These American evangelical Christians praying together were in the Old City yesterday to join those Israeli Jews who take part in annual Feast of Tabernacles marches as a celebration of the return of Jewish people to the Land of Israel (they would each write Land with a capital L). They are yet another thread in the complex web which is this place. They are Christian Zionists, that is a variety of Christian fundamentalist for whom the restoration of the people of Israel is a biblical requirement and an essential prerequisite to the beginning of the Second Coming of Christ. The slogan on the back of their shirts is ‘We stand with Israel’.
They are not a trivial thread in the tapestry, and some of them even work as volunteers in the Jewish settlements which form colonies in Palestinian areas of this land. Their opinions are common among the very large numbers in the Bible Belt and elsewhere in the United States. Their funding for projects here is said not to be small. Their influence on Government there is said to be one reason the position of the Palestinian people of this land appears to have so little official support.
I suspect few of the sentences in this post are subtle enough to do justice to this phenomenon, but it is worth also recording how often we have been reminded that much of more staid British establishment Protestant views were Zionist through the nineteenth and the early twentieth century (not believing in the return of Jews to Israel as an essential prerequisite to the Second Coming, but certainly regarding it as a biblical imperative) and how this was one element in creating the context which made Jewish immigration and an eventual Jewish state political possibilities.