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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. Jagermeister

    This is an excellent article. Thank you for saying what everyone knows. Why else would the US stand between a free Palestinian state. The Palestinians enjoy over 2/3 support in the UN, if it weren't for the U.S. vetoing the Palestinian state, this issue would have been resolved.
    What has Israel really given US? except for tarring our international image, begging for aid and technology? time to rethink our relationship

    September 22, 2011 at 12:29 am |
    • LoveLife

      "What has Israel really given US?"
      The only friend US really have in the middle east that's what among other things like, technology, science and so on.
      By the way, check out Palestinian celebrations on 9/11 on You Tube.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:34 am |
    • TheenD

      "Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause."

      September 22, 2011 at 12:36 am |
  2. AesopsRetreat_Forum


    Jesus would back a Palestinian State? Then you are a complete Moron. Jesus condems terrorists. .period.
    You don't know what you're talking about.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • TheenD

      “Thus says the Lord God: Enough, O princes of Israel! Put away violence and oppression, and execute justice and righteousness. Cease your evictions of my people, declares the Lord God."

      September 22, 2011 at 12:34 am |
    • gnodges

      I agree 100%!!! Jesus would have said to the Palestians....."say hello to my little friend, terrorists!", and then he would have just started shooting.....

      September 22, 2011 at 12:45 am |
  3. eyesopened

    Please somebody help me out here,Gods chosen people the Jews, what do you think God ment when He said chosen? was it to treat them special in a good way? or chosen by way to be made an example out of? Because Jesus came to them and they recieved Him not, and because of this the greatest Gift of eternal life or salvation was passed onto all mankind. Now back to chosen and being treated special or good, Jesus Himself was not treated special He was special but He suffered the whole way through, He was chosen and He was made an example out of the only difference is He gave ALL glory to His Father never took it apon Himself, His walk was everything but being treated special He was a servant King He walked in complete Humility and Grace was upon Him, this character cannot be counterfitted, because you either know the peace of God which surpasses all understanding and that greater is He who is in you than he then is in the world you CHOOSE to SUFFER freely for Christs sake by crucifing your flesh daliy that there may be more of Him and less of you, that you may walk by faith and not by sight. and it is here that you are persecuted as Christ was not by the unsaved but by the religious elite, so this whole chosen thing Ive come to believe especially with that whole holacost thing is about suffering and being made an example out of, and not favor as God favors no man and shares His glory with no man, the ministry of the law KILLS. and Jesus says That He is the way the truth and the life that NO MAN comes to the Father but by Him, now thats what I call a favorable offer, And you know what that comes by faith and because we were created in His image even here He gets all the honor and Glory, but in order for our faith to be made new or be made perfect or whole it must all be invested in the one who was the maker of it.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • Bit

      If you're going to type from a phone, find out how to make a paragraph. Don't you have an "enter" key? Look around.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:34 am |
    • gnodges

      There is no god, and you are certifiable, my friend.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:48 am |
  4. Dood

    I surely wouldn't want to speak for Christ and to assume he knows what God would do is a bit presumptive, I think.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • Loren Davidson

      Like. 🙂

      September 22, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • LoveLife

      Here's a guy who tries to take advantage of people's fate to push his own agenda.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:30 am |
    • Bit

      Understatement city.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:32 am |
    • gnodges

      Why not?.....everyone else does it. It's not like there is a god, so I think you're good....lol.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • Dan

      Carl, Dan in Kansas City here You have been here a lot and we know and like you and your family and ministry. So answer the question. Who are the children of Abraham today. You write off the Old Testament promise to Abraham-Israel, a land and a place, as an obscure Old Testament prophecy, but what do you do with the New Testament affirmation of that Promise in Romans 11:29 that " the gifts and calling of God are without repentance" . They are "beloved for the Fathers sakes". You did not have faith in Christ, but because of their unbelief, you have obtained mercy because of their unbelief, Now v 31 says they have not believed God, but through your mercy, they will obtain mercy. This is not obscure or irrelevant,

      September 22, 2011 at 1:00 am |
  5. Patrick

    Thank-you for this article. We must love our neighbors, and forgive our enemies if we want to be forgiven ourselves. It is unfortunate that many who use Christ's name have forgotten this. Instead of realizing that the kingdom of heaven is here now for those who truly believe, some think they can force God's hand by promoting war in the Middle East. Instead of remembering that: "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God" some seek violence and oppression, often of Palestinian Christians too, instead of the path of love. Christ said the whole of the law rested on love, Paul said that he could have "faith as to move mountains" but if he had not love, he had nothing, John said that "God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God and God abides in them". Let us pray that we can someday live up to their teachings and love both the Israelis and Palestinians as our brethren.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:22 am |
    • Shazam

