Bob Burnett / The Berkeley Daily Planet – 2015-05-02 00:05:23
(April 30, 2015) — A recent Bloomberg poll noted a disturbing political fact: Republicans are willing to support Israel even when its objectives diverge from those of the US. This ominous stance is a consequence of the fundamentalist Christian leanings of the GOP. Many Republicans blindly support Israel because they are praying for Armageddon.
The Bloomberg poll examined the deep political divide surrounding US policy on Israel and Iran. The poll asked: “When it comes to relations between the US and Israel, which of the following do you agree with more?” 47 percent of respondents chose, “Israel is an ally but we should pursue America’s interests when we disagree with them.”
However, 45 percent chose, “Israel is an important ally, the only democracy in the region, and we should support it even if our interests diverge.”
Whether or not to offer Israel unquestioning support was split along Party lines. 67 percent of Republicans said we should support Israel even when we disagree with them. 64 percent of Democrats said we should pursue America’s interests when we disagree with Israel.
While the Bloomberg poll question may appear theoretical, it’s based upon the reality that Israel’s interests are not always in sync with those of the US.
Israel is a nuclear power. Moreover, the current Israeli government of Prime Minister Netanyahu has made it clear that Israel reserves the right to defend itself from neighboring states (such as Iran) without consulting the US. That suggests that Israel might launch a nuclear attack on an Arab state even if the US opposed such an action.
Why would Republicans be willing to support Israel “even if our interests diverge?”
According to the Bloomberg poll, unquestioning support for Israel is a consequence of the fundamentalist Christian leanings of many members of the GOP:
Religion appears to play an important role in shaping the numbers. Born-again Christians are more likely than overall poll respondents, 58 percent to 35 percent, to back Israel regardless of U.S. interests. Americans with no religious affiliation were the least likely to feel this way, at 26 percent.
Unquestioning support for Israel is the result of recent GOP strategy. Since the Reagan era, Republicans have courted fundamentalist Christians. A 2012 Pew Research poll found that 70 percent of “white evangelical protestants” either identified as Republicans or leaned toward the Republican Party.
According to the Gallup Poll 76 percent of Americans identify as Christians. Of these, 41 percent attend services regularly (at least once per week). 34 percent of Christians identify as Born Again. The Gallup Poll found that 42 percent of Christians believe in “creationism,” “God created humans pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.”
Many of the Christians who are regular church attenders, and believe in creationism, also believe the end times are coming soon. They are fundamentalist Christians, mostly evangelicals, “born again.”
A Pew Research Poll found that 47 percent of US Christians believe that “Jesus will return to earth in the next 40 years.” A Newsweek Poll found that 45 percent of US Christians, “believe that the world will end, as the Bible predicts, in a battle at Armageddon between Jesus and the Antichrist.”
There’s a disturbing connection between a belief in Armageddon and support for the state of Israel. It’s detailed in the writings of Dr. Timothy P. Weber. Weber discusses “dispensationalism,” the belief that we are “living in the last days.” According to Weber, “About one-third of America’s 40 or 50 million evangelical Christians . . . believe that the nation of Israel will play a central role in the unfolding of end-times events.”
Throughout their history, dispensationalists have predicted that before the final events of the End Times can take place, the Temple must be rebuilt in Jerusalem. According to their scenario, half way through the Great Tribulation, Antichrist will enter the restored Temple and declare himself to be God.
Dispensationalism explains the rock-solid support for the state of Israel evidenced by fundamentalist Christians. It’s strengthened by the reality that many of these Christians believe that Barack Obama is the antichrist. (A 2013 Public Policy Poll found that 13 percent of respondents believed Obama to be the antichrist and 13 percent were “not sure.”)
Recently, retired Republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann opined that President Obama is moving the world into the end times: “Barack Obama is intent, it is his number one goal, to ensure that Iran has a nuclear weapon . . . We have very little time . . . left before the second return of Christ. That’s good news.”
It’s important to understand why Republican fundamentalist Christians stand with Israel and oppose a nuclear-arms agreement with Iran. These dispensationalist Christians seek to increase the probability of war between Israel and its neighbors because this will hasten the end times.
Support the nuclear-arms agreement. Vote no on Armageddon.
Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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