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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. Guest

    Amen! It's about time people come out of darkness and look at Israel-Palastine issue with an open mind like this.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
  2. Manchesterian

    Amen my brother. I often wonder if these wonderful christians are aware that Jesus was a Palestinian Jew? And, that he came down on the side of justice every time, regardless of whom the parties to the conflict in question were. I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ because there is simply no better example anywhere; not in the cannon, not in the archives of the Catholic church...... If it is fairness and justice one seeks – no better model than the ones he espoused, if it is generousity – same, where there is love or the lack thereof – there again he is second to none. And lets take a look at Peace – aha! He was/is the Alpha and the Omega, the one and only Prince of Peace. Every time I think of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I am comforted by this notion: "Jesus Wept", not only for fellow Jews, but for the entire human condition. How his heart must break when he reviews the homeland that gave him life and the platform from which to launch his global world peace and love tour. Not that anyone appears to be asking him, however I am with you, he would have rejected outright the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the basis for it. I think he would consider President Obama's bewildering quasi-idiotic and unjust position on the matter as communicated by him earlier today unworthy of serious consideration. The statement he made today is akin to a person of authority in the "old days" propogating the notion that African slaves accept the conditions of slavery simply because their masters required it to be so. He probably should just step back from the entire issue. The Jesus you and I know would definitely support Palestinian Statehood. However, Jesus had no interest in winning a second term anywhere and therefore would not have needed to sarcrifice his honour on voting blocks. Again, "Jesus wept", and I am pretty sure that he continues to.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
  3. jacceee

    jesus would support palestine. GOD would suppot israel.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • Manchesterian

      The father and the son are one. So unbelievably strong was the bond between them, that when he sent his son to die on the cross for this world in which we dwell, he answered his father's call. His selflessness resulted in our petty selfishness. and a world of religious and racial hatred by inhumane zealots. We would see women and children sarcrificed and slaughtered so those who think themselves above and beyond god's grace can inherit a blood and death soaked "kingdom", that has spiritually and symbolically lost the merit which it once represented. If peace making is the devil's work; then we should have no doubt that he has been permanently afixed between Israel and Palestine. And, some day change is gonna come and the elusive peace that would free the rest of the entire world from the grip of this merciless, ongoing spectacle will be wrought by satan? May god bless these wonderful christians. Where would we be without them?

      September 21, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Manchesterian

      If it makes anyone happy to think God and Jesus were dueling pop stars, why not?

      September 21, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
  4. Ed Jones

    Imagine there's no Heaven
    It's easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people
    Living for today

    Imagine there's no countries
    It isn't hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace

    You may say that I'm a dreamer
    But I'm not the only one
    I hope someday you'll join us
    And the world will be as one

    Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people
    Sharing all the world

    You may say that I'm a dreamer
    But I'm not the only one
    I hope someday you'll join us
    And the world will live as one

    September 21, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      "Imagine there's no Ed Jooooones....it's easy if you tryyyyy..."

      September 21, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  5. TruthBTold

    Who do you so-called Bible loving Americans think Jesus would be saying the following words to? (Oh, nows a good time to go dust off that Bible)

    Revelation 2:9
    I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

    AND

    Revelation 3:9

    Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • Annatala

      @TruthBTold: Nobody, since those are the words of the Apostle John, not Jesus.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
  6. Kooper Caldwell

    Go back and read your Bible because you are absolutely dead wrong.IF Moses and the Israelites had done what God had told them to do and killed all Men,women and children in the lands they were supposed to take, there would be no Palestinians alive today to be causing a problem.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • Manchesterian

      It is nice of you to let us know that.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  7. Chris

    Wow. Let"s completely ignore the reality of the region and all of its complexity to chase a red-herring. Typical CNN opinion piece. La La Land.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
  8. DevilForYou

    Palestine will be fee. The crazy Zionists will not get their crazy wish. Israel will not steal all of Palestine.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
  9. gingersrule1

    There are no extremists in Israel that want war. The extremists in Palestine are actually in control of Palestine. They infiltrated the government after their last leader Yasser Arafat died. They hung all of Yasser Arafat's people in public. They kill their own people who have outdoor weddings or music in Palestine. The Palestinians have let terrorists take over their country and that is why we can't allow them to become a state because they will try to use it to bring all out war on Israel. I can't stand all this disinformation out there. So many ignorant people. If you need to see for yourselves lets make Palestine a state just so you can watch the entire Arab world attack Israel. You'd probably even say it was their fault. It makes me sick to see all of this ignorance. I'm just hoping God comes for us soon but I have a feeling He will let us kill each other off before he intervenes.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • Manchesterian

      Do not let the level of emotions expressed here make you unhappy. It is better to know what people have on their minds than trying to guess. I am for peace and justice for all peoples including the people of Israel and Palestine. Every time we express/vent about injustices perceived or otherwise we are a step closer to meaningful dialogue. Peace and courage my friend!

