In its fiftieth anniversary year, the State of Israel has no better friends than American evangelicals. So it seemed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he addressed the Voices United for Israel Conference in Washington, D.C., in April 1998. Most of the 3,000 in attendance were evangelicals, including Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition, Kay Arthur of Precept Ministries, Jane Hanson of Women's Aglow, and Brandt Gustavson of the National Religious Broadcasters. (Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson supported the conference but did not attend.)

On the day before he met with President Bill Clinton, who urged him to trade West Bank land for peace with the Palestinians, Netanyahu told the conference: "We have no greater friends and allies than the people sitting in this room."

To many observers, the close relationship between Israel and many American evangelicals seems baffling. Many American evangelicals pledge their love for the State of Israel, support its claims against those of the Palestinians, and resist anything that might undercut Israel's security. But they also target Jews for evangelism and sometimes blame them for the mess the world is in. Israel eagerly accepts evangelicalism's public support and aggressively courts its leaders. But many Jews bitterly condemn Christian proselytism and do what they can to restrict the activities of missionaries in Israel. Nevertheless, both sides seem to be getting more than enough out of their relationship.

The close tie between evangelicals and Israel is important: It has shaped popular opinion in America and, to some extent, U.S. foreign policy. To understand how it developed, one must know something about how many evangelicals interpret Bible prophecy and what difference ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

July/August
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Also in this Issue
Matters of Opinion: Me? Apologize for Slavery? Subscriber Access Only
I may not have owned slaves, but I've benefited from their having been used.
Current Issue3 Ways to Prevent Bible Study Dropouts
3 Ways to Prevent Bible Study Dropouts Subscriber Access Only
What really keeps us engaged with the discipline of studying Scripture.
RecommendedCover Story: Inside the Popular, Controversial Bethel Church
Cover Story: Inside the Popular, Controversial Bethel ChurchSubscriber Access Only
Some visitors claim to be healed. Others claim to receive direct words from God. Is it 'real'--or dangerous?
TrendingKay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Kay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Through God's work in our lives, we've beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.
Editor's PickMelvin Banks Had a Dream
Melvin Banks Had a Dream
An interview with the founder of the largest African American Christian publishing house.
Christianity Today
How Evangelicals Became Israel's Best Friend
hide thisOctober 5 October 5

In the Magazine

October 5, 1998

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.