Abstract

 

The outlook of evangelical Christians toward Jews is the most complex and ambivalent of all Christian, and non-Christian, attitudes toward Jews in the modern era. Motivated by a literal reading of the Bible, and adhering to a messianic faith, many evangelical Christians view contemporary Jews as heirs to biblical Israel and the object of prophecies about a restored Davidic kingdom in the messianic age. At the same time, evangelical Christians insist that only those persons who are “born again in Christ” can be saved and promised eternal life. As the Jews have not accepted Jesus, they are spiritually and morally deprived. This dualistic view of the Jews forms the basis for the complex and at times contradictory evangelical views on the Jewish people.

     Evangelical opinions of Jews can be unflattering at times. Negative stereotypes have found their way time and again into the writings and speeches of leading evangelists. Convinced that the Jews are in urgent need of the ameliorating Gospel and cannot be saved or reformed unless they accept Jesus as their Savior, evangelicals have carried out extensive missionary work among the Jews.

     At the same time, evangelical Christians have been counted among Israel’s most ardent friends. Following the Six Day War in 1967, evangelical Christians became convinced that the State of Israel serves a crucial role in preparing the ground for the arrival of the messianic age. They have been active supporters of that country, taking a major part in the pro-Israel lobby in America. Some evangelicals have tried to help Jews rebuild the Temple.

     In the final analysis, evangelical attitudes toward Jews cannot be defined as either philosemitic or antisemitic. Rather, their attitudes represent the evangelical theology, which is biblical, messianic, and evangelistic in its nature.

 

Introduction

 

The relationship between evangelical Christians and Jews has often been an item in the news in recent years. The most recent examples include the appearance of Israel’s prime minister, Ariel Sharon, before a large gathering of evangelical supporters of Israel, the deportation from Israel of a group of evangelical Christians who were expecting the second coming of Jesus, the angry reaction of American rabbis to the opening of a biblical theme park in Florida sponsored by a mission to the Jews, and the revelations that Billy Graham, America's leading evangelist in the second half of the twentieth century, expressed negative opinions about Jews in taped conversations with then-president Richard Nixon.[1] Such seemingly contradictory news items stir very different reactions. Some have described the evangelical attitude towards Jews as antisemitic, while others say it is philosemitic.[2] Few have taken the time to explore the overall picture of evangelical attitudes toward Jews, their theological reasoning, and their diverse expressions.

      In evaluating the attitude of evangelical Christians towards Jews, one must take into account that evangelical Christianity is not a united or uniform camp, but is composed of hundreds of different denominations as well as thousands of independent churches. In some denominations, evangelicals are but one group within a denomination that does not fully share their views. In addition, various evangelical denominations carry differing historical heritages and differ over liturgical or theological issues. There are noted divisions, for example, over such matters as baptism or the Lord’s Supper. One of the more decisive differences among evangelical Christians in the past generation has been between charismatics and non-charismatics. There are, however, common features that all evangelical Christians share and that evangelicals consider essential features of their faith, making other divisions often seem less important. Evangelicals share the belief that all human beings need to undergo a personal conversion experience in which they establish a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and adopt him as their Savior. In the evangelical view, only those that undergo a conversion experience can be saved and are promised eternal life. Evangelicals are therefore committed to evangelism: spreading the Christian message and persuading the non-converted of the need to accept Jesus as their personal Savior as the means to ensure their salvation. They also view the Christian Bible as God’s message to humanity and insist on the inerrancy of the sacred text. Many evangelicals adhere to a messianic premillennialist faith and expect the second coming of Jesus to earth to occur in the near future.

      These major evangelical components—the emphasis on the need to accept Jesus, the commitment to evangelism, the more literal reading of the Bible, and the messianic faith—have shaped the evangelical attitude towards Jews. Evangelical relations to the Jews cannot therefore be described as either philosemitic or antisemitic. They are complicated and ambivalent and reflect the evangelicals’ faith and worldview. An examination of the attitudes of evangelicals towards Jews must therefore explore the creed, worldview, and agenda of this important segment of contemporary Christianity.

 

The Evangelical Messianic Faith

The messianic hope, in which the Jews play such an important part, draws on a long Christian messianic tradition.[3] In its contemporary form it was crystallized in Britain in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Two brands of Christian messianic faith have developed, “historical” and “futurist,” and both influenced evangelical attitudes towards Jews in the nineteenth century. While the two schools have differed as to when the events of the End Times were to begin, for the most part, they have shared the same ideas on the role of the Jews in God’s plans for humanity.[4] Both messianic schools have inspired support for Zionism as well as extensive missionary activity among the Jews.[5] The premillennialist faith in its “futurist” dispensationalist form became widely accepted in America in the latter decades of the nineteenth century and influenced members of major Protestant denominations. It has become part and parcel of the conservative evangelical creed, as it has meshed well with a pessimistic outlook on contemporary culture. It has served as a philosophy of history for conservative Christians, providing hope and reassurance in the midst of despair over current developments, as well as over one of the greatest fears of the day—the atomic bomb.[6]

      In the premillennialist dispensationalists’ understanding of the course of human history, God has a different plan for the three different categories of human beings: the Jews, the church, and the rest of humanity. Premillennialists define the church as the body of the true believers, those who have undergone an inner experience of conversion in which they have accepted Jesus as their personal Savior, and have taken it upon themselves to live saintly Christian lives. They alone will be saved and spared the turmoil and destruction that will precede the arrival of the Messiah. Messianic times will begin with the “rapture” of the Church, in which believers will be snatched from earth and meet Jesus in the air. Those believers who died prior to the rapture will rise from the dead and will also be taken from earth to meet Jesus in the air, where they will remain with the other believers for seven years, and thus be spared the natural disasters, wars, and murderous dictatorships of the End Times. Before Jesus’ final return to Earth, about two thirds of humanity will perish.[7]

      For the Jews, this period will be known as the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble.” They will return to their ancient homeland “in unbelief”—without accepting Jesus as their Savior. They will establish a political commonwealth there, which will not be the millennial Davidic kingdom, but a necessary development in the advancement of the messianic timetable. Living in spiritual blindness, the Jews will let themselves be ruled by Antichrist, an impostor posing as the Messiah who will be worshiped as God. Antichrist will inflict a reign of terror and many true believers—Jews who during this period will come to believe in Jesus—will be martyred.

      The arrival of Jesus at the end of the Great Tribulation will end Antichrist’s rule. Jesus will crush this Satanic ruler and his armies, and will establish the millennial kingdom. Those Jews who survive the turmoil and terror of the Great Tribulation will then accept Jesus as their Savior. There will follow a period marked by the righteous rule of Christ on earth. All nations will live in their lands; the Jews will inhabit David’s ancient kingdom, and Jerusalem will serve as the capital of the entire world. The Jewish nation will become Jesus’ right-hand people, assisting him in administering the earth. In addition, they will function as evangelists of the millennial kingdom, strengthening the knowledge of God among the nations of the earth.

      The special role Jews occupy in the evangelical millennial faith can well explain the special interest evangelicals have had in the Jews and the prospect of their national restoration.

 


Evangelicals and Zionism

The new interest evangelicals showed in the Jewish people manifested itself in a series of initiatives directed toward the national restoration of the Jews in Palestine. Such efforts predated the rise of political Zionism. Christian evangelical initiatives to restore the Jews to Zion can be traced to attempts by British evangelicals in the 1840s to persuade the British government to propose to the Ottoman Turks the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. Lord Ashley Cooper, the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury and leader of the evangelical party in Britain, sought ways to promote the return of Palestine to the Jews. His proto-Zionism spread throughout the English-speaking world. While the evangelical movement and the influence of premillennialism weakened in Britain towards the end of the nineteenth century, in America, the effect of the premillennialist faith on members of the evangelical churches grew considerably. By the late nineteenth century, American evangelicals were also advocating the return of the Jews to Zion, as well as building a large network of missions to the Jews.

      An outstanding initiative for the restoration of Palestine to the Jews was that of William Blackstone, an American evangelist and promoter of the dispensationalist messianic faith. Blackstone visited Palestine in 1889 and was deeply impressed by the developments brought about in the first wave of Zionist immigration in a country he had considered to be desolate. He saw the agricultural settlements and the new neighborhoods in Jerusalem as “signs of the time,” indicating that an era was ending and the great events of the end of the age were to occur very soon.[8] Blackstone decided to take an active part to help bring about Jewish national restoration. In 1891 he organized a petition urging the president of the United States to convene an international conference of the world powers to give Palestine back to the Jews. More than four hundred prominent Americans signed Blackstone’s petition—congressmen, governors, mayors, publishers, and editors of leading newspapers, notable clergymen, and leading businessmen. Although it failed to bring the American government to take any meaningful action, the petition reflected the warm support that the idea of the Jewish restoration to Palestine received among American Protestants influenced by a biblical outlook on the Jews and Palestine.[9]

      Blackstone devised a theory that has become a cornerstone of the American evangelical attitude toward Zionism and Israel. He asserted that the United States had a special role and mission in God’s plans for humanity: that of a modern Cyrus to help restore the Jews to Zion. God chose America for that mission on account of its moral superiority over other nations, and America would be judged according to the way it carried out its mission.[10] This theory enabled American evangelicals to combine their messianic belief and understanding of the course of human history with their sense of American patriotism. Although they have often criticized contemporary American culture, they have remained loyal citizens of the American commonwealth. In this way they have been significantly different from other American religious groups that have held intense messianic beliefs—such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, who have defined themselves in terms of opposition to the values and goals of the American polity.

      In 1916, Blackstone organized a second petition calling upon the president of the United States to help restore Palestine to the Jews. This time his efforts were coordinated with American Zionist leaders such as Louis Brandeis, Steven Wise, and Jacob de Haas, who saw Blackstone’s efforts as beneficial to the Zionist cause and maintained a warm relationship with him, encouraging him to pursue his cause. Blackstone did not keep his premillennialist motivations secret from his Jewish friends. He sent them his published works and expressed his opinions in correspondence with them as well. They were not bothered by his prediction that great turmoil was awaiting the Jews in the events of the end of the age or his belief that the Jews would accept Jesus as their Messiah when Jesus would arrive to establish his kingdom. These Zionist leaders dismissed the premillennialist doctrine as eccentric, and focused on the support it might provide for Zionist aspirations.[11] Evangelical premillennialists, on their part, had mixed feelings about the Zionist movement. They criticized the secular character of the movement, and were disappointed that the Zionists were unaware of the real significance of their restoration in Palestine. Nevertheless, their immediate reaction to the Zionist endeavor was enthusiastic and warm. Some of their reports on the rise of the Zionist movement and developments in Palestine read like those of Jewish Zionists.

      The events of World War I, with its unprecedented killing and destruction, filled many evangelicals with apocalyptic thoughts; they were convinced that the war was part of the events of the end of the age. They interpreted the Balfour Declaration and the British takeover of Palestine as further indications that the ground was being prepared for the arrival of the Messiah. Their joy over these developments dominated two “prophetic conferences” that took place in Philadelphia and New York in 1918.[12]

      Evangelicals maintained a profound interest in the events that were taking place in the life of the Jewish people, especially the Jewish community in Palestine. Leading journals such as Our Hope, The King’s Business, the Moody Monthly, and the Pentecostal Evangel, regularly published news on developments that took place in the life of the Jewish people, the Zionist movement, and the Jewish community in Palestine. Many evangelicals were encouraged by the new wave of Zionist immigration to Palestine in the early years of its British administration, and events such as the opening of the Hebrew University in 1925 and the new seaport in Haifa in 1932 were publicized in their periodicals. Evangelicals with premillennialist convictions interpreted these developments as signs that the Jews were energetically building a commonwealth in their ancient land and that the great events of the end of the age were to occur very soon.[13] Excited by hopes of the Second Coming, they lashed out at the British for restricting Jewish immigration and settlement, and criticized the Arabs for their hostility toward the Zionist endeavor and violence against the Jews. Trying to block the building of a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine was seen as equivalent to putting obstacles in the way of God’s plans for the end of the age. Such attempts, they asserted, were futile, and the Arabs would pay dearly for their “rebelliousness.”[14]

      But despite all their resentment of British policy, few evangelical activists pressed their protest beyond the pages of their own journals. They did not mount any organized effort to combat the British policy regarding Palestine. One explanation for this may be that during that period conservative evangelicals were not very active politically as a group. Both in Britain and America, their political activity weakened considerably. After the 1925 Scopes trial, conservative evangelicals withdrew to a large degree from the American public arena. Evangelical leaders did not see themselves as influential national figures whose voices might be heard by the policymakers in Washington or as people who could advance a political agenda on the national or international levels.


