Christian Zionism Isn't New

News Abroad

Mr. Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum. His website address is

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Middle Easterners were widely puzzled in early 1994 when some leading American politicians, including Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) and Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), forwarded more assertive, tougher positions vis-à-vis the Palestinians than did the government of Israel. They were, for example, more reluctant than Jerusalem to let U.S. funds go to the PLO and they displayed more eagerness to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

One Arabic newspaper, Ash-Sharq al-Awsat, captured the general bafflement when it observed that Likud, Israel's more nationalist party, had "lost in Israel but it still rules supreme in Washington."

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The same pattern is again visible these days, as Christian leaders such as Gary Bauer, Jerry Falwell and Richard Land more vocally oppose the "road map" for Palestinian-Israeli diplomacy than nearly all their Jewish counterparts. But this bold Christian solidarity with Israel should not be surprising, as it manifests a Christian form of Zionism that is nearly two centuries old.

Christian support for the creation of a Jewish state originated in England, becoming a significant movement in the Victorian period. In 1840, the British foreign secretary, Lord Palmerston, "strongly" recommended that the Ottoman government then ruling Palestine "hold out every just encouragement to the Jews of Europe to return to Palestine." Lord Shaftesbury in 1853 coined the phrase "A land without a people for a people without a land."

George Eliot put these ideas in novel form with Daniel Deronda in 1876. In 1891, Sir George Adam Smith wrote in his authoritative Historical Geography of the Holy Land that the Ottomans had to be pushed out of Palestine and replaced by the Jews, "who have given to Palestine everything it has ever had of value to the world."

That same year, 1891, saw perhaps the greatest early Christian support in the United States for a Jewish state - the "Blackstone Memorial," a petition that carried the signatures of 413 prominentAmericans, including the chief justice of the Supreme Court, the speaker of the House, the greatest industrialists of the age (Rockefeller, Morgan, McCormick), famous clergymen, writers and journalists.

Addressed to the president of the United States, Benjamin Harrison, and the secretary of state, James G. Blaine, the memorial asked them to "use their good offices and 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." According to one historian, Paul Charles Merkley, the Blackstone Memorial had the effect of "firmly planting in many minds" the "notion of American sponsorship of a Jewish return to Palestine."

The Balfour Declaration of November 1917, whereby the British government announced that it favored "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people," was perhaps the single most important act premised in Christian Zionism. Harry S. Truman's recognition of Israel, against the nearly total opposition of his administration, was probably second. His biographer, Michael T. Benson, finds that Truman's pro-Israel outlook "was based primarily on humanitarian, moral, and sentimental grounds, many of which were an outgrowth of the president's religious upbringing and his familiarity with the Bible." (Truman's just-discovered diary, with its petulant remarks about Jews, makes his Zionist stance the more noteworthy.)

The media has recently focused on Christian Zionism as though it were something new ("How Israel Became a Favorite Cause of the Conservative Christian Right" runs a typical title, this one a front-page article in The Wall Street Journal). The real story is how Christian Zionists are increasingly the bedrock of Israel's support in the United States, more solidly pro-Israel and more robustly Zionist than many in the Jewish community.

To those who wonder why Washington follows policies so different from the European states, a large part of the answer these days has to do with the clout of Christian Zionists, who are especially powerful when a conservative Republican like George W. Bush is president. (In contrast, Christian Zionism has nearly died out in Great Britain.)

One anti-Israel writer, Grace Halsell, recognizes this fact and deems Christian Zionists a "more dangerous" influence in Washington than are the Jewish Zionists. Put positively: other than the Israel Defense Forces, America's Christian Zionists may be the Jewish state's ultimate strategic asset.

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Jonathan Dresner - 8/4/2003

Without seeing R. Piper's original post it is hard to say for sure, but the posts which I have seen disappear have been well beyond the pale of reasonable, even heated, discussion. Frankly, I'm thrilled that the editor is taking steps to moderate the discussions.

HNN did not "refuse" to post Raimondo's rejoinder, but chose to post them as a comment rather than as an article. Raimondo's ability to create conspiracies out of wisps and threads is pretty impressive, though, as a quick perusal of his other writings demonstrated to me.

Frankly, aside from outright slander/libel, there is very little that can't get said here, and I'd be happy to see R. Piper attempt to rephrase and repost. If it's substantive, I'm quite confident that it will be permitted.

