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. Tokkit

    What a misinformed, racist tool this guy is. He is in some kind of academic radical land of misinformation. The REAL truth is that the Palestinians, MORE THAN ANYTHING, want the Jews dead. That's the truth and what the radical, hate-filled, rich, left-wing radicals in this country can't admit.

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

      And more than anything the Israelis want the Palestinians' land and resources. They don't say they want the Palestinians dead, they just don't want them. Don't be a fool and think the Israeli's hands are clean. They are just as, if not more, guilty in this conflict.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • Kat

      The Palestinians only want their freedom from Israeli armed murderers and thievs. Israeli colonists murder the Palestinians to steal their homes and lands.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      What resources?? If the Palestinian Territories were so rich in resources....why are they supposably so poor? They have borders with Jordan and Egypt. What, doesn't those nations want to trade with the Palestinians?

      September 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Proud Atheist

      Oh Uncouth – you truly are ignorant. The resource is question, the only resource that matters, is WATER!! The fence that the Israelis illegally erected on Palestinian land puts several key water sources in their hands.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • Gekaap

      How in the world is he being racist? That's absurd. As a matter of fact, it's downright offensive for you to put such a label on someone who didn't even come close to making this an issue about race.

      The REAL TRUTH is that ISRAEL is dead set on the eradication of the Palestinians. And before you go trying to call me an anti-Semite, I'm Jewish, so try again.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "The resource is question, the only resource that matters, is WATER!! The fence that the Israelis illegally erected on Palestinian land puts several key water sources in their hands."

      ~I believe that if you would look at a map you will see that the West Bank has ample supplies of water. Now if you could show where ANY Palestinian is dying of thirst...I would love to see it.

      "The REAL TRUTH is that ISRAEL is dead set on the eradication of the Palestinians. And before you go trying to call me an anti-Semite, I'm Jewish, so try again."

      ~No..you are just ignorant about the policies of the Nation of Israel. There is NO evidence that Israel wants to eradicate any Palestinians. Why? There are 1.5 million of them IN Israel as citizens. Duh.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Muneef

      Very rich fertile lands the lands of Olives,Figs,Vines and Citrus fruits....!

      September 22, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
  2. MM101

    Stating that Jesus would support the Palestinians, with people supporting, or actively committing, attacks on other people, without regard to who they are attacking, is like stating Jesus would support the Romans randomly killing Jews.... it wouldn't happen.

    Jesus says to love your enemies, sure. But he does not go out and beyond what he should say. He never stated: "Support the Roman occupation of your homeland and slaughter of your people". Now replace Roman with Palestinian.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • Gekaap

      So I guess what you're saying is that Jesus said to support an Israeli occupation that murders Palestinians. Is that about right?

      September 21, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  3. Lou

    Yes, Jesus probably would, but the great spagetti monster would support the Israelies! I'd like to see their respective champions duke it out at sillyness in the sand – The great holy one against the garlic powered spagetti monster.

    Go for it guys – It's such fun to speak for god!

    September 21, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • S1N

      I also spoke with the Great Spaghetti Monster From Behind the Moon. He told me he prefers to turn the entire region into a giant flaming meatball.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Lou

      But I do not know if you can make a Kosher Halal meatball – what is a cook to do 🙁

      September 21, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  4. Eli

    Having lived in Israel, I can assure you that no Palestinian homes are being razed to build settlements. For better or for worse, Israel repeatedly destroys illegal settler buildings while often leaving illegal Palestinian structures standing (Google Israel's destruction of Migron earlier this month if you don't believe me).. The Palestinian homes that Israel does destroy are those of terrorists, or those from which terrorism is perpetrated.

    Peace will not be attained by a unilateral declaration of a state, but by a compromise amongst the states. Israel will not compromise its security in any agreement, but it will make very broad concessions for the name of peace.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • Kat

      you sound like an Israeli thief..how dumb of you to deny something so obvious in the age of instant communication, videos, internet, cameras

      September 21, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • S1N

      Eli, you are an imbecile. Unfortunately, there are too many imbeciles living in Israel and Palestine. As such, the only peace for those countries will come in the form of the world's largest sheet of glass.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • janaki

      kat, you sound like an ignorant palestinian jerk who is trying to get land that is not his (and was never his). Israel got their country fair and square. Get over it.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • Gekaap

      >>>>Peace will not be attained by a unilateral declaration of a state, but by a compromise amongst the states.

      So what you're saying is that Israel's unilateral declaration of statehood from whence the state came was, in fact, a move that fostered hostilities? Interesting.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
  5. Don McLaughlin

    >> The Bible repeatedly states that God will bless those who bless Israel and will curse those
    >> who curse Israel.
    Yeah?? Well my god says she can beat up your god any time he wants to rumble!!

    Isn't time that we laid some rational foundation for these matters rather than leaving it up to gods?

    September 21, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • Lou

      Yeah well my god (The great flying spagetti monster) can eat your god right into the ground – so there

      September 21, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  6. Insight

    Leave that dead man alone. Let him rest in peace.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
  7. Proud Atheist

    I don't know which is more fun, poking fun at christians or conservatives. Actually, neither is very fair. It's a contest of wits against the unarmed. It's just too easy.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Fools are easily amused by themselves. You must be very happy.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • Proud Atheist

      Oh, Uncouth – you are soooo good at this game. I love the way you play!!

