The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
Why Do Evangelical Christians Support Israel?
Because they have a favorable opinion of Jews
A new academic paper published in Politics and Religion explores the source of evangelical Christian support for Israel. There are a host of complicated religious and political factors, some of which are benign, and some of which will undoubtedly make some Jews uncomfortable–many evangelicals believe that the establishment of Israel is a necessary prelude to Jesus' Second Coming, which according to many will involve Jews converting to Christianity.
The most important bit of information I gleaned from the study, however, is that by far the strongest correlate of evangelical support for Israel was their opinion of Jews. In other words, evangelicals who are favorably inclined toward Jews (a strong majority) are strongly inclined to support Israel, and the minority of evangelicals who have an unfavorable opinion of Jews tend not to support Israel.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard that evangelical support for Israel masks an underlying antisemitism, that evangelicals only support Israel so that Jews can be gathered in one place to be destroyed as part of the Second Coming, and thus their support for Israel is actual a reflection of anti-Jewish hostility. This turns out to be wildly wrong; whatever their theological views of the Second Coming, pro-Israel evangelicals are also pro-Jewish.
My statistical skills are pretty basic, so I checked with one of the authors to make sure I was reading this right. He responded, "I agree with you 100%. They [evangelical supporters of Israel] are not antisemites, but philosemites."