William S. - 8/3/2003

I sure hope you're wrong but the deletion of your post coupled with what certainly seems like a pro-Israeli/anti-Arab bias is indeed troubling. That along with HNN's refusal to post a meaty reply by Justin Raimondo to a recent piece reeks of neocon intolerance. America's love affair with Israel is at the very least partly responsible for 9/11 and will continue to lead us down a dangerous and bloody road unless our "leaders" wake up and again put America first.

R. Piper - 8/3/2003

As this is the second time HNN has deleted my posts it is now fair to conclude that HNN is a sophomoric project:
-- Unable to handle any criticism, and
-- Deluded that the apparent bias and incessant pro-Israeli propaganda within this site will fool someone.

But keep up the amusement; it's hilarious to watch HNN dogs barking while caravans of history are passing.


Gus Moner - 8/2/2003

missing from the post was 'the comment above' which I failed to include. Sorry. Here it is:
To those who wonder why Washington follows policies so different from the European states, a large part of the answer these days has to do with the clout of Christian Zionists, who are especially powerful when a conservative Republican like George W. Bush is president. (In contrast, Christian Zionism has nearly died out in Great Britain.)"

Gus Moner - 7/30/2003

Mr Pipes has written a generally correct chronology of events, albeit with numerous omissions. Notwithstanding, his comment above falls short of the mark altogether. A large part of the reason has been the Israeli state’s behaviour. European nations were ardent supporters of the Zionist state, with England and France even planning Israel’s first war of aggression together, in 1956.

The fallout in this relationship came after Israel became aggressive, expansionist and in general behaved more like a racist, totalitarian theocratic state than a democracy. This comment in no way means to diminish the author’s contention, but merely tries to give a more complete picture.

Gus Moner - 7/27/2003

Yes, civility and clarity help; no, they are essential to serene analysis. Mr Pipes may be plugging for Israel. Fine. It's his right to do so. His chronology is generally accurate albeit lacking important details. That the return to Palestine is an ancient concept is really quite irrelevant, thus making the article quite superficial and insignificant in content. We’d all do better to concentrate on the issues and skip the personal attacks.

The argument that the post WWI British seizure of Palestine for the Zionist resettlement of their promised land and the Franco-British partition of Ottoman Arab lands is the root of a century of Middle East bloodshed is indisputable. Most people in the US believe the Arab-Israeli conflict began in 1948 and have no sense of the history or responsibility played by the capitalist democracies. The imperialist arrogance of these powers ensured a geography that made cohabitation in their invented stats impossible. It ensured the area would not be peaceful, as indeed has been the case since 1919.

Ever since the post imperialist era began, it has been through political manoeuvring and economic manipulation, bribery, chicanery and whatever means could be found, invasion included, that the developed nations sought to retain control of this oil rich Muslim populated crossroads between Africa, Europe and Asia. The Zionists and or the western capitalist ‘democracies’ (who supposedly never invade or start wars) have invaded Arab lands in 1956, 1967, 1981, 1991 and now in 2003.

The USA dove into this mess after WWII. Seeking control of the vital oil resources now required to keep military supremacy, this trio of nations have interfered in every which way possible to retain control.

It is disingenuous for Mr. Pipes to assert the Christian right is more fervent in its support of Israel than Israelis. The Christian right is a mere appendage to the intricate iron web knit by a myriad of pro-Israeli organisations and the incalculable amounts of money-and consequently power- they wield.

Through these organisations they take advantage of a Christian fundamentalist government in Washington DC to place their people in key positions. From there arises the macabre theories of global reach and domination, the ‘American Century, perennial predominance, pre-emptive warfare and invasion of nations and the suppression of individual rights in the USA. I’ll name a few of these players off the top of my head: Gingrich, Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith, Abrahanson, the recently departed Fleischer and many more. Two of the organisations that come to mind are the AEI and the AIPAC.

What is most frightening at home is that the domestic element of this policy is now laying the legal foundations for a totalitarian state through the Patriot Act, where a la the Stasi NKVS and Nazis, people are controlled through now legal covert searches of citizens, secret denunciations, wiretaps, electronic surveillance Internet monitoring and other means without the public having he slightest recourse or knowledge. An instructive report on this is the BBC’s documentary “Taking Liberties”.

