How Trump traded annexation for his Christian base – analysis

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The Evangelicals were instrumental in bringing this peace deal to the table.

US President Donald Trump speaks to attendees with a sheet of bullet proof glass and the Washington Monument in the background as he hosts a 4th of July "2020 Salute to America" to celebrate the US Independence Day holiday at the White House in Washington, US, July 4, 2020. (photo credit: CARLOS BARRIA / REUTERS)

US President Donald Trump speaks to attendees with a sheet of bullet proof glass and the Washington Monument in the background as he hosts a 4th of July “2020 Salute to America” to celebrate the US Independence Day holiday at the White House in Washington, US, July 4, 2020.

(photo credit: CARLOS BARRIA / REUTERS)

Could the path to US President Donald Trump’s reelection go through Dubai to the heart of his Evangelical base in the American Bible belt?

One would have thought that the key to winning their support was annexing Judea and Samaria, the biblical heartland of the Land of Israel. But sources in the Evangelical community told The Jerusalem Post that they cared much more about bringing peace in the Middle East than changing the status of barren hilltops.

Now, Trump is likely to get an electoral bounce from his core constituency with the impending signing of a peace deal between the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel.

“Will Evangelicals turn out to vote for Trump in larger numbers if he gives Israel the green light to annex large swaths of Judea and Samaria? I don’t believe so,” Evangelical leader Joel Rosenberg wrote in an op-ed for the Post earlier this year, when it looked like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would annex around July 1. “Most Evangelicals already believe that Trump is the most pro-Israel president in American history. If he could midwife a peace treaty between Israel and an Arab country, that would certainly energize Evangelicals.”

Johnnie Moore, who helped organize the Trump campaign’s evangelical advisory board in 2016, told the Post that from his vantage point the White House deserves all the credit for being able to “defy conventional wisdom and unrelentingly pursue peace in the Middle East.”

Moore used the historic signing to remind that “we are right now living in a time when there are gigantic leaders around the world and those leaders are sometimes controversial.”

Moreover, Rosenberg told the Post there was a belief by several top Evangelicals that supporting an immediate annexation could have harmed Trump’s reelection campaign. If violence erupted in the form of a third intifada; Jordan or Egypt broke their peace treaties with the Jewish state; or Israel faced harsh international sanctions or was put at risk in another way, then annexation could have appeared to be “just another reckless move” by the president.

Above all, Rosenberg said that “Evangelicals want Israel to be safer, stronger and more peaceful, not necessarily bigger.”

“A lot of people think they know what Evangelicals want,” Moore said. “There are all of these conspiracy theories about why Evangelicals support Israel.” But he said that while most Evangelicals believe that Bible prophecy indicates that one day Israel will have all the land that was promised to Abraham in the Bible, what Evangelicals want is what is best for Israel – and their faith dictates that peace is what Israel needs most.

“Blessed are the peacemakers,” Jesus told the Christians. The Apostle Paul said that, “if possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”

Every day, Evangelical Christians around the world pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

“God has answered our prayer for peace,” Moore told the Post. Now, he said, it is “incomprehensible what can happen, and I think the miracle that has taken place is a miracle of pulling the scales off the eyes of people who are more alike than different and letting them see a common future for their children and the region.”

He said he foresees other Arab countries following in the UAE’s footsteps such as Bahrain.

The Evangelicals were instrumental in bringing this peace deal to the table.

Moore and Rosenberg were part of the first delegation of Evangelical leaders to the United Arab Emirates in October 2018 during which talk about normalization of ties occurred, and they took part in many subsequent meetings throughout the region. As Evangelicals, they said, those meetings always included an additional subtext, sometimes overt and sometimes inferred, because Evangelicals, nearly 800 million of them, are known to be devoted and loyal friends of the State of Israel.

“Our vibrant, global and influential Christian movement not only represents one of the most important constituencies to the presidents of many countries, including the United States, we are also a type of global firewall against antisemitism, and its latest iteration in anti-Zionism,” Moore said.

But he said that the Evangelicals’ commitment to peace-making has successfully made them allies with Arab governments combating extremism and served as an effective bridge builder between Arab communities and their Jewish neighbors.

In 2018, shortly after that first visit, one prominent Evangelical leader spoke at the Post’s annual conference and predicted peace between Israel and the Sunni Gulf states. He said that Netanyahu’s legacy would be making peace.

“I’m not saying it in theory, I’m talking to these leaders and hearing things that are absolutely astonishing,” the Evangelical leader said from the stage. “I’m hearing things I’ve never heard before.”

He said those statements after being at those same meetings with Moore and Rosenberg.

Now, the time for a new peace has finally come – 26 years after the last one, they said, referring to an adage made popular in the Book of Esther: “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

The numerology of God’s name, Yaweh, is 26.

If this move is seen by Evangelicals as solidifying Trump’s role in history, like that of Esther in the Bible, his base could be ready and galvanized for the election in November.

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