      September 21, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
  10. Kenneth

    Yes Jesus would support the People of Palestine ! Why because Jesus would only want Peace... Enough said... please Jesus Come back to earth an save the people of Palestine ...

    September 21, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • arthurrrr

      in order to speak for someone, LIKE JESUS, you have to KNOW them. and Carl Medearis clearly does not know Jesus.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
    • e

      wrong, please re-read the 4 gospels in the new testament.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  11. Frank Garrett

    Jesus wouldn't support them. Thou who don't believe are condemned already. Jesus must support the Koran then. Who they hell is the author to talk about Jesus like that, he must be moron as he thinks the incorrect book is Ok. BTW they mormons think God's word is weak that's why the need the book of mormon to strengthen God's word.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • Manchesterian

      Nah! He was all for free speech. He was the first feminist – See woman of Samarra, he ligitimized her right to free speech by initiating a conversation with her. Back then that was a no-no. He may /may not have agreed with the contents of the article, but he would die on the cross to defend our rights to our humanity and spirituality and he would definitely include Palestinians in this. He was a superior thinker who willingly met his inferiors half way.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  12. Aaron

    Wow!! This is what they call an "expert" at Christian-Muslim relations? He certainly isn't an Israeli relations expert. He needs to brush up on his Israeli history. Israel has agreed to a Palestinian state since 1947 in accordance with the U.N.Parttion Plan for Palestine. It was the Arab Higher Committee together with Transjordan, Egypt, and the other members of the Arab League of the time who rather than declaring their independence alongside Israel, started the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. During the war, Israel gained additional territories that were expected to form part of the Arab state under the UN plan. Egypt gained control over the Gaza Strip and Transjordan gained control over the West Bank. Egypt initially supported the creation of an All-Palestine Government, but disbanded it in 1959. Transjordan never recognized it and instead decided to incorporate the West Bank with its own territory to form Jordan. In 1967 Egypt, Jordan and Syria lined their troops along the Israeli border surrounding the small nation, they fought against Israel for six days and it ended with significant territorial expansion by Israel, including the whole of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which remain under Israeli occupation. It was and remains the Arab community who refuses to accept the two state solution. They simply use what land they have to attack Israel as they currently are doing today. Rather than mischaracterizing Christians, maybe Mr. Medearis should study the facts. This article is worthless, since what American Christians do or do not want doesn't matter, given Israel's 64yrs of willingness to allow a Palestinian state. All they ask is for peace. If you think Jesus would side with the Palestinians, who have hindered the two state solution by repeatedly attacking Israel, you have quite a distorted view of life.

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

      Nonsense. Israel's never recognized the Palestinians, the State of Israel has never announced formal borders. Read writing of early Israeli leaders (Ben Gurion and others) – more than once they totally dismissed the idea of the existing of Palestinian people. They even admit that they don;t expect the Palestinian to accept the Israelis since the Israelis STOLE Palestine.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • Serenade

      @American, this is actually true. The original UN plan was for two states, however the Korean war distract them away from the business of death cults and sand people and their ridiculous religious feuds over who's god said who get the holy sand.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
    • Aaron

      @American: You have been taught a lie my friend. Palestine and Israel have stole each other's land for thousands of years. Most recently, the U.N. stepped in and presented a two-state plan. Israel accepted, Palestine rejected it and chose rather to side with Egypt and Transjordan to attack Israel and after they lost Egypt and Transjordan stole their land and kept it for themselves. The only reason why Israel has it now is because Egypt and Jordan then used the land they took from palestine to position themselves to attack Israel again. So Israel beat them again and took the land for good to strategically protect themselves. Again, Israel has accepted the two-state solution and peace for 64yrs and counting. It's time for Palestine to decide whether they want a homeland and peace or if they want to continue the conflict.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • Manchesterian

      I am going to try and see if any westerner will allow me to "gain some land" in a scuffle with them and dare to keep or expand on it. I can just imagine how well that would work out for me.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • Aaron

      @Manchesterian: Well, if your neighboring counties attack you using certain land as a strategic advantage and you beat them and retain that land... there is not much they can do about it since you just beat them. Maybe they should have greeted you as a neighbor rather than trying to conquer you.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
  13. American

    Giving a right to Christians or Jews to interpret a Holy book anyway they want and act upon that interpretation by stealing someone else country, is no different than giving a right to Bin Laden to interpret another Holy book and act upon it by he cold blooded murder of nearly 3000 innocent Americans. Think about it!!!

    September 21, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • Raul Rey

      You have no idea what it is you are talking about right? Stealing someone elses ountry? What country would that be? there has NEVER been a Palestinian state. Go educate yourself

      September 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • Serenade

      Yes, we should give Israel back to the Ottoman Turks. It was their land before the British dismantled their Empire. In all honesty, this is an asinine debate.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • Manchesterian

      Word!

