This is just…weird.
So, it’s not ok to give the land away, but it is ok to sell it? Someone please explain the logic here…
“Hello friend of Israel,” begins a gleeful and gray-haired Pat Boone in an infomercial for the Holy Land Dream Company (HLDC). Boone’s cue follows the hook to his 1960’s hit Exodus: “This land is mine. God gave this land to me.”
At the time Boone wrote the lyrics, he was describing Jewish émigrés going to Mandate Palestine to join the ranks of Zionist militias. But today the golden-era pop star has recast the tune. No longer is it a Zionist anthem but a Christian benediction encouraging evangelicals in Texas to purchase land in Israel.
The “me” in “God gave this land to me” has shifted from an imagined Jewish protagonist to an American dispensationalist Christian whose land acquisition will speed up the arrival of the end of days.
The advertisement continues, “I wrote those words to Exodus and I’ve often wished that I could actually own a piece of the holy land. Now I do and you can too.”
Back in 2011 when Boone signed on as the spokesman and Exodus became the theme song for the HLDC, the one-square-foot plots of land between the Sea of Galilee and Nazareth sold for $110. Initially a portion of the proceeds went to Israeli medical relief charities and the Jewish National Fund. But now, Boone’s gift-the-holy-land project is being used as a fundraiser for an evangelical Christian broadcasting network with offices in Texas and Jerusalem. The plots are now sold for $1200 as part of a donation drive for the network’s ministry.
The infomercial airs on Daystar TV, an organization that made headlines earlier this year in Israel when they mounted a CCTV camera overlooking the Mount of Olives. According to Christian doctrine the messiah is prophesized to return to earth via this hill, and Daystar already has a stream running ready to capture the second coming on live television. Additionally, Daystar took the Israeli network HOT to court after the carrier dropped the Christian broadcaster because of viewer complaints that said the programming promoted Jewish conversion to evangelical Christianity. The uproar was over Daystar’s New Testament segments in Hebrew.
In the U.S. Daystar is renowned as a flagship televangelist broadcasting channel with an estimated net worth over $200 million. The station airs Christian programs, including the national summits for Christians United for Israel, and organization that fundraises to pay for Jewish immigration to Israel.
I spoke to Daystar’s Dallas office and they explained the plots were used in a pledge drive this past summer. Then I called the cellphone number listed on HLDC’s website, where an Israeli dealer said “you cannot do anything with your plot.”
He affirmed that the land for sale was private property, could not be built on, and that everything is legal, including the ownership of plots by foreigners. “They are about 20 to 30 meters from a road,” he continued, emphasizing that “everything is legal. It’s all legal.” I asked him if I purchased a plot, could I later bequeath it to a relative after my death. He said I could, but there would be a transaction fee involved.
Boone first met Asaf Har-Gil and Idan Deshe, the Israeli businessmen co-founders of the HLDC, while on a religious trip two years after the organization began operations. By happenstance the music sensation had recently found a bible passage about gentiles purchasing territory in the biblical land of Canaan.
“I’d just read in Jeremiah 32 about his being instructed by God to buy a piece of land, get the title deed and have it attested,” wrote Boone last fall in his column for the Christian weekly WND. Boone took their encounter as an omen.
Boone’s Israel land sale reflects the growing movement of hard-line evangelical Christians that view the state of Israel as biblical prophecy. Some dispensationalists even go as far as paying for aliyah services, or Jewish immigration to Israel in hopes of speeding up the rapture.
But Boone’s project is one jump further on the dialectic. He’s encouraging the next phase in the time line, which is the transfer of Jewish control of the holy land to Christian domination.