Christian Prophecies And Zionist Dreams

The Frankel family of Passiac, New Jersey immigrated to Israel with the help of an Evangelical Christian church.

Of the millions of immigrants who have have arrived in Israel, many have come with remarkable - and often tragic - stories.

But few have arrived with a stranger tale than the Frankels of Passiac, New Jersey, and the more than three hundred other American Jews they traveled with.

Their move was funded not by a Zionist organization, but by American evangelical Christians.

"We have hundreds of thousands of Christian donors, from children who are 10 years old who are saving their baby sitting money to churches that have teas and car washes," said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

The Frankels received about $20,000. Financing the whole planeload took $2 million. The immigrants' motivation is clear.

"We feel that it's just the place where we belong," said Baruch Frankel.

But the motivation of congregations like the First Pentecostal Tabernacle Church in Elkton, Maryland, where the money comes from, is completely different.

Here churchgoers believe the biblical prophecies that the Jews' return to Israel will proceed the arrival of the Messiah - in other words - the second coming of Christ.

"The scriptures are being fulfilled before my very eyes," said Bishop Huey Harris.

In fact, evangelical Christian support - much of it from the religious right of the Republican party - is seen as the basis for President Bush's backing of Israel in its fight against Palestinian terrorism.

"The fact that President Bush made the kind of speech that he did a few weeks ago in support of Israel's position could not have happened if he were not himself a bible believing deep convicted Christian," said Eckstein.

It's an unlikely alliance forged on a heady cocktail of ancient biblical beliefs and modern expedient politics. The predictions of the prophets and the war on terror forming new lives in the Judean Hills.

Bringing the Frankels to Israel has taken something of a modern political miracle.