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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. blondeagent99

    Wow – this guy has never read the Old Testament and promises to the jewish people. According to the old testament, the jews should have all the land, not a tiny little sliver of it. Where did he get his information??? Not from My God and Jesus Christ.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • Kat

      yea because God is a real estate agent who draws borders and preach people to go fight over them in his name. The Old Testicles is nothing but self-serving stories by desert people wanting to invade "the land of milk and honey"....God is God of all, not just "the chosen people"

      September 21, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  2. Tim Lieder

    But really, who would the Easter Bunny support?

    September 21, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  3. hawaiiduude

    Jesus was a Palestinian Jew.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
  4. Yacov Bin Moha

    As a Jew who is a follower of Jesus I must say that I 100% agree with Carl. I have been in West Bank and seen the kind of thigns that the Isearli government is doing there. They need peace and they need freedom. If there are any fpr Palestine know that there some Jews who love you and support you. I was not always this way before I knew Jesus and the peace that he brings I was as Arab hating and zionist as the next guy but all that had to change when I saw Jesus and His teachings as King. So to all who are on the other side of this wall, to those you once where my enemies please know that I love and pray for you and very supportive of your people and of people.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      If the UN recognized Palestine as a state, it would not bring the people peace and freedom.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  5. BGko

    Jesus wouldn't take sides on such an petty squabble.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • hawaiiduude

      Sure He would. Look what He said about the Jews! John 8:44
      King James Version (KJV)
      (Jesus speaking to the Jews) 44Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  6. jo

    The Jesus I read about in the New Testament...would definitely be more comfortable with the Palestinians !! I can't imagine him in Israel...well I can...that is where he met his end!!

    September 21, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
  7. Doc

    Wrong, he would not support anyone, he would support EVERYONE..

    September 21, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • Tim Lieder

      Really? He didn't seem to like Jews too much.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
  8. Pastor Mike Palevo

    Jesus would definitely support the Palestinians. Why? Because, those running Palestine today are not even related to Jesus!! In other words, they are not even Semitic people who call themselves Ashkenazi. They are no more related Genetically than I am to the Pope! So, with that said, give them back their land!

    September 21, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  9. Alyssa

    This article does not mention the fact that a large number of Palestinians are Christian. What we are talking about is evangelical Christian groups supporting the removal and oppression of Chrisitans from the Holy Land. What kind of backstabbing logic is that?

    September 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • Kat

      Palestinian Christians resist Israel's racist occupation too.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      Life was better for Christians in places like Bethlehem when Israel was in control than now that the Palestinians are. Jews believe that Christians have equal rights to themselves. Muslims, in general, don't.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
    • Alyssa

      That's what I mean...these evangelical christians are so blind to the reality on the ground that they don't even know or acknowledge that Palestinians are also Christian and that they are sending money to keep them, along with their Muslim neighbors, living in Ghettos with no future, no passports, a wall surrounding them, and watching their farmland being stolen from them. They are supporting the Jews of Israel against their own fellow Christian brothers and sisters just so the Jews can claim the Holy Land and Jesus can come back.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • Alyssa

      "Life was better for Christians in places like Bethlehem when Israel was in control than now that the Palestinians are. Jews believe that Christians have equal rights to themselves. Muslims, in general, don't."

      That is absolutely not true. Muslims and Christians have lived together there for hundreds of years. Islamic law protects the practice of Christianity in Muslim lands. Ask any Palestinian Christian....my family is Palestinian and you have no clue what you are talking about. Opression is opression.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
  10. Ancient Texan

    I don't believe Jesus would sanction terrorism from the camp that harbors Hezbollah, Hamas, and Is a tool of Iran's to remove Israel from the face of the earth.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • Kat

      nor would he support Israeli bulldozing Palestinians homes and farms to house jew-only colonists.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
  11. Banderman

    Jesus ain't here. How can you speak for Jesus? Give it a rest.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Zod

      He heard the voice in his head, because he forgot to take his meds this morning.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  12. The_Mick

    "For them, the modern Jewish state is a direct fulfillment of Bible prophecy..." No. For them, support for Israel keeps Jewish and other groups from investigating their scams. It's been traditional Christian belief for at least 1700 years that the "New Covenant" mentioned by Jesus in the New Testament meant that the Old Covenant was over and had been broken by the Jews and that if the Holy Land should belong to anyone, it should be Christians. It's only been these snake-oil salesmen posing as ministers who have invented Christian support for a modern Jewish state or any call for it in the New Testament.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      It was common doctrine, but is not supported by the Bible. Both the Old and New Testament state clearly that after a time of unbelief, Israel will return to God. (Ezekiel 11:19, 36:36;Romans 11:26) Romans 11:1-2 refutes the idea that God would cancel His covenant with Israel.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  13. Bo

    As would any Christian that follows the law of the New Testament over the old law as CHristians are instructed to do.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
  14. Andrew

    not that i have a strong opnion on this matter but the fact that Jesus would support something does not or should not give it extra weight or legitimacy in ANYTHING except things in the church that follows his teaching.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
  15. Serenade

    Can we just find an alternative to oil and nuke Mecca, Jerusalem and a few other of these moronic peoples.
    Or better more, to prevent the degradation of my air; can we please just sent them to Mars? Let them fight their petty wars of who's gods bigger and what not there.
    I'm tired of actually having to care about the opinions of people who act as if they should be living in a mud hut in the 5th century AD.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  16. Richard

    Well said Carl.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  17. tengrela21

    love one another the way Jesus loved us. That is his command.
    Many people claim to be Christian, by they fail to follow this command
    If you don't follow this command, you should wonder about your faith.
    Love one another the way Jesus loves us.
    Do you love your neighbor ? Do you only help those that you know ? If you only love those that love you , what set you apart from the non believers? Anyone who read the Bible knows what i am talking about.
    There was only one Christian, her name was Mother Theresa.
    Everyone else is BS***ter

    September 21, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • blf83

      Your original intention may have been on the right track, but you lost me at Mother Theresa and the "Everyone else is BS***ter." So very Christian of you!

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

    No, she wouldn't support them.

    September 21, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • blf83

      But is she Mormon?

      September 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • Easyrhino

      AIPAC get to her?

      September 21, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  19. blf83

    I fully agree. Little done today in government policy – due to the ultra-right-wings political organizations in many countries – is Christ-like, or Buddha-like, or Muhammed-like.

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

      If only our government were more Buddha-like....

      September 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
  20. fixingstupid

    I'm amazed how the author claims the ability to speak for Jesus... Unless you're a Prophet, you have not authority.

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

      In this world – even your pet goldfish can be argued to be the voice of Jesus. The fact of the matter is 'how crazy do you want to go in this world'. The crazies are always the ones promoting their religious views.

      September 21, 2011 at 9:54 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.