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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. txsblues

    I guess what the author is saying is that all that stuff in the old testamant about God sending the Jews out of Egypt and migrating to the promised land is just fictional. Secondly if you had read the new testament you would find that Jesus (God) avoided being labeled a political activist. His life on earth was dedicated to every human being and their unity with God. Jesus had no political ambitions or political agendas while he was here on earth. I think CNN has an agenda to discredit christianity, why I do not know. It seems like the majority of their faith or religious based news stories always seem to have an anti christian stance. I wonder what Dr. Charles Swindoll would say if you gave him an opportunity to write an article. I don't think we will ever see it though because he affirms conservative christian values.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
  2. Matt

    It was not God that put the food price up, took your allies away, and will place unilateral sanctions on you via these proxies.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
  3. Peikovian

    There is also some evidence that Gandhi wanted to take over the Chicago rackets on the South Side.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
  4. eric k.

    To all those who think Carl was dropped on his head at birth or insane or whatever other derogatory comments were made...PLEASE read Galatians. Paul tells us "... know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham." (Galatians 3:7) And Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,”who is Christ. (3:16) The Promises made were fulfilled in Christ! Not a future nation state called Israel.

    Paul, who also must have been dropped on his head, says in Galatians 4:25 that NOW the EARTHLY Jerusalem is best represented by Hagar...Ishmael's mother...that will mess with Zionist theology.

    We cannot boast against Israel (Romans 11) but at the same time we cannot mindlessly ignore the commands of Christ to support a government that shows no sign of godliness.

    The problem with Christian Zionism is there is nothing in the New Testament to support it.
    Way to go Carl!! Homerun!

    September 21, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
  5. Tom

    Carl,
    Well spoken. You said everything that I wanted to say. I agree with you 101%. God bless you. When God blessed Abraham he was not blessing Jews only. In the New Testament it says "the blessings of Abraham comes to all those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Many American so called "Christian preachers" twisted the Bible for there money making business. Only in America it is allowed (money makeing). Thanks again. May God bless you.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
  6. Sagebrush Shorty

    What a crock.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
  7. TDW

    Mr. Medearis said ..."refusal to embrace a nationalist agenda." So why do the Palestinians need a separate country of their own?

    September 21, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  8. Baby Frankenstein

    Jesus was a lying shifty carpetbagger!!!

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

      Troll alert..

      September 21, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
  9. What do Jewish people really want?

    What is your intent if you had your way would you do with the 2 Million Palestinians that live in the West Bank and Gaza in a land you call israel that you do not allow them to vote in Israeli elections and do not alllow them to have their own country either? What is your end game?

    September 21, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • What do Jewish people really want?

      I am asking opinions of jews/israelis what is your honest preferred outcome and how do you plan to get their?

      September 21, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • steve

      I can only speak for this Jewish person,ME! The right to exist from the Arab world. That's all.
      Especially Palestine Jordon , Iran, Iraq. And the Hammas and Hezbollah . If only a few of these souls would agree that all I want is the right for Israel to exist like a State , just as the Palestine group wants.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • What do Jewish people really want?

      Steve,

      I hope you get what you want and I hope for peace.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
  10. Emanuel Burgos

    Carl, isn't it true too that the majority of Palestinians (and Muslims for that matter) don't believe that Jews have ANY historical claims to the land of Israel? Case in point, in college I had many Muslims friends (including a Palestinian) who were not extremists in any fashion. However, none of them believed that the Jewish people had any historical claims to land of Israel. In fact, any history prior to the creation of "Palestine" (which was actually created by the Romans at the destruction of Israel and its holy temple in 70 A.D.) does not concern them and they rather pretend that it doesn't exist. In fact, Palestinians have even been responsible for the destruction of important historical artifacts from the Second Temple - again trying to erase any Jewish historical claims to the land.

    Consequently, for there to be genuine peace, both sides really need to understand the other and not downplay each other's historical claims to the land.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
  11. Peikovian

    The "Isa" of the Quran would back the Muslims anywhere. The "Jesus" of the Gospels was ambiguous enough for various Christian denominations to fight wars betwen themselves because of him. The "Yeshua" of the Roman era was ambiguous enough for several Jewish denominations to follow him even centuries after his death (the Ebionites, perhaps also some of the Nazarenes), others to ignore him, still others (collaborators of the local Edomite regime) to condemn him for heresy as a demi-god-king so they could report him as a rebel against Roman authority (which had its own demi-god-kings).

