Sarah Palin remarked to Barbara Walters last week that she believes
"more and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and
weeks and months ahead." Pundits are scratching their heads wondering what she meant. Could it have been a subtle
"dogwhistle" allusion to a belief held by some evangelical Christians
about the apocalypse? A faction of American Christian Zionists support
the exodus of all Jews to Israel because they believe it would trigger the second coming of Christ and the end of the world. It may have
simply been an awkwardly phrased sentence on Palin's part, but it gave
these bloggers an opportunity to dig into the implications of this belief.
Christian Zionists represent a pretty sizable bloc within the
Republican coalition and could, say, help someone win a presidential
nomination were someone so inclined.
Palin’s apparently eschatological comment doesn’t appear to be an
accident. The Charlotte Observer reports that she’s taking dinnertime
advice on Israel from the Graham family.
The Rev. Billy Graham is a credit to this country [... his son] Franklin Graham is a much different story. A Christian Zionist leader, Franklin has described Islam
as 'a very evil and wicked religion' and suggested erroneously that the
Christian God and the Muslim God are two different deities. He even asked President Obama on the campaign trail if he was a Muslim.
- Evangelism and Israel Matthew Yglesias worries about evangelism's sway on conservative foreign policy, especially with regards to Israel.
I don’t want to make too big a deal about this, but given the
tendency of U.S. politicians to avowedly claim religious grounding for
their political beliefs I do think somewhat more scrutiny needs to be
given to the issue of the extent to which evangelical figures are
letting their policy views be driven by apocalyptic scenarios. John
Hagee of Christians United for Israel, for example, supports preventive
military strikes on Iran that he believes will lead to Israel's destruction at the hands of a Russo-Arab alliance.
about Palin's meeting with Billy and Franklin Graham tends to bolster
the End-Times possibility: 'She quizzed him on the presidents he’s
known and wanted his
take on what the Bible says about Israel, Iran and Iraq, Franklin
Rapture and Armageddon The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg explores the belief. "I've been writing about these belief systems for a while, and an alarm
bell went off in my head when I heard Palin talk about 'days and
weeks.' It's quite one thing to say that Israel needs settlements to
contain its growing population [...] but it's something else entirely to
predict that Jews in the Diaspora will imminently be flooding the Holy
Land." Goldberg spoke with a prominent proponent of that evangelical belief, Dr. Thomas Ice of Liberty University.
Ice told me he believes this sort of thinking is supported by the
facts. "Over forty percent of the world's Jews now live in Israel. What
Sarah Palin probably believes is that this is the first regathering,"
when the Jews all migrate to Israel. "This is a condition for the
second regathering, the regathering in belief, when the Jewish nation
is converted. Then there will be the battle of Armageddon, because
remember, Satan wants to wipe out the Jews to prevent the Second
Coming, but Jesus comes to rescue the beleaguered Jews. We believe that
the Jews are going to be converted so that they can call on Jesus to
rescue them from Satan."
How common are these beliefs? I asked. "Fifty to sixty million people probably hold these beliefs," he said.
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