I recall my mother-in-law, a refined Mississippi lady, announced with some surprise that a Jewish family had moved onto their cul-de-sac. Like many evangelicals, I doubt she had ever known a single Jew before. To meet a real live Israeli is an even rarer occurrence within this religiously-sheltered movement. To know one, they say, is to love them. But Jews don’t go to a megachurch, so evangelicals don’t know any. Except on television. But they claim to love the Jewish people – or at least, love Israel.
It’s cool to be a Jew — if you’re also an evangelical Christian, writes Sam Kestenbaum. Messianic Jews are a popular item on Christian television these days, keeping a semblance of halacha, while their audiences of elderly goyim blow shofars like party favors. Some “rabbis” are ekhte yidn that now claim Jesus Christ as Mashiach; they make millions off their new tribe of philo-Semitic goyim. “We’re in the Middle East because of Israel,” Trump said – a calculation in large part aimed at Christian Zionists “reached by televangelists and megachurch pastors preaching the End Times” – and who outnumber Jewish Zionists. His cabinet has been overflowing with evangelicals who are also staunch Christian Zionists, including Mike (“my-Christian-faith-compels-me-to-cherish-the-state-of-Israel”) Pence, Mike Pompeo, Nikki (“The-days-of-Israel-bashing-are-over”) Haley, and Rick “I’m-more-Jewish-than-you-think-I-am” Perry.
All these professions of undying love derive from biblical eschatology and the pivotal role of Israel they read into in the end times. The most popular apocalyptic stream in American evangelicalism today is premillennial dispensationalism, a cultic form of salvation history (Heilsgeschichte) “rediscovered” a century-and-a-half ago. Going through all its twists and turns is more tedious than Wagner’s Ring Cycle. For those interested, you could go to Dallas Theological Seminary and sit through three insufferable years of it. Suffice it to say, God made two covenants with Abraham: to give Israel as an everlasting possession, and to bless all peoples on earth through him. God’s primary concern is keeping his word through their ultimate fulfillment in the triumphant return of Christ. This present Gentile-ruled age will conclude in increasingly severe judgments, and world catastrophes. Before it gets to Israel-hating countries tossing atomic bombs like water balloons, true Christians will be surreptiously “raptured” to Heaven. Left-behinders – made famous through Christian pulp fiction dreck – endure a Superpower Death Match in which three invading armies ravage Israel, and leave a third of mankind dead. It foresees the conversion of global Jewry, which will inaugurate the Second Coming.
What irritates evangelicals is that Jews don’t seem in as quite a hurry to see the world get incinerated as they are. “Jews Welcome Evangelical Love, Money and Influence for Israel. But Call Our Christianity ‘Poison’”, Michael Brown, a converted Jew, writes. I suppose it’s a normal reaction from anybody that feels used as a pawn, not loved as a person. Or share their joy in a divinely-ordained destiny that edges the world towards conflagration. There’s a bit of “just wait and see; I told you so” conceit when the preacher’s offer of salvation is rejected. How can the Jews frustrate [our interpretation of] God’s will?,” Brown asks. “I suspect that, consciously or not, end-times believers crave apocalypse”, writes Dina Nayeri. “They want a leader who will return them to the past, or barring that, hurry it along to its end.”
“All they are interested in is their interpretation of Biblical prophecies.” A millenarian cult and the trust of influential U.S. officials in politicized prophecy results in foreign policy towards Israel being de-Judaizasied. Even today, Christian broadcast networks have 24/7 cameras at the Mount of Olives trained to bring live feed when Jesus touches down. To the dispensationalist mind, hastening the apocalypse (immanentizing the eschaton) is good for Christians, regardless how bad it gets for everyone else. “Many of them relish the second coming because for them it means eternal life in heaven,” a professor of religious studies said. “There is a palpable danger that people in high position who subscribe to these beliefs will be readier to take us into a conflict that brings on Armageddon.” Like he was casually planning another golf round, President Trump threw out the idea of a bombing campaign against Iran. He was warned down by advisors that a major conflict would erupt with unpredictable consequences. Sort of a last-minute foreign policy option to thank incoming President Biden for a rigged election by gifting him a toxic and even deadly diplomatic crisis.
Being pro-Israel does not translate into being pro-Jewish, however. Despite professions of undying love for Israel, anti-Semitic beliefs seem to be growing among evangelicals. It’s never been far below the thin veneer of Christian refinement. “A lot of the Jews are great friends of mine,” Billy Graham commented to Richard Nixon during a 1972 White House meeting. “They swarm around me and are friendly to me because they know that I’m friendly with Israel. But they don’t know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country.” Good Jews live in Israel. But not here. American Jews are overwhelmingly devoted to the Democratic Party and espouse liberal ideals. According to Trump, Jews who vote Democratic show ‘great disloyalty’. He tells them, he loves “their” country – but apparently they do not love “ours”. And “some very fine people” were neo-Nazis at Charlottesville.
Overt anti-Semitism is growing among evangelicals – a movement which sometimes overlaps with the far-right. One major influence is Q-Anon, which with demonic baby-eaters and a global Satan-worshipping conspiracy run by Jewish billionaires is a revision of that odious book of libels, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. A Christian broadcaster claimed George Soros was paying $50 an hour to go protest and riot. (He heard it authoritatively from a friend who heard it from another friend.) Ginni Thomas, evangelical wife of a Supreme Court justice, spins the conspiracy theory that George Soros is the evil mastermind behind the Democratic Party.
“That’s the way the Jews work,” says nutball end-times evangelist Rick Wiles. “They are deceivers, they plot, they lie, they do whatever they have to do to accomplish their political agenda.” Wiles received White House press credentials. Not once, but again even having called Trump’s impeachment a “Jew coup”. The chief banker funding the satanic sedition against President Trump is George Soros, he maintains. Once relegated to the lunatic fringe, fascist crackpots are now the most influential evangelical voices. Marjorie Taylor Greene, for example: U.S. Representative-elect and committed Christian. Also a Q-Anon believer who wrote that Zionist supremacists were flooding Europe with migrants to wipe out the white population – the so-called “Great Replacement Conspiracy”.
“‘Respectable’ conservative evangelicalism has always been a fig leaf,” writes David French. The darker of its impulses are rising to the top. Trump – along with his motley crew of religious courtesans – will leave the White House soon, but the odor will linger like a twenty-dollar hooker’s. Christian anti-Semitism is only getting started. To my Jewish friends, be wary and remember Elie Wiesel’s words:
I’ve got more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He’s the only one who’s kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.
 Wiesel, Elie, Night (New York: Hill and Wang) 2006, 81.