A new study surveying evangelical attitudes toward Israel has revealed that evangelicals under the age of thirty tend to view Israel more critically than older generations.
The study, conducted by LifeWay Research in 2018 and analyzed by researchers from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and East Carolina University, found that age is one of the strongest predictors of support for Israel. “We find that young evangelicals are less likely to express strong support than their parents and grandparents—one unit increase in age (i.e., moving from 18–29 years old category to the 30–49 cohort, or from the latter to the 50–64 age group, and so on)…increases support for Israel 1.481 times,” the researchers wrote. They found that the eighteen to twenty-nine years old age bracket was the only age category that carried statistical significance for its negative effect on support for Israel. In addition, although frequent church attendance and socialization with other pro-Israel evangelicals increased the odds of high levels of support for Israel in other age categories by 2.775 times, those factors had a much smaller effect on support for Israel among those eighteen to twenty-nine years old.
The study posits that one of the possible reasons for this age disparity in support for Israel is the fact younger evangelicals are very justice-oriented and tend to be more sympathetic to the Palestinians, viewing them as victims of Israeli occupation. Bible scholar and APJ board member Dr. Darrell Bock commented on this trend, “What drives a millennial are justice questions—and there are real questions related to how Israel handles the Palestinians. Of course, the flipside of this is that there are real problems of security that Israel has to cope with, so Israel is a very tangled web.”
At Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem, we care about the plight of both Palestinians and Israelis and seek to facilitate a better public understanding of the complexities of the Middle East conflict. One of our stated purposes includes creating “a theological position that is positive toward Israel and demonstrates concern for the spiritual well-being of Palestinians and all citizens of the Middle East that younger evangelicals may more easily embrace.” Therefore, we would like to help promote a better understanding among the younger generations about Israel and the Palestinians.
We believe the best ways to accomplish this purpose and help younger evangelicals view Israel in a more positive light include the following: emphasizing support for Israel without neglecting a concern for Palestinians, sharing about Israel’s equal treatment of all its citizens and its high standards for minimizing civilian casualties, differentiating between the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people, and showing how modern-day Israel is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy.
Emphasize support for Israel without neglecting a concern for the Palestinians.
It is important to show that support for Israel does not negate a love and concern for Palestinians. God cares about all people, and Jesus died so that people from every nation could be forgiven from their sins and dwell with Him eternally. The Apostle John described this beautiful reality in his vision of heaven:
“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:9–11).
We must show that loving and supporting Israel does not mean we do not love or care about Palestinians.
Share about Israel’s equal treatment of all its citizens—both Arabs and Jews—and its high standards for minimizing civilian casualties.
Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. As such, all its citizens enjoy the same freedoms and benefits of living in a society with western values and democratic principles. People are treated equally regardless of race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. Muslims, Jews, and Christians all share the same rights and privileges. On the other hand, Palestinian leadership does not allow Jewish people to live in Gaza or the West Bank; it enforces Islamic law, which calls for the persecution of non-Muslims.
As a democracy that values all human life, Israel’s army goes out of its way to minimize the causalities of not only its citizens, but also the lives of civilians in enemy areas. To protect both Arab and Israeli civilians in Israel, the government erected bomb shelters throughout the nation and designed the Iron Dome, which intercepts 90 percent of the rockets fired into Israel at civilian targets, mainly from Gaza.
On the other hand, Hamas—the leading government body in Gaza—fires rockets into Israel indiscriminate of Jewish or Arab civilian areas. In addition, it fires its rockets from civilian buildings in Gaza, such as schools, hospitals, and apartment buildings, putting its own people in danger. Israel responds by warning Gazan civilians in these areas ahead of time before its counterattacks.
For example, in the 2014 Gaza War, Hamas fired hundreds of rockets into Israel—targeting innocent civilians—and launched its rockets from civilian buildings. Israel responded by first warning civilians in these targeted areas to leave using leaflets, radio messages, texts, and phone calls before its attack on Hamas.
Israel did the same during the recent conflict with Gaza in May 2021. After enduring thousands of rockets fired from Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces launched counterattacks. One of these counterattacks included the bombing of the Associated Press office, from which Hamas had been operating its terrorist strategies and attacks. Despite the risk of exposing its strategy, Israel called everyone working in the building and gave them an hour to vacate before the attack to try to save as many civilian lives as possible.
Differentiate between the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people.
While Hamas and its charter openly call for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jewish people, many innocent Palestinians are caught in the crossfires of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and want peace. They do not want to live under their terrorist government, but speaking out against their government or advocating to live in peace with the Jewish people could result in death or imprisonment under Hamas or the Palestinian Authority.
Show how modern-day Israel is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy.
Some younger evangelicals believe that modern-day Israel is completely removed from the “Israel” mentioned in the Bible. But biblical prophecy predicts that God would regather the Jewish people from all over the world back to their ancient homeland in unbelief before the Great Tribulation and Jesus’ Second Coming (Ezekiel 20:33–38; 22:17–22; 36:22–24; 37:1–14; Isaiah 11:11–12; Zephaniah 2:1–2; Ezekiel 38—39).
The New Testament likewise makes clear that God has not abandoned His chosen people, the Jewish people, and speaks of a future day when all of Israel will recognize her Messiah (Romans 11:1–2, 25–26). Jesus’ apostles also believed there would be a day when God would restore the Land of Israel to the Jewish people. Before Jesus’ ascension, His disciples asked Him, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). Jesus did not correct them, but instead affirmed their question by saying it was not for them to know the time the Father would accomplish it (v. 7).
One of the clearest passages in Scripture to defend these truths is Zechariah 12:9–10. In the passage, God says:
And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.
The passage reveals that before Jesus’ return, the Jewish people will be regathered in Jerusalem, and all the world will hate them and try to destroy them. Jesus, Israel’s Messiah, will return to fight on Israel’s behalf, and the Jewish people will finally recognize their Messiah, the One whom they had pierced at His first coming.
 Christopher Connelly, “Why American Evangelicals Are a Huge Base Support for Israel,” The World, October 24, 2016, https://www.pri.org/stories/2016-10-24/why-american-evangelicals-are-huge-base-support-israel.
 “Statement,” Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem, https://allianceforthepeaceofjerusalem.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/APJ-Statement-Formatted-Final.pdf.
 Richard Kemp, “Israel: The World’s Most Moral Army,” PragerU, December 7, 2015, educational video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN1MkAGuVyY.
 Tom and Joann Doyle, interview with Joel Rosenberg, Good News from the Middle East, podcast audio, May 17, 2021, https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/hamas-vs-israel-innocent-people-trapped-in-middle-joel/id1507495295?i=1000522044059.
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