Evangelical Christians Are Supporting Israel — However There’s A ‘Disturbing’ Agenda Behind It


As Israel’s siege of Gaza raged on in March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made time for a gathering in Jerusalem with a delegation led by Mario Bramnick, a Florida-based pastor with shut ties to former President Donald Trump who has develop into a number one determine in a theocratic motion devoted to bringing forth the top of the world.

Bramnick might not be a family identify to many Individuals, however he’s an “apostle” within the New Apostolic Reformation — that means members consider he was anointed by God to steer and obtain prophecies and is imbued with non secular items, together with the power to prophesy, heal and communicate in tongues. He and the NAR, a burgeoning community of charismatic evangelical church buildings, consider within the biblical prophecy that the return of Jews to Israel will hasten the return of Christ.

Netanyahu possible knew he was assembly with an Finish Instances evangelical pastor: The prime minister has lengthy been invested in currying favor with such radical American Christians. What’s unclear is that if Netanyahu knew simply how radical the Christians on this delegation had been, and simply what their beliefs about Jewish individuals consisted of.

Bramnick is what some students name a “Christian supremacist,” owing to his outstanding position within the NAR, which believes within the existence of the supernatural, together with modern-day prophets and apostles. He sees Trump as prophesied to rule over the U.S., and needs to rework America, after which the world, right into a Christian theocracy, all to hasten Christ’s return to Earth and to start his followers’ rapture to heaven.

A part of that undertaking, per the NAR’s interpretation of scripture, is unequivocal assist of Israel. Whereas thousands and thousands of American evangelical Christians have lengthy been fervent supporters of the Jewish state due to Finish Instances prophecies, most have been content material to permit Jews to be Jews till Christ’s return, when the Lord would convert them to Christianity and permit their entrance to Heaven. This can be a type of end-days theology that students name “premillennialism.”

However Bramnick and the broader NAR community characterize a significant shift in evangelical assist for Israel. They’re “postmillennialists”: They need Jews to transform now.

“They want to turn Jews into Christians, and ever since the Crusades and earlier, that kind of Christian opposition to Judaism, that Christian desire to annihilate Judaism, has been a large part of the antisemitism Jews have faced,” mentioned Ben Lorber, a senior researcher at Political Analysis Associates and writer of the e-book “Safety Through Solidarity: Fighting Antisemitism and Winning a Just World.”

“It’s very kind of unnerving to see Christian Zionist leaders who say they support Israel now, but they hold that kind of intense agenda kind of under wraps,” Lorber mentioned. “But that’s really a large part of what’s motivating them, and it’s very disturbing.”

Lorber mentioned Israel’s relationship with these Christian Zionists may in the end be a satan’s discount: What does it imply, in spite of everything, that figures like Netanyahu who declare that the battle in Gaza is in protection of Jews internationally are forming alliances with Christians who need Jews to not be Jewish?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with a delegation that included American evangelical figures, together with pastors Mario Bramnick, to Netanyahu’s proper, and Tony Perkins.

Israel has now killed over 37,000 Palestinians, 70% of whom are ladies and youngsters, in a siege that the Worldwide Courtroom of Justice has dominated a “plausible” genocide. Netanyahu and others in his far-right authorities usually forged criticism of this mass slaughter as antisemitic.

In the meantime, in America, main figures within the NAR have held demonstrations at universities leveling the identical accusation at pro-Palestinian college students.

On Could 8, a few hundred such Christian nationalists gathered outdoors the College of Southern California in Los Angeles to declare their love for Jews. It was a typically garish show of affection, with individuals waving Israeli flags and American flags and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags as a airplane circled overhead trailing a banner that learn: “Israel is Forever, Jewish Lives Matter.us”

The always-smiling Sean Feucht, a rich MAGA musician and pastor with curly blond locks hanging down over a black leather-based jacket, wanting like the ultimate boss of American youth ministers, had organized this “United For Israel” demonstration. He strummed a guitar as he led the group in worship songs like “Our God Is An Awesome God,” interspersed with renditions of the U.S. and Israeli nationwide anthems, plus chants of “U-S-A!” and “Bring them home!” — a reference to the Israeli hostages nonetheless held in Gaza by Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that on Oct. 7 killed greater than 1,100 individuals in Israel and kidnapped some 250 others.