      September 21, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      It's not hard to "play" against children on here.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • Proud Atheist

      Oh Uncouth – Well done! That comeback really got me. You are so quick witted. I salute you!

      September 21, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
  8. Jsfraptor26

    This is also the author that tells Christians to stop evangalizing, when Jesus clearly said to go out and make disciples of the nation.

    This man has no credibility.

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

      That's funny. Because by dismissing his arguments with a logical fallacy of an ad hominem, YOU cease to have any credibility.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
  9. Ed

    Really? Jesus was a Jew...that land was given to the Jews by God Himself.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Really, how do you know?

      September 21, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • Kat

      God should have given Jews some sense, love, and compassion...maybe then they wouldn't have wanted their Messiah dead.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
  10. get a backbone Carl

    Jesus called people out. He told them when they needed to change. He said beat your swords to plowshares. Hamas and Hezbollah call for the destruction of Israel and all Jews. And your only words to them are fluffy love? Does enabling create peace?

    September 21, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • Proud Atheist

      Hamas and Hezbollah call for the destruction of Israel, but Israel is destroying Palestine. They control their resources, their movement, their aid. They build settlements on Palestinian land. Israel is your Satan.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      If I am not mistaken I think Israelis kills more Palestinians than Palestinians kills Israelis. Oh do we just ignore the FACTS.

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

      @PA- you might not realize this, being ignorant and all, but the West Bank has this little border with Jordan you might want to look at on a map. Gaza also has this border with Egypt that might concern you with your stupid comments.

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

      @Johnquest- if one ignores the fact that Palestinians are Arabs...many other fake facts can be taken. So, who has killed more? Arabs or Israelis in the last 100 years?

      Oh, and while you are at it...how many of those Hamas rockets are aimed toward military targets?

      September 21, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • get a backbone Carl

      I agree Israel has done violence too. They froze settlements but if they are to give the land like the west bank I agree they should honor it. Personally I feel the land is more their homeland. And they have a right to defend their people. But I do also look for both sides to not only come to terms but renounce violence.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Uncouth Swain, are you really arguing that Arabs\Palestinians have killed more Israelis than Israelis have killed Arabs\Palestinians? If you believe that you really should stop drinking the Kool-Aid.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Uncouth Swain, I'm sorry, the answer is Christians have killed more than Arabs and Jews combined in the last 100 years (the past 2000 years), are you not proud to be a Christian?

      September 21, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "I'm sorry, the answer is Christians have killed more than Arabs and Jews combined in the last 100 years (the past 2000 years), are you not proud to be a Christian?"

      I am quite proud in following the teachings of Christ. Why wouldn't I?

      September 22, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "are you really arguing that Arabs\Palestinians have killed more Israelis than Israelis have killed Arabs\Palestinians?"

      1948 Arab/Israel War: Israeli Deaths (6,000-11,000) Arab Deaths (8,000-15,000)
      Suez Crisis: Israli Deaths (177) Egypt (3,000)
      Six-Day War: Israeli Deaths (983) Arab Deaths (20,000)
      War of Attrition: (Israeli Deaths (1,000) Egypt (10,000)
      Yom Kippur War: Israeli Deaths (2.800) Arabs (13,000)
      1982 Leb. War: Israel Deaths (657) Arabs (26,000)
      2006 Leb. War: Israeli Deaths (121) Arabs (500)

      Ok...I partially take it back. Israel is way better at conducting and winning wars than all the other Arab nations around them. But that is considering soldiers. If considering civilians...I bet the numbers would be a lot closer.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  11. Cam

    I'm an athiest and I love Jesus, Palestine and Israel. Please don't hate me.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      'I'm an atheist and I love Jesus...."

      that's quite the contradiction

      September 22, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  12. janaki

    The very "peaceful" palestinians are now handing out maps erasing all of Israel. And you still believe that these are "innocent oppressed" people?

    September 21, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • Griff

      Kinda like when the colonial Americans starting drawing maps of independent states not run by Britain?

      September 21, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • hawaiiduude

      israel has been wiping palestine and palestinians off the map and land for 70+ years!

      September 21, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • janaki

      First of all there is no such thing as "palestinians". Call them Arabs that live in palestine. That would be more accurate

      September 21, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      No...not really..they haven't. If israel wanted to, there would be no Palestinians. Go check you history on their conflct.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • Can anyone look at it from this perspective...?

      Try this: If any of you can tolerate looking at this article and comments from this perspective, hang in there for the uncomfortable feelings it might bring your way. But try to do it, please. Stretch your mind a bit. It won't hurt.

      Reread the article and the comments, but from this perspective: What if, just if, (here's the part where you need to try and hang in there!), the entire Jesus story might be overstated, untrue, or completely made up? (I know most of you just left. Sad.)

      If you can do it, reread the article and comments again. What if all of this argument and nonsense is over nothing more than....a myth? Like Hansel and Gretel? Like The Three Little Pigs? What would that mean for all sides of the conflict, including the Christian Evangelicals?