Evangelicals and the Holocaust

Although they were politically passive, their interest in the fate of the Jews remained firm. The interwar years saw a rise in overt antisemitism and harassment of Jews. This atmosphere influenced evangelical attitudes towards Jews. Some evangelical writers denounced antisemitism, fighting to eradicate traditional blood libels and the accusation that the Jews were conspiring to take over the entire world as suggested in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Although no openly antisemitic movement arose within the ranks of evangelicals, there were nonetheless a few activists who openly adopted a socially and politically exclusivist white Protestant “nativist” stand. Some, such as Gerald L. K. Smith, labored during the 1920s and 1930s outside of the mainstream of the evangelical camp.[15] Others, like Gerald Winrod, founder and head of Defenders of the Christian Faith, received more widespread recognition in conservative evangelical circles.[16] Charles Fuller, one of the leading evangelists in America from the 1920s to the 1940s, participated in the activities of Winrod’s organization.[17]

      Many central leaders in the conservative evangelical camp had mixed and complicated reactions to antisemitism. Activists and writers such as Arno Gaebelein, William Riley, and James Gray reaffirmed in their writings the centrality of the Jewish people in God’s plans for humanity and the glorified future that awaited them in the messianic age. Gaebelein, for one, raised his voice against such old-time accusations as the blood libel. At the same time, these men accepted the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as authentic.[18] They saw secular, “modern” Jews as fallen people who had allowed themselves to be seduced by all types of distorted teachings and ideologies. As these Jews abandoned traditional Judaism—which at least had kept them prepared for their heroic task in history—and did not in turn accept Christianity, they were left with no moral guidelines. They had let themselves become instruments of Satan. Gaebelein, Riley, and others in the conservative evangelical camp associated secular Jews with social and political movements that aimed to undermine Christian civilization.

      This did not deter such evangelicals from opposing the Nazis and expressing concern over the fate of the Jews under the Nazi regime. The evangelical journal Our Hope was among the first to condemn the Nazi attitude toward the Jews and later on to alert its readers to the devastating scope of the destruction of European Jewry.[19] Gaebelein, the journal’s editor, viewed the Nazi position vis-à-vis Jews as a rebellion against God and predicted the downfall of their regime. He took particular offense at Nazi attempts to change basic Christian concepts, for example, “Aryanizing” Jesus.[20] Gaebelein and other biblical literalists saw the Nazis’ innovations in Christianity as well as their secular “pagan” ideology in general as indicators of the anti-Christian and diabolical nature of their regime. But for all their anger at the Nazis and their sympathy for the persecuted Jews, they did little to organize themselves to fight the Nazi anti-Jewish policy. Their reaction to the plight of the Jews manifested itself mostly on the pages of their journals.

      Evangelicals’ interest in learning about what happened to the Jews during the Holocaust and their wish to make sense of it corresponded in some ways to that of American society at large (including American Jews). During the late 1940s and 1950s, most Americans were reluctant to confront the horrors of the Nazi harassment and annihilation of the Jews.[21] Interest grew, however, during the 1960s and 1970s, and the Holocaust became an important issue in the United States by the 1980s.[22] During the 1970s and 1980s, the Holocaust came to occupy an important place in Christian evangelical literature. The central theme such books have confronted is how Christian believers had behaved during that time of trial. The question has especially preoccupied evangelicals who have a special interest in the Jews and in Israel, have been engaged in evangelizing Jews, or are themselves Jews who converted to evangelical Christianity. These books have come to reassure evangelical Christians that true Christian believers, born again in Christ, had nothing to do with the persecution and murder of the Jews.

      A major element in the evangelical understanding of the Holocaust has been the claim that the evils and horrors of the Nazi regime were carried out by non-Christians and anti-Christians, even if some were nominally members of various Christian churches. True Christians—who had established a personal relationship with Jesus Christ—could not, by definition, have taken part in the Nazi regime and its atrocities. This outlook, however, is not based on any historical examination of the involvement or noninvolvement of evangelical groups with the Nazi regime.[23] The fact that evangelical churches in Germany supported the regime when the Nazis were in power has often been ignored by evangelical writers. They do not present historical studies of Christian churches during the period. They have concentrated instead on the heroism of individual members of pietist or evangelical churches, conveying the message that true Christians behaved in a manner that agreed with Christian ideals, not only refusing to cooperate with the Nazi regime, but risking their own lives by making particular efforts to hide and protect Jews.

      Published in the early 1970s, The Hiding Place is probably the most widely-read Holocaust memoir in evangelical circles. The heroine, Corrie ten Boom, had published an earlier version entitled Prisoner and Yet. The noted evangelist Billy Graham was interested in ten Boom’s narrative and saw that it had great potential as an evangelical tract. He invited her to tour the United States and lecture on her wartime experiences, and sponsored both a new edition of her book and a film based on it. Two professional writers in Billy Graham’s network, John and Elizabeth Sherrill, produced the revised version of ten Boom’s story, and the book became a bestseller. Translated into a number of languages and reprinted in numerous editions, over two million copies have been sold.

      The book tells the story of the ten Booms, a devout Dutch Reformed family, who operated a watch shop in Haarlem, a city near Amsterdam. Corrie and her sister Betsie, both unmarried, lived with their elderly father above the shop. When the Nazi occupation and the persecution of Dutch Jews began, the ten Boom family became involved in a clandestine organization that hid Jews, as well as Dutch youth who were in danger of being taken to forced labor in Germany. They helped find hiding places for Jews, and made a hiding place in their own house. Ten Boom gives a vivid and realistic account of their rescue activity. Many of the Dutch collaborated with the Nazis, and there were informers around, so maintaining secrecy required great effort. While ten Boom gives an accurate picture of Holland under Nazi occupation, and indicates that only a minority among the Dutch were willing to risk themselves for the sake of saving Jewish lives, her description implies that true Christian believers, brought up on biblical literalism, were in the forefront of the rescue mission. Indeed, according to one source, the percentage of conservative pietist Dutch Protestants who rescued Jews during World War II was more than three times their percentage in the total Dutch population, making up about 25% of those who saved Jews.[24]

      The Lord guided and protected the rescuers, so ten Boom tells us. Corrie’s sister-in-law, for example, insisted on speaking the truth in all circumstances. On one occasion, the police had been informed of the presences of hidden Jews. They searched the house, and inquired whether a blond, blue-eyed, Aryan-looking girl working there was Jewish. “Yes,” came the answer of the sister-in-law-who-wouldn’t-lie.[25] The poor girl was arrested, but later was released, so the story goes, by the Dutch underground.

      In actuality, the family paid dearly for disobeying the authorities. Their home, “the hiding place,” was exposed. Corrie, her sister Betsie, her father, brother, and nephew were arrested. Only Corrie survived. The story of her imprisonment is told in great detail. It is a story of Christian martyrdom, in which she and her family members kept their Christian faith and values throughout that period. They were a source of inspiration and encouragement to the prisoners around them. Corrie portrays her father as a saintly figure, and describes her sister as an exemplary person, bringing order, tranquility, peace, and hope to the prison cells or concentration camp barracks where she was imprisoned. Corrie herself emerges from the pages of her reminiscences as a very remarkable woman—strong-willed, highly motivated, conscientious, humorous, and humane. Indeed, she arouses the reader’s deepest admiration. In keeping with the values that the book intended to promote, it suggests that even Corrie was faced with temptations; the Devil was trying to increase her selfishness and make her take care of herself. But she fought back and took the upper hand, with Jesus as her source of strength and guidance in the concentration camp. It is he, she asserts, who provides human beings with the ability to overcome the challenges and miseries of life.

      In line with the evangelical Protestant tradition, ten Boom emphasizes that only through Jesus can human beings achieve salvation. It was Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross that offered humanity eternal life. The true believers who accept him as their Lord and Savior are assured of their place in the world to come. Against this background of faith, she relates the stories of the deaths of those who were so dear to her.[26]

      One important feature of the book’s message is the Christian command of love for one’s enemy. Corrie and her family felt sorry for the Germans who allowed themselves to become engaged in evil and destruction. They, too, needed God’s love, forgiveness, and guidance.[27] After the war, Corrie ten Boom offered her spiritual assistance both in Germany and Holland to former Nazis, spreading a message of forgiveness and reconciliation. The book’s evangelization efforts are directed at Germans, too, and it carries the messages of “love thy enemy” as well as that the truly converted are utterly forgiven.

      Corrie’s experiences during the Holocaust, as narrated in her book, became a classic in evangelical circles, providing proof that true Christian believers behaved properly during the Holocaust period, risking their lives to save Jews; that Jesus protected his flock morally and physically all along the way, and that righteous Christians forgive their enemies.

      Ten Boom’s autobiography has not been the only one circulating among evangelicals. Popular Holocaust literature includes memoirs written by Jewish survivors who converted to Christianity, such as Rachmiel Frydland’s When Being Jewish Was a Crime.[28] Frydland grew up in a village near Chelm in eastern Poland, but left as a teenager to study in a yeshiva (rabbinical academy) in Warsaw. There, he encountered missionaries to the Jews and became convinced of the messiahship of Jesus. During the war years, Frydland made special efforts and even risked his life several times in order to meet other evangelical Christians with whom he could pray or study the Bible. When all the Jews in the area were being either killed or sent to concentration camps, Frydland tried to find refuge in the homes of born-again Christians. The attitudes he encountered were varied. Some were helpful, some hesitant, whereas other flatly refused to offer shelter. Frydland puts much of the blame for such unbrotherly behavior on a wrong perception many Christians had concerning their responsibilities as obedient citizens.[29] Christians considered it their duty to obey the laws of the state instead of resisting them when they manifested cruelty and disregard for other human beings.[30] In other countries, such as Holland, where, he claims, Christianity was “more developed,” Christians disobeyed the Nazis’ laws and sheltered Jews. Those Christians who did shelter Jews, he asserts, did not regret it, for God protected them. “When a Christian decided to disobey the law of extermination and took in a Jewish child, man or woman, to give shelter, God honored that willingness of obedience and sacrifice. As far as I know, none of the Christians in Poland who sheltered Jewish people were ever caught or killed.”[31]

      According to Frydland’s account, God’s guiding and sheltering hand was also revealed in various events that happened to Jewish Christians during the Holocaust years. Frydland tells the story of Stasiek, a Jewish Christian who “was deeply aware of God’s presence and ability to save to the uttermost, physically and spiritually.”[32] Stasiek was at one point condemned to death. While awaiting death, he wrote on the wall of his cell, in Polish, the first verse of his favorite hymn, in which he was praising and thanking the Lord. The German officer in charge came in and demanded a translation of the text on the wall. To the amazement of everyone who was there, Stasiek was released. Frydland is, however, well aware that many Jews who became Christians were murdered by the Nazis. He nevertheless believes that their death, the martyrdom of true believers, was a happy death, for they were joined with the Lord.

      In Frydland’s view, if the Jews had accepted Jesus as their Savior their fate would have been happier. “If my people had known the things that pertain to their salvation, namely, to believe in the Lord Jesus and to proclaim Him to the people in Poland and rest of Eastern Europe, this disaster would never have happened.”[33] In his understanding, the Holocaust preceded the rebirth of the nation of Israel. “Yet there was fruit from the blood of the Jewish martyrs. There was the national and physical revival of Israel.…”[34] His interpretation is in line with the evangelical premillennialist understanding of the establishment of the State of Israel as a fulfillment of prophecy. He quotes prophecies that speak of Israel’s return to its borders and concludes “perhaps God is now dealing with Israel...first by severity and sufferings and now by His goodness.”

      Written by professional writers, often on behalf of various missionary organizations, Holocaust survivor biographies such as that of ten Boom or Frydland appeal to the values and needs of conservative Christians. In these memoirs the Holocaust is not merely years of turmoil, suffering, and hiding, but embodies spiritual meaning and moral triumph. It was a period of moral and spiritual trial, a test passed triumphantly by believers, having maintained their moral integrity and adherence to Christian principles. True believers were protected and saved spiritually, if not physically, even in the harshest of circumstances. They might have undergone physical harassment, suffering and even death, but such a death was martyrdom, and their eternal reward guaranteed. As for those who accepted Jesus during the Holocaust, the unconverted were saved because they were predestined to accept their true Savior. Their survival is explained in light of their eventual conversion and their need to bear witness to the Christian and Jewish communities of the saving power of Christ.

      These Holocaust memoirs have a distinct educational evangelical mission, giving the impression that evangelicals, both as individuals and as a community, faced the years of terror with courage and dignity and survived morally and spiritually, if not always physically. The Holocaust memoirs are also meant to promote the Christian postulate of forgiveness, reconciliation, and unity. Victims must forgive their persecutors and accept them as fellow Christians; Jesus has already forgiven them and the believer should not hold grudges against enemies of yesteryear. The destructiveness of the Holocaust should not work against the higher value of Christian love.

