International pressure has in the past had an influence over the most disturbing behaviour of Israel, and there is no reason to believe that this cannot be the case again. However, the largest political lobby in the US drives it on and acts as a shield.

Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine, the advancement of the illegal settlement process, and the brutality with which it treats the Palestinian people do not happen because Israelis or the State of Israel are intrinsically and irredeemably violent. In the past Israel has tempered its expansionist policies under international pressure, and even today with the activities of the likes of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement Israel exhibits a desire for a positive international image. While there are undoubtedly hawkish elements within the state, a deterministic approach to Israel’s colonial-imperial expansionism is unfounded and more than likely a veiled antisemitism.

According to the first law of motion all objects remain in motion or at rest until an external force is applied. Like all other political objects the State of Israel continues to behave or not behave as it does until other political forces are applied to influence the modification of that behaviour. It is not even the case that Israel is pressured into certain actions as a result of the consensus of diaspora Jewry; there is no such consensus, and the majority of Jews living outside Israel when polled express a desire for peace in the Middle East and the creation of a Palestinian State to live in peace beside the State of Israel. In fact the majority of Jewish Israelis has repeatedly expressed the same desire.

Yet Israel is subject to a powerful exterior political force; that of the single largest voting bloc in the United States of America, not the Jewish but the Christian Zionist lobby. Evangelical Christian Zionists adhere to a rigid biblically fundamentalist premillennial dispensationalism, the belief that the world is soon coming to an end and that the Jewish people and the State of Israel have a part to play in the realisation of End Time prophecy. All of this may sound farfetched, but often – especially in US politics – fact is stranger than fiction, and to understand the present behaviour of Israel one ought to pay careful and close attention to the beliefs and influence of Christian Zionism.

This highly distorted political theology has since its beginnings in the seventeenth century maintained a close relationship with power, both in the former British Empire and in the United States. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were known for directing domestic and foreign policy in accord with their dispensationalist religious worldview, and nowhere does this have more devastating consequences than in Palestine. This voter bloc, which outnumbers even the world’s Jewish population, has effectively silenced US criticism of Israel and, on those occasions when Israel has come close to making concessions to the Palestinian Authority, it has pressured the US government to intervene against the wishes of Israel.

Haija, Rammy M. “The Armageddon lobby: Dispensationalist Christian Zionism and the shaping of US policy towards Israel-Palestine.” Holy Land Studies: A Multidisciplinary Journal 5, no. 1 (2006): 75-95.

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