      September 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Aaron

      @Raul Rey: Actually there has been a "palestinian state". It's called "Jordan." Jordanians come from Palestinian lineage. Maybe Jordan should take care of their people. Israel could have very easily kicked the Palestinians out and sent them off to Jordan. Perhaps Israelis don't mind living among Arabs? Perhaps they decided the right thing to do was to allow Palestinians to remain in their homeland/communities? But I'm sure those possibilities are not sinister enough for anyone to consider

      September 21, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • Aaron

      @Serenade: The reality is that land has been taken from someone to create EVERY country that exists today. Given that the Turks and the Jews have their own nations and the Palestinians don't, progress suggests that the only step left is to create a Palestinian state. Suggesting that we give Israel back to the Turks is called regression. Either you want ALL people to be treated failrly or you would just like to see Jews treated unfairly.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  14. blake

    Medearis, what a leftist moron.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
  15. Serenade

    I believe that either way, this problem isn't going to be solved by giving Palestinians a state. One need only go back to the history books about the Ottoman Empire and the British Mandate of Palestine, to see that the Arabs have been fighting the Jews ever since they began to immigrate back there in the 20s. This implies that the violence will not stop even when they have a state once more, as violence against Jews happened prior to the Jewish state's birth.
    Regardless, this is the fault of the Arab world and the UN. The Arabs attack on Israel in 1948 prevented the birth of a Palestinian Muslim nation. The UN however after seeing the first Arab death cult war, realized that they were over their heads and decided to leave this problem to our generation.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  16. Antonio richard

    Jesus was a Palestine Jew…he supported and aligned himself with outcasts and the downtrodden. I support Israel, however Israel needs to, seriously respect the dignity and personhood of the Palestinians and, stop being the aggressor. The entire world sees the injustices perpetrated by Israel except for the U.S. Is the entire world wrong?

    The U.S cannot indefinitely protect Israel…. eventually the U.S would decline in status. Nations rise and nations fall, Greece, Egypt, and Rome, Spain etc. True Christians cannot turn blind eyes to the suffering of the Palestinians or any downtrodden individuals.

    Christ left to two precepts; “Love one another as I have loved you” and my peace I leave with you”.
    FYI: Israel was responsible for the deaths of many Palestinian Christians.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • Serenade

      The reality is that historically and even up to today, Israel has not been anymore of an aggressor than any other Western nation in the 20th century. The problem is that again, the political climate today is far worse than it has ever been, where as a few years ago there was a possibility of there being peace in Israel. Today there is not, the UN and the Arab oil union has tried it's hardest to prevent permanent peace within the Levant. And as such, now you literally have the Palestinians run by a terrorist organization.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • leecherius

      Arabs as a whole would like nothing more than to see Israel just disappear. Israel hasn't really played the antagonist here , in spite of what you may have been told by the media. When Iran gets nukes , look out!!

      September 21, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
    • e

      You quote the bible to make yourself sound knowledgeable but it seems as though you don't know much at all. When Christ said, “Love one another as I have loved you[,]" was he talking to Palestinians and Jews? Do you know the audience? Please stop quoting the bible partially without any intellectual basis for your argument.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
  17. Salimeh

    This is so refreshing to hear the "other side" for once. Israel was created in 1947 on the backs of an existing Palestinian state. The Palestinians are not asking for all their land back, they are simply asking to be recognized as they are at present time. Why is that so hard for people to swallow? What would you do in their situation? Jesus was an empathetic person, it's sad to see such little empathy on the comments.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      Israel was not created on the back of an existing Palestinian state. The British Mandate - which was not a country - was divided between the Arabs and the Jews, with the Arabs getting the majority. However, they wanted it all.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
  18. Jesus

    How come no one ever asks the Jordanians to give the Palestinians their land back? After all, the land called Palestine included Jordan. Only Jews would steal land from Palestians I'm sure.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • Serenade

      Jews historically are easier targets. And anyways, how dare you demand our oil-sheiks actually give up some of their imperial holy sand for the cause of peace? What are you? A fool?

      September 21, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
  19. Grey Witch

    The way I see it do what is right! Not what gets you noticed. The God from the Bible as I see it isn't even real or alive because if he was he would show himself to us in a form we can understand. He wouldn't hide and turn his back on us and allow us to fight over who he really is. If he loved us he would communicate with us on a daily basis in voice we can all hear and understand. But he doesn't and its all just a bunch of BS. So, I think we should support them if its for the good. If not keep fighting it but keep Religion out of it.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      If the God of the Bible is real, why would you expect Him to act the way that you think He would. He showed He is real and that He loves us by sending His Son as one of us with a simple message that everyone can understand. That some don't believe and fight against it is not God's fault.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • e

      If God is real, why would he speak to an unintelligible person as yourself?

      September 21, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
  20. Casey

    Jesus would not this article is full of it.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
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