With God on Their Side. by Esther Kaplan

Part of an American’s Library for Making Sense of the Palestine Israel Mess Part I: This section is five books from outside the conflict that explain the conflict: Book 5:

With God on Their Side: How Christian fundamentalists trampled science, policy, and democracy in George W. Bush’s White House. by Esther Kaplan. The New Press, New York. 322pp.*

“God told me to strike at al-Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the [Palestinian/Israel] problem in the Middle East.” George W. Bush to Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas as reported in Haaretz June 26, 2003. quoted in ‘With God on Their Side.’

Israel is a small section of this book. It makes the list because it’s edifying to look at fundamentalist Christian players in, ‘With God on Their Side’ more than a decade after its printing and ask, ‘Where are they now?’ Turns out a quite a few of them are in bed with Israel, and the Israel Lobby. That is, they’re driving wheels in today’s Fundamentalist Christian/Zionist-based political railroad even more than they were in 2004.

‘Born Again Bush’ is here of course. Kaplan details how George W. Bush, orchestrated by Karl Rove (aka Bush’s Brain), built and maintained a support base 40% composed of fundamentalist Christians through a dual platform: a) promises of lavish and preferential funding for Christian faith based initiatives and b) anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-feminism, anti-stem cell research, anti-sex education, and anti-environment. On the pro-side of things, Bush II embraced pro-prayer in schools, pro-creationalism in schools, pro-death penalty and pro-Israel planks in his platform. Bush’s personal born-again story, the influence of born-agains’ he surrounded himself with in the White House years, and political expedience were factors in his expansion and funding of Christian ideology in politics. Bush kept billions of American dollars flowing to Israel. He invaded Iraq six months after Netanyahu testified to Congress that the the US should do that. In 2006 he rearmed Israel during its fifth failed invasion of Lebanon after Hezbollah–with no air force, navy, or armored divisions–outnumbered more than 10 to 1, stopped Israel dead. Bush supported Israel’s brutal Cast Lead massacre in Gaza and rubber stamped an attempted coup against Hamas which had just been democratically elected.

Dick Cheney is in Kaplan’s book. Cheney’s oil company was granted exclusive drilling rights on 153 square miles of the Golan Heights—which belong to Syria. Among Cheney’s partners in the oil project are Rupert Murdoch, Jacob Rothschild, and former Israeli army officer Effie Eitam, who wants to run Arabs out of Israel, called them a cancer, and said, “We will have to kill them all.”

Condolezza Rice, minister’s daughter who grew up living next to Benjamin Netanyahu’s family,  and National Security Advisor in 2007 under GW Bush, fomented a bloody coup between Hamas and rival Fatah after Hamas won the democratic elections by a landslide. Along with Israelis and others in the Bush administration, Rice enacted a plan to train, and arm an army of 15,000 to fight Hamas. Hamas lost hundreds of members but, outnumbered and outgunned as they were, they stopped the aggressors, handed their asses to them, took their U.S. supplied weapons, and ran them out of Gaza. (See, 03.03.2008, The Gaza Bombshell, Vanity Fair, by David Rose).

Convicted Iran Contra liar Elliott Abrams is here. He’s widely known as the war criminal supporting the most hideous human rights atrocities that took place in Central America: death squads, assassinations, rape, murder, torture, cover-ups. As Deputy National Security Advisor in the Bush Administration he was part of the effort, along with Condolezza Rice, to drive a bloody coup attempt after Hamas was voted into office in a landslide. A rabid Israel supporter, Abrams was a cheerleader for the Iraq war, American and Israeli attacks on Syria, American support of Israel attacking other countries in the region that it says threaten it. On loyalty to Israel, the Jewish Virtual Library quotes one of his books saying that “outside the land of Israel, there can be no doubt that Jews, faithful to the covenant of Abraham, are to stand apart from the nation in which they live.” Regime change puppeteer Abrams is currently Trump’s Special Envoy to Venezuela.

Evangelical John Ashcroft is there. After leaving the Bush White House he became a lobbyist. One of his first clients was Israeli Aircraft Industries International.