Then Feucht took maintain of a megaphone to announce the subsequent speaker: his good pal, Ché Ahn, pastor at Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena and probably the most highly effective American non secular figures you’ve in all probability by no means heard of. Additionally thought-about a modern-day “apostle,” Ahn heads up the Harvest Worldwide Ministry (HIM), a community of greater than 25,000 church buildings and nonprofits in additional than 65 international locations.

Praying into the megaphone, utilizing terminology that could be unfamiliar to these not in sure evangelical circles, Ahn referred to as for the mass conversion of Muslims and Jews to Christianity.

“Lord, you’ve broken down the dividing wall and you made us one new man in Yeshua, and we pray that this gathering will be catalytic in bringing a great harvest of Muslims into your kingdom but also the fullness of Gentiles will be fulfilled that all of Israel will be saved,” Ahn mentioned. “We pray this in Yeshua HaMashiach’s [Jesus the Messiah, in Hebrew] name. Amen.”

Ahn didn’t reply to a request for remark for this story.

The USC demonstration got here as Ahn and Feucht positioned themselves because the vanguard within the combat in opposition to antisemitism which, of their worldview, is essentially synonymous with criticism of Israel. The alleged antisemites who involved them had been the pro-Palestinian college students at USC — lots of whom are Jewish — and at campuses throughout the nation, who had been establishing encampments to demand their colleges divest from Israel over its ongoing bombardment of Gaza. Previous to his rally at USC, Feucht additionally led a rally in opposition to pro-Palestinian college students at Columbia College.

However there are various causes to be skeptical of Christian Zionists’ declare that they’re good-faith arbiters of what constitutes antisemitism, and to look warily upon their loud professions of affection for Jews. In spite of everything, if Ahn, the NAR and Feucht actually do love Jews, it’s a type of love that calls for that Jews in the end abandon their religion and traditions — to be all the pieces that they aren’t.

It’s, in response to some students, lots of whom are Jewish themselves, basically antisemitic.

Sean Feucht And The Finish Instances

Christian evangelical Sean Feucht, holding a guitar at center, participates in the United for Israel march outside Columbia University on April 25, 2024, in New York City.
Christian evangelical Sean Feucht, holding a guitar at middle, participates within the United for Israel march outdoors Columbia College on April 25, 2024, in New York Metropolis.

Stephanie Keith by way of Getty Pictures

In 2019, a 2-year-old lady named Olive Heiligenthal out of the blue stopped respiration and died at her dwelling in Redding, California. Her dad and mom had been a part of the congregation at Bethel Church, a charismatic evangelical megachurch identified for its musical acts, like Sean Feucht, and for sustaining a College of Supernatural Ministry the place congregants may learn to carry out miracles.

Olive’s mom, Kalley, a worship chief on the church, didn’t ask the congregation for condolences. She requested them to carry out a miracle: to hope to boost her baby from the lifeless. “We are asking for bold, unified prayers from the global church to stand with us in belief that He will raise this little girl back to life,” Kalley wrote on Instagram. “Her time here is not done, and it is our time to believe boldly, and with confidence wield what King Jesus paid for.”

The parishioners prayed incessantly for practically per week as Olive’s physique lay in an area morgue. “No words here tonight,” Feucht wrote in a tweet with a video of the congregation singing and praying. “Living in a community that fully believes what they preach — I have become a prisoner of hope. #WakeUpOlive.” However on the sixth day, the congregation ended their prayers of resurrection and held a memorial service. Olive hadn’t woken up, nor would she ever.

The #WakeUpOlive saga underscored how a rising phase of the evangelical world is guided by a perception within the explicitly supernatural: in literal prophets, apostles, demons, curses and miracles. Lately, these true believers, like Feucht, have had rising sway in Republican circles.

Feucht has a whole lot of highly effective buddies, as chronicled in an article by Kate Burns on the unbiased media web site Left Coast Proper Watch. He as soon as laid arms on Trump within the Oval Workplace, praying over the previous president. He honored Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) by gifting him with a “Defending Freedom” award at a “Let Us Worship” occasion in Miami, the place he additionally prayed onstage for DeSantis’ spouse, Casey, who was combating most cancers on the time. (A month later, Casey came upon she was cancer-free, and Feucht implied that these prayers had been the rationale.)

And in February 2023, Feucht had a gathering on Capitol Hill with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the far-right Georgia lawmaker who infamously blamed wildfires on Jewish area lasers and who was as soon as the featured visitor at a white supremacist convention the place certainly one of her fellow audio system praised Adolf Hitler.

