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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. Peikovian

    Jesus would most definitely bomb schoolbuses. That's just the way he was.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • 2011cnn2011

      Um no Jesus wouldnt back Palestine...1.He is the son of God......2.God has a covenant with his jewish people to give the promised land Israel to them.
      Still I dont understand why The Palestinians cant get land in the huge Arab world, with all that oil $$$$...Dont have anything against either side, and wish both sides peace.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      @ 2011cnn2011
      I read what cha saying, but God also blessed Ishmael. God loves Ishmael and his descendants, and believe it or not, most of the 'Arab' nation will come to accept the Lord Jesus and be saved before Christ Jesus‘ returns!!!
      They are our brothers and sisters, like Father Abraham’s Jewish nation! I love them both!!!

      “Father Abraham had many sons
      Had many sons had Father Abraham
      I am one of them
      And so are you
      So let's just praise the Lord…”

      Does anyone else remember that??

      September 21, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
  2. Elan

    This is perhaps the dumbest article I've ever read. The author de-legitimizes his opinions when he says "When I’ve had audiences with leaders in the Hezbollah or Hamas..." Any person preaching to terror leaders does not deserve to have their opinion discussed.

    Also: "The good news is that extremists are a minority on both sides of the conflict." No – the extremists are a minority on the ISRAELI side of the conflict. On the Palestinian side, extremism is the majority! I'm not saying that most Palestinians would actually commit terror, but you'd be hard-pressed to find an Israeli dancing in the street if a Palestinian was killed...

    September 21, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
    • Proud Atheist

      Elan – every Jewish citizen who supports the continued occupation of Palestine is an extremist. The occupation is illegal and barbaric. The Israelis have become the Nazi oppressors they want us to never forget. Palestine is their Warsaw Ghetto.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • Danny

      Elan. You are so wrong. I've seen evidence of atrocities committed on both sides, yes Israelis dancing in the streets when Palestinians were killed. Also for you to condemn this man for talking to terrorists is such stupidity. How can we even begin to change the minds of terrorists and prevent terrorism from happening without contact and communication? I'm not saying this is a fail-proof plan but both sides have to talk to each other for any peace to be had. It's a far shot, but my goodness man... peace for Israel and Palestine would be absolutely amazing.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
  3. What about Palestinians Christians???

    For the Christians in United States, do you know how many Palestinians and Arab Christians were killed by Israelis? Do you think Israelis care about the Christians? Also, ask the Jews if they believe in Jesus? No they don’t. Go Christians and protect the people who don’t believe in you or in your God!!!! What a Joke!!!

    September 21, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
    • Jack Parker

      You're thought process is based on what makes sense to you, which isn't wrong, but you don't understand Christianity or what the Bible says regarding this subject or you would understand our Christian loyalty to bless Israel.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
    • 2011cnn2011

      As a Christian (by the way Jesus is Jewish) It is written that the Jews are promised the promised land of Isreal. Gods Covenant to his people, just as the new testament covenant of Jesus on the cross saves the jew and gentile.
      God can never break a covenant.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
    • Muneef

      Guess the western Christians consider Jews be closer to them to support for the return of Jesus than they care about the Eatern Christians whom I wouldn't be surprised if they considered them as infidels rather than Gentile ....
      A state for Jews and another for the Muslims...then where would the Christians live with and whether will have similar rights...?

      September 21, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • Danny

      This is in answer to the people above me. It seems to me that you have read the Bible but your understanding of it is a little bit wanting. God did make that covenant to the Jewish people in the Old Testament but you have to realize what happened when the Jews broke their covenant with God. There are many things that were said and done by God in the Old Testament which are changed with the coming of Jesus in the New Testament. This is the basic principle of the Bible- LOVE. Love your neighbors, love your enemies, love everyone in this world. Care about everyone else as much as you care about yourself. I don't know who that land SHOULD belong to. I can't answer that question. All I know is that we are ordered by God to love one another and maybe if this happened between the Israelis and Palestinians we would see something amazing happen.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • What about Palestinians Christians???

      Jack,

      But don’t forget who wrote Torah and the Bible. Moses all he did just brought the 10 commandments and Jews edit it the way they want it

      September 21, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • Muneef

      Rather I would ask how many Prophets,Messengers of GOD were there between "Moses" and "Jesus" s.a.w..? Beside that when "Moses" lost the battle and was to be lost with his people for 40 years in Sinai...are you saying that after the 10 commandments he had not received any messages either directly from GOD or through the Arch Angel or through revelations and or inspirations ??
      Any way what ever books you have as the Old Testment is a Result of that received by "Moses" and those who came after him until finally was "Jeseus"... It was they such scriptures that had been taught to "Jesus" (Knowledge of the Book/ The Wisdom/ The Torah).... "Jesus was not at all normal person but rather highly educated person that GOD had educated him directly and through his Arch Angel other than revelations and inspirations" that why when they could not shut him up with facts they had to have him crucified...!

