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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. John

    Ohh sure Jesus would support the palestinians in a vote in the UN, Just like he would support the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the blood libels. "Turn the other cheek" as they say. ::scoff::

    September 21, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      jesus didnt even exist so why was this article written?

      September 21, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • lara

      his existence has nothing to do with it. People murder, commit horrible acts of evil in his name, and also preform acts of stunning kindness and lover under his name. What John is saying is that because you believe that Jesus would vote one way has really no baring on reality. People will do all sorts of thing in his name, but that does not make it right.

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

      Brownie, did Abraham exist? Moses? David? Solomon? How about Paul? John? Matthew? Herod? Pontius Pilate? Josephus? The churches Paul wrote to?

      September 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  2. Michael

    With all his popularity Carl misses the character of Jesus like many other so called theologians.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • Oh wait

      Remember Carl Medearis is carrying a message from the muslims to the Christians.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
  3. Matthew Davis

    I am glad that someone has had the courage to write this article. My only wish now is that people with consider the things Carl has written here,, but much more importantly, what the Bible has to say concerning these things. 2 John 7-11 tells us that anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ is an anti-Christ (which is another commonly misunderstood concept in the Bible). Verse 11 tells us that if we bid such people God speed then we are partakers of his or her sin. How then, can we support a nation who, as a whole, do not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our saviour ? There is no logical explanation and certainly no Biblical prophesy that could possibly allow for this. But, you do not need to take my word for it. Study the Bible. Read 2 John 7-11 for yourself. Read other passages for yourself. Read the entirety of the Bible for yourself. Even if well-intentioned people believe they are preaching the true gospel, they are human, and they make mistakes as we all do. 1 John 4:1 says: Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Timothy 2:15 says: Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

    Some will undoubtedly try to interpret what I've written as anti-semitic. It is not. I am not even saying that I am necessarily against an alliance between the United States and the modern nation of Israel. But such an alliance should be no different than our alliance with any other nation. and certainly not an alliance based on false doctrine(I am also not against an alliance with Palestine, if done in like manner). If we were talking about any other nations other than Israel and Palestine, I'm sure our position on whether or not some other nation should be allowed statehood would be quite different. Furthermore, and this is strictly my opinion, it almost seems that when an issue concerning Israel and Palestine is discussed, that many people regard the Palestinians as little more than vermin. They do not say this, but the fact that said people give little or no regard to the Palestinians and their position on these issues, to me, suggests such a belief. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians are human beings, called to repentance by our Lord Jesus Christ just as any other man or woman in the world is, through the word of God.

    Most of all, however, as I've written previously, study the Bible for yourselves, with an open mind. Again, you needn't take my word for anything I've written here, nor should you. The Bible explains itself much better than I ever could.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
  4. LKJ

    Some of these comments are really a trip. First of all, Jesus promoted peace and caring for one another. He never led anyone into battle–in fact, he said to turn the other cheek. Second, Palestinians were living in their land, minding their business, when Zionists started to move in. Jews, Christians, and Muslims have lived peacefully in that area for centuries, but the Zionists are the ones who stirred things up. They stole land from Palestinians and destroyed their homes. Israel has repeatedly been rebuked for its actions by the United Nations, but it has continually ignored all this, with the blessing of our country. I don't know how anyone can believe that all Palestinians are murderous barbarians who don't even care about their own children, as I've read in some of these comments. Nothing could be further from the truth. Please stop stereotyping. It just makes you look ignorant.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • Rev Larry Robinson

      The Arabs have NO legitimate claims to any part of Israel. I base this not on a biblical basis, but international law.

      There are no legal treaties or other legal agreements that give Arabs a single square inch of the land west of the Jordan.
      The only legal treaty and internationally recognized agreement is the San Remo Conference approved by the League of Nations. That agreement is the basis for dividing Palestine and creating the nations of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Israel.

      The Arabs have never relented from their declarations that Israel is not allowed to exist. Neither the PLO nor Hamas have deleted those statements from their charters. Abbas has been quoted and recording in the last two years proclaiming that the Jews will be pushed out of Palestine.