      The suffering, misery, and mass murder that characterized European Jewish existence during World War II did not derive, in the evangelical interpretation, from brutal antisemitism instigated by various historical, sociological, psychological, and theological factors. It is, rather, the outcome of a rebellion against God, a reflection of a society gone astray by the short-lived triumph of non-Christians, while true Christians carried forth with their values intact.

      Nazism, as described in the biographies, manifested an alienation from the knowledge of God, an alienation shared by many of the Jewish victims. The Holocaust in evangelical eyes is not merely an unfortunate chapter in Jewish and European history, nor a bloody chapter in the history of Christian-Jewish relations. It is a chapter in the Jewish and non-Jewish encounter with Christ. The more Jews and non-Jews come to accept evangelical Christian values, the less chance of such brutalities repeating themselves. The answer to the horrors of the Holocaust is the evangelization of both Jews and Gentiles. The Holocaust should serve as a sign and proof to the Jews that they should accept their true Messiah and embrace Christianity. Their physical and spiritual destiny would then be secured. While the biographies convey awareness of and sensitivity toward Jewish suffering and look upon the Jews amicably and appreciatively as heirs to the Biblical covenant between God and Israel, the horrors they underwent during the Holocaust are seen as footsteps in their collective spiritual pilgrimage towards recognizing the true message of God.

      The memoirs also refer favorably to the State of Israel that came into being in 1948. The birth of Israel is seen as a fulfillment of Biblical prophecies that speak about the return of the Jews to their land. The national rebirth serves as collective compensation to the Jews for their suffering and loss. It is proof that God has not abandoned the Jewish people, that He has not forgotten his ancient promises, and that they are still his “Chosen People.” When the Messiah comes, the Jews will accept him as their own and their national restoration will be completed. Until then, it is the duty of the evangelical community to preach the Christian message of salvation to the Jews. Both the Holocaust and the birth of the State of Israel are steps in the journey of the nation of Israel towards its reconciliation and union with Christ. According to the evangelical understanding they still have a long way to go.

Evangelicals and the Jewish State

While some evangelicals took notice of the plight of the Jews in Europe, almost all evangelical activists and leaders followed the developments in the Land of Israel with great interest.

      A few evangelicals visited Palestine during the 1930s and 1940s and thus had an opportunity to watch closely the developments among the Jewish community there. They sent home enthusiastic reports of the scenes they saw. The immigration of tens of thousands of Jews to the country; the building of new neighborhoods, towns, and villages; the cultivation of hundreds of thousands of acres of land; the establishment of cultural and educational enterprises; and the rejuvenation of the Hebrew language—all these things filled evangelicals with excitement.[35] These, they believed, were “signs of the time,” indications that the current era was ending and the arrival of the Messiah was imminent.

      The evangelical response to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 was one of passive support. Evangelical journals had published sympathetic articles about the Zionist struggle for a Jewish state, and American statesmen with conservative evangelical leanings had supported the Zionist cause in the political and diplomatic struggles that preceded the birth of Israel, but no particular pro-Zionist evangelical lobby developed, and evangelicals as a group did not raise their voice in favor of the Zionist political cause.[36] In the late 1940s, conservative evangelicalism was beginning to recover its prestige in the American public arena. But this segment of American Protestantism was not yet actively organized on the national level around its particular causes.

      After the birth of Israel, evangelical premillennialists observed the young Jewish state with great interest in an attempt to interpret its significance for the advancement of God’s plans for the ages. Although unenthusiastic about the secular character of Israeli government and society, some of the things they saw enhanced their messianic hopes.[37] The mass emigration of Jews to Israel in the 1950s from Asian, African, and East European countries was one cause for encouragement. In their view, this was a significant development, prophesied in the Bible, and a clear indication that the present era was terminating and the events of the end of the age beginning to occur.

      Contrary to the widely-perceived view, evangelicals did take note and show concern over the fate of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs who lost their homes in 1948 and became refugees. Although they criticized Arab hostility against Israel and supported the Israeli state in its struggles with its Arab neighbors, evangelicals also stressed the belief that the Land of Israel could maintain an Arab population alongside its Jewish population and that Israel had an obligation to respect human rights and treat the Arabs fairly. One noted leader who spoke out on these matters was John Walvoord, president of the Dallas Theological Seminary, an ardent premillennialist supporter of Israel.[38] A few conservative evangelical churches, such as the Southern Baptists, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, the Assemblies of God, and the Plymouth Brethren, have provided relief and educational services to Palestinians. In striving to reconcile premillennialist teachings with the hopes and fears of Arab congregants and potential converts, they emphasized that the ingathering of the Jews in the Land of Israel and the eventual reestablishment of the Davidic kingdom would not necessitate the banishment of Arabs from that land.

      The Six-Day War had a dramatic effect on American evangelical attitudes toward Israel. Since the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars in the last years of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century, there has probably not been a political-military event that has provided so much fuel for the engine of prophecy as the short war between Israel and its neighbors in June 1967 that led to the Jews taking over the historical sites of Jerusalem. The dramatic and unexpected Israeli victory, and the territorial gains it brought with it, strengthened the premillennialists’ conviction that Israel was created for an important mission in history and was to play an important role in the process that would precede the arrival of the Messiah.[39]

      From the 1970s to 1990s, conservative evangelicals were counted among Israel’s most ardent supporters in the American public arena and often voiced their approval of American political and economic support for Israel.[40] The decades following the Six-Day War were marked by massive American support for Israel in terms of money, arms, and diplomatic backing. Many conservative Christians saw support for Israel as going hand in hand with American interests. Their pro-Israeli stand was, from their point of view, an expression of love and concern for the Jews and appreciation of the importance of the State of Israel in the advancement of the ages. In their opinion, it was, at the same time, a fulfillment of America’s historical role as well as interests.

      In the period following the Six-Day War, American evangelicals became more visible and assertive, and began to take a growing part in political affairs. During the stormy 1960s, many Americans looked on evangelical churches as anachronistic, marginal, and irrelevant to general cultural trends. The 1976 election of Jimmy Carter as president, however, demonstrated that these churches had grown in numbers and influence. Carter, however, proved disappointing to conservative evangelicals. He was not a premillennialist, nor did he promote specifically evangelical issues. He did take an interest in Middle East affairs, and brought Israel and Egypt together to sign a peace treaty. In this, his role was that of an American statesman, with little or no concern for the advancement of the prophetic Davidic kingdom.

      Was Ronald Reagan, who became president in 1981, influenced in his Middle East policy by the premillennialist understanding of the course of history? Reagan’s policy toward Israel can be summarized on the whole as friendly and supportive, and he made a few remarks that led people to speculate whether he held evangelical messianic convictions.[41] These remarks, however, might have been written for Reagan by advisers in an attempt to woo conservative supporters, who may well have viewed the president’s remarks as implying a premillennialist understanding of Israel’s role in history and of America’s duty to assist that state. Reagan’s policy towards Israel was on the whole adopted by his successor, George Bush, who also had close ties to evangelicals and relied on their political support. While other considerations, too, determined Reagan’s and Bush’s policy towards Israel, the favorable attitude towards that country on the part of evangelicals and their insistence that America should assist the Jewish state was also influential.[42]

      Did his evangelical background influence Bill Clinton’s attitude toward Jews and his policy towards Israel? Clinton’s relationship with Jews has to be judged very differently from that of Reagan or Bush. Although an evangelical Christian himself, Clinton did not receive much support from evangelicals, who saw him as a liberal representing values which they opposed. While in Arkansas, Clinton had remained a member of a Southern Baptist church (his wife, Hilary, was a member of a Methodist church). Upon his election as president, his pastor delivered a sermon that included the message that the newly-elected president should not neglect his obligation to protect Israel. This tells us perhaps more about the effect of premillennialist thinking on Baptists in Little Rock, Arkansas, than it does about Clinton’s personal faith. Yet it is important to be aware of the fact that the roots and cultural background of the American president who opened his administration to Jews more than any previous president, in addition to showing deep concern for Israel and the Middle East, was resident in the Bible Belt and strongly influenced by a messianic biblical vision of Israel.

      The evangelical premillennialist understanding of Israel has, at times, more openly influenced the attitudes of other prominent American public figures towards Israel. One noted example is that of Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, who served during the 1980s and 1990s (he announced his retirement in August 2001). A convinced premillennialist, Helms, as the powerful chair of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee labored to limit American financial support abroad, yet at the same time approved extensive financial support for Israel.

      Helms supportive attitude toward Israel was not unique. From the 1970s, dozens of pro-Israel evangelical organizations emerged in the United States. In addition to mustering political support among American evangelicals, they have also organized lectures, distributed informational material on Israel and its historical role, and organized tours to the Holy Land. A number of such groups have also been engaged in evangelization efforts among the Jews. One such group was the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry headed by Elwood McQuaid in Bellmaur, New Jersey. McQuaid has written a good deal on Jewish topics.[43] Another example was the Washington-based American Christian Trust.

      Following the Six-Day War there was an increase in the activity of evangelical Christians in Israel. Evangelical tours became very popular, and there were a growing number of field-study seminars and volunteers coming to kibbutzim through organizations like Oral Roberts University’s “Project Kibbutz.” American evangelicals even established institutions of higher education in Israel, such as the Holy Land Institute set up by Douglas Young, a premillennialist with a pro-Zionist orientation.

      Throughout the 1970s–1990s, thousands of evangelical Christians settled in Israel as their permanent or temporary homes. Coming from all over the world, motivated by a messianic faith, attracted to the land of the Bible, or engaged in missionary activities, they have built congregations in Israel. Many have joined or helped form congregations of Jewish believers in Jesus, often known as Messianic Jews.[44] Others have established “gentile” churches such as the King of Kings congregation in Jerusalem. Founded in the early 1980s by American and Canadian Pentecostals, the King of Kings is a vibrant congregation of hundreds of charismatic Christians from around the world. It is one of the largest and most dynamic religious communities in the city.

 

An Evangelical Organization for Israel:

 The International Christian Embassy

The most visible and better-known evangelical organization in Israel is the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (ICEJ). Its story tells us a great deal about evangelical interest in the Jews and Israel, about evangelical activity in Israel, and the choices, struggles, and alliances of evangelicals in the Holy Land, as well as about the relationship that developed between the evangelical community and Israeli society and government. In the 1970s, evangelical activists in Jerusalem founded the Almond Tree Branch, one of the first local groups whose aim was to muster support for Israel.

      Its members included some of the most outstanding evangelical leaders and activitists in the country. Among the founders of both the Almond Tree Branch and later, the Embassy, was Robert Lindsey, then pastor of the Baptist House in Jerusalem. From the 1950s to the 1970s, Lindsey was the central figure in the Baptist community in Israel and was well known to the Israeli public. Sponsored by the Department of Missions of the Southern Baptist Convention, he served as senior missionary in Israel and enjoyed the closest connections to the Israeli government of any Protestant representative in the country. During Lindsey’s tenure the Southern Baptists became the largest evangelical church in Israel, with a dozen congregations, seven of which were in Arab communities. Under his leadership, the Baptists of Jerusalem became charismatic, a transformation that was quite rare among Baptist congregations worldwide.

      Lindsey wrote and published extensively, using an Israeli pen-name in his Hebrew writings. His major scholarly effort was the translation of the New Testament into modern Hebrew. He developed a theory that large parts of the original text of the New Testament were written in Hebrew and later translated into Greek. The primary manuscript, he claimed, was devoid of antisemitism. Some Jewish scholars joined Lindsey and others to form the Jerusalem School of New Testament Studies. The Jewish scholars concentrated mainly on tracing the Jewish roots of Christianity.

      Other conservative evangelicals flocked to the ranks of the Almond Tree Branch. David Bivin, a Southern Baptist associate of Lindsey, was also active in the Almond Tree Branch and participated in the Jerusalem School. Bivin made his living in those years by running a Hebrew school for interested Christians. Another noted member of the group was Douglas Young, founder of the Holy Land Institute. In 1978 he founded Bridges for Peace, a noncharismatic pro-Israel organization also headquartered in Jerusalem. He lent his support to the Almond Tree Branch (and later to the International Christian Embassy) since he felt that there was room for an organization more charismatic in style. An associate of Young, George Giakumakis, who directed the Holy Land Institute from 1978, was also among the active participants in this group of pro-Zionist Jerusalemite evangelicals. Other activists were Marvin and Merla Watson, from Canada, who lived in Jerusalem in the 1970s and early 1980s. Merla composed “Davidic music” later performed at the Embassy’s gatherings, and advocated building a center in Jerusalem where evangelical Christians could come to learn about Jews and Israel. One of the more dynamic participants was Jan Willem van der Hoevan, a Dutch minister who had served until 1975 as the warden of the Garden Tomb, a site in Jerusalem held by evangelical Protestants to be the tomb of Jesus.

