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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. Oskar

    Finally someone whom is critical of the state of Israel and it's policies and not afraid to speak out. Critical but not hateful or disrespectful toward the state of Israel. Hope you don't get negatively impacted like a former CNN employee whom was critical of certain media officials and was terminated.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  2. Charms

    CNN, do an article on Mohammed. Who would he have sided with.
    Lol you are going to need a security comparable to that of Fort Knox

    September 21, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      Why?? Sorry Charms, but Mohammad is dead – Jesus lives!!!!

      “Father Abraham had many sons
      Had many sons had Father Abraham
      I am one of them
      And so are you
      So let's just praise the Lord…”

      Does anyone else remember that??

      September 21, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • Oh wait

      CNN is Anti Christian.

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

      If you read the articles by cnn it is a series of articles that is attacking the God of the Bible.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  3. bondjamesbond

    NO WHERE IN SCRIPTURE DOES IT SAY THAT JESUS WOULD ASSIT THE PALESTINIANS IN THEIR CAUSE AGAINST GOD'S CHOSEN PEOPLE, I DON'T THINK SO MORE TO COME

    September 21, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  4. John

    I think Carl has way over complicated this. Jesus would have supported the Palestinians because they are poor and suppressed just like the Romans suppressed the Jews. Its as simple as that.

    Or to make it even simpler..... 15% of Palestinians that mind the churchs in places like Jerusulum, Bethlehem or Nazareth are Christian Arabs who are having their land taken from rich Jewish settlers. Uhm – who do you think Jesus would support? The Christians or the Jews?

    September 21, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
  5. Larry Young

    I more than agree with you! I'm tired, REALLY TIRED of hearing about "what Israel wants"! Maybe it's time for Israel to stop treating Palestine like the Jews were treated in the Warsaw Ghetto - and I mean that in the clear definitive sense! Because the Palestinians have been treated worse - for longer! I'm looking at it this way: ALL the Palestinians want is to be represented at the UN so when they HAVE issues that they can be treated fairly. There's nothing wrong with that. FURTHER, if, in fact they are not granted this, what's going to happen is that Israel and the US will have proven that nobody wants to listen to their plight, and ALL HELL WILL break loose, because the US and Israel will have given cause to Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, and Turkey (all sworn enemies of Israel) that they HAVE cause to defend Palestine and that they HAVE cause to attack Israel. That WILL take us to the Biblical Armageddon!!!!!! Does nobody else see this?????

    September 21, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • Nardo

      If they were treated 'worse' than the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, we wouldn't be having this discussion because there would be none of them left. As for your Armageddon histrionics, it was called the 6 day war.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  6. Samer

    It is so refreshing to hear the voice of logic and thinking and not the voice of hatred and extremism. Carl Medearis knows what he is talking about unlike some people who think they are experts just because they know a little.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  7. David

    I wonder who the Easter Bunny and/or the Tooth Fairy would support?

    September 21, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • Jimmmy

      Sorry azzwype, Jesus is an established historical figure. Moron

      September 21, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • Nardo

      Brilliant point Jimmmy. "established historical..." LOL. Yes, we're all agreed on Jesus, from the fish right down to the tortilla. Who do you think Hitler would support then? He's more established, historically speaking...

      September 21, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  8. Curt G

    What a stupid opinion. Jesus would support a terrorist organization. I don't think so.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  9. Kat

    Christian Palestinian in CNN eloquently presenting the Palestinian side against Israel.
    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2011/09/21/jk-ashrawi-palestinian-statehood.cnn?iref=allsearch

    September 21, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  10. Kat

    Christian Palestinian in CNN eloquently presenting the Palestinian side against Israel.
    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/21/my-take-jesus-would-support-palestinian-statehood-bid/comment-page-20/#comment-708664

    September 21, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  11. Kat

    Christian Palestinian in CNN eloquently presenting the Palestinian side against Israel.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  12. wisdom4u2

    @ 2011cnn2011
    I read what cha saying, but God also blessed Ishmael. God loves Ishmael and his descendants, and believe it or not, most of the 'Arab' nation will come to accept the Lord Jesus and be saved before Christ Jesus‘ returns!!!
    They are our brothers and sisters, like Father Abraham’s Jewish nation! I love them both!!!

