Assessing the Influence of Unorganized Interests: A Potential Christian Jewish coalition for a Jewish Judea and Samaria

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Abstract

During the 2012 presidential election season, I conducted a case study on individuals who support a Jewish Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). Not formally organized, they are part of a Potential Christian Jewish coalition (PCJc) in the general population, and are politically active through organizations that advocate for a stronger more conservative America. My core interview respondents were twenty-eight individuals who support a Jewish Judea and Samaria, who self-identify as politically active, and who were willing to discuss their religious beliefs. Barriers to the PCJc’s organizing include the media, the federal government’s executive branch, and a lobby group. Future studies are needed to track the evolution of potential interests, to see if they do indeed maintain viability and to observe if, when, and most interestingly how they become organized. 

Introduction  

The importance of evangelical Christians in American politics is suggested by their portion of the population. According to a 2008 study, evangelical Protestants were found to be 26.3 percent, about a quarter, of the United States adult population (Pew Research Center 2008; Guth 2011, 10). In that same year, the American adult population (18 years and older) totaled 229,945,000 persons (U.S. Department of Commerce 2012). Thus, about 60,475,535 American adults are evangelical Protestants. That is a large number of evangelical Christians with potential influence on American Politics, but because Israel is the homeland of their religion, the focus of biblical prophesies, and because of the return of Jews back to their homeland after 2000 years of exile, their attention to American foreign policy on Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict is especially worthy of study. Indeed, according to a 2008 National Survey of Religion and Politics, the principal supporters of Israel are Jews, evangelical Protestants, and Latino Protestants, where it was reported that 77 percent of Jews, 55 percent of evangelical Protestants, and 43 percent of protestant Latinos support Israel over the Palestinians (Guth 2011, 27).

Yet while both Jews and evangelical Christians are the most likely to support Israel more than the Arab Palestinians, there are reasons why a Jewish and Christian alliance should have its operational challenges. For example, a 2007 Pew Center survey, which found Jews much more likely than the rest of the population to vote for gay, female, black, Hispanic, Mormon, Muslim, and atheist presidential candidates, also found Jews less likely to vote for an evangelical Protestant. About 70 percent of Jews (as opposed to 45 percent of the population) said they were “uncomfortable when candidates talked about how religious they were,” and 87 percent (opposed to only 41 percent of all respondents) agreed that “religious conservatives had too much control over the Republican Party” (Wald and Calhoun-Brown 2011, 272).[1]

Jewish people see evangelical Christians, whose views and beliefs conflict with liberal Jewish positions, dominating in the Republican Party. Uslaner and Lichbach (2009) found that for the 2004 election, negative feelings toward evangelicals influenced Jewish voting for Democrats more than any factor other than partisanship but mattered little among non-Jews (406-410). Windmueller (2009) found that the presence and influence in the Republican Party of evangelical Christians, whose views and beliefs appear to conflict with liberal Jewish positions, helps to explain Jews’ aversion to vote for Republicans in 2008, with 2012 being another test.[2]

On the other hand, Orthodox Jews tend to be more ideologically congruent to evangelicals on both domestic and foreign policy than other Jews. Nonetheless, concern about proselytizing reduces Orthodox Jewish warmth towards evangelicals (Schrag 2005).

Religion and Politics.  Religion may be defined as any system of belief, worship, conduct often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy.[3] Of course public, or private, life in free societies is teeming with diverse ideological values. Conflicts over ideas of right and wrong, better or worse, are the stuff of politics and no less of American politics. That is where evangelical Christians, who support a literal reading of the Bible and oppose abortion and homosexual marriage, confront the proponents of abortion rights and other acts which evangelical Christians deem anti-biblical and immoral. I shall refer to those people who oppose the positions of the evangelical Christians as “anti-evangelicals.” For this research and this brief section, evangelical Christians, considered “conservative,” are those whose political activism is motivated by a literal reading of the Bible. Those who oppose the positions of the evangelicals are considered “anti-evangelicals.”

In U.S. domestic politics, the anti-evangelicals have overall achieved the separation of evangelical Christian principles from U.S. law: abortion on demand, with few limitations, is legal; homosexual marriage is allowed in more and more states. In international politics, ideas of morality center on ideas of world peace. On the Arab-Israeli conflict, anti-evangelicals support land for peace opposing the evangelical Christians who support Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish homeland. The sides, however, have allies, and therefore the groups’ descriptions will be refined.

Anti-evangelicals are joined by Muslims who support land for peace, or an Arab state in Judea and Samaria. According to Muslim belief, Allah (God) has promised Muslims all of the lands they have ever conquered, including Israel under the Ottoman Empire. If he fails to remove Jews from their ancient homeland, Allah ceases to be God.  Both allied sides see the sovereignty of the land as the essential dispute and want all of it. Oslo and the “two-state solution” is only a first step to weaken Israel’s claim before removing Jewish presence from the Middle East. The evangelical Christians are allied with Jews that support the application of Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. Jews need a homeland to prevent holocausts already experienced throughout 2000 years of exile (for example, the 1492 brutal Spanish eviction, the nineteenth and twentieth century Russian pogroms, and the 1930-1940s Nazi German Holocaust).

