I’ve been a senator now for quite a while and once you’re around long enough like me, you start to notice things. For example, I noticed that, for at least the third summer in a row, a Senate meeting was canceled while there was an event related to Israel taking place.
In this case, the June 4 Senate meeting was canceled while Majority Party Leader Branden Pearson and Student Body Vice President Sarah Abraham were in Israel. Last year, a May 29 meeting was canceled while former Allocations Chair Katie Hernandez happened to be in Israel.
The year before that, a May 23 meeting was canceled while a whole hodgepodge of SG characters just so happened to be in Israel: former Student Body President Smith Meyers (the guy who got arrested), current Student Body President Michael Murphy and future Student Body President candidate (and current Senate Pro Tempore) Emily Dunson.
I mean, sure, the whole canceled Senate meetings may all be coincidences. But there’s plenty of other stuff, too, like SG officials interning for AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), or going to their recent “Saban Leadership Seminar.” As reported by The Alligator, Murphy also went to an AIPAC conference earlier this year for student body presidents. As I wrote about earlier this summer, majority party senators recently plagiarized an anti-Semitism resolution that ironically was not passed in Senate.
But sure, people are free to associate however they may, right? It’s just I find it bizarrely scintillating that almost everyone I’ve named happened to be both Republican and Christian. (Naturally, I can’t make any judgements about religion since I’m not God, but I feel like I can somewhat accurately guess based off Facebook posts laden with Bible verses and many “God bless and go Gators” uttered.)
I was raised as a Presbyterian and like to think I knew my way around the Bible; I was even such a nerd in grade school I took the apologetics classes my church offered for a while. In sermons, of course, we talked about Israel a bunch of times, but I never really grew up with some sort of fixation on Israel nor any sort of drive to go see the ”holy land” or anything. It was kinda just a cool place in the Bible.
To me, Christianity was all, “Love thy neighbor,” (even if they are gay, and I’m looking at you, United Methodist Church) and, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born” (I’m looking at you, Republicans).
So, who cares a lot about Israel? Republicans. In explaining the GOP’s pivot toward Israel, Rebecca Shimoni Stoil, on Nate Silver's website, FiveThirtyEight, wrote, “Since the 1990s, evangelical Christians have come to represent one of the strongest and most hawkish pro-Israel demographics within the Republican party,” and went on to say, “Many pro-Israel evangelicals believe that Israel is essential to the second coming of Jesus.”
Sounds kinda “means to an end”-ish, but alright.
This is called Christian Zionism: the belief Christians ought to support a Jewish homecoming of some sorts to fulfill biblical prophecy. I can’t say I know too much, since I just read the Wikipedia page, but it does look like there’s been some drama with the Presbyterian Church and anti-Zionism.
I found one journal article that said, “The Protestant church with the longest running and most well-funded anti-Zionist constituency is the Presbyterian church in the US.”
It’s clear this is an extremely complicated issue, but I guess this does bring some clarity to how our state government ended up having a cabinet meeting in Israel and why our own SG is so gung-ho for all things Israel.