Published Date: June 15, 2017
Now in its thirty-sixth year, the annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration, sponsored by the International Christian Embassy (ICEJ—the J stands for its headquarters in Jerusalem), attracts thousands of Pentecostal Christians from around the world to Israel. Timed to coincide with the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles is intended as a public show of Christian support for Israel. The prime minister of Israel almost always sends a personalized video greeting, and the mayor of Jerusalem usually delivers an address. Attendees tour holy sites and West Bank settlements, and they march in a “Parade of the Nations” through the streets of Jerusalem in front of curious Israeli bystanders.
The ICEJ has been around since 1980, but in the last decade has enjoyed a surprising ascent. It has become the new face of Christian Zionism, in many ways surpassing more familiar American Evangelical leaders Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and the large lobby group Christians United for Israel. At the same time the demographics have changed. The usual list of Christian Zionist leaders over the last forty years has been overwhelmingly American, white, and deeply influenced by apocalyptic theology. The new face of Christian Zionism, however, is mostly not American, white, English-speaking, or overly concerned about the end of history.