Jewish Journal

Falwell for Israel

by Brad A. Greenberg

May 17, 2007 | 12:19 pm

That’s what Zev Chafets had to say about the late Rev. Jerry in an op-ed that read like an appreciation in yesterday’s LA Times:

He believed that God had a plan for the United States and that its enemies were evil. He referred to Muslim radicals as “barbarians” and advocated taking out Iran’s nuclear capacity by force. “Bush is probably too weak politically to do it,” he told me over barbecue one afternoon. “It will be up to Israel. And we’ll be at the White House, cheering.”

Falwell’s Zionism was by no means inevitable. Before him, evangelicals reluctantly acknowledged that the Jews were God’s chosen people, but many didn’t quite agree with the choice. Falwell embraced the Jews of Israel (who appreciated his friendship) just as he embraced American Jews (who, by and large, spurned it). He could be acerbic about Jewish leaders — he called Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League a “damn fool” and pointedly told me that the comment was on the record — but he never let Jewish hostility shake his philo-Semitism. American Jews who now take evangelical friendship for granted need to know that it is, to a large extent, a grant from Jerry Falwell.

During Israel’s war with Hezbollah last summer, Chafets, who is Jewish, wrote a piece titled “I Want Falwell in My Foxhole,” in which he discussed evangelical support for Israel and stated, “I’d rather be in a bomb shelter—or a foxhole—with Jerry Falwell than with Jerry Seinfeld.”

(Round-up of Falwell’s choicest quotes on Jewlicious.)

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