Middle East Monitor / November 23, 2020
The US elections are often discussed in terms of the victory or defeat of some electoral colleges, based on the so-called “Bible belt”. Almost always moral preaching, the same that aligns votes to the right of the political system, points to the so-called “Christian right”. As a trained political scientist, I consider it more accurate to call it the “Pentecostal right”.
It is not appropriate to directly associate a religious type belief system with a particular political position. This would be something close to apostasy and as this is a crime, I fight this kind of statement vehemently. Nor is it right to relate all Protestant preaching in the United States to more reactionary positions. During the years of great industrialisation, from the beginning of massive unionism in the 1880s until the consolidation of the New Deal in the second half of the 1930s, there were many pastors and ministers who aligned themselves with the working class and fought shoulder to shoulder for better living conditions and rights.
This takes on epic contours with the Congregation of Southern Baptist Churches and the prominent role of African-American religious leaders, starting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr himself, ahead of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Together with Malcolm X, they are the greatest references of African-American intellectuals and preachers in the United States in the 20th century. Unfortunately, white supremacists use “Christian” symbolism to preach just the opposite of what was accomplished by Prophet Issa (Jesus) when he faced the imperialism of his time.
Founded in 2015, the “Zionist Christians” museum – Friends of Zion – was the result of an alliance between Republican Mike David Evans and the ruling elite of the state of Israel, including Menahem Begin, the Irgun terrorist who became prime minister of the colonial state. Evans was one of the prominent “Pentecostal advisers” to the defeated Donald Trump. But it does not stop there.
The powerful International Fellowship of Christians and Jews network sends a considerable amount of resources to Israel, as well as promoting the immigration of Jewish families. The portal includes nothing of the humanist tradition of the Jewish left, nor does it address the problem of the extreme right that always flirts with Nazi-fascism. Another “coincidence”.
According to the Vice channel, the alignment of the so-called “biblical belt” congregations with Israel is of absolute hegemony, which includes an important volume of resources destined to settlements in the West Bank. In other words, in the name of some kind of fundamentalist reading of the Old Testament, companies whose business is to raise funds in kind from people in need, allocate part of this amount to buildings that are illegal under international law, and go against several resolutions of the UN, starting with Resolution 242 which, in “theory”, would compel Tel Aviv to return the territories occupied during the Naksa in 1967.
John Hagee is a pastor who coordinates tours to Israel and supports illegal settlements in the West Bank. He is also the leader of the Protestant congregation of television evangelists and winner of a medal from the “Friends of Zion” – he even affirms, in the “belief system” section, a commitment to Israel. The alleged reason is millenarian, as stated below through extensive research.
Hagee affirms: “We believe in the promise of Genesis 12:3 regarding the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. We believe Christians should bless and comfort Israel and the Jewish people. Believers have a Bible mandate to combat anti-Semitism and to speak out in defense of Israel and the chosen.”
I suppose that for such American citizens, this interpretation of the Old Testament has more “validity” than the 850,000 people who were expelled from their lands, as well as the approximately 13 per cent of Palestinian Arabs of Christian faith who have simply become “irrelevant”.
Curious that a little further down the same text, it is stated in Genesis 12:6: “And Abram passed through that land to the place of Shechem, to the oak of Moré; and then the Canaanites were in the land.” Consider the historical phenomenon; the Palestinian people have always been there and fought the same imperialism. Nothing justifies their expulsion unless millennial propaganda goes beyond international law.
It is important to note this interpretation by historian Walker Robins: “Southern Baptists broadly viewed Palestine through orientalist eyes, associating the Zionist movement with Western civilization, modernity, and progress over and against Palestine’s Arabs, whom they viewed as uncivilized, premodern, and backward. This view was shared by Baptist travellers, by missionaries, by premillennialists and by their opponents.”
Unfortunately, none of this is “new” and is evidenced in the quasi-state relationship of public diplomacy, which establishes a direct alliance through links between the Ministry of Strategic Affairs of Israel and the largest congregations of the biblical belt. Israeli newspaper Haaretz and Al Jazeera completed investigations into this and correctly state: “As a result of such beliefs, Christian Zionists support Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise in the West Bank and, indeed, any other policy – Israeli, US, or otherwise – that secures Israeli Jewish sovereignty over the land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River and even beyond, into Jordan’s East Bank.”
“Christian Zionists generally ignore Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights, even of Christian Palestinians, or see them as a necessary means to an end.”
However, defeating imperialism in all its forms is a requirement of mankind, as is respect for international law and the inalienable rights of the original peoples to their ancestral territory.
Bruno Beaklini is a regular contributor to Middle East Monitor