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.