This essay was first published in the Palestine Chronicles 2005 01 06 and is copyright protected.
Not to be published without consent of the author.
This is the seventh in a series of articles that explores the rise to power of the fundamentalist Christian right within the government of the United States and its affects on perceptions and actions in the Middle East. The previous article focused on the Israeli view supported by American arguments of bibilical prophecy. This essay continues that presentation, narrowing its perspective to the American view.
Part VII –– American Prophecy and The Crusade Against Evil
Previously I examined the Israeli right, the Likud, the Haredim, and the Gush Emunim and their impact on Palestine, followed by the support given by the Christian Right’s prophetic views. Below, the discussion continues first with a look at Jewish reluctance or outright opposition to those views before returning to the American prophecies.
From the Christian point of view “while Christian dispensationalists place Israel as the most important nation in all the world, they do not respect or even like Jews – as Jews.” It should occur to most Jewish people to be circumspect in any dealings with the Christian Right, as the relationship is surely a marriage of convenience in which both sides are seeking opportunities with the assistance of, but ultimately at the expense of, the other partner. That is not the spin presented in the media: that spin is the war on terror and their common enemy the ‘evil’ Satanists known as Islam. The Israeli right seeks a unified, strong and possibly ethnically cleansed state that will lead the world in peace and prosperity. Christianity sees the establishment of a unified Israel as one step in a much bigger picture involving the second coming and the Apocalypse. There is in the Israeli side, people who recognize this clearly – while other Israeli’s may also see it, they are not, at least not yet, ready to break the illusion of harmonious coexistence
The Christian scenario dictates that the “final battle in the history of the future will be fought on ancient battlefield in northern Israel called Armageddon. And the Jews? Well, two thirds of them will have been wiped out by now. But the survivors will accept Jesus at last.” Gershom Gorenberg is a Jew who has studied the ‘end of times’ prophecies of the Christian evangelicals and says “They don’t love real Jewish people. They love us as characters in their story…essentially it’s a five act play in which Jews disappear in the fourth act.”
At that point the argument becomes point-counterpoint but not in harmony. Kay Arthur, leader of a Christian organization called Precept Ministries, which takes thousand of pilgrims to the Holy Land argues, “the Jews need conversion, they need to know the Messiah is coming.” Further she states that Rabin was assassinated because Israel was “going against the word of God.” In rebuttal Yossis Alfer a former Mossad employee, sees the lie in both points of view because “when you see what these people are encouraging Israel and the U.S. to do, that is, ignore the Palestinians, if not worse, if not kick them out, expand the settlements to the greatest extent possible, they are leading us into a scenario of out and out disaster.”
In contradiction of the earlier quoted ‘reverences’ that the leaders of the Christian Right used in support of Israel, they are not at all concerned about Israel’s survival in the long term, but only as a step on the path to enlightenment. Falwell again: “The Jews are returning to their land of unbelief. They are spiritually blind and desperately in need of their Messiah and Saviour. Yet…Bible-believing Christians are the best friends the nation Israel has.” Pat Robertson again, thinks Jews are “spiritually deaf” and “spiritually blind” and will be but “offerings to the Lord.” Another lesser known evangelist, Chuck Missler asserts that Auschwitz was “just a prelude” to what will happen to Jews in the approaching Last Days.” There is political support in the U.S. for these religious positions with House Republican leader Dick Armey of Texas suggesting “that Palestinians, not Israelis, ought to be the ones to surrender land in the quest for peace.” A 2002 Time/CNN poll indicated that 36 per cent of respondents supported Israel because of Biblical prophecies and 59 per cent believe that the narrative in the Book of Revelation will come true.
These are not exactly statements that the Israel people, and the Palestinian people, should find any comfort in as “U.S. Middle East policy is influenced by such an apocalyptic vision it becomes an instrument which sows discord and makes genuine peace increasingly unlikely.” It is a grand game of strategy with each side temporarily supporting the other, with each side armed fully with nuclear weapons, with each side willing to use them. At this point, while the use of weapons of mass destruction has been considered only in respect with the Islamic terrorists and possible ‘tactical’ responses by the U.S., perhaps the future Armageddon will arrive in Israel, in the land of the Palestinians, a self-fulfilling prophecy wrought by the Christian right in the American administration. I must admit I find that scenario highly unrealistic, but when the activists on both sides work from their own non-rational interpretations of belief, perhaps they can achieve their respective goals. One can only hope that the current ‘peace initiatives’ after Yasser Arafat’s death are a recognition by Israel that it cannot win in this game and that they may be genuinely motivated to seek accommodation with Palestine, although again I would see that is not an actuality in the short term.
