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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/4/20

Israel's Friends at the RNC: "Christian Zionists" Dictate the Agenda of the Republican Party

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses the Republican National Convention from Jerusalem.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses the Republican National Convention from Jerusalem.
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It is difficult - and futile - to argue which American president has historically been more pro-Israel.While former President Barack Obama, for example, has pledged more money to Israel than any other US administration in history, Donald Trump has provided Israel with a blank check of seemingly endless political concessions.

Certainly, the unconditional backing and love declared for Israel is common among all US administrations. What they may differ on, however, is their overall motive, primarily their target audience during election time.

Both Republicans and Democrats head to the November elections with strong pro-Israel sentiments and outright support, completely ignoring the plight of occupied and oppressed Palestinians.

To win the support of the pro-Israeli constituencies, but especially the favor of the Israel lobby in Washington DC, Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, and his running mate, Kamala Harris, have deviated even further from the low standards set by the Democratic Obama administration. Despite his generous financial support for Israel and full political backing, especially during Israel's wars on the Gaza Strip, Obama dared, at times, to censure Israel over the expansion of its illegal Jewish settlements.

The Biden-Harris ticket, however, is offering Israel unconditional support.

"Joe Biden has made it clear," Harris was quoted as saying in a telephone call on August 26, "he will not tie US security assistance to Israel to political decisions Israel makes, and I couldn't agree more." The call was made to what the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, termed as "Jewish supporters." The Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel referred to this crucial constituency as "Jewish donors."

The references above are sufficient to delineate the nature of the Democratic Party establishment's current support for Israel. Although the view of the party's rank and file has significantly shifted against Israel in recent years, the Democratic upper echelon still caters to the Israel lobby and their rich backers, even if this means molding US foreign policy in the entire Middle East region to serve Israeli interests.

For Republicans, however, it is a different story. The party's establishment and the rank and file are united in their love and support for Israel. Though the Israel lobby plays an important role in harnessing and channeling this support, Republicans are not entirely motivated by pleasing the pro-Israel lobbyists in Washington DC.

The speeches made by Republican leaders at the Republican National Convention (RNC), held in Charlotte, North Carolina, between August 24-27 were all aimed at reassuring Christian Evangelicals -- often referred to as "Christian Zionists" -- who represent the most powerful pro-Israel constituency in the United States.

The once relatively marginal impact of Christian Zionists in directly shaping US foreign policy, has morphed over the years -- particularly during the Trump presidency -- to define the core values of the Republican Party.

"This is apocalyptic foreign policy in a nutshell," tweeted Israeli commentator, Gershom Gorenberg, on August 24. In Republican thinking, "Israel is not as a real country but a fantasyland, backdrop for Christian myth."

Gorenberg's comments were tweeted hours before the controversial speech made by US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, America's top diplomat, who delivered his brief notes from "beautiful Jerusalem, looking out over the old city." The location, and the reference to it, were clear messages regarding the religious centrality of Israel to US foreign policy, and the unmistakable target audience.

Trump was even more obvious during an August 17 speech in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. "We moved the capital of Israel to Jerusalem," Trump announced to a cheering crowd, "and so the Evangelicals -- you know, it's amazing with that -- the Evangelicals are more excited about that than Jewish people " It's really, it's incredible."

Unsurprisingly, 22 percent of Wisconsin residents identify as "Evangelical Protestants."

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Ramzy Baroud is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold (more...)
 

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