    September 21, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
  12. Andres

    The author has mentioned a very narrow view of the conflict. What about history, the arguments to solve the conflict are in the study of history. If history is align with the Bible are we going to ignore it? Historically the Jews go way before than the arabs and palestinians in that land. Its where there ancesters lived, and prospered, and fought, etc.etc. The palestinians have been in that land only for 700 years the Isralites have been in that lans for more than 5,000 years, the distribution of the land should be proportional to the time

    September 21, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
  13. Allen

    WAHAHA!! Dude, ahmadinnerplate, the main arms supplier for the palestinianos and experienced terrorist himself (carter era hostage crisis) has the b4lls to say it straight. It's a step toward the eradication of Israel. The old lady they're holding up for mother of the year preparatory to their statehood bid? Three sons in prison for murder, specifically of Jews. Call me crazy but I'm going with suicide wasn't high on Jesus' to do list either, especially when you're killing your own children too. I'm noticing that these big middle east countries crying for them have offered exactly ZERO land for the poor palestinians to settle on, and let's face it, anything would be better than that dried up h311 h0l3 they are apparently psychopathically attached to. Israel has no place to go over there. It's pure murderous hypocrisy that Palestinians do. I'm gonna go with Israel on this one. If anybodies gonna put a gun to MY head, it ISN"T going to be me.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  14. Jsfraptor26

    Philippians 2:16
    Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation.

    My Christian bretheren, this author and this article is yet another example of all the above verse expounds upon.

    Pray that God may humble and forgive this author, for in his current state he is deader than a doornail.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  15. Phil

    I think that the land was given to the Jews by God long before Muslims were even around to bicker about land with them.

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

      I keep reading this, but nobody is saying how they know God gave the land to Israel. Maybe I missed something, God is talking to everybody but me.

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

      If god is going around giving away free land to (only) Jews, can some one let me know how I can become a Jew?

      September 21, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  16. Sid

    herbert juarez is a spinless coward.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
  17. ObjectiveOpinion

    If Jesus is coming back, what is waiting for?

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

      Waiting is for learning patience?

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

      Prophesy says Solomons' temple will be rebuilt before that time , just one little problem , there's a mosque presently on the site.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  18. Earl Weaver

    I have no problem with a Palestinian state as long as they and all Arabs accept Israel's right to exist also. Which of course, they won't. Hence, there will never be peace in that part of the world.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
  19. FUBAR

    I just don't get it. I could really care less what happens. My main concern is the billions of dollars that the US gives Israel in Foreign Aid and then in turn we have to purchase stuff (usually military equipment) from them. Where is the benefit? Look at the following website: http://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/politics/us-foreign-aid.htm. The government wants to do some savings, relook the Foreign Aid. Sorry this was off the subject, but if Palestine became a nation, this would inherit the ability for Israel to invade the Palestinian territory in response to attacks. This could also be bad for Palestine if there were any more attacks coming from Palestine. It could lead to the UN stepping in and sending a peacekeeping force or Israel doing a full out invasion of Palestine. This is has it pros and cons and is a very delicate situation. Just be careful what you ask for cause it could backfire.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
  20. Carl medearis

    The author here. This is a hugely complex issue and so one little blog doesn't do it justice in any way and probably only serves to stir the pot. Sorry bout that.

    However.....the clear commands of Christ are to love neighbor and enemy. Who wants to destroy whom can be debated all day. And who did what to who first. But it is undeniable that Jesus would bend over backwards and even lay down his life for the "other." the ones we think are the perpetrators are the very ones he would die for to set free. This is who Jesus is and who we should be!
    Carl

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

      I think your comment is the best of the night. Thank you for being a good christian and believer.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Jsfraptor26

      Carl Medearis said in an earlier post:
      "However.....the clear commands of Christ are to love neighbor and enemy. Who wants to destroy whom can be debated all day. And who did what to who first. But it is undeniable that Jesus would bend over backwards and even lay down his life for the "other." the ones we think are the perpetrators are the very ones he would die for to set free. This is who Jesus is and who we should be!"

      You, sir, are mistaken. Jesus did not lay His life down for the "other." He laid His life down for His sheep. Jesus died for "many", not "all." Stop reading false Catholic theology.

      John 10:11 – "I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays His life down for HIS sheep."
      John 10:15 – "As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for THE sheep."

      September 21, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • *frank*

      Jesus is represented in the bible as in being in full agreement with his (claimed) father, who was a barbarous villain of the most disgusting sort conceiveable. Also, Jesus killed innocent pigs and trees. I hate Jesus.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • tough love

      I agree to love all and give our lives but it is not just fluff. Jesus was not milk toast. Before He laid down his life He confronted those who did evil. It is part of love. Jesus lamented the destruction of the temple. Now there sits the dome of the rock because Mohammed said in a dream he went there? You do not think this is the Jewish homeland? I do. Yet the Israelites are willing to share and divide it. 78% of Israelites want two states. 61% of Palestinians want no Jewish state.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:51 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.