      Participants in the Almond Tree Branch met weekly at the Watsons’ home in Motza, a suburb of Jerusalem, where they prayed, sang, and discussed various issues. Van der Hoeven emerged as the outstanding activist, since Lindsey and Young were busy with other activities. It was van der Hoeven’s idea to organize large annual gatherings of Christian supporters of Israel on Sukkoth — the Jewish harvest festival that also commemorated the tent sanctuaries, or tabernacles, used during the Exodus. His theological rationale was twofold: first, according to the Bible (Zechariah 14:15) gentiles were also commanded to gather in Jerusalem during the festival. Second, he pointed out that whereas Christians celebrate two offshoots of the biblical “pilgrimage festivals”—Easter (at the season of Passover) and Pentecost—there was no general Christian celebration of Sukkoth. In 1979 he led the Almond Tree Branch to launch the yearly Tabernacles festival, a weeklong assembly of evangelical supporters of Israel, highlighted by a march through the streets of Jerusalem.

      In 1980, the Israeli Knesset passed the “Jerusalem Law,” which declared the whole of the city to be the capital of the state of Israel. In protest, almost all countries with embassies and consulates in Jerusalem moved their diplomatic staffs to Tel Aviv. This evacuation provided a dramatic point at which the Almond Tree activists announced the creation of the “International Christian Embassy.” It was presented as a spontaneous act of sympathy and support for Israel on the part of true Christians at a time when even friendly or neutral countries had betrayed her.[45] The Embassy chose as its logo two olive branches hovering over a globe with Jerusalem at its center. “This symbolizes the great day when Zechariah’s prophecy will be fulfilled, and all nations will come up to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles during Messiah’s reign on earth,”[46] the Embassy’s leaders announced.

      Israeli officials, including the prime minister’s liaison for the Christian evangelical community, the director of the Department for Christian Churches and Organizations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek all noted the propaganda value of the Embassy’s creation, and welcomed the new organization. It made the point they believed, that even though many countries had removed their embassies and consulates from Jerusalem due to Arab pressure, the Western Christian world backed Israel and endorsed the unification of Jerusalem under Israeli rule.[47]

      Johann Luckhoff was appointed administrative director of the Embassy. Of Afrikaner descent, Luckhoff had served for a few years as a pastor in the Dutch Reformed Church in his native country. He had come to Jerusalem some time before the establishment of the Embassy, been involved with the Almond Tree Branch and its Tabernacles celebration, and, like van der Hoeven, had no secure job. He has remained with the Embassy and proved to be an able organizer. Since its inception, the Embassy has had close ties with white Dutch Reformed groups and churches in South Africa, and has received substantial financial support from them. Van der Hoeven, the group’s ideologue until the late 1990s, held the seemingly modest post of ICEJ spokesman. Van der Hoeven and Luckhoff, as well as other workers and participants in the activities of the ICEJ, pointed to the geographical scope of evangelical interest in Israel. While in the United States evangelicals have exercised a high degree of visibility and political influence in the last generation, there have been large pockets of evangelicals who take interest in Jews and Israel all over the Protestant globe.

      The Embassy’s major work has been to spark interest in Israel among evangelicals worldwide and to promote a number of philanthropic programs in Israel. The two tasks have been closely related: its promotional efforts also have served as fund-raising opportunities. The Embassy wishes to represent Christianity worldwide and has made a great effort to open branches and gain supporters in as many countries as possible. In the United States, its branches are mainly situated in the Bible Belt, that is, the southern states.[48] In Europe, its representatives can be found in Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. There are also volunteers for the Embassy in the predominantly Catholic countries—Spain, Portugal, France, and Belgium. In recent years, representatives have also worked for the Embassy’s interests in Eastern Europe—Russia, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Romania. There are also representatives in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Zaire, and Nigeria. Although the latter two countries do not provide much financial support, they enhance the international image of the Embassy, enabling it to claim that true Christians everywhere support Israel. ICEJ has also received support from Latin American countries, including Mexico, Guatemala, Columbia, Brazil, El Salvador, and Costa Rica, and has made special efforts to garner support from the growing number of Latin American premillennialists, thousands of whom participate in the annual tours of the Holy Land sponsored or initiated by the Embassy. There has also been an attempt to attract supporters in South Asia.

      The Embassy’s international work focuses on lecturing, mostly in churches, about Israel’s role in history and the work of the Embassy on behalf of Jewish immigration and settlement. These “embassies” distribute ICEJ journals, brochures, leaflets, and cassettes of “Davidic music” and sermons. Embassy representatives also recruit pilgrims for the annual Tabernacles gathering and collect money for the Embassy’s philanthropic enterprises in Israel. The day-to-day work of the Embassy in Israel is devoted to this international mission; the Jerusalem headquarters supervises the work of the representatives in various countries, administers the finances, maintains public relations and publications departments, and oversees the production of video and audiocassettes in a number of languages—chiefly German, Dutch, Finnish, Spanish, and Russian in addition to English. A special department produces material for Latin American countries in Spanish and Portuguese. The radio department prepares a special program, A Word from Jerusalem, broadcast to evangelical radio stations, mostly in North America. The Embassy’s website provides basic information on its programs, and through it, readers can subscribe to the ICEJ News Service delivered several times a week via email (http://www.icej.org). The Embassy also provides welfare services in Jerusalem, distributing money and goods to new immigrants, as well as other needy Israelis. Aware that many Jews are suspicious of Christian charitable enterprises, ICEJ often distributes its parcels through Israeli public agencies.[49]

      The Embassy’s basic annual budget as a rule has not exceeded a million dollars, which pays for day-to-day activities, maintenance of the office building in the fashionable and central German Colony neighborhood, employees’ salaries, some staff travel expenses, and the preparation of publications. The figure does not include the budget for special operations, such as transportation of immigrants from Russia, which runs much higher. The ICEJ also offered direct financial support to the Israeli government for the absorption of Russian Jews. In the early 1990s, the Embassy’s yearly budget for philanthropic operations in Israel reached the sum of five million dollars and the overall yearly cost of the Feast of Tabernacles gathering was over ten million dollars. Each of the six thousand pilgrims who participated paid $1,300‑1,800 for airfare, hotel accommodations, and the festivities in Jerusalem.[50] Embassy leaders have spent much of their time fund-raising in evangelical communities around the globe, with a considerable amount of funding coming from Germany.[51] Along with the Holyland Fellowship of Christians and Jews, the Embassy was the first Christian evangelical institution that has systematically donated money to Jewish enterprises. Most Christian Zionists, by contrast, have supported missionary agencies that aim at converting Jews. The Embassy has thus set new norms in the relationship between evangelical Christians and Israel.

      The Feast of Tabernacles gathering serves as the focal point of the year for the International Christian Embassy. A major convocation of thousands of supporters from around the world, it provides an opportunity to present the Embassy and its message to the Israeli public. Activities include tours of the country, a march through Jerusalem’s main streets, a “biblical meal” served and celebrated on the shore of the Dead Sea, and assemblies in Jerusalem. Some of the gatherings take place in the Binyanei Ha’Uma convention hall in Jerusalem; booths exhibit publications and feature programs and enterprises promoted by the Embassy. Of special interest in the early 1980s was Stanley Goldfoot’s Temple Mount Foundation booth.

      Whereas in Europe the Embassy is often the only pro-Israel Christian organization, in the United States there are other, better-established organizations of that sort. To promote its cause the Embassy hired workers with expertise in public relations and established a small office in Washington, D.C. Ted Pantaleo of Bradenton, Florida, served in the 1990s as the Embassy’s coordinator in America. The Embassy made a major attempt to gain ground in the United States with the “Washington for Israel Summit,” a pro-Israel conference it organized in September 1992 in Washington, D.C. In taking this initiative, the Embassy leaders hoped to make the International Christian Embassy better known in pro-Israel evangelical circles, to build a closer relationship with evangelical leaders and organizations, and to create momentum for establishing a network of support for the Embassy in America. ICEJ found willing support in the Israeli embassy in Washington. The policy of Israel’s foreign ministry has long been to encourage Christian evangelicals in pro-Israel activity. Official sponsors of the event included such pro-Israel evangelical organizations as the Christians’ Israel Public Action Campaign (CIPAC), established in the 1980s as a Christian counterpart to AIPAC (America Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby in Washington). One of the leaders of CIPAC has been Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, with whom the Embassy’s activists established a cordial relationship. One of the participants in the conference was the Reverend W. Criswell of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas; the premillennialist minister, then eighty-three years old, had long been an ardent supporter of Israel. In addition to lectures, group discussions, and prayer meetings, the conference included a “march for Israel” in Washington and the broadcasting of video movies on Israel and the Embassy’s activities there. A special session was devoted to the prophetic understanding of Israel’s role in history.[52]

 

Jan Willem van der Hoeven: An Evangelical Ideologue and Israel

During the 1980s–1990s Jan Willem van der Hoeven, the Embassy’s ideologue, emerged as one of the better known evangelical spokesmen on Israel and its role in history.[53] His ideas are worth noting. Van der Hoeven shares the premillennialist vision of Israel as a transitory but necessary vehicle on the messianic road, in which the Jewish political entity will exist in rebellious unbelief until the arrival of Jesus. At the same time, its existence and security are a positive, even reassuring development in the unfolding of history, and it is therefore important to protect Israel against forces that would undermine it. Many conservative evangelicals view Arab hostility toward the Zionist enterprise as an attempt to jeopardize the advancement of God’s plans. Van der Hoeven has repeatedly insisted that there is no room in the country for Arabs who militate against Israel’s existence. Arabs who are “true Christian believers” support the Israeli cause, he claims.[54] In his view, Yasir Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization are instruments of Satan.

      At the same time, van der Hoeven’s attitude toward the Jews is also ambivalent. He firmly believes that the Jews are the heirs of biblical Israel, God’s chosen people, destined for a glorious future in the messianic age; yet he has also expressed his own feelings of frustration and disappointment, toward the Jews. He has expressed disapproval, for example, over the fact that so many Israelis have been unwilling to support a firmer right-wing political agenda. In order to be accepted by liberals, he complained, they were willing to compromise their national aspirations, and in so doing, they have betrayed their historic role.[55] In a speech delivered during the 1989 Tabernacles celebration, he attacked moderate and left-wing Israeli politicians, declaring that giving up the territories Israel had occupied since 1967 would mark the second time the Jews rejected God.[56]

      For him, “land for peace” is not simply a pragmatic political decision aimed at enhancing the well-being of the state; such a decision has disastrous cosmic implications and would impede the divine plan for human redemption. The Jews are not just another people who can make choices according to their political needs; they have a burden to carry, a duty and purpose in history. For the Jews to refuse to play their role would constitute unforgivable treachery toward all humankind. Van der Hoeven’s remarks reflect the deep frustration felt by many evangelical Christians who can’t understand why the Jews failed to recognize Jesus Christ as their messiah. Failing to prepare for his return, or worse, failing to accept him at the time of his second coming, would be the ultimate rejection of God’s offer of salvation to the Jewish people.

      The International Christian Embassy has been one of the most controversial of the Christian groups and agencies that work in the Middle East or take an interest in its fate. Middle Eastern churches, as a rule, have no contact with the Embassy and reject its message and its activities.[57] Eastern Christianity generally holds to “replacement theology,” the claim that the Christian church is the continuation and heir of biblical historical Israel and that Judaism has no further purpose in God’s plans for humanity. Most of the churches in the region have large Arab constituencies and are sympathetic to Arab nationalist feelings, including the Palestinian demand for national liberation, and have expressed support for the Palestinian uprising. They see the Embassy as an institution offering one-sided support for Israel in its struggle against the Arabs and, as members of the Middle East Council of Churches, have signed petitions condemning its activities.

      Mainline Protestant churches have made a commitment to social and political justice worldwide, supporting movements of national liberation and expressing sympathy for the Palestinians’ quest for independence from Israeli rule. In their opinion Israel should be judged, like all other countries, on the basis of political justice and morality.[58] Since the International Christian Embassy has represented supporters of right-wing Israeli politics, it arouses resentment among many liberal Protestants, who have little patience for conservative Christianity and the premillennialist messianic conviction.