Evangelical Christians have a world political view. It is prophesied in biblical texts: it concerns the Jewish people, their restoration to their promised homeland, the Messiah and his return. If the prophesy fails, specifically if Jews are not sovereign in their ancient homeland, then the evangelical’s God is not sovereign in the world. The anti-evangelicals also have a world view which includes a vision of world peace through international cooperation sometimes promoted and materialized by such entities as the Council of Foreign Relations, the United Nations, the Bilderbergers and the U.S. State Department, all of which, with the exception of the Bilderbergers, are located in the United States. These opposing perspectives confront each other in Judea and Samaria. Because the conflict between American anti-evangelicals and their Muslim allies and U.S. evangelical Christians and their Jewish allies has not been resolved in U.S. foreign policy of the Middle East, the importance of this research is ongoing.

My dissertation studies evangelical Christians and Jews in the U.S. and how they interact in American politics to resolve this global world conflict. The U.S. and Florida especially are very important to this study because it is the place where large populations of evangelical Christians and Jews live in close proximity. Florida is also the largest politically undecided state. My study probes political activity and religious differences between these two groups that oppose all “land for peace” negotiations.

Interest Groups. As there is no formal organization of Americans who openly support a Jewish Judea and Samaria, I consider the group of individuals under study to be an unorganized interest group. In this study I followed Truman’s ([1951] 1971, 114) concept of a potential interest group, and I adapted a revision of Yoho’s (1998) definition of an organized interest to define an unorganized interest group as a group of persons, lacking organization, exogenous to political parties and government, which seeks to influence the latter.

Methodology

This paper is based on my dissertation, which sought to qualitatively investigate those who support the application of Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, a potential Christian Jewish coalition (PCJc). The study was conducted from January 2, 2012 to January 17, 2013 during the 2012 U.S. presidential election season. I interviewed mostly evangelical Christians and Jews and for the reasons mentioned above, I expected the membership of the PCJc to be mainly Jewish and evangelical Protestant, also known as fundamentalist Christian, although in this study the word evangelical[4] shall be used.

Research Questions. Interviews and participant observations were utilized to answer research questions on the PCJc membership’s profiles (including questions on religion),[5] the PCJc’s policy positions, their resources and methods, the successes or failures of the potential coalition’s advocacy, and what this case reveals about interest group politics and social movements more broadly in the United States.

To qualify as a Christian, the respondent meets at least one of the following requirements: 1) the informant states that he or she is Christian; 2) the respondent’s answers to the religious orthodoxy questions define the person as a highly orthodox or evangelical Christian, namely the respondent believes in at least 6 out of 8 components which measure the extent of a person’s Christian fundamentalist orthodoxy, to what extent the person interprets the Bible literally (Guth 2007, 20).

In a test for evangelical Christianity, with 8 out of 8 yeses indicating a 100 percent evangelical Christian, only the Unitarian (CCD) member of the PCJc received a 20 percent score. The others, if not receiving perfect scores, received passing scores (at least 75 percent). Ninety-four percent of the Christians are evangelical Christians.

Table 1 presents the questions asked to show to what degree each Christian member of the PCJc is an evangelical Christian. The table is ordered by scores, with 12 Christians with the highest score – 8 out of 8 or 100 percent – placed at the top part of the table. Of the remaining six Christians at the bottom, the first four have a score of 7 out of 8, or about 88 percent. The last two have, respectively, 6 of 8 (75 percent) and 2 of 8 (25 percent), the lowest scores. The last, CCD, is the only non-evangelical of the PCJc. This comes out to an average score of about 92 percent, well above the 75 percent minimum I have established for determining classification as evangelical Christian.

In defining a person as Jewish, I follow certain rules: 1) the informant has self-identified as Jewish when asked about religion; 2) the person has disclosed that he/she has a Jewish background (the person’s mother is Jewish, or the person has converted, so that by Jewish law she/he is  considered Jewish). According to these rules, the PCJc consists of 13 Jews, including three Christian-Jews who individually self-identified as (a) a non-denominational Christian of “Jewish background,” (b) a Pentecostal Christian and an Orthodox Jew, and (c) a Messianic Jew.

Initially, I conducted short interviews with 129 individuals. Of these, 81 participated in long-form interviews[6], with 28 qualifying as members of the PCJc, not a statistically significant sample representative of the entire PCJc but a preliminary investigation of religious individuals: who share policy positions in opposition to those of U.S. administrations and Congresses over time, who are willing to discuss their religions, and who are politically active. I also proposed three propositions: 1) Within the PCJc, Jewish persons who identify Jewish more with the Talmud than with the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament) will want to work less with Christians than Jews who identify Jewish more with the Tanakh; 2) the post-tribulation rapture believer will make a partner for the coalition because Christians who believe in post-tribulation rapture expect to be on earth with the Jews during the tribulation. Belief in pre-tribulation rapture separates Christians from Jews; 3) the 501c3 status of organizations may affect the political efficacy of its leaders, reducing their sense of influence over public policy.

