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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: Israel • Opinion

soundoff (1,520 Responses)
  1. Ashley

    The truth about the Israel-Palestine peace conflict: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAuBc_cbXo0

    September 21, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      or the other truth http://vimeo.com/14327996

      September 21, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Brian Macker

      So "atheist Steve" according to your video the violence perpetrated by Hitlers brown shirts was some kind of "outcry" for help. What a load of nonsense. The other video dealt in facts. Yours is a bunch of nonsense.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Yeah right..side with the political Israelli produced propaganda film over the investigative reporting doc.umentary. Oppressed people revolt or have you been sleeping through the uprisings breaking out over all the middle east. But then facts have never been important to the like of you.

      September 22, 2011 at 4:44 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @AtheistSteve: I'm guessing Brian got about 2 seconds in to watching the video and decided it was already against what he has been brainwashed to believe. It's amazing how stupid some people really are! The truth hurts...maybe if they actually watched the video you posted they'd realize that this video show's the personal accounts of some of the people involved and the not the personal account of the government-who of course wishes to make people think opposite from what your link shows. Maybe watching this video they'd realize that the money the USA puts in to this country is outrageously overboard and takes away from the USA itself and the people within but I guess starving your own is far better than p*ssing off another country...fear is a wonderful thing!

      September 22, 2011 at 5:30 am |
  2. merle hedrick

    it would be much more beneficial if you would have opeened the Bible and see what G-D's opinion is on the subject before giving yours Israel will not only should not only give up any land they are going to get more of it as syria lebanon etc etc will become Israeli territory in the future perhaps near as it is G-D who is going to fulfill HIS promises to the descendants of Abraham Read the Bible if you want to know the future of the middle east don't give your opinion on something so important the dividing of the land and those who participate will be doing satan's bidding not G-D's and most of those doing this are of the religion of satan which is islam

    September 21, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Hmmm...Let's see...ever heard of punctuation? Give it a try. It really helps your paragraphs make sense. Then again, maybe not.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      proof that they don't teach anything useful in the church or simply proof of christians being lazy?

      try going back to grade 1 in a public school where they actually attempt to teach proper punctuation

      September 21, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      oops...let's try this again properly

      Proof that they don't teach anything useful in the church or simply proof of christians being lazy?

      Try going back to grade 1 in a public school where they actually attempt to teach proper punctuation!

      September 21, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • logic

      sorry but you claiming your god is the same as this guy claiming his god.

      everyone's claiming their god is the right one and everyone's claiming their god says something different.

      You know what? none of your gods are real, get over it. gods do not factor into anything beyond children's fairy tales.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • FACT

      Arabs are chldren of Abrahim just like the Jewish people. The only poeple not children of Abrahim might be Christians unless they are from the Jewish race or Arab race.

      Beside its so strange... if God promissed a land what didn't God make sure no body takes the land away from rightfull owners even for one day? How come the land was in the hands of any one other than the hands of Children of Abrahim if God Promised so?

      Beside dont you think we should support international Laws for PEACE for once?

      September 21, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
    • sami

      Fact: Jews are not a race. Judaism is a belief, not a race.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
  3. *frank*

    I stopped reading at the title.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  4. Bo

    I would not want to second guess what Jesus would say. As I recall, when the state if israel was set up the Paistines were offered the same option, but the Palistianins wanted the the whole pie, would not settle for less. If they want a state now let them have it, but on the same issues that it was offered in 1946. I believe, however, it will not cause any peace between the Israelis and Palestinies, the Palestinianswoluld still want to "...push the Israelies into the sea" As for the Christians who believe that Christ cannot come until the Israelites once again have a temple in Jeruslem, I think they need more Bible study.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  5. David Simantob

    Since the Palestinian Authority, PLO and Hamas have all made it clear that Jews will not be permitted to live in "Palestine", and since Hamas vows to destroy Israel and persumably kill or exile the Jews living there, it is safe to assume that if Jesus was around to say anything about a Palestinian state, he would have to say from somewhere else because - as a Jew - Jesus would not be allowed to live or, at the very least, live in Bethlehem!

    September 21, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • zappa73

      That was a very smart reply in a sea of argumentative nonsense. Well done.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
    • Dr. D

      well done; Jesus the Jew would be expelled from Palestine which is to be ethnically cleansed of all Jews, per M. Abbas. Hamas has vowed to kill all the Jews....sigh, and Carl is standing with those who want to kill Jesus' blood relatives.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
  6. Isaac Newton

    This is all rubbish. The reason the peace process stalled is a so-called “right to return”.
    Basically, Palestinians want two states- on in Palestine and another one in Israel, and
    they already have a third state in Jordan. Such a “peace” is suicide for Israel.

    September 21, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Not at all.

      It will continue to be Israel, it will just be a Muslim version of it.

      Swap the Kosher signs for Halllal signs and let the hummus flow like, well, maybe pudding?