And so it rests, with Palestine ignored, denied, and perhaps in the future, terminated, while the two major Middle East powers jockey for their respective prophetic positions, using the war on terror as the common cause. Of this future, which I will look at more closely later, Alfer says, “We have to get God out of this conflict if we’re going to have any chance to survive as a healthy, secure Jewish state.”
But God is involved, at least the invocation of his name is, and it filters down from the government, through the military to the soldiers in the field. The government has already been discussed. The well-known case concerning General Jerry Boykin, an undersecretary of defence for intelligence, is perhaps the obvious example of evangelism within the military. His speeches extol the virtues of his God while putting down that of others, with his a “real God” and others “an idol”. The war in Iraq is a war against Satan, and they can only be defeated by a Christian army. Still in office, and because of his position in intelligence, it “makes his Christian fundamentalist background especially sensitive: he is charged with speeding up the flow of intelligence on terrorist leaders to combat teams in the field so that they can attack top-ranking terrorist leaders. It can easily be speculated that it is this urgency to obtain intelligence, and an uncompromising religious outlook backed by a "beast-man" mentality, that has led to the lower echelons in the US military to adopt Saddam Hussein-like brutalities.” Abu Ghraib becomes more readily understood, more pervasive, more perverse, under the light of the military leader’s avoidance of culpability in war crimes.
That this attitude filters down through to the soldiers on the ground is not a surprise at all. That attack on Fallujah witnessed that “35 marines swayed to Christian rock music and asked Jesus Christ to protect them [against] barbaric men opposed to all that is good in the world.” Then to emphasize the duality another marine declared “The enemy has got a face. He’s called Satan. He lives in Fallujah. And we’re going to destroy him.” Speaking from the grave, through the intermediary of his father, Sergeant Ben Isenberg’s dad declared “This war is not about Iraqi’s and Americans, or oil: this is a spiritual war….Ben understood that the calling was to go because the president had knowledge, and understood what was going on, and it’s far deeper than we as people can ever really know.” Certainly different meanings can be taken from these latter words, that it is far deeper than people know, unless they take the time to search it out themselves or read and consider more than the traditional media presentations. Whether the president really knows what is going in is highly arguable, although he is certainly self-assured that he is correct, and the information he receives must support that otherwise there should be a great dissonance between thought and reality.
These images of religious-military zealotry stand in stark contrast when juxtaposed to similar words that I have read from other American sources relating the hate-filled indoctrination of religious fanaticism on the part of the Muslim terrorists, imams, and madrassas. A description of the Iranian religious institutions would reflect the description of the American system, as the students “arrived with a high quotient of revolutionary zeal and were easy prey for mullahs working with the intelligence services.” One of the current leaders in promoting American prophecy, Michael Evans (below) describes the “diabolical” teachings of Islam “for the minds of the children begins in kindergarten,” yet all cultures that I know of inculcate or educate their belief systems into the minds of their children, and in many societies, American included it includes a good deal of religion, military pomp and pageantry, and more subtle ideas about how to behave within that particular society.
Yes, it is a religious war, and to elevate it back upwards to the governmental level, Senator James Inofe declared it quite clearly that this “is not a political battle at all. It is a contest over whether or not the word of God is true.”
While Iraq is not Israel, and is not Palestine, it is, as indicated by Michael Evans’ work Beyond Iraq, the Next Move, “the U.S. base from which the war on terrorism in the Middle East is fought. From there it is will only be a short reach to the throat of Syria and Iran and the terrorist networks.” And appropriate to form for the Christian Right he continues, “It is a struggle between good and evil, but I believe it is even more profound than that; It may well be the setting up of a chessboard dividing the players for an apocalyptic battle prophesied in Daniel, Jeremiah, and Revelation.” Two points need to be reinforced here: first, that Michael Evans’ writings are from a faith based prophetic view and thus cannot be argued against, the premise is either accepted or rejected, but cannot be argued; and secondly, his historical references may be accurate, but are written ‘as prophesied’ and ignore certain historical elements that do not suit his argument. It is no use here to précis the arguments and relationships with Biblical prophecy, but to emphasize the overall tone and presentation of the work.
The first presentation is the cover, highlighting three white pieces on a chessboard (although a black one for Islam would fit his rhetoric more clearly): the king is foremost, wrapped in the American flag, a somewhat pretentious image as the King in biblical terms is not America; just behind and to the right is a minareted bishop with the Muslim crescent and star in blue; and behind and to the left is a pawn – Israel. Later in the book, Evans suggests a “selfish” but “valid” reason for supporting the Jewish people, and it is that statement in position with the Jewish pawn that returns the argument to the previous ones above concerning the level of awareness from the Jewish perspective of the American Right’s intentions towards Israel. Yet for the rests of the book, Evans’ tone is adamantly in full support of Israel.
