At a press conference in New York on Tuesday billed "pro-Israel," Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry was flanked by Orthodox Jewish leaders. At first blush the event looked like a play for Jewish voters who would buy his claim that President Obama was a modern-day Neville Chamberlain despite official U.S. opposition to the Palestinian bid for statehood recognition at the United Nations. But while Perry touted his Jewish endorsers, his intended audience was not Jews but Christian Zionists.
Perry, no doubt, seeks the approval of conservative Jewish pundits and the campaign contributions of hawkish donors. But in the battle to prove himself to the crucial voters in evangelical-heavy early primary states like Iowa, South Carolina and Florida, Perry needs to distinguish himself from the merely Israel-supportive Mitt Romney. And for that, he needs to prove beyond the boilerplate Israel-is-America's-greatest-ally that he embraces Israel's role in what Christian Zionists believe is prophesied in the Bible: that the establishment of the state of Israel is one step in the chain of events that will lead to a bloody showdown at Armageddon and culminate in the Second Coming of Christ.
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