A new study shows that young Evangelicals' support of Israel is waning, if not outright plummeting with a two-thirds drop in those who say they support Israel – from 69% in 2018 to just 33.6% now.
The study, presented recently at Tel Aviv University, “discovered that young Evangelicals (18-29) are less supportive of Israel and more likely to express support for the Palestinians than their older age cohorts, despite the fact that they more frequently attend church and read the Bible (factors typically associated with higher degree of support for Israel and Jews).”
Motti Inbari and Kirill Bumin of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke surveyed 700 Evangelicals aged 18 to 29 between March 22 and April 2 and published their findings in “The Change of the Guard: Young Evangelicals and Israeli-Palestinian Dispute.”
In recent years, Evangelical support of Israel has been widely recognized by Israeli leaders. Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even told a conference of Christian leaders that “Israel has no better friends” than Evangelicals.
But this study reveals that this support may not be as dependable in the future.
Scott Phillips, executive director of Passages, an organization that brings groups of young Evangelical college students to Israel, called the poll “alarming.”
“Support for Israel is support for the Jewish people to have a homeland, to be able to defend themselves, determine their destiny and be safe in their own homeland,” he told ALL ISRAEL NEWS. “It’s important that they meet the people for themselves versus just hearing something in the media or hearing something on campus or maybe seeing something on a social media info graphic and taking it as the full truth and nothing but the truth. It’s important that they see it for themselves. And that’s what we’re committed to do – show them Israel.”
Interestingly enough, some 40% of young Evangelicals surveyed said they said seldom hear other Evangelicals talking about the importance of supporting Israel and 25.8% said they never hear such messages.
Here are some other numbers from the study:
Some 59% of those who support Israel overwhelmingly said their reasons for doing so are religious.
Of those who said they support Palestinians more, 48.4% said their reasons are political, 40% said it is a gut feeling.
More young Evangelicals support the establishment of a Palestinian state: 44.7% today compared to 35% in 2018.
Yet, 71.6% percent think that all of Jerusalem should be Israel’s capital, only 28.4% think it should be the Palestinians’.
Most of the respondent consider themselves moderate, while an equal number say they are conservative or liberal, 13.7% and 13.8% respectively.
As for party affiliation, 33.7% are Democrat and 24.8% are Republican.
A firm majority – 57.8% – believe that God’s covenant with the Jewish people remains intact today.
Yoav Fromer, head of the Center for the Study of the United States, in partnership with the Fulbright Program, at Tel Aviv University, said the Israeli government has mistakenly put “all its eggs, when it comes to American politics, in one basket – that of the Evangelical voters in the Republican party.”
“If the trends clearly reflected in this study continue, we will discover in the not-too-distant future that the basket is broken, because the support has not been transmitted to younger generations. And the result? The loss of Israel’s most important strategic pillar: the unreserved support of the United States,” Fromer said. “Considering the demographic changes taking place on the other side of the political map that are likely to weaken support for Israel within the Democratic Party, it seems that the Israeli government’s decision to abandon large segments of the liberal, progressive public and gamble only on Evangelical support was a losing bet that might end up costing us dearly.”
On the contrary, Ron Dermer, former Israeli ambassador to the United States, recently said Israel isn’t doing enough to reach Evangelicals, which he called the “backbone” of political support for Israel in the U.S.
“Israel does not spend enough time engaging with the Evangelical community in the United States,” Dermer said.
ALL ISRAEL NEWS Editor-in-Chief Joel Rosenberg has long recommended that Israel create a new official position and appoint an ambassador to the Christian world in order to maintain these ties.
“Indeed, Evangelical Christians have become one of Israel’s most important strategic allies in terms of faithful prayer, tourism, charitable aid, financial investments, political support, partnerships in fighting anti-Semitism and unwavering solidarity in good times and bad,” Rosenberg wrote.
“Yet, as a troubling new survey shows us, Israelis must not take such support for granted.”
Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS