American Theopolitics and Israel-Palestine

  • Author / Creator
    Friedman, Daniel
  • Despite being a country of limited security and trade concern to the US, the State of Israel occupies an inordinate amount of space in American foreign policy-making. Only with reference to America’s Christian heritage can one understand Israel’s significance. In addition to reviewing and updating traditional theological and cultural explanations for Christian activism, this dissertation explored two further elements: interest group organizational and strategic effects and intra-Protestant “theopolitical” contestation. Three questions were considered: Why and how does Israel matter to American Protestant Christianity? Why do some Christians support while others oppose Israel? And what accounts for the twenty-first century rise in Christian activism on behalf of Israel/Palestine? In terms of methodology, the study analyzed primary and secondary sources covering historical perspectives on Israel-Palestine and engaged in extensive interviews amongst members of the two major pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian Christian interest groups – Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and the Presbyterian Church (USA). While previous studies examined these groups separately, this study concluded that they are two sides of the same coin and have been in theological and political conversation with one another from their inception. The key contribution of this dissertation is that pro-Israel activism is a tool to promote a conservative religious agenda in America. Similarly, the rise in pro-Palestinian activism is due to a sociopolitical shift in America – namely, polarization resulting from the legalization of same-sex marriage and ordination, and the ensuing exodus of conservatives from the mainline Churches which tipped the political balance in favour of the progressive voices. I conclude that the Jewish people – and likewise the Palestinian people – are not really the focus of Christian activism, but collateral damage in a larger battle between Protestants that has taken place over a period of many centuries.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2022
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.