Hint: It’s not because they care about the fate of the Jewish people. Quite the opposite in fact …
Republicans are motivated by two large and powerful groups: the Evangelical Christian movement, which believes that the Jews must return to the Holy Land in order for Christ to return (and either kill or convert the Jews), and the extremely powerful Jewish Lobby in the form of AIPAC, who are perfectly happy to have the support of “useful idiots” in the Evangelical movement in order to realize their own Zionist goals.
The Truth behind Christian Support for Israel
Devout Christians like Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo represent a die-hard part of President Trump’s base, but they also believe that they serve Jesus Christ first and foremost, and so their number one duty is to do whatever they can to hasten the End Times and the 7 Prophecies that lead up to the Return of Jesus Christ.
As Julian Borger explains in The Guardian:
For many US evangelical Christians, one of the key preconditions for such a moment is the gathering of the world’s Jews in a greater Israel between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. It is a belief, known as premillenial dispensationalism or Christian Zionism – and it has very real potential consequences for US foreign policy.
In short, this means leveraging their power and position in every way they can to promote, protect and empower the State of Israel.
Yet, the Christian Zionists’ allegiance to Israel and the Jews is not based on an affinity for Judaism. Rather, it is for some mythical, ideological place that will become once again the seat of power for the risen Christ.
… in the Kingdom Age Israel will consist exclusively of Jews who follow Christ, and all those who reject the Lord will perish before the Millennial Age begins. The reborn state of Israel in the Kingdom is also predicted to become the leading country in all the Earth, and the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem will be the primary focal point for worship and the place where the Lord will literally sit upon His rightful throne to rule the world.
There is even a specific belief that only 144,000 Jews will be saved (“sealed”) when Christ returns, and all others will be killed. Not exactly a nice thing to wish on your “greatest ally” – is it?
Republicans and Likudniks: United by Racism and Militarism
There are also many more secular reasons why GOP support for Israel has really blossomed since the rise of Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party. The Likudniks are also reactionary, right-wing racists who believe in class structure based on race and ethnicity. Indeed, the GOP and Likud are very close in their support for, and promotion of, police militarization and the direct oppression, suppression and outright murder of ethnic minority populations and communities.
Something that does not get covered as much as it should is the close cooperation that exists between US law enforcement and the Israeli military. The Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) operates a program called LEEP (Law Enforcement Exchange Program) whose mission is to “support the American law enforcement community by bringing groups of American law enforcement executives to Israel to study methods and observe techniques used in preventing and reacting to acts of terrorism.”
LEEP techniques were on full display in Ferguson following the Mike Brown protests, and Palestinians expressed solidarity with the people of Ferguson, even offering advice on how to deal with tear gas, rubber bullets and other Israeli-learned police techniques that were being deployed against them.
GOP support for Israel is not just based on religious motives, but also a settler colonial mentality that includes a massive fear of The Other, a propensity to view people of color and indigent people in general as dangerous savages, and a readiness to use police forces to keep indigent populations suppressed and under martial control in order to protect a wealthy white minority.
These “special bonds” between Israel and the GOP are certainly on display under Donald Trump. And while many people claim that Trump refuses to criticize Putin, the world leader whom Trump really likes, and for whom he has nothing but praise, is Bibi Netanyahu. Donald LOVES Bibi, and the two of them are really taking corruption in office to a new level. The recent decision on moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem is just a small part of it. Recently, Netanyahu was caught on tape claiming that he was the one who persuaded Trump to nix the Iranian Nuclear Deal (JPOA).
Aside from the obvious fact that they both fear and persecute Muslims, there is a more fundamental bond that the Likudniks share with the white supremacist faction of the GOP. Israel, for example, recently passed a law declaring openly and plainly that non-Jewish citizens of Israel had fewer and lesser rights than Jewish citizens, thereby enshrining an ethnocentric caste system in actual Israeli Law. I am sure many Republicans wish that the US could enact such a law; certainly the white nationalists who support Trump would want that.
Instead, Trump has to content himself with a deeply racist criminal justice system, mass incarceration, unfair laws, cash bail and other systems to oppress and negate people of color. But I am sure that Trump, Pence and Pompeo along with the other racists and white supremacists, will continue to look to Israel, Bibi and the Likudniks for inspiration.
NOTE: This piece first appeared as an answer on Quora.
EuroYankee is a dual citizen, US-EU. He travels around Europe, writing on politics, culture and such. He pays his US taxes so he gets to weigh in on what is happening in the States.