an important constituency in Israel, and it relies on 3.8 billion U.S. military support each year.

Demer said at a recent conference that evangelicals are Israel’s most “enthusiastic” and “clear” supporters, and their numbers far exceed the “disproportionately” American Jews who have become the source of “the most intense criticism”.

“It is rare to see evangelical Christian leaders criticizing Israel. We should promote them more,” Demer said.

Demer said that efforts to combat the U.S. Resistance to Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement are being led by evangelical Christians, which has led to anti-BDS legislation in as many as 32 states.

BDS has always focused on bottom-up pressure to end the occupation and restore the basic rights of the Palestinians, in part by calling on consumers to boycott Israeli products, investments, and businesses, especially those that exploit the Palestinian people and land.

Evangelicals fully support former President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and voted for Trump by an overwhelming 81% in the 2020 general election.

To be sure, the University of North Carolina survey results show that 71% of young evangelicals support Israel’s use of Jerusalem as its capital, while 58% of the majority still believe that Israelis have learned from God’s biblical covenant with the Jews .

But their findings about the marginal shift to Palestinians are consistent with earlier research conducted by Shibley Telhami, a polling expert and professor of political science at the University of Maryland.

From 2015 to 2018, “young evangelicals’ support for Israel decreased significantly,” Telhami told Al Jazeera.

In 2018, American pastor John Haji was invited by President Donald Trump to speak at the opening ceremony of the new US Embassy in Jerusalem [Sebastian Scheiner/AP Photo]

Although 40% of young evangelicals in 2015 wanted the U.S. to lean toward Israel in the conflict with the Palestinians, in a 2018 University of Maryland survey, only 21% held the same view.

Telhami said that only 3% of young evangelicals want the United States to support Palestinians in 2015, and that number rose to 18% in 2018. The latest North Carolina survey found that 28% of people said that Palestinians should use East Jerusalem as their capital.

Telhami said that among the reasons for the transition, young evangelicals tend to see what is happening in Israel and the Palestinians through the prism of social justice rather than the biblical prophecies believed by older evangelicals.

Telhami said that at the same time, Trump’s presidency has accelerated the generation gap.

“There is evidence that young evangelicals are very shocked by their leader’s support for Trump… We found that evangelicals think Trump is too supportive of Israel,” he said.

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