He additionally counts amongst his buddies outstanding right-wing influencers with histories of antisemitism. He has referred to as Jack Posobiec, the infamous “pizzagate” conspiracist and neo-Nazi collaborator, a “good friend”; he’s additionally pleasant with Elijah Shaffer, who earlier this yr hosted a podcast roundtable with a few of America’s most virulent antisemites, laughing alongside as Gavin McInnes, the founding father of the Proud Boys, referred to as Jews “fucking k***s.” Shaffer allowed white supremacist Nick Fuentes to carry forth, unchallenged, as he falsely claimed Jews used to poison wells in medieval Europe. Extra lately, Schaffer himself mentioned Jews have “subverted and sort of destroyed our Western civilization.”

Feucht doesn’t seem to have spoken out in opposition to his buddies’ antisemitism, however he’s been keen to talk out in opposition to the purported antisemitism of pro-Palestinian school children. And he appears to be making a buck or two in doing so.

“Purchase our new “I STAND WITH ISRAEL” t-shirt!” he wrote in an electronic mail to his supporters forward of the USC rally. “Be a walking reminder that antisemitism STOPS at the church, and we will be the generation that pushed back against the hate and showered the people of Israel with LOVE!”

Lots of Feucht’s followers at USC wore totally different shirts, nonetheless, emblazoned with the phrases “Jewish Lives Matter.” On the backside of the T-shirt was the URL to an internet site with a name to transform Jews to Christianity.

At Feucht’s rally per week prior at Columbia College, the place he led a crowd on a march outdoors the gates of the Manhattan campus, HuffPost approached him, asking him what would occur to Jews in the course of the Finish Instances. Feucht demurred and deflected.

“What I’m speaking about is tonight, why we’re here tonight,” he mentioned. “Our heart is to bless the Jewish students, to worship and to pray.” (Feucht didn’t reply to HuffPost’s request for touch upon this story.)

HuffPost then witnessed one of many rally’s pro-Israel attendees inform a Latino pro-Palestinian protester: “I look forward to you delivering me my food on DoorDash.” (In New York, meals supply drivers are sometimes Latino immigrants.) And later, pro-Israel protesters yelled by the gates at pro-Palestinian college students, “Go back to Gaza!”

Fox Information’ protection of the Columbia protest didn’t point out these incidents, nor did it deal with how lots of the pro-Palestinian college students on campus had been Jewish, as a substitute describing them as “pro-Hamas,” referring to the militant group that attacked Israel on Oct. 7. “After a week of pro-Hamas rallies and mobs in the streets, this is the first time Jewish and Christian leaders got together and said no more,” Fox Information contributor Sara Carter mentioned in a reside dispatch from Feucht’s rally.

“Most of the people here, right in front of the gate, wanted to let the Jewish students, as well as the Jewish faculty know: you are not alone,” she mentioned.

HuffPost additionally watched Carter interview Feucht, tossing him softball questions. “We’ve seen so many pro-Hamas rallies across the country,” Carter mentioned. “Do you think that Americans are starting to wake up and say, ‘OK, what’s going on here?’”

“Well, Billy Graham has a statement I love,” Feucht responded. “He says, ‘When a courageous man takes the stand, the spines of everyone else are stiff.’ So that’s my prayer, is that people’s spines will be stiffened tonight as they say, ‘No, we’re not going to tolerate this. Not in America. Not on our university campuses.’”

Graham was a robust evangelical pastor and Christian Zionist who endorsed many U.S. presidents. That Feucht would invoke him at a rally purportedly in opposition to antisemitism is attention-grabbing, contemplating Graham’s well-documented bigotry towards Jews, particularly when he served as an adviser to President Richard Nixon.

“A lot of Jews are great friends of mine,” Graham advised Nixon throughout a 1972 dialogue within the Oval Workplace, in response to a recording launched 50 years later. “They swarm around me and are friendly to me. Because they know that I am friendly to Israel and so forth. But they don’t know how I really feel about what they’re doing to this country, and I have no power and no way to handle them.”

Richard Nixon, vice president at the time of this photo, pours coffee for the Reverend Billy Graham during a private luncheon in his office. Later, when Nixon became president, recordings in the Oval Office captured Graham, an ardent Christian Zionist, making antisemitic remarks.
Richard Nixon, vp on the time of this picture, pours espresso for the Reverend Billy Graham throughout a personal luncheon in his workplace. Later, when Nixon turned president, recordings within the Oval Workplace captured Graham, an ardent Christian Zionist, making antisemitic remarks.

