Updated: Jul 11, 2021
Mike Evans, an Evangelical leader and staunch supporter of Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, recently sent a letter berating Israel's pending "unity government" leaders—Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett—even cursing them for not standing with Netanyahu.
"Don't ever call yourself a defender of Zion. You're not. You betrayed the very principles that a generation gave their blood for and died for," Evans wrote. "You want to be in bed with the Muslim Brotherhood and leftists. God have mercy on your soul. You're a pathetic, bitter little man so obsessed with murdering Netanyahu that you're willing to damage the State of Israel for your worthless cause."
Evans, 73, founded the Friends of Zion Heritage Center in Jerusalem and the Jerusalem Prayer Team. According to Evans ' site, during the recent Hamas-Israel war, the prayer team's Facebook page—with 77 million "likes"—was hit with a barrage of "bogus and baseless complaints" from several Muslim nations. In response, Facebook unpublished Evans' prayer group page, deleting it from the platform.
Others have called into question the legitimacy of Evan's 77 million likes on Facebook, since he has almost no following on Twitter or YouTube. On YouTube, where he has just under 5,000 followers and most videos have under 200 views. Something does not add up for the man who claimed last week to be the "largest evangelical leader in the world."
Ad from Evans' Friends of Zion and a pro-Likud org Museum making the absurd claim regarding Evan's influence.
“We removed Jerusalem Prayer Team’s Facebook Page for violating our rules against spam and inauthentic behavior,” Facebook confirmed.
Despite the "likes" on Facebook, Evans does not speak for these 77 million, any more than Aroma Café (the Israeli version of Starbucks) speaks for me because I liked their Facebook page.
"It is unwise for American Evangelicals to meddle in internal Israeli politics beyond praising the power of Israel's democracy—and if Evangelicals do it anyhow, then they should be circumspect and respectful. Evangelicals will stand with Israel whoever is the prime minister." —Reverend Johnnie Moore, president of the Congress of Christian Leaders
On Monday, Evans was in Jerusalem to meet with members of the Knesset and to hold a press conference to elaborate on his letter. Evans spent much of the 45-minute press conference giving a rambling speech to reporters and was dismissive to Israeli reporters, as he took a few questions at the end. Evans treated the very Jewish reporters he claim to love with disdain and arrogance, at one point simply saying to a reporter who challenged that he didn't answer her questions, "The good—I'm not going to answer it." And, it was a good question!
Evans mused the people are wondering why he, as a non-Israeli, was making this spectacle. He said, "I am tired of going to funerals." It was a bizarre comment considering that his friend, the one he is promoting, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been the Prime Minister for the last 12 years. Who exactly is he blaming for the funerals? We have not had a left-wing government since Ehud Barak in 1999.
He spoke of his Jewish mother and his abusive father, a childhood that spurred him to give his life to supporting the Jewish people. Evans also offered an apology of sorts to Bennett, but then doubled back around later toward being critical of him.
Evans claimed that only Bibi can lead Israel effectively and that Bennett and Lapid were weak. He said that Evangelicals would only stand with Bibi. “Bibi Netanyahu is the only man in the world that unites evangelicals." If true, that is a sad comment, if the only uniter of evangelicals isn't actually one himself. “The evangelicals are going to stand with Bibi Netanyahu,” Evans claimed as if he has consulted with evangelicals. “If Bibi Netanyahu goes into the opposition, evangelicals — my 77 million people — will go into the opposition with him.”
"Such meddling in Israel politics is not appropriate for evangelical clergy," said Dr. Daniel C. Juster of Tikkun Global. In an article by All Israel's Joel Rosenberg, several Israelis and Christians voiced their concerned about Evans actions and support for whoever is Prime Minister.
Evans hubris was not unnoticed by Israelis.
“A defender of Zion is someone who puts his life on the line for the Jewish people, someone who thinks day and night about Israel’s security, as Naftali Bennett has done. And let me tell you who is not a friend of Zion. Someone who literally takes out ads and billboards, calling himself the ‘largest evangelical leader in the world’ and then publicly attacks, threatens and delegitimizes Israel’s democratically elected prime minister.” —Rabbi Tuly Weiss
I wrote a letter of my own to incoming Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (you can check it out here) on Facebook in response to the shocking statements by Evans. He definitely does not speak for me. His claim to speak for 77 million Evangelicals—or 10 percent of the world's Evangelicals, as he claimed in his press conference—borders on lunacy and smacks of pride. Evans doesn't lead a congregation or network, or denomination. But that did not stop him from making the claim that he is the largest evangelical leader in the world or that he and his son have an online church of over 1 million, making it the largest in the world and yet his son's most recent videos on YouTube have just over 100 views.
I am not seeking to be nit-picky here—I am saying, it appears that there's something fishy going on. The most common response to my Facebook post was, "Who's Mike Evan's?" Strange, considering his claims of having the largest following in the Evangelical world.
I met today with the head of a museum here in Israel. He was stunned by Evans' behavior and felt he had hurt his own cause. "He may have come here to defend Prime Minister Netanyahu, but it would appear he only helped solidify the new government." Evans came off as more committed to the person of Benjamin Netanyahu than the ideals of Zionism that he supposedly promotes, or the power of God to preserve Israel and keep the Abrahamic covenant without all by Himself.
He fails to understand that Naftali Bennett is actually politically to the right of Netanyahu and will not be leading a left-wing government. Honestly, it was hard to even watch his press conference. It was one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen and was a horrible witness for the gospel to the Jewish people. I spoke with on left-leaning Israeli journalist, and she clearly was shocked and disgusted by Evans' behavior. He did a disservice to Israel and he did a disservice to the cause Messiah in Israel.
Even though I don't always agree with my government, as a Messianic Jewish Israeli, I and I'm sure countless others will be supporting Bennett with prayer if he and his government make it across the finish line on Sunday.