Evangelical supporters of ‘Israel’ concerned as Netanyahu being ousted from power

No Israeli leader has cultivated evangelical support like Netanyahu and many worry his imminent departure could sour ties with one of the Jewish state’s main backers

WASHINGTON (JTA) — After a decades-long embrace that began when he first served as Israel’s prime minister in the 1990s, Benjamin Netanyahu’s evangelical allies are worried about a future without him.

Jews who value the Christian alliance are worried, too, about a possible erosion of support among a critical pro-Israel sector should Netanyahu be forced from office, which now seems a strong possibility.

“I hope the wisdom that Bibi had when it comes to respecting and honoring that community, I hope that other leaders will have that wisdom,” said David Brog, the founding director of Christians United for Israel, or CUFI, who now heads a pro-Israel campus group, Maccabee Task Force.

“I would not expect to see real diminished support, but it would be a failure not to maximize the support and inspire it to its full extent.”

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Christian Zionists are crazier than Zionist Jews

Joel Rosenberg, an Israel-based evangelical convert from Judaism to Christianity, said in a post on All Israel News, a website he directs, that he was hearing expressions of anxiety from evangelicals.

“In recent days, I have received many concerned emails and text messages from evangelical leaders asking me what is happening, why, and what the implications of this political earthquake are likely to be,” Rosenberg wrote this week as it became clear that Naftali Bennett, a right-winger, and Yair Lapid, a centrist, succeeded in cobbling together a coalition that would replace Netanyahu following the fourth split-decision election in two years.

No one expressed that angst in harsher terms than Mike Evans, an author and founder of the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem. In a profanity-laced letter, Evans told Bennett, “You care more about your own damn ego and your bitterness than you do the State of Israel.”

In a separate screed posted on The Times of Israel blogging platform, Evans accused Netanyahu’s opponents of trying to “crucify a man they hate and they’re willing to destroy the nation to do it.”

US evangelical leader Mike Evans speaks at a press conference in Jerusalem on June 7, 2021 (Screen capture/YouTube)

His tirades spurred rebukes from others in the evangelical pro-Israel community, who said Evans was an outlier even though he served on former US President Donald Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board.

“I think Mike’s approach is unfortunate in that we as American supporters of Israel ultimately have to respect and defer to any decision made by Israel’s democratic process,” Brog said.

One Orthodox rabbi who cultivates Christian support for Israel was so put off by Evans’ comments and his attack on Bennett that he suggested “a radically new path forward” that was less political and more personal.

“We need a new way of doing things and we need to start building healthy relationships directly between rabbis and pastors and between pro-Israel Christians and pro-Israel Jews,” wrote Rabbi Tuly Weisz, who runs the website Israel365.

Pro-Israel and Israeli officials who deal with evangelical Christians said they were not concerned that Netanyahu’s departure would undercut the relationship.

“We appreciate the support of evangelical Christians for Israel,” an Israeli government official told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, speaking on the condition of anonymity so he could speak freely while the government is in transition.

“This support started decades ago and we are confident that it will continue, regardless of who is the prime minister of Israel.”

Ari Morgenstern, the spokesman for Christians United For Israel, said the relationship dated back almost to Israel’s founding, when Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, cultivated ties with the American evangelical leader Oral Roberts.

Pastor John Hagee, head of Christians United for Israel, at the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 11, 2018. (courtesy CUFI)

“Christian Zionists have had a relationship with every prime minister since Ben-Gurion.

That will not change,” he told JTA. “Christian support for Israel is based on the Bible and Judeo-Christian values.

Christian Zionists have supported the Jewish state since before her modern creation and will continue to do so regardless of internal Israeli political developments.”

The relationship has been mutually beneficial: Israel has gotten a base of support from a growing and influential American demographic and doesn’t depend on a large Jewish constituency.

For evangelicals, support for Jews in Israel — and the settlement of all of biblical Israel, including the West Bank — fulfills a prophecy for the return of Jesus Christ, as well as a literal reading of Genesis 12:3: God will bless those who bless Israel, and curse those who don’t.

Still, no prime minister drew closer to evangelicals than Netanyahu, whose last 11 years in office coincided with a resurgence of evangelical political influence and a consolidation of pro-Israel sentiment as a cornerstone of evangelical theology and policy.