      The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC, affiliated with the World Council of Churches), represents both mainline Protestant and Middle Eastern churches. In its May 1988 meeting in Cyprus it discussed ways to combat the Embassy. Denouncing one-sided Christian support for Zionism, the MECC declared, “The consultation was referring here especially to the western fundamentalist Christian Zionist movement and its political activities conducted through the self-declared International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem.”[59] The very name “International Christian Embassy”—implying that the Embassy represents all Christians—arouses anger among MECC members.[60]

      Although the International Christian Embassy claims to represent all “true Christians” and is often regarded as the representative of evangelical premillennialist supporters of Israel, not all evangelicals identify with the Embassy’s views and methods. Some have objected to its willingness to refrain from missionizing Jews—a condition it met in order to establish a close relationship with the Israeli government. Mishkan, a Jerusalem-based English-language magazine associated with Christian evangelizing groups in Israel, dedicated a special issue to criticism of the Embassy’s nonmissionary policy.[61] This policy obviously has touched a nerve among evangelicals who, while supporting Israel, remain firmly committed to evangelizing the Jews. For the pro-Israel evangelical premillennialist organizations engaged in missionary work among the Jews, mustering political support for Israel does not take precedence over spreading the Gospel.

 

Missions

Since the rise of the evangelical movement in Britain in the early nineteenth century, missions to the Jews have occupied an important place on the evangelical agenda and came to characterize the evangelical interaction with the Jews even more than the pro-Zionist activity. Its meaning for evangelicals has gone far beyond missionizing as such, for they have seen it as taking part in the divine drama of salvation. Propagating Christianity among the Jews meant teaching the people of God about their role and purpose in history, as well as saving some of them from the Great Tribulation.

      When in the early decades of the nineteenth century a strong premillennialist evangelical movement came into being in Britain, it gave rise to an unprecedented large and aggressive missionary movement operating throughout the Jewish world.[62] The largest of the institutions—the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews—employed more than 100 field missionaries in dozens of missionary stations by the end of the nineteenth century.

      Attempts at creating missions to the Jews in America started in the early nineteenth century as well. By the end of the nineteenth century, the adoption of the premillennialist dispensationalist faith by a growing number of American evangelicals inspired a renewed interest in missionizing the Jews. At the turn of the twentieth century, dozens of missions to the Jews opened in the United States, targeting the recent Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. The largest of the American missions was started by Leopold Cohn, a Jewish convert from Hungary. Under his leadership and that of his son, the American Board of Missions to the Jews became a national, and later international, organization.

      Well aware that Jews were suspicious of the missions and their intentions, a variety of services—medical, educational, and relief—have been offered in order to attract Jewish interest. Jewish community leaders saw a need to counter the missionary appeal by establishing alternative Jewish charitable and communal institutions.[63] While poor Jews took advantage of the services missions were offering, the Jewish elite resented the missions. Leaders of the Reform Movement in the United States, for example, saw the missions as a threat. In their eyes, it represented a continuation of the traditional Christian attitudes that had seen Judaism as obsolete after the arrival of Christianity, refused to accept the existence of Jews outside the church, and therefore undermined the Jewish position as equal and thriving citizens. Evangelical Christians, on their side, cared little for Reform Judaism. They did not see Judaism as a religious tradition that could reform itself without accepting Christianity. Missions have continued to stand at the center of the evangelical-Jewish relationship, causing a great amount of suspicion and misunderstanding.

      The American Board of Missions to the Jews inspired the creation of a number of other missions, the best known of which has been Jews for Jesus. Established by Moishe Rosen in 1970, Jews for Jesus gave much attention to the Baby Boom generation, its styles and fashions.[64] Known for its innovative and confrontational style, Jews for Jesus replaced the American Board of Missions to the Jews in the latter decades of the twentieth century as the largest mission to the Jews, opening branches throughout the world where there have been sizable Jewish communities. The rise of Jews for Jesus took place in the same years that another innovative evangelical movement associated with the missionary movement came into being: Messianic Judaism. A movement of Jewish converts to evangelical Christianity, Messianic Jews believe that they have overcome the historical differences between Judaism and Christianity and amalgamated their Christian faith with Jewish tradition. They have strongly influenced the missionary movement, transforming its ideology and rhetoric. Since the 1970s, missions to the Jews have emphasized that becoming Christian does not eradicate Jewish identity, but rather turns Jews into “completed Jews,” true to the real goal and purpose of the Jewish people. Missions have helped to establish Messianic Jewish congregations which serve as centers of evangelism. In the 1970–2000 period, more than 300 messianic congregations were established in Israel, Britain, the United States, Canada, and later on in Russia, the Ukraine, Argentina, South Africa, and other Jewish communities. Missions made special attempts during the 1980s and 1990s to evangelize Jews of the former Soviet Union.

      More than simply promoting the Christian faith among Jews, another goal of the missions has been to increase support in the evangelical community for the premillennialist idea of the centrality of the Jews in God’s plans for humanity, and the need to evangelize that nation. For institutions such as the American Messianic Fellowship or Friends of Israel, these aims are inseparable.[65] Their premillennialist convictions motivate both their Zionism and their zeal to evangelize God’s chosen nation. An important part of their work is lecturing in churches and distributing written or recorded material in which they advocate their outlook on the Jewish people and Israel’s historical role and the importance of sharing their faith with the Jews. For them, giving up proselytizing would mean giving up their raison d’être. It would also contradict their conviction that the Gospel was intended first and foremost for the Jews.

      Missions to the Jews have stood high on the evangelical agenda and have been among the largest and better-budgeted institutions of evangelism in the modern era. In proportion to the actual number of the Jewish people, they were, in fact, the largest of all evangelical missionary efforts.

 

Israelis and Evangelicals

In general, one might say that the Israeli leadership did not fully comprehend the special attitudes of conservative evangelicals toward the new state. Israeli officials were unable to distinguish between its supporters among mainline churches and its conservative evangelical supporters. They were unaware of the roots and motivation of “Christian Zionists.”[66] They were certainly unfamiliar with Christian eschatological hopes and terms such as “the Great Tribulation” or the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble.”

      David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, thought that Christian supporters viewed the establishment of the state of Israel as the ultimate fulfillment of biblical prophecies—the reestablishment of the Davidic kingdom—rather than only a step toward the realization of that millennial kingdom. When addressing a 1961 international Pentecostal conference held in Israel, the government officials present at the opening session were puzzled by the cool reception of the prime minister’s speech by assembled participants.[67] The Israeli officials certainly were unaware that the Christian’s messianic hopes encouraged not only support for Zionism and for Israel, but also aggressive missionary activity among the Jews. When Oral Roberts visited Israel in 1959, he was received by David Ben-Gurion, who was familiar with Roberts’s activities as an evangelist, but perhaps knew nothing about his missionary work among the Jews. [68] Secular Israeli leaders were not much bothered by Christian missionary activity, believing these were doomed to failure anyway.[69]

      The Israeli government initially sought to build good relations with Christian groups and considered it essential to assure them that the government would not interfere with their work. Thus, evangelical missions continued their operations in Israel without interruption.[70] Orthodox Jewish activists, however, protested the missionaries’ work in Israel, and there were occasional incidents of anti-missionary harassment, but the government refused to change its policy, and police were given the task of protecting missionary centers.[71]

      In the late 1970s, as evangelical influence on American political life became more and more apparent, the Israeli government began to take more notice of this segment of American society and took measures to establish contact with it.[72] Among other things, Menachem Begin appointed Harry Horowitz as special liaison to evangelical Christians. Israeli officials spoke at evangelical conferences and evangelists met with Israeli leaders as part of their tour schedules in Israel. Following the Israeli bombing of the Iraqi atomic plant in 1981, Begin called Jerry Falwell, leader of the Moral Majority, and asked him to back Israel on the issue. Begin was scheduled to speak at William Criswell’s First Baptist Church in Dallas, one of the world’s largest evangelical churches, but had to cancel because of the death of his wife. Despite efforts to establish a friendly relationship with evangelical supporters of Israel, the Israeli leadership has often remained ignorant of the real motivation and nature of the evangelical friendship. When on one occasion Begin exclaimed that “the Christians in America support Israel,” it was obvious that he did not realize that premillennialist evangelicals were only one segment of American Christianity.

      During the 1980s and 1990s, Israeli officials relied on the International Christian Embassy as a vehicle to reach the Protestant Christian community, apparently believing that it represents a large segment of Christianity.[73] Israeli leaders met frequently with Embassy leaders and granted the ICEJ permission to hold gatherings in the courtyard of the Knesset as part of its Tabernacles celebrations.[74] In April 1990, the speaker of the Knesset presented the Embassy with the Quality of Life Award, for its positive role in Israeli life.

      Many of the Embassy’s friends are in the national-religious wing of Israeli society. According to one source, van der Hoeven showed up in the Likud party headquarters in Jerusalem on election night 1984.[75] In July 1991, the liberal Jerusalem weekly, Kol HaIr, published an article claiming that the International Christian Embassy was conducting welfare activities and distributing money to needy new immigrants from the offices of Likud and of Moledet (a small right-wing nationalist party that advocates “transfer” of Arabs from Israeli-controlled territories to Arab countries).[76] In 1988, the magazine Nekuda (Settlement), an organ of the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, published a favorable article on the Embassy entitled “Without Inhibitions: Christians Committed to Judea and Samaria.” It described the Embassy as a pro-Israel Christian group that realizes that the Bible authorizes the Jews to settle their land.[77] Nekuda emphasized that the Embassy had no missionary intentions. Other religious nationalists, such as Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren, have also accepted the Embassy as a genuine friend and supporter of their cause.[78] Only a few have voiced reservations.[79]

      One example of Israeli government ignorance of the nature and scope of evangelical interest and involvement with Israel can be found in its reaction to attempts by evangelical Christians to evangelize Jews in Israel. One of the Begin government’s earliest acts of legislation was intended to restrict missionary activity by outlawing the “buying” of converts through economic incentives. The Begin coalition tried to halt the evangelization of Jews in Israel without realizing that this activity was carried out by the same elements in Christianity with whom it was trying to establish a friendly relationship. The successful legislative initiative reflected the long-standing resentment felt by Orthodox and other Jews toward these evangelistic incursions. As the issue was being debated prior to the enactment of the law in 1978, many evangelicals worried that their activity might come to an end. They were relieved to see that the final wording of the law clearly did not place restrictions on the sort of work they did—contrary to Jewish myths, missionaries were not “buying” converts. In any event, the Israeli government was reluctant to enforce the law.[80]

      In the 1990s, a number of Orthodox and non-Orthodox members of the Knesset sponsored initiatives to outlaw missionary activity.[81] In 1996, a counter-missionary bill passed a first reading in the Knesset. Having realized that the 1978 law had no teeth, opponents of the missionary presence in Israel sought this time to ban all missionary activity, hoping to make illegal all attempts at persuading individuals to change their faith. But then the complex and paradoxical nature of the relationship between the evangelical community and Israeli society became unprecedentedly clear. Missionaries operating in Israel called upon evangelical supporters in America to raise their voices against the impending law. “We call upon the international Christian community to join us in our opposition to this law,” read one of the appeals. “As Christian believers in the God of Israel and in Jesus the Messiah and Savior of the world, we have a special respect and appreciation for the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. We seek and pray for the welfare of all of God’s people in the land. We view with grave concern the erosion of Israel’s democratic freedom by this proposed law.”[82] The Israeli Embassy and consulates in America and other countries with substantial evangelical populations were virtually flooded with letters of protest against the law, and opponents circulated protest petitions on the internet as well.[83] Many wrote directly to the prime minister in Jerusalem. The standard letters emphasized that they were written by friends of Israel who wished the country well and were writing to warn the government against the consequences that the passing of such a law might bring with it. Such legislation, they claimed, would place Israel in the same category with third-world dictatorial regimes and would turn its current supporters against it. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had at first offhandedly supported the bill, changed his mind and promised evangelical activists he would oppose it. Other non-Orthodox supporters of the bill, such as Nisim Zwili, a Labour Party member of the Knesset, also withdrew support for the proposed law. As a means of backing out of the law while saving face, the government’s opposition to the proposed law came in exchange for a promise by Christian groups not to evangelize. This agreement, which allowed the government to present its abandonment of the law as a triumph, or at least not as a defeat, had its catch. The Christian groups that promised not to evangelize Jews were not engaged in such activity anyhow, and those who made it their goal to missionize Jews made no promises to stop their activity.