To start, he chooses a simplistic view of the why’s and where fore’s of the terror situation, ignoring past histories, ignoring the colonization and occupation of various regions under colonial mandates, ignoring the extraction of wealth and the support of autocratic rulers who aided and abetted this wealth extraction for their own good, because for Evans it all comes down to the idea that “The terrorists hate America because it is blessed and they are not.” This puts the argument beyond the secular just war realm onto the prophetic stage, where evil is truly evil and good is truly good no matter what actions are used to support the ideas. There is no room for discussion about whether it is just or not just, this is a war, a crusade, and all actions for the betterment of ‘our’ side are therefore not just good but blessed. For “Bible believing Americans we must realize that this is a battle between politics and prophecy,” the politics here referring to his discussion of the ‘land for peace’ proposals, and the ‘roadmap’ for establishing Palestinian rule for which he has full intolerance, with the “sticking point for the Jews is that God gave them that land and forbade them to sell it,” while the politics is that of replacing “troublesome passages of scripture with more politically correct beliefs.” The only road map for peace for the Christian Right is the bible and its literal prophetic interpretation, it is a war “between light and darkness”.
This was the second book that I read of Michael Evans’ writing, and while he may not be a household name he is certainly strong in the community of the Christian Right. He, along with Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell among others, set up the Jerusalem Prayer Team. Beyond Iraq replaced Bill Clinton’s memoirs on the best sellers list, and his more recent work The American Prophecies - Ancient Scriptures Reveal Our Nation’s Future rose to number one on the Amazon non-fiction list even before it was published. If you will remember, that impetus led it to number nine on the list of global best sellers in the summer of 2004. The success of the book is found in the zeal of its followers: “A Dallas businessman and member of Preston Baptist Church, Arch Bonnema, purchased 600 copies of The American Prophecies for his church. He was one of the first men who purchased blocks of tickets for Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”, and inspired thousands across the country to do the same. He called Mike Evans and said, “I did it for the movie; can do it for this book. I believe this book can wake-up America, and bring souls to Christ.” The Prophecies leave no doubt that this is a religious war in the minds of the right, and that Israel must be supported for prophecy to be fulfilled.
The entire book is predicated on prophecy and similar to his earlier work, it makes – mostly – accurate historical references while ignoring the inconveniences of those that do not fit. The book speaks in italics frequently, almost enabling the reader to hear the preacher’s voice strengthening in emphasis. Phrases and ideas are frequently repeated as if to indicate that if it does not fit secular argument, repetition will increase the likelihood of maintaining belief (no real argument here as one only has to look at the advertising that corporate America lays out and the frequency of terror and fear statements that the government issues to maintain their own agendas).
Essentially the book is in three parts. The first sets the belief system in place and establishes it within the historical record. The longest part, covering many chapters, reveals how all of America’s history is replete with prophecy fulfilled in support of the Jews and Israel. The final section returns to a ‘call to arms’ for the belief system, warning against applying the wrong means to achieve the end result, at this point in prophecy being a unified Israel.
He does in a different way recognize America’s complicity in creating terrorists with their actions in the Iran-Iraq war and their support of the mujahideen in Afghanistan, and places the blame squarely on Clinton’s shoulders as he “has brought anything but peace to the Middle East,” yet it is not because of secular political arguments but because he believes “that is because America has abandoned Israel.” He supports the thesis from Riesbrodt in my Part II Fundamentalism that “God has been taken out of schools, courts, and town squares, and even our Pledge of Allegiance – ‘one nation under God’ – has been challenged.” He supports the fear factor prominent in American culture warning that September 11 was “a curse of our beloved nation” and will happen “again and again and much worse” unless the prophecies are supported and Israel upheld. It reaches appropriately up to the level of foreign policy when, as far back as the Reagan era, a staff member asked, “What does God know about foreign policy?” and his reply, direct and to the point, “He is foreign policy.” An important issue here is that Evans has been around a long time and has the had the political ear of both American and Israeli leaders, leading to no surprise that the Israeli’s feel quite comfortable with the current American government.