      Your enemies will only laugh and do it again. They've even done it before.
      Why are you so blind and stupid? Did you drink some koolaid?
      We are all in danger with idiots like you trying to shove your way where you aren't wanted by either side.
      Your "advice" will be ignored as it usually is in situations like these.
      No compassion is going to be dealt out to targets, to enemies...Not the way SOME people hold onto grudges.
      Being simpleminded about it isn't helping. You're getting in the way.
      Quit acting like a moon-struck cow and let smarter people get to work and each side do what they want.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:55 am |
  6. Itzhak

    I wish the writer can take some of his energy, and teach love and compassion to the Palestinians and the Arab people of Egypt. Maybe if they showed more love instead of shelling Israel from Gaza and burning Israeli and American flags, it would have been much easier to achieve peace.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • Dood

      Good points.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • TheenD

      "To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more."

      September 22, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • Loren Davidson

      Not to mention blowing up buses full of Israeli school children. People who do stuff like that really can't claim much of a moral high ground.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:26 am |
  7. Donald Barnes

    Let me be clear.
    A long time ago G-D ( not allah ) , THE G-D of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, gave to Abraham all the land of Israel .
    Judea, Samaria and yes all of Jerusalem.
    Now Jesus Christ was born in Israel . Jesus Christ, being the only begotten Son of G-D, only did those things that HIS
    Father did and said only those things that HIS FATHER SAID !
    THEREFORE : JESUS CHRIST WOULD NEVER GIVE AWAY THE LAND THAT HIS FATHER , GAVE TO ABRAHAM.
    P E R I O D .

    September 22, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • TheenD

      "Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them."

      September 22, 2011 at 12:28 am |
    • Dave

      Uh...maybe you don't realize that Abraham is the father of the Arab people as well as well as Hebrews. So based on your logic...

      September 22, 2011 at 12:29 am |
    • Atteckus

      Here, here, Mr. Barnes. Could not have said it any better myself. Would the Son undo what his Father hath done? Would the Son ignore the promise of his Father, as was stated to Moses, and as was stated by Amos? I call "Pants on Fire."

      September 22, 2011 at 12:30 am |
    • Glo

      Allah is the Arabic word for God, just as Yahweh is the Hebrew word for God.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:34 am |
    • Steve Brinkhoff

      God save me from your followers

      September 22, 2011 at 12:40 am |
    • gnodges

      That's all fine and dandy, except it's all myth and legend, so everything you said after "let me be clear" is moot.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:44 am |
  8. Ron

    The debate regarding whether the promised land(Israel) is the Jews should no longer be a topic of debate. The God of the bible clearly promised the land(Israel) to Abraham and his descendents(Jews) in the Old Testament, which can be found illustrated in books of history and the books of prophecy.

    The world in 1947 even recognized the rightful claim of the Jews to have the land of Israel when they were established as a nation again(by the way the Jews were the only people dispersed around the world who would become a people again, If that is not the hand of God on a nation then what is?)

    Not only did the world give the Jews their land, the Jews also purchased the land and continue to purchase it to this day. Can the United States say this to the Native of American from whom they stole this very land. If anyone should give land back it would be America.

    The 6 day war should also be considered as a point of divine providence. Does anyone remember how the Jews kicked the butts of all the surrounding Arab nations, who attacked Israel. Not only did they kick the Arab nations butts but they also capture land while doing so. How gracious was Israel when they decided to give back land to the nations they defeated fair and square, yet the Jews are seen as the bad guys. All this historical revisionism is killing me.

    Oh by the way according to the writer of this article Jesus, quoting Carl Medaeris, "The reason Jesus was crucified was because of his refusal to embrace a nationalist agenda.", this could not be further from the truth. He was crucified because he claimed to be God. He crucified because he need to die to pay for the sins of all mankind.
    If you review the bible just as it is written in its proper context you will surely see that God orchestrated the crucifixion no else. Just as Jesus orchestrated the crucifixion, he also orchestrated the return of the Jews to their land which they occupy to this very day.