Secretive and obscure unelected organs such as the DPS at the Pentagon make foreign policy pronouncements that make it seem they run the foreign policy of the nation, for eventually their policies are always followed by the State Department.

No, there is not a massive Christian Zionist movement, although plenty of support for Israel exists Neither is it their will to rid the US of Jews nor to fulfil a Messianic dream. They are simply convenient and profitable political and economic alliances that are drawn up by like-minded people.

To their credit, the Israelis have managed, with the help of these and many others before the aforementioned lot, to align the interests of Israel with those of the USA, so that now, the US is doing Israel’s dream foreign policy: taking out its enemies with US military might and the blood of its soldiers.

Josh Greenland - 7/27/2003

Here's a wonderful little article about a recent Daniel Pipes speech. I saw quite surprised to see that he is now calling for a quick withdrawal from Iraq! I was also surprised to see him go as far as making an analogy between Moslems and Nazis. Unless Pipes' remarks were misquoted or taken out of context, I'd have to say that Bill Shannon is right that Pipes is a hater:


Untitled Document Retraction: Middle East Analyst Misquoted in Article By Scott Hogenson Executive Editor July 29, 2003

( - In an article published July 25, 2003, inadvertently misquoted some remarks by Middle East Forum Director Daniel Pipes during a July 24 address to the Young America's Foundation National Conservative Student Conference in Washington, D.C.

The article erroneously stated that Pipes doesn't perceive the Islamic people as divided into two groups - radical terrorists and those who are not. In fact, Pipes used the term "supporters of militant Islam," not Islamic people.

"My view is 'no, there is no good and bad in militant Islam,' no more than there are good and bad Nazis," Pipes said, according to an audiotape of his remarks.

Pipes also criticized militant Islamists for misrepresenting the "personal faith of a billion people" and has differentiated between militant Islam and moderate Islam, saying militant Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution.

Similarly, Pipes did not use the term militaristic Islam, but rather, "militant Islam."

Pipes did not say U.S. aid to the Afghans is unnecessary, but stated: "We have no moral responsibility to the Afghans or the Iraqis. None. Zero." In reference to U.S. aid to Afghanistan and Iraq, Pipes stated: "I'm not against it in principle... (but) we should do it in the prism of our own interests, not the Iraqis' or Afghans'."

The full quote of Pipes' remark was obscured as a result of the quality of the audio recording of his speech.

Regarding differing outlooks among Muslims and non-Muslim people, Pipes stated: "What you have is a Muslim world that is reluctant to go with, what one might call, the Christian way," noting that this was the viewpoint of some, but not himself.

On the issue of Palestinian refugees, Pipes did not say that Israel should integrate the Palestinians and allow them citizenship. Speaking in reference to the governments of Syria and Lebanon, and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency's funding of various refugee programs, Pipes said, " We should be saying to these states 'Okay... here's your last batch of money... let them become citizens, let them own land, let them go to public schools... let them get passports."

At no time during his remarks July 25 did Pipes use the expression 'Palestine' as a direct reference to an existing country, contrary to several erroneous quotes in the original article.

Bill Shannon - 7/27/2003

Mr. Dresner,

I am sorry that you were "deeply troubled" by my post. I am also surprised. The tenor of my post is really no different than the average Pipes screed, though the "target" is different. I fear that there is growing acceptance of a special set of rules for one group (the group Pipes fawns over) in this country and possibly now an almost anarchic lack of rules when it comes to demeaning or attacking another (the one Pipes targets with an almost sexual relish). Both trends are troubling, though if push came to shove I'd probably defend the latter as the free expression of ideas is paramount in my mind.

You dance around Pipes' clear anti-Arab bias and that makes me highly suspicious of your motives. If you aren't willing to call a spade, a spade...what's the point? Calling it "Western Supremecy" is a very convoluted dance number! Pipes is clearly anti-Arab and also pro-Israel to the nth. At some point one MUST declare loyalties, the interests of 2 nations are never going to run parallel forever and I have a strong suspicion that Pipes is one of the fanatics who would indeed part ways with the land of his birth.

As for my post calling for may well have read that into my words and a re-read did tell me that I wasn't clear.
I would never want to deny Pipes his 1st Amendment liberties - though he would deny those same rights to people with whom he disagrees - but I DO think that his appearances ought to be balanced by someone equally fanatical on the other side. Throwing him on the air unopposed is dangerous and putting some milquetoast against him is worse. Fighting fire with fire seems appropriate in his case.

