Strange allies: White Christian Zionism and antisemitism

November 26, 2023
The pro-Israel rally in Washington DC on November 14. Photo: Tedeytan/Wikipedia (CC By SA 2.0)

A large march in support of Israel’s genocidal war in Gaza took place in the United States capital, Washington DC, on November 14.

Organisers claim 200,000 people attended from across the country. Among the crowd was a big contingent of evangelical Christian white nationalists.

White nationalists play on the fears of many whites that they are being “replaced” by Blacks and other people of colour in movements “secretly financed by Jews”. White Christian nationalists believe that Jews should leave the US and “return” to Israel in order to fulfill a biblical prophecy.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer spoke at the rally, representing President Joe Biden. Schumer reiterated that the government backs Israel’s war — to cheers from the crowd.

Two days later, Democracy Now! reported that the new Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson and Christian Zionist pastor John Hagee had also attended the protest. Hagee once said: “God sent Hitler to help Jews reach the Promised Land.”

Hagee told the pro-Israel rally: “As Prime Minister Netanyahu says so well, this is a fight between light and darkness, between civilization and barbarism.”

Christians United for Israel

Sarah Posner, author of How White Christian Nationalists Powered the Trump Presidency, and the Devastating Legacy They Left Behind, told Democracy Now! that, while Hagee expressed support for Israel on November 14, he believes in a biblical prophecy that, one day, Jesus will return to Earth and Jews and Muslims will either convert to Christianity or die.

Posner explained that this unlikely alliance between pro-Israel American Jews and Hagee’s Christians United for Israel (CUFI) is about getting access to “a huge movement, much larger than the number of Jewish Americans, that has the ear [of, and] is enmeshed in the Republican Party”.

“They have morphed together this idea of supporting Israel with being a good American Christian,” said Posner. “They believe that God has commanded America as a country, not just them as Americans, to support Israel.

“In their minds, supporting Israel involves supporting the occupation, supporting the Israeli military — no matter what it does. It doesn’t mean supporting Israel from the standpoint that someday, Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace. That is not part of the equation.”

Christian Zionists combine antisemitism with Zionism, by promoting that Jews leave the country and return to Israel. Republican presidential candidate John McCain knocked back Hagee’s endorsement in 2008, after he delivered his “Hitler” sermon.

Johnson worked for an organisation now called Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), “a major Christian right legal organisation that sees itself as a Christian counterweight to the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union],” Posner said. “It is behind many Supreme Court cases, including Dobbs, which overturned Roe v Wade … [and]Masterpiece Cakeshop, involving the anti-gay baker [who refused to serve same sex couples].”

Posner interviewed Johnson in 2007, when he laid out “the organisation’s ambition to eviscerate the separation of church and state at the Supreme Court and to create a legal framework in which conservative Christians could object to things like LGBTQ rights in the name of religious freedom.

Since then, “ADF has pretty much done and accomplished or is well on its way to accomplishing” most of its agenda, said Posner.

Johnson’s ideology and framework is identical to right-wing Christian nationalists, “who believe their biblical worldview is what should dictate law and policy”, said Posner.

History of Zionist collaboration

Joseph Massad, Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History provided a useful history of Zionism in a background piece for Al Jazeera in December, 2012. In it he explains that Theodore Herzl — recognised as the founder modern Zionism — insisted that the solution to antisemitism was for Jews to form their own nation.

“He said in his foundational pamphlet, written in 1896, Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State), ‘The governments of all countries scourged by anti-Semitism will be keenly interested in assisting us to obtain the sovereignty we want.’

“Herzl concluded in his Diaries that ‘the anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies’.

In its early years, Zionism would invoke, along with the Protestant millenarian Christians, that European Jews were linked historically to Palestine to which they should “return” to re-establish Biblical Israel.

The Zionists understood this could only be realized through a settler-colonial project, which could be achieved through an alliance with European colonial powers. The Arab people who already lived there would have to be driven out.

One of these colonial powers was Great Britain.

In 1905, there was a revolution in Russia. When it was defeated, there were mass pogroms against Jews organised by the Tsarist regime. At the time, Arthur Balfour, a well-known antisemite, was the British prime minister. He sponsored the Aliens Act that prevented Jews fleeing the pogroms from entering Britain.

Balfour was the British government’s foreign secretary during World War I. In 1917, as the war came to an end, Britain was set to take over Palestine from the defeated Ottoman Empire. The British government issued the Balfour Declaration, advocating the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, and the Zionists embraced it.


When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, the Zionists collaborated with them, on the basis of Herzel’s strategy.

Zionists saw an opportunity to strengthen the colonisation of Palestine. In 1933, they signed the Transfer Agreement with the Nazis. Under it, Germany would compensate German Jews who emigrated to Palestine for their lost property by exporting German goods to the Zionists there.

From 1933‒39, 60% of all capital invested for Jews in Palestine came from German Jewish money brought in under the Transfer Agreement.

In 1935, the German branch of Zionism supported the Nazi antisemitic and racist Nuremberg Laws, and was the only non-Nazi party still allowed to publish its own newspaper, the Rundschau.

Nazi officials visited Palestine as guests of the Zionists in 1934 and in 1937. In the latter year, Adolf Eichmann, who became a major architect of the Holocaust, was among those who visited a Jewish colonial settlement in Palestine.

In 1938, the Nazis organised a pogrom against Jews and their property across Germany and Austria, known as Kristalnacht (the night of broken glass). All Jews, including the Zionists, were targeted, and the German Zionists were crushed.

The defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, and the horrors of the Holocaust, put an end to antisemitic regimes in Europe. But it did not end collaboration between Zionism and antisemitism.

Britain ruled Palestine from 1918‒47 and was instrumental in forming a Jewish state in Palestine in 1948, backed by the other Western imperialist powers, including the US.

Initially, Israel’s main backers were Britain and France and, later, the US. Western imperialism, led by the US, has backed Israel economically and militarily in all its wars with Arab countries and the Palestinians from 1948 to today. For imperialism, Israel has been a bulwark against Arab anti-colonial struggle, and against the former Soviet Union, which supported that struggle.

Zionism, from its inception, could and can only achieve its goals by relying on imperialism, as Herzl understood.

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