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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. MrSolo

    Looks like Washington and Tel Aviv failed Math 101. 7.5 million Israelis vs. 280 million Arabs. Do the math.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
  2. john smith

    Same old nonsense, it never ends this garbage. "Writers" like this repeat the same BS over and over, that "if only Israel would...just do this or that – then we"ll finally have peace in the mideast!"

    First off, anyone who thinks that this is a land issue is beyond stupid. Israel was being attacked for decades BEFORE it ever set foot in gaza or the WB, and further to the point – it left gaza in 2005 and lebanon in 2000 – and guess what? Both areas are now being used as staging grounds for rocket-fire. Clearly, leaving those 2 areas was not the issue to the arab muslim filth living in them.

    Why "writers" like this continue to repeat like a parrot the same idiocies over and over, I cannot fathom.

    Are they so utterly clueless that they think the terrorism will stop if israel left the WB? What is to become of iran, a faraway nation seeking war with israel, who doesn't even come within 1.000 miles of her?

    The truth? There will never, ever, ever be peace in the mideast as long as the dictatorship of thugs and murderers that is iran exists. Perhaps this "writer's" time would be better spent trying to write an article on why ahmadinejihadist is allowed into the US, when iran is in violation of FOUR UNSC resolutions – all legally binding – and has the blood on his hands like everyone in the iranian cancerous government, and is a nation that has murdered hundreds, if not thousands of US soldiers in iraq.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
    • Dude your an idiot

      Make this your Facebook status, that was the smartest thing I've heard all day.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
    • James

      It's so refreshing to read an article that accurately outlines the absurdity of Christian Zionism. By denying palistinian suffering we have lost our credibility and destroyed our foreign policy. Let me tell you, Jesus ain't coming back children so let's grow up and solve problems together. To see Obama take his place amongst the other spineless US presidents of the past is distressing. The Palistinans have been brutalized for far too long and it's time to give them the land and means to peace that they deserve. The world is sickened by Israel's setlement building within the disputed territories, and frankly it's sickened by America's collusion. Time we became an honest broker on this issue.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
  3. Truth Tellerz

    The Jews are no longer the chosen people. That ended 2000 years ago when they rejected Christ.

    God had an everlasting covenent with the Jews but the Jews broke it. All Gods promises are conditional upon obedience.

    I'm Jewish myself, but I understand that Christ was God. He fullfilled all the O.T.prophesys to the letter. There is no salvation thru lineage, geneology. We are all acountable to God as individuals. No short cuts.

    Jesus said, " your house is left to you deselate" The Kingdom of God is taken from you .
    NOBODY comes to the Father, but thru the Son.
    Having the faith of Abraham makes you a Jew ( spiritually) Having the blood of Abraham God could care less about.

    The Church becomes Israel. Gal. 4:28 and 3:29. Jews can be grafted in again, but they have to accept Christ. He's got only ONE BRIDE

    September 21, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
    • john smith

      Genius, you cannot be jewish and accept jesus, so you're an obvious liar.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  4. hmntrffc

    jesus wouldn't "back" anybody. he was a man of THE people, not A people. shame on anyone that thinks "god" is on their side.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  5. me

    Come on CNN–this is what happens with a 24-hour news service. They have to come up with stuff to talk about. Let's not take this story seriously or "God forbid" make it a true political/religious issue. CNN–you can do better!!!!

    September 21, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  6. Jeff

    But would the tooth fairy support a Palestinian state? or Peter Pan? or Robin Hood?

    There are literally no first hand and/or eye witness accounts of Jesus. The bible was written many years after he died by people that never met him. Jesus is for all intents and purposes a literary character. But yeah he would support whatever cause I can imagine he would.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • crazy vermont

      This kind of reasoning probably why this guy isn't on top 10 list of bloggers

      September 21, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      That old theory has been proven wrong so many times and so dramatically that only an idiot would try to bring it out again.God bless

      September 21, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
    • skarphace

      "The bible was written many years after he died by people that never met him."

      Er .. so none of his Apostles who wrote the books of the bible about life experiences they had with Jesus actually met him? This is what you are saying? They are flat-out liars? I would ask for a source, but I already know that answer.

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

      Seriously, read a wikipedia article. The gospels are merely named after apostles, they weren't literally written by them. The gospel of Mark (the oldest) was written in 70 AD, decades after Jesus died, by an author in Syria who never met him. Most gospels were given their "name" in the 200's.

      Read some actual history people

      September 21, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      Opinion isn't history jeff.It is just that this theory or opinion suits your twisted world view allowing you to promote a fake/flake.God bless

      September 22, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  7. Dude your an idiot

    What do you base this on? How about instead of the bible what about the fact that the Palestinians shoot missiles into Israel and kill civilians? What about the fact that they launch from schools and behind children? You sir are an idiot. You should have never written this article. America supports Israel because it is the one democracy and ally to America. Iran is not an ally! Stop thinking with your bible and think with your brain!

    September 21, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  8. St.Matthew Stein

    I think the lawful application of eye for eye tooth for tooth should be applied and remove the Jews from that land.
    Then send them all to North Korea.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
    • Dude your an idiot

      Why not remove the Palestinians? They are killing the innocents. Missiles at kids and butchering families in the middle of the night is wrong. Israel is Americas only ally in the Middle East. Palestinians are not allies, they are evil.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • Colin

      Dude your an iditot. It is " Dude, you're an idiot" "Your" is possessive, as in, "your inability to spell."

