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Trump, Anti-Semitism, and the Apocalypse

4 min read

This is going to seem a little screwy, but given the age we’re living through, it may fit right in. I am concerned whether some of Trump’s actions are deliberately or unintentionally abetting the desire of his millennialist backers (John Hagee in particular) to see the apocalypse. This will happen, according to these believers, when all Jews return to Israel. Hagee’s organization, Christians United For Israel (CUFI), and others, such as the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), are sponsoring Jews to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel).

On October 6 [2014], the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews [announced] it plans to launch its own separate aliyah operation, headed by Israel’s former top official dealing with the issue, and backed by millions of dollars collected from American evangelical Christians.…

This operation continues to expand.

What was once a strictly Jewish-funded mission is increasingly being bankrolled by evangelical Christians. Israel’s Christian allies now fund about a third of all immigrants moving to the country, according to a tally by The Associated Press.… (Mar 10, 2018)

In addition to “pulling” Jews to Israel, some evangelical Christians see value in rising anti-Semitism because it pushes Jews to move to Israel.

McCain moved to dissociate himself from Hagee after a 1999 sermon was publicized in which Hagee claimed that God intended the Holocaust, and had prophesied it in the Book of Jeremiah. “And that will be offensive to some people,” Hagee boomed. “Well, dear heart, be offended. I didn't write it. Jeremiah wrote it. It was the truth and it is the truth. How did it happen? Because God allowed it to happen. Why did it happen? Because God said, 'My top priority to the Jewish people is to get them back to Israel.' ”  (Jun 20, 2008)…

Hagee’s Jeremiah reference is to Jeremiah 16:16:

 “But now I will send for many fishermen,” declares the Lord, “and they will catch them. After that I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill and from the crevices of the rocks.”

which has been interpreted by a number of current apocalyptic groups as meaning two things: Christians need to “fish” Jews to return to Israel by encouraging them to immigrate, even paying them to do so, and there will be “hunters” — anti-Semites whose hatred will drive the Jews back to Israel.

Why are IFCJ and CUFI and other evangelicals, doing this?

Evangelicals believe that a unified Israel with control over Jerusalem will facilitate the construction of a new Jewish temple, and set the groundwork for the end of times.

That's where Trump comes in.

“What kick-starts the end times into motion is Israel's political boundaries being reestablished to what God promised the Israelites according to the Bible,” Nate Pyle, a pastor and author of a book about Jesus, told Newsweek.…

This is why these evangelicals were so thrilled when Trump moved the US embassy to Jerusalem; Hagee even went there to give his blessing (along with Robert Jeffries, who has infamously said that Jews are going to hell unless they accept Jesus — and he gave the opening blessing!).

The Trump administration acknowledges that rising anti-Semitism is driving more Jews to Israel; in fact, they used it as an argument why the Palestinians should accept Kushner’s “peace plan” because otherwise more Jews would flee to Israel and expand the settlements:

“The Israeli birthrate is strong and is growing because sadly, anti-Semitism in Europe and other places around the world is encouraging more Jews to return to Israel. The settlements are going to continue to expand. … If this peace process doesn’t work, it may be physically impossible to have a two-state solution.” (NSA Robert O’Brien, Feb 5, 2020).…

Except that the thing is, Kushner’s “plan” is more likely to increase anti-Semitism and make peace less likely. Not only is it doomed to failure because it doesn’t even consider the Palestinian position, it was put together by an Orthodox Jew who has been under attack by anti-Semites, and this just gives them more ammunition.

I need to stress that not all evangelicals believe this way; evangelical, even millennialist, Christianity has many variations and they most emphatically disagree with each other. My concern here is whether it is reasonable to say that some evangelicals, moved by a desire to see the End Times arrive (Hagee insists we are already living in them) are in some way manipulating Trump and his administration to help it happen.

(This diary grew out of research I am currently doing on how expectations of an apocalypse have had consequences for the world. It’s proving to be even more slippery and obscure than most of my research projects.)

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