The Democratic Party’s AIPAC Candidates

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

The Democratic Party’s AIPAC Candidates

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris might as well be Israelis, though they’re both running for the Presidency of America.

The PAC (officially a “lobbying organization”) called AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee, instead of “American Israel Political Action Committee”) represents some American Jews and Christian evangelicals — it represents the ones who place Israel’s Government above America’s Government, and who therefore lobby in the U.S. Congress for continuation of the $3.8 billion per year that America’s taxpayers, of all faiths and beliefs, must continue to pay to fund Israel’s annual purchases of weaponry from Lockheed Martin and other U.S. weapons-makers, a welfare program for America’s armaments-firms and for the billionaires who own them. And it’s welfare also for the taxpayers of Israel, who don’t have to pay that $3.8 billion per year to fund those purchases, of American weapons, to use against Palestinians, and against Syrians, and against Iranians — against Israel’s enemies, perhaps, but certainly not against America’s enemies. It’s instead for this particular enemy of America, an enemy not only because Israel is an apartheid state (which is supposed to be unAmerican), and not only because this apartheid state sucks $3.8 billion each year out of America’s taxpayers, but also because Israel is militarily an enemy of Americans — see this, for example; and also because the hostility that America’s subservience to Israel produces, throughout the Islamic world, is an even bigger loss for the American people, though America’s billionaires don’t lose anything, at all, from it — and the ones who invest in firms such as Lockheed Martin and ExxonMobil gain considerably from it. But are those  corporations America?

America’s public suffers from AIPAC, but Israel’s Jews in that supremacist-Jewish apartheid land gain greatly from it, at Palestinians’ expense. America has many Jewish and other pro-Israeli billionaires (they buy ‘our’ political winners), but no billionaires that are Palestinian or even pro-Palestinian. However, the American Christian billionaire Tom Gores, who was born in Israel and whose family moved to the U.S. “when he was still a toddler”, is sometimes listed as being an “Arab” from “Palestine”, because he’s not a Jew and because some wealthy Arabs want to call him an “Arab” from “Palestine,” and not an American Catholic who had been born in Israel. Mr. Gores is non-political, but some of his extended family are pro-Palestinian and some are pro-Israel. Seven years after Tom bought his Republican uncle’s newspaper, the San Diego Union-Tribune, it endorsed Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump.

Obviously, America’s super-rich are virtually 100% against Palestinians, and the very idea of America brokering a ‘deal’ for ‘peace’ in the Middle East is absurd, really stupid, but ‘our’ billionaires’ politicians constantly promise it. And Joe Biden and Kamala Harris especially do, just as does ‘our’ current billionaire President, Donald Trump.

Here are three recent years’ speakers-lists for AIPAC’s recent annual conferences:

http://www.policyconference. (2019)

http://www.policyconference.

http://www.policyconference.

All of those speakers are neoconservatives, and they were highly supportive of America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq, and want the same now for Iran. After all: America does Israel’s bidding. Anyone who wants more of the same is in agreement with them.

And here is what Joe Biden told them at the 2016 AIPAC conference (along with his windbag platitudes):

No matter what legitimate disagreements the Palestinian people may have with Israel, there is no excuse for killing innocents or remaining silent in the face of terrorism [he meant only killings by Palestinians and never by Israelis]. … The only way, in my view, to guarantee Israelis’ future and security [and what about Palestinians’ security?], its identity as a Jewish [but the Palestinians aren’t Jews] and Democratic [How is apartheid democratic?] state is with a two-state solution.

But given the way that Israel has been treating Palestinians recently, no Palestinian leader would survive who would meet with an Israeli leader under such one-sided conditions — it  would be perceived as surrender to tyrants. And Biden offered no reason why Palestinians should want to continue their grinding oppression by Israel’s Jewish Government — Biden doesn’t care, at all, about those people. He’s not looking for their votes. He just wants to sucker whatever Democrats he can get to vote him to become ‘their’ nominee.

And here is what Kamala Harris told AIPAC at the 2017 conference:

I believe that the only viable resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is two states for two people living side by side in peace and security. I believe that a resolution to this conflict cannot be imposed. It must be agreed upon by the parties themselves. Peace can only come through a reconciliation of differences, and that can only happen at the negotiating table. …

But negotiations are impossible if only one side has all the power. For the other side, that’s surrender, no negotiation. Kamala Harris lies in order to get Israeli money — the donations like Trump has, from billionaire agents for Israel.

Is this okay? BOTH Parties being neocon  — is that okay? Anyone who votes for Biden or Harris thinks it’s okay, or else doesn’t care.

These candidates are pitching, of course, to a lobbying organization. But it’s also PACs. Wikipedia’s article on AIPAC says: “The Washington Post described the perceived differences between AIPAC and J Street: ‘While both groups call themselves bipartisan, AIPAC has won support from an overwhelming majority of Republican Jews, while J Street is presenting itself as an alternative for Democrats who have grown uncomfortable with both Netanyahu’s policies and the conservatives’ flocking to AIPAC.’[10]” So: Biden and Harris are pitching to Republican billionaires there. Is this what Democratic Party voters find attractive? Do they know that this is the situation? Do they even care that it is?

J Street says that “a new direction in American policy will advance U.S. interests in the Middle East and promote real peace and security for Israel and the region.” Biden at the 2016 J Street Gala, on 19 April 2016, said “We are Israel’s maybe not-only friend, but only absolutely certain friend.” But it’s the Palestinians, not the Israelis, who have been abandoned. They really need friends in American politics. Could Biden credibly assert the same to them that he asserts to Israel’s lobbyists? Obviously not, but he doesn’t even care about Palestinians, because none of his donors are Palestinians, and none will be voting for him.

Anybody who cares about basic decency in a candidate should just cross both Biden and Harris off their list for consideration. The only differences they have from Trump regarding Israel are the atmospherics of their rhetoric. Clearly, if “a new direction in American policy will advance U.S. interests in the Middle East and promote real peace and security for Israel and the region,” it won’t come from any of these politicians.
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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

The Untold Story of Christian Zionism’s Rise to Power in the United States

Well before Theodore Herzl founded political Zionism and published The Jewish State, Christian Zionists in the United States and England were already seeking to direct and influence the foreign policy of both nations in service to a religious obsession end times prophecy

By Whitney Webb

July 18, 2019 “Information Clearing House” – The largest pro-Israel organization in the United States is not composed of Jews, but of Christian evangelicals, with a total membership of 7 million, more than 2 million more members than the entirety of the American Jewish community.

Members of this organization, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), met in Washington on Monday, attracting thousands of attendees and featuring speeches from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Secretary of State and former CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence, and National Security Advisor John Bolton. CUFI’s leader, controversial evangelical preacher John Hagee, has met with President Donald Trump several times and was recently part of an exclusive White House meeting in March on the administration’s upcoming “peace plan” for Israel and Palestine.

CUFI is but one of many organizations throughout American history that have promoted the state of Israel and Zionism on the grounds that a Jewish ethnostate in Palestine is a requirement for the fulfillment of end-times prophecy and necessary for Jesus Christ to return to Earth — an event Christians often refer to as “the Second Coming.”

While organizations like CUFI and its predecessors have long seen the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, and the later Israeli victory and conquest of Jerusalem in 1967, as the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, there is one prophecy that this sect of evangelical Christians believes is the only thing standing between them and the Second Coming. There are estimated to be more than 20 million of these Christians, often referred to as Christian Zionists, in the United States and they are a key voting bloc and source of political donations for the Republican Party.

As was explored in previous installments of this series, these Christian Zionists, much like religious Zionist extremists in Israel, believe that the Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock must be replaced with a Third Jewish Temple in order to usher in the end times.

These two groups of different faiths, since the 19th century, have repeatedly formed an opportunistic alliance in order to ensure the fulfillment of their respective prophecies, despite the fact that members of the other faith are rarely if ever on the same page in their interpretations of what occurs after the temple’s construction.

This alliance, based on a mutual obsession with hastening the coming of the Apocalypse, continues to this day and now, more than at any other time in history, these groups have reached the heights of power in both Israel and the United States. Parts I and II of this exclusive series explored how this branch of religious Zionism has come to dominate the current right-wing government of Israel and has led Israel’s current government to take definitive steps towards the destruction of the Al Aqsa mosque and the imminent construction of a Third Temple.

Now this installment (Part III) will show how this movement’s Christian counterpart in the United States, Christian Zionism, has likewise become a dominant force in American politics, particularly following the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, where this apocalyptic vision is a major driver behind his administration’s Middle East policy.

Yet, this fire-and-brimstone vision of the end times has long been a guide for prominent figures in American history and the American elite, even predating Zionism’s founding as a political movement. Thus, Christian Zionism’s influence on Trump administration policy is merely the latest of a long list of examples where prophecy and politics have mixed in American history, often with world-altering results.

Puritans, Prophecy and Palestine

Accounts of the role of European and North American Christians in the creation of the state of Israel often begin with the Balfour Declaration of 1917, but the efforts of certain Christian groups in England and the United States to create a Jewish state in Palestine actually date back centuries earlier and significantly predate Zionism’s official founding by Theodore Herzl.

Among the first advocates for the physical immigration of European Jews to Palestine were the Puritans, an offshoot of Christian Protestantism that emerged in the late 16th century and became influential in England and, later, in the American colonies. Influential Puritans devoted considerable interest to the role of Jews in eschatology, or end-times theology, with many — such as John Owen, a 17th-century theologian, member of parliament, and administrator at Oxford — believing that the physical return of Jews to Palestine was necessary for the fulfillment of end-time prophecy.

While the Puritan roots of what would later become known as Christian Zionism are often overlooked in modern accounts of where and why American evangelical support for Israel began, its adherents still clearly acknowledge its legacy. For instance, on Monday at the CUFI conference, Pompeo, himself a Christian Zionist known for his obsession with the end times, told the group the following:

Christian support in America for Zion — for a Jewish homeland — runs back to the early Puritan settlers, and it has endured for centuries. Indeed, our second president [John Adams], a couple years back, said… ‘I really wish the Jews again in Judea an independent nation.’

These Puritan beliefs, which persist today and have only grown in popularity, became more entrenched in England and colonial America with time, especially among the monied political class, and led to a variety of interpretations regarding exactly what the Bible says about the end times. Among the most influential was the development of Christian “dispensationalism,” an interpretive framework that uses the Bible to divide history into different periods of “dispensations” and sees the Bible’s prophetic references to “Israel” as signifying an ethnically Jewish nation established in Palestine.

Charles Russell’s visual interpretation of Darby’s ‘dispensations’ circa 1886

Dispensationalism was largely developed by English-Irish preacher John Nelson Darby, who believed that the God-ordained fates of Israel and the Christian church were completely separate, with the latter to be physically removed from the Earth by God prior to a foretold period of earthly suffering known as the Tribulation.

In Darby’s view, the Tribulation would begin following the construction of a Third Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This belief in the physical removal of Christians from the Earth prior to the Tribulation, widely known as “the rapture,” was invented by Darby in the 1820s and its lack of scriptural support has been widely noted by theologians of various denominations as well as biblical scholars. However, it is important to point that there are differences among dispensationalist Christians as to whether the rapture will occur before, during or after the Tribulation period.

Yet, despite its relatively short existence as an idea and lack of support in the Bible, the rapture was enthusiastically adopted by some churches in England and the United States, particularly the latter. This was largely thanks to the work of highly controversial theologian Cyrus Scofield.

Notably, Darby’s brand of Christian eschatology coincides with similar developments in Jewish eschatology, namely the ideas of Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Kalisher and the creation of a new branch of Jewish messianism that believed that Jews must proactively work to hasten the coming of their messiah by immigrating to Israel and building a Third Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Darby’s beliefs, and those he inspired promoted something similar in the sense that Christians could hasten the coming of the rapture and the Tribulation by promoting the immigration of Jews to Israel as well as the construction of a Third Jewish Temple.

Christian Zionists pave the way for Theodore Herzl

Darby traveled to North America and several other countries to popularize his ideas, meeting several influential pastors throughout the English speaking world, including James Brookes, the future mentor of Cyrus Scofield. His travels and the spread of his written works popularized his eschatological views among certain circles of American and English Christians during the religious revival of the 19th century. Darby’s beliefs were particularly attractive to the elite of both countries, with some English noblemen placing newspaper advertisements urging Jews to immigrate to Palestine as early as the 1840s.

Another prominent figure influenced by Darby’s end-times doctrine was the American preacher Charles Taze Russell, whose church later gave rise to several different churches, including the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Decades before the founding of modern political Zionism, Russell began preaching — not just to Christians, but to Jews in the United States and elsewhere — about the need for mass Jewish immigration to Palestine.

As Rabbi Kalisher had done a few decades prior, Russell penned a letter in 1891 to a wealthy member of the Rothschild banking family, Edmond de Rothschild, as well as Maurice von Hirsch, a wealthy German financier, about his plan for the Jewish settlement of Palestine. Russell described his plan as follows:

My suggestion is that the wealthy Hebrews purchase from Turkey, at a fair valuation, all of her property interest in these lands: i.e., all of the Government lands (lands not held by private owners), under the provision that Syria and Palestine shall be constituted a free state.”