Bettmann by way of Getty Pictures

Graham additionally lamented the Jewish “stranglehold” on the media, which he mentioned “has got to be broken or this country’s going down the drain.” At one other level within the dialog, Nixon asserted that “the best Jews are actually the Israeli Jews.”

“That’s right,” Graham replied.

The diaries of H.R. Haldeman, a high aide to Nixon, famous that Graham had “the strong feeling that the Bible says there are satanic Jews and there’s where our problem arises.” Though no such feedback will be heard within the recordings from Nixon’s Oval Workplace, the tapes of his conversations with Graham comprise a number of lengthy deletions.

Graham apologized for his antisemitic remarks in 2002. He died in 2018. Feucht claimed to binge-watch movies of Graham’s sermons the evening after his dying, inspiring him to write down a tune referred to as “Power of Blood.”

An American Apostle In Jerusalem

Carter, the Fox Information contributor who interviewed Feucht, was a part of the small delegation that traveled to Israel this previous March to satisfy with Netanyahu.

The group, led by Bramnick, additionally included Tony Perkins, the anti-LGTBQ+ preacher who heads up the Household Analysis Council; Ellie Cohanim, who served as deputy particular envoy to watch and fight antisemitism in the course of the Trump administration; Danielle Mor, the director of worldwide philanthropy for Christian Associates of the Jewish Company for Israel; and Donna Jollay, the Christian relations director at Israel365, an Orthodox Jewish group that does interfaith work with evangelical Christians.

The group arrived in Israel indignant that President Joe Biden had began to mildly criticize Israel’s siege of Gaza. In a hot-mic second, Biden expressed frustration with Netanyahu, saying he and the Israeli prime minister wanted to have a “come to Jesus” second. Biden, whereas advocating a two-state answer for Palestine and Israel, was nonetheless refusing calls from his left to chop navy assist to Israel over the staggering dying toll in Gaza. However for Bramnick and his delegation, any criticism of Netanyahu amounted to heresy.

Pastor Mario Bramnick, left, meets with Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem during a previous trip in 2011.
Pastor Mario Bramnick, left, meets with Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem throughout a earlier journey in 2011.

“What our administration is doing in pressuring Israel into a unilateral two-state solution … is absolutely outrageous,” Bramnick advised the Jewish Information Service in the course of the journey. A Palestinian state, he added, could be a “reward for genocide,” referring to Hamas’ Oct. 7 assault.

Bramnick, who leads a 300-person congregation at New Wine Ministries in Cooper Metropolis, Florida, emerged as a outstanding evangelical advocate for Israel in the course of the Trump administration, because the NAR grew in recognition. Its apostles and prophets ceaselessly describe the previous president as “Cyrus-anointed,” a reference to the biblical determine of King Cyrus.

“Cyrus, the emperor of the Persians, was the one who sent the Jews back from exile to rebuild Jerusalem,” mentioned Matthew Taylor, a senior scholar on the Institute for Christian, Islamic and Jewish Research, and writer of the forthcoming e-book “The Violent Take It By Force.”

“He is anointed like Cyrus as a secular leader, not a good Christian, but a secular leader who has an instrument in the hands of God to fulfill a particular purpose, to bless Israel and to redeem conservative Christians from cultural exile in America,” Taylor defined.

The NAR’s zeal for Trump can also be tied up in a theology of dominionism, Taylor mentioned. Adherents consider it’s their obligation to beat the “seven mountains” of societal affect — household, faith, schooling, media, leisure, enterprise and authorities — and reshape them in response to a fundamentalist Christian worldview. It’s an anti-democratic theology that was central to the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol, the place lots of the rioters, who sought to overturn the outcomes of the election, believed Trump was prophesied to be president.

Bramnick served on the Latino advisory board for Trump’s 2020 marketing campaign, and earlier than that was named a particular envoy for the Trump White Home’s Religion and Alternative Initiative. In that position, Bramnick claims to have met with eight heads of state to persuade them to maneuver their international locations’ embassies in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — a transfer broadly thought to be an anti-Palestinian provocation.

In 2019, a coalition of investigative journalists, spearheaded by the Latin American Middle for Investigative Journalism and Columbia Journalism Investigations, requested Bramnick about his travels for the Trump White Home — together with to Brazil, the place he prayed over far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro. In response, Bramnick acknowledged plainly that he was a Christian fundamentalist and that Jews had the divine proper to the land of Israel.