    “Father Abraham had many sons
    Had many sons had Father Abraham
    I am one of them
    And so are you
    So let's just praise the Lord…”

    Does anyone else remember that??

    September 21, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  13. Teemee

    The real Jesus was against religion and politics- it was all about all of us turning the other cheek and being humble before God for the salvation of our souls- statehood would therefore be incidental...

    September 21, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  14. M and M

    It is blasphemous and against the Commandments to take the Lord's name in vain..and it is vain to pretend to know what "side" Jesus would take...
    What would Jesus say? What Jesus said. "Clean up your act or go to hell."

    September 21, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • Oh wait

      Carl Medearis should probably ask himself aptly what would Allah want.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
  15. The Pope

    Haysus wouldn't do a thing without cecking with me first!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 21, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  16. Nacho1

    Carl Medearis probably has relatives in Palestine! He may even be a terrorist spreading crap in our country....I need PROOF he spoke to Jesus!

    September 21, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
  17. dina

    To base a political opinion on a person of questionaele existence is totally ridiculous and dangerous.Israel is a political state first and a religous state second. This is politics, the Palestinian issue. Why is it that although Israel won the war, they are required to return lands left by the so called Palestinians which did not exist prior to the establishment of the state of Israel. The comment that "Jesus" would side with the Palestinians is so off base since the existence of a Jesus can't even be proven. This right wing religious stuff causes more problems than it helps.

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

      Hi Dina, I do not agree with this writer either. Israel was a nation and had posession of Jerusalem for centuries. The real issue is that if the Jews gain control of their capital, Jerusalem, then they will build their temple. The PLO does not want this, they will have lost Jerusalem completely once this occurs. thats why all this crap from the PLO and bias troublers like the writer of this article. This is another ploy to block Israel from exercising their freedom of religion. And yes Dina there is a Jesus of Nazareth in the Roman Empires records. crucified at Jerusalem. There is proof, worldly proof that a man named Jesus of Nazareth was here in 33 ad He would not vote agianst his own Nation in an hour like this.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • falcon615

      Jesus existed. If you want to debate religious significance, that is fine, but he existed just as much as as you or I exist. To deny that is absurd.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  18. Guilty Bystander

    Well as long as we're speculating what fictional characters think of politics I assume Hercules supports gay marriage, Santa Claus doesn't want to send money to Pakistan, and Homer Simpons is pro choice.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  19. sandie

    My God is the one true God the promises He makes He will keep Jesus would not contradict Gods promise. Our nation will fall if we do not protect Isreal. It is evident from what ive read of your postings that the time of Christ is near repent believe Christ died for you be baptized and walk in Faith. Read the Bible to find true understanding of what is really going on in the world. Pray to God to show you and before you discredit what i have to say prove that i am wrong by reading His word and understanding it then if you remain unchanged then say something dont just jump on someone elses bandwagon cause it sounds good satan is a great deciever in all ways to lure and tempt humans away from God satan wants people in hell to torture for eternity. Our Father who art in Heaven hallowed be Thy Name Thy kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for Thine is the kingdom and the glory forever Amen.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • Guilty Bystander

      The Bible isn't divine truth...it's opinion decided by committee...the First Council of Nicaea chose what would and would not be considered divine truth...fallible men took it upon themselves to determine which of Gods truths were more true than the others...the bible is tainted by their imperfect interpretations, additions and omissions

      September 21, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • think for yourself

      There are many other religions that claim that their god is "the one true God". Each of these religions has the same amount of proof: none. And a book of stories written by other humans is NOT proof. Capitalizing words in mid-sentence is also NOT proof.

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

      Your apocalyptic rant is completely unfounded. Neither Christ's return nor the "Rapture" is about to happen. The only thing that is near is tomorrow which will seem a good bit like today. Calm down and stop taking the Bible, especially the Old Testament, so literally. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to "Love They Neighbor as Thyself." Work on that and everything will be fine.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • Loraine

      Baloney!

      September 21, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • Bud in NC

      sandie– The bible was not written or inspired by god. No proof. It was written by a bunch of people with something to sell. And to buy it is simply cookoo.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  20. edvhou812

    Another WWJD article. lol

    September 21, 2011 at 10:40 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.