The same plan was to resurface a few years later in arguably the most influential Zionist book of all time, Theodore Herzl’s The Jewish State, which was published in 1896.

It is unknown whether Rothschild or Hirsch was influenced at all by Russell’s letter, though Russell’s ideas did have a lasting impact on some prominent American Jews and American Christians with regard to his promotion of Jewish immigration to Palestine.

The same year that Russell wrote his letter to de Rothschild and von Hirsch, another influential dispensationalist preacher wrote another document that is often overlooked in exploring the role of American Christians in the development and popularization of Zionism. William E. Blackstone, an American preacher who was greatly influenced by Darby and other dispensationalists of the era, had spent decades promoting with great fervor the immigration of Jews to Palestine as a means of fulfilling Biblical prophecy.

The culmination of Blackstone’s efforts came in the form of the Blackstone Memorial, a petition that pleaded that then-President of the United States Benjamin Harrison and his secretary of state, James Blaine, take action “in favor of the restoration of Palestine to the Jews.” The largely forgotten petition asked Harrison and Blaine to use their influence to “secure the holding at an early date, of an international conference to consider the condition of the Israelites and their claims to Palestine as their ancient home, and to promote, in all other just and proper ways, the alleviation of their suffering condition.”

As with Russell’s letter to de Rothschild and von Hirsch, it is unknown exactly how influential the Blackstone Memorial was in influencing the views or policies of Harrison or Blaine. However, the Blackstone Memorial petition is highly significant because of its signatories, which included the most influential and wealthiest Americans of the era, the majority of whom were Christians.

Signatories of the Blackstone Memorial included J.D. Rockefeller, the country’s first billionaire; J.P. Morgan, the wealthy banker; William McKinley, future president of the United States; Thomas Brackett Reed, then speaker of the House; Melville Fuller, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; the mayors of New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston and Chicago; the editors of the Boston Globe, New York Times, Washington Post, and Chicago Tribune, among others; and numerous other members of Congress, as well as influential businessmen and clergymen. Though some rabbis were included as signatories, the petition’s content was opposed by most American Jewish communities. In other words, the primary goal of Zionism, before it even became a movement, was widely supported by the American Christian elite, but opposed by American Jews.

The Blackstone Memorial would later attract the attention of Louis Brandeis, one of the most prominent American Jewish Zionists, who would later refer to Blackstone as the real “founding father of Zionism,” according to Brandeis’ close friend Nathan Straus. Brandeis would eventually succeed in convincing an elderly Blackstone to petition then-President Woodrow Wilson with a second Blackstone Memorial in 1916 that was presented in private to Wilson nearly a year later.

Instead of gathering signatures from prominent members of America’s elite class, Blackstone this time focused on shoring up support from Protestant organizations, namely the Presbyterian Church, in keeping with Wilson’s Presbyterian faith. According to historian Jerry Klinger, president of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, this change in focus had been Brandeis’, not Blackstone’s, idea.

Alison Weir, author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel, described Brandeis as “one of the most influential” American Zionists and a key figure in the efforts to push Wilson to support the formation of a Jewish state in Palestine, of which Blackstone’s second petition was part. However, Weir asserted that Blackstone’s second petition was secondary to a so-called “gentleman’s agreement” whereby English officials promised to support a Jewish state in Palestine if American Zionists, led by Brandeis, were able to secure the United States’ entry into World War I.

Wilson ultimately supported Blackstone’s new document, which was never presented publicly to the president, but privately by Rabbi Stephen Wise. This second Blackstone Memorial was a key component of the Brandeis-led campaign that eventually guaranteed American support — i.e., private support — for the Balfour Declaration, which established British intentions to support a Jewish ethnostate in Palestine. Notably, the Balfour Declaration is named for the then-English Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, himself a Christian dispensationalist, though Weir told MintPress that Balfour was more likely influenced by political imperatives than religious motives. The only person in the British cabinet to oppose the Balfour Declaration was its only Jewish member, Edwin Montagu.

The Balfour Declaration was addressed to a member of the Rothschild banking family, Lionel Walter Rothschild, the last in a series of letters written to members of the Rothschild family urging them to use their wealth and political influence to favor the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine: from Rabbi Kalisher, who wrote to Baron Amschel Rothschild in 1836; to Charles Taze Russell, who wrote to Edmond de Rothschild in 1891; and finally to the Balfour Declaration, written to Lionel Walter Rothschild in 1917.

Weir told MintPress that the Rothschilds figure so prominently in these early efforts to establish a Jewish state in Palestine owing to “their wealth and the power that goes with it,” making them very sought after by those who felt that a Jewish state could be formed in Palestine by the purchase of the territory by wealthy European Jews, as both Kalisher and Russell had proposed. However, the Balfour Declaration was addressed to the Rothschilds because, at that time, members of the Rothschild family, Edmond de Rothschild in particular, had become among the strongest supporters of the Zionist cause.

Though the declaration carries his name, it is unclear whether Balfour himself actually authored the document. Some historians — such as Michael Rubinstein, former president of the Jewish Historical Society of England — have made the case that the declaration itself was written by Leopold Amery, then-political secretary of England’s War Cabinet and a Zionist who, despite his commitment to the Zionist cause, obfuscated his Jewish roots for much of his career for reasons that are still the source of speculation.

As shown by the Balfour Declaration and the lobbying efforts that led to its creation, support for what would soon become known as Zionism among the nobility of England and the United States was already formidable before Herzl even began work on The Jewish State. It is worth considering that the power and influence of this religiously-motivated class of Christian elites had an influence on Herzl and his ideas, particularly given the fact that dispensationalist Christians had been promoting a Jewish ethnostate in Palestine at a time when the idea was unpopular among many prominent Jews in Europe and the United States.

Furthermore, the role of Christian Zionists, as they would later become known, continued well after Herzl began his Zionist activities, and resulted in many of the most influential acts that led to the establishment of the State of Israel, including the Balfour Declaration.

Notably, Herzl’s own success in promoting his views following the publication of The Jewish State was largely due to English dispensationalist pastor William Hechler. Hechler, while serving as chaplain at the British Embassy in Vienna, forged an alliance and later close friendship with Herzl and was critical to negotiating meetings between Herzl and prominent members of the German government, including Kaiser Wilhelm II, which lent necessary political legitimacy to Herzl’s Zionist movement.

A largely overlooked figure in the rise of Zionism, Hechler is mentioned in Herzl’s diary more than any other person and passionately felt that the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine would bring about the end times. Hechler is also known to have been extremely interested in the construction of a Third Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount, having devoted considerable time to creating models of that Temple, some of which he prominently displayed in his office and showed to Herzl with great enthusiasm during their first meeting.

The Hechler-Herzl alliance is one early example of how Christian Zionists and Jewish Zionists each used the motivations of the other for political gain despite the fact that Christian Zionists often hold anti-Semitic views and secular Zionists, as well as religious Zionists, do not hold Christianity in high regard. This opportunism on the parts of both Christian and Jewish Zionists has been a key feature in the rise of Zionism, particularly in the United States, and the case of Cyrus Scofield, the man more responsible than any for popularizing Christian Zionism among American evangelicals, offers another important example.

The surprising story of Cyrus Scofield

There is perhaps no other book that has been more influential in the dissemination of Christian Zionism in the United States than the Scofield Reference Bible, a version of the King James Bible whose annotations were written by Cyrus Scofield. Scofield — who had no formal theological training, though he later claimed to have a D.D. (doctor of divinity degree) — originally worked as a lawyer and political operative in the state of Kansas and eventually became the district attorney of that state.

Soon after his appointment to the position, he was forced to resign as a result of numerous allegations of corruption, including bribery, forging signatures on banknotes and stealing political donations from then-Senator of Kansas James Ingalls. During this time, Scofield abandoned his wife and two daughters, an action since blamed on the burgeoning scandals he was facing as well as his self-admitted heavy drinking habits.

Amid this backdrop, Scofield is said to have become an evangelical around the year 1879 and soon became associated with prominent dispensationalist preachers of the era, including Dwight Moody and James Brookes. Local papers at the time, such as the Atchison Patriot, regarded Scofield’s conversion and career change with great skepticism, referring to Scofield as the “late lawyer, politician and shyster generally” who had disgraced himself by committing “many malicious acts.”

Scofield went on to pastor relatively small churches, moving from Kansas to Dallas, Texas, and later Massachusetts. Yet, despite his lack of renown and  his troubled history, by 1901 Scofield had managed to gain entrance to an exclusive men’s club in New York, the Lotos Club, whose members at the time included steel magnate and multi-millionaire Andrew Carnegie, members of the Vanderbilt family, and famous American writer Samuel Clemens, better known by his pen name, Mark Twain.

Scofield’s membership in this exclusive club — as well as the club’s patronage of his activities, which granted him lodging and financing to produce what would become the Scofield Reference Bible — has been the subject of considerable speculation. Indeed, many have noted that the presence of a fundamentalist, dispensationalist small-town preacher with a disgraced political past in a club stuffed with some of the country’s most elite academics, writers and robber barons just doesn’t add up.

Joseph M. Canfield, in his book The Incredible Scofield and his Book, asserted that “the admission of Scofield to the Lotus Club, which could not have been sought by Scofield, strengthens the suspicion that has cropped up before, that someone was directing the career of C.I. Scofield.”

Canfield puts forth the theory in his book that the person “directing” Scofield’s career was connected to New York lawyer and Zionist activist Samuel Untermeyer, who was on the club’s executive committee and was a close associate of Louis Brandeis and influential in the administration of Woodrow Wilson. He then notes that Scofield’s annotated bible was later “most helpful in getting Fundamentalist Christians to back the international interest in one of Untermeyer’s pet projects — the Zionist Movement.”

Other scholars, such as David Lutz, have been more explicit than Canfield in linking Untermeyer’s Zionist activism to his role in financially backing Scofield and his work on his annotated Bible. Ultimately, like the Blackstone Memorial before it, the Lotos Club’s patronage of Scofield’s work again reveals the interest of the American elite of the era, Christian and Jewish alike, in promoting Christian Zionism.

Untermeyer and the Lotos Club notably also funded Scofield’s numerous travels to Europe, including one fateful trip to England where Scofield met with Henry Frowde, publisher of Oxford University Press. Frowde was taken with Scofield’s work, largely owing to the fact that Frowde was a member of the “Exclusive Brethren,” a religious group founded by John Nelson Darby, the father of dispensationalism. Oxford University Press subsequently published the Scofield Reference Bible in 1909. Twenty years after its publication, it became the first-ever Oxford publication to generate over a million dollars in sales.

Scofield’s Bible became spectacularly popular among American fundamentalists soon after its publication, partly because it was the first annotated bible that sought to interpret the text for the reader as well as because it became the central text of several influential seminaries that were set up after its 1909 publication. Among Scofield’s many annotations are claims that have since become central to Christian Zionism, such as Scofield’s annotation of Genesis 12:3 that those who curse Israel (interpreted by Christian Zionists to mean the state of Israel since its founding in 1948) will be cursed by God and those that bless Israel will similarly be blessed.

Modern Christian Zionists, like Pastor John Hagee of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), have frequently cited this interpretation that originated with Scofield in defending extreme pro-Israel stances. For instance, Hagee made the following statement in 2014:

You have to go back to basics, with the fact that in Genesis (chapter 1), God created the world and made a very solemn promise (brought in Gen. 12:3), ‘I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you.’ From that moment on, every nation that ever blessed Israel has been blessed by God. And every nation that has ever persecuted the Jewish people, God crushed. And so He will continue.”

Falwell and Likud: a friendship or something else?

Despite the widespread dissemination of the Scofield Reference Bible and its popularization among American evangelical churches and seminaries, the public influence of dispensationalist eschatology and Christian Zionism on American politics was relatively limited for much of the 20th century. However, the private influence of Christian dispensationalists was nonetheless present, as seen through the role of dispensationalist preacher and Third Temple advocate Billy Graham and his close relationships to several presidents including Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.

Then the political power of dispensationalist theology dramatically moved from the private quarters of the halls of power into the mainstream American political discourse with the founding of the Moral Majority by evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell in 1979.

In the early 1970s, Falwell’s growing ministry was bringing in millions of dollars annually, especially his nationally broadcast program “The Old Time Gospel Hour,” which ran on several major cable networks at the time. Despite — or perhaps because of — the spike in donations, Falwell was soon targeted by the federal government, specifically the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), for “fraud and deceit” and “gross insolvency” in the financial management of his ministry, particularly the ministry’s sale of $6.6 million in church bonds. The SEC lawsuit was eventually settled when a group of businessmen in Lynchburg, Virginia — where Falwell’s ministry was based — took over the ministry’s finances for the next several years, until 1977. Falwell blamed his ministry’s financial problems on his “financial ignorance.”

One year after his ministry appeared to be on a better financial footing, Falwell received an invitation to visit the state of Israel and was personally invited on the all-expenses-paid trip by Menachem Begin, then the prime minister of Israel and leader of the Likud Party. The trip would mark the beginning of a long friendship and close relationship between Falwell and Begin and, more broadly, a relationship between American evangelical leaders and Israel’s Likud Party. As Israeli historian Gershom Gorenberg notes in his book The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount, the Begin administration “was the first to tap evangelical enthusiasm for Israel and turn it into political and economic support.”

