Sarah Palin recently explained that Israel’s illegal settlements should be expanded “because that population of Israel is, is going to grow. More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead.” In my own critique of that statement I focused on the weird theory that population growth requires territorial expansion (almost every country’s population is growing, after all) but she also seemed to articulate the view that Jewish immigration to Israel is about to accelerate. I wrote that off as possibly poor wording, but Jeffrey Goldberg had some questions:
“More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel”? Who, exactly? Is this her analysis of Jewish demography? Is there a sudden upsurge in Zionist sentiment among American Jews, the only sizable Jewish community left outside of Israel? Or is this an indication that Palin buys into creepy End-Times thinking, in which the ingathering of the Jews, and their mass death, presage the return of Christ? Inquiring minds want to know.
This story about Palin’s meeting with Billy and Franklin Graham tends to bolster the End-Times possibility:
The former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate told Billy Graham about how she came to faith in God as a girl in Bible camp.
She quizzed him on the presidents he’s known and wanted his take on what the Bible says about Israel, Iran and Iraq, Franklin Graham reported.
I don’t want to make too big a deal about this, but given the tendency of U.S. politicians to avowedly claim religious grounding for their political beliefs I do think somewhat more scrutiny needs to be given to the issue of the extent to which evangelical figures are letting their policy views be driven by apocalyptic scenarios. John Hagee of Christians United for Israel, for example, supports preventive military strikes on Iran that he believes will lead to Israel’s destruction at the hands of a Russo-Arab alliance.
At any rate, Franklin Graham’s views on the subject are clear and disturbing:
In case there was any doubt left about evangelical views of Islam, Billy Graham’s son, the Rev Franklin Graham, stated that Islam “is a very evil and wicked religion.” […]
Yet the millennialist Christian beliefs and goals differ not only from those of mainstream Israelis, they also differ starkly from the goals of even the most militant Israeli expansionists. Fundamentalist Christians believe that the Jews will either convert to Christianity or perish in the end times. Hence the Middle East peace plan suggested by Rev Franklin Graham, Billy’s son: Muslims and Jews alike should try “surrendering their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ and having their hearts changed by the Holy Spirit.”
Unfortunately, the government of Israel seems intent on pursuing a path that’s bound to over time alienate the liberal majority among diaspora Jews and instead leave it more dependent on these kind of people.