Published on : 11/20/2016
By : Arista Asmawati
Friends of Zion founder Mike Evans and his recruitment drive for Christian-Zionist allies for the State of Israel.
Mike Evans is one of the most prominent Christian Zionist leaders in the world today.
He is building the $100 million Friends of Zion Heritage Center in Jerusalem, he is founder of the Jerusalem Prayer Team group, is a New York Times best-selling author on the Middle East and Christianity and is on the evangelical advisory board to President-elect Donald Trump.
But in these times of ongoing hostility and antagonism towards the Jewish state around the world, Evans has a single, focused mission.
His goal is to activate, through the institutions he runs, what he describes as a latent mass of Christian Zionist allies of Israel who can be the linchpin of efforts to roll back the anti- Zionist sentiment that has taken root in universities and in the mainstream globally around the world.
For Evans, the most critical objective today for the Christian Zionist movement is to recruit the millions of Evangelicals and Protestant Christians worldwide to fight alongside Israel in the forum of global opinion and activism, and has set a goal of reaching 100 million such people to further this objective through social networks.
In particular, Evans is focused on so-called millennials, born in the latter years of the 20th century and the early years of the current one, as holding the key to the future for global governance more broadly and to the narrative over Israel and its enemies.
“Millennials will be the most powerful force on earth and they will be the ones who lead the world, who will run corporations and countries,” he says.
He notes, however, that this new generation “speaks a completely different language” than that of its predecessors and, more importantly, gets its information from different sources.
Newspapers and cable news channels are relics of a bygone past for millennials, Evans argues, and so in order to reach them with any kind of message, one must be engaged in social media through a specialized campaign to convey the message of support for the Jewish state.
Through various social media platforms, including that of another institution run by Evans – the Jerusalem Prayer Team – he is reaching out to Evangelicals and other Protestants to engage them in the project of rallying to Israel’s side.
“There are a billion Protestants in the world, and they all have one thing in common, the Bible,” enthuses Evans.
“As children Protestants grow up reading and believing the stories of Moses, Abraham, King David and the Holy Land.
“These people don’t have to be convinced. They believe this is the land of the Bible and they believe God Almighty gave it to the Jewish people.”
Jerusalem Prayer Team has already garnered close to 11 million Facebook likes, and has some 2.5 million social media engagements globally, demonstrating not just interest but interaction on such platforms, says Evans.
Identifying, educating and “activating” millions of potential Christian allies of Israel on social media, he believes, could provide the country with a powerful boost in its ability to win the argument of dueling narratives between Israel and its enemies, and help overcome ideological and diplomatic wars waged against it.
The expectation and desired outcome is that these activated and enlisted allies of the Jewish state will go on to engage in public diplomacy for Israel, attend pro-Israel rallies, buy Israeli products, be active on campus and advocate for Israel.
In addition to recruiting the masses, Friends of Zion is also seeking to create a legion of 10,000 “ambassadors” worldwide to further this information battle in a focused manner. The Friends of Zion has gained 11.7 million members worldwide in its first year, 1.8 million of them from Indonesia, a Muslim country.
The late president Shimon Peres was its first international chairman and 25 Israelis serve on its board, led by Yossi Peled. The organization has presented Friends of Zion awards to president George W. Bush and Prince Albert II of Monaco and has honored the Pope.
The ‘ambassador’ program will be run by Friends of Zion in conjunction with universities and colleges around the world, and will include training online as well as during special visits to Israel in Middle Eastern Studies, public diplomacy for Israel.
The ambassadors will eventually be expected to be active in different forums, be it on a local municipal level, through federal governments in religious forums such as churches and local congregations and online.
For Evans, the recruitment drive underscores the scale of the problem and its gravity, pointing to the delegitimization campaigns waged against Israel by pro-Palestinian activists, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions drive against the Jewish state, and the controversial resolutions passed by UNESCO recently that ignore Jewish and Christian ties to Jerusalem.
In particular, he references the actions of the German Church, which embraced nationalistic and racial aspects of Nazi ideology.
“The church in Germany tragically embraced Jew hatred that emerged gradually through arts and through literature and became a silent killer,” says Evans.
Once these ideas crept into the churches and were integrated into them, Hitler was able to take advantage of the phenomenon for his own war against the Jewish people.
“It made it possible for authoritarian fascists to game them, and we don’t want that to happen again, because these struggles begin in the mind. The battle for children’s minds doesn’t begin when you place a gun or a knife in their hand, it’s all over by then. It begins with a smartphone and so we need to win this battle now, so this type of thing won’t happen again.”
“The wars of the 20th century are gone, but democracies are still fighting them. The new wars are media wars, ideological, economic and proxy wars, and are being fought through social networks.”
Moreover, Evans quoted Peres and said that it takes much less energy to create friends and sustain them than it does to create enemies.
“Israel cannot compete and win in the ideological, economic and media wars of the global marketplace without friends. Thus the reason for the Friends of Zion.