Soon after returning from Israel, Falwell’s finances again came under federal scrutiny after a federal investigation found that Falwell had transferred the health insurance policies of his employees to an unlicensed shell company with just $128 in assets and hundreds of thousands in dollars in unpaid claims. Just as Falwell’s financial troubles began to mount yet again, he received a generous gift from none other than Begin in the form of a private Learjet valued at $4 million. Shortly thereafter, Falwell went on to found the Moral Majority organization, “after consultations with theologians and political strategists.”

The Moral Majority is widely credited with turning the Christian evangelical right into a major political force in the United States, promoting extremely pro-Israel policies, increased defense spending, a Reaganite approach to the challenges of the Cold War, as well as conservative domestic policies. Falwell frequently utilized his gift from Begin in traveling and promoting the new organization, as well as himself as a major public figure.

The Moral Majority marks a clear turning point in the Israel-U.S. evangelical relationship, as it made fervent support for Israel an area of major importance to evangelical voters and also led many evangelical voters to pay closer attention to events going on in the Middle East. Yet, given Falwell’s strong promotion of Christian Zionism, many evangelicals who became increasingly politically active following the organization’s founding not only supported Israel’s policies of the era but also supported many of the future ambitions of Begin and the Likud Party. This support was solidified by the beginning of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism’s ongoing practice of offering U.S. evangelical leaders free “familiarization” tours to Israel in the early 1980s.

Begin’s vision of “Greater Israel” — the complete annexation of Palestine as well as large parts of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Egypt by Israel — was also shared and promoted by Falwell. In 1983, Falwell stated that “Begin will quickly tell you, ‘We don’t have all the land yet we’re going to have,’” and further predicted that Israel would never relinquish control over the occupied West Bank because Begin was determined to keep the land “which has been delivered to them (the Israelis).”

Falwell framed Begin’s expansionist ambitions as a religious belief in “the inerrancy of the Old Testament,” a sentiment Falwell shared. Falwell also pushed for a U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and felt that construction of a Third Temple on the Temple Mount was necessary to usher in the end times and the second coming of Christ.

As Falwell helped turn Christian Zionism into a major political force in the United States, he also made himself a key political figure in the Reagan era and an important go-between for U.S.-Israel relations. In 1981 Begin informed Falwell of his plans to bomb an Iraqi nuclear facility before he informed the Reagan administration with the hopes that Falwell would “explain to the Christian public the reasons for the bombing.” According to Canadian academic David S. New, Begin told Falwell during that phone call: “Get to work for me.”

In addition, Falwell frequently met with Begin, whom he later called a personal friend, and these meetings often overlapped with Begin’s official meetings with Reagan. A year later, Begin gave Falwell Israel’s Jabotinsky award, making Falwell the first non-Jew to receive the honor for his advocacy on behalf of Israel and, more specifically, Likud policies and ambitions.

Though the Moral Majority officially shuttered its doors in 1989, its political legacy persisted long after, as did Falwell’s political clout. Indeed, following Begin’s model, Benjamin Netanyahu, during his first term as prime minister, also made a habit of visiting Falwell, meeting with the controversial pastor even before he met with political officials in his visits to Washington.

During one trip to D.C. in 1998, Netanyahu’s first visit was to an event co-hosted by Falwell, where the pastor praised Netanyahu as “the Ronald Reagan of Israel.” The New York Times described the purpose of Netanyahu’s U.S. visit not as a visit aimed at meeting with government officials, but rather one intended “to shore up his base of traditional support in the United States. Conservative Christian groups have long been ardent supporters of Israel because of its religious importance to Christianity.”

However, this relationship between Christian Zionists like Falwell and prominent right-wing Israeli politicians has not been without its controversy, especially given that pro-Israel evangelicals like Falwell have a history of making anti-semitic statements.

For example, during a 1999 sermon, Falwell discussed his interpretation of end-times prophecy, widely shared by Christian Zionist evangelicals, that the Second Coming would follow not just the creation of the state of Israel but the construction of a Third Temple on the Temple Mount, from which a figure known to Christians as the “Antichrist” would reign. In responding to his own rhetorical question as to whether the Antichrist is “alive and well today,” Falwell stated that “Probably because when he appears during the tribulation period he will be a full-grown counterfeit of Christ. Of course, he’ll be Jewish.”

Falwell’s comments were immediately condemned by a variety of Jewish groups, including the pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Rabbi Leon Klenicki, then-director of interfaith affairs for the ADL, noted that Falwell’s view is a “common theological position” among American evangelicals and that Falwell was “an influential voice among evangelical and charismatic Christians” who “only supports Israel for his own Christological ends.” “He sees us only as the ones who prepare the coming of Jesus,” Klenicki stated at the time. “It is a great disappointment after more than 30 years of dialogue; he’s still in the Middle Ages.”

Another prominent dispensationalist with great political and literary influence is Hal Lindsey, the author and co-author of several books, including The Late Great Planet Earth. Lindsey’s work greatly influenced many prominent U.S. politicians like Ronald Reagan, who was so moved by Lindsey’s books that he invited Lindsey to address a National Security Council meeting on nuclear war plans and helped make Lindsey an influential consultant with several members of Congress and the Pentagon.

As noted by Israeli historian Gershom Gorenberg, Lindsey sees Jews as serving “two central roles” in Christian dispensationalist eschatology:

[T]he first — despite his insistence of love for Jews — is the classic one of Christian anti-Jewish polemic: They are ‘the Jewish people who crucified Jesus’ and the archetype of those who ignore the truth of prophecy. The second role is to fulfill prophecy despite themselves.”

Gorenberg further notes that Lindsey believes that Jews have fulfilled two of the three crucial prophecies that will usher in the end times, with the first being the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and the second being the Israeli conquest and occupation of Jerusalem after the Six Day War in 1967. According to Lindsey: “There remains but one more event to completely set the stage for Israel’s part in the last great act of her historical drama. That is to rebuild the ancient Temple…”

As Falwell’s and Lindsey’s comments reveal, the eschatological views of dispensationalism frequently perceive the Jewish people as little more than pawns that must fulfill certain requirements — e.g., establishing the state of Israel, conquering Jerusalem, building a Third Temple — in order to hasten the salvation and “rapture” of evangelical Christians. Meanwhile, Jews in Israel who do not convert to Christianity are expected to die horrible deaths, though some Christian Zionists in recent years, as will be seen shortly, have sought to adjust this still common theological position.

Despite the anti-semitic motivations underlying evangelical support for the state of Israel and the Likud-supported vision of “Greater Israel,” the politically active Christian Zionist movement that Falwell helped create translated into a strong support base for Israel and right-wing Likud policy that has made it crucial to prominent Israeli politicians.

For instance, significantly more American Christians (55 percent) than American Jews (40 percent) believe that God gave Israel to the Jews while that sentiment is shared by only 19 percent of Israeli Christians. In addition, with regards to the Trump administration’s pro-Israel policies, only 15 percent of evangelical Christians believe that President Trump favors Israel too strongly while 42 percent of American Jews hold the view that Trump is biased in favor of Israel.

In a video recorded in the early 2000s — later broadcast on Israeli TV —  Netanyahu, speaking to a family of Jewish settlers, described the mass support among Americans, particularly evangelicals, for Israel as “absurd,” saying:

America is something that can be easily moved. Moved in the right direction. They won’t get in our way; 80 percent of the Americans supprt us. It’s absurd.”

In a 2017 speech to the Christian Zionist group CUFI, Netanyahu made it clear that much of this “absurd” support came from American evangelicals, stating that “America has no better friend than Israel and Israel has no better friend than America, and Israel has no better friend in America than you.”

 

Richard Silverstein — an academic and journalist whose work has been published in Haaretz and MintPress, among other outlets — has argued that Israeli politicians, particularly Netanyahu, have sought out support from evangelical groups despite their anti-Semitic undertones and the fact they the act out of self-interest in pursuing their political objectives.

In a 2017 article, Silverstein stated that for Israel’s nationalist right-wing:

Judaism is not a spiritual value, it is a physical manifestation of power in the world. These Israelis understand that not all Jews are their “brothers.” Some Jews are too effete, too liberal, too humane, too universalist. These Jews are the detritus which will be washed away by the tide of history. Israeli nationalists need to replace these traditional Jewish allies and have done so by finding new ones: Christian evangelicals, African dictators, European neo-Nazis. Zionism as they define it is less a movement dedicated to ethics and more one dedicated to self-interest.”

A “vital part of Israel’s national security”

As Falwell began to fade from public view in the early 2000s, his legacy has largely fallen to a handful of preachers now at the forefront of Christian Zionism and Christian Zionist political activism, with Falwell’s son, Jerry Falwell Jr., ranking prominently among them. However, of the preachers that followed in Falwell’s footsteps, one stands out: John Hagee.

Hagee is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, which has an active membership of over 22,000. A charismatic Christian who believes in dispensationalist eschatology and thinks that Christians are biblically required to support Israel, Hagee has long been a major advocate for Israel within evangelical and charismatic Christianity circles and has raised over $80 million for Israel since he first began hosting “A Night to Honor Israel” events in the early 1980s.

In 2006, Hagee sought to create the “Christian AIPAC” and revived a then-defunct organization previously founded in 1975 known as Christians United for Israel, or CUFI, mentioned at the beginning of this installment. Since its re-founding, CUFI has grown exponentially, now counting 7 million members, a figure that exceeds the Jewish population of the United States, which stands at around 5.7 million. Hagee chairs its executive board, which included Jerry Falwell up until Falwell’s death in 2007.

CUFI is exempt from paying U.S. taxes and from publicly disclosing its finances because it is officially registered as a church, though it is often likened to an arm of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States and actively promotes and funds illegal West Bank settlements. CUFI also advocates for Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount and the construction of a Third Temple.

Much has been written about CUFI’s influence in the Republican Party, which began under the George W. Bush administration soon after its founding. As journalist Max Blumenthal noted in a 2006 article for The Nation: “Over the past months, the White House has convened a series of off-the-record meetings about its policies in the Middle East with leaders of Christians United for Israel (CUFI).”

As a result of these meetings, CUFI aligned itself tightly with the neoconservatives that were well represented in the Bush administration, even appointing neoconservative and Christian Zionist Gary Bauer to its board and naming Bauer the first director of its lobbying arm, the CUFI Action Fund. Bauer is a founding member of the highly controversial and now-defunct neoconservative group, Project for a New American Century (PNAC), and has also served on the executive board of the neoconservative group Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD).

CUFI has since won powerful allies and counts neoconservative Elliott Abrams; former CIA director James Woosley; neoconservative archon Bill Kristol; former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee; Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Ted Cruz (R-TX); Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence among its staunchest supporters. At a CUFI summit last year, Netanyahu described CUFI as a “vital part of Israel’s national security.”

In addition, CUFI has close ties to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the top donor to President Trump and the entire Republican Party. Adelson even received a special award from Hagee at a 2014 CUFI event. “I’ve never had a greater warm feeling than being honored by Pastor Hagee,” said a beaming Sheldon Adelson at the time.
At the most recent CUFI summit, held on Monday, the Trump administration sent Pence, Pompeo, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, and National Security Advisor John Bolton, all of whom spoke at the summit.

CUFI’s 2019 Washington Summit is days away and includes speakers @VP @Mike_Pence, @SecPompeo, @USAmbIsrael David Friedman, NSA @AmbJohnBolton, Assistant to President Trump @JdGreenblatt45, @DennisPrager, and @PastorJohnHagee.

Register at https://t.co/q1hsRMLNnA. pic.twitter.com/EO1Bi11llR

— Pastor John Hagee (@PastorJohnHagee) July 4, 2019

 

In addition to its own influence as an organization, the group has made Hagee himself a major political player. In 2007, then-Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) compared Hagee to Moses, stating:

I want to take to opportunity to describe Pastor Hagee in the terms the Torah used to describe Moses. He is an Ish Elohim. A man of God. And those words really do fit him. And I have something else. Like Moses, he’s become the leader of a mighty multitude. Even greater than the multitude that Moses led from Egypt to the Promised Land.”

Efforts by prominent politicians to court Hagee were once numerous, until evidence of Hagee making remarks about the Holocaust that were widely considered anti-semitic surfaced during the 2008 presidential campaign. In those remarks, Hagee asserted that Adolf Hitler had been sent by God to act as a “hunter,” and force Jews by means of the Holocaust to resettle in Palestine as a means of fulfilling Biblical prophecy. Then-Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who had aggressively courted Hagee’s endorsement, was forced to distance himself from Hagee after those comments resurfaced.

Yet, the stigma around Hagee has since worn off and his influence is again on the rise following Trump’s election to the presidency, as evidenced by the attendance of numerous top Trump officials to the 2019 CUFI Washington Summit earlier this week.

