Jesus and Muhammad: Profound Differences and Surprising Similarities
By Mark A. Gabriel
Strang Communications, 2004, 256 pp.
The Everlasting Hatred: The Roots of Jihad
By Hal Lindsey
Oracle House, 2004, 265 pp.
Beyond Iraq: The Next Move: Ancient Prophecy and Modern Day Conspiracy Collide
By Michael D. Evans
White Stone Books, 2003, 160 pp.
These three books, purchased on a recent visit to a Christian bookstore in Georgia, are unlikely to catch the eye of many specialists on foreign relations. That is unfortunate: these titles and others like them are doing far more to frame the future of U.S. policy toward the Middle East than most books published by scholars with more conventional credentials and views. Gabriel, a self-identified former professor of Islamic history at Cairo's Al-Azhar University (who no longer uses his Muslim name for fear of reprisals), recounts the story of his personal conversion from Islam to evangelical Christianity while describing what he sees as the philosophical and spiritual contrasts between the founders of the two faiths. It is from books like this one that many millions of Americans form their impressions of Islam as the war on terror grinds on. Lindsay, whose Late Great Planet Earth interpreted apocalyptic prophecies and made him the best-selling American author of the 1970s, has published a book linking the Arab-Israeli dispute to the Genesis accounts of the quarrels in Abraham's household and a radical hostility genetically encoded in the "sons of Ishmael." For Lindsay, the fall of the British Empire was God's punishment for its failure to honor the promises of the Balfour Declaration to the Jews (interpreted as giving Transjordan as well as modern Israel and the West Bank to the new Jewish state). He urges Americans to support Israel's claims to the West Bank and beyond in order to avoid a similar fate. Evans, another Christian Zionist whose book jacket features supportive quotes from Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert, also urges the United States to support Israel as a way of earning God's blessing. Those concerned with the development of American public opinion and its influence on foreign policy need to increase their awareness of this literature; those who wish to change our foreign policy must learn to engage with it.