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. Former Atheist Jeremy Fritz

    Jesus Christ is REAL!!!! I had so many death experiences, and know for a fact Jesus is real!! WAKE UP AMERICA! and you FOOLISH NONSENSE ATHEISTS!!

    September 22, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • peace

      You are not USA and not Christians. You are Muslim tried to create war between Christians USA and Atheist USA. Wkae up peoples! Don't believe this muslim!!

      surely muslim first will kill Jews and then Christians and then Atheist. Join us and fight Islam.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:59 am |
  2. SecularTruther

    Taking other peoples' land and giving it to relatives to murder victims is incredibly messed up. Nothing in the bible can be proven and self filling prophecy doesn't mean anybody or any book can predict the future. I wished all these evangelicals that say support Israel could have their homes taken by family members of murdered victims. The future of Israel is going to be awful for It's citizens over religious differences from literature that can easily be debunked regardless if It's the bible or the koran. We will never see world peace as long as religion exists. If you think I'm wrong why do you not pray for world peace instead of the bogus idea of helping others salvation because you think war, famine, world hunger, etc... is god's plan. How about let's try to peacefully work on solutions instead of expecting the wrost and talking to imagenary friends. If something is wrong you change it, if something is broken you fix it and only people who are to scared to do anything wait for a superman.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • lindy

      Taking other peoples' land
      Israel is not other people's land..it is Israel's land.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • Pontius Pilot

      Hi Professor....maybe you failed history.....more people have died in secular societies: Stalin, Hitler to name just a few. Do your homework please before posting ignorant comments. What I am about to say may be too much for you to take but I will say it anyways. As a Roman Catholic I can tell you that there is no difference between the atrocities committed by the Muslims, by the Crusaders, by some Christian churches and all others who have tried to convert by the sword. They carry different names but the spirit behind it all is the same spirit and that is why they act very much the same way. They all have another thing in common....a fascination with Jerusalem, and a desperate attempt to exterminate the Jews......why? Why are so many diverse groups throughout history afraid of such a small population of people to the point that they feel they need to be exterminated? The spirit behind it all is the current prince of the air – satan himself. The adversary of God and therefore the adversary of Jews and Christians. His primary goal is to have the world hate the woman crowned with 12 stars (Israel and her twelve tribes) and her offspring (the Christian church). Remember Jesus never converted by the sword....only by invitation. Do not lay at the feet of Jesus, atrocities committed by groups of people regardless of who they try to represent. I challenge you to read up on history before you paint Jesus with the same brush you paint all religions: Christian and non-Christian.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:17 am |
    • born again

      you can find out if you read the book of revelation just what is going to happen (The fool has said in his heart, there is no God…..Prov. 14:1)

      September 22, 2011 at 12:32 am |
  3. ShellyGirl

    I am stunned. Just stunned. This author thought he could get away with cherry picking history to support his theories. Here's the truth why there is no peace there...in a simple little cartoon.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  4. Johnny 5

    Would Jesus even care about this subject? The guy could walk on water, turn water into wine and cure blindness for crying out loud.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  5. Gerald Goldstein

    Jesus was a Palestinian Jew according to legend. I personally don't believe he ever existed however.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  6. Francisco

    Jesus never spoke, mentioned or hinted about politic issues. Did whole commentary says what the author would support, not Jesus.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • TheenD

      You might want to re-read the Bible..."But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just," etc.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:15 am |
  7. Angelika

    Hummm.... wasn't Jesus a Jew??? Yep, thats what I thought. I've been told he was great at "Turning the other cheek" but this is absurd!

    September 21, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
  8. Giancarlo

    oh, yea, well then Jesus would have given 9/11 his blessings.......

    September 21, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
    • Kat

      A bunch of Israeli Mossad agents were caught cheering, taping and high fiving the 911 attacks, few hours later vans that belonged to an israeli company was stopped and found to have explosives....