Though he was not included on the official board of Trump’s evangelical advisers early in Trump’s presidency, several slightly less controversial allies and associates of Hagee were, including Tom Mullins, Jerry Falwell Jr., and Kenneth Copeland. Then, a few months after Trump’s inauguration, Hagee “dropped by” the White House unannounced and met with Trump in the Oval Office to discuss U.S. support for Israel. He also met with Trump a few weeks before Trump announced plans to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a meeting at which Trump had reportedly promised Hagee that the embassy would soon be moved and told the pastor “I will not disappoint you.” Hagee described Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem as having “biblical timing of absolute precision.”

More recently, Hagee was part of an exclusive group of evangelical leaders who met with White House officials this past March prior to the partial release of the so-called “Deal of the Century,” aimed at bringing “peace” to the Israel-Palestine conflict, which is widely viewed as greatly favoring Israel and is expected to be rejected outright by Palestinian leadership.

After the meeting, Hagee issued an urgent prayer request. ”Our topic of discussion was discussing the forthcoming peace plan concerning Israel. Israel and the Jewish people need our prayers and our advocacy like never before,” Hagee said in a video posted to the CUFI Twitter page soon after the meeting. “The Bible gives the command, ‘For Zion’s sake, I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not keep my peace.’ I urge you tonight to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”

 

As the final installment of this series will show, the shared apocalyptic visions of extremist religious Zionists and Christian Zionists regarding a Third Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount is a major driver behind the Deal of the Century and was also a major factor in the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, despite Palestinian hopes that East Jerusalem would serve as the capital of their future state. Notably, Christian Zionists believe that Palestinians must be expelled from the state of Israel. In addition, these end-times beliefs are also a factor in the administration’s push for war with Iran, which Christian Zionists like Hagee and Pompeo believe is also a requisite for the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.

While Hagee’s influence and the influence of his organization CUFI are stronger than ever with Trump in the White House, his political clout with the Trump administration is, at least partially, due to the presence of staunch Christian Zionists in two of the top offices in the executive branch: vice president and secretary of state.

Pence and Pompeo push “holy war”

Though several Trump officials spoke at the recent CUFI summit, two stand out — not just for their high-ranking positions but also for their open admissions that their Christian Zionist beliefs guide their policies. These officials are Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State and former CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

After Trump chose his running mate, Pence’s religious fervor came under media scrutiny, with several outlets noting that he was known to be an ardent Christian Zionist. Pence’s faith gained particular attention owing to his past statements on Israel, which he has often described in prophetic terms.

Though raised Catholic, Pence gradually transitioned to an “evangelical Catholic” and then to an evangelical Protestant and has since become a key political figure representing the fundamentalist Christian movement that promotes “dominionism,” an ideology that varies in its interpretations but ultimately seeks to see the secular nature of the U.S. government shift towards one governed by “Biblical law.” Pence’s association with this movement has led prominent voices in the media to accuse him of supporting a theocratic form of government.

Though many of the initial concerns about Pence revolved around his likely effects on domestic policy, much of his influence has instead been seen in foreign policy, including the administration’s Middle East policy. His public identification as a Christian Zionist and his speech to the 2017 CUFI summit, the first vice president to ever speak at the annual event, have led some to worry that the Christian Zionist view of prophecy is guiding Pence’s political actions.

Following Pence’s first speech at CUFI, Daniel Hummel, a scholar and fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School, told the Washington Post:

Christian Zionism has a long history in American politics, but it has never captured the bully pulpit of the White House. Past administrations often used general biblical language in reference to Israel, but never has the evangelical theology of Christian Zionism been so close to the policymaking apparatus of the executive branch.

By identifying with Christian Zionism while in office, Pence risks the Trump administration’s ongoing search for an ‘ultimate deal’ to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and erodes the U.S.’ claim that it can be an ‘honest broker’ in the Middle East.”

Concerns that the U.S. is under the influence of extremist religious Zionism and Christian Zionism that would prevent the country from acting as an “honest broker” in the Israel-Palestine conflict have, unsurprisingly, been proven true. In fact, Pence’s religious beliefs are believed to have been a major factor in Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the U.S. Embassy to the contested city.

Though Mike Pence is the highest-ranking member of the Trump administration who is openly a Christian Zionist, it is Pompeo that is the most overt and open about how his religious beliefs regarding the end times guide his decision-making as head of the U.S. State Department.

For uch of his political career, Pompeo has framed U.S. counterterrorism policy as a “holy war” between Christianity and Islam, which he believes is the earthly equivalent of a cosmic battle between good and evil. In 2017, as CIA director, Pompeo claimed:

Radical Islamic terror [will] continue to press against us until we make sure that we pray and stand and fight and make sure that we know that Jesus Christ is our savior [and] truly the only solution for our world.”

That same year, Pompeo created a new CIA “mission center” targeting Iran headed by Michael D’Andrea, whose CIA nickname is “The Prince of Darkness.” Pompeo, like many Christian Zionists, believes that war between the United States and Iran is part of the end times, a belief that is outright alarming given his prior control over CIA covert operations and his focus on Iran, as well as his current role as the U.S.’ chief diplomat, in which he has also been laser-focused on promoting an aggressive policy towards Iran.

In addition to his views on “holy war,” Pompeo also frequently discussed his views on the rapture while serving as CIA director. TYT reported last year that Pompeo had spoken about the rapture so frequently that it had reportedly frightened top CIA officials.

According to Michael Weinstein — founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a watchdog group on issues of religious freedom in the military and intelligence community — who was quoted in the TYT report:

He [Pompeo] is intolerant of anyone who isn’t a fundamentalist Christian. The people that worked under him at the CIA that came to us were never confused — they never had time to be confused. They were shocked and then they were scared shitless.”

A 2015 video of Pompeo that surfaced while he was CIA director also shows the former congressman describing politics as “a never-ending struggle … until the rapture.”

More recently, a New York Times article published in March again brought Pompeo’s obsession with the end times back into public view. Titled “The Rapture and the Real World: Mike Pompeo Blends Beliefs and Policy,” the article detailed how Pompeo has made it standard operating procedure to mix his Christian Zionist views with his approach to foreign policy. That article also referenced the statement Pompeo made earlier this year, in which he opined that it was “certainly possible” that President Trump had been sent by God to “save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace.”

Pompeo made those statements during an official trip to Jerusalem that was also controversial for other reasons. Indeed, in a state department video shared on social media and meant to publicize Pompeo’s trip, footage of a model of the Third Jewish Temple was included while footage of the Al Aqsa mosque was notably excluded, despite it being the most iconic building in Jerusalem.

 

Given that Pompeo had also visited the tunnels that have worn away the historic mosque’s foundations, many Palestinians took the video as a sign that the Trump administration was colluding with the Temple Activist movement in Israel, which was discussed in detail in Part II of this series.

Joining forces to target Jerusalem

Well before Theodore Herzl founded political Zionism and published The Jewish State, Christian Zionists in the United States and England were already seeking to direct and influence the foreign policy of both nations in service of a religious obsession with ushering in the end times. The historical record clearly shows how Christian Zionists have influenced events throughout history, particularly in regard to the founding of the state of Israel and subsequent developments in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

In the pursuit of these dispensationalist end-times prophecies, Christian Zionists have forged alliances with Jewish Zionists and each has opportunistically used the other in order to usher in the common events that are believed to facilitate the coming of their respective apocalypses or to aid more secular, political goals. From Hechler and Herzl, to Scofield and Untermeyer, to Begin and Falwell, these alliances have shaped the policy of Western governments, particularly the U.S. and England, for over a century.

Today, only one such prophecy has yet to be fulfilled, the construction of a Third Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount, which is currently occupied by the Al Aqsa mosque compound. Now, more than ever before, Israel’s government, as shown in Part II, is filled with high-ranking officials who openly call for Al Aqsa’s destruction and seek to hastily construct a Third Temple. Similarly, as this report has shown, the Trump administration is greatly influenced by Christian Zionists who also seek the mosque’s destruction, in hopes that the Third Temple will soon be built.

Yet, the Trump administration’s ties to this apocalyptic ideology go even deeper than has been discussed in this article, as many other influential members in the Trump administration — especially top Trump advisers Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman — also share and actively promote this extremist religious Zionist ideology that seeks to rebuild a Third Temple. As will be seen in the next installment of this series, this ideology is also a driving factor for top Trump and Republican Party donors such as Sheldon Adelson.

The end result is that the hold of this apocalyptic ideology on both the governments of Israel and the United States appears to be stronger now than ever, meaning that the danger currently facing Al Aqsa mosque, and with it world peace, looms large.

Correction |  An earlier version of this article stated that Hal Lindsey was a co-author of the popular Left Behind book series. This was incorrect, as that series was co-written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, both of whom were influenced by Lindsey’s earlier books including  The Late Great Planet Earth.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

This article was originally published by “Mint Press” –

Pandering to Christian Zionism: Trump Outreach on Display in Washington

Philip Giraldi

Christian Zionist involvement in American politics on behalf of the Washington’s relationship with Israel does not serve any conceivable US national interests unless one assumes that Israel and the United States are essentially the same polity, which is unsustainable.

In Washington on the weekend after the Fourth of July, Israel was praised and Iran was condemned in the strongest terms, with a bit of a call to arms thrown in to prepare the nation for an inevitable war. It might just seem like a normal work week in the nation’s capital, but this time around there was a difference. The rhetoric came from no less than five senior officials in the Trump Administration and the audience consisted of 5,000 cheering members from the Christian Zionist evangelical group called Christians United for Israel (CUFI).

Christian Zionism is not a religion per se, but rather a set of beliefs based on interpretations of specific parts of the Bible – notably the book of Revelations and parts of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Isaiah – that has made the return of the Jews to the Holy Land a precondition for the Second Coming of Christ. The belief that Israel is essential to the process has led to the fusion of Christianity with Zionism, hence the name of the movement. The political significance of this viewpoint is enormous, meaning that a large block of Christians promotes and votes for a non-reality based foreign policy based on a controversial interpretation of the Bible that it embraces with considerable passion.

It would be a mistake to dismiss CUFI as just another group of bible-thumpers whose brains have long since ceased to function when the subject is Israel. It claims to have seven million members and it serves as a mechanism for uniting evangelicals around the issue of Israel. Given its numbers alone and concentration is certain states, it therefore constitutes a formidable voting bloc that can be counted on to cast its ballots nearly 100% Republican, as long as the Republican in question is reliably pro-Israel. Beyond that, there are an estimated 60 million evangelical voters throughout the country and they will likely follow the lead of groups like CUFI and vote reflecting their religious beliefs, to include Trump’s highly visible support for the Jewish state.

Trump’s reelection campaign is reported to be already “…developing an aggressive, state-by-state plan to mobilize even more evangelical voters than supported him last time.” This will include, “voter registration drives at churches in battleground states such as Ohio, Nevada and Florida.” Without overwhelming evangelical support, Trump reelection in 2020 is unlikely, hence the dispatch of all available White House heavyweights to CUFI’s annual summit at the Washington Convention Center.

Though it is an organization that defines itself as Christian, CUFI makes no effort to support surviving Christian communities in the Middle East as most of them are hostile to Israel. The group also supports war against Iran as a precursor to total global conflict. Hagee has explained that “The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God’s plan for both Israel and the West… a biblically prophesied end-time confrontation with Iran, which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation, and Second Coming of Christ.”

CUFI operates out of the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio Texas. It was founded at the church in 2006 and is headed by John Hagee, a leading evangelical who has been courted both by the Trump Administration and by Israel itself, which presented him with a a Lear business yet complete with a crew so he would be able to do his proselytizing in some comfort. He frequently appears at commemorations in Israel, is a regular at the annual AIPAC meeting and has been a guest at the White House. He was present at the Trump administration’s ceremony last year when it moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem and gave a speech. He has said that “there has never been a more pro-Israeli president than Donald Trump.”

Present at the CUFI summit were Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and US negotiator in the Middle East Jason Greenblatt. Lest there be any confusion, the White House was represented by two Christian Zionists, two Jewish Zionists and John Bolton, who has been variously described. All five have been urging a military response against Iran for its alleged “aggression” in the Middle East. Israeli Prime Minister also addressed the conference via videolink, with his similar “analysis” of the Iranian threat. There were also a number of Republican Senators present, to include Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Roy Blunt and Tim Scott.

The speeches were all pretty much the same but perhaps the most suggestive was the 2,000 word plus exhortation delivered by Pompeo. His presentation was entitled “The US and Israel: a Friendship for Freedom.” He asked, in a speech full of religious metaphors and biblical references, his audience to “compare Israel’s reverence for liberty with the restrictions on religious freedom facing Christians and people of all faiths throughout the rest of the Middle East,” where “if a Muslim leaves Islam it is considered an apostasy, and it is punishable indeed by death.”

Pompeo was more interested in stirring up his audience than he was in historical fact. He said “In Iraq, Syria, and other countries in the region, the last remnants of ancient Christian communities are at near-extinction because of persecution from ISIS and other malign actors. And just one example: before 2003, there were an estimated 1.5 million Christians living in Iraq. Today, sadly, almost a quarter of a million.”