Trump himself said he moved the capital of Israel to Jerusalem in 2017 “for the evangelicals,” and complained that “the evangelicals are more excited about that than Jewish people.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Pastor John Hagee, May 11, 2018. (CUFI)

Last month Ron Dermer, Israel’s former ambassador to Washington and one of Netanyahu’s closest advisers, said that he and his boss also saw the evangelical Christian community as more reliable than American Jews.

“People have to understand that the backbone of Israel’s support in the United States is the evangelical Christians,” Dermer said at a conference, adding that Jews — at least the liberal majority — were “disproportionately” critical of Israel.

Netanyahu also said as much at a Voices United for Israel conference of evangelical Christians in 1997.

“We have no greater friends and allies than the people sitting in this room,” he told the forum just hours before his scheduled speech to AIPAC, the pro-Israel powerhouse.

That year’s speech was one of three critical stops in Washington, including a visit to the Clinton White House. And it was not without controversy.

In this June 20, 2005 file photo, Rev. Jerry Falwell speaks at the SBC Pastors’ Conference in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Speaking to a conference of evangelicals was unusual for an Israeli prime minister — if not unprecedented — and not exactly politic.

US Jewish groups were wary that some of the event’s sponsoring groups refused to eschew proselytizing Jews.

President Clinton loathed one of the conveners, Jerry Falwell, for peddling a baseless accusation that the Clintons were murderers.

Netanyahu’s dalliance with Falwell poisoned his relationship with Clinton, but his embrace of evangelical Christians would pay off long term: The constituency would have his back over subsequent decades for his hawkish policies on settlements and Iran, and would deliver hundreds of millions of dollars to Israeli charities, many aligned with his worldview.

Other prime ministers have welcomed Christian Zionist support while treading carefully with a community that includes proselytizers. (Pastor John Hagee, the CUFI founder and probably the most influential Christian Zionist currently, has advocated within the evangelical community for an end to proselytizing Jews, although it is not clear how successful his campaign has been.)

Evangelicals have repaid Netanyahu’s favoritism in spades. John Hagee Ministries, which is separate from CUFI, has directed $100 million to Israeli charities over the years, including to right-wing and settlement groups.

A Christian evangelical supporter waves the American flag during the annual parade in Jerusalem, marking the Jewish holiday of Sukkot or the Feast of the Tabernacles, September 24, 2013(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Christian Zionist groups have eagerly pressed Netanyahu’s agenda, including his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal reached by former president Barack Obama. On some issues, including state laws targeting Israel boycotters and laws passed by Congress conditioning funding of the Palestinian Authority on ending its payments to terrorists, Christian Zionists have taken the lead.

Sarah Posner, a journalist who has written extensively on evangelicals, said that Netanyahu’s departure would not diminish Christian Zionist fervor. In fact, she said, evangelicals might be energized to stop the Biden administration from pressuring the Israeli government, especially one less inclined to confront the United States than Netanyahu was.

“If they view the current Israeli government as insufficiently protective of its biblical mandate, that might cause them to become more intense in support of Israel’s right wing,” she said.

Brog, who closely tracks politics in Israel, said he is concerned that some leftists in that country tend to mock evangelicals. He noted the release in Israel of “Til Kingdom Come,” a documentary made there that “emphasized the apocalyptic beliefs that drive some of the evangelical support. A pro-Israel watchdog also alleged that the film purposely distorted a speech by Trump.

“I’ve heard some pretty crude critiques in Israel of evangelical supporters of Israel,” Brog said. “I hope that whoever leads Israel is decent enough and open-minded enough to say I want to get to know them, and I will distinguish the larger group from any bad apples among them.”

Rabbi Jonathan Greenberg, whose master’s thesis at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion was about evangelical support for Israel, said Bennett and Lapid were likely savvy enough to continue to cultivate the evangelical community, although perhaps not with Netanyahu’s intensity.

Greenberg, a Reform spiritual leader, noted the American Jewish community’s continued discomfiture with a community with which it barely intersects, and whose domestic politics are diametrically opposed to the liberal Jewish majority’s. He said that could someday erode Christian support for Israel.

“The hand extended in friendship all these years being rejected by the Jewish community will get old,” he said. “At some point they will tire of having their hand out.”

