Billy Graham proved that one can support Israel and still be an anti-Semite

Billy Graham proved that one can support Israel and still be an anti-Semite
Billy Graham (Pixabay Images)

Billy Graham died at age 99 last night. That is a long life. He walked with Presidents and was called America’s Pastor. His fundamentalist thunder filled stadiums and ballparks around America. It was the old-time tent revival gone downtown and it played to massive crowds.

I have an Uncle who is a Southern Baptist Minister. Growing up in a religiously split home, my Mom was Southern Baptist, my Father a Jew, I used to list my religion as “Victim.” That has changed over the years. I am no longer a victim of my parent’s war for Bobby’s soul. I am just a religious mess is all.

When Billy Graham came to St. Louis, or when people listened to his radio or television shows and decided they want to sign up and then what? If they lived near my Uncle’s church, my Uncle’s church got a call from Graham’s organization. In college, I learned what Graham was doing is good marketing, and even has the name “missionary marketing.”

Billy Graham was a significant church builder for fundamentalist religious traditions. His job was to get them into the pews. It was someone else’s job to keep them there.

In the 1950s and the 1960s, he was a regular face and voice on television and radio. My Mother loved him. My Father had learned to keep quiet about Billy Graham around my Mom.

Mom’s love of the fiery preacher with the strong drawl would not last. Billy Graham had a dark secret that was going to come out. If one becomes a moth and flies around that flame, we call the White House, getting burned is inevitable.

It happened to Billy Graham. If one chooses a public life, there are no keeping secrets. Sooner or later, everything comes out. Billy Graham’s secret came out. In 1972, while speaking with Richard Nixon, the White House tape recorders were running and caught a conversation between Nixon and Graham.

“I go and I keep friends with Mr. Rosenthal at The New York Times and people of that sort, you know,” he told Mr. Nixon, referring to A. M. Rosenthal, then the newspaper’s executive editor. ”And all — I mean, not all the Jews, but a lot of the Jews are great friends of mine, they swarm around me and are friendly to me because they know that I’m friendly with Israel. But they don’t know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country. And I have no power, no way to handle them, but I would stand up if under proper circumstances.”—Billy Graham, as reported in the New York Times, March 17, 2002.

Billy Graham was an anti-Semite. He bought off on Henry Ford and Adolf Hitler’s views that Jews control the media. He wanted to stand up to them “under the proper circumstances.” We will never know what those circumstances were to Billy Graham. He never would say.

The news of Graham’s anti-Semitism first appeared in the press. Graham denied the charges. It was not until the release of the White House tapes that we heard the familiar voice that preached the love of Jesus to millions of people speak hateful words about Jews.

Jewish Groups had given him numerous awards for his support of Israel over the years. Abe Foxman, of The Anti-Defamation League, demanded that Graham return the awards. Graham’s reaction was to give a “sorry,” state that he did not recall the conversation, and then refuse to speak about it again.

How can someone say they support Israel and be an anti-Semite?

It is not a paradox. Evangelicals are strong supporters of Israel. It is not they necessarily like Jews. Many share Billy Graham’s views. Their support of Israel is not because of the Jewish experience in the Holocaust. Nor is it because of special Jewish status as the “Chosen People,” in the Bible. Many evangelicals believe in replacement theology that Christians are the new chosen people, and Jews are the has-beens.

They support Israel because of Christian apocalyptic prophecies. They need Israel to exist to satisfy the conditions for a return of Jesus in a predicted second coming.

Jews are not in the habit of reading the Christian Bible. In my family, there was not a no-read option. I read every word, and not just once, but dozens of times. Let me give you the thumbnail version of why evangelicals support Israel.

There needs to be Israel so there can be a final battle at a place called Armageddon. In that battle, Jesus wins, and those who do not accept him as Lord and Savior get swept into a firey pit where they burn for eternity. That especially includes Jews.

They like us, they really like us, to paraphrase Sally Field.

For Israel’s part, they are OK with American evangelicals looking forward to the day the world ends if it means they will support Israel today. Israel needs planes, bombs, and other military assistance to continue to exist. Having a Christian army to march on Congress for appropriations is a good thing in Israel’s eyes.

Left holding the bag are American Jews. American Jews get the full brunt of Jew-hate and none of the lobbying benefits that our cousins in Israel receive. I get it all the time on Twitter.

Offen, I am called a kike, or a Hebe, and accused of not being a loyal American because I support Israel by people who support Israel due to their religion. The reason for this hate is I speak up, and I am supposed to “know my place.” That place is defined by anti-Semites as any place as long as it is not in America. My speaking my mind offends them and highlights to the anti-Semites (who support Israel) that everything horrible they have heard about Jews is true.

In fact, maybe the evangelicals should do some soul-searching as to whether they do support Israel. Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State for evangelical’s hero, Donald Trump, is babbling in Lebanon trying to make a distinction between Hezbollah and the Lebanese Government. Too bad there is no distinction between the two. Lebanon’s Government is Hezbollah.

With supporters like these who needs enemies?

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