Evans states unequivocally that “America [is] squarely in the eye of the storm of biblical prophecy” and that the “final battle in prophecy will take place in Israel” and he believes “that we are very close to the coming of Christ.” From these beliefs he arrives at his final beliefs on foreign policy. First the UN is “ a puppet of Ishmael’s [the Arabs, Satanists, Islamists,] vengeful whims in the earth’s latter days.” The European Union is “part of the end time government that will ratify a false seven year peace agreement with Israel,” the next event after the Rapture of the Christians. Israel “seems to stand ready today to take on the world if need be – and she soon may have to…[standing] on the world stage as a nuclear power.”
As for Palestine, nothing but subjugation and dismissal. The security fence needs to be finished. Jerusalem needs to stay unified and recognized as the Israeli capital. The Arabs would be ‘required’ to end the Palestinian Refugee problem by taking them in. ”The current Palestinian populace is a tainted and brainwashed people,” - other than for the converted, a totally ludicrous statement, and “Intervention is needed to develop [a non-terrorism tainted Palestinian leadership] and reverse the propagation of hatred in Palestinian-controlled territory.” Again, Palestinian ‘controlled’ signals no admission of an indigenous people, and propagation of hatred is another absurdly twisted and reversed statement of calling the oppressed and occupied the oppressors, the perpetrator becomes the victim. The book ends, after much more reiteration of the Satanic evils of the Arab world, of the dangers of anti-Semitism, of the prophetic nature of current events, the power of prayer, with an afterword in praise of George Bush for his changed position on the Middle East ‘peace’ process: Israel would not have to return to its original 1967 borders; Palestinians could not return to Israel; settlements may be retained as part of any new peace accord; and Israel has a right to fight terrorism. In Evans’ words, “he made a biblically based, moral decision to stand with the nation of Israel. I believe this decision…was prophetic, and will echo through eternity.” It well might.
The journey has come full circle, from the introduction of Michael Evans’ The American Prophecies, and the renewed mandate of George Bush with his renewed ‘political capital’ that he is all too willing to spend on his pet projects, through the rise of fundamentalism, the views of the unelected neocons within the Bush government, on to the arguments for just war and back through the religious zealotry of the American military and politicians back to The American Prophecies again. It is not a relaxed journey, but a deeply troubling one. Nor is it finished.
As of this writing, the world awaits the so-called democratic elections in American occupied Iraq and Israeli occupied Palestine. George Bush is acting very much on his word, so far, to spend his political capital, and his controllers are speaking ever more fervently about the ‘evil’ that still abides in Iran, Iraq, and Syria, as if trying to see which one will garner the public’s favour, all under the thinner pretext of the war on terror, more evidently on the issue of protecting Israel. The future? I hold no prophecy - the final section will look not so much at current events – unless a truly course changing major event occurs soon – as at the ongoing rationalizations from the American neocons and Christian Right – crusaders for their cause, just warriors, but for many others advocates of terror in their own right.
 Ahari, Ehsan “The clash of fundamentalists”, www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/F111Aa01.html, September 11, 2004.
 __________ . “Zion’s Christian Soldiers”, www.cbsnews/stories/2002/10/03/60minutes/main524268.shtml, June 08, 2003.
 Porteous, Skip. “Anti-Semitism – Its Prevalence within the christian right.” www.sullvian-county.com.
 Missler cited in Gorenberg, Gershom. “Jews ought to know better”. Monday, October 14, 2002. www.iht./articles/73573.html
 Times/CNN cited in Hensman, Savriti. “What Motivites the Drive Towards War?” www.anglocatholicsocialism.org/hensman.html
 Brownfield, Allan C. “Strange Bedfellows: the Jewish Establishment and the Christian Right.” www.washington-report.org/archives/august2002/0208071.hml.
 __________ . “Zion’s Christian Soldiers”, www.cbsnews/stories/2002/10/03/60minutes/main524268.shtml, June 08, 2003
 Maitra, Ramtanu. “Rumsfield and the ‘beastly’ Boykin. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/FE11Aa04.html
 Blum, William. “The Anti-Empire Report, No. 15, November 19, 2004”. www.killinghope.org
 Raban, Jonathan. “Pastor Bush” Guardian Newspapers Limited,www.guardian.co.uk
 Ledeen, Michael A. The War Against the Terror Masters. Truman-Talley Books, St. Martin’s Griffin, NY, 2003.
 Evans, Michael D. The American Prophecies - Ancient Scriptures Reveal Our Nation’s Future. Time/Warner Faith Books, 2004.
 Inofe, cited in Brownfield, ibid.
 Evans, Michael D. Beyond Iraq, the Next Move - Ancient Prophecy and Modern Day Conspiracy Collide. Whitestone Books, Lakeland, Florida. 2003.
 see www.palestinechronicle.com, search Fundamentalism.