Pompeo, whose grasp of current events appears to be a bit shaky, did not mention two of the principal reasons that Christianity has been declining in the region. First and foremost is the Iraq War, started by the United States for no good reason, which unleashed forces that led to the destruction of religious minorities. Second, he did not note the constant punishment delivered by Israel on the Palestinians, which has led to the departure of many Christians in that community. Nor did he say anything about the reverse of the coin, Syria, where Christians are well integrated and protected by the al-Assad government which Pompeo and Bolton are seeking to destroy to benefit Israel.

The Secretary of State also delivered the expected pitch for four more years of Donald Trump, saying “But thank God. Thank God we have a leader in President Trump – an immovable friend of Israel. His commitment, his commitment – President Trump’s commitment is the strongest in history, and it’s been one of the best parts of my job to turn that commitment into real action.”

But it has to be Pompeo’s conclusion that perhaps should be regarded as a joke, though it appears that no one in the audience was laughing. He said “Our country is intended to do all it can, in cooperating with other nations, to help create peace and preserve peace [throughout] the world. It is given to defend the spiritual values – the moral code – against the vast forces of evil that seek to destroy them.”

It was a reiteration of Pompeo’s earlier “America is a force for good” speech delivered in Cairo in January. Nobody believed it then and nobody believes it now, given what has been actually occurring over the past 18 years. It would be interesting to know if Pompeo himself actually thinks it to be true. If he does, he should be selling hot dogs from a food truck rather than presiding as Secretary of State.

So, the bottom line is that the Trump Administration pandering to Hagee and company is shameful. Christian Zionist involvement in American politics on behalf of the Washington’s relationship with Israel does not serve any conceivable US national interests unless one assumes that Israel and the United States are essentially the same polity, which is unsustainable. On the contrary, the Christian Zionist politicizing has been a major element in supporting the generally obtuse US foreign policy in the Middle East region and vis-à-vis other Muslim countries, a policy that has contributed to at least four wars while making the world a more dangerous place for all Americans. Christian Zionist promoted foreign policy serves a particularly narrowly construed parochial interest that, ironically, is intended to do whatever it takes to bring about the end of the world, possibly a victory for gentlemen like Pastor John Hagee if his interpretation of the bible is correct, but undeniably a disaster for the rest of us.

In Israel the Push to Destroy Jerusalem’s Iconic Al-Aqsa Mosque Goes Mainstream

Al-Aqsa Feature photo

TWO CENTURIES IN THE CROSS-HAIRS

In Israel the Push to Destroy Jerusalem’s Iconic Al-Aqsa Mosque Goes Mainstream

This ancient site that dates back to the year 705 C.E. is being targeted for destruction by extremist groups that seek to erase Jerusalem’s Muslim heritage in pursuit of colonial ambitions and the fulfillment of end-times prophecy.

The iconic golden dome of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque, located on the Temple Mount or Haram el-Sharif, is the third holiest site in Islam and is recognized throughout the world as a symbol of the city of Jerusalem. Yet, this ancient site that dates back to the year 705 C.E. is being targeted for destruction by increasingly influential extremist groups that seek to erase Jerusalem’s Muslim heritage in pursuit of colonial ambitions and the fulfillment of end-times prophecy.

Some observers may have noticed the growing effort by some Israeli government and religious officials to remove the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque from the Jerusalem skyline, not only erasing the holy site in official posters, banners and educational material but also physically removing the building itself. For instance, current Knesset member of the ruling Likud Party, American-born Yehuda Glick, was also the director of the government-funded Temple Institute, which has created relics and detailed architectural plans for a temple that they hope will soon replace Al-Aqsa. Glick is also close friends with Yehuda Etzion, who was part of a failed plot in 1984 to blow up Al-Aqsa mosque and served prison time as a result.

“In the end we’ll build the temple and it will be a house of prayer for all nations,” Glick toldIsraeli newspaper Maariv in 2012. A year later, Israel’s Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel stated that “[w]e’ve built many little, little temples…but we need to build a real Temple on the Temple Mount.” Ariel stated that the new Jewish Temple must be built on the site where Al-Aqsa currently sits “as it is at the forefront of Jewish salvation.” Since then, prominent Israeli politicians have become more and more overt in their support for the end of Jordanian-Palestinian sovereignty over the mosque compound, leading many prominent Palestinians to warn in recent years of plans to destroy the mosque.




In recent years, a centuries-old effort by what was once a small group of extremists has gone increasingly mainstream in Israel, with prominent politicians, religious figures and political parties advocating for the destruction of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque in order to fulfill a specific interpretation of an end-times prophecy that was once considered fringe among practitioners of Judaism.

As Miko Peled, Israeli author and human-rights activist, told MintPress, the movement to destroy Al-Aqsa and replace it with a reimagined Temple “became notable after the 1967 war,” and has since grown into “a massive colonial project that uses religious, biblical mythology and symbols to justify its actions” — a project now garnering support from both religious and secular Israelis.

While the push to destroy Al-Aqsa and replace it with a physical Third Temple has gained traction in Israel in recent years, this effort has advanced at a remarkably fast pace in just the past few weeks, owing to a confluence of factors. These factors, as this report will show, include the upcoming revelation of the so-called “Deal of the Century,” the push for a war with Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and the Trump administration’s dramatic lenience in regards to the activity of Jewish extremist groups and extremist settlements in Israel.

These factors correlate with a quickening of efforts to destroy Al-Aqsa and the very real danger the centuries-old holy site faces. While the U.S. press has occasionally mentioned the role of religious extremism in dictating the foreign policy of prominent U.S. politicians like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, it has rarely shone a light on the role of Jewish extremism in directing Israel’s foreign policy — foreign policy that, in turn, is well-known to influence American policies.

When taken together, the threats to Al-Aqsa are clearly revealed to be much greater than the loss of a physical building, though that itself would be a grave loss for the world’s Muslim community, which includes over 1.8 billion people. In addition, the site’s destruction would very likely result in a regional and perhaps even global war with clear religious dimensions.

To prevent such an outcome, it is essential to highlight the role that extremist, apocalyptic interpretations of both the Jewish and Christian faiths are playing in trends that, if left unchecked, could have truly terrifying consequences. Both of these extremist groups are heavily influenced by colonial ambitions that often supersede their religious underpinning.

In Part I of this two-part series, MintPress examines the growth of extremist movements in Israel that openly promote the destruction of Al-Aqsa, from a relatively isolated fringe movement within Zionism to mainstream prominence in Israel today; as well as how threats to the historic mosque have grown precipitously in just the past month. MintPress interviewed Israeli author and activist Miko Peled; Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss of Neturei Karta in New York; Imam and scholar of Shia Islam, Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini, of the Islamic Institute of America; and Palestinian journalist and academic Ramzy Baroud for their perspectives on these extremist groups, their growing popularity, and the increasing threats to the current status quo at Haram El-Sharif/Temple Mount.

The second part of this series will detail the influence of this extremist movement in Israeli politics as well as American politics, particularly among Christian Zionist politicians in the United States. The ways in which this movement’s goal have also influenced Israeli and U.S. policy — particularly in relation to the so-called “Deal of the Century,” President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and the push for war against Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah — will also be examined.

 

Two centuries in the cross-hairs

Though efforts to wrest the contested holy site from Jordanian and Palestinian control have picked up dramatically in recent weeks, the Al-Aqsa mosque compound had long been targeted prior to Israel’s founding and even prior to the formation of the modern Zionist movement.

For instance, Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Kalisher — who promoted the European Jewish colonization of Palestine from a religious perspective well before Zionism became a movement — expounded on an early form of what would later be labeled “religious Zionism” and was particularly interested in the acquisition of Haram el-Sharif (i.e., the Temple Mount) as a means of fulfilling prophecy.

As noted in the essay “Proto-Zionism and its Proto-Herzl: The Philosophy and Efforts of Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalisher” by Sam Lehman-Wilzig, Professor of Israeli Politics and Judaic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, Kalisher sought to court wealthy European Jews to finance the purchase of Israel for the purpose of resettlement, particularly the Temple Mount. In an 1836 letter to Baron Amschel Rothschild, Kalisher suggested that the eldest brother of the wealthy banker family use his abundant funds to bring Jewish sovereignty to Palestine, specifically Jerusalem and the Temple Mount:

[E]specially at a time like this, when the Land of Israel is under the dominion of the Pasha… perhaps if his most noble Excellency pays him a handsome sum and purchases for him some other country (in Africa) in exchange for the Holy Land, which is presently small in quantity but great in quality… this money would certainly not be wasted… for when the leaders of Israel are gathered from every corner of the world… and transform it into an inhabited country, the many G-d-fearing and charitable Jews will travel there to take up their residency in the Holy Land under Jewish sovereignty… and be worthy to take up their portion in the offering upon the altar. And if the master (Ibrahim Pasha) does not desire to sell the entire land, then at least he should sell Jerusalem and its environs… or at least the Temple Mount and surrounding areas.” (emphasis added)

Kalisher’s request was met with a noncommittal response from Baron Rothschild, leading Kalisher to pursue other wealthy European Jewish families, like the Montefiores, with the same goal in mind. And, though Kalisher was initially unsuccessful in winning the support of the Rothschild family, other notable members of the wealthy European banking dynasty eventually did become enthusiastic supporters of Zionism in the decades that followed.

Kalisher was also influential in another way, as he was arguably the first modern Rabbi to reject the idea of patiently waiting for God to fulfill prophecy and proposed instead that man should take concrete steps that would lead to the fulfillment of such prophecies, a belief that Kalisher described as “self help.” For Kalisher, settling European Jews in Palestine was but the first step, to be followed by other steps that would form an active as opposed to a passive approach towards Jewish Messianism. These subsequent steps included the construction of a Third Temple, to replace the Second Temple destroyed by the Romans around the year 70 C.E., and the reinitiation of ritual animal sacrifices in that Temple, which Kalisher believed could only be placed on the Temple Mount, where Al-Aqsa then sat and still sits.

Kalisher wasn’t alone in his views, as his contemporary, Rabbi Judah Alkalai, wrote the following in his book Shalom Yerushalayim:

It is obvious that the Mashiach ben David [Messiah of the House of David] will not appear out of thin air in a fiery chariot with fiery horses, but will come if the Children of Israel bend to the task of preparing themselves for him.”

Though Kalisher wasn’t the lone voice promoting these ideas, his beliefs — aside from promoting the physical settlement of European Jews in Palestine — remained relatively fringe for decades, if not more than a century, as secular Jews were hugely influential in the Zionist movement after its official formation. However, prominent religious Zionists did influence the Zionist movement in key ways prior to Israel’s founding. One such figure was Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, who sought to reconcile Zionism and Orthodox Judaism as the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Palestine, a position he assumed in 1924.

Yet, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss of Neturei Karta, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish group based in New York that opposes Zionism, told MintPress that many religious Zionists have since latched onto Kalisher’s ideas, which were widely rejected during his lifetime, in order to justify neocolonial actions sought by secular Zionists. “This rabbi, at the time, other rabbis ‘roared’ against him and his beliefs weren’t accepted,” Rabbi Weiss stated, “But now, the ones who are talking about building this Third Temple….these are Zionists and they have found some rabbi whose ideas benefit them that they have been using to justify Zionist acts” that are not aligned with Judaism “and make them kosher.”

Al-Aqsa and temple mount 1974

The famous Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, at center, and the dome of Al-Aqsa Mosque pictured on May 15, 1976. Horst Faas | AP

Weiss further expanded on this point, noting that the participants of the modern religious Zionism movement that seek to build a new Jewish temple where Al-Aqsa currently stands are, at their core, Zionists who have used religious imagery and specific interpretations of religious texts as cover for neo-colonial acts, such as the complete re-making of the Temple Mount.

“It’s like a wolf in a sheepskin…These people who want to incorporate the teachings of this rabbi [Rabbi Kalisher] are proudly saying that they are Jewish, but are doing things Jews are forbidden from doing,” such as ascending to and standing upon the Temple Mount, which Rabbi Weiss stated was “a breach of Jewish law,” long forbidden by that law according to a consensus among Jewish scholars and rabbis around the world that continued well beyond the formation of the Zionist movement in the 19th century.

Weiss also told MintPress:

There are only a few sins in Judaism — which has many, many laws, that lead to a Jew being cut off from God — and to go up to the Temple Mount is one of them…This is because you need a certain level of holiness to ascend and… the process to attain that level of holiness and purity cannot be done today, because [aspects of and the items required by] the necessary purity rituals no longer exist today.”

Rabbi Weiss noted that, for this reason, the Muslim community that has historically governed the area where Al-Aqsa mosque stands never had any problems with the Jewish community in relation to the Temple Mount, as it has been known for centuries that Jews cannot ascend to the area where the mosque currently sits and instead prayed only at the Western Wall. He also stated that the prophetic idea of a Third Temple was, prior to Zionism, understood as indicating not a change in physical structures on the Temple Mount, but a metaphysical, spiritual change that would unite all of mankind to worship and serve God in unison.

Rabbi Weiss asserted that the conflict regarding Al-Aqsa mosque started only with the advent of Zionism and the associated neo-colonial ambition to fundamentally alter the status quo and structures present at the site as a means of erasing key parts (i.e., Palestinian parts) of its heritage. “This [the use of religion to justify ascending to and taking control of the Temple Mount] is a trap for conning other people into supporting them,” concluded the Rabbi.