Netanyahu’s Message to the World: Accept Israel as It Is, Occupier and Settler

Netanyahu ‘hot mike’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “Budapest speech,” in which he urged Europe to stop supporting the Palestinians, was the clearest expression yet of his worldview. He arrived as an international rock star and crony of U.S. President Donald Trump; the leaders of Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic flew in to meet him alongside his Hungarian host.

In a semi-closed forum, Netanyahu dispensed with the restraints and niceties that characterize his official speeches, abandoned political correctness and let loose. At least in the section broadcast to journalists (apparently by mistake), he didn’t speak about “peace” or the “two-state solution,” but about Israel’s growing power to help form alliances with other countries, a message repeated in all his speeches of the last year.

“We will establish ourselves in Palestine whether you like it or not…You can hasten our arrival or you can equally retard it. It is however better for you to help us so as to avoid our constructive powers being turned into a destructive power which will overthrow the world.”
Chaim Weizmann
, 1921

Netanyahu understands politics and knows that in this situation, he has nothing to fear from the new administration, just as he didn’t fear confronting the last one. He assumes the Republican majority in both houses of Congress will thwart any attempt by Trump to impose “the ultimate deal” with the Palestinians on Israel. A few more empty talks with U.S. envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, a few more videos of Palestinian incitement, and Trump’s initiative will join those of his predecessors on the scrap heap.

The Pentagon is using ‘Migration’ as a weapon to weaken and destabilise Europe.

>>What the Priti Patel scandal tells us about the dark operations of the UK’s powerful Israel lobby

Netanyahu understands politics and knows that in this situation, he has nothing to fear from the new administration, just as he didn’t fear confronting the last one. He assumes the Republican majority in both houses of Congress will thwart any attempt by Trump to impose “the ultimate deal” with the Palestinians on Israel. A few more empty talks with U.S. envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, a few more videos of Palestinian incitement, and Trump’s initiative will join those of his predecessors on the scrap heap.

 The basis for Netanyahu’s diplomatic activism is his assessment that America is growing weaker and gradually withdrawing from the Middle East. The visit to Haifa Port by the aircraft carrier George H. W. Bush, the first such visit since the beginning of the second intifada, doesn’t change the overall trend.
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Bad for America, good for Israel

Oil is cheaper, and America no longer depends on the Middle East for its supply. Public opinion is isolationist, opposed to wars far from home. America’s internal rifts are deep and getting wider, and Netanyahu has taken the conservative side without even a pretense of bipartisanism. Perhaps bipartisan support is no longer even possible when Americans are so divided over everything. It’s better to have the Republicans’ support, since their control of Congress seems unassailable.

>>All Western foreign policy is influenced by Zionism

Netanyahu sees the Christian community as Israel’s most important bastion of support in America, alongside Orthodox Jews. His recent decisions against the Reform and Conservative movements – canceling the Western Wall deal and advancing the conversion bill – reflect a strategic disengagement from liberal American Jews.

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Claims “Islamofascists” pose the “greatest threat America has faced since the Civil War.”Has wildly warned about “an Islamic ‘H’ bomb,” stating that Israel stands as “the last firewall between an Islamic H-Bomb and the West!.”

This wasn’t a caprice caused by momentary pressure from Israel’s ultra-Orthodox parties, but a calculated decision that won almost wall-to-wall support in the cabinet. Netanyahu’s circle sees liberal Jewry as a transient phenomenon that will disappear on its own in another generation due to intermarriage and lack of interest in Jewish tradition or Israel.

Beat them to the punch

For years, liberal Jews have threatened to break with Israel if it continues discriminating against their denominations, and some have also vocally opposed the unending occupation of the territories. They didn’t expect a right-wing Israeli government to break with them first.

This is Netanyahu’s message: Anyone who wants to support Israel must accept it as it is, with the occupation and the settlements. Anyone who accepts Israel only in the pre-1967 lines, like the European Union, is “crazy” and not wanted here. Reform Jews can keep praying at Temple Emanu-El on Fifth Avenue and see the Western Wall in pictures.

Liberal Europe, devoted to human rights and moral preaching, is sinking under the weight of waves of Middle Eastern refugees. Netanyahu doesn’t need it; he believes he has found alternatives in Russia, China and Narendra Modi’s India, and less openly, in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Those countries admire only power, not justice.

The main thing is for Germany to keep giving Israel the submarines that lend force to Netanyahu’s intensifying threats against Iran (“anyone who threatens our existence puts his own existence at risk,” “threaten destruction to anyone who threatens to destroy us”). And Germany’s support can always be bolstered with more Holocaust memorial ceremonies, as Netanyahu did this week in France and Hungary.