Jerry Falwell is in the book. He’s dead and gone to his reward now but his legacy lives on. Israeli terrorist and later Prime Minister Menacham Begin gave Jerry Falwell his first jet plane. Falwell earned it many times over. Kaplan recounts how when George Bush senior tried to tie the annual American billions in funding for Israel to Israel moving its army out of the West Bank, Falwell mobilized the faithful to send 100,000 emails to the White House in favor of the Israelis and the occupation army remained entrenched. Falwell and other leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention organized Fundamentalist Christians to lobby US lawmakers against Israel having to return lands in the occupied territories to the Palestinians. Falwell established Liberty University which has strong ties with Zionist Israel. Liberty U. organizes student trips to Israel, has a Stand with Israel club and so on. Falwell’s son Jerry Falwell Jr. is President of Liberty University. His other son John sits on the Board of Christians United for Israel (CUFI).

Tim Lahaye, author of the End Times books ‘Left Behind’ novels, more than 50 million copies in print, is in ‘With God on Their Side.” Lahaye’s books predict the rise of the Anti-Christ, satanic take over the United Nations and explain how Israel is at “at the center of God’s prophetic plan for the future.” This is significant when you look at a 2013 Barna Group poll showing that 4 out of 10 Americans believe we are living in the End Times and nearly 8 in 10 Evangelical Christians believe it. I once went to an End Time lecture series by an Evangelical minister. His presentation could have come right out of Lahaye’s novels. If you’ve ever wondered why so many evangelicals don’t see why virtually all other nations on earth are pulling away from Israel while the US supports Israel no matter what: they do see it. They believe the UN is the Anti-Christ run by Satan. Therefore, in their minds, the US is supporting Israel against Satan. Lahaye’s wife Beverly is also in the book. She founded Concerned Women for America in 1979. CWA promotes Islamaphobia. It’s agenda includes support for Israel as a ‘core issue.’

Gary Bauer is in the book. Former leader of ‘American Values,’ Bauer became President of the virulently anti-gay Family Research Council. He landed on the board of the Emergency Fund for Israel and on the Executive Board of Christians United for Israel.

Pat Robertson’s in the book. The founder of the Christian Coalition said on a trip to Israel in 2004 that if East Jerusalem comes under Palestinian control that would be Satan’s plan to prevent the return of Jesus Christ the Lord. He warns that Israel losing land it has taken (from Palestinians) in Jerusalem will be calling “God’s Wrath’ upon America.

Ralph Reed, who was tapped to head the Christian Coalition by Pat Robertson, is in the book. Disgraced by corruption scandals he became a lobbyist. His ‘Faith and Freedom Coalition’ promotes Republican candidates who, among other things, support Israel. In 2011 Lee Fang reported in ‘Think Progress’ that Reed’s lobbying firm, Twentieth Century Solutions, took $140,000 from neoconservative Israel Lobby group The Israel Project, a Washington/Jerusalem Israel entity that works to shape American opinion in favor of Israel and against Palestinians.

Rabbi Yecchiel Eckstein is here. He founded the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) in 1983 to build support for Israel and promote ‘understanding’ between Christians and Jews. ICFJ collects over $100 million per year in donations to Israel. Eckstein was named one of the 50 most influential rabbis in America. Appointed Goodwill Ambassador of the State of Israel with special emphasis in Latin American evangelical communities. His daughter Yael Eckstein is senior vice president of the IFCJ. She lives in Jerusalem.

Millions of Evangelicals are convinced that re-establishing Israel is part of the End Times required for Jesus Christ to return to earth. Furthermore, when Jesus comes back large numbers of Jews will leave Judaism or die like the rest of us heathens. Jews will accept Jesus as their personal savior, and be taken up into heaven. This creeps out a lot of Jews but they go along with it because the Christians donate millions to Israeli projects, especially settlements, and lobby the US government on Israel’s behalf.

With God on Their Side is densely packed information, well researched, well written and well documented with 35 pages of closely-spaced notes. Worth taking time to read and absorb.

*For a fascinating, ‘Which came first, the chicken or the egg?’ read Kaplan’s book in tandem with Michael Shuerer and Ken Silverstein 2002 Mother Jones article, Born Again Zionists: Christian Conservatives are teaming up with hard-line Jewish Groups to Transform American policy toward Israel. In which the authors outline how powerful beltway Zionists had been greasing the skids for, and grooming, pro-Israel  fundamentalist Christians to gain power and influence in Washington D.C. over several decades.