Gary Wills points out in Head and Heart, Dispensationalist evangelicals were issuing proto-zionist iniatives in the late 19th century before a zionist nationalist movement even began, and that the evangelical leader William Blackstone had presented a petition to the president of the United States in 1891 calling for the establishment of a Jewish nation, five years before the father of modern Zionism - Theodore Herzl - called for creating a Jewish state. Then, after noting a prominent Zionist who did not care that evangelicals had an ulterior motive for the establishment of a new Israel, Will writes:
Yet it was hard to overlook the fact that many if not most of these first Christian champions of Israel were anti-Semites. The proof is that all but one of them accepted as true the forged slanders of Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Some Premillennialists even reprinted the Protocols in their journals.
Premillennisalists followed the claims of Darby and Scofield that the present age, the "parenthesis" or gap to which no prophesies apply, had happened because the Jews killed the Messiah at his first coming, diverting the whole course of history and putting the Bible promises on hold. Since the Tribulation is to be an entirely Jewish matter (saved Christians having been rapt away), strict Dispensationalists departed from the long Protestant tradition of identifying Antichrist with the pope. As [Israeli scholar Jaakov] Ariel says, "Since the early nineteenth century, and until the publication of Left Behind, dispensationalist writers have routinely characterized the Antichrist as a Jew." Jerry Falwell was widely denounced for saying that Antichrist will be a Jew.