by Dale Hanson Bourke
August 7, 2014
When I researched evangelical views on the Israel-Palestine conflict for my latest book, I found a growing gap between older and younger evangelical views. Like respondents in a recent Pew Poll, younger people I interviewed tended to be somewhat less supportive of Israel’s actions than their parents, even if they remain more supportive of Israel than the general population.
Jen, a young evangelical woman from the Midwest, told me she hadn’t known any Jewish young people until she went to college. When she finally met Jewish students at her school she thought she would be able to relate to them. “I know it sounds naïve, but I was shocked to discover that I knew more about the Old Testament than most of my new Jewish friends. Some even laughed at the idea that they were ‘chosen’ or that Israel was given to the Jewish people. One guy asked if I was one of those ‘Christian Zionists’ — and he didn’t say it in a positive way. I guess I thought we would have more in common.”
Younger Jews sometimes bristle at the notion that their evangelical classmates see them as part of a biblical plan and they are less likely to share political values of their evangelical counterparts. “Almost everyone on campus who is Jewish is a liberal Democrat,” said one young man. “But the evangelical kids are more likely to be Republicans. We don’t really have much in common.”
So, can this generation gap be bridged?
For evangelical parents like my friend, their children’s views on Israel can seem downright “unchristian.” Others, like David Brog, have gone so far as to warn that young evangelicals are turning against Israel. In my interviews with young evangelicals, I found them far more nuanced and conflicted, having learned about Israel in different ways and at a different point in history than their parents. They may see Israel as an important ally of the U.S. and are generally supportive, but many have stopped short of using the biblical terms their parents often use or calling themselves Christian Zionists.
“People who call themselves supporters of Israel are actually supporters of its moral degeneration and ultimate destruction.”
― Noam Chomsky
The Israel Defense Forces announced the deaths of 13 soldiers on Sunday as its ground offensive in the Gaza Strip progressed. It was the deaths of two of them, however, that generated significant interest in the United States. They’re both U.S. citizens, raising questions for some about whether it’s legal for Americans to join the Israeli military.
The American casualties are Sean Carmeli, 21, and Max Steinberg, 24. Carmeli was the son of Israeli parents and had dual citizenship, while Steinberg joined the IDF after visiting the country in 2012, his father told the Associated Press.