God's Country: Christian Zionism in America

God's Country: Christian Zionism in America

God's Country: Christian Zionism in America

God's Country: Christian Zionism in America

Synopsis

The United States is Israel's closest ally in the world. The fact is undeniable, and undeniably controversial, not least because it so often inspires conspiracy theorizing among those who refuse to believe that the special relationship serves America's strategic interests or places the United States on the right side of Israel's enduring conflict with the Palestinians. Some point to the nefarious influence of a powerful "Israel lobby" within the halls of Congress. Others detect the hand of evangelical Protestants who fervently support Israel for their own theological reasons. The underlying assumption of all such accounts is that America's support for Israel must flow from a mixture of collusion, manipulation, and ideologically driven foolishness.

Samuel Goldman proposes another explanation. The political culturehe American nation as deeply implicated in the historical fate of biblical Israel. God's Country is the first book to tell the complete story of Christian Zionism in American political and religious thought from the Puritans to 9/11. It identifies three sources of American Christian support for a Jewish state: covenant, or the idea of an ongoing relationship between God and the Jewish people; prophecy, or biblical predictions of return to The Promised Land; and cultural affinity, based on shared values and similar institutions. Combining original research with insights from the work of historians of American religion, Goldman crafts a provocative narrative that chronicles Americans' attachment to the State of Israel.

Excerpt

On March 4, 2002, Senator James Inhofe rose to address the United States Senate on the topic of peace in the Middle East. the occasion was a proposal by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, under which Arab states would normalize relations with Israel in exchange for its withdrawal from territories occupied after the Six-Day War and the establishment of a Palestinian state. Inhofe argued against American endorsement of the deal. “If this is something that Israel wants to do, it is their business to do it,” Inhofe said. “But anyone who has tried to put the pressure on Israel to do this is wrong.”

Inhofe explained that it would be wrong to put pressure on the Jewish State because “Israel is entitled to the land they have…. [I]t should not be a part of the peace process.” To support that entitlement, Inhofe adduced several reasons, including the record of Jewish settlement in the region, the persecution suffered by Jews around the world, and strategic considerations related to the War on Terror. Less than a year after 9/11, the Oklahoma Republican insisted that “we need every ally we can get. If we do not stop terrorism in the Middle East, it will be on our shores.”

Yet Inhofe’s ultimate rationale was not based on history, humanitarianism, or strategic considerations. in a final argument, he proposed that “we ought to support Israel” and oppose territorial adjustments because “it has a right to the land. This is the most important reason: Because God said so.” Quoting Gen. 13:14–15, in which God promises Abraham that all the land he sees will belong to his descendants, Inhofe concluded: “This is not a political battle at all. It is a contest over whether or not the word of God is true.”

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