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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. outawork

    John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

    September 21, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      you forgot the verse about how the way to heaven is through your works and doesnt mention anything about jesus or the father

      stop quoting that eurotrash book and come back to reality

      September 21, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
    • Raj

      Well he would say that wouldn't he.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
  2. Maurice

    I think Jesus would just chill with Mohammed and Abraham and smoke a bowl with them, and all three would sing together "This land is my land, this land is your land. This land is made for you and me" followed by "Joy to the world" from 3 Dog Night, and "Get Together" from Youngbloods.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • peace

      No really!

      Jacob said "this land belongs to me as GOD told me."
      Mohammed said " this land belongs to me BECAUSE i dream fly to great mosque (they said it was Jerusalem) overnight"
      Jesus said "My land for you are not from this world but this world NOW belongs to me"
      Buddha said "this world didn't exist"
      Atheist said "this world exist and it need to be f4ck off"
      peace said "i dont care all of you get die on war as long my mission complete

      September 22, 2011 at 1:08 am |
  3. ConcernedCitizen

    Our government puts the nation of Israel's interest before our own and I think that's what really makes people upset. A lot of people are waking up to this and want to see change IMMEDIATELY.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
    • Shushin

      Here, here! Our unrelenting support of Israel, even as it commits the most atrocious of human rights violations and continues to violate international law and basic morality, has done nothing but place our own security at risk and erode our basic founding values.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  4. clark1b

    God and therefor the second person of the Triune God (Jesus) ... never changes and we are either on his side (obeying His commands) or we are His enemies. Both the Jews and the Palestinian muslims have rejected Jesus as both Savior and Lord ... so Jesus is not on their side.

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

      you mean the commandments like the ten commandments

      you should be more specific because there are two sets of the ten commandments cuz allegedly the first set of bricks busted and god promised to write the commandments down again

      but he screwed up and wrote down the ten commandments again but they werent the same as the first

      so god lied about that promise

      September 21, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • everettreb

      Here are a few points to show that you are wrong.
      1. God the father promised the land to the ancestors of the Jews (the chosen ones of God the father) so the land belongs to the Jews according to the father.
      2. Jesus said while praying to the father "thy will be done". Jesus also elsewhere said that he is "the truth, the way and the life and that no man comes unto the father but by me". We as Christians are trying to reach the father and going through the son to get there.
      It stand to reason that if the Jews are the chosen ones of the father then the son would be on their side.

      Also remember that Jesus said "father forgive them for they know not what they do".

      September 21, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      the bible proves you both wrong because it contradicts itself on many accounts

      so much for divine inspiration

      even the almighty couldnt get the bible right

      oh yeah theres a god worth worshiping

      cant even point sheep in the right direction

      September 21, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
  5. tony

    But Jesus has already come again! Unfortunately though, he was blown to bits in the Israeli assault on Gaza.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • john smith

      i actually laughed out loud!!!!! so true

      September 21, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
  6. peick

    I think people need to be careful about saying they know what Jesus would do. I know he would act in a way consistent with his own character and mission, but when he was on earth he carefully stayed out of politics.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      why do we need to be careful

      cuz we will burn in hell for telling the truth about how jesus said hed come back almost 2000 years ago and he never did therefore hes a liar

      September 21, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • ThinkForYourself

      @The Brown Note – maybe god just forgot to carry the 1. Or 1,900 1s. Happens to the best of 'em.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      i heard he wasnt good at math

      September 21, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
  7. Danny

    How come Abbas won't even recognize Israel as a Jewish State? This author sounds naive. Also, it was the Arabs that started
    the 1967 war when they had the land. The reality is that the Arabs want all of Israel.

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

      The reason most Arab countries started the war with Isreal is because the UN under leadship of America European countries have decided to took some part of Palestinian homeland and gave it away to Jewish people so they could set up a Jewish Homeland which was at the time was under control of British Empire.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • arlo

      very simple. If palestinians recognizes Israel as a state then that means that the palestinians accept all the injustice that has be served to them. They accept the stealing of their land and murder of their innocence.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • Raj

      What's the Jewishness of Israel got to do with Abbas?
      And why should he accept it as a Jewish state regardless of the large Palestinian minority who live there.
      And why should he preemptively accept Israel as a Jewish state regardless of the Palestinian Refugees who were forced to leave – That's a point of negotiation.

