Weighing in, very belatedly, on the whole Mark Shea vs Israeli Cheesecake conflagration, I note that the official Prayer for the State of Israel affirms that the creation of the State of Israel is the fulfillment of prophecy. This notion originates, basically, in the writings of Rav Kook, who asserted that the Zionist enterprise was the “unconscious” fulfillment of prophecy and that, therefore, it was permissable, even mandatory, for observant Jews to support the founding of a secular State of Israel because, while such a state would be ideologically opposed to their fundamental beliefs, it was a necessary precursor to the true fulfillment of prophecy, the rule of the Lord from Zion. I myself have considerable sympathy for Hegel, but I don’t downplay the dangers of importing Hegelian historicist ethics into revealed religion, and the spiritual descendents of Rav Kook provide an obvious example of these dangers playing out in the real world. Nonetheless, it is entirely plausible to me that American Evangelicals could support the State of Israel, howsoever it might offend Christian sensibilities (whether by producing frankly not-terribly-offensive cheesecake videos or by, what I think should be far more significant, banning missionary activity), on much the same logic: while Israel as it is does not represent the fulfillment of prophecy, it is a stage on the road to that fulfillment. Indeed, I don’t see how Evangelicals could support Israel in any other terms, given that their prophecies culminate in a massive conflagration in which much of the world is destroyed and the Jewish survivors are converted to Christianity, which is certainly not what Rav Kook had in mind. If the State of Israel is to be the fulfillment of Christian prophecy, it must be unconsciously so. In which case, why should anyone expect it to be especially sensitive to Christian sensibilities?
For myself, as I’ve noted before, I prefer not to affirm the State of Israel’s status as the fulfillment of prophecy, but rather to pray that it might be such a fulfillment.