http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/ar...ng-Christ.html Selected quotes:

What was it that possessed Donald Trump to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the divided city of Jerusalem, sparking this week’s bloodshed in Gaza? It was an unprecedented decision that previous Presidents had shied away from, knowing it would dangerously inflame tensions with the Palestinians who lay claim to the eastern part of the city and whose Muslim faith has a number of sacred sites within its walls. With violent protests and more than 50 Palestinians shot dead by Israeli troops, the reaction has been as explosive and brutal as everyone feared. A significant clue as to what drove Trump to make such a seemingly reckless move can be found in the two evangelical preachers who led the prayers at the embassy’s official opening on Monday. . .

Why on earth should these Texan evangelical preachers make such a song and dance about the U.S. symbolically acknowledging Jerusalem as the Israeli capital?

Strange as it may seem, the reason is that they — and millions of evangelical Americans like them — believe it will help bring about the fulfilment of fire and brimstone prophesies from the Bible that are central to their very literal interpretation of Christianity. Some evangelicals believe war between Jews and Arabs is part of God’s plan, involving a period of destruction called the Great Tribulation. Donald Trump is desperate for the support of evangelicals in the U.S. And he hopes to achieve this by overturning decades of American foreign policy designed to avoid offending Arabs, and categorically accepting Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The biblical prophesies are made in the books of Revelation and Daniel. They hold that Jesus Christ will return to Earth when all the Jews are reunited in Israel and it becomes an exclusively Jewish state. According to Revelation, once the Jews are reunited, an epic battle between good and evil will break out in Israel and good will finally triumph . . .

So-called ‘Christian Zionists’ take Revelation literally, so they want Israel to flourish. Their ‘dispensationalist’ theology is today predominantly believed by Americans but it first arrived in the U.S. with the English Puritans — protestants who emigrated to the American colonies from the 17th century onwards . . .

What is so extraordinary is not just the fundamental and unlikely nature of the beliefs of these evangelicals, but that they could not be more different in outlook from the metropolitan Jewish lobby on the East and West coasts — traditionally thought to be the reason U.S. presidents so readily rush to Israel’s aid . . .

Trump aides have denied that theology was behind the incendiary embassy move, insisting it was motivated by a genuine attempt to create peace in the Middle East by bolstering an increasingly beleaguered Israel. One reason Trump pushed for the embassy move might be that he has a prominent Jewish Zionist backer — Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson — who contributed $25 million to his election campaign and urged him to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. However, the fact is that the only Americans who really supported the move by a significant majority were evangelical Christians.

A survey by the Brookings Institution found 63 per cent of Americans opposed the decision, as opposed to only 40 per cent of evangelicals. Mr Trump is widely regarded as having done more to please evangelicals than any president, giving them a string of positions on his cabinet. They have become increasingly crucial to him electorally, as support among other voters has dwindled. Vice President Mike Pence, who calls himself an ‘evangelical Catholic’, has close links with Christian Zionist groups.

The Christian Zionism movement has spread beyond the U.S. across the world. Every year, thousands of supporters parade through Jerusalem during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot to noisily profess their love for Israel. However, the alliance between evangelical Christians and Israelis remains uneasy. While Israel has welcomed the support of evangelical Christians and encourages them to visit holy sites, Jewish sceptics note that the evangelicals believe Jews can be saved only if they convert to Christianity. Otherwise, according to the Book of Revelation, they will be tossed into the burning lake along with all the other heretics.

It is a story of theological fundamentalism that other Christians will find hard to believe. But in the Middle East, where religious zealots have battled for thousands of years, history always seems doomed to repeat itself.