Professor Yakov Rabkin concludes his article on the Roots of Zionism.
The Zionist project in the Holy Land has passed the centenary mark. This initially socialist-oriented secular settlement has undergone sacralisation, becoming a focal point for right-wing Christian nationalists in many countries of Europe and beyond. Unlike Jews and Muslims in the Holy Land, who actually live with the conflict and know its practical consequences, Christian Zionists relate to the conflict from afar. For them the Holy Land remains a purely spiritual entity. This is why Christian Zionism, together with some adepts of National Judaism, may be the only truly religious obstacle to peace in Israel-Palestine, or, to be more precise, a mighty political obstacle rooted in religious discourse. While Jews constitute an indispensable instrument in the realization of the Restoration, their role remains subordinated to the theological desiderata of the Second Coming of Christ.
If there was a religion that inspired political Zionism, it was Protestantism, rather than Judaism. Jews were introduced to Zionism centuries after the idea was born in Protestant circles in Europe, and the current number of Christian Zionists is estimated at four to five times the total number of Jews in the world. These Christian and European contributions to the emergence of Zionism and the Zionist state must be taken into account in any analysis of the State of Israel and its position in the Middle East.
Christian Protestant Zionism, a precursor to Herzlian Zionism, is a crucial linchpin of unconditional support for Israel. For the evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell, the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 has been the most crucial event in history since the ascension of Jesus to heaven, and “proof that the second coming of Jesus Christ is nigh…. Without a State of Israel in the Holy Land, there cannot be the second coming of Jesus Christ, nor can there be a Last Judgement, nor the End of the World” (Tremblay 2003: 118). This theological position ensures that the identification of the Zionist state with Christian Evangelicals in the United States is complete. In a televised address to the annual meeting of Christians United for Israel in July 2011, Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “When you support Israel, you don’t have to choose between your interests and your values; you get both. … Our enemies think that we are you, and that you are us. And you know something? They are (96 | MEDITERRANEAN REVIEW | Vol. 5, No. 1 [June 2012]) absolutely right. (Mozgovaya 2011)”
About Yakov M. Rabkin
Professor Rabkin has taught Jewish and Russian history, and the history of science at the University of Montreal since 1973. He is the author of Science between the Superpowers, a study of Soviet-American relations in science and technology (Priority Press, 1988), co-editor of The Interaction of Scientific and Jewish Cultures in Modern Times (The Edwin Mellen Press, 1995) and editor of Diffusion of New Technologies in Post-Communist Europe (Kluwer, 1997). His book A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism (Fernwood/Zedbooks) has been translated into twelve languages. It was nominated for Canada’s Governor-General Award and for the Hecht Prize for studies in Zionism in Israel. The Asahi Shimbun in Japan listed it among three Best Non-Fiction Books of the Year in 2010. His most recent book is What is Israel? published in Tokyo (Heibonsha) in June 2012. His list of professional publications consists of over two hundred titles. It includes studies of science in Russian and Soviet cultures, studies of non-western research cultures, of relations between science, cultures and traditions as well as contemporary Jewish history and relations between Zionism and religion. He received over twenty research awards, scholarships and fellowships.
His comments on the Middle East and international relations frequently appear on major TV and radio networks, including BBC, NHK, Radio-Canada and Radio-France as well as in printed media, including International Herald Tribune, Baltimore Sun, El Milenio, Newsweek, La Presse, and Jerusalem Post. He has been an expert witness for the Standing Committee on External Affairs and International Trade of the Parliament of Canada and has consulted for various international organizations, including the World Bank and NATO. He has also served as expert witness at legal proceedings in Britain, Canada and Israel.