“$350 for One Jew, $700 for a Couple”
Counterintuitive as it may seem to some, a large majority of Zionists in the world are not Jewish, and most of the Zionists do not live in Israel. They are fundamentalist evangelical Christians of the apocalyptic persuasion – Christian Zionists – in the United States, who, as Mark Ames puts it, “hope to bundle every hairy Jewish *** up, air-freight them to the West Bank and East Jerusalem (once those areas have been cleansed of Muslims), and use the Jews as bait to bring upon the Rapture, as kindling in the Apocalypse, the final battle that will bring Jesus back to Earth. None of this can happen until every last Jew is penned into the occupied territories – and the Jews won’t get there unless the far-right runs Israel and America” (“Save a Jew, Save Yourself!” New York Press 17.41, October 12, 2004).
Apparently unable to simply put their faith in Providence, Christian Zionists are doing all they can to hasten the Rapture. How? By putting Jews on sale on TV.
One such “Jews-for-Sale” infomercial dumbfounded a Harvard blogger:
[T]onight I am really confused. Sitting here in a hotel in rural Georgia, I came across an infomercial for the “International Fellowship of Christians and Jews” (in partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel). For at least a half an hour, the program urged Christian viewers to donate money to help Russian Jews emigrate to Israel: “$350 for one Jew, $700 for a couple” was the frequent refrain. (www.wingsofeagles.tv) (“Late Night TV’s Strange Bedfellows,” RF Modulator, July 12, 2004)
According to Ruth Conniff, prizes are offered for Christians who pledge to buy Jews for Israel: “As in a fund drive for public television, the evangelists were giving out prizes to viewers who called up to pledge. In this case, the premium was a genuine shofar” (“Public Piety,” The Progressive, March 2003). The wackiness of the show beggars description, even in the able hands of the veteran journalist: “An enthusiastic evangelical Christian dressed as King David in a gold crown played a harp and sang Hebrew songs in front of the Western Wall. A Jews for Jesus couple in Florida sat in a living room crammed with Stars of David, loaves of challah, and various Jewish tchotchkes, reading Christian Bible verses” (Conniff, March 2003). Notwithstanding the wackiness of its infomercials, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews claims to have “contributed over $100 million in recent years toward Jewish immigration, resettlement and social welfare projects in Israel” (International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, “A History of Helping”), and it counts Joe Lieberman among its pitchmen:
The image is jarring: Sen. Joseph Lieberman, presidential candidate, appears on an infomercial asking Evangelical Christians to donate money to “rescue a Jew.” “‘On Wings of Eagles’ is a modern-day fulfillment of Biblical prophesy,” the voiceover in the infomercial says, over images of huddled Russian Jews at the airport, smiling as they presumably wait to leave Russia for Israel.
The half-hour appeal aired on the afternoon of Jan. 2 on Paxson Broadcasting (PAX) stations across the nation (locally on WHPX, channel 26), according to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), the Chicago-based nonprofit that paid for the spot. Alongside Lieberman, testimonials come from stars of the Christian Right, including convicted Watergate felon Charles Colson, Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson, and Moral Majority head Jerry Falwell.
Critics of the Christian Right say the IFCJ’s appeal to “prophesy” in their infomercial is a thinly veiled reference to Armageddon, the Second Coming of Christ and the moment when nonbelievers – Jews included – will be cast into the lake of fire. Jewish critics of the IFCJ say the group demeans the dignity of Jews.
Yet from 1994 to 1999, Lieberman, who on Monday announced his bid for the presidency, served as co-chair of one of IFCJ’s projects, the Washington-based Center for Jewish and Christian Values.
Lieberman’s long association with the IFCJ is, if not a secret, a little-known detail of his biography. No examination of it was made during Lieberman’s bid for the vice presidency in 2000. The secular, mainstream press has taken no notice. (Edward Ericson, Jr., “What About Those End Times, Mr. President? Sen. Joe Lieberman Announces his Candidacy, But Not His Association with Lunatic Fringe of Biblical Prophecy,” Hartford Advocate, January 16, 2003)
To the disappointment of Christian Zionists, American Jewry (like overlapping categories of Blacks, Arabs, Muslims, Queers, and the poor) once again resoundingly – three to one – rejected George W. Bush. To their delight, Bush got re-selected anyway. Besides, End-Time Christians, who are eager to “save” Jews for Israel, have many friends on both sides of the aisle, if not among ordinary Jewish Americans.