      The Jewishness of the state of Israel is a matter for the Israeli people. Abbas and the PLO have already accepted Israel's right to exist.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
  8. joe

    Another person who somehow thinks they know what Jesus would do. Wow, very impressive. I'm not Christian or Catholic but no one knows what Jesus would have done. This story is beyond absurd.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
  9. SWbeth

    Actually, Jesus would be quite silent on the issue of Israel and Palestine. The reason: He is more concerned with your heart and the question of "what you will do with Him"?

    September 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      what will anyone do with him cuz his corpse hasnt been found

      funny how resurrections dont happen today but in the bible all kinds of miracles happened

      just like a stephen king book

      September 21, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  10. peakarach

    According to the Bible Jesus was born in Bethleham in West Bank,that would make him a Palestinian.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • outawork

      That would make him a Nazarene.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • arlo

      did it ever occur to anyone that maybe JUST MAYBE the palestinians are the actual decedents of ancient Israel. The people who claim to be the people aren't even semitic, Just cause you convert to judism doesn't make you jewish. In fact the Israelis are killing their own kind who converted to Islam many centuries ago?

      September 21, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • ampatriot54

      Wrong, he was born, raised and lived as a Jew which would make him from the nation of Israel.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • ampatriot54

      @arlo – And maybe the Palestinians actually migrated from another area all together. Yeah that's it, the Palestinians have no right to the land because they actually came from Iran or Iraq.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  11. Pepinium

    Highly questionable hypothesis, specially considering Jesus was a Jew !! Like it or not, Israel's right to exist is not in question. Palestinians have refused to accept that fact for 63 years, and their pure hatred and envy of the Jewish success has been the most important obstacle to realizing their own dream of a palestinian state, beginning with their initial exodus of the land following Israel's inauguration, in the mistaken believe that the combined armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan would make short work of the jewish state, thus allowing them to return to collect the spoils!! That was a historical mistake, followed by too many other ones to mention here. The world must understand that Israel has the power to turn the Middle East into a glass parking lot, and the Jewish people are not about to abandon their homeland , after 3000 years of being the world's scapegoat while wondering around. As long as groups such as Hamas are winning elections in Gaza, while simultaneously supporting a policy of annihilation for Israel, you cannot blame Israel for taking a hard stand !!!

    September 21, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • Raj

      You might want to go and read some of what's been happening for the last 20 years. The accepted Israel's right to exist years ago.

      I like your description of the refugees though – sounds a bit like they were going off on holiday. Is that generally what you think happens during wars? Fluffy bunnies and skipping?

      You've just picked a side and are supporting your team. Shame though – if you grew up in the USA you wasted the opportunity of a completely free public education 🙂

      September 21, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
  12. nn

    As a muslim I am very disappointed. I expected that at least Obama would suppport Palestine. I also know that all my muslim friends and relatives will agree with me.

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

    I don't think Jesus would promote either a Palestinian or Jewish state. If he didn't promote a Jewish or Roman state in the 1st century, what would make him promote any state today? States by nature are divisive. Therefore, the statement which acknowledges this, "One of the reasons Jesus was crucified was because of his refusal to embrace a nationalist agenda" stands contrary to the rest of the blog.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  14. Eric Sachs

    This writer completely discredits himself when he says quote "Don’t believe a word of it." in reference to another groups beliefs. How can you preach to have an open mind when right there in that very sentence you close your mind to the other side???

    September 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      the only people with open minds are those that dont believe in religion

      in order to be religious you have to be a sheep

      and odds are if you believe in god its because you dont have any money

      September 21, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
  15. DrNoVa

    referring to the comments below...you don't have to hate on Jews to support a Palestinian state. Some of the strongest advocates for Palestinian rights in the North American and Europe are Jews.