Now he just needs to find a similar solution to make police investigators’ annoying questions go away.

haaretz.com Jul 22, 2017

American Christian Zionism: The Deep Background and the Current Situation

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I’ve always detested Christian Zionism more than Jewish political Zionism, although I’m not sure one is more evil than the other. Where Zionist politics is knowingly superficial, absurd and only bent on lies to promote the phony state of Israel, and Israel’s allies knows it’s full of shit, Christian Zionism is a perversion of God’s word and misleads millions.

Mar. 5, 2018

Trump had developed a sort of 1950s Jewish uncle (tough guy variety) delivery with assorted yiddishisms – Hillary Clinton, he declared has been “shlonged” in the 2008 primary … Now, (in 2017) his daughter was through her conversion, the first Jew in the White House.”

As this ‘pro-Israel” stance maps on so well to Evangelical Christian Zionism it is worth examining the deep background of that now potent phenomenon.

American Protestants, from the colonial period onward, had a particular interest in plans to restore the Jews to their Promised Land. The biblical self-image of the early American colonists, a self-image reflected in the over two hundred biblical place names on the map of the United States, had a profound effect on American attitudes toward the Holy Land. By naming their towns and cities Salem, Hebron, Bethlehem, and Pisgah, Americans were declaring the New World a “biblical” area. They were also asserting an American connection to the places where Christianity originated.

American scholars, foremost among them nineteenth-century biblical scholar Edward Robinson, were among the pioneers of discovery and archaeology in Palestine. Robinson, professor of sacred literature at New York City’s Union Theological Seminary, traveled to Palestine in 1836 and 1852. He was convinced that one could not fully understand the Old and New Testaments without a thorough study of the land of the Bible. Robinson’s five-volume opus, Biblical Researches in Palestine, Mt. Sinai and Arabia Petraea, was widely read by American and European scholars and laymen. Before it was outranked by Uncle Tom’s Cabin it was one of the top bestsellers in W.S. publishing history.

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Mormonism is a Trojan Horse of global Zionism, and Mitt Romney is the perfect tool of Zionist interests.

Later in the Nineteenth Century, the founders of the Zionist movement were keenly aware of sympathy for Zionism among some influential Protestants. Zionist publicists wrote in Hamaggid and other Hebrew-language Zionist journals of earlier Christian settlement attempts, and they exhorted Jewish readers to act as bravely and resolutely as Christian Zionists had in their attempts to settle in the Land of Israel.

The Adams colony of Jaffa, Clorinda Minor’s colony in Artas, and the German Templer colonies of Haifa, Jaffa, and Sarona were held up as examples of courage and industriousness by Zionist writers. The seven Templer colonies, built by German Christina Pietists between 1869 and 1907, were models of efficiency and productivity.

As the Israeli historian Yossi Ben-Artzi had noted, these colonies, “as the first truly planned settlements in modern Palestine, were exemplary models that inspired the local Arabs, the Turkish rulers, and most of all the Jews, who in 1882 began reaching Palestine in large numbers with a goal similar to that of the Germans; settlement in agricultural colonies.”

Master strategist that he was, Herzl kept an eye out for potential Christian allies of influence and included them in what he was sure was a historic moment, the First Zionist Congress. Herzl had made a point of inviting Christian friends of the emerging movement to the congress. Among these guests was the Reverend Willian Hechler, chaplain of the British embassy in Vienna.

Herzl understood something that many of his less assimilated Jewish associates did not – that the diplomatic success of the Zionist movement was dependent on the help of Christian sympathetic to Zionism. Once he became aware of potential Christian allies, Herzl was particularly prescient and active in garnering Christian support for his cause.

His successors continued to cultivate that support. They understood, as did Herzl, that assistance was most likely to come from Protestants, and that it was essential to the success of Zionist political aspirations that Christians join Jews in the international campaign to establish a Jewish state in Palestine.

In the late 19th century, thousands of Americans of various Christian denominations traveled to the Holy Land. Mormons were among the most active and enthusiastic of these travelers. In 1836, the prophet and founder of the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith, mentioned the actual physical return of the Jews to Zion in his dedicatory prayer at the Kirtland Temple in Ohio. Smith prayed that “Jerusalem, from this hour, may begin to be redeemed; and the yoke of bondage may begin to be broken off from the house of David.”

