For most observers, the war in Gaza is a horrifying escalation of tensions in the Middle East, pitting a heavily armed Israeli state in a self-styled “existential” crusade against a stateless civilian population, bringing a brutal toll of casualties and the prospect of permanent displacement. Yet for many in the American evangelical world, the news out of Gaza is a crucial foretaste of redemption—the prelude to the final battle for earthly power, to be followed by Armageddon and the Rapture.
American evangelicals have long prided themselves on their undeviating support for Israel—but the basis of this alliance is not a standard convergence of diplomatic interests, and it’s certainly not a flourish of faith-based solidarity with the Jews. Instead, it’s a matter of the opportunistic choreographing of the foreordained final act of history.
Donald Trump’s 2016 election helped to move the evangelical right into the vanguard of Republican politics—while Trump brokered key points of contact between American evangelicals and Likud leaders, such as the embassy move and the failed diplomatic framework of the Abraham Accords.
“The reason for Netanyahu to realize how important evangelicals are is clear, since their political influence has done nothing but grow in the last 20 years, especially within Congress,” says Washington State University historian Matthew Avery Sutton, author of American Apocalypse, a study of modern prophecy faith. And as the pronouncements of Hagee and his son make clear, the evangelical right, unlike many other religious Americans, has zero interest in a negotiated settlement to the Israeli occupation. “In their ideal world, there would be no two-state solution, no Palestinian state,” Sutton notes. “The idea is that Jews should control the entire land that King David controlled.”
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