      September 22, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  9. Ken Bradshaw

    Do you remember that the Jehovah of Israel, who Jesus came in fullfillment of, wanted the Canaanites wipe out? Maybe Jesus wants a Palestinian state. I do not believe he wants the Palestinians wiped out. We know he sent his disciples out into the world. But you can't just make these statements without reading and understanding the book. You can't just say "God is love" and interpret that love to mean what ever you want it to mean. A loving father may not want his son to get a license. He isn't suddenly not a loving father. I don't know if Jesus wants a Palestinian state or not. But you can't make that claim from the Bible.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
    • Mark

      Why not? after all Evangelists do that all the time, reading into things that don't even exist – and the millions that blindly accept whatever "new" interpretation their televangelist pulls out of his rear end.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  10. jb

    Another authority on what would Jesus do.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  11. Judy75201

    Jesus would back illegal aliens in America, too, but try asking a republican "christian" their opinion on the matter ...

    September 21, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Sara

      Really? Would Jesus also think that it is ok that these illegal immigrants are undermining the solidarity of American workers and reversing the progress for workers rights? Would Jesus be o.k. with what has gone on in the meat packing industry? Would Jesus be ok with the corporations that use illegal labor to reduce the wages of everyone? I tend to think that Jesus would support a healthy LEGAL immigration system, that was and is set up to reduce these injustices. That's not going to happen as long as illegals are embraced. It's just not.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  12. Muneef

    Isaiah was a prophet during the time when the original nation of Israel had been divided into two kingdoms – Israel in the north and Judah in the south. The northern kingdom had already sinned greatly against God and the southern kingdom was headed in the same direction. From the human point of view, the nation was prospering but, from God’s point of view, it was rotten from within.

    They are placing more faith in the rituals of their religious system than they are in God (vv. 12-14). They attend the temple services and do a mult-i-tude of sacrifices to the Lord; but their hearts are far from God, and their worship is hypocritical. God was unhappy with their sacrifices because they had come to place more faith in the rituals of their religion than in the God they worshiped. Although the people did not feel sorry for their sins, they continued to offer sacrifices (vv. 15-17). Gifts and sacrifices mean nothing to God when they come from someone with a corrupt heart.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Muneef

      So mean she was in two kingdoms even before....!

      September 21, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  13. Nacho1

    I guess that Crl was there and talked to Jesus...........that being the case he can speak for Jesus.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  14. stormsun

    I think the intent of this article is, What would the "image," the manufactured personna that Christianity believes in have said, thought, or done? The answer is, anything you want to attribute to him. Why bother to ask? We have not a word from Jesus, the real person, himself. We have what people said that OTHER people said – multiple times removed, since two or three hundred years elapsed and much myth-building transpired between the time the flesh-and-blood Jesus died and the time some zealous priests and other totally biased storytellers wrote about the events that took place eight or ten or twenty generations before them. Jesus was a man, and it is unfortunate that he has been turned into a supernatural parody, because now the actual events and commitment that seems to have guided his later years are totally lost to history. But of course, if you are a believer, you will dismiss these thoughts instantly and stick with your life-long programming, just as will any person taught to hold certain views since infancy...whether Christian, Muslim, or Hindhu.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • Tim

      sorry sir, but i didn't receive my beliefs from childhood. i was 35 when i came to Christ. it's difficult to explain something many feel is total nonsense, so i wont try.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
  15. Baby Frankenstein

    JESUS WAS PORTUGUESE!!!!

    September 21, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
  16. radam82

    Welp, Jesus has been dead for about 2,000 years now, so it doesn't matter.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
  17. norman

    I agree; Jesus would back a Palestinian state. At which point, the Palestinians would stab him in the back. After all, to them...Jesus is an Infidel.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • S. Zaman

      Norman you are such a idiot. Get the facts straight retard before you open your mouth and look like a total ass. The Qur'an references Jesus several times and even talks about the Virgin Mary. They are the two most beloved people in Islam. We honor all the prophets and never defile them like you do. So shut the hell up.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
    • Dude your an idiot

      Ha Norman! That is great! So so true!

      September 21, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Jane

      You're right, Norman. The Palestinians, if there is such a thing, would stab him in the back. They have no loyalty to anybody. And no morality either.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  18. Robin Bray

    The Jews were late comers who slaughtered those whose land they stole. And Jesus was gay. But we already know that. One guy always hanging out and sleeping and eating with 12 other guys. Perhaps a gay soccer team with subs?

    September 21, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • logic

      actually the jews BOUGHT the land and the arab nations surrounding them weren't happy that a jewish state existed amongst their muslim lands so they planned to attack israel, hence the 6 day war.

      Get your facts straight before you show your opinion kid.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
  19. what?

    To Charles......I believe the Romans crucified Jesus......your ignorant.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • Robin Bray

      How do you kill a amke believe person?

      September 21, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  20. Phil

    America's foreign policy shouldn't be governed by mythology.

    Israel is undeniably in the wrong. Its our blind support that is the single reason so many Muslims hate us. We preach freedom and democracy then turn a blind eye at the apartheid Israel has created and the atrocities they have committed.

    Christian Zionist hate Jews and blame them for the death of Jesus. The ONLY reason they support Israel is because they believe its the only way for Jesus to come back and smite the Jews. Israeli leaders laugh at the fact that there are so many dumb Americans and take full advantage the situation.

    Shame on Israel and the stupid Christians that support it.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • norman

      I feel sorry for you. Especially when your drugs wear off...

      September 21, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • Dude your an idiot

      Norman you are on fire!

      September 21, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.