      September 22, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  4. Jamie W.

    This is the most insane article I've seen on here. Christians talk about the Anti-Christ – this is the Anti-Christ of all articles. In the Bible/Torah God made a covenant with Jacob for what became the land of Israel – God "gave them" that land as their land, forever. When they turned their back on God, he would temporarily cause perilous times, or kick them out of the land, but since God doesn't lie, he always has to eventually let them go back, which is why Israel is a country again after 1500 years of exile. It's the only deed on Earth proclaimed by God himself – to suggest that Jesus would disagree with God could only come from someone who either has an elementary level grasp of what is in the Bible, or never read it and got his information from some place other than the Bible. What a joke.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • Jack Parker

      CNN has never had an actual Christian write any articles based on Christianity yet, so why would they start now? But, you're right. This author does NOT speak for God or His people.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
    • Meat Puppet

      and we are supposed to blindly follow everything in the bible? .................don't think so homey
      everything and I mean everything in the bible was taken from older religious texts
      thousands of years before the Hebrews boogied from Egypt

      September 21, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • Jack Parker

      MP – Nobody is forced to believe the Bible. People must come to God willingly. I did and He's shown Himself to me to the point that I have no doubts whatsoever and would never, ever leave Him. The choice is ours to make – and the consequences that go along with that choice.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
  5. wisdom4u2

    Seeing that the trolls are out and about, I'll just say this in closing:
    If the whole world lived as Jesus commanded it would be the world and life we all long for – no doubt about it!!!
    Goodnight all.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  6. Barry

    Lord Jesus came as a man of peace the first. We will come back as the Lion Of Judea next time.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
    • Proud Atheist

      Your kidding right? Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail....

      September 21, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      No PA...he says what he does because he just wants to attract idiots like you.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • Proud Atheist

      Oh, Uncouth – you wound me! I'm rubber and you're glue ...

      September 21, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @PA- I am afraid the only rubber you are is a used one. Repeatidly so.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • Muneef

      U.Swain.

      Haha, you are being polite here otherwise I think I know what you meant by the used rubber..... 🙂

      September 22, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  7. Jack Parker

    Even if every single person on the earth agreed (which they don't) that Palestinians should have their own state, it wouldn't matter. It's what God will allow to happen that will happen, regardless of popular opinion.

    Want to know what will happen? The Bible spells it out. The Palestinians will eventually have their own state, splitting Israel and Jerusalem. (Not what God wants but what He's going to allow.) Then there will be a seven year peace treaty that Israel will enter into with her neighbors to secure peace for Israel from all of her neighbors. That peace treaty will be kept for 3 1/2 years. At that time, it will be broken by the Antichrist, whose vicious, evil nature will be made clear and the world will fear him. (And those who hate God will love him.)

    This is, without any doubt, what will play out. When you see these things begin to come to pass, you'll know that the return of Christ is so, so close. Prepare your hearts now to receive Jesus and accept the salvation He died to give you.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
  8. Jose San Antonio

    If there is really a God, there won't be any human conflict at all. He just needs to show up physically once in awhile, and be known to human race that he is what it says the book he is. Instead of just reading about it in the book. If Jesus was famous during the Roman times, how come he is not mentioned in the European history? As far as his deeds, good works, his miracles?

    September 21, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
  9. Fred S.

    Jesus sided with Carlo Burlesconi, the Prime Minister. You didn't.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
  10. Michael

    Why did "God" create this conflict?

    September 21, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
    • Muneef

      We mankind created that conflict because of his arrogents,ignorance and stubbornness...mankind always wanted what he wanted but not of what GOD told to do... GOD has told in the Quran in a certain verse that the children of Israel were told when to enter the Holy Land that they had to say this and do that...but they just did the opposite of what they were told and that's why they will always suffer until they do what they exactly were told, what was that I wouldn't know much of and wonder if any mentioned in the Bible "The Old Testment"...?!