Smith understood “Zion” as both the spiritual designation of a new American sacred space and a reference to the Zion of biblical Israel, a city that would soon be renewed. The East had its Zion, and now the West, in the United States, would have its Zion. Both Zions would experience “the literal gathering of Israel and the restoration of the ten tribes.”

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Mormons were eager to visit Jerusalem, to which Joseph Smith had sent his emissary Orson Hyde. For centuries, Catholics had visited the Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the many other holy places throughout the Holy Land. Many of the Christian pilgrims kept diaries of their journeys, and hundreds of Palestine travel accounts were published and eagerly read by nineteenth-century audiences.

Evangelical support for Zionism was not necessarily phil-Semitic. Rather, it saw Jews and their aspiration for a Jewish state in Palestine as instrumental in hastening the second coming. Another potent factor in the heady mix of religion and politics that shaped Christian Zionism was the long standing American Protestant antipathy to Islam.

In American Christians and Islam, Thomas Kidd, an American religious historian at Baylor University, notes that there is something unique about American antipathy to Islam; it differs substantially from earlier American Protestant campaigns against Catholics, Jews and other religious minorities. Arguing that “the recent American Christian hostility towards Islam derives from a long historical tradition,” he points out that even before the American Revolution Anglo-Americans were predisposed to hostility towards Muslims. According to Kidd, two elements were responsible for the hostility: the widespread notion that all Muslims had to be brought to Christianity and the rampant speculations about the End Time that saw Islam as the Antichrist.

In the mid-nineteenth century the American Protestant call to ‘Evangelize the World’—a call linked to emerging American Imperial power aspirations—met its greatest challenge in the Muslim world. In a 1906 meeting in Cairo twenty-nine American and European missionary groups met to plan “the Evangelization of the Moslem world in this generation.” A follow-up conference in Lucknow in 1911 called for the Christianization of the Muslims of India. More recently, the 9/11 attacks, according to Kidd, “Re-energized those familiar themes of Muslim conversions and Islam’s place in the end times, two themes common in American Christian rhetoric, even before the American Revolution.”

This deep background lies behind the emergence of overtly political forms of Christian Zionism in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The rise of the Christian Right and the infusion of Evangelical Christian activists and ideas into the Republican Party of the Reagan years made Christian Zionism a potent force in American life.

One of the surprising aspects of Christian Zionism is that Israel has become equally significant as religious symbol for many Christians. In the past few years this attachment has facilitated contracts between Jewish and Christian supporters of the Israeli government, most strikingly in the form of Christian Evangelical pilgrimages to Jerusalem – where the leadership and rank and file of the movement is addressed by the Israeli political leadership.

As historian of religion Martin Marty had remarked, “No American can understand foreign policy in respect to the Middle East, especially when Israel is the focus without having to deal with cohort of the population which is dispensationalist.” For that growing group of Americans the current “dispensation” or age, is coming to an end, and the millennium is near. But the millennium can only be ushered in by great suffering, the period of “Jacob’s Tribulations.” Israel is the place where these tribulations will begin, and where they will culminate in the Second Coming.

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Congressman Tom Lantos  Jew, wife is Mormon= Zionist tools.

Strange bedfellows indeed have resulted from the politics of Evangelical support of Israel. In 1981 Israeli prime minister Menahem Begin awarded the Jabotinsky Prize to Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell. Like his predecessors in the office of prime minister, Begin knew that the Christian Zionist support was a powerful political force in the United States. The Evangelical idea that support for Israel was predicated on a vision of the End Time in which Jews suffer and accept Jesus was not taken seriously by Israelis. Two decades before Begin awarded a prize to Jerry Falwell, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, spoke before a delegation of visiting American Pentecostalists.

