Saturday, July 2, 2005


Evangelical Assn. and Israel

Forward, in an article called, Evangelicals Eye Middle Ground on Middle East there is an argument that strikes me as deceptive, that the National Association of Evangelicals, a major umbrella group that ostensibly represents this religious affiliation in the USA and counting 30 million faithful, is making a moderate turn. Yet the evidence is the continued bias towards Israel.

The president of the Association, Rev. Ted Haggard, made a recent trip to Israel. After a May 10 meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, Haggard was quoted in The Jerusalem Post as saying that his organisation's official policy was to support Israel "come hell or high water" and that he and his fellow Evangelicals believe that Sharon was chosen by God to lead Israel in this difficult time in history.

Haggard immediately denied making the comments, but not in time to stop them from being carried in American Christian newspapers.

“With Israel becoming increasingly isolated internationally, Evangelicals — who supplied an estimated 40% of President Bush's votes in 2004 — emerged as a key pillar of pro-Israel activity in Washington. Critics of various religious and political stripes, however, have sought to discredit this support by tying it — despite denials from Evangelical leaders — to the belief that the ingathering of Jewish exiles is needed to bring about Armageddon. Jewish interfaith experts say that a balanced statement on Israel would help to short-circuit such efforts to discredit Evangelical pro-Israel activism.” Forward writes.

Yet, if it’s not based on a religious argument, it must be based on some kind of sharing of values or ideology. It might be interesting to get to the bottom of the economic interests that these Churches have. They certainly have a strong influence on politics in the USA.

The article states, “Gary Bauer, a former GOP presidential candidate and a leading Christian conservative supporter of Israel, said he was confident that any statement adopted by the association would stress strong support for Israel. Bauer, who is not a member of the association, said that evangelicals "are not confused about who the good guys are in the Middle East and who the bad guys are."”

Far from being moderate, the Association itself knows who “the good guys are” as well. It was partially in response to the growing success of the divestment movement that Haggard led a delegation of Evangelical leaders to Israel in mid-May. The idea was to provide a Christian counterbalance to the divestment campaign and to discuss ways to encourage Christian tourism to Israel.

Haggard denied that any internal push for an official policy was taking place, saying that members of the evangelical association are satisfied with the way he characterizes the organization's position on Israel. "I've had nothing but positive comments on the way we represented these issues," he said.Still, Haggard told Forward, he would be open to adopting an official statement that recognized both the Evangelical community's commitment to Israel and the need to achieve justice for both sides.


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