For a number of years, poll after poll has shown that the GOP is the more pro-Israel party. Among Republicans the most avid supporters of the Jewish state has been religiously observant people, especially evangelicals. This stems from a variety of factors — the subjugation of Christians by the same terrorists who attack Israelis, the need to defend western values which Israel embodies, the belief in the existence of evil and Biblical scripture. Hence, we find that Christians United for Israel is the biggest pro-Israel organization in the country.

Vice President Joe Biden addresses the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press) Vice President Joe Biden addresses the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

So it is hardly surprising, although music to the ears of Israel and her friends, that a 500,000-strong conservative group that has mostly focused on social and economic issues has adopted defense of Israel as part of its core mission.

Concerned Women for America‘s board of directors voted on May 8 to include concern about the “threat of global terrorism and the movement in the Middle East to squelch the nation of Israel” and “increased anti-Israel sentiment within our government” among its core priorities. Its prayer/action chapters have pledged to conduct regular prayers for God’s protection over Israel. As an organization it will promote [l]aws and policies that strengthen the ties between Israel and the U.S. Policies enacted by our State Department, Department of Defense and others that encourage the development of our relationship with Israel.”

CWA executive director Penny Nance tells me that “our board unanimously approved the change and our membership has been very affirming.” Why the embrace of Israel as a priority? She replies, “We all get that once again we are at a milestone in the history of Israel. We want to be on the right side of history.”

She explains how this came about, recalling, “Several things happened all at once but the biggest catalyst was our Founder Beverly LaHaye, wanted to codify it in our core values. We have always been supportive but this is more formal.” On a personal note she also observes, “Around the same time I took my first trip to Israel and observed the precarious situation first hand. After my trip I will never read the Bible or watch the news the same again. I now know how absolutely essential support from the U.S. is to the continued existence of Israel and how essential Israel is to stability of the entire region.” She adds, “Standing on the border of the Golan and looking at the border of Syria made the entire situation crystal clear.”

As a political matter, this is further proof that to be recognized as a conservative leader and to get electoral support from the right these days, Israel is a litmus test. It is fair to say that in the same way favoring abortion on demand is a near-requirement for seeking and holding Democratic national office, supporting Israel is one for Republican office seekers and officials.

Questions remain how sincere a specific Republican is in his pro-Israel beliefs, what policies he ascribes to and what their impact will be on U.S. national security and that of Israel. But fortunately, having another major player in the pro-Israel community will help vet candidates — examining their records and policy choices — and keep Israel’s security front and center in the media and among elected officials.