Bill Berkowitz

Christian Zionists gain Israel's inner sanctum

OAKLAND, California, 3 Jan (IPS) - After raising more than two hundred million dollars for various projects in Israel, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), the organization he founded and is president of, has hit pay-dirt. In late December, the Jewish Agency for Israel, which helped found the state of Israel, announced that the IFCJ “will be declared a funding partner of the Jewish Agency … [and] Eckstein will … receive new voting powers that will include spots on the committees that oversee the agency’s budget and that meet with the prime minister and his Cabinet,” the Jewish daily Forward reported. 

US evangelicals at odds on embracing Israel

OAKLAND, Aug 2 (IPS) - It was business as usual during Christians United for Israel’s recent “Israel Summit,” its highly-publicized second summer sojourn to Washington. There were thousands of supporters in attendance, including an impressive array of Republican Party elected officials and political leaders. There were a series of seminars and workshops aimed at solidifying pro-Israel talking points, and growing the organization’s political effectiveness. 

Father of Christian Zionism Leaves the Building

OAKLAND, United States, May 16 (IPS) - The right-wing U.S. Christian evangelist Jerry Falwell, who died Tuesday at the age of 73, is perhaps best known for his fundamentalist social positions and tirades against lesbians, gays and feminists, not to mention “pagans”, “abortionists” and assorted other miscreants. But Falwell also had a significant impact on U.S. foreign policy over the last 30 years, and was one of the founding fathers here of so-called Christian Zionism — the belief that the modern state of Israel is the fulfillment of Biblical “End Times” prophecy and thus deserving of political, financial and religious support. 

The Religious Right's New Bugbear

OAKLAND, CA, United States, Mar 14 (IPS) - Last Sunday, Pastor John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel, received a rousing reception at the opening dinner plenary of the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference.Hagee warned the crowd that “Iran poses a nuclear threat to the state of Israel that promises nothing less than a nuclear Holocaust.” Hagee claimed that the situation is like 1938, only “Iran is Germany and [President Mahmoud] Ahmedinejad is the new Hitler.” 

Israel Looking for an Extreme Makeover

OAKLAND, California (IPS) - It hasn’t been the easiest year for Israel. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s strongly criticised Israel in his new bestselling book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, and a recent international consumer survey found that Israel has the worst “brand name” of any country in the world. Finally, The Sunday Times of London reported this week that the Israeli Air Force may be preparing to use low grade, tactical nuclear weapons to strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities. So perhaps it is not surprising that Israel — whose international image is of a country in continuous conflict — would engage in a serious long-term effort to reshape global perceptions of itself. 

Holy Warriors Set Sights on Iran

OAKLAND, California (IPS) - Over the past 20 years, the U.S. Christian right has evolved into one of the most powerful grassroots organising forces within the Republican Party, and a host of Christian Zionists have taken a well-earned seat at the foreign policy table. At the same time, their support for Israel is not only growing — it is also becoming an influential political factor. Several prominent Christian right and conservative Jewish leaders have teamed up to found organisations that have provided millions of dollars to Israeli charities, lobbied in support of policies advanced by right wing leaders in Israel, opposed President George W. Bush’s so-called “Road Map” to peace in the Middle East, and have helped defray the costs of the immigration of Russian Jews to Israel, among other activities.