He was unaware that the official theology of the Assemblies of God, then the larger Pentecostal group, was very explicit about the need to convert Jews to Christianity. Support for the State of Israel was central to their theology, as the restoration of the Jews to their land was the sign of the imminent Second Coming. A tract about the Jews published by of the Assemblies of God (the Pentecostalist movement) stated that “the final blow upon this unfortunate and stubborn people will come during the Tribulation period; and it will be this awful time of suffering that shall break their will and turn the remnant to acceptance of the once hated Nazarene, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

During the Clinton and Bush II administrations the political power of Christian Zionism grew exponentially – much of that power is now expressed by CUFI – Christians United for Israel, the Evangelical lobby founded by Reverend John Hagee of Texas. Since CUFI’s founding it has attracted considerable financial and political power and as Evangelicals backed Donald Trump’s candidacy, they have more access to power and influence than ever before. Trump’s announcement about moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem was cheered at the recent National Prayer Breakfast where three thousand Evangelical pastors and lay leaders gathered to hear an address by President Trump. CUFI’s supporters now call it “The Christian AIPAC.”

Similarly, the support that Donald Trump received from conservative Christians in his 2016 election campaign has been linked to his assertively ‘pro-Israel’ stance. When in late 2017 the Trump Administration announced that it would fulfill its campaign promise to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol and move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem before the end of 2019, Evangelical Christians were jubilant–more jubilant in fact than many American Jews. While the vast majority of American Evangelicals approved of the administration’s announcement concerning Jerusalem, only one third of American Jews voiced similar approval.


Reaching all the world for Jesus Christ in these last days

“When their (Muslim) messiah (anti-Christ) comes, he’s going to cover the whole world, He’s going to rule the world. And he’s going to declare himself to be a Muslim. And he’s going to turn on the Christians and the Jews.”

Christian Zionists want anything but peace in the holy land which would hinder their religious anti-Christ Zionist cult. We should all die so that they can be “raised up.” Observe:

 What if – you might want to sit down for this – what if Trump has somehow actually gotten the Israeli and Palestinians to sign a peace treaty?

In the political world, there is one deal that is prized above all others, making peace in the Middle East between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Over the past 69 years, it has been tried and failed so many times that most people and politicians believe it simply cannot be done. As President Trump has repeatedly said, it most certainly is “the biggest deal” one could imagine.

When Trump was in Israel last week, millions of Christians across America were hoping that he would be using that trip to announce the moving of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem , as mandated (?) in the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act, passed by Congress in 1995. When he didn’t cries of “broken promise”shot across cyberspace as people struggled to understand why he didn’t do it. After all, President Trump was in Israel during the combined Israeli celebrations of the 6 Day War victory and the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.

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How could there possibly be a better time to do it? The answer is there could be no better time, but what if he had something better than moving the Embassy already in the works and about to be released? What if – you might want to sit down for this – what if Trump has somehow actually gotten the Israeli and Palestinians to sign a peace treaty?

The Bible says that in the end times only 2 people will make peace in the Middle East. The first one is Antichrist (non-Zionists) who brings a false peace that is broken at the halfway point, and the second One is Jesus Christ who brings actual peace that lasts 1,000 actual, literal years as He rules on the Throne of David from Jerusalem for an actual, literal 1,000 year period.

What makes all this gel and come together is the incredible buzz around Washington about an announcement to be made shortly regarding “Middle East peace”. The buzz is not yet for public consumption as it will not be announced for another week or two, but in the backrooms of the corridors of power in DC it’s being discussed quite freely. NTEB is grateful for the many “eyes and ears” we have around the world but especially in Washington that keep us “in the know”.

Israel: A Hoax by the anti-Christ

hahaha, busted!

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“Woe to those call evil good”

Somewhat ironically, pilgrimage routes tend to change with political regimes and shifting religious trends, rather than with new archeological discoveries. So the religious tourist industry can sleep easy: they’ll cash in no matter the truth.

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fooled again by the same source

READ: When the Present “Wailing Wall” Was Selected by the Jewish Authorities  It is important to recognize that these records show that at the beginning of the sixteenth century (a mere 380 years ago) NO JEWISH PEOPLE were going to the Western Wall of the Haram esh-Sharif and calling it the Western Wall of the Temple. Indeed, the Jewish historical narrative we have been reading states that in the days of Suleiman (1538 C.E.) “nobody knew the location of the Temple, so he ordered a search of Jerusalem to find it.”

Archeologists may have uncovered the site of the trial of Jesus. While excavating the floors underneath an abandoned building next to the Tower of David museum in Jerusalem, archeologists came across the foundation walls and sewage system that lay beneath Herod the Great’s Jerusalem palace.