      The rise and fall of the anti-missionary laws was marked by a number of paradoxes. There was an ironic element in anti-missionary laws being promoted by the Orthodox segments of the Israeli population. Some Orthodox, namely the settlers’ circles, had come to rely on evangelical support, and some of them had established close ties with evangelical organizations. Similarly, the rise and fall of the laws revealed as never before that evangelical support for Israel and the special relationship that developed between Israel and evangelical Protestant leaders and organizations stood as a block against any action Israel might have taken against the missionary presence. It has highlighted the paradoxical nature of the relation of evangelical Christians towards Jews: the evangelization of a people they see as chosen and whose country they strongly support. The paradox in evangelical-Jewish relations reached its peak in the realm of missions. It has created a reality in which one’s enemy is one’s friend. Historically, Jews have seen attempts at missionizing members of their community as expressions of hostility, as they were convinced that such activity aimed at their annihilation as a people. While many Jews still resent missionary activity, missionaries have been counted among Israel’s most ardent friends. The special friendship that developed between Israel as a country and evangelical Christians has on the whole prevented an open confrontation between Israel and evangelicals over the issue of missions. But the issue has remained a sore spot in the relationship between the two communities. Missions are not the only “explosive” issue in the relationship between evangelicals and Jews. One other very passionate item is the rebuilding of the Temple.

 

Evangelical Christians and the Building of the Temple

After the Six-Day War, it seemed to evangelical Christians awaiting the Second Coming of Jesus that Israel held the territory on which the Temple should be rebuilt and the priestly sacrificial rituals reinstated. The unexpected and dramatic developments in the war made it seem that humanity was being led into the Messianic Age.[84] The Temple, or rather the prospect of its rebuilding, received great attention among premillennialist Christians as the one event standing between this era and the next.

      A striking demonstration of the growing prominence of the Temple in Christian messianic thought can be found in Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth, an evangelical bestseller of the 1970s, which sold about thirty million copies. Lindsey, like other premillennialist evangelicals, was strongly impressed by the Six Day War and its consequences, and placed Israel at the center of the eschatological drama.[85] For him, the rebuilding of the Temple and the coming rise to power of Antichrist were major components of the Great Tribulation, without which the coming of the Messiah could not take place. However, a number of obstacles remained in this next stage in the advancement of the prophetic timetable. The most striking was an apparent lack of interest in rebuilding the Temple among the Jews. Many Israelis understood the outcome of the Six-Day War in messianic terms, but most had no desire to rebuild the temple.[86] There was the unavoidable reality that the Temple Mount was a Moslem site, complete with magnificent mosques and administered by the Moslem Waqf.

      The Israeli Minister of Defense at the time, Moshe Dayan, designed a policy, upheld by the Government, which insisted on maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount as well as other Muslim and Christian sites. In addition, a number of prestigious rabbis, including the Chief Rabbis Itzhak Nissim and Isser Unterman, declared that Jews were forbidden to enter the Temple Mount. Most rabbinical authorities have viewed the Temple Mount as being as sacred as it was when the Temple was standing. The Mishnah, the post-biblical interpretation and compilation of law, outlined the various degrees of sanctity of areas on the Temple Mount and the rituals of purification people needed to perform in order to enter these areas.[87] All Jews were required to purify themselves with the ashes of the Red Heifer before entering the Mount.[88] And there was no Red Heifer to be found. Rabbis also feared that Jews might step on restricted sacred ground, such as the Holy of Holies, onto which ordinary Jews (and even ordinary priests) were not allowed to enter. Most observant Jews at the time accepted the rabbinical ban and saw entrance to the Temple Mount as taboo.[89] Voices such as that of Rabbi Shlomo Goren, who wished to establish a synagogue on the Temple Mount, were in the minority. In sum, as far as the majority of Jews during the late 1960s were concerned, the rebuilding of the Temple was either to be avoided altogether or postponed.

      Dennis Michael Rohan a premillenialist evangelical Christian, decided to change the existing reality. After spending some time as a volunteer on an Israeli kibbutz, Rohan visited Jerusalem in July 1969, convinced that God had designated him for the task of burning of the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in order to secure the necessary ground for the building of the Temple.[90] The mosque was damaged and Arabs in Jerusalem rioted. Rohan was arrested, and at his trial, judged insane. He was allowed to serve his sentence in an asylum in his native Australia..[91]

      A number of Christian premillennialist organizations, groups, and individuals in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s have promoted the building of the holy Jewish shrine through a variety of activities, most of them centered on helping the Jews to prepare for the building of the Temple. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, premillennialist Christians discovered groups of Orthodox Jews interested in the building of the Temple. Some of these groups were advocating their agenda publicly, while others were preparing more quietly for the reinstatement of the sacrificial system in a rebuilt Temple.[92] Such Jews, who were studying the Temple rituals, manufacturing utensils to be used for sacrificial purposes according to biblical or Talmudic measures, or trying to breed a red heifer for ritual purification purposes, served to sustain the Christian messianic imagination. Christian premillennialists viewed such efforts as “signs of the time”—indications that the current era was ending and the apocalyptic events of the End Times were coming near.[93] The Temple Institute, a museum and workshop in the Old City of Jerusalem that houses utensils and artifacts reconstructed since the 1970s by Jewish advocates for rebuilding the Temple, has become a pilgrimage site for Christians expecting the Second Coming of Jesus[94]

      The relationship between Christian evangelicals and Jewish groups over the prospect of rebuilding the Temple has been one of the most bizarre developments in the long history of Jewish-Christian relations. For both parties, it has been a marriage of convenience. Christian supporters have perceived the Jewish groups as instrumental to the realization of the messianic age. In their vision, the rebuilt Temple is a necessary stage toward that goal. Similarly, Jewish groups do not care for the Christian messianic faith any more than Christian premillennialist groups appreciate the Jewish faith, but they see such details as being beside the point. The important thing for them has been the Christian willingness to support their work.

      In the late 1970s, a number of conservative evangelical individuals and institutions interested in promoting the building of the Temple established a close relationship with Stanley Goldfoot’s Jerusalem-based Temple Foundation. Born in South Africa, Goldfoot immigrated to Palestine in the 1930s, making his living as a journalist and businessman. During the 1940s, he was a member of Lechi, or, as the British called it, the Stern Gang, an underground organization that used terrorism as a means to force the British out of the country.[95] He served as the group’s speaker and liaison for the foreign press. A secular Jew with artistic inclinations, Goldfoot advocated a right-wing outlook on Israeli politics in an English-language satirical magazine that he published in Tel Aviv in the 1960s and 1970s. After retiring, Goldfoot relocated to Jerusalem and established the Temple Foundation, operated from his handsome Jerusalem home, and became, in the 1980s and early 1990s, the Israeli contact for Christians advocating the rebuilding of the Temple.[96] Chuck Smith, a noted minister and evangelist whose Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California, has been one of the largest and most dynamic Charismatic churches in America, invited Goldfoot to lecture in his church, and his followers helped to finance Goldfoot’s activity.

      Smith secured financial support for exploration of the exact site of the Temple.[97] An associate of Smith, Lambert Dolphin, a California physicist and archeologist and leader of the “Science and Archeology Team,” took it upon himself to explore the Temple Mount.[98] An ardent premillennialist who believed that the building of the Temple was essential to the realization of messianic hopes, Dolphin used sophisticated technological devices and methods, such as wall-penetrating radar and seismic sounding, in his search for the ruins of the previous Temples. In bringing his sophisticated instruments into Israel and preparing to explore the Temple Mount, Dolphin worked in cooperation with and received help from Goldfoot. His attempts to research the Temple Mount were frustrated by the Israeli police, who, confronted by Muslim protests, refused to allow the use of such devices on or under the Mount.[99] Many premillennialists, such as Texan Oz Hawkins, have not waited for conclusive findings by Dolphin and have embraced the theory that the location of the Temple was between the two major mosques, El-Aksa and the Dome of the Rock. The Temple, they have concluded, could therefore be rebuilt without destroying the existing mosques, thus providing a “peaceful solution” to the problem of how to build the Temple at a site that is holy to the Muslims.[100]

      Christian proponents of rebuilding the Temple have not limited their efforts to discovering the exact site of the Temple. Some have searched for the lost Ark of the Covenant, adding a touch of adventure and mystery to a potentially explosive topic. The search for the “lost ark” has inspired a number of novels and a movie based in part on a real life figure.[101] Some premillennialists have also searched for the ashes of the Red Heifer, necessary in order to allow Jews to enter the Temple Mount, while others have supported Jewish attempts at breeding red heifers.[102] A renewed interest has arisen in Christian evangelical conservative circles in the Temple building, its interior plan, and its sacrificial works, as well as in the priestly garments and utensils. A number of books on these subjects have enjoyed popularity in Christian premillennialist circles.[103] The rebuilt Temple has also played an important role in evangelical novels and fictions. The most popular of them has been the Left Behind series published from the late 1990s, which has sold millions of copies. The novel takes place in the aftermath of the Rapture, describing the struggles of those left behind and the rise to power of the Antichrist.[104] The series states the importance of the building of the Temple as part of the events that were to precede the arrival of the Messiah[105] and describes one of the Antichrist’s “achievements” in orchestrating the removal of the mosques to New Babylon.[106]

      Another Jewish group that has established a working relationship with premillennialist Christians is the Temple Mount Faithful. Led by Gershon Solomon, a Jerusalem lawyer, the Temple Mount Faithful has been, since its inception in the 1970s, the best known of all the Jewish groups aiming at rebuilding the Temple. Its periodic attempts to organize prayers on the Temple Mount, not to mention its plans to install a cornerstone for the rebuilt Temple, have enjoyed much media coverage. The relationship between the group and Christian supporters has advanced more slowly than in the case of Goldfoot’s Temple Foundation. Yet, by the early 1990s, Solomon had carved a niche for himself and his group among premillennialist Christians. Pat Robertson, the renowned leader of the 700 Club and a one-time presidential hopeful, offered his support and hospitality to Solomon. In August 1991, the 700 Club aired an interview with Solomon. Robertson described the group as struggling to gain the rightful Jewish place on the Temple Mount. “We will never have peace,” Robertson declared, “until the Mount of the House of the Lord is restored.”[107] Solomon, for his part, described his mission as embodying the promise for a universal redemption of humanity. “It’s not just a struggle for the Temple Mount, it’s a struggle for the...redemption of the world,” he declared.[108]

      The close relationship between Christian and Jewish proponents of the Temple building has brought some evangelical Christians to make changes in their understanding of the role of the Temple in their vision of the End Times. As Jewish activitists learned details of the Christian premillennialist scheme, they began to wonder about their dubious role as laborers in the service of the Antichrist. Christians writers and theologians, such as Randall Price, have reassured them that premillennialist Christians expect the Temple to survive the rule of Antichrist and to function gloriously in the millennial kingdom and not only in the period that precedes it.[109]

      While Christian proponents of the rebuilding of the Temple have not, as a rule, attempted to pray on the Temple Mount, they have sympathized with Jews who have attempted to do so. When, in the mid-1980s, Israeli police arrested members of the Temple Mount Faithful for trying to enter the Temple Mount and organize a prayer meeting there, Christian supporters were enraged. In their view, the State of Israel was acting against its true destiny, suppressing an activity that could lead to the realization of the kingdom of God on earth. American evangelicals formed a “Committee of Concerned Evangelicals for the Freedom of Worship on the Temple Mount” and published their demand for freedom of worship for Jews on the Temple Mount in leading American and Israeli newspapers as well as approached members of Congress and asked them to intercede.[110]

      A number of incidents during the 1980s and 1990s demonstrated the potential dangers that Christian or Jewish groups might bring to the region by trying to destroy the Temple Mount mosques. In 1984, the Israeli police exposed and arrested a group that had planned to bomb and destroy the mosques on the Temple Mount. The group came to be known as the “Lifta Gang”—a name it received from its residence in a semi-abandoned Arab village on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. Israeli newspapers described a curious commune. Some of the members had criminal records or a history of mental instability. According to one source, the group was associated with, and received assistance from, premillennialist Christians in America.[111] The Lifta Gang was just as dangerous as the Jewish messianic settlers who had planned at about the same time to blow up the mosques. Its weapons stockpile included U.S.-made LAW shoulder-held missiles as well as a large amount of explosives. In the case of the Lifta Gang, Christian messianic hopes came together with little regard for accepted social or political restraints, either because of psychopathology, criminal, or even quasi-revolutionary tendencies. One could not help but wonder what would have happened if the group had not been caught before carrying out its plans. The Lifta Group’s potential for destruction notwithstanding, its existence was completely overshadowed by the discovery of the Jewish underground groups that had similar plans. As far as the public was concerned, it was a marginal group politically, socially, and religiously and was soon forgotten.

