Evangelicals and Israel

Theological roots of a political alliance

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Washington this past January, his initial meeting was not with President Clinton but with Jerry Falwell and more than 1,000 fundamentalist Christians. The crowd saluted the prime minister as "the Ronald Reagan of Israel," and Falwell pledged to contact more than 200,000 evangelical pastors, asking them to "tell President Clinton to refrain from putting pressure on Israel" to comply with the Oslo accords.

The meeting between Netanyahu and Falwell illustrates a remarkable political and theological convergence. The link between Israel's Likud government and the U.S. Religious Right was established by Natanyahu's mentor, Menachem Begin, during the Carter and Reagan administrations. However, the roots of evangelical support for Israel lie in the long tradition of Christian thinking about the millennium.

 

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