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My Take: Jesus would support Palestinian statehood bid
The author argues that Jesus was primarily a peacemaker.
September 21st, 2011
12:27 PM ET

My Take: Jesus would support Palestinian statehood bid

Editor's Note: Carl Medearis is an international expert in Arab-American and Muslim-Christian relations and is author of the book Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism.

By Carl Medearis, Special to CNN

This week at the United Nations, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has promised to ask for recognition of a Palestinian state. If he does, the United States will veto. Why?

Largely because of something we'll call Christian Zionism, an American theological movement that preaches a Christian obligation to help Jews reclaim the biblical Promised Land.

I travel constantly, speaking about the Middle East to evangelical Christians across America and Europe. I lived in Lebanon for 12 years and churches invite me to talk about how to love their Muslim neighbors.

Often before I get invited to speak at churches and Christian conferences, I go through an awkward period of questioning, an interview that feels more like an interrogation.

Pastors and conference leaders want to size me up to make sure I’m “safe” for Christian audiences. The interrogation usually goes something like this:

“Carl, we love your books and your message. You have a lot of insight on how Christians can be more Jesus-like to our Middle Eastern neighbors. We hope you’ll talk a lot about that!”

Translation: Please, for the love of God, don’t say anything controversial about Israel or the Palestinians.

Though they are too polite to ask, what those pastors and conference leaders want to know is what is my position on Israel. For them, the modern Jewish state is a direct fulfillment of Bible prophecy, the catalyst for a series of events that will culminate in the return of Jesus.

As the Palestinians press ahead in their bid for statehood, prepare to hear from this crowd. These Christians number in the tens of millions and they go into a state of frenzy every time a politician so much as winks at the idea of Israel giving up a few settlements or withdrawing to pre-1967 borders.

They’ll tell you their concern has nothing to do with their particular interpretation of the Bible and everything to do with America and Israel’s national security interests.

Don’t believe a word of it.

When it comes to U.S. policy on Israel and the Middle East, Christian Zionism is the elephant in the room.

Christian Zionists believe that when God told Abraham 4,000 years ago, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you” he was making a promise that extends to the modern state of Israel. Any nation that “curses” Israel will face God’s judgment.

Not all evangelical Christians believe this, but the ones that do are the loudest voices in the media, and they lead huge organizations.

Television evangelists like Pat Robertson and John Hagee mobilize millions of Christians every year to write to their congressmen demanding that Israel be allowed to expand settlements indefinitely. They seem to oppose every peace deal that comes to the table.

There’s a reason for this. In their minds, the modern Israeli state is not only a fulfillment of biblical prophesy. In a bizarre twist that leaves most outsiders dumbfounded, Christian Zionists say the Bible predicts that Jews and Palestinians will forever be at war until Jesus returns.

They say the only person that will bring peace before the end of the age is—wait for it—the devil, in the form of the anti-Christ.

When you hear some Christian politicians say, “The land belongs to Israel”, what they’re really saying is if America blesses Israel – that is, if it gives uncritical support to the Jewish state - God will bless America. If America curses Israel, God will curse America.

When it comes to Israel and her neighbors, many Christian Zionists believe that peacemaking is the devil’s work.

They may forget that it was Jesus who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers."

One of the reasons Jesus was crucified was because of his refusal to embrace a nationalist agenda. But Christian Zionism blesses military action by the modern state of Israel, under the banner of "national security," including the demolition of Palestinian homes to pave the way for new settlements.

So how would Jesus vote this week if he had a seat at the U.N.?

Surely love, compassion, justice and peace-making would top his lists of concerns for all involved. Maybe he would give a new parable - the Parable of the Good Palestinian - offending all who would hear.

Rather than allowing obscure Old Testament promises to dictate our foreign policy, what if we stuck to the clear commands of God - love your neighbor, your enemy and the foreigner in your midst - which appear in Exodus, Leviticus and three of the four gospels.

Many Christians in America think of Jews and Christians as “us” and anything that sounds Muslim or Arab as “the other.” But the call of Jesus is to be more loving towards the “other” than towards the people we think of as “us.”

This command works both ways. When I’ve had audiences with leaders in the Hezbollah or Hamas, I tell them the same thing: That Jesus said to love your enemies. Who are your enemies? Israel.

It’s true that there are elements of Palestinian society that do not want peace, no matter the price. They need to be isolated and dealt with.

The same goes for elements of Israeli society that don’t want peace. The good news is that extremists are a minority on both sides of the conflict.

