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Creating a false Armageddon?


By Allan C. Brownfeld

The ties between Christian fundamentalism in the United States and Jewish fundamentalism in Israel are growing rapidly, with potentially serious consequences for U.S.-Middle East policy and for the people of that troubled region.

In 1978, Jerry Falwell traveled to Israel on a trip sponsored and paid for by the Israeli government. In 1979, the Israelis extended another free trip, during a period when Prime Minister Menachem Begin was in a rush to build Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank. The Rev. Falwell traveled the road toward the Palestinian town of Nablus and turned off the highway and stood at a cluster of prefabricated houses built by Jewish settlers. At that time, Falwell declared that God was kind to America only because "America has been kind to the Jews."

At a gala dinner in New York in 1980, Prime Minister Begin bestowed upon Falwell a medal named for Vladimir Jobotinsky, the right-wing Zionist leader. In 1981, when Israel bombed the nuclear reactor in Iraq, Begin immediately called Jerry Falwell for support.

Few Americans understood the real reasons for the alliance between Christian fundamentalism and the most extreme segments of Israel political life. In an important new book, "Prophecy and Politics" by Grace Halsell (Lawrence Hill and Co.).  She worked as a White House speechwriter during the administration of Lyndon Johnson and explores this growing relationship.

During two of Jerry Falwell’s Holy Land tours, the author interviewed fundamentalist members of the Moral Majority, all of whom believed that the biblical prophecy of fighting World War III must be fulfilled preparatory of the Second Coming of Christ.

The strain of fundamentalism known as "dispensationalism," Halsell writes, argues that the world will soon be destroyed: "God knows it will happen. He knew it from the beginning. But, God kept His plan secret from all the billions of people who lived before us. But now … He has revealed the plan … we must move through seven time periods, or dispensations – one of which includes the terrible battle of Armageddon, where new and totally destructive nuclear weapons will be unleashed and blood will flow like mighty rivers … ."

Dispensationalism spread throughout the U.S. largely through the efforts of Cyrus Ingerson Scofield, born in 1843. His belief system was not original with him but goes back to John Nelson Darby, a 19th-century Irishman and one-time priest in the Church of England.

On one occasion, Scofield reminded his audience that year after year he had sounded the same warning: our world will end "in disaster, in ruin, in the great, final world-catastrophe." But, he said, born-again Christians should welcome such a catastrophe because once the final battle began, Christ will lift them up into the clouds.

Grace Halsell became a participant in two Jerry Falwell-sponsored journeys to Israel where she mingled with many dispensationalists. One of them, Owen, explained his belief system, which entailed the need to destroy Jerusalem’s most hold Islamic shrine, and the necessity of waging a nuclear Armegeddon to destroy the world.

Christian fundamentalists who donate generously to Jewish terrorism include oil and gas tycoon Terry Reisenhoover, a frequent White House visitor, Mission to America Chairman Dr. Hilton Sutton and Dr. James DeLoach, pastor of Houston’s Second Baptist Church who visited me … and boasted that he and others had formed a Jerusalem Temple Foundation specifically to aid those intent on destroying the mosque and building a temple.

Dr. John Walvoord, who teaches at Southwestern School of Bible in Dallas, explained the dispensationalist beliefs to Halsell: "God does not look on all of His children the same way. He sees us divided into categories, the Jews and the Gentiles. God has one plan, an earthly plan, for the Jews. And He has a second plan, a heavenly plan, for the born-again Christians. The other peoples of the world – Muslims, Buddhists, and those of other faiths as well as those Christians not born again – do not concern Him. As for destroying planet earth, we can do nothing. Peace, for us, is not in God’s book … ."

At a meeting of Christian Zionists in Basel, Switzerland, the group adopted resolutions calling for all Jews living outside of Israel to leave the countries where they are now residing and move to the Jewish State. The Christians also urged Israel to annex the West Bank. When an Israeli in the audience urged more moderate language, pointing out that an Israeli poll showed that one-third of Israelis would be willing to trade territory seized in 1967 for peace with the Palestinians, one of the Christian leaders, van der Hoeven of Holland, replied, "We don’t care what the Israelis vote! We care what God says! And God gave that land to the Jews!"

The discussion in this book of the alliance between Christian and Jewish fundamentalists – whose theological differences have been shelved for the political goal of strengthening Israel – is instructive, Jews in Israel and the U.S., it seems, do not realize that the Christian fundamentalists urge such a policy because they believe it will usher in the Battle of Armageddon and the end of the world – not because they are concerned with Israel’s long-run security.

Copyright, The Orange County Register, May 19, 1987  Mr. Brownfeld is Executive Director of the American Council for Judaism , originally founded by Rabbi Elmer Berger.  He is a long time reporter and columnist as well now as the correspondent for JANE'S Terrorism Review.  For more of his articles please see    
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