According to scholars, this is most likely the place that Jesus was sentenced to die. In the Gospels, Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate in a “praetorium,” a Latin term for the general’s tent in a military encampment. Modern historians locate this praetorium in Herod’s Palace and now, for the first time, the palace is accessible to public view.
The unveiling of this site marks a fine confluence of archeology and biblical text; it is a wonderful opportunity for people to visit an important Christian site. The only problem is that for hundreds of years tourists have already been visiting the site of the trial of Jesus, in a completely different part of Jerusalem. The Via Dolorosa or “Way of Sorrows,” the road that Jesus is believed to have travelled as he carried his cross from his trial to his crucifixion, is currently at the top of must-see lists of religious attractions for visitors to the city. Each year more than a million Christian pilgrims visit Jerusalem hoping to retrace the steps of the Savior.

The Via Dolorosa ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and is marked by nine stations of the cross. The first of these commemorates Jesus’s sentencing before Pilate, and is found at the Antonia Fortress, the traditional location for the trial. But the route of the Via Dolorosa, like so many religious sites in Israel, doesn’t have a particularly strong historical pedigree—it was established only in the 18th century

If Jesus wasn’t tried at the Antonia Fortress then the Via Dolorosa has been wildly mis-mapped. To paraphrase Indiana Jones, they’re walking in the wrong place.

This may come as unwelcome news to those in the tourist industry but to archeologists the only surprising thing is that the discovery is making news now.

In her 2012 book The Archeology of the Holy Land from the Destruction of Solomon’s temple to the Muslim Conquest, Professor Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, writes, “The praetorium – the palace of the Roman governor in Jerusalem – was Herod’s palace, not the Antonia fortress. Therefore, Jesus was sentenced to death and took up the cross not in the area to the north of the Temple Mount, but on the western side of the city. This means that the route walked by Jesus is different from the one walked by modern pilgrims (the Via Dolorosa).” Magness told me that this wasn’t even her original observation and that “there is nothing new in this story.”
Indeed, the remains of Herod’s Palace beside the Tower of David were first discovered in 2001. So why is this find making news now? The answer seems to be that this is the first time that tourists will have access to the site and archeologists will be able to profit from Christian interest. The archeological find, some fifteen years in the making, has made headlines only now that the museum has started to offer public tours. The director of the Tower of David Museum, Eliat Lieber, expressed the hope that the prison would eventually become a standard attraction for Christian tourists. History has become news, and now it’s open for business.

Whatever the reason, the news of the discovery publicizes the fact that historical accuracy of the pilgrimage route was always on shaky ground. As it currently stands, the Via Dolorosa follows the account given in the Gospel of John. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the final stop on the Via Dolorosa, is believed by Christians to be built on the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and burial, a place known as Golgotha.

The original site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was identified in a moment of inspiration by Helena, mother to the Roman emperor Constantine, on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the fourth century. But there is a problem with its location. The Bible clearly specifies that Jesus was executed outside the city walls; the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is inside the walls. Even in the medieval era this disparity made Christians uncomfortable. As a result, Protestant Biblical archeologists identified a second site, known today as the Garden Tomb, as the actual place of Jesus’s death and burial. The historical accuracy of this second site is also hotly contested, but it remains a popular pilgrimage site for Protestants to this day.

Even if we could settle on a location, just the idea that Jesus was buried close to Golgotha is up for debate. It is based on a detail found only in the Gospel of John. None of the other, much earlier gospels have Jesus buried so close by. Matthew, Mark and Luke all agree that Jesus was buried in the family tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, and it’s highly unlikely that prominent members of Jewish society had family tombs next to places of crucifixion. Even if we could match the Bible stories with the archeology we couldn’t be sure that we had the right story.

As Mark Goodacre, Professor of New Testament at Duke University, told the Daily Beast, “The Gospel writers have little interest in the precise location of Jesus’ trials. Writing a generation or more after the events they are describing, and at some geographical distance, it is unlikely that they provide us with the kinds of clues that we would like to see. So while this discovery is exciting, we should be cautious about over-stating its importance for studying the historical Jesus.” Tradition has the beginning of the Via Dolorosa wrong, and probably the end too; it’s safe to say that the stuff in between probably doesn’t pan out either. In short, we don’t know the route that Jesus walked or the location of Jesus’ tomb.

Somewhat ironically, pilgrimage routes tend to change with political regimes and shifting religious trends, rather than with new archeological discoveries. So the religious tourist industry can sleep easy: they’ll cash in no matter the truth.