Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has accepted the idea of a Palestinian state once hostilities cease -- a position that, polls show, a majority of the Israeli public also favors. But on May 12, 59 percent of the voting members of Sharon's Likud Party, senior partner in Israel's coalition government, voiced opposition to a Palestinian state in a non-binding resolution pushed by supporters of former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu has argued that no one in the Likud wants to govern Palestinians and that Palestinians are entitled to self-rule, but never to a sovereign state that could build an army and invite in the forces of nations hostile to Israel. Speakers at Friday's rally, which was of two hours' duration within a two-day Christian Coalition conference in the capital, expressed similar beliefs.
"We are in a war on terrorism," said former presidential candidate Gary Bauer. "We are trying to limit and lessen the number of terrorist nations. So under no circumstances should we create a new terrorist nation of Palestine."
Bauer said it is obvious that United Nations bureaucrats have infinite tolerance for dead Jews, and the diplomats of Europe have looked the other way as the beast of anti-Semitism springs up again. The U.S. media, Bauer said, have "sided with the murderers instead of the murdered." But the Christians of America have made their choice: "We will stand with Israel," he said.
Bauer, a domestic policy adviser to President Reagan, is co-chairman of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, which describes itself as supportive of Israel and in favor of traditional values.
He noted that on Sept. 11, 2001, there was dancing in the streets of the West Bank, but Israelis lowered their flags in mourning. "We will not forget who stood with us on 9-11," he said, adding that Yasser Arafat should not have control over Christian sites in the Holy Land.
"Here's a question to our critics," said Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Tex. "Do we want Israel to look more like the Middle East, or do we want the rest of the Middle East to start looking more like Israel?"
The House majority whip said: "Citizens of free nations share a bond that flows from a common set of enduring principles. For this reason, Americans have always identified with the righteous struggle of the people of Israel."
DeLay said Israel and the United States differ greatly, but both countries are filled with immigrants following their dreams, fleeing danger and finding safe harbor. Both respect freedom and honor the rights of the individual, tolerate loud debate through free speech and free press, have contested elections and live under the rule of law.
"The dangers confronting Israel are enormous. I saw it for myself," DeLay said. "I've been to Masada. I've toured Judea and Samaria. I've walked the streets of Jerusalem, and I've stood on the Golan Heights. ... And you know what? I didn't see any occupied territory. What I saw was Israel!" he said to applause.
"We can't expect the people of Israel to make territorial concessions that leave them unable to defend themselves," DeLay said. "When Israel is attacked, we should not ask them to withdraw. We should stand with her and fight! ... America doesn't run from a friend."
"If America doesn't have the character or the wisdom to stand with Israel today, God will not stand with us tomorrow," he told the cheering throng at the Washington Convention Center. The congressman said if Americans let others bring about political change by blowing up children in buses and shopping malls, "We're next. So if you want to defend America ... you'd better have the guts to stand up for Israel."
Graham predicted, "There will be an awakening in the Arab world. There will be people in the Arab world who are tired of seeing conflict, tired of seeing their children having no future. They will come forward with our help.
"There are people in the world today who want to destroy Israel. Those people will be my enemy forever. Those people who want to bring about peace -- come join us."
Graham said he hopes soon to see the United States "send a signal that's undeniable, unquestionable to all the forces of evil that you will not destroy the state of Israel. If that is your goal, you will lose."
Pat Robertson, founder and past president of the Christian Coalition, said: "Israel is being beset by enemies who hate her. There are Islamic schools in the Washington area funded by the Wahabi sect in Saudi Arabia, which have maps (of the Middle East) that do not include the name Israel. They just have maps that say Palestine. And I submit to you today that throughout the Arab world there is no desire to let Israel continue as a sovereign state."
Rather, he said, there is the desire to "wipe Israel off the face of the earth and drive the Jews into the sea, and we are not going to let that happen!"
Robertson said Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority has either killed or deported the vast majority of the Christian population of Bethlehem. He said that, contrary to popular perception, Palestine has in fact been occupied by Arafat and "a group of Mafia-like thugs" imported from Tunisia. "We cannot turn that country over to them," he said.
The evangelical minister said Arafat and the PA have had since the 1993 Oslo accords to build infrastructure, private enterprise, to educate the young, and bring about sanitation.
"They have done none of those things," he said. "All they understand is terror. And that's the kind of regime that's been imposed on the Palestinian people. And finally, thank the Lord, our president has waked up to the fact that Yasser Arafat is not somebody we should be dealing with."
Robertson said that the Israeli capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War was the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. "In my opinion, Jerusalem is the eternal ... capital of the state of Israel, and it must not be divided," he said.
Robertson said God gave the Jews the land of Canaan "as your special possession."
The nations of the earth are lined up against Israel, he said, and the United Nations has passed many resolutions condemning the Jewish State. Certain U.S. universities have withdrawn investments, and "there has been a shocking turning against Israel on the part of the press."
Regardless, Robertson said, "We will stand with Israel."
Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert said: "As you all know, we are in the middle of a very vicious and brutal war which is waged by Yasser Arafat and his gang against innocent people in the heart of our city. There is nothing they want more than to break the spirit of our people. ... And nothing will break the spirit of the people of Israel. ... God is with us! You are with us! And we will stand firm, and we will win this war against the terrorists."
Olmert said the tears Israelis shed for their dead and wounded should not be mistaken for weakness. "No matter how hard and difficult it will be, we will keep this city united, undivided, as the capital of the state of Israel and the Jewish people."
"And I want you to know," Olmert told his audience, "how much we need your friendship and support and how much we respect these expressions of support that come from this evangelical community of great believers and lovers of Zion. We are partners. We are friends. ... God bless all of you. God bless America."
Israeli Knesset member Benny Alon, of the Moledet Party, advocated the transfer of the Palestinian population of the West Bank to Jordan.
Israel's enemies think that Jewish values translate to weakness, Alon said, but "God knows how to teach us to combine the values of mercy and revenge."
Israel cannot live with a Palestinian state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, he said. An independent Palestinian state would be the beginning of the end of the State of Israel.
Referring to Jordan, Alon said Palestinians already have a state on the east bank of the river.
Alon, a rabbi, read aloud some of the last verses of Chapter 33 of the Book of Numbers, in which God instructs Moses on the plains of Moab. The Jerusalem Bible of 1966 renders the text: "When you have crossed the Jordan into the land of Canaan, you must drive all the inhabitants of the country before you. ... If you do not drive the inhabitants of the country before you, then those you have spared will be barbs in your eyes and thorns in your side; they will harass you where you live, and I will deal with you as I meant to deal with them."