      This article only serves to misinform and perpetuate the Arab attempts to destroy Israel and the Jews.

      For those of you supporting the right of the Arabs to take Jewish land, it should be a simple thing for you to provide any legal basis for it. However, I can tell you that you won't find any. There is no legal treaty, no international agreement, NO UN binding resolution, no past Arab state of Palestine, No past Arab capital in Jerusalem.

      The Arab argument is a farce for the sole purpose of destroying the Jews and many Americans and Europeans are guilty of complicity in this effort.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • Truth Teller

      I guess you're a hypocrite unless you're so ignorant you can't even recognize your own. Jews and Zionists never stole any land from any arabs, they legally bought the land they live on.

      Second, the UN resolutions against Israel stem from the fact that Israel is outnumbered by the number of nations who want to see Israel destroyed. So they pass anti-Israel resolutions in hope that one day it will lead to the destruction of the Jewish State. Israel understands that these resolutions only serve the purpose to attack Israel, and as such does not put much weight on following them.

      In regards to the "palestinians" as being barbarous murderers, I agree with you that 100% of "palestinians" are not. However, since roughly 80% of "palestinians" supported the terror group Hamas in the elections, the amount of rocket attacks that have hit Israel, the number of people who rather attack Israel than make peace with it, seems to suggest that the number of truly peaceful, normal, everyday "palestinians" is actually really low. There are "palestinians" who say they don't support Hamas, however, we never see "palestinians" protesting Hamas kidnapping of the "palestinian" people, we only see them attack Israel. Why is this? Because, "palestinians" only know how to hate, and only know how to hate Israel and at times, the US. Remember, "palestinians" were celebrating on the streets on 9/11, this isn't a hallmark of a peaceful people, something closer to barbarous murderers.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  5. stubbycat

    The situation is utterly hopeless until the consciousness of unconditional love and forgiveness is embraced. Churchianity hasnt a clue how to be "Jesus-like" because the answer isn't how to be "Jesus-like" but how to be one's true selfhood made in the image and likeness of God, Love. To do this requires a recanting of the false sense of one's own and other's animality, territoriality and materiality for the true sense of oneness, universality, justice,wholeness, harmony, complete spiritual sense with Love as law. These true ideas require daily acceptance in consciousness and in practice. Until consciousness is enlightened and reformed error, evil will live in the human mind externalizizing as greater conflicts, glowing and growing in resentment, anger, darkness, despair, disease and suffering until the end. End error within the individual and collective self througn greater understanding and Love is what the Master actually taught.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
  6. Nancy

    I'm so over this whole Israeli Palestinian conflict that has been going on forever and a day. ...I think Jesus would just start flipping tables and telling everyone to shut it.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
  7. Jeebus

    Is CNN serious with this? Jesus would support the Palestinians? Well I think Buddha and Vishnu would support the Israelis. So I guess it's two against one. What a stupid thing to write (and publish).

    September 21, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • peakarach

      In case you didn't know by now Jesus was born in Bethleham in West Bank that woud make him a Palestinian.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
  8. Carolyn

    It amazes me how many people claim to know the Bible yet it is obvious they do not.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • Annmarie

      Excellent point – I agree !!

      September 21, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
  9. Maxx

    Wow..

    First, thank the atheists for their most booooorrrrrriiiiiingggg diatribes against the woes of religious faiths. So many propositions that not a one of you could possibly prove nor show to be true. As a fourth year philosophy major, I enjoy picking through the plethora of fallacious arguments presented as thus.

    Now to the question: WWJD? Well, if people bothered to read the Book of Revelation and understand that it was written to the Jews while Daniel was written to the gentiles, then you will soon discover what Jesus is going to do. I particularly enjoyed the blog which woefully attempts to deny that Jesus existed. Don't ever, ever try to push that past any reputable scholar unless you enjoy being ridiculed for sheer ignorance of the evidence.

    My 2 cents...

