Are evangelicals turning against Israel?Sep 29, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 03 • By MARK TOOLEY
Senator Ted Cruz’s vigorous defense of Israel at a recent conference for persecuted Middle Eastern Christians in Washington, D.C., provoked jeers from a loud minority in the audience, made up largely of Catholics and Orthodox, many of them from the region or of Middle Eastern background. In June, the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to divest from three firms doing business with Israel to protest Israeli policies towards Palestinians. More politically significant than those events, however, is a shift underway among some evangelicals, who traditionally have been Israel’s strongest Christian boosters in America.
The late Rev. Jerry Falwell, a founder of modern conservative religious activism, often boasted that America’s Bible Belt was Israel’s safety belt. But Falwell’s zeal for conservative red meat causes has become passé for much of the current generation of evangelical elites, who eschew the confrontational politics of the old religious right.
Polls show that evangelicals remain strongly pro-Israel and are America’s strongest pro-Israel demographic by far, with the possible exception of Jews. But there are few if any pro-Israel evangelical leaders today as outspoken and prominent as Falwell. And an increasing number of evangelicals in parachurch groups and evangelical schools are endorsing pro-Palestinian activism or at least a more neutral stance between Israel and its foes. Often the new evangelical perspective is premised on concern for Palestinian Christians, who number about 50,000, or just over
1 percent of the West Bank and Gaza Palestinian population.
One relatively new voice for evangelicals is the Telos Group, based in Washington, D.C., and winsomely advocating a “pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian, pro-American, pro-peace movement.” Its founder is a U.S.-born Palestinian Christian attorney, and its executive director is Todd Deatherage, who was chief of staff to Senator Tim Hutchinson, the Republican senator from Arkansas, and later worked in the State Department under George W. Bush. Two evangelical bishops, one of whom is Hispanic, serve on the Telos board.
Deatherage belongs to a large orthodox Anglican church outside Washington attended by many prominent conservatives. Part of Telos’s mission is to send “influential Americans from across the political and theological spectra on high-touch, multi-narrative pilgrimages to the Holy Land,” where they are exposed to sympathetic Palestinians.
“The work of Telos is to contribute to the creation of a new paradigm, one in which Americans get to know real Israelis and Palestinians, respect them as individuals, and take in their stories,” Deatherage explained earlier this year. “There are some who believe our pro-Israel, pro-Palestine approach is nothing more than slick marketing, covering a more sinister (and one-sided) agenda,” he admitted. “Not only has our methodology been questioned, but so has our funding,” he added, obviously referring to grants to Telos by George Soros’s Open Society Institute. “And we make no apologies for welcoming financial support from any who will affirm freedom, security, and dignity for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”
During the recent Gaza conflict, Deatherage benignly blogged that a “ceasefire is needed immediately.” Neither “acts of terrorism nor aggressive military campaigns” can displace the need for “addressing the fundamental issues underlying the years of violence,” he noted, as “each side needs friends who will challenge them to do what is best for their own people, and, at the same time, who will encourage visionary leadership which realizes that the future of the two people is interconnected, that neither is going away, that the pain of grieving mothers is always the same, and that freedom and security for one people cannot be found at the expense of the other.”
Such agreeable appeals for peace and security for both Palestinians and Israelis from the new-style melodious evangelical activism are different from the denunciations of Israel by harder-line critics on the old religious left, especially the curia of Mainline Protestant agencies, whose constituencies are limited and lack political influence.
Who won the Gaza war? Sep 8, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 48 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
For the moment, the Gaza war of 2014 is over. Anyone trying now to figure out who won and who lost should recall the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah. Then, Israelis had a great sense of letdown because they had not “won.” They had not destroyed Hezbollah, and the organization loudly claimed a triumph: “Lebanon has been victorious, Palestine has been victorious, Arab nations have been victorious,” said Sheikh Nasrallah. An estimated 800,000 Hezbollah supporters gathered in Beirut for a rally celebrating the “divine victory.”
Hosted by Michael Graham.5:35 PM, Aug 5, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior editor Lee Smith on the ceasefire agreed to in Gaza by Hamas and Israel.
Hosted by Michael Graham.3:35 PM, Jul 14, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior editor Lee Smith on the situation in Israel and Operation Protective Edge.
Jul 21, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 42 • By LEE SMITH
Last week, Hamas fired hundreds of rockets and missiles at targets throughout Israel, including the nuclear reactor at Dimona. Two of the three M-75 missiles targeting Dimona missed the mark entirely, but one had to be brought down by Iron Dome, Israel’s antimissile shield. The U.N. considers an attack on a nuclear reactor an act of nuclear terrorism, which in this case might have taken a catastrophic toll on Israel’s population—as well as the Palestinians.
The perils of the Palestinian Authority’s new Fatah-Hamas government Jun 16, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 38 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
The creation of a new Palestinian “national unity” government has raised a slew of questions in the United States. What should our policy be toward a government that has the support not only of the Fatah party but of the terrorist group Hamas as well? Should all aid to the Palestinians be suspended?
Israel’s security establishment steps up.May 12, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 33 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
The world’s attention was largely turned to Ukraine last week. To the extent that the Middle East was on the front pages, the focus was the new agreement between the PLO and Hamas, its implications for the “peace process,” and John Kerry’s comment about Israel as an “apartheid state.”
But in Israel a different subject was getting a lot of attention: Iran’s nuclear program. April 28 was Holocaust Remembrance Day, and that was the context in which Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke about Iran at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.
Apr 21, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 30 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
In his Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony last week, Secretary of State John Kerry blamed Israel for the breakdown in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. He argued that an Israeli announcement of 700 new housing units for a neighborhood in Jerusalem were what did in the talks. “Poof, that was sort of the moment,” Kerry said. “We find ourselves where we are.”
He’s not the author of their woes. Jan 27, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 19 • By LEE SMITH
During Anwar Sadat’s historic trip to Jerusalem in 1977, he met Ariel Sharon, the Israeli general credited by his countrymen as one of the heroes of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Sharon’s crossing of the Sinai and his encirclement of the Egyptian Third Army had turned the tables on Sadat’s forces, ensuring a victory that had once been uncertain. “I tried to catch you when you were on our side of the canal,” Sadat told Sharon. And now, replied Sharon, “you have the chance to catch me as a friend.”
If Israel withdrew to the 1967 borders, what then? Jan 20, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 18 • By ARYEH TEPPER
Even with al Qaeda making gains across the Middle East and Iran still enriching uranium in its march to a nuclear breakout, John Kerry’s attention is focused on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He has visited Israel 10 times since becoming secretary of state. The aim of Kerry’s feverish shuttle diplomacy is to hammer out a framework agreement between Israelis and Palestinians that will be long on generalities and short on thorny details and, as such, will enable peace talks to move forward.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:38 PM, Aug 23, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on President Obama's foreign policy is viewed in the Middle East.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:35 PM, Jul 22, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior editor Lee Smith on Secretary of State John Kerry's peace tour, Egypt, Syria, and Iran.
"I think we've tilted very much to the Israeli side."11:41 AM, Feb 20, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Chuck Hagel, Barack Obama's defense secretary nominee and a former Nebraska senator, said in a 2008 interview that he agreed that the United States has not been a "fair or credible peace broker" in the Middle East, specifically with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
5:44 PM, Nov 29, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
America's ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, stated that today's resolution on the status of Palestine as an observer state "does not establish that Palestine is a state."