Nonetheless, Kalisher’s impact can be seen in today’s Israel more than ever, thanks to the rise and mainstream acceptance within Israel of once-fringe elements of religious Zionism, which were deeply influenced by the ideas of rabbis like Kalisher and have served in recent decades as an incubator for some of Israel’s most radical political elements.

Meanwhile, as the debate within Judaism over the Temple Mount has changed dramatically since the 19th century, its significance in Islam has remained steadfast. According to Imam Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini, “Al-Aqsa is the third holiest mosque in Islam…it is considered to be the place where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven and has been mentioned in the Qoran, which glorifies that mosque and identifies it as a blessed mosque. All Muslims, whether they are Sunni or Shia, revere that mosque” — a fact that has remained unchanged for over a millennium and continues to today.

 

Religious Zionism gains political force

The modern rise of the religious Zionist movements that promote the destruction of Al-Aqsa mosque and its replacement with a Third Jewish Temple is most often traced back to the Six Day War of 1967. According to Miko Peled, who recently wrote a piece for MintPress Newsregarding the threats facing Al-Aqsa, “religious Zionism” as a political force became more noticeable following the 1967 war. Peled told MintPress:

After the ‘heartland’ of Biblical Israel came under Israeli control, the religious Zionists, who before then were marginalized, saw it as their mission to settle those newly conquered lands, and to be the new pioneers, so to speak. They took on the job that the socialist Zionist ideologues had in settling Palestine and ridding it of its native Arab population in the years leading up to Israel’s establishment and up to the early 1950s. They saw the “return” of Hebron, Bethlehem, Nablus, or Shchem and, of course, the Old City of Jerusalem as divine intervention and now it was their turn to make their mark.

It began with a small group of Messianic fanatics who forced the government – who at that point, after 1967, was still secular Zionist – to accept their existence in the highly populated areas within the West Bank. That was how the city of Kiryat Arba [illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank] was established. The government, it is worth noting, was happy to be forced into this. From a small group that people thought were fringe lunatics to a Jewish city in the heart of Hebron region.”

Peled further noted that this model, employed by the religious extremist groups that founded illegal West Bank settlements like Kiryat Arba, “has been used successfully since then and it is now used by the groups that are promoting the new Temple in place of Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.” He continued, pointing out that “whereas 20-30 years ago they were considered a fringe group, this year they expect more than 50,000 people to enter the compound to support the group and their goals. Religious Israeli youth who opt out of military service and choose national service instead may work with the [Third] Temple building organizations.”

Extremist settlers storm Al-Aqsa

Extremist settlers escorted by Israeli after they stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on July 22, 2018. Mostafa Alkharouf | Anadolu

Dr. Ramzy Baroud — journalist, academic and founder of The Palestine Chronicle — agreed with Peled’s sense that the Third Temple movement or Temple Activist movement has grown dramatically in recent years and has become increasingly mainstream in Israel. Baroud told MintPress: 

There has been a massive increase in the number of Israeli Jews who force their way into the Al-Aqsa mosque compound to pray and practice various rituals…In 2017 alone, over 25,000 Jews who visited the compound — accompanied by thousands of soldiers and police officers and provoking many clashes that resulted in the death and wounding of many Palestinians. Since 2017, the increase in Jews visiting the compound has been very significant if compared to the previous year when around 14,000 Jews made that same journey.”

Baroud also noted:

[The Temple Activist movement] has achieved a great deal in appealing to mainstream Israeli Jewish society in recent years. At one point, it was a marginal movement, but with the rise of the far right in Israel, their ideas and ideologies and religious aspirations have also become part of the Israeli mainstream.”

As a result, Baroud asserted:

[There is] an increasing degree of enthusiasm among Israeli Jews that is definitely not happening at the margins [of society], but is very much a part of the mainstream, more so than at any time in the past, to take over the Al-Aqsa mosque, demolish the mosque in order to rebuild the so-called Third Temple.”

However, Rabbi Weiss disagreed with Peled and Baroud that this faction presents a real threat to the mosque, given that the mosque’s destruction is widely rejected by Diaspora Jewry (i.e., Jews living outside of Israel) and that destroying it would not only cause conflicts with the global Muslim community but also numerous Jewish communities outside of Israel.

As Rabbi Weiss told MintPress:

Some of the largest and most religious [i.e. ultra-orthodox] Jewish communities outside of Israel, like the second largest community of religious [ultra-orthodox] Jews in Williamsburg, Brooklyn [in New York], and also in Israel … are opposed to this concept of taking over the Temple Mount and other related ideas.”

Weiss argued that many of these religious Zionists in Israel that are pushing for a new Temple “do not follow Jewish law to the letter and don’t come from the very religious communities, including the settlers…They don’t go to expressly religious schools, they go to Zionist schools. Their whole view is built on Zionism and [secondarily] incorporates the religion,” as opposed to the reverse. As a result, the destruction of the Al-Aqsa mosque, in Weiss’ view, could greatly alienate the state of Israel from these more religious and ultra-orthodox communities.

In addition, Rabbi Weiss felt that many Jewish and secular Israelis would also reject such a move because it would create even more conflicts, which many Israelis do not want. He described the Temple Activists as “a vocal minority” that represented a “fringe” among adherents to Judaism and a group within Zionism that has tried to use the Temple Mount “in order to be able to excuse their occupation and to try to portray this [the occupation of Palestine] as a religious conflict,” with the conflict surrounding the Temple Mount being an extension of that.

An Israeli police officer raises his baton on Palestinians worshipers near the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, July 27, 2017 (AP/Mahmoud Illean)

An Israeli police officer raises his baton on Palestinians worshipers near the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City, July 27, 2017. Mahmoud Illean | AP

Weiss believed that the push to take over the Temple Mount was a “scare tactic” aimed at securing the indefinite nature of the occupation, and noted that many Israelis did not want a spike in or renewal of conflict that would inevitably result if the mosque were to be destroyed. He also added that he did not think there was a “real threat” of the mosque being targeted because international rabbinical authorities have stood fast in their opposition to the project promoted by the Temple Activists.

 

“Tomorrow might be too late”

It is hardly a coincidence that the growth of Temple Activism and associated movements like “neo-Zionism” have paralleled the growth in threats to the Al-Aqsa mosque itself. Many of these threats can be understood through the doctrine developed by Rabbi Kalisher and others in the mid-19th century — the idea that “active” steps must be taken to bring about the reconstruction of a Jewish Temple at Haram El-Sharif in order to bring about the Messianic Age.

Indeed, during the 1967 war, General Shlomo Goren, the chief rabbi of the IDF, had told Chief of Central Command Uzi Narkiss that, shortly after Israel’s conquest of Jerusalem’s Old City, the moment had come to blow up the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock. “Do this and you will go down in history,” Goren told Narkiss. According to Tom Segev’s book 1967, Goren felt that the site’s destruction could only be done under the cover of war: “Tomorrow might be too late.”

Goren was among the first Israelis to arrive at the then-recently conquered Old City in Jerusalem and was joined at the newly “liberated” Al-Aqsa compound by a young Yisrael Ariel, who now is a major leader in the Temple Activist movement and head of the Temple Institute, which is dedicated to constructing a Third Temple where Al-Asqa mosque currently stands.

Narkiss rejected Goren’s request, but did approve the razing of Jerusalem’s Moroccan quarter. According to Mondoweiss, the destruction of the nearly seven centuries old Jerusalem neighborhood was done for the “holy purpose” of making the Western Wall more accessible to Jewish Israelis. Some 135 homes were flattened, along with several mosques, and over 700 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed as part of that operation.

Following the occupation of East Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa has come under increasing threat, just as extremist movements who seek to destroy the site have grown. In 1969, a Christian extremist from Australia, Daniel Rohan, set fire to the mosque. Rohan had been studying in Israel and, prior to committing arson, had told American theology student Arthur Jones, who was studying with Rohan, that he had become convinced that a new temple had to be built where Al-Aqsa stood.

Then, in 1984, a group of messianic extremists known as the Jewish Underground was arrested for plotting to use explosives to destroy Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock. Ehud Yatom, who was a security official and commander of the operation that foiled the plot, told Israel’s Channel 2 in 2004 that the planned destruction of the site would have been “horrible, terrible,” adding that it could provoke “the entire Muslim world [into a war] against the state of Israel and against the Western world, a war of religions.”

One of those arrested in 1984 in connection with the bomb plot, former Jewish Underground member Yehuda Etzion, subsequently wrote from prison that his group’s mistake was not in targeting the historic mosque, which he called an “abomination,” but in acting before Israeli society would accept such an act. “The generation was not ready,” Etzion wrote, adding that those sympathetic to the Jewish Underground movement “must build a new force that grows very slowly, moving its educational and social activity into a new leadership.”

“Of course I cannot predict whether the Dome of the Rock will be removed from the Mount while the new body is developing or after it actually leads the people,” Etzion stated, “but the clear fact is that the Mount will be purified [from Islamic shrines] with certainty…”

Upon his release from prison, Etzion founded the Chai Vekayam (Alive and Existing) movement, a group that Al Jazeera’s Mersiha Gadzo described as aimed at “shaping public opinion as a prerequisite for building a Third Temple in the religious complex in Jerusalem’s Old City where Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock are located.” Gadzo also notes that “according to messianic belief, building the Third Temple at the Al Aqsa compound — where the First and Second Temples stood some 2,000 years ago — would usher the coming of the Messiah.”

Six years later, another group called the Temple Mount Faithful, which is dedicated to building the Third Temple, provoked what became known as the Al-Aqsa massacre in 1990 after its members attempted to place a cornerstone for the Third Temple on the Temple Mount / Haram El-Sharif, leading to riots that saw Israeli police shoot and kill over 20 Palestinians and wound an estimated 150 more.

Al-Aqsa 1996 massacre

Blood-stained footmarks mark the entrance to Al Aqsa Mosque after Israeli police opened fire on Palestinian worshipers in 1996. Khaled Zighari | AP

This was followed by the riots in 1996 after Israel opened up a series of tunnels that had been dug under Al-Aqsa mosque that many Palestinians worried would be used to damage or destroy the mosque. Those concerns may have been well-founded, given the involvement of then- and current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Third Temple activist groups in creating the tunnels and in subsequent excavations near the holy site, which were and continue to be officially described as “archaeological” in nature. During the 1996 incident, 80 Palestinians and 14 Israeli police officers were killed.

Some Israeli archaeologists have argued that these tunnels have not been built for archaeological or scientific purposes and are highly unlikely to result in any new discoveries. One such Israeli archaeologist, Yoram Tseverir, told Middle East Monitor in 2014 that “the claims that these excavations aim at finding scientific information are marginal” and called the still-ongoing government-sponsored excavations under Al-Aqsa “wrong.” When those “archaeological” excavations at Al-Aqsa resulted in damage to the Western Wall near Al-Aqsa last year, a chorus of prominent Palestinians, including the spokesman for the Fatah Party, claimed that Israel’s government had devised a plan to destroy the mosque.

 

Since 2000, Al-Aqsa mosque has been the site of incidents that have resulted in new state crackdowns by Israel against Palestinians both within and well outside of Jerusalem. Indeed, the Second Intifada was largely provoked by the visit of the then-Likud candidate for prime minister, Ariel Sharon, who entered Al-Aqsa mosque under heavy guard. Then-spokesman for Likud, Ofir Akounis, was later quoted by CNN as saying that the reason for Sharon’s visit was “to show that under a Likud government it [the Temple Mount] will remain under Israeli sovereignty.”

That single visit by Sharon led to five years of heightened tensions, more than three thousand dead Palestinians and an estimated thousand dead Israelis, as well as a massive and still continuing crackdown on Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud told MintPress that Sharon’s provocation in particular, and subsequent provocations, are often planned and used by Israeli politicians in order to justify crackdowns and restrictions on Palestinians. He argued:

[Some powerful Israeli politicians] use these regular provocations at Al Aqsa to create the kind of tensions that increase violence in the West Bank and to [then] carry out whatever policies they have in mind. They know exaclty how to provoke Palestinians and there is no other issue that is as sensitive and unifying in the Palestinian psyche as Al-Aqsa mosque.

Not only do we need to be aware of the fact that [provocations at] Al-Aqsa mosque are being used to implement archaic, destructive plans [i.e., destruction of Al-Aqsa and construction of a Third Temple] by certain elements that are now very much at the core of Israeli politics, but also the fact that this type of provocation is also used to implement broader policies pertaining to Palestinians elsewhere.”

 

Drums beating loud

While there have long been efforts to destroy the historic Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, recent weeks have seen a disturbing and dramatic uptick in incidents that suggest that the influential groups in Israel that have long pushed for the mosque’ s destruction may soon get their way. This reflects what Ramzy Baroud described to MintPress as how support for the construction of the Third Temple where Al-Aqsa currently sits is now “greater than at any time in the past” within Israeli society.

Earlier this month on June 2, a religious adviser to the Palestinian Authority (PA), Mahmoud Al-Habbash, took to social media to warn of an “Israeli plot against the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” adding that “If the Muslims don’t act now [to save the site]… the entire world will pay dearly.”

