Christian Zionism is a Major Threat to the Future of a Democratic and Peaceful Israel

Zev Green

A few months ago, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders chose to boycott the annual AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) convention.  

This was a major media sensation, and supporters applauded Sanders for his stand against the bigotry within AIPAC while critics lampooned him as not being supportive enough of Israel, even calling his Jewishness into question.  

However, in all of this, assumptions were made by parties on both sides.  Many acted as if AIPAC was the only pro-Israel lobby of importance.  This is blatantly false.  In fact, AIPAC isn’t even the largest pro-Israel lobby in the United States.  

That distinction belongs to CUFI, an acronym for ‘Christians United For Israel’.  If you’ve never heard of this organization, you’re not alone.  But you also might be in for a rude awakening regarding what influences American foreign policy.

In order to understand why CUFI exists, or why they have 7.1 million members, or why some Christians are strong supporters of Israel, we first must understand the concept of Christian Zionism.

Christian Zionism is a popular belief amongst Evangelical Christians, who interpret the Bible quite literally.  The belief is essentially that one of the prerequisites for the Second Coming of Christ is the return of Jews to the biblical land of Israel.

CUFI is essentially a political body that is attempting to fulfill religious prophecy.  But buckle your seatbelt, because we’re just getting into it.  

Members of CUFI are overwhelmingly Trump supporters, and were some of the most fervent supporters of his decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

But has Trump himself been influenced by CUFI?  Two key members of Trump’s cabinet, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both spoke at a recent CUFI summit in Washington.  Pence claimed “I support Israel because I am a Christain” while Pompeo asserted that “anti-Zionism is antisemitism”.

With this in mind, think about Trump’s unwavering support for the Israeli settlements in the West Bank that are illegal under international law.  

Is this a product of his relationship with right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or an attempt to satisfy the wishes of the Christian Zionists who support his campaign and dominate his cabinet?

Experts almost universally agree that the settlements are hurting the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.  

Lara Jakes, a diplomatic correspondent, and David M. Halbfinger, the Jerusalem bureau chief of The New York Times, said of the settlements, “their presence makes negotiations for a two-state solution all the more difficult”.

According to a survey of 1,006 Jews over age 18 by the American Jewish Committee, 66% of American Jews say that Israel should be willing to dismantle some or all of the settlements in the West Bank as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.  

By now, we must ask ourselves, does Trump truly have the best interests of both American Jews and Israelis at heart?  Or is his foreign policy guided by theology without any concern for the well-being of the people at risk?  

In my opinion, it’s the latter.  Christian Zionism inevitably uses both the Jewish people and the citizens of Israel as pawns in their grand theological scheme, and the policy decisions that are a direct result of this belief harm attempts at cooperation with the Palestinians.  

Without such cooperation, the future of a peaceful and democratic Israel is in jeopardy.