      The possibility that Christian evangelical messianic hopes might bring about an apocalypse gained momentum again in the late 1990s. As the year 2000 approached, journalists, scholars, and government officials alike became preoccupied with the possible risks and dangers the turn of the millennium might bring. The arrival of the year 2000 stirred the messianic imagination as a potential catalyst of the End Times. But of special concern for those interested in Middle East developments was the fate of the Temple Mount mosques. Should the mosques be bombed or seriously damaged through other means, all hell might break loose, causing the apocalypse to begin. While in the 1980s and early 1990s Israeli authorities and the public had given much attention to potential Jewish terrorists, this time the Israeli public and media targeted Christian protagonists of the Second Coming as potential trouble-makers. Israelis, as well as Americans showed interest in the details of the Christian messianic scheme. Terms such as “the rapture,” or “the Great Tribulation,” that had hardly been known outside evangelical circles, became almost household terms in 1999. In April of that year, Israel’s security services rounded up members of a messianic group called Concerned Christians that had come to Jerusalem to take part in the expected events of the End Times and, according to official Israeli reports, planned to commit mass suicide or perhaps damage the mosques on the Temple Mount. Members of the group were subsequently deported. By the end of 1999, Israeli fears that premillennialist Christians might try to blow up the mosques bordered on hysteria. Israeli security forces arrested and deported dozens of Christians who came to Jerusalem to witness the second coming of Jesus, among them harmless persons.[112] Likewise, the Israelis refused entrance to the country to “suspicious” Christians. The possibility of premillennialists who wish to see the Temple rebuilt bringing about a catastrophic event at the Temple Mount became very real to Israelis, and their fears in this respect shifted and concentrated on Christians instead of Jews.

      Peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians and the Oslo agreement have caused alarm among some premillennialist Christians,[113] but for most Christians expecting the Second Coming of Jesus, their hopes for the rebuilding of the Temple remained just as strong during the 1990s and the beginning of the new millennium as before.[114] One cannot tell what would happen if Israel gives up its official control of the Temple Mount. Some fear that such a prospect might stir Jews and Christians to take steps that would “secure” the Jewish control of the mountain. While some evangelicals reacted in alarm to the peace agreements between Israelis and Palestinians, others reacted negatively to the recent struggles between the two peoples. Most evangelical Christians sympathize with Israel. Evangelical leaders and activists have spoken out in favor is Israel during the recent Palestinian-Israeli confrontation.[115] Their opinions have stood in contrast to liberal and mainstream churches, which have, for the most part, expressed sympathy toward the Palestinians. Some evangelicals, however, have taken exception to the Israeli presence in the West Bank and Gaza. Such voices often come from the minority of evangelicals who do not accept the idea of the central role of the Jews in bringing about the Second Coming of the Messiah. Accepting the Palestinian narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict, such persons take an anti-Israel line.[116] It is quite obvious that evangelical attitudes divorced of messianic expectations can be less than sympathetic toward Jews and Israel. Within Israel itself, sympathies are often divided. Some evangelical ministers who have resided among Palestinians have changed their views and adopted interpretations of current events that have been less favorable toward Israel than those of most evangelicals outside of the country, or those residing among Jews. Pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel sentiments have occasionally found their way into the pages of moderate evangelical journals such as Christianity Today, a widely-circulated evangelical weekly, whose editorial line over the years has been mostly pro-Israel. Ironically, the more conservative (and messianic-oriented) evangelicals tend to be enthusiastic supporters of Israel, while more moderate evangelicals tend to be more critical.


Conclusion

The attitude toward Jews developed by evangelical Christians has been extraordinary in the history of the relationships between religious communities. In no other case has one religious community considered another religious group to hold a special role in God’s plans for human redemption, and to be God’s first nation. At the same time, evangelical Christians insist on the exclusivity of their faith as the only true fulfillment of God’s commands and as the only means to assure salvation. These two conflicting attitudes have marked the relationship between the two communities with amazing paradoxes.

      Evangelicals took a great interest in the Jews and their history throughout the twentieth century, enthusiastically supporting the Zionist movement and, in the later decades of the twentieth century, became the State of Israel’s most loyal friends. At the same time, evangelical Christians have viewed the Jews as a people which failed to recognize and accept the true Messiah. In evangelical eyes, Jews have thus deprived themselves of both eternal life and sound moral guidelines. Evangelical Christians have held to many of the stereotypes of Jews found in Western Christian culture at the same time that they have expected Jews to regain their ancient position as the leading nation in the millennial kingdom. Such mixed, dual opinions have characterized the attitudes of many evangelical activists who, while claiming to show love and kindness towards the Jews and while supporting Jewish causes politically, have also expressed, at times, unfavorable opinions on Jews.

      A recent example is the revelations about Billy Graham’s opinions on Jews.[117] Graham has been an ardent supporter of Israel throughout his long career as an evangelist. In the early 1970s, his pro-Israel stand was particularly evident. For example, in a movie he produced on the Holy Land during that period, he presented Israel in the brightest terms. At the same time, Graham held the opinion that the Jews were responsible for America’s problems; they were controlling the media, and were the “ones putting out the pornographic stuff.”

      A survey conducted in the early 1960s discovered that conservative Protestants were more likely to hold prejudices against Jews than mainline Protestants or Roman Catholics.[118] A similar survey the Anti-Defamation League conducted in the mid-1980s discovered, however, a remarkable decline in evangelical negative opinions on Jews.[119] This has been due, in no small measure, to the dramatic growth in evangelical Christian encounters with Israel and with real Jews. While previously evangelicals read about Jews in the New Testament or heard about them in sermons, from 1970 to 2000, millions of evangelicals have taken tours to Israel, met with Israeli officials, and many have spent time in kibbutzim or in evangelical educational programs in the country.

      In no other realm has the paradoxical nature of the relation of evangelicals to Jews demonstrated itself as in the evangelical attempts to help Jews rebuild the Temple. Evangelical Christians have formed historically unprecedented friendships and alliances with Jews that would be difficult to imagine at other times and places. There is, therefore, something surreal about the evangelical Christian advocates for rebuilding of the Temple, as their actions transcend the historical dynamics of Jewish-Christian interaction. The unique relationship that has developed has brought about scenes that are almost unbelievable, including Christians marveling at and receiving reassurance for their messianic faith from Jews studying the priestly codex in preparation for reinstating the sacrificial system. Something of a symbiosis has developed between conservative evangelical Christians and Orthodox nationalist Jews on this issue. Although each group has its own vision for the messianic times, they have all shared the same agenda for the near future.

      One must conclude that the evangelical attitudes toward the Jewish people and their activity on the Jews’ behalf derive first and foremost from their evangelical messianic hope, which in its turn represents an entire worldview, conservative and reactive in nature. The evangelicals’ pro-Israel attitude and their keen concern for the physical well-being of Jews derive from their beliefs about the function of the Jews in the advancement of history toward the arrival of the Lord. Evangelicals involved with Jews see themselves as workers in a great cause, perhaps the greatest of all—the advancement of the messianic age and the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth. Evangelical Christians cannot, therefore, be described as philosemites. Their support of Jewish causes represent an attempt to promote their own agenda and their opinions on Jews have not always been flattering. Similarly, the evangelical understanding that Jews are in need of the Gospel and that without accepting Christianity they are morally and spiritually deprived derives from basic evangelical theological premises. Evangelicals, in the last analysis, are neither philosemites nor antisemites, but merely loyal to their own faith and work to promote their own cause.


Notes



[1]     E.g., Chani Cohen, “Sharon Dazzles Christian Zionists,” Jerusalem Post, 22 Oct. 2000; Gershon Gorenberg, “Israel Pushes Out ‘Elijah’ for Promising to Bring the Redemption,” Jerusalem Report, 27 Sept. 1999; Mark I. Pinsky, “Jewish Leaders Upset Over New Holy Land Theme Park,” Orlando Sentinel, 12 Jan. 2001.

[2]     See very different understanding of evangelical attitudes towards Jews in Merrill Simon, Jerry Falwell and the Jews (Middle Village, N.Y.: Jonathan David Publisher, 1987) and Dov Aharoni Fisch, Jews for Nothing (Jerusalem and New York: Feldheim, 1984). From the evangelical side, see Richard J. Mouw, “The Chosen People Puzzle,” Christianity Today, 5 March 2001. www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2001/004.5.70.html

[3]     Cf., Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970).

[4]     Ernest Sandeen, The Roots of Fundamentalism: British and American Millenarianism, 1800–1930 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1978).

[5]     E.g., Barbara Tuchman, Bible and Sword (London: Macmillan, 1983).

[6]     A. G. Mojtabai, Blessed Assurance: At Home with the Bomb in Amarillo, Texas (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1986).

[7]     See, for example, Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1971).

[8]     See William Blackstone, Jesus Is Coming, 3rd ed. (Los Angeles: Bible House, 1908), 211–13, 236–41.

[9]     See Yaakov Ariel, “An American Initiative for a Jewish State: William Blackstone and the Petition of 1891,” Studies in Zionism 10 (1989): 125–37.

[10]    William Blackstone to Woodrow Wilson, 4 Nov. 1914; William Blackstone to Warren G. Harding, telegram, 10 Dec. 1920; both in Blackstone Personal Papers, Billy Graham Center, Wheaton, Illinois.

[11]    See Yaakov Ariel, “William Blackstone and the Petition of 1916: A Neglected Chapter in the History of Christian Zionism in America,” Studies in Contemporary Jewry 7 (1991): 68–85.

[12]    William L. Pettingill, J. R. Schafler, and J. D. Adams, eds., Light on Prophecy: A Coordinated, Constructive Teaching, Being the Proceedings and Addresses at the Philadelphia Prophetic Conference, May 28–30, 1918 (New York: Christian Herald Bible House, 1918); Arno C. Gaebelein, ed., Christ and Glory: Addresses Delivered at the New York Prophetic Conference, Carnegie Hall, November 25–28, 1918 (New York: Publication Office, “Our Hope,” 1919).

[13]    See, e.g., George T. B. Davis, Fulfilled Prophecies That Prove the Bible (Philadelphia: Million Testaments Campaign, 1931); and Keith L Brooks, The Jews and the Passion for Palestine in Light of Prophecy (Los Angeles: Brooks Publications, 1937).

[14]    James Gray, “Editorial,” Moody Bible Institute Monthly 31 (1931): 346.

[15]    On Smith and his activity, see Glen Jeansonne, Gerald L. K. Smith: Minister of Hate (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988).

[16]    See Ralph L. Roy, Apostles of Discord (Boston: Beacon Press, 1953).

[17]    See George L. Marsden, Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1987), 39.

[18]    See Arno C. Gaebelein, “Jewish Leadership in Russia,” Our Hope 27 (1921): 734–35; James M. Gray, “The Jewish Protocols,” Moody Bible Institute Monthly 22 (1921): 589; and William B. Riley, Wanted—A World Leader! (Self-published, n.d.), 41–51, 71–72.

[19]    See David Rausch, “Our Hope: An American Fundamentalist Journal and the Holocaust, 1937–1945,” Fides et Historia 12 (1980): 89–103.

[20]    See, e.g., Our Hope 44 (1938): 686.

[21]    Cf., Peter Novick, The Holocaust in American Life (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1999). Evangelical books of the 1940s and 1950s on the Jews and Israel usually avoided the subject. See, for example, George T. B. Davis, Sowing God’s Word in Israel Today (Philadelphia: Million Testament Campaign, Inc., 1953).

[22]    Novick, Holocaust in American Life.

[23]    Cf. Robert P. Ericksen and Susannah Heschel, eds., Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust (Minneapolis: Fortren Press, 1999).

[24]    Joseph Michman, “Some Reflections on the Dutch Churches and the Jews,” in Judaism and Christianity Under the Impact of National Socialism, edited by Otto Dov Kulka and Paul Mendès-Flohr (Jerusalem: Zalman Shazar Center, 1987) 349–52.

[25]    Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place (Minneapolis, Minn.: A Chosen Book, 1971), 123–24.

[26]    Ibid., 163, 189, 223.

[27]    Ibid., 86.

[28]    Rachmiel Frydland, When Being Jewish Was a Crime (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1978).

[29]    Ibid., 148.

[30]    Ibid., 147.

[31]    Ibid., 151.

[32]    Ibid., 134.

[33]    Ibid., 155.

[34]    Ibid., 156.

[35]    E.g., Davis, Fulfilled Prophecies; Brooks, Jews and the Passion for Palestine.

[36]    See Dwight Wilson, Armageddon Now! The Premillennarian Response to Russia and Israel since 1917 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1977).

[37]    See Louis T. Talbot and William W. Orr, The New Nation of Israel and the Word of God (Los Angeles: Bible Institute of Los Angeles, 1948); M. R. DeHaan, The Jew and Palestine in Prophecy (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1954); Arthur Kac, The Rebirth of the State of Israel: Is It of God or Men? (Chicago: Moody Press, 1958); and George T. B. Davis, God’s Guiding Hand (Philadelphia: Million Testaments Campaign, 1962).

