George W. Bush Embraces Jews for Jesus

No Surprise at Evangelical Gala — Just Enduring Outrage

W’s Big Mistake: George W. Bush has agreed to speak at a $100,000-a-plate fundraising event for an evangelical Christian group which aims to convert Jews. What’s wrong with that? How about everything.
getty images
W’s Big Mistake: George W. Bush has agreed to speak at a $100,000-a-plate fundraising event for an evangelical Christian group which aims to convert Jews. What’s wrong with that? How about everything.

By Jay Michaelson

Published November 08, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Multi Page

Who’s surprised that former President George W. Bush is speaking at the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute benefit? Not anyone who understands Christian Zionism, ‘Jews for Jesus,’ and the many links between them.

Christian Zionists are now the leading supporters of Israel’s settler fringe. They are showering the Israeli Right with money, tourists, and political lobbying. Why? Because they believe that the end is nigh, and in order for the apocalypse to unfold on schedule, the Jews need to be in the Land of Israel. All of it.

And, of course, if Jews living in Biblical Israel provoke war with Palestinians, Arabs, and much of the Western world – so be it. After all, this is the apocalypse we’re talking about. To make a rapture omelet, you’ve got to break some human eggs.

Well, many on the Jewish Right have asked, who cares? We don’t think the rapture is imminent, so it doesn’t matter what Christians United For Israel (CUFI), and a host of similar organizations, believe. We need the money, and as far as the prophecy of our imminent conversion and/or destruction… well, we’ll just wait and see about that.

Unfortunately, Christian Zionism is not the only method for bringing Christ back by way of the Jews. In fact, Christian Zionists overlap substantially with the heavily-funded efforts to convert Jews to Christianity – or, at least, to Messianic Judaism, which is basically Christianity with a Jewish shmeer.

To be clear, Messianic Judaism is a sham. Yes, there are some people who believe themselves to be Jewish believers in Jesus – sorry, Yeshua – and who wear kippas around the Christmas Tree. But this small group of eccentric believers is propped up by millions of religious-philanthropic dollars. They are a front. Uncle Baums.

Most of the people supporting the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, for example, are evangelical Christians who have a religious obligation to evangelize to the Jews. Indeed, MJBI is the Hogwarts of this form of Christianity, an academy that trains thousands of people to go out and convert Jews.

And as we have seen many times over the last several years, the Venn diagram containing the Christian Right, Conservative Republicans, Christian Zionists, and Convert-the-Jews Evangelists is filled with overlaps. Glenn Beck leads a CUFI mission to Israel, then comes back and gets an award from MJBI. Rick Santorum runs a Christian Right campaign for president, then gets an award from MJBI.

And now Bush 43. Surely there was never any doubt that the born-again Bush was, himself, a member of the so-called Christian Right. His policies, his belief that he was Divinely ordained to be President (God apparently works through the Supreme Court, too), his emphasis on “faith-based” organizations domestically and internationally – all of these, save perhaps his highly un-Christian espousal of supply side economics, are part and parcel of his sincere, deeply-held evangelical Christian beliefs.

In the pages of Commentary and The Weekly Standard, the significance of Bush’s faith was consistently downplayed. Never mind the billions of dollars that Bush’s administration diverted to Christian organizations – ironically, some of the largest beneficiaries of foreign aid, so loathed by some Republicans, are Christian missionary organizations working in Africa. Never mind the nightmarish consequences of relying on personal faith (in Jesus or Vladimir Putin) rather than reasoned analysis. Don’t worry, Jewish Republicans said, Bush is good for the Jews.

Well, now the ex-emperor has no clothes. Unless you think that helping Jews find Jesus is “good for the Jews,” this latest act of Bush’s evangelical faith – entirely consistent with previous ones – should set that myth to rest. Evangelicals like Bush sincerely love the Jews, but they love us in a very particular way: because, by ceasing to become Jews, we play an instrumental role in the Christian apocalyptic narrative.

Appearances like Bush’s should also make clear that the Christian supporters of the Israeli Far Right, the people writing checks to build more settlements in contested territory, do not really have Jewish, or Israeli, interests at heart. These are people with their own agenda, and it involves either the Jews’ conversion, or our destruction.

Indeed, given the demographic catastrophe the settlements are rapidly bringing about in Greater Israel, that may just come about.

“The Bible predicted that the day would come when the blindness would come off the eyes of the people it all began with,” said ‘Rabbi’ Jonathan Berris, a Messianic Jew, at last year’s MJBI conference. Berris’s prophecy refers to all Jews, of course. But I wonder if it might now apply to some Jewish Republicans.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.