Al-Habbash’s statement was likely influenced by a disturbing event that occurred that same day at the revered compound when Israeli police provided cover for extremist Israeli settlers who illegally entered the compound during the final days of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Israeli police used pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse Palestinian worshippers who had gathered at the mosque during one of Islam’s most important holidays while allowing over a thousand Israeli Jews to enter the compound. Forty-five Palestinians were wounded and several were arrested.

Though such provocative visits by Jewish Israelis to Al-Aqsa have occurred with increasing frequency in recent years, this event was different because it up-ended a long-standing agreement between Jordan’s government, which manages the site, and Israel that no such visits take place during important Islamic holidays. As a consequence, Jordan accused Israel’s government of “flagrant violations” of that agreement by allowing visits from religious nationalists, which Jordan described as “provocative intrusions by extremists.”

Less than a week after the incident, Israel’s Culture and Sports Minister, Miri Regev, a member of the Netanyahu-led Likud Party, called for more settler extremists to storm the compound, stating: “We should do everything to keep ascending to the Temple Mount … And hopefully, soon we will pray in the Temple Mount, our sacred place.” In addition, Regev also thanked Israel’s Interior Security Minister, Gilad Erdan, and Jerusalem’s police chief for guarding the settler extremists who had entered the compound.

In 2013, then-member of the Likud Party Moshe Feiglin told the Knesset that allowing Jewish Israelis to enter the compound is “not about prayer.” “Arabs don’t mind that Jews pray to God. Why should they care? We all believe in God,” Feiglin — who now heads the Zehut, or Identity, Party — stated, adding, “The struggle is about sovereignty. That’s the true story here. The story is about one thing only: sovereignty.”

In other words, Likud and its ideological allies view granting Jewish Israelis entrance to “pray” at the site of the mosque as a strategy aimed at reducing Palestinian-Jordanian control over the site. Feiglin’s past comments give credibility to Rabbi Weiss’ claim, referenced earlier on in this report, that the religious underpinnings and religious appeals of the Temple Activists are secondary to the settler-colonial (i.e., Zionist) aspect of the movement, which seeks to remove Palestinian and Muslim heritage from the Temple Mount as part of the ongoing Zionist project.

Feiglin, earlier this year in April, called for the immediate construction of the Third Temple, telling a Tel Aviv conference, “I don’t want to build a [Third] Temple in one or two years, I want to build it now.” The Times of Israel, reporting on Feiglin’s comments, noted that the Israeli politician is “enjoying growing popularity.”

Earlier this month, and not long after Miri Regev’s controversial comments, an event attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Leon, used a banner that depicted the Jerusalem skyline with the Dome of the Rock noticeably absent. Though some may write off such creative photo editing as a fluke, it is but the latest in a series of similar incidents where official events or materials have edited out the iconic building and, in some cases, have replaced it with a reconstructed Jewish temple.

al-Aqsa third temple

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman poses with a picture of the ‘Third Temple,’ May 22, 2018. Israel Cohen | Kikar Hashabat

The day before that event, Israeli police had arrested three members of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound’s Reconstruction Committee, which is overseen by the government of Jordan. Those arrested included the committee’s head and its deputy head, and the three men were arrested while performing minor restoration work in an Al-Aqsa courtyard. The Jordan-run authority condemned the arrests, for which no official reason was given, and called the move by Israeli police “an intervention in their [the men’s] reconstruction work.” According to Palestinian news agency Safa, Israeli police have also prevented the entry of tools necessary for restoration work to the site and have restricted members of the authority from performing critical maintenance work.

In addition, another important figure at Al-Aqsa, Hanadi Al-Halawani, who teaches at the mosque school and has long watched over the site to prevent its occupation by Israeli forces, was arrested late last month.

Arrests of other key Al-Aqsa personnel have continued in recent days, such as the arrest of seven Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, including guards of the mosque, and their subsequent ban from entering the site. The Palestinians were arrested at their homes last Sunday night in early morning raids and the official reason for their arrest remains unclear. So many arrests in such a short period have raised concerns that, should the spate of arrests of important Al-Aqsa personnel continue, future incidents at the site, such as the mysterious firethat broke out last April at Al-Aqsa while France’s Notre Dame was also ablaze, may not be handled as effectively owing to staff shortages.

Soon after those arrests, 60 members of a settler extremist group entered the al-Aqsa compound under heavy guard from Israeli police. Safa news agency reported that these settlers have recently been accompanied by Israeli intelligence officials in their incursions at the site.

All of these recent provocations and arrests in connection with the mosque come soon after the King of Jordan, Abdullah II, publicly stated in late March that he had recently come under great pressure to relinquish Jordan’s custodianship of the mosque and the contested holy site upon which it is built. Abdullah II vowed to continue custodianship over Christian and Muslim sites in Jerusalem, including Al-Aqsa, and declined to say who was pressuring him over the site. However, his comments about this pressure to cede control over the mosque came just days after he had visited the U.S. and met with American Vice President Mike Pence, a Christian Zionist who believes that a Jewish Temple must replace Al-Aqsa to fulfill an end times prophecy.

In May, an Israeli government-linked research institute, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, wrote that Abdullah II had nearly been toppled in mid-April, just weeks after publicly discussing external pressure to relinquish control over Al-Aqsa. The report stated that Abdullah II had been a target of a “plot undermining his rule,” which led him to replace several senior members of his government. That report further claimed that the plot had been aimed at removing obstacles to the Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century,” which is supported by Israel’s government.

Last year, some Israeli politicians sought to push for a transfer of the site’s custodianship to Saudi Arabia, sparking concern that this could be connected to plans by some Third Temple activists to remove Al-Aqsa from Jerusalem and transfer it piece-by-piece to the Saudi city of Mecca. On Thursday, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs published an article asserting that “tectonic shifts” were taking place in relation to who controls Al-Aqsa, with a Saudi-funded political group making dramatic inroads that could soon alter which country controls the historic mosque compound.

Sayyed Hassan Al-Qazwini told MintPress that, in his view, the current custodianship involving Jordan’s government is not ideal, as control over the Al-Aqsa mosque “should in the hands of its people, [and] Al-Aqsa mosque belongs Palestine;” if not, at the very least, a committee of Muslim majority nations should be formed to govern the holy site because of its importance. As for Saudi Arabia potentially receiving control over the site, Al-Qazwini told MintPress that “the Saudis are not qualified as they are not even capable of running the holy sites in Saudi Arabia itself. Every year, there has been a tragedy and many pilgrims have died during hajj time [annual Islamic pilgrimage].”

 

Once fringe, now approaching consensus

The threat to Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock compound, the third holiest site in Islam and of key importance to three major world religions, is the result of the dramatic growth of what was once a fringe movement of extremists. After the Six Day War, these fringe elements have fought to become more mainstream within Israel and have sought to gain international support for their religious-colonialist vision, particularly in the United States. As this article has shown, the threats to Al-Aqsa have grown significantly in the past decades, spiking in just the past few weeks.

As former Jewish Underground member Yehuda Etzion had called for decades ago, an educational and social movement aimed at gaining influence with Israeli government leadership has been hugely successful in its goal of engineering consent for a Third Temple among many religious and secular Israelis. So successful has this movement been that numerous powerful and influential Israeli politicians, particularly since the 1990s, have not only openly promoted these beliefs, and the destruction of Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, but have also diverted significant amounts of government funding to organizations dedicated to replacing the historic mosque with a new temple.

As the second and final installment of this series will show, this movement has gained powerful allies, not just in Israel’s government, but among many evangelical Christians in the United States, including top figures in the Trump administration who also feel that the destruction of Al-Aqsa and the reconstruction of a Jewish Temple are prerequisites for the fulfillment of prophecy, albeit a different one. Furthermore, given the influence of such movements on the Israeli and U.S. governments, these beliefs of active Messianism are also informing key policies of these same governments and, in doing so, are pushing the world towards a dangerous war.

Feature photo | Israeli police stand next to the Dome of the Rock mosque at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, July 27, 2017. Mahmoud Illean | AP

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism

ترامب ونتن ياهو وصفقة «الإنجيليين» الصهاينة على أسوار غزة

مارس 30, 2019

محمد صادق الحسيني

رغم انكسارهما المريع على أرض الميدان وتساقط وريقات التوت التي سترت بعض عوراتهما السياسية الفاضحة لفترة من الزمن فإنّ ثنائي الجريمة والإرهاب المنظم في كلّ من واشنطن وتل أبيب يسعيان جاهدين لإنقاذ ما تبقى لهما من سمعة لدى جمهور الاحتلال الانجلو ساكسوني لكلّ من أرض اللاتين والعرب!

وفي هذا السياق، ليس من قبيل الصدفة أن يأتي تقرير المحقق الأميركي الخاص، ميللر، في موضوع حملة ترامب الانتخابية والتدخل الروسي المزعوم لدعمها، ليبرَّأ ترامب من تهمة التخابر مع روسيا لمصلحة حملته الانتخابية، بالتزامن مع صدور قرار ترامب نفسه، المتهم السابق بالتآمر، بالاعتراف بـ «السيادة الإسرائيلية» على الجولان السوري المحتلّ…!

لقد كانت صفقة كبرى، بين ترامب والإنجيليين المتصهينين في الولايات المتحدة، وعددهم بالملايين، ترتكز الى أمرين أساسيين هما:

أولاً: أن يقوم ترامب بتقديم كلّ الدعم الممكن لضمان نجاح نتن ياهو في الانتخابات الإسرائيلية المقبلة، يوم 9/4/2019، وذلك لتفادي محاكمته وإيداعه السجن بعد إدانته بالتهم الموجهة إليه من قبل القضاء الإسرائيلي، وعلى رأسها تهمة الخيانة العظمى، المتعلقة بارتشائه مقابل الموافقة «الإسرائيلية» على بيع شركة كروب تيسِن الألمانية خمس غواصات، من طراز دولفين، لمصر والتي تصنّعها هذه الشركة الألمانية.

ثانياً: أن يقوم ترامب بتنفيذ السياسات التي يرسمها ممثلو «الإنجيليون الأميركيون « في الإدارة الأميركية المحافظون الجدد مقابل العمل على إنجاحه في الانتخابات الأميركية المقبلة سنة 2020.

وبكلمات أخرى فقد تمّ الاتفاق بين الطرفين على إنقاذ نتن ياهو اللاعب الصغير، ودونالد ترامب اللاعب الأكبر، من السجن، كلّ بسبب التهم الموجهة إليه، وذلك عبر الاتفاق بين القوى المشار اليها أعلاه، مضافاً إليها الدولة العميقة في الولايات المتحدة، على قيام الرئيس الأميركي بتنفيذ سلسلة خطوات تحافظ على مصالح رأس المال الدولي النفط والسلاح والامتثال أكثر فأكثر لما تقرره دوائر رأس المال هذه.

اذن بالإمكان القول إنّ ترامب قد أنقذ نفسه حتى اللحظة، ولكن إنقاذ حارس القاعدة العسكرية الأميركية على أرض فلسطين، بنيامين نتن ياهو، غير مضمون حتى الآن، على الرغم من كلّ الاستعراضات البهلوانية الحمقاء التي يرتكبها، سواء من خلال عمليات القصف الجوي والمدفعي على قطاع غزة، او من خلال محاولات الإغارة الفاشلة على أهداف عسكرية في سورية، كما حدث في الساعات الماضية شمال شرق حلب وقبلها في محيط دمشق، الى جانب ما يعلنه نتن ياهو وآلته الإعلامية الاستخبارية عن فتوحاته في مشيخات النفط الأعرابية، والتي يحاول من خلالها كلّ هذه المسرحيات مجتمعة وضع الناخب الإسرائيلي أمام خيارين لا ثالث لهما:

الأول: هو انتخاب نتن ياهو الذي سيضمن أمن «إسرائيل»، واستمرار «الإسرائيليين» في الحياة في «دولتهم».

الثاني: هو عدم انتخاب نتن ياهو ومواجهة الموت على يد المقاومة الفلسطينية وحزب الله وإيران وتدمير «دولة إسرائيل»…!

أما سبب إصرار نتن ياهو ومَن يقف وراءه على النجاح في الانتخابات فهو محاولة حماية رئيس العصابة الحالي من دخول السجن، خاصة أنّ القضاء «الإسرائيلي» سيصدر يوم 9/4/2019 مذكرة يمنع بموجبها نتن ياهو من مغادرة البلاد حتى الإعلان الرسمي، من قبل المحكمة المختصة، عن نتيجة الانتخابات الإسرائيلية. فإذا لم ينجح نتن ياهو في هذه الانتخابات فسيتمّ توقيفه وإخضاعه للمحاكمة على الفور. أما إذا نجح في الانتخابات وفاز بفرصة تشكيل الحكومة فسيكون وقتها لكلّ حادث حديث.

فصراع الجنرالات في تل أبيب على بقايا سلطة الجريمة لن يتوقف حتى نهاية الكيان الغاصب والتي باتت أقرب من أي وقت مضى..!

إنهم يرونه بعيداً ونراه قريباً.

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله.