    Let's support a UN recognized Palestine without hate for the Jewish people. It's silly to equate the policies of this And other Israeli governments with all Jewish people worldwide.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • ampatriot54

      That's because Jews don't all have a single vision of the world. They have an open minds, unlike most Muslims who are brainwashed from day one to one point of view that espouses hatred towards, Israel, the U.S. and Western civilization.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
  16. Jane

    Why does CNN publish this garbage? It only incites anti-Semitism. And what hogwash. Jesus was a Jew, lived and worshiped as a Jew. He honored the Temple (that Palestinians deny ever existed). And to say that he would support a group that promotes suicide bombings and the murders of innocent children in drive-by shootings is pure idiocacy.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • DrNoVa

      Jane, you have such a narrow view of Arabs...a very hateful view. Jesus converted to Christianity and his direct followers still live in the region, they are Arab Christians and identify as Palestinians and identify with this cause. They still live in Nazareth, Bethlehem, and East Jerusalem...these places that you really know so little about.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • peakarach

      How can Jesus being a Jew when in fact he was born in Bethleham in West Bank?

      September 21, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • gloria

      The same way muslims in live in America! Who cares what Jesus race was, it's what he believed in! and it sure was not killing innocent people!!! Bombing innocent people! Making a woman cover up and walk behind their husbands! Not giving woman rights! So proud to be an American!!!!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • ampatriot54

      @peakarach. Are you stupid or didn't you ever read the New Testament. Jesus was a Jew, period.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  17. Daniel

    I am sure England and the rest of Europe would have Vetoed our right to become a nation when we formed the 13 colonies. Even more interesting in regards to Zionism, is the support of Israel by Christians. Supporting the people who crucified your God makes complete sense....right? There is not ONE single scripture in the bible that foretells Israel becoming a nation as a sign of the end times. The only scripture remotely relevant to this would be Genesis 12:3, and that is if you change the word of God from "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." to "And I will bless them that bless Israel, and curse him that curseth Israel: and in Israel shall all families of the earth be blessed."
    Doesn't quite sound the same does it? God was speaking specifically of blessing Abraham in this instance, not Abraham as a representation of the future Israel.

    As far as I am concerned, the US should simply abstain from voting or vote for statehood. Keep the religion out of politics, this type of thing affects to many people for a biased vote because we bend over backwards for Israel.

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

      Well put.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • Raj

      Well put Daniel.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
  18. BibleBeliever

    Heretic! What rubbish. Just like the Bible says!

    September 21, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
  19. 2011cnn2011

    Jews didnt kill Jesus.....our sins did....he is the lamb of God who takes a way the sins of the world

    September 21, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      incorrect cuz i wasnt alive when this alleged jesus character was around

      i had no part in this mythological story

      and what about these sins you speak of

      do you really think humans cant live without morals

      morals existed long before useless religion did

      so did marriage but religion tried claiming that too

      my life is far more pure than most christians i know sleeping around with everyone and cheating on their spouses and stealing and robbing massage parlors

      dont preach to me

      September 21, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
  20. A Much Needed, Alternative View

    I appreciate a different point of view being presented, but why isn't an opposing/alternate view presented in addition to the above article? Jesus would not be in favor of a Palestinian state because according to the Bible, the Israelis are God's chosen people and the land that is in question (the Promise Land) was given to the Israelites by God after their Egyptian bondage. Jesus is simply God in the flesh (John 1:1) and would therefore not be against something that He Himself established. Again, I appreciate a different view, but equal representation is definitely needed on CNN's website.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • Shushin

      The 'chosen' people? No one people on this earth is more or less important than any other people. You cannot forcefully (through both violence and political intimidation) remove people from their land. This is what the Palestinians have suffered and what has been perpetrated by your so-called modern day 'Israelites'. It is illegal; it is immoral; no one who claims to be a man or woman of faith could ever condone such action, least of all Jesus. You are not an alternative view; you are an irrational view in which simple right and wrong has seemed to elude you.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      it is an alternative view from the sheep that keep bringing up how the bible god promised dirt to some people called the chosen ones like neo from the matrix

      its a little biased dont you think

      how would you like it if someone said their religion was right and yours was wrong and lets face facts it is but i digress and then they tried to say you had to give up your land for the chosen people of their religion

      i bet you wouldnt like that and then here come more bible quotes

      it disgusts me and gives me the runs

      September 21, 2011 at 11:18 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.