Wednesday, December 20, 2006
America's right-wing Christian Zionists, who have emerged as an influential force in Washington in recent years, are using "biblical prophecy" in their campaign to mobilize the forces of Christianity against Iran. If military action isn't taken now, they say, a "thermonuclear genie" - and with it Armageddon - will be unleashed.
Holy warriors set sights on Iran
By Bill Berkowitz
"OAKLAND, California - Over the past 20 years, the US Christian Right has evolved into one of the most powerful grassroots organizing forces within the Republican Party, and a host of Christian Zionists have taken a well-earned seat at the foreign-policy table.
At the same time, their support for Israel is not only growing, it is becoming an influential political factor.
Several prominent Christian Right and conservative Jewish leaders have teamed up to found organizations that have provided millions of dollars to Israeli charities, lobbied in support of policies advanced by right-wing leaders in Israel, opposed President George W Bush's so-called "roadmap" to peace in the Middle East, and have helped defray the costs of the immigration of Russian Jews to Israel, among other activities.
While the Reverends Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell have been longtime supporters of Israel, the founding this year of Christians United for Israel by John Hagee, the pastor of the 18,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, drew a great deal of media attention.
As Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's popularity has plummeted since the end of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, Christian Zionists in the United States view the outcome not only as a defeat for Israel, but as a prelude to a much wider war. In fact, they think the conflict might be a sign of impending Armageddon.
"The end of the world as we know it is rapidly approaching," Hagee wrote in his most recent book, Jerusalem Countdown: A Warning to the World . "Just before us is a nuclear countdown with Iran," he wrote, "followed by Ezekiel's war [as described in the biblical Book of Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39], and then the final battle - the battle of Armageddon."
For Hagee, best-selling author Joel Rosenberg and other Christian Zionists, Israel plays the critical role in End Time scenarios. Their books, commentaries and public statements reflect their beliefs that serial conflicts in the Middle East are a sign of the biblical prophecy presaging Armageddon, the return of Jesus Christ, and the final battle for the souls of mankind.
And some have started to train their sights on Tehran. In a recent weblog post datelined Jerusalem, Rosenberg wrote: "The buzz here in the last few days is that Israel is seriously considering a preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities and ballistic-missile sites."
Given Israel's less-than-sterling performance against Hezbollah this past summer, Rosenberg was not convinced that Israel "has the capacity - or the will - at the moment to neutralize the Iranian nuclear and ballistic missile threat".
However, with "a new [Adolf] Hitler rising in Iran", it is up to Bush, who met with Olmert in Washington in mid-November, to deal with the Iranian threat: "If President Bush believes Iran needs to be neutralized (and I believe he does), and he is convinced that military action is the only way, I don't believe he is there right now, then the US should take the lead."