    Good evening.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • think for yourself

      Second, thank the Christians for blindly quoting religious texts from 2,000 years ago that do not fit in with reality. Then, capitalizing words like "him", "he", "truth", "god", "his", etc, pretending that this and their fictional texts prove anything.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • Flash

      Maxx,

      There is no verified evidence that the Book of Revelation are the words of any person named Jesus.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • ZarGoth

      Gee....

      You would think that a student of philosophy would know pretty clearly that religion is the problem, not he solution.

      But we have learned not to expect too much from so-called professionals, like lawyers, ploiticians, & professional philosophers!

      Come out of your ivory tower & face the real world!

      September 21, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  10. Chris

    So, American Christians have been brain washed by their leaders to believe that they have to unconditionally support Israel? Israel seems to have forgotten about what it was like to be opressed and uprooted by the Nazis in WWII. They are not much different!

    September 21, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
  11. Patrick A.

    These Christian ZIONIST are so deluded they even denied that JEWS killed their JESUS,and that JEWS till this day think of their JESUS as a fraud.
    So that,s how manipulating JEWS are.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • 2011cnn2011

      The sins of the world killed Jesus

      September 21, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
  12. Rev Larry Robinson

    I'm sorry but this is a very wrongly framed argument

    The Arabs have NO legitimate claims to any part of Israel. I base this not on a biblical basis, but international law.

    There are no legal treaties or other legal agreements that give Arabs a single square inch of the land west of the Jordan.
    The only legal treaty and internationally recognized agreement is the San Remo Conference approved by the League of Nations. That agreement is the basis for dividing Palestine and creating the nations of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Israel.

    The Arabs have never relented from their declarations that Israel is not allowed to exist. Neither the PLO nor Hamas have deleted those statements from their charters. Abbas has been quoted and recording in the last two years proclaiming that the Jews will be pushed out of Palestine.

    This article only serves to misinform and perpetuate the Arab attempts to destroy Israel and the Jews.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • Annmarie

      Well as a Reverend you SHOULD be making a Biblical argument for Israel's God given right to the land!

      September 21, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • LKJ

      How could people have no claim on land on which they live?

      September 21, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • Right thing

      Agreed Rev. Larry

      September 21, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      since god never existed theres no such thing as god given right to anything so please pipe it down there honcho

      September 21, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • Patrick A.

      You JEW PIGS always have the same nonsense Garbage to say over and over, just like your Anti-semetic Nonsense.
      Tell me why is it that before 1948 when real JEWS were living side by sides with these same Arabs there was no conflict.

      It wasn,t until after 1948 when Khazar PIGS from Eastern Europe who converted to Judaism for their own monetary benefits the problem started..

      September 21, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • peakarach

      lol! The only reason Jewish have a homeland call Isreal after 5000 yrs of having no place to call a home is because the UN under leadership from America and European countries feel the need to help Jewish people to finally have their own homeland after what had happen to them in WWW2 so they decided to took some part of Palestinian homeland at the time it was under countrol of the British Empires to Jewish people.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  13. Tony

    Since Jesus never really existed, the point is moot. See "The God Who Wasn't There."

    September 21, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Did Josephus exist?

      September 21, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • Evan

      That's quite an ignorant statement. I'm guessing you did absolutely no research. Christ is mentioned by a number of sources, such as Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Lucian, Mara Bar-Serapion, and the Jewish Talmud. There is also a verse in the Jewish Talmud that could possibly be His arrest notice. Also, in the Bible, we can find a number of pre-NT creeds. One example would be 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, which most scholars place within 5 years of Christ's life, and some even within 18 months. The source material that Mark used for his Gospel is extremely early (within 5 years). Lastly, a tomb that has recently been discovered, which was used before 50 AD, contains prayers to Jesus. Saying that there is no evidence that Jesus ever existed is just beyond naive. I'm not aware of a single contemporary scholar or historian who believe that Jesus never existed.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      evan i beg to differ

      bring me the corpse of jesus and i will believe you

      and dont give me that resurrection crap cuz it never happened

      bring me the corpse of jesus and then we can talk

      otherwise you can pipe it down a notch cuz all you have is words from a book of fiction proven to be full of contradictions

      i have a megladon tooth that is millions of years old yet we cant find this mythical jesus fellow from a couple thousand years ago come on already

      if it existed then his buddies probably stole his body to trick the sheep into thinking he was really resurrected but he really wasnt

      the sheep continue to believe in this fallacy today and look what we get out of it a history full of murder in the name of jesus and other myths

      quit being a sheep and do some real research read a frickin bible and take some notes

      when youre done reading that eurotrash you wont believe in any of it anymore

      and you can finally get a job and you wont have to worry about being broke anymore

      and then you can stop praying to the fluffy fat man in the sky with the sausage fingers

