News Release

Christian Zionism and the Middle East

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Critics say that American evangelical Christians’ support for Israel has been used as a political tool in the shaping of U.S. government policies. 

JONATHAN KUTTAB; jonathankuttab@gmail.com 
    Kuttab is an international human rights attorney, co-founder of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq, and co-founder of Nonviolence International. 

Kuttab told Al Jazeera that “in the evangelical Christian worldview, the 1948 creation of Israel was a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy”––making Palestinians the “enemies of God,” since they are the enemies of Israel. 

Kuttab, a Palestinian who grew up as a conservative evangelical Christian and continues to be a believer in the faith, told the Institute for Public Accuracy: The impact of Christian Zionism has been “very devastating, and it has been weaponized by Zionists. [Leaders] high up in the U.S. government have utilized Christian Zionist arguments to pass specific items of policy, such as moving the embassy to Jerusalem––which makes no sense politically, logically, or morally, but is a way to use the Bible to support Zionist positions. It has been used to send weapons to Israel and to blunt the U.S. opposition to settlements in the West Bank. 

“The argument is that the State of Israel and what it does, even in its most extreme right-wing manifestations, somehow has moral or biblical authority because this is the way God is manifesting himself in modern affairs. It’s an illogical argument, but it’s very powerful, because you’re not going to argue with God. [The argument] doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, but it’s not being scrutinized.”

Christian evangelicals “are a very powerful tool for whatever Israel wants to do right now. They are useful if Israel wants to commit genocide or kick all Palestinians out of Gaza; they’re useful if Israel wants to oppose or attack Iran.” 

Kuttab added that the Christian Zionist movement has grown and changed in recent years. “They talk less about the rapture, the End Times, or the second coming, but continue to be very aggressive [in their] political support for Zionism and the State of Israel.

“As a believing Christian, [I believe that Christian evangelical political positions] run against the message of Jesus Christ and of the Bible. Though it uses religious language to justify itself, it is not a message of peace, reconciliation, justice, openness, or universal salvation offered to everyone. It is a very narrow, tribal, militaristic position that is very problematic––morally and ethically, as well as from a Christian point of view.

“Palestinian evangelical Christians are a small minority within a minority. Our numbers are very small, so our biggest challenge is to let people know we exist. People don’t know there are Palestinian Christians in Gaza, let alone evangelicals. We also have a role to speak to evangelicals in [the U.S.], for whom Christian Zionism is a default position. It is widespread, but it is based on ignorance. People don’t know the facts and they don’t know their Bible very well.” But Kuttab says that evangelicals are often receptive to his position if they are “approached in the right way. They can’t be approached with human rights, international law, or logic. That’s not convincing. You have to use the Bible and the Scriptures, and show them through the language they are used to. 

“People misunderstand evangelicals generally. Evangelicals tend to be decent, good-hearted people. They’re not necessarily vicious or nasty or uncaring. They have been manipulated and have been used by Christian Zionists to lend power to AIPAC and to Zionists, even those who are not religious at all. This is how politicians treat Christian Zionism. It is a theology that they don’t believe in, but they use it as a tool.”