A very strange article on Media Transparency.org about the National Religious Broadcaster’s convention. Some of the highlights:
Nowhere during the NRB conference were the contradictions more severe — or better suppressed — than at the Israeli Tourism Ministry breakfast. Since the Intifada began four years ago, damaging Israel’s international prestige and scaring off Jewish tourists, Israel ramped up its campaign for evangelical support by marketing itself as the place “where Jesus walked” and enlisting Christian broadcasters as surrogate propagandists. With the Intifada now at a dead end and Israel expecting upwards of 700,000 Christian tourists this year, tourism officials deployed to the convention exuded a blithe, celebratory mood, feting their Christian guests with abundant helpings of scrambled eggs, creamed spinach and sweet rolls, all courtesy of grateful Israeli taxpayers.
In recent years, one of the most outspoken evangelical supporters of Israel has been popular radio host Janet Parshall. As the breakfast’s keynote speaker, she described her decision to tour Israel by recounting a conversation with God.
“God, the Holy Land has terrorists, I said. But, God said, ‘Janet, you’re from Washington DC,’” Parshall recalled to uproarious laughter. But whom was Parshall’s God referring to? To DC’s political class? Or to DC’s sizable population of young Black males who are so often demonized in the conservative media as a criminal plague? The crowd seemed to know.
Just then a small, aging man ambled towards us and identified himself as Itzhak, the founder of Kibbutz Ginosar (website), also located on the Gallilee. “But these people supported us for four years,” he reminded Marina in a scolding tone, referring to conservative evangelicals. I asked him if he agreed with their politics.
Itzhak paused, staring at the ground for a moment, then asked me, “Did you see the bus?”
I replied that I had not.
“The Americans brought that bus,” he said. His voice dripped with disdain.
I followed Itzhak’s directions to the back of the convention hall and there it was: Bus #19, a Jerusalem city bus attacked by a Palestinian suicide bomber in January 2004. A scorched, hollow hulk of twisted steel beams, the bus was hoisted up on a display platform like a concept car at some macabre auto convention. A giant piece of posterboard leaning against the platform featured headshots of hundreds of “Victims of Islamic Terrorism.”
Bus #19 is owned by a Christian Zionist group called “The Jerusalem Connection” (website), which, according to its president, retired US Brigadier General James Hutchens, “looks at the conflict in Israel within a biblical context.” The bus had toured the world, from The Hague, where it served as a prop for protesters against the World Court’s condemnation of the Israeli separation wall, to the US for various evangelical “Remember Israel” rallies. At each stop, it was being offered up by The Jerusalem Connection like a moonbounce for a kid’s birthday party.
At a table near the bus, a Jerusalem Connection employee was handing out pamphlets titled, “Bring Bus #19 To Your Community!” One reason the pamphlet offered for sponsoring it: “For Christians, you will increase in stature, appreciation and acceptance by Jews.”
The whole thing is pretty interesting, so go read it.