People ask me all the time what I think about Israel and end-times theology, and how the Palestinians factor into that.
Here’s my answer: If your end-times theology trumps the clear commands in Scripture to love neighbors and enemies, then its time to rethink your theology.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Evangelical • Israel • My Take • Opinion

soundoff (1,520 Responses)
  1. John

    Everyone has the right to express there opinions and thoughts. But half of the time opinions can relate to series of Problems.
    I have read your story and Its a good one. But Not everything that has to do with Jesus relates to Israel. Everytime someone talks bad about Israel or a Jewish person. Israel just wants you dead. Israel doesn't want peace and Palestinian Muslims NOT christians Want Israel to never exist. just as israel wants palestine to never exists but Its not for us to decide but only to God himself. and Judgement GOD doesn't judge us because palestinians and most of the world deny israel existence. God Judges us on how we live, how we act, if we truly believe in the lord and his commandment NOT MANS OR AMERICAN JEWISH LAW. Jewish people believe Jesus was Jewish and they believe they was around during Mary and Joseph. To Palestinian Christians NOT Muslims believe that Jesus is Middle Eastern Palestinian because Not only his disciples and himself lived in Ramallah Palestine He also was born in Bethlehem before israel rewritten the bible in there own believe. To Palestinian Christians just as the Jewish High priest put Jesus on the cross the Palestinian Christians Wittness this during that time and from one generation to another the books and scriptures has been passed down. Today at Christian sites we have ancient Icon and building the same ground that Jesus walked through and the same stone he touched. God watches us all Now for me to say Israel does not exist jesus will not judge me on that because He told me in a dream that Palestine and Israel used to live together. Israel outside of Palestine and even during roman times of King Solomon and herald. Jesus told me and i strongly believe that even though we are all brothers to god Palestinians christians and Jewish are all brothers. And for your imformation the fact is in 1948 when Britian and American gave the Jews land of Palestine the Israelis took everything by force and demolishing old homes for more lands that god did not give them. Right now the Muslims has taken the palestinian name and used it to cover up there true selves. The Muslims are the ones who started the wars in the middle east and even in america.

    December 16, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
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    June 24, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
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    June 21, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
  4. bluegrasschick

    You know what....when you took God's name in vain, you lost me. Negated EVERY bit of what you had to say.....to a discerning heart, it showed the true nature of your heart and msg.

    June 10, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
  5. DumbAmerican

    America is facing yet ANOTHER credit down grading in the near future. Why are my corrupt leaders not asking the following questions: 1. Why are we giving our tax money to Apartheid Israel? 2. Why do we still have over 700 bases around the world? 3. Why are we repeating the same tragic steps that the British, Roman and other empires took during their decline? Israel is not our friend, it is a ball and chain that will help sinks us, surely.

    November 2, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
    • ChristianZionist888

      You have answered your own question. It is BECAUSE our leaders are corrupt that we are sliding down the precipice. Once the government can not pay for the bases, the troops will come home. It is only a matter of time. In the meantime, BECAUSE our leaders are corrupt, Israel will continue to get our tax money.

      November 5, 2011 at 1:40 am |
    • AngryJew

      I wonder how much of our tax money Israel uses to bribe our own congress men and senators. It is quite a vicious cycle. Israel is such an evil little country.

      November 5, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • CrazyProfessor

      There was a report put out by a couple of Professors from the USA. In the report they described the inordinate power that the Jewish lobby and the Pro-Israel lobby wield. These two groups sometimes intersect but other times they are separate and distinct. The point is well made and one could conclude that these lobby groups do not have the USA interests in mind. They care about Israel first and America a long second.

      November 5, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
  6. Thartea

    Beware, the great nation, a time to proof your strength is at hand. This is the time you choose between Gods people and the world community which will inevitably be falling under the the hands of the mighty Anti-Christ.

    November 2, 2011 at 3:53 am |
    • DevilForYou

      By "God's people", you obviously mean the entire 7 billion humans. Right? Or perhaps you only mean a small minority like the Budhists or perhasp the Episcopelians? And who told you who are God's people?

      November 2, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Agnostic

      Hmmmm he probably had too much wine and had a bad dream. In this dream an invisible man in the sky told Thartea that a small group of self-centered people were masters of the universe. Perhaps Thartea has a very low self-esteem.

      November 2, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • JewsForJesus

      Weird name: Thartea, sounds like a lunch special. I bet he is a fan of Herman Caine.