      September 21, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  7. MosheM

    Mr. Meaearis may be an expert on Christian/Arab relations but he don't know squat about what's actually hhappeing on the ground in Israel and the disputed territories. Israelis don't bulldoze Palestinian homes. They used to bulldoze the homes of terrorists that murdered Jewish men women and children. Since Israel (in my mind foolishly) does not have a death penalty even for such murderers (wow! sounds almost Christian huh!) they used to do this to discourage Jew murder. They've stopped by the way. So much for those horrible Jews running around bulldozing houses. The other thing the kind reverend sidesteps is that the land is actually disputed not occupied. Thus, there are times when Arabs also build illegally. Like Jews when they do this their construction projects are bulldozed. The trouble is, it's easier for a "Christian" like Medearis to weep for the "Underdog" than it is for him to feel compassion for those well-poisoning, Christ-killing Jews. Someone should tell the reverend that turning the other cheek applies even to Jews as well.

    BTW reverend, whether or not there is any truth to your wild speculation that Jesus would have voted to hack off his ancestor David's homeland to give to foreigners, I assume you understand that he was Jewish, and that the people of Israel were Jewish. Not palestinian.

    September 21, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • William Demuth

      No death penalty?

      So all the Fatha, Hammas, Hezzbolah and Islamic Jihad members who show up dead must have slipt in the shower?

      September 21, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • Follower

      Ok first of all he is not a reverend... lol and second he never said Jesus would vote for Palestine, he said if you let your end time theology get in the way of loving people and bringing peace than its wrong. He is addressing the Conservative evangelicals who say bomb everyone who lifts a finger against Israel. He clearly is not harboring hatred for them killing his messiah lol that is ridiculous, he is saying that this is not the biblical Israel that is God's chosen people, they are just a nation and as Christians we should not support their violence or any other nations violence

      September 21, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • DrNoVa

      Brother Moshe, I knew the situation on the ground...but I also know the history. And to use the Jesus was Jewish argument is silly.

      If you follow the DNA path of the Arab Christians in Nazareth now, many of them were Jewish at one point too, until they converted to Christianity. Many who were Jewish in the region converted, and many of those who converted later converted to Islam during the Muslim conquest.

      So check this path Yitzak from Nazareth in 40AD was Jewish ---> His great grandson Issac of Nazareth in 80AD was now a Christian --> his great (20x) grandson Ishaq of Nazareth in 990 AD became a Muslim --–> his great grandson (20x), Me of Washington DC/Nazareth am here talking to you...trying to help you understand that we as a people are not different. Our religions have changed, but we are still the same people, and should not be at war.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
  8. Joshua

    So you believe Jesus would support another Muslim state that vows to prevent Jews and Gays from living their, has anti-Jewish hatred as the core of its existence, will not give citizenship to Palestinian refugees living within the new Palestine so they can continue to use them as a weapon to destroy the Jewish state of Israel, and continues to incite hatred against Jews and Christians? Is that the State you believe Jesus would support? That's what Abbas is asking for. Get real!

    September 21, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • William Demuth

      I believe Jesus was a Palestinian.

      As far as his being Jewish, perhaps culturaly, but he CLEARLY rejected the dogma.

      Perhaps when he failed to get elected as Mesiiah, he became enraged.

      September 21, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Joshua

      Then you have bought the propaganda. Jesus clearly identified himself as Jewish as did his followers for over 200 years. The name "Palestine" was imposed on the region by the Romans after several rebellions by the Jews who would not give up their rights or land. Today, we're back. So get used to it.

      September 21, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Joshua

      Actually no.

      I don't believe Christ was ever actually a legitimate human.

      He is merely a plagerized figure head stolen from other religions that never actually existed.

      Somewhat akin to Apollo before him.

      Funny anyone would worship waht is basicaly an advertisment.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Joshua

      As an Athiest, Besides the entertainment value, how you resolve the issue is none of my concern.

      I do hope you manage to slaughter large numbers of each other, but as to who claims the radioactive ruins is of no concern to me.

      Enjoy your war, I know I will.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  9. Wendy Redal

    Honest, courageous, thought-provoking and compelling insights. And your last sentence is most important of all.

    September 21, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  10. doctore0

    Jesus pretty much support whatever the believer wants.. because Jesus/god is actually the believer...

    September 21, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      Precisely. If they could name ONE thing they think Yeshua taught, that they DISagree with, maybe they would have some credibility. The bible is NOT a real estate contract. God never told Abraham anything. It's the national myth, written/compiled/formed during the Babylonian Exile. The fact is, the Jewish nation-state was a corruption of the Confederation of the Tribes, and the prophets did not like it, ("Amos 5:2 "Fallen is Virgin Israel, never to rise again, deserted in her own land, with no one to lift her up."). Of course the bible says the land belongs to the Jews ! Duh ! THEY wrote the book. the fact is the Canaanites and other Semitic tribes were there FIRST, and the Old testament is a LONG story of their struggle to take control of it, because they wanted it. Religion has NO place in nation states. It's doomed to failure, as someone BETTER, more holy, more true, more just, is always going to come along, and say THEY have the final, better, more truer version of the TRUTH. And just when you think the craziest people are in charge someone MORE crazy will come along.