[38]    John Walvoord, Israel in Prophecy (Grand Rapids: Zonderman, 1962), 19.

[39]    E.g., L. Nelson Bell, “Unfolding Destiny,” Christianity Today (1967), 1044–1045.

[40]    See, e.g., Peter L. Williams and Peter L. Benson, Religion on Capitol Hill: Myth and Realities (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986); Allen D. Hertzke, Representing God in Washington (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1988); Mark Silk, Spiritual Politics (New York: Touchstone, 1989); and Michael Lienesch, Redeeming America: Piety and Politics in the New Christian Right (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1993).

[41]    See Martin Gardner, “Giving God a Hand,” New York Review of Books, 13 August 1987, p. 22.

[42]    Cf. Silk, Spiritual Politics; Liensch, Redeeming America.

[43]    See, e.g., Elwood McQuaid, It Is No Dream (Bellmaur, N.J.: Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1978).

[44]    Kai Kjaer-Hansen and Bochil F. Skjott, Facts and Myths About the Messianic Congregations in Israel (Jerusalem: United Christian Council in Israel in Cooperation with the Caspari Center, 1999).

[45]    James McWhirter, A World in a Country (Jerusalem: B.S.B. International, 1983), 160–74; interviews with Marvin and Merla Watson, Jerusalem, 16 October 1992, and Menahem Ben Hayim, Jerusalem, 14 October 1992.

[46]    Jan Willem van der Hoeven, “If I Forget Thee O Jerusalem,” Sukkoth brochure (Jerusalem: International Christian Embassy, 1984), 4.

[47]    Haim Shapiro, religious affairs correspondent, Jerusalem Post, interview by Yaakov Ariel, Jerusalem, 6 October 1992.

[48]    A list of ICEJ international representatives, February 1992, included representatives in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Maryland, California, and Wyoming; see also the ICEJ website: http://www.icej.org.il

[49]    On the various activities of the Embassy, see its brochure, “The Ministry of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem” (Jerusalem: International Christian Embassy, 1992), and their website: http://www.icej.org.il

[50]    Arlynn Nellhaus, “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” Jerusalem Post Magazine, 9 October 1992, 6–7.

[51]    In 1991, for example, Germans offered more financial support for bringing Russian Jews to Israel than supporters in any other country. “Wohnungsbau for Sowjetische Juden,” Ein Wort aus Jerusalem, March–April 1992. As premillennialism and messianism are not strong among German Protestants this may be attributed to guilt and a wish to help the Jewish state, regardless of its role in the events that precede the arrival of the Messiah.

[52]    On the conference schedule and participants, see Washington for Israel Summit (Jerusalem: International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem, 1992).

[53]    See Jan van der Hoeven, Babylon or Jerusalem (Shippensburg, Penn.: Destiny Image, 1993).

[54]    Anon., Le Maan Tzion Lo Echeshe (Jerusalem: International Christian Embassy, 1990), 13.

[55]    Jan Willem van der Hoeven, interview by Yaakov Ariel, Jerusalem, 19 August 1991.

[56]    Reverend Michael Krupp, interview by Yaakov Ariel, Jerusalem, 18 December 1991. See also Michael Krupp, “Falsche Propheten in Jerusalem,” 3 October 1988 sent to the Protestant religious press in Germany.

[57]    Cf. an email message from Labibkobti@aol.com to subscribers to the Al-Bushra mailing list, Al-bushra-holy-land@cin.org, subject: Patriarchs of the ME say No to Christian Zionists. Fr. Labib Kobti, a Roman Catholic priest of Palestinian origin at St. Anne of the Sunset Church in San Francisco, Calif., operates the Al-Bushra website (http://www.al-bushra.org) for Arab American Roman Catholics. See the website for other articles opposing “Christian Zionists.”

[58]    Some liberal and mainline churches, such as the Quakers and Lutherans, have worked in the West Bank and Gaza and, in protests and actions, have expressed their commitment to the Palestinian cause. In some cases, such as in Holland, mainline Protestant church members often have more positive attitudes towards Israel than their leadership; consequently the Embassy, which is regarded as representing pro-Israel sentiments, enjoys support even when the church establishment is hostile towards its activities. Reverend Simon Schoon and Reverend Geert Cohen-Stuart of the Dutch Reformed Church, Interview by Yaakov Ariel, Southampton, U.K., 14 July, 1991.

[59]    “Signs of Hope,” 1988 annual report of the Middle East Council of Churches, Cyprus, July 1989.

[60]    Anon., What is Western Fundamentalist Christian Zionism? (Limosol, Cyprus; Middle East Council of Churches, April 1988; rev. ed., August 1988). The second, revised edition is somewhat more moderate than the first.

[61]    Mishkan, no. 12 (1990).

[62]    A. E. Thompson, A Century of Jewish Missions (Chicago: Fleming H. Revell, 1905).

[63]    Cf. Jonathan Sarna, “The American Jewish Response to Nineteenth Century Christian Missions,” Journal of American History 68 (1981): 35–51.

[64]    Cf. Yaakov Ariel, “Counterculture and Missions: Jews for Jesus and the Vietnam Era Missionary Campaigns,” Religion and American Culture, 9, no. 2 (Summer 1999): 233–57.

[65]    Reverend William Currie, former head of the American Messianic Fellowship, interview by Yaakov Ariel, Jerusalem, September 1991. Currie had little appreciation for the Embassy.

[66]    A striking example of this failure to understand can be found in Michael Pragai’s book Faith and Fulfillment (London: Valentine Mitchell, 1985). The author, who served as head of the department for liaison with the Christian churches and organizations in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs for many years, demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge of the nature of the evangelical support of Zionism and of the differences between conservative and mainline/liberal churches.

[67]    Yona Malachy, American Fundamentalism and Israel (Jerusalem: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Institute of Contemporary Jewry, 1978), 106–11.

[68]    David E. Harrel, Oral Roberts: An American Life (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1985), 137.

[69]    For example, Yaakov Ariel, “Evangelist in a Strange Land: American Missionaries in Israel, 1948–1967,” Studies in Contemporary Jewry 14 (1998): 206–207.

[70]    E.g., Robert L. Lindsey, Israel in Christendom (Tel Aviv: Dugit, 1961).

[71]    Per Osterlye, The Church in Israel, (Lund: Gleerup, 1970).

[72]    “Israel Looks on U.S. Evangelical Christian as Potent Allies,” Washington Post, 23 March 1981, p. A11.

[73]    “Israel’s Leaders Greet the Embassy,” in Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord (Jerusalem: International Christian Embassy, 1991).

[74]    For a photograph of such a gathering, see Tzipora Luria, “Lelo Tasbichim: Notztim Mechuiavim LeYesha” (Without inhibitions: Christians committed to Judea and Samaria), Nekuda, no. 128, 17 March 1989, 31.

[75]    David Pileggi, interview by Yaakov Ariel, Jerusalem, 14 Oct. 1991.

[76]    Yael Eshkenazi, “HaKesher HaNotzri Shel Moledet” (The Christian connection with Moledet), Kol HaIr, 1 Nov. 1991, 30.

[77]    Luria, “LeLo Tasbichim,” 30–34.

[78]    Le Maan zion Lo Echeshe, 14.

[79]    See Halevi, “Balancing Act.”

[80]    Cf., Yaakov Ariel, Evangelizing the Chosen People: Missions to the Jews in America 1880-2000 (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 2000), 277–78.

[81]    Daniel Ben Simon, “Doing Something for Judaism,” Haaretz, 18 Dec. 1997, English edition, 1–2.

[82]    For example, a letter circulated through the internet by Noam Hendren, Baruch Maoz, and Marvin Dramer, March 1997.

[83]    Ibid.

[84]    Raymond L. Cox, “Time for the Temple?” Eternity 19 (Jan. 1968): 17–18; Malcolm Couch, “When Will the Jews Rebuild the Temple?” Moody Monthly 74 (Dec. 1973): 34–35, 86.

[85]    Lindsey, Late Great Planet Earth, 32–47.

[86]    Cf. Gideon Aran, “From Religious Zionism to Zionist Religion: The Roots of Gush Emunim,” Studies in Contemporary Jewry, 2 (1986): 118.

[87]    Mishna, Kelim 1, 8. Cf. “Har Ha Bayit” (in Hebrew), HaEncyclopedia HaTalmudit, vol. 10, 575–92.

[88]    Cf. Numbers 19.

[89]    Cf. Ehud Sprinzak, The Ascendance of Israel’s Radical Right (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 279–88.

[90]    Avinoam Brog, interview by Yaakov Ariel, Jerusalem, 1992. I am indebted to Brog for sharing with me information and impressions on Rohan’s stay in the kibbutz and his motive for burning the mosque.

[91]    See Jerusalem District Court Archive, Criminal File 69/173.

[92]    On Jewish groups that intend to rebuild the Temple, see Ehud Sprinzak, The Ascendance of Israel’s Radical Right (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 264–69, 279–88.

[93] Cf. Grant R. Jeffrey, Armageddon: Appointment with Destiny (New York: Bantam Books, 1990), especially 108–50.

[94]    For example, Don Stewart and Chuck Missler, The Coming Temple: Center Stage for the Final Countdown (Orange, Calif.: Dart Press, 1991), 157–70.

[95]    On the Lechi, see Joseph Heller, Lechi, Ideology and Politics, 1940–1949 (Jerusalem: Zalman Shazar and Keter, 1989).

[96]    See the brochure, Jerusalem Temple Foundation (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Temple Foundation, n.d.).

[97]    On Chuck Smith, see Donald E. Miller, Reinventing American Protestantism (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1998).

[98]    See Dolphin’s website http://www.Ldolphin.org; see also a series of tracts the Californian physicist has published, copies in Yaakov Ariel’s collection.

[99]    Stewart and Missler, The Coming Temple, 157–70.

[100] See Yisrayl Hawkins, A Peaceful Solution to Building the Next Temple in Yerusalem (Abilene, Tex.: House of Yahweh, 1989).

[101] On the premillennialist fascination with the lost ark, see Doug Wead, David Lewis, and Hal Donaldson, Where Is the Lost Ark? (Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House Publishing, n.d.); Don Stewart and Chuck Missler, In Search of the Lost Ark (Orange, Calif.: Dart Press, 1991).

[102]  Lawrence Wright, “Forcing the End,” New Yorker, 74, no. 20 (20 July 1998): 42–53; Jewish Telegraph Agency, 2 Sept. 1999, http://www.jta.org/sep99/02-cows.htm.

[103] See, for example, C. W. Sleming, These Are the Garments (Fort Washington, Penn.: Christian Literature Crusade, n.d.); Wead, Where is the Lost Ark?; Stewart, In Search of the Lost Ark; Thomas Ice and Randall Price, Ready to Rebuild (Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House, 1992).

[104] Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, Left Behind (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1995); Additional books in the series include Tribulation Force; Nicolae; Soul Harvest; Apollyon; Assasins; The Indwelling; and The Mark; all published by Tyndale. The series has sold more than 20 million copies.

[105] For example, Left Behind, 415; Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, 369; Tribulation Force, 208.

[106] Tribulation Force, 277.

[107] Quoted in Robert I. Friedman, Zealots for Zion (New York: Random House, 1992), 144.

[108] Ibid., 144–45.

[109] Ice, Ready to Rebuild; Cf. also the more recent series Left Behind. Antichrist in the series is Romanian Orthodox.

[110] See, for example, such an advertisement in the Israeli Hebrew daily Haaretz, dated Holiday of Freedom, Passover 1983.” A copy is in Yaakov Ariel’s possession.

[111] Barbara and Michael Ledeen, “The Temple Mount Plot,” New Republic (190[24], 18 June 1984): 20–23.

[112] For example, Gershom Gorenberg, “Israel Pushes Out ‘Elijah’ for Promising to Bring the Redemption,” Jerusalem Report, 27 Sept. 1999.

[113] Cf. articles in the Middle East Intelligence Digest, a publication of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem in the 1990s.

[114] Cf., for example, the series Left Behind.

[115] Ted Olsen, “Evangelical Support of Israel Isn’t Just about Premillennialism,” Weblog, 23 April 2002, http://ChristianityToday.com

[116] See, for example, Timothy P. Weber, Living in the Shadow of the Second Coming (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988).

[117] David Firestone, “More Criticism and Another Apology for Billy Graham’s 1972 Remarks,” New York Times, 17 March 2002, 24.

[118] Charles Y. Glock and Rodney Stark, Christian Beliefs and Antisemitism (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1966).

[119] L. Ianniello, press release by the Anti-Defamation League, New York, 8 Jan. 1986.