“The Bible says that whoever blesses Israel will be blessed and whoever curses Israel will be cursed, and we read the Bible literally,” he mentioned. “The Bible says Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel and that God gave this land to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” (Bramnick didn’t reply to a request for remark for this story.)

Throughout the March journey to Israel, Bramnick led the delegation as its members met with a slew of far-right Israeli political figures, together with Yossi Fuchs, Netanyahu’s chief Cupboard secretary; Yossi Dagan, an influential activist who leads a settler group in occupied territory; Ohad Tal, an Israeli parliamentarian; and Rabbi Yehudah Glick, a former Knesset member who as soon as fondly memorialized Rabbi Meir Kahane, the extremist founding father of the Kach political occasion in Israel, which each the U.S. and Israel later designated a violent terrorist group. (Kahane believed in ethnically cleaning Arabs from Israel and the occupied territories and was convicted within the U.S. for making a bomb.)

“It has been an extraordinary visit to Israel,” Carter, the Fox Information contributor, tweeted in the course of the journey. “Our delegation has traveled throughout the country in an effort to show our solidarity with our greatest ally in the Middle East: Israel. Our nations face the same common enemy — one that is born out of hate and extremism bent on destroying the Western world.”

The principle occasion of the delegation’s journey got here on March 11, when members met Netanyahu himself. Perkins recounted the assembly in an episode of his YouTube present “Washington Watch,” which he filmed from Jerusalem. He mentioned he personally emphasised to the prime minister that Hamas’ assault wasn’t simply the work of a “terrorist group,” however was “demonic” and had “spiritual” significance.

On the finish of the assembly, Perkins mentioned he requested if he may pray for Netanyahu. The prime minister obliged, with Perkins closing his eyes and praying for him, in addition to for the success of Israel and the U.S. He ended the prayer with “in Jesus’ name.”

Perkins mentioned there was a second of levity after the prayer.

“Netanyahu said, ‘You know what? I heard President Biden said I’d have a come-to-Jesus moment. Maybe this was it.’”

Palestinian Lives, Fodder For The Finish Instances

Palestinians mourn loved ones who died in Israeli attacks on the al-Maghazi refugee camp, at Al-aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, Gaza, on June 25, 2024.
Palestinians mourn family members who died in Israeli assaults on the al-Maghazi refugee camp, at Al-aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, Gaza, on June 25, 2024.

Ali Jadallah/Anadolu by way of Getty Pictures

Lorber, the senior researcher at Political Analysis Associates, advised HuffPost he fears Christian Zionist certainty in Finish Instances prophecies will solely result in extra distress and dying for Palestinians.

“Their basic view of Palestinians is that they don’t have a view of Palestinians,” Lorber mentioned. “Their view is very much in line with the settler colonial idea that animated Zionism — not to mention the settler colonial idea that animated the U.S. — where they see the indigenous population of the land as basically an impediment and obstacle, you know, to the fulfillment of their desire to support the settlement of the land.”

Taylor agrees. He argued the evangelical imaginative and prescient for Palestinians is both a better Israel wherein they haven’t any rights, or one wherein they’re altogether expelled, ethnically cleansed from the land their households have lived on for generations.

“Because it’s not about the people and their rights,” he advised HuffPost. “It’s about fulfilling prophecy … And who cares about human rights if you’re trying to fulfill prophecy? Who cares about rights if you see Israel as a linchpin in inaugurating a global revival?”

For some Christian Zionists, Israel’s siege of Gaza is an indication that the Finish Instances may come earlier than later.

In his “Washington Watch” episode recorded in Jerusalem, Perkins interviewed Amir Tsarfati, a former main within the Israel Protection Forces and a fundamentalist Christian writer who usually leads American church teams on excursions of Jerusalem. The pair mentioned the top of the world.

“Where are we on God’s timetable?” Perkins requested Tsarfati.

“I believe we are right before the Great War of Ezekiel,” Tsarfati mentioned, referring to part of the Bible that many evangelicals consider prophesizes a big battle between Israel and its enemies earlier than the rapture, when all Christians will ascend to heaven.

“And I believe that the Great War of Ezekiel will eventually lead to the rise of the Antichrist, which means, as far I’m concerned, we’re out of here before that,” Tsarfati mentioned.

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