Religion

One Weird Reason the US Supports Israel: An Ancient Prophesy About Magog

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So, things are kicking off again between Israel and Palestine, and let me be very clear: Israel is almost entirely at fault for all this and their actions in occupying Palestine have been abhorrent. “Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians. Laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy. In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain areas…these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.” And if you think that’s just me spouting off my ignorant, biased opinion please note that those weren’t my words — those were the words written by the international Nobel-prize winning NGO Human Rights Watch in their report from last month titled “a threshold crossed.” If you are still clinging to the false belief that this is a complicated situation where “both sides” are at fault, I highly recommend you read the entire clear and utterly damning report.

Here in the United States, we just all paid our taxes, and a significant portion of those taxes will fund Israel’s brutal violence against Palestinians — in 2018, the US pledged to provide Israel with $38 billion in military aid over the next decade. Why on Earth would we give so much money, and so many bombs and other weapons, to Israel for the express purpose of murdering and further subjugating Palestinians?

Well, that part is complicated, in that there is no one reason but in fact several reasons that all come together to destroy lives on the other side of the planet. For a start, the US wants to have an ally in the Middle East who has a strong army that can keep nations like Syria in check, and can even reach Russia with missile strikes if needed. And a nice way to have and keep an ally is to, you know, throw a ton of money at them. There are also capitalistic reasons — we are, in a sense, funding our own military industrial complex by giving Israel money that they will spend buying bombs from US factories. 

But there’s one surprisingly big reason why America supports Israel that I want to tell you about today: because MILLIONS OF AMERICANS believe that one day a country called Magog will go to war with Israel, causing God to take his toys and go home (by which I mean all the good Christians will teleport to heaven) and let the antichrist rule the Earth as the head of a totalitarian New World Order for seven years, after which time God and all the Christians come BACK to Earth, murder the antichrist, defeat Satan Himself, and form a new heaven-on-earth kind of deal.

I’m not joking. “Magog” is a serious reason why Palestinian children are currently dying from American bombs that I, an atheist American taxpayer, helped pay for.

A full third of Americans are evangelical Christians. Some of the most famous, most lauded, most influential leaders of Christian evangelicals from the past few decades, such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Billy Graham, and by some accounts Martin Luther King, Jr., are Christian zionists — that is, people who believe in the Magog hypothesis. When Trump came into office, zionists saw an opportunity to get into the highest ranks of government, and they did. And they influenced high level decisions to help bring on the end times, like when Trump moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or when he assassinated Major General Qasem Soleimani.

Let’s go over it. About 2,600 years ago a Hebrew prophet named Ezekial made up the story of Gog, the leader of a country “in the north” called Magog, which he said would eventually join with Persia to attack Israel. Later, Christians turned that prophecy into the insane fever dream found in the Book of Revelation. Much much later, some other Christians came up with the storyline you may know if you ever read or watched the book or movie Left Behind: Magog is Russia, Persia is now Iran. If the second coming of Jesus is going to happen, a lot of things need to line up — first, Israel needs to become a state. Done. Then, Israel needs to remain a state while as many Jewish people as possible move there. Then, Russia and Iran need to team up and start a war with Israel. At that point, God will obliterate the countries attacking Israel and rapture all the Christians away from the Earth. The “New World Order” that sets up a fascist government is the United Nations. After seven years of torture at the hands of….the UN….Jesus Christ will finally return as he promised some 2,000 years ago.

That’s why millions — MILLIONS — of Americans are happy to support Israel — they need Israel to continue existing in order for the second coming to happen. They supported the assassination of Soleimani because it pokes Iran into going to war. They supported the moving of the embassy to Jerusalem because they think God gave all of Israel to the Jewish people and if anyone else is there, it pushes back the end times. Plus, moving the embassy helped simultaneously strengthen Israel, kill some Palestinians in the ensuing protests, and further unraveling the peace process. They are supporting Israel because they hope to see the region fall into a catastrophic war that will, in their belief system, result in the abject torture and misery of all the Jewish people left behind after the rapture, all because they want their front row ticket to the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Bonkers. It’s bonkers! And yet this belief, and this commitment to the belief, is much more widespread than most people realize. Here’s a fun example: I always think of my religious upbringing as pretty chill. My family were Baptist, but we were allowed to drink, dance, and generally have fun, unlike the more stereotypical Southern Baptists. I never thought of us as evangelical — yes, my youth group did go on occasional trips to New York to preach on the streets, but my parents thought that was weird and dangerous and didn’t let me go even though I wanted to (yeah, I was one of those kids).

So just a normal, non-extremist Baptist upbringing in New Jersey. And yet! I was taught in church and in youth group exactly the Magog story I related to you earlier. And I believed it 100%. I was terrified that one day the rapture was going to happen and if for some reason God found me lacking, I would be chased down by an authoritarian New World Order and either murdered or tattooed with the mark of the beast. And it’s really only when I was doing research for this video that it really hit me: my church WAS extremist. It’s just that extremist religious views are way more common than even I internalized, and I talk about extremist religious views for a living.

So there you have it, just some food for thought. Please help Palestinians by adding your voice to the growing chorus of Americans who are critical of Israel’s apartheid state. Boycott their products, speak the facts loudly, and share story of their human rights abuses, because that’s the only way we can make it stop.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor.

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2 Comments

  1. Great blog, as usual!! Just wanted to add some info from the perspective of someone who is from the fundamentalist community. Just to establish my credential: Went to fundamentalist bible school from 1st grade through college. Never public school. Read the bible cover to cover every year. Am still formidable in bible games and can quote the bible better than a majority. Now atheist.

    Anyway, I agree with everything you said but it varies a little bit. The general story you related is sort of universally accepted but the details differ. Gog and Magog are around in all the versions. (George Bush used the prophecy to justify, in part, the war with Iraq https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2009/aug/10/religion-george-bush.) But as is the case with most prophecies they are interpreted differently among Christians. IMO most Christians are not rapture people. Some are postmillennialists some are premillennialists, and there are other variations. These words basically convey the position specific Christians have on the chronology of the events of the “last days.” The support for Israel does, as you pointed out, revolve around the perceived fact that “something” must happen in Israel before God takes everyone to heaven. For some, that “thing” is that all Jews must return to Israel and convert to Christianity. There are, of course, other interpretation. Further, the actual “taking away” part varies. Some support the rapture as the method. Some support Jesus returning from heaven and taking the faithful away forever. Some add that God also destroys the earth and all nonbelievers in the process, then after 1000 years, creates the earth again yada yada yada.

    The point is, in every version, there is some really weird thinking and that thinking does impact political positions of the US. So, your essay hit the nail on the head in terms of explaining the reality of the situation in general, and why Christians support Israel.

    Sorry about the length.

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