Ilhan Omar Is Just Another Victim of Zion’s Politically Lethal Sting

Ilhan Omar Is Just Another Victim of Zion’s Politically Lethal Sting

WAYNE MADSEN | 13.03.2019 | WORLD / AMERICAS

Ilhan Omar Is Just Another Victim of Zion’s Politically Lethal Sting

Freshman US Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota and a Somali-American Muslim, is not the first nor will she be the last victim of Zion’s sting. Omar is merely the latest in a long line of US politicians who have faced the onslaught of Israel’s powerful lobbying vise grip in Washington. In fact, long before there was a state of Israel, American presidents and statesmen fell victim to the power of political Zionism to retaliate against those who failed to back the concept of a Jewish homeland in the Middle East.

On March 5, 1891, President Benjamin Harrison received a visitor to the White House bearing a petition signed by 421 influential American citizens urging the president to recognize Palestine as the “restored” homeland of the Jewish people. The bearer of the petition, evangelical Christian clergyman William E. Blackstone was one of the earliest “Christian Zionists” in proclaiming solidarity with certain Jewish Zionists in support of a Jewish state in the Holy Land. Blackstone was no different than many of today’s Zionists who ensure total fealty of US administrations to Israeli policy, no matter how reprehensible it may be, especially toward the Palestinian people. Blackstone’s petition had been signed by John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, US Supreme Court Chief Justice Melville Fuller, Speaker of the US House of Representatives Thomas Reed, inventor Cyrus McCormick, co-owner and managing editor of The Chicago Tribune Joseph Medill, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Robert Hitt, and US Representative and future president William McKinley.

Blackstone, then the chairman of the Conference of Christians and Jews, wrote in his petition that the Ottoman Empire, which had control over Palestine, could be enticed into handing the territory over to Jewish control through the “funding of a portion of the [Ottoman] National debt by rich Jewish bankers.” Such a clause, today, would result in the same howls of “anti-Semitism” that are being directed at Omar because of her statement that pro-Israel lobbying groups, like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), ensure congressional support for Israel by showering members of Congress and candidates with “benjamins,” a reference to US$100 bills.

Harrison, who was president from 1889 to 1893, was polite to Blackstone and promised to give his petition “careful attention.” Harrison, who had his hands full with civil service reform, the tariff debate, the gold versus silver standard for US currency, voting rights for African-Americans in the South, a US-backed coup in Hawaii, and the death of his wife from tuberculosis, slid the Blackstone petition into a “dead file.” Harrison did name a special commission to Russia to investigate anti-Jewish pogroms taking place in the country, urging Congress to condemn the actions of the czar.

Harrison’s inaction on Palestine contributed to his defeat in the 1892 election by his predecessor, Democrat Grover Cleveland. Cleveland was viewed as a safer bet for Zionism because of his denouncement of Austria-Hungary during his first term. The Habsburg emperor refused to accept the credentials of the US Minister-designate to Vienna, John Kieley, because Kieley’s wife was Jewish.

Omar’s stance was defended by her colleagues, newly-elected Palestinian-American Muslim Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Democratic presidential candidates Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Bernie Sanders of Vermont also issued statements in defense of Omar.

In 2009, AIPAC went to battle stations over a House letter, signed by 54 members, urging President Obama to pressure Israel to lift the inhumane blockade of Gaza. The signatories immediately were called the “anti-Semitic Hamas 54” by AIPAC and their propaganda ciphers at Fox “News” and hate talk radio. In fact, the signatories included two Jewish Democratic members, Bob Filner and John Yarmuth.

Over the years, AIPAC has sought to bring down several politicians who, to varying degrees, criticized Israel. AIPAC, a right-wing organization, put out the word that while the signatures of “pro-Hamas” members like Keith Ellison of Minnesota, America’s first Muslim congressman; Jim McDermott of Washington state (retired); incumbent Barbara Lee of California, and Jim Moran of Virginia(retired after being stripped of House seniority committee assignments) were no surprise, others had to be punished for their criticism of Israel over Gaza. AIPAC smeared “pro-Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)” members like Representatives Carolyn Kilpatrick of Michigan (defeated); Nick Rahall of West Virginia (defeated); Eric Massa of New York (resigned amid a targeted and manufactured scandal concocted with the connivance of AIPAC loyalist Representative Barney Frank; Pete Stark of California (defeated); and Diane Watson of California (retired) and “pro-Islamic sharia” members like William Delahunt of Massachusetts (retired) and John Dingell of Michigan (retired).

America’s political road is littered with those who dared challenge political Zionism’s influence over the American political scene: Democrats and Republicans like Secretary of State and US ambassador to the United Nations Edward Stettinius Jr. (resigned as ambassador over President Harry Truman’s pro-Zionist policies); Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan (failed to secure Republican presidential nomination in 1940 and 1948); New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey (defeated in the 1948 presidential election), Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas (defeated), Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton (lost the 1964 GOP presidential nomination), Illinois Senator Charles Percy (defeated), Iowa Senator Roger Jepsen (defeated), Illinois Senator Adlai Stevenson III (retired), Stevenson’s father, Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson II and twice Democratic presidential candidate, who, in 1955, said of Israeli designs on its neighbors’ lands, “I quietly asserted that it should be the policy of this government not to permit any change in the status quo by force – and the more noisy Zionists have been denouncing me as a traitor ever since, and, frankly, I’m getting damned well fed up with it… Moreover, I’m about the only leading Democrat left with whom Arabs will still talk in confidence.” (defeated twice for the US presidency by Dwight D. Eisenhower, who the Zionists also criticized for failing to back Israel in its 1956 invasion of Sinai and the Suez Canal); President John F. Kennedy, who criticized Israel’s pursuit of nuclear weapons in heated exchanges with Prime Ministers David Ben-Gurion and Levi Eshkol (assassinated in 1963); Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, who, in 1986, in answer to a question that asked, “Is the Israel Lobby too powerful?” replied, “God, yes, way too powerful!” (defeated for president in 1964, retired from the Senate); Alaska Senator Mike Gravel (defeated in Senate primary); Illinois Representative Paul Findlay, who wrote an excellent book on AIPAC’s influence over American politics, “They Dare to Speak Out,” (defeated), South Dakota Senator James Abdnor (defeated), South Dakota Senator James Abourezk (retired), President Jimmy Carter (defeated), California Representative Pete McCloskey (defeated in Senate primary), Ohio Representative James Traficant (indicted and expelled from the House), Alabama Representative Earl Hilliard (defeated), Texas Representative Ron Paul (retired); Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska (retired from the Senate but faced a contentious Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of Defense based on his comments about the power of the Israel Lobby, and Georgia Representative Cynthia McKinney (defeated).

Those who opposed the Israel Lobby and placed America’s interests ahead of Israel’s were punished politically. However, all of those who stood up to Israel’s arrogance of power in Washington represented a cross section of the American people: Democrats and Republicans, libertarians and democratic socialists, whites and African-Americans, Gentiles and Jews, and those from the Northeast, South, Midwest, and West. Saying no to bullies is an American trait that should be revered and not condemned by those who now find it sporting to take cheap political pot shots at Congresswomen Omar, Tlaib, and Ocasio-Cortez.

Breaking Brussels

By Darko Lazar

During a July 2017 meeting with leaders from the Visegrad nations, also known as the V-4 group, “Israel’s” prime minister sent a stern warning to Brussels.

“I think Europe has to decide if it wants to live and thrive or if it wants to shrivel and disappear,” Benjamin Netanyahu said at a closed-door gathering in Budapest.

Moments earlier, he had supposedly forgotten to turn off his microphone and the conversation was picked up by journalists who had conveniently just been handed earphones.

“The EU is the only international organization that predicates its relations with ‘Israel’ – which provides it with technology – on political considerations,” Netanyahu could be heard saying.

He then instructed his V-4 partners – Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia – to pass on a message to their European colleagues that when they undermine “Israel”, they undermine their own security.

Since then, Netanyahu has made sure that his words are not dismissed merely as empty threats but have a chilling effect on policy makers in Brussels.

In February of this year, he succeeded in bringing together three of the V-4 group leaders in the occupied city of al-Quds (Jerusalem), which the Trump White House unilaterally declared as the capital of “Israel” in December 2017.

Following bilateral talks with Netanyahu, Hungary’s Viktor Orban announced the opening of a trade office with “diplomatic status” in al-Quds, while Slovakia’s Peter Pellegrini followed suit with a similar move.

Although both stopped short of relocating their embassies from Tel Aviv, the maneuver contradicts the established position of the European Union on the issue of occupied Palestine.

At the end of 2017, Europe’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini greeted Netanyahu in Brussels with a message of “full EU unity” on al-Quds becoming the capital of both a future Palestinian state and “Israel”.

However, Netanyahu’s expanding alliance with the V-4 group, the Baltic states, Greece, Cyprus and even candidate EU states in the Balkans, has successfully eroded any consensus in Brussels on Palestine, as well as the Iran-led Resistance axis.

Observers agree that a united foreign policy stance on all matters pertaining to “Israel”, which requires the consensus of all 28 EU nations, is no longer possible.

The revival of European nationalism

Netanyahu’s efforts to “disappear” a disobedient EU are centered on exploiting deepening rifts on the European continent over the waves of migration and the expansion of global terrorism.

Far-right governments like that of Orban blame the policies and ‘values’ of liberal elites in both Brussels and Washington for the decline of Western civilization. With Netanyahu’s help, they have placed themselves squarely in the pro-Trump camp, which is working on a facelift for the Western political establishment.

One of the chief architects of this plan is the self-professed “Christian Zionist” and Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon.

Since leaving the Trump administration, Bannon has taken his populist mission across the world, and now has the 2019 EU parliamentary elections in his crosshairs.

He has spent months circling European cities with speeches about the revival of nationalism. And although running a European political campaign has proven far more challenging than managing one in the US, Bannon still believes that the rightist bloc and Eurosceptic parties will triumph come May.

Speaking to the UK’s Guardian newspaper last year, Bannon described Brussels as the “beating heart of the globalist project.”

“If I drive the stake through the vampire, the whole thing will start to dissipate,” he added.

But a speech delivered by Bannon at the Zionist Organization of America one year earlier suggests that Brussels is not the only vampire he hopes to eliminate with his populist silver bullet.

“There are so many games being played by the establishment,” Bannon told the gathering of Zionists in November 2017.  “You get double-dealt all the time.”

“That’s how you get the Iran Deal,” he added. “We have a long, dark valley to go through, folks. Iran, Turkey, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood. The Middle East right now is on a knife’s edge. It’s going to take strong leadership.”

Meanwhile, recently leaked e-mails revealed that Bannon also had a hand in aiding the proponents of the UK’s exit from the EU.

And although the British government has publicly sided with Brussels over its continued adherence to the Iran nuclear deal, London’s decision to designate Hezbollah’s political wing as a “terrorist organization” in February demonstrates that this charade can easily be overturned.

Just days before plans for Hezbollah’s “terror designation” were unveiled, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, which recently struck a £9 million deal to advise the Saudi monarchy, hosted an event in the British parliament.

The participants were all Zionist politicians and lobbyists who pushed for the blacklisting of the Lebanese resistance movement.

Interestingly, the former British premier, Tony Blair, appears to be growing more sympathetic to Bannon’s views, declaring last September that there was a need to “build bridges” with the far-right strategist.

A common enemy

It is important to remember that this very diverse array of political currents, from Washington to London, and from Budapest to Tel Aviv, are not being unified by their shared hostility toward Iran and its allies.

Aside from Brussels’ “beating heart”, their common enemy is the pillar of the leftist establishment – Jewish-American billionaire George Soros, who is accused of utilizing his vast fortune to interfere in the internal affairs of countless states.

Hungary’s Orban even passed legislative and constitutional amendments bearing the name “Stop Soros,” which forced the billionaire to relocate his European headquarters from Budapest to Berlin.

For his part, Donald Trump has accused “Soros and others” of bankrolling protests in the US, while Netanyahu regularly attacks him in his fight against left-wing NGOs.

Whatever the truth is about Soros’ influence, his opponents are up to their necks in legal battles, which, in the case of Netanyahu and Trump, is threatening to oust them from office sooner than they would like.

Netanyahu is up for reelection in April, when he will face off against “Israel’s” newfound liberal darling, Kahol Lavan – a party that sprung out of the blue in recent months, led by three former “Israeli” generals.

If he is triumphant both at home and abroad, Europe’s foreign policy agenda is certain to become more geared toward Netanyahu’s vision of tomorrow and naturally more hostile towards Tehran.

At the same time, the incumbent’s now very open and public political struggles against liberals at home, in Europe and the US have clearly gained him some friends in the Kremlin.

Netanyahu is a frequent guest of President Vladimir Putin, who grants him an audience regardless of how many Russian servicemen the “Israelis” kill in Syria.

For Putin, this relationship underscores the opportunities on offer by the political polarization in the West, and the hope that a divided kingdom cannot stand for long.

But with Netanyahu and Trump’s political futures looking increasingly shaky, the question remains who would pick up the pieces and take the reins with such zeal. Would their dethronement stall Steve Bannon’s global populist project or serve as a rallying call to its advocates?

With the “Israeli” elections just around the corner, the first piece of that puzzle will soon get its answer – and there’s a lot riding on it.

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