The potential coalition consists of those who answer four of the Judea and Samaria policy questions in a manner to be described here: The first question asks “What percent of Judea and Samaria would you give up (or give to a sovereign entity) for peace?” The answer is “zero” or any word denoting an equivalent value (e.g., “none”). The second question is “Should the United

Table 1: Measuring Christian Orthodoxy or Evangelical Christianity

P Key Q key Denomination 1a 2b 3c 4d 5e 6f 7g 8h
CAR PR1a non yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
CCO PR1a non yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
CCU PR1a non yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
CDN PR1a non yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
CES PR1a non yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
CHR PR1a Pentecostal yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
CJC PR1a Pentecostal/Jew Orthodox yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
CLA PR1a no response yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
CLC PR1a non yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
CPA PR1a non yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
CRA PR1a Messianic Jewish yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
CRE1 PR1a Catholic yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
CRE2 PR1a non yes yes yes yes yes dk yes yes
CRE4 PR1a non yes yes nc yes yes yes yes yes
CRE5 PR1a Baptist yes yes yes no yes yes yes yes
CRT PR1a Christian yes yes yes no yes yes yes yes
CRE3 PR1a Catholic yes yes yes nc yes yes no yes
CCD PR1a liberal Christian yes no no no no no no yes

Note: P Key = name of person; Q key = question set name; dk=don’t know; nc= no comment

1a = Belief in Virgin Birth? 2b = Belief in literal existence of the Devil? 3c = Belief in Jesus as the only way to salvation? 4d = Opposition to gay becoming clergy? 5e = Belief that Adam and Eve are historical persons? 6f = Rejection of evolution as explanation for how the universe/world came into being?

7g = Belief in the inerrancy of Scripture? 8h = Do you believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ?

 

States continue supporting the Oslo Agreements?” The answer is “no.” The third question asks whether the United States should continue funding the Palestinian Authority. The answer is “no.” The fourth question inquires whether the respondent is in favor of an Arab state in Judea and Samaria. The answer is “no.”

Narrowing of Study to focus on Leadership. After amassing a large set of interview responses, I found that for reasons of clarity I should focus on two subgroups (the Educational Subgroup, ES, and the Media Subgroup, MS, constituting 2 leaders and 4 rank and file, altogether 6 individuals from among the 28 members of the PCJc) because their activism was the most visible of all the PCJc members both through the election and after it. This paper focuses on the findings to the question: What appear to have been the successes and/or failures of this coalition’s advocacy and why has it not organized? I will first briefly report the findings of the profiles, policy, and methods and resources of PCJc members. Then I will address this paper’s topic, the successes or failures of the PCJc. Finally, I will conclude the paper.


[1] Wald (2011) downloaded the data used for this analysis from “August 2007 Religion & Public Life Survey” (Pew Research Center 2007).

 

[2] According a 2012 Pew exit poll, the Jewish vote for the Republican presidential candidate increased from 2008 by 9 percentage points; in 2008, 21 percent of Jews voted for McCain; in 2012, 30 percent of Jews voted for Romney. The white evangelical Christian vote for the Republican presidential candidate also increased compared to 2008; the evangelical Christian vote increased 6 percentage points from 73 percent for McCain in 2008 to 79 percent for Romney in 2012 (Pew Research Center 2012).

 

[3] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, 2’nd ed., s.v. “religion.”

[4] Christian Orthodoxy is a set of beliefs that describe a fundamentalist Christian; I use evangelical Christian instead of fundamentalist Christian. I use measures for fundamentalist orthodoxy (see next footnote) to define an evangelical Christian.

 

[5] To determine religious orthodoxy or belief, I developed a set of questions based on works by both Djupe and Sokhey, and Guth. Jewish Orthodoxy is a set of beliefs and practices of Orthodox Jews. I use Paul A. Djupe and Anand E. Sokhey’s (2006, 906-907) definition: “Orthodox Judaism is smaller in the United States, but holds a stronger position worldwide (particularly in Israel). Adherents view the Torah as recorded law, believe in a set of orally passed laws and traditions called the Halakha, and both written and oral laws are seen as universally present and applicable. Orthodox Jews strictly keep the Sabbath (choosing not to work from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday), wear yarmulkas, and hold strict conventions on gender (men and women are segregated in the synagogue, and women cannot become ordained rabbis). Orthodox Judaism attempts the maintenance of tradition in the face of modernity.” Christian Orthodoxy, or fundamentalist orthodoxy, is a set of beliefs which evangelical Christians tend to hold, including a literal interpretation of the Bible. I use James L. Guth’s (2007, 20) measure for fundamentalist orthodoxy, eight questions, which includes theological items such as belief in or support for: the Virgin Birth, literal existence of the Devil, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, Jesus as the only way to salvation, opposition to gay clergy, Adam and Eve as historical persons, rejection of evolution, and inerrancy of Scripture. I evaluate a respondent as an evangelical Christian based on responses to eight questions, giving scores from 0 to 100 percent with 75 percent as passing and defining a person as an evangelical Christian.

 

[6] Interview questions are in the Appendix below.

Assessing the Influence of Unorganized Interests: A Potential Christian Jewish coalition for a Jewish Judea and Samaria

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