Finally, I don't think my post was at all "abusive" and as one who reads Pipes and other anti-Arab bigots I AM familiar with abusive and mean-spirited writing.

Jonathan Dresner - 7/25/2003

Mr. Shannon,

I am deeply troubled by your post. It is abusive, threatens censorship, and suggests that one cannot be pro-Israel and honestly hold US citizenship at the same time.

While you may be correct in your judgement of Pipes as "anti-Arab" I think it would be more correct to say that he is a Western supremicist (I know, I'm making up terms, but we can talk about what it means later). And you are also not wrong that derogatory ideas and images about both Arabs and Muslims are very powerful and widely accepted in the United States.

You are incorrect to suggest that he is unopposed: though he is published, it is in a newspaper known for a strong conservative bias in a city in which anti-Muslim ideas have strong currency. His commentaries, when they are posted on HNN draw significant fire, and few defenders. His nomination by the Bush administration to a post on some sort of ecumenical peace council (sorry I don't have the details handy) was widely criticized and was, I believe, withdrawn.

I am one of his critics, but I do hope that you can join the criticism with a more substantial and less threatening tone.

Bill Shannon - 7/24/2003

Christian Zionism is generally an artifact of pre-tribulational dispensationalism. The Christian fundamentalists essentially needing to set the state of Israel up for a massive national sacrifice in order that they may have everlasting life.

Gary North wrote a fabulous piece on the subject entitled
"The Foreign Policy of 20 Million Would-Be Immortals" which can be located here - for anyone who wants to see how the game is played and how both sides use the other for their own aims.

Jonathan Dresner - 7/22/2003

Mr. Greenland,

I've never seen any evidence that Christian Zionism was based on the desire to eliminate Jews from Christian countries. That doesn't mean that the desire isn't there, but you're going to have to look for proof.

Josh Greenland - 7/22/2003

"I'm going to have to ask for clarification: are you suggesting there's another anti-semitic element in Christian Zionism or are you challenging my comments based on the lack of relocation plans?"

I'm not suggesting, but am asking if there is another anti-semitic element in "Christian Zionism," an impulse to conveniently rid the "Christian Zionist's" country of Jews by getting them to immigrate to Palestine.

Josh Greenland - 7/22/2003

"I'm going to have to ask for clarification: are you suggesting there's another anti-semitic element in Christian Zionism or are you challenging my comments based on the lack of relocation plans?"

I'm asking if anti-semitism was a motive for some "Christian Zionists."

Jonathan Dresner - 7/22/2003

Josh Greenland writes: "But to what degree were the efforts of those Pipes calls Christian Zionists motivated by a wish to get Jews to leave their own European or American countries?"

I'm going to have to ask for clarification: are you suggesting there's another anti-semitic element in Christian Zionism or are you challenging my comments based on the lack of relocation plans?

Josh Greenland - 7/22/2003

But to what degree were the efforts of those Pipes calls Christian Zionists motivated by a wish to get Jews to leave their own European or American countries?

Jonathan Dresner - 7/21/2003

Pipes is largely correct about Western (though I think he stretches Christian when he includes Truman; not a man noted for drawing on religion for political decisions) support for Zionism over the last two centuries. He's missed the point entirely, though. Christian Zionism is not supportive of Jewish Zionism: it has two other agendas. Yes, I know that political alliances are often alliances of convenience, but there are times when that convenience is decidedly one-sided.

The basis of Christian Zionism is the Christian apocalpytic vision of the elimination of Jews as a religion and a people. The Jewish "gathering" in Zion (a.k.a. Israel) is a precursor to their mass conversion (or elimination) to Christianity. "Supportive" Christian groups are also sending missionaries to Israel, not to support the Jewish state but to convert it.

There is a domestic political agenda as well: Israel is a democratic theocracy, with strict Orthodox control over many aspects of life. This model is highly attractive to those who wish to impose Christian morality and ritual on public life.

To write the history of "Christian Zionism" and ignore its foundations is shallow and silly. Yes, he claims that he is just trying to demonstrate the chronological depth of the phenomenon, but what he is really trying to do is legitimate it with the aura of tradition and long-standing support.