      September 21, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  11. Abu Jude

    May we learn to walk a mile in some elses shoes.

    September 21, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  12. Lex

    Nesxt thing you know you will have empthy fir Hitler.

    September 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Manjosa

      It was uncritical support for Hitler, yes, even from Christians, that turned a blind eye to what he was doing in the name of Nationalism. Being critical of our government is not anti-patriotic, and certainly not anti-christian!

      September 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  13. Sabi

    @gosh
    Jews hate Jesus, but X-tians love Jews, as Jesus said to love those who hates you...

    September 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Chuckles

      You may want to recheck your facts. Christians love jews?! What a laugh! If christians loved jews pretty sure they wouldn't have been expelled from many many different countries in europe, are still labeled as "christ killers" and so on.

      September 21, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Joshua

      You are ignorant, hateful, and ethnocentric. "Jesus" is your concept, not a concept to Jews. Jews don't "hate Jesus", Jews don't even think about Jesus. Similarly, Jews don't use "blood" in their rituals; Christians use symbols of blood in their rituals, and then hateful Christians accuse Jews of using blood.

      September 21, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Sabi

      You said: "Jews hate Jesus, but X-tians love Jews, as Jesus said to love those who hates you..."

      The Christians don't love the Jews. The Christians want the Jews to tear down the Mosque of Omar and build the new temple. This is necessary if Jesus is going to return.

      The Christians always have an agenda.

      Cheers!

      September 21, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • ThinkForYourself

      @Joshua,

      If you're Catholic you actually do use blood in your rituals. Or at least you've convinced yourself you do.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  14. broeder10

    Yep, personal relationship commands like love your neighbor being applied to national policy, that's the narrative heh? Not by a long shot I'm afraid. This article has some merit but really does not deal with why " “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you." I am not saying the current Israeli State is the "one" because no text does. However, it is hard to get around the meaning of the cited text unless Abraham's Jewish seed is exactly that. Some will say yes they are and others will explain away as something else. Personally I don't care if there is a Palestinian state or not. In fact why not? add it too the every growing list of Moslems states hostile to the single Jewish one. At the end of the day the only thing that will bring lasting peace to the region is the only thing that will bring peace to everywhere else-Jesus Christ. We can argue about lots of things but it's the gospel now that matters both for Palestinians and Israelis..

    September 21, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @broeder10
      "When all soldiers lay their weapons down
      Or when all kings and all queens relinquish their crowns
      or when the only true messiah rescues us from ourselves
      It's easy to imagine
      There will be sorrow no more"

      – Dr. Greg Graffin

      Too bad none of those things will ever happen, eh?

      September 21, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Doc Vestibule

      Eh?

      I haven't heard Eh since Second City TV, back in the day.

      You from the Great White North?

      September 21, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  15. James

    The Reason Christian can't belive in evolution is? Time frame issues, is the earth thousands of years old or millons of yaer old. And why didint god mention His earlier creations dinosuars.

    September 21, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Perhaps Jew is just an old Christian word for Dinosaur?

      September 21, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • *frank*

      Jesus sure tried to act like he knew everything but he died without ever knowing what a penguin or an Aztec was.

      September 21, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  16. Reality

    Then there is this:

    Israel- Its formation was approved by the UN in 1948. It should honor the original UN agreement and live within the described borders. Considering the hate generated by passages in the koran and ot, erecting dividing walls between Muslims and Jews was a great idea and the construction should continue. UN forces should control these walls.

    And Jerusalem should be made into an international city under the control and protection of the UN.

    September 21, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • avacon

      Israel will never accept any loss of control or sharing of Jerusalem. Israel will never accept giving land back. Israel will never accept the right of return. There will never be peace until either the Arabs are wiped out or the Jews are wiped out. They will never live in peace together; the greed and hatred on both sides is too deeply ingrained and is rekindled with each new generation. Likely the end for all of us will arise from their hate for one another. Wonder how God views either of them hating and killing in His name?

      September 21, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
  17. Reality

    And with respect to the "promised" Holy Land", we have this bit of updating:

    origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times

    New Torah For Modern Minds

    “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

    The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

    September 21, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • .........

      spam alert hit report abuse on all reality posts

      September 21, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  18. Reality

    Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospels being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European, white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

    So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher man would do or say?

    September 21, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • .........

      garbage alert hit report abuse on all reality posts

      September 21, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • nwatcher

      whoa! Come up for air there ... next you'll tell us you were there and have this knowledge first-hand...put down the bong!

      September 27, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  19. gosh

    Wait a minute I thought the jews hated jesus.My God the christians are so dumb !

    September 21, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  20. Matt

    After what the Rabbis said about Christians, I renounced God, only the state.

    September 21, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
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About this blog

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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.