Thousands will pour in from more than 80 countries to the streets of Jerusalem in early October for an annual march celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles, or the Jewish festival of Sukkot. As they follow in the footsteps of Jesus, whose holiday visit to the city is described in the Book of John, they’ll also be rallying behind the modern state of Israel.
Evangelicals from the U.S. alone pump more than half a billion dollars a year into Israeli tourism and charity, while endorsing the country’s conservative politics in a controversial alliance. Donald Trump’s recent visit to the Jewish state has energized fundraising efforts as evangelicals try to ramp up support for a land many see as God-given.
“After the elections, being pro-Israel became a part of the establishment, rather than part of the opposition,” said Rabbi Tuly Weisz, who raises money for charities from evangelicals through his israel365.com website. “I do believe that this year’s increase in tourism and overall growth in charitable giving can be partially attributed to the fact that the Trump administration is seen to be extremely pro-Israel.”
Although some fundraisers haven’t seen a Trump-related uptick in donations, Mike Evans, founder of the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem, saw the U.S. president’s May visit as a peerless opportunity to recruit Christian support. He hailed Trump as the Jewish state’s best friend in a post to his 28 million Facebook followers, and draped buildings with three-story banners urging the U.S. president to “Make Israel Great.”