Israel and Evangelicals: New U.S. Embassy Signals a Growing Alliance

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It was a “gut punch for most American Jews,” the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz wrote in an editorial published Friday. The editorial charged that the evangelical alliance “erodes Israel’s standing in its traditional power centers — above all U.S. Jews, who view evangelicals as a concrete threat to their values” and risked alienating “supporters it may need as soon as November, in the event the Democrats win control of the U.S. Senate or the House of Representatives.”

Mr. Netanyahu was seated in the front row next to Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East adviser, and both clapped politely before and after Mr. Jeffress delivered his prayer.

The Rev. John C. Hagee, a televangelist who gave the closing benediction, has said the Holocaust happened because God’s “top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel,” a prelude to the Second Coming. In an email, Mr. Hagee said his comments, in a sermon about the problem of evil in a world of God’s creation, were taken out of context, and he has apologized for any offense.

David M. Friedman, the American ambassador to Israel who presided over the embassy dedication, said evangelical Christians “support Israel with much greater fervor and devotion than many in the Jewish community.”

“You’re running a country, you need friends, you need alliances, you need to protect your people,” he said in an interview.

Many Israelis, especially on the right, shrug off the beliefs of their Christian allies as a theoretical matter. When the Messiah arrives, runs an old joke, we will ask him whether the visit is his first or his second.

Mr. Netanyahu has had rocky relations with liberal American Jews, partly over what they see as his lack of interest in resuming peace talks with the Palestinians, but even more over his acquiescence to Israel’s ultra-Orthodox rabbis on contentious debates with Reform and Conservative leaders involving conversions to Judaism and prayer at the Western Wall. The alliance with evangelicals may free him of the need to appease liberal Jews.

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