      September 21, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • Rick

      That analogy s like blaming Christians for the holocaust. Neither relistic or fair.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • lindy

      bunch of Israeli Mossad agents were caught cheering, taping and high fiving the 911 attacks'–

      September 22, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  9. Steven Parker

    Reading most of these replies, makes me wonder what shallow genepool these people were bred in.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • Pontius Pilot

      Reading your comment makes me wonder why you post useless unintelligent comments....why aren't you reading more on Hawkings and trying to understand what you have in common with the apes.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  10. Alan Abrahamson

    Prehaps my memory is "off"...How many terrorist bombings did Jesus support? Your whole premise is VILE.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • Kat

      that's exactly why he would support Palestine against the terror state of Israel

      September 21, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  11. faberm

    Why would Jesus support a group that denied his right to exist as a Jew and who called for the destruction or and elimination of his people? Why would he support a group that wanted to organize a society where his people were killed and eliminated? You have fxckin got to be kidding!

    September 21, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • Kat

      because he is too smart to fall for your zionist propaganda and BS...and so is 190 nations out of 192 in the UN. Your outdated propaganda does not work any more.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
    • faberm

      @Kat. What are you smoking and who are you talking about "your zionist" propaganda. I'm an American living in Texas looking at things as they are. Maybe you need to just wake up and smell the coffee. You're a jerk and an ignorant racist person.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • lindy

      Why would Jesus support a group that denied his right to exist as a Jew and who called for the destruction or and elimination of his people
      He wouldn't..he would stand with his people the jews. Israel is not mentioned in the Quran and Muhammad never stepped foot in Israel.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:07 am |
  12. Donovan

    Jesus would definitely not endorse Obama for 2012. He seems like he would be more of a John fan than Paul. ( Beatles)

    September 21, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
  13. Pontius Pilot

    The author of this article is a real joker. How much more love can we show the Muslims. Seems to me we are very tolerant that Muslims can freely practice their religion in Western democratic societies – primarily Christian. We want to show so much love to the point that we want to deceive ourselves of the truth about this religion. We can not say the same about our Muslim brothers in countries dominated by Muslims. So the author thinks that God would include scripture that is outdated or irrelevant? Out of his own mouth, the Iranian leader Ahmadinejad, unknowingly quoted scripture that foretells what will come of all the nations that attack Israel in the later years. If you really want to talk about love, I suggest they read the following verses and pay attention unless of course they wish to have the same facial expressions found on Pharaoh Ramses when he realized he could not fight the real God of Israel. Note in the scripture below the countries named and compare with the modern day nations who want to make war with Israel: The Psalms of David , in chapter 83. Notice in verse 4 "They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, That the name of Israel may be remembered no more." Which sounds like a speech by Jamal Abdel-Naser and every other Arabic leader who declared war on Israel and lost. This is exactly what the Bible foretold thousands of years ago. It is fascinating as it names all the nations that opposed Israel in the last 50 years. The nations mentioned are; Edom, Moab, Amalek, Ammon, children of Lot , Ishmaelites and Hagarites , Gebal , The inhabitants of Tyre , Philistines , Assyria. But, I expect that mankind will go the typical path of rebellion against God and will have to endure the plagues as did Egypt of old. Interesting how the author does not point out the fact that it was the Palistinians and their neighbors that attacked Israel first and till this day refuse peace...even Bill Clinton gave up on them. Why is the author not question the issue as to why Jordon is not giving up some of their land to the Palistinians....Is Jordon not occupying Palesitian land??? The real reason behind this is HATE....and its not the Jews that are doing the Hating....its the Muslims. Of course not all Muslims...but a significant number that is altering the course of history. Good luck to you all who refuse to open your eyes.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • Blue

      It's not a question of Muslim vrs. Jew. Just put religions aside for a moment and think of rights of the ppl whose houses and villages have been occupied by some occupying force. It has happened all the time during the history of mankind but not in modern history, not in 20th century. Palestinians deserve to get their land back.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • the truth

      Well said!

      September 22, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • born again

      Thank you!!!!

      September 22, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • born again

      mmm just to be clear Thank you pontius pilate

      September 22, 2011 at 12:12 am |
  14. Truth Teller

    As the author of this article is Lebanese and has has talks with Hamas and Hezbollah, both terrorists organizations who do not recognize the existence of Israel and are committed to its destruction, I have to take this article with a grain of salt.