      November 2, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  7. GermanTaxPayer

    I am very happy with the decision by UNESCO. Good job Palestinians. Jesus would definitely be on your side and against the USA and Israel.

    November 1, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • DumbAmerican

      My dumb compatriots and our terrorist Israeli step children will come around. Even if we have to be dragged kicking and screaming, Palestine will be free.

      November 1, 2011 at 12:46 am |
    • DevilForYou

      The USA is pulling funding from UNESCO. So I thought that the USA and Israel stood for democracy and the rule of law. What a joke, the same thing happened when Hamas was democratically elected in Gaza. The USA only stands for what it THINKS will benefit the USA or Israel. True democracy or the rule of law is only an afterthought for the Americans.

      November 1, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  8. ChristianZionist888

    Face it, Israel is doomed. They have been elected corrupt prime ministers for a few years now.

    October 28, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Entil'za

      Odd..they been saying that since last century. They were wrong too.

      October 28, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • AngryJew

      Well, I agree that Apartheid Israel is running out of time. Specially since America is going broke and won't be able to give Israel its free American tax money. Also, Israel is stealing from some of the survivors of the Jewish holocaust. This tells me that the leaders of Israel don't care about Jews. So yes, Israel is doomed.

      October 28, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • DumbAmerican

      I still can not understand why my corrupt leaders keep giving Israel our tax money. The government should be ashamed asking us to pay taxes and then they buy useless weapons or give it to evil countries like Israel.

      October 28, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • JewsForJesus

      Seems like there is a lot of fraud related to the Jewish Holocaust compensation industry:
      http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/article.php?pg=3&ar=64

      October 30, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • GermanTaxPayer

      Where are the funds for the Roma people? Jews were not the only ones to suffer during WWII. Hitler hated the Roma even more than the Jews. The Roma should receive much more.

      October 30, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  9. John Hoyle

    Carl medearis do you really believe as you claim

    One of the reasons Jesus was crucified was because of his refusal to embrace a nationalist agenda.

    The was only one reason why christ was crucified and it was for the sins of mankind

    In fact christ says so many times from Matthew to John. Jesus spoke of giving his life as a ransom for many

    For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many
    Mark 10:45

    Speaking of reality palestinians are greatly influenced by the arab and persian nations in the area and whether or not you agree or not the muslim/arab/persian agenda if to wipe Isreal off the map- My question is how do you negotiate with someone with that agenda, you cannot because their agenda allows for no middle ground. Bottomline is no matter how many Islamic Nations come against Israel,no matter how many types of weapons used against Israel they will fail because the bible clearly states Israel as a nation rests under the protection of Almighty God

    October 17, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • DumbAmerican

      If Israel is so good, why have two prime ministers been convicted of corruption? j

      October 25, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
  10. Muneef

    "Indeed, those who deny Our verses and are arrogant toward them – the gates of Heaven will not be opened for them, nor will they enter Paradise until a camel enters into the eye of a needle. And thus do We recompense the criminals." (7:40)

    October 11, 2011 at 2:31 am |
  11. Deni

    So I take the Christians in Cairo being slaughtered...deserve that?????I,m in the process of watching your you-tube videos, cannot believe you consider yourself a FOLLOWER OF JESUS........and write the above article!!!

    October 10, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • AngryJew

      Where in the article is the author supporting the slaughter of anyone? I must be blind.

      October 25, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  12. Deni

    Carl Medearis....Did you fall from the top of the stupid, un-educated tree and hit every branch on the way down, or is this just genetic. I would say you are a person of great compromise in most areas of your life. This has to be the most trashy bias article I,ve read in weeks. Wow, you resided in Lebanon for 12 years. You really know what gives your agenda away? your employer CNN.....must be a "rainbow" at the end there. hmm

    October 10, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • DumbAmerican

      What is wrong with the article? You are just flapping your gums but you contribute nothing to the rest of us.

      October 10, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Anonymous User

      Deni, I bet you won't last a day in Lebanon. Mr. Medearis knows this place. He's gotten a lot of information over time and he knows more things about that place than most people. In no disrespect, but you should be careful of who you calling stupid. And DumbAmerican, I agree with you.

      October 17, 2011 at 9:12 am |
  13. AmericanTeenager

    Why are the politicians giving our tax money to Israel. It would make much more sense to give the young people scholarships for college instead.

    October 10, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • DumbAmerican

      Good luck with that, your corrupt congress men and senators are in the pocket of AIPAC and the Christian Zionists.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Muneef

      Well said.

      October 11, 2011 at 1:32 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.