      I know 99.5% of you didn't make it this far. Congratulations to those that did! My respects.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • mike

      Maps without Israel, do you see maps with Palestine in them? I see alot of " flying crocodile"

      September 21, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Can anyone look at it from this perspective...?, Sam Harris wrote something very similar, "imagine in 2000 years our decedents are killing each other over the "true" Divine OS. Some would believe that Windows 98 is the true OS of God others think that it was really Windows 7 and still others believe that Apple OS was the one true OS of God, and are actually killing over this". (I paraphrased of course but you get the gist). Sounds silly doesn't it but that is exactly what we are doing today.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  13. Brian D

    I would side with the other side too if one side nailed me to a tree.....

    September 21, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
  14. Peikovian

    Another thing we know about Jesus, apart from his support for sharia, is that he was a shape-shifter, appearing as a blonde Ayran to comfort the Nazi, but also as a sub-Saharan African to comfort the cannibal. The one thing he never was: an early Roman-era Jewish preacher named Joshua, who practiced a form of mysticism and believed he was annointed to teach the Jews primarily, with Samaritans and foreigners accepted on a case-by-case basis.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
  15. david smith

    watch the daniel project.....

    September 21, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
  16. Bill P

    Medearis is an apostate. Here is the evidence: he has audiences with Hamas and Hezbollah and tells them, who are Muslims, that Jesus is telling them to "love their enemies". Sounds OK? Not really – he is telling folks that do not believe in, in fact they reject Jesus as the Son of God, that they should, as non-believers, adhere to Jesus' exhortation to "love your enemies". Jesus was telling BELIEVERS that, not NON-BELIEVERS. What Medearis should be doing, that is if he actually knows Christ as his savior, is to tell Hamas and Hezbollah to FIRST repent and believe on Jesus Christ as their Savior, and not bypass the salvation process.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • mike

      Do Jewish people believe that Jesus is prophet? or more; son of God ?or what he is for them. Muslim believe in Jesus as a sacred prophet who came( Jew do not believe he came as I remember), also they believe that jesus would be the final one to fight the infidels on his return. Go figure..

      September 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Gekaap

      Bill P, you really show alot of ignorance there. Islam recognizes Jesus as a highly revered teacher and prophet. As a matter of fact, you may be familiar with the phrase some Muslims utter that "Muhammad was [God's] final messenger." So it makes perfect sense for this man to talk to Muslims about what Jesus taught.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  17. roman

    Carl, you are not much of an expert. Christian Zionists via religion or otherwise, unlike the average American, are very much informed of all the issues and complexties of the situtaion. They are not the problem, the opposite they got it right. If the "Arab Spring" has shown anything is that those regimes including the Palestinian Authoirty are not to be believed or trusted. Is it your assertion that on all other issues Asad, Hizballah, Kadafi and their rest of the regimes are not to be trusted EXCEPT as it involves jews and Israel.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
  18. jako

    If such fictional character even existed, he would laugh at us bickering about some crappy dry and ugly land that we imagined holy.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  19. Cohen

    Jesus never said to give up land to anyone, until his death he preached to follow the laws of God which are all in the old five books of Moses, so were you come with this Idea? What love has to do with giving up what belong to you and has for 3000 years?

    September 21, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
    • bob

      The bible is not a land deed, the Jews moved in from Europe in 1948, displacing the people that lived there.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
    • Gekaap

      Cohen, maybe you need to read Jesus' words in Matthew 5:40. "And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also."

      September 21, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  20. Julie

    I see many people here insisting that Israel is The USAs only ally in the Middl East. This may be so – but only because we made it so with our foreign policy. But we also had other allies – people like Mubarak, the Shah of Iran and others who we set up in Arab countries to try and swing the Mid East in our favor – to whit – we've meddled for decades in the Middle East and it WILL come back to bite us.
    Also – those who accuse the Palastinians of terrorism forget that Israel has also engaged in terrorist behavior against them. They evicted people from their homes and land, denied them freedom of movement – unless it was movement OUT, they have killed thousands of Palestinians, blockaded basic supplies from getting to them, threatened to kill them. Read some of Noam Chomskys commentary on the issue and learn something.
    I'm no fan of the Palestinians – but the Israelis HAVE NO HALOES OVER THEIR HEADS.
    And the author of this article is right. The USAs ongoing almost carte blanche support of Israel is exactly on account of "Christian Zionism" – something I once thought of myself as before I learned better.
    I dunno what the solution is for the Israeli/ Palestinian problem, but we won't find it through mindless adherence to some very dubious Biblical prophecy.

    We would do better to treat Biblical prophecy as a challenge from god to do better, to do the right thing, instead of as preordained inevitibility.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
    • Amill

      We've done more than enough for Israel, it was once thought it was in our interest to support Israel to ensure stability in the middle east. Look where supporting Israel has taken us, ...Twin Towers gone, our economy gone. Its not in our national interest to keep meddling based on religion, etc. As far as I'm concerned they're all the same people, difficult people, we should have nothing to do with them. America First!!

      September 21, 2011 at 9:30 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.