The first linking of the conservative view of the Christian
apocalypse with the “ingathering” of Jews in Palestine goes back to at least the 16th
century (Wagner 2002: 51; Epstein 1984: 7-8), prefiguring Herzl’s Jewish political
Zionism by 300 years. Now, both mainstream Zionism and Christian Zionism
developed largely independently, but there have been significant periods of cross
fertilisation. For example, the committed Christian Zionist Arthur Balfour made the
connection in his notorious eponymous declaration – the Balfour Declaration – at
the time of the British mandate (Wagner 2002: 52). Now, there is a near-total
integration of apocalyptically-minded Christian Zionist theological rhetoric in the
mainstream of political Zionism, fostered by the State of Israel.
Defining Christian Zionism as conservative Christian support for the state of Israel, and an influential political force, especially in the United States, this article outlines four antinomies of such a position. Firstly, although Christian Zionism argues that it is purely theological, that it follows God’s will irrespective of any politics, and although mainstream Zionism is resolutely political, we argue that such a separation is impossible. Indeed, mainstream Zionism cannot avoid being influenced by Christian Zionism’s political agenda. Secondly, despite the efforts by mainstream Zionism to use Christian Zionism in order to influence US foreign policy in the Middle East, mainstream Zionism is playing with fire, since Christian Zionists wish to convert or annihilate all Jews. Thirdly, Christian Zionism is the ultimate version of anti-Semitism, for it wishes to get rid of Arabs (as hindrances to the Zionist project) and then dispense with Jews. (Both Arabs and Jews are by definition Semites.) Finally, since Christian Zionists are fundamentalist Christians, they must take the Old and New Testaments at their word. However, this position is impossible to hold, and in order to resolve the tension they must resort to the violence of the final conflict, Armageddon.