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Support for Israel Will Be a Key Issue in the Iowa Caucuses

Everyone knows that evangelicals make up about half the Republican electorate in Iowa, so they will play a huge role in determining who the Republican presidential nominee will be. Or, at very least, who the Republican presidential nominee will NOT be. For them, Israel resonates not only politically but also biblically. Pastor Steve Rowland of the Rising Sun Church of Christ in a Des Moines suburb said: "What we're seeing in that region is pure evil. Israel has mobilized their army and they are intent on stamping out evil, and we should be behind them. That's where we should be." He's not the only one. With abortion out of the way for the moment, support for Israel and the need for a Jewish state there so Jesus can come home and kick off the rapture is becoming a top issue for many evangelicals. Many of them have been critical of Joe Biden—because he hasn't been tough enough with Hamas and Iran.

Nikki Haley grew up as a Sikh but became a Methodist after marrying her Methodist husband. Nevertheless, she well understands what evangelicals want. After the attack on Israel, in an interview in Iowa she said: "We've got a true war between good and evil, and we have to have a leader that has the moral clarity to know the difference." So rather than putting the situation in Israel in a geopolitical or historical framework, she is putting it in a biblical framework. Evangelicals love it. Finally someone who gets them.

Trump also scores well with evangelicals, in part because he moved the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, even though that merely required swapping the "Embassy" sign on the State Dept. office in Tel Aviv with the "Consulate" sign on the State Dept. office in Jerusalem. However, his recent criticism of Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu doesn't play well with many evangelicals. Still, he is the leader in Iowa, although Haley is rising there and could well end up in second place soon.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) recently said of Israel's enemies: "the wrath of God, let them feel it." The staff theologian didn't want to get sucked into this, especially since she's still recovering from the celebrations of the Birthday of Baha'u'llah, but to us, Scott's statement sounds more Old Testamenty than New Testamenty. Scott apparently missed the bit about turning the other cheek. Oh well. He's toast anyway.

Several Iowa pastors have criticized Vivek Ramaswamy, who has opposed U.S. aid to Israel. The fact that he is a Hindu probably doesn't help much with them, either.

One issue that divides evangelicals is what to do about refugees from Gaza who manage to get out. Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) do not want the U.S. to accept any of them. Haley feels compassion for them, but has a different solution: Let the Arab countries take them in. Maybe she somehow missed the fact that while Trump failed to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, Egypt successfully completed a barrier along its border with Gaza. Here it is:

Barrier Egypt built along the border with Gaza

From the looks of it, Egypt does not seem to be terribly welcoming to Gaza refugees—and neither are any of the other Arab countries. They talk a good game about their Arab brothers, but walls speak louder than words. (V)

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