      September 21, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Brownie, Thomas didn't believe either, until he saw Jesus and touched the scars. Peter was so frightened he swore he never knew Jesus, but later his boldness knew no equal, because he'd seen the risen Jesus. Saul of Tarsus not only despised Jesus, he pursued Jesus followers to their death. Then he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus and ended up preaching boldly the word of the resurrection, ultimately dying for the message of the risen Jesus. Something changed all these people and millions more. I hope he changes you one day soon.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      sciguy

      i dont know of anyone that was there to see this mythological story take place

      also god doesnt answer prayers

      the bible is full of lies and contradictions and there is more evidence of that than there are of these stories actually taking place

      the bible itself proves the whole religion to be false

      i know cuz i used to believe in it until i read it

      September 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • Flash

      SciGuy,

      Well, isn't that special... Thomas and a few other guys got a personalized magic show... and the rest of us are chopped liver?!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
  14. Chris

    Jesus wouldn't be on either side in a political sense. But he'd be on both sides in a spiritual sense. People forget that Jesus, though living/ministering/teaching in Roman-occupied territory in the first century did not come to help the Israelites overthrow the Romans. He came to save people from much greater enemies: sin, death and Satan.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      where is this alleged satan you speak of?

      September 21, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  15. deborah

    I think the prayer goes something like this: God give me the ears to hear, the eyes to see and heart to understand. Obviously, that has not been this man's prayer or privilege.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  16. *frank*

    Since true ownership rights to the land are lost in the haze of the distant past and uncertain, perhaps the UN should give the land back to the even earlier residents, the Neandertal. These original settlers could be cloned, given cudgels and fur hats, and 2 or 3 million of 'em could be dropped off via a Normandy-style amphibious swarm of vessels, to happily bash everyone's heads in (jew or arab alike–neandertal man doesn't give a rat's ass about such trivial distinctions) and set up shop. They would probably like watching CNN in their new digs.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  17. Awkward Situations

    That really is an unfortunate photo of the author.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  18. Fr33th1nk3r

    The folks who think Israel is fulfillment of some Christian prophecy are sadly misled, as is to be expected. Christian nations did everything to make the Israel of today appear on the map– it didn't just happen by some strange coincidence that nobody could explain. Zionist countries (UK) in the 1950's divided up Palestine and gave it away to the Jews as some sort of consolation prize for being the victims in Nazi Germany. Palestinians had no say in the matter. It would be the same as if China came over here and told us that since the American southwest is overrun with Latinos anyhow, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and texas now belong to Mexico. If you don't like it, Americans, TOUGH! When you are actively working towards making prophecies come true– it is no longer a "prophecy", it is now a "long-term goal". Chritsians forced their own prophecy to come true through dishonest means, and are now trying to also use that as verification as well. Intellectual dishonesty at its finest.....

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

      Yes. Thank you for speaking the truth.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
  19. martin schneider

    Jesus would have strapped on a bomb and blown up buses, restaurants, and schools, too, in order to get his point across. Sure!

    September 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
  20. Ibrahim

    Many religious Christians believe that God told Abraham 4,000 years ago, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you”. What they forget is that the Palestinians, both Christians and Muslims, are descendants of Abraham too and it is Islamic custom to say "Peace be upon him" after saying Abraham's name.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      "Descendents of Abraham"? Can you prove that as historically accurate? Are we honstly looking for jsutification to steal someone else's country from them based on the fairiy tales contained in a 2000 year old book? REALLY?

      September 21, 2011 at 10:31 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.