    Obviously, Jesus is dead so he can't actually support any side unless you consider whatever maybe left of his skeletal structure, in which case, it would be Israel. However, in a metaphorical sense, which is what the article is trying to convey, he would still support Israel.

    As the author alludes to in his article, he mentions that Jesus preaches loving thy neighbor. While many can agree that neither side has really done much loving, Israel has been willing to give the "palestinians" land and, and sit down for peace talks. However, on every occasion, the "palestinians" have rejected for one reason or another. To add to this, the "palestinians" continually attack Israel by rockets from Gaza, firing missiles at school buses, suicide bombs, government-led boycotts of Israel, etc. All in all, Israel is doing the best to show some love, while the "palestinians" continue to shove it in the Israelis' faces.

    Of course there are those will cry: "But what about all those 'injustices' that Israel commits against the 'palestinian' people?" The answer to this, is that first, we have to realize that the myth of Israel committing such injustices is not accurate and blown out of proportion. Israel is actually quite righteous towards the "palestinian" people. Israel provides it financial aid, help with establishing its economy, employing many "palestinians," treating "palestinians" in Israeli hospitals (including terrorists), and giving them electricity and water. Israel providing these vital resources and services to a group of people who hate and don't recognize it's existence is either incredibly stupid or showing love to its neighbor.

    The Jews were the ones who made the barren deserts of Israel bloom, not unlike Jesus turning water into wine, and like Jesus giving kindly to his neighbors, Israel tries to practice the same towards the "palestinians." Now it is quite clear which side Jesus would support, Israel.

    For the author's sake, he better hope the Muslims are right, or there will be hell to pay (so to speak) when he passes on.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
    • ShellyGirl

      I am stunned. Just stunned. This author thought he could get away with cherry picking history to support his theories. Here's the truth why there is no peace there...in a simple little cartoon.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
    • Agree

      Come on you guys, Carl nailed it. Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan was just as scandalous to his close followers then as the idea of a "Good Palestinian" is to us today. Jesus' harshest words then was to the religious elite that was more proud of its belonging group status than the God they presumed to know. Reminds me of us today. We should take this seriously. We are the new Pharisees and don't even realize it. We love our Christianity, but we are clueless about Jesus. We buy into the myth that Jesus endoreses our hatred and killing if we do so in the name of Christ. Pathetic. I am embarrassed by my own so called, "Belonging Group".

      September 22, 2011 at 12:07 am |
    • born again

      Thank you truth teller!!!

      September 22, 2011 at 12:12 am |
  15. jo

    Jesus would probably have a few 'choice' words for a lot of us....he would not be invited onto cable news...for sure. He would probably not be invited many places...he wasn't when he was alive....he went out into the fields and talked....not in the temples or high places.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  16. Jonathen

    Half of the worlds problems would vanish over night if religion and all it's forms were abolished. If people are religions.. fine, but keep it to yourself so nobody else has to see or hear it.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • jo

      So why don't you find a forum where 'religion' is not being discussed. You are in the wrong PEW!! Skat!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
    • Jonathen

      My point exactly 😉 That's what it causes 😉

      September 21, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
    • GrimWolff

      You knew full well before clicking the link that this were to be a special olympics event. The phenomena of cooks and bots hurrah!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  17. GrimWolff

    I wonder if David would back them, too. You know, King David. David and Goliath, now there's a familiarity there.. I wonder what it might be?

    September 21, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  18. Mathilda

    UNTRUE!! Jesus would call for repentance upon everyone. He is coming back again to establish the mega Israeli state. He will punish the West for blasphemy and immorality.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • Todd in DC

      Really? I thought Jesus was coming back to start a reality show.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  19. Count of Monte Cristo

    Can Jesus be bought by petro dollar ??

    September 21, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  20. JC

    What makes this clown an expert? Just because he wrote some silly book & CNN (ist place for idiots winners) think so

    September 21, 2011 at 11:43 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.