      September 22, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
  11. Kenno

    Jesus is the word, and the wors was with God, and the word was God. God established the boundaries long ago and gave the land. Jesus=God, therefore Jesus wouldn't agree. Making God fit your mold (ie God wouldn't do this or that like send people to hell, etc.) is idolotry. No, Jesus wouldn't agree with the article.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
  12. Dave

    Carl here is the perfect example of somebody who is so wonderfully intelligent that he doesn't have to believe God anymore. God meant what he said when he was talking to Abraham, and he has kept every one of the promises he made to him. I'm sure God will explain that to Carl and all those he is attempting to deceive when we all stand before him one day. It's obvious that Carl detests the "interrogations" he gets from pastors and church officials. Could it be they're trying to discern from their knowledge of the Bible if he is teaching sound doctrine? God is clear in his word time and time again that his people are to take a stand for their beliefs...he told this to the Israelites, the people of the Old Testament covenant, and he told this to Christians, the people of the New Testament covenant. Every word he said to both groups is still relevant today, and those who stand in the way of his will...including the Antichrist, who Carl doesn't seem to believe is real....will pay the eternal price. Regarding the present-day Arab-Israeli political conflict (or Muslim-Jewish-Christian philosophical conflict), I believe Jesus would tell us to love people and hate sin. But make no mistake, he WILL bless Israel and those who bless them, whether that appeals to Carl or not.
    As for Phil in the comments section...1. The Bible is not mythology; you will see that in the last day, and YOUR knee WILL bow, as will mine...2. Our support of Israel is not blind; but so far, it is unyielding. It's OK to be unyielding when you're right...3. The Jews DID turn Jesus over to the Romans to be killed and DID shout "Crucify Him!" when Pilate wanted to release him, but it is the sin of ALL of us that is responsible...4. God will deliver on all of his promises regarding the end times whether or not ANY human beings believe he will or try to bring about their fulfillment...5. Israel has had much shame in the past, as have Christians and non-Christians; God will keep every promise he has made to each of these...
    To Carl and Phil...God is loving, and he is just. He means what he says, and he calls all to a personal relationship with him by way of the work Jesus finished. Things won't be perfect til He returns to set all things right. Let's all be ready.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
    • Proud Atheist

      1. The Bible is mostly mythology with a little bit of history.2. Our support of Israel lacks any concept of social justice. 3. The Jews have become the Nazi oppressors they want us to forget. Gaza is there Warsaw Ghetto 4. There is no God. Humans need to get over it. 5. Israel has much shame NOW! The occupation of Palestine is illegal and barbaric.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @PA- prove anything you just claimed.

      And as for the Gaza/Warsaw comment..you never been to Gaza have you? You do realize that Gaza has a higher standard of living than pretty much all of Africa. Go pick up a book.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
  13. vera

    You are stupid and ignorant! By choice!

    September 21, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  14. Meat Puppet

    holy krap Batman – Carl must have been dropped at birth – several times

    September 21, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  15. Alexander >

    WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BRING JESUS INTO THIS YOU PIECE OF INBRED GARBAGE??!!

    September 21, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  16. nogods

    I pray for the day that these barbaric, ancient fairy tales are long forgotten. Then the world could move on to the other things that divide the human population, like nationality, race, food availability, etc.... It is time that religion takes a dump.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  17. Lucille

    Blessed are the peacemakers. Yes, we are to pray for our enemies, and forgive those that trespass against us. But the palestinians operate on lies, deceit, hypocrisy, pride, two-facedness, self-righteousness, egotism, and haughtiness. Who can make peace with such people if they do not change or want to change? Not talking about the palestinian christians. But the unregenerate do not want peace with Israel and are doomed for failure. "Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. Thou lovest evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah. Thou lovest all devouring words, o thou deceitful tongue. God shall likewise destroy thee for ever..."

    September 21, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • Meat Puppet

      Here's a thought – grab that bible – head to the garage.
      Put duct tape around all the doors and windows – adjust the seat – start the ignition – tune in some decent FM – put all the windows down. Shut your eyes – tale a very deep breath – exhale ...repeat
      say hi to Jesus for all of us normal folks on planet earth

      September 21, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
  18. Harvardgrad

    God would support Isreal.
    -Isreal, the rest of the civilized world is with you. God bless, and keep fighting to save yourself.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • ozikboy

      Harvard Grad needs to use "spell check" lol

      September 21, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
    • Meat Puppet

      Which god are you referring to? A Christian deity? Or something else?

      September 21, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • Conan the Librarian

      You must be a proctologist – as you spent four years hanging out with AY-HOLES
      what a dbag

      September 21, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
  19. Jon A

    Does CNN speak for Mohammed, Moses, Krishna and Buddha too? Or just Jesus?

    September 21, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
    • Thomas

      It's an OPINION PIECE with the parameters being the overruling religions that are the crux of the conflict in the area. There aren't a lot of Buddhists in Israel.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
  20. Fred S.

    The biggest "the other" is the USgov, the world's most dangerous terrorist organisation, which is obviously on an unrealistic worldwide crusade to eliminate all enemies.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:49 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.