    Would Jesus support a Palestinian state? Let’s look to the bible for the answer to this nonessential question. The question that should be asked is, have you accepted him as Lord and Savior because in the end that is all that is going to matter for all men.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:17 am |
    • TheenD

      "Moreover, wine is a traitor, an arrogant man who is never at rest. His greed is as wide as Sheol; like death he has never enough. He gathers for himself all nations and collects as his own all peoples.” Shall not all these take up their taunt against him, with scoffing and riddles for him, and say, “Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own— for how long?— and loads himself with pledges!” Will not your debtors suddenly arise, and those awake who will make you tremble? Then you will be spoil for them. Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the peoples shall plunder you, for the blood of man and violence to the earth, to cities and all who dwell in them. “Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house, to set his nest on high, to be safe from the reach of harm..."

      September 22, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • LoveLife

      God stopped talking 2000 years ego. Seems to me that we are grown ups now, at least in God's eyes.
      This conflict has nothing to do with religion, it has everything to do with pure hatred, greed, violence and survival.
      There are those who build and create and there are those who destroy, read some facts and make your own decisions about who is who in this conflict.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • peace

      Great!! I wonder why US and Israel didn't nuke on Mecca??

      The Islam think that US and Israel must banished from mideast (and the world) but they don't know how easy if USA and Israel want to destroy Islamic world!! just nuke Iran and Turks.

      Easy isn't it?

      lucky Jesus told USA and Israel to love others. If Jesus was like mohammed that said kill 'em all then what the world would be right now???

      I think i am on the right path to believe Jesus. Love on the way...

      September 22, 2011 at 12:35 am |
  9. Neb

    "One of the reasons Jesus was crucified was because of his refusal to embrace a nationalist agenda". I was reading along with an open mind and then he drops this quote....I agree that supporting Israel is not necessary for being a good Christian, however clearly the fellow has no idea what being a Christian is about. Jesus was crucified as a sacrifice for all of the sin of everyone who has ever lived or will ever live if they will only repent and believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. It has been the plan since creation. It had nothing to do with the pettiness of the pharisees or the politics of the time. Please read your bible and don't confuse people with this sort of statement about why Jesus died.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  10. Jose M. Pulido

    "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." The former is an impertinent and naïve opinion of Mr. Medearis.
    Our friend and ally Israel would never put America under duress by threatening us with divine punishment if we were to reject “uncritical support to the Jewish state.”
    That is not the reason the USA supports Israel. Even if God had not said to Abraham (paraphrased) that He would bless all those who bless Israel and would curse those who curse Israel, we would still be friends and allies of Israel.
    To believe that we support Israel because we are under duress by God’s warning toward those who hate Israel would portray a false and hypocritical support for Israel by the USA.
    If the Office of the presidency of the USA has officially declared that we support Israel because of we want to be blessed by God as He mentioned to Abraham (Abram at that time), Mr. Medearis should cite such declaration otherwise it can be considered an impertinent and naive opinion.
    Israel would never like to become the world-wide monster of duress. God and not modern Israel, is the One who said that He would bless or curse those who do the same to Israel. Israel would never tell the USA: “You either do what I say or God will curse you.”
    Even though according to the Bible, Israel did not keep the covenant with God, He is still on Israel’s side because of His love for King David, the man who was after God‘s own heart. Therefore God’s blessing and/or cursing still applies today to all those who deliberately wish to harm Israel. Thus, all terrorists who hate and attack Israel are not only fighting against a formidable Israeli Army of God but against God Himself.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:14 am |
    • gnodges

      Yes, but have you ever considered that it's all a myth?

      September 22, 2011 at 1:48 am |
  11. Nick

    Carl, you usually make pretty good points, and have a good way of seeing things from another perspective. This article doesn't really fit.
    You've got little scripture to back up your points. Want to convince us that we're interpreting the Bible wrong? Quote us verses and persuade us, don't mock us.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:14 am |
    • gnodges

      I don't need to quote scripture to know that you are interpreting the Bible wrong. Any interpretation other than "wow, what a great fictiional story" is wrong.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:50 am |
  12. SayWhaa

    Ahh the every two year azz kissing of Israel seems to have begun. Always love to see polticians defending Israel like they would give their lives for it. Can't really tell who is being whos b8ch.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:11 am |
  13. Dan

    I think Jesus would do what he did in scripture, which is to stay out of political issues and instead challenge people to follow Him.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • JKM

      Follow him and do what? What happening to the Palestinians is WRONG!!!!!! regardless of whoever Jesus is or was or isn't! The jacked up country USA is more backwards than most third world countries. OBAMA as well! They deserve statehood!!!! THIS IS WRONG!

      September 22, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  14. Bless Israel

    God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and Jesus is God. In the Old Testament, his prophet Amos offered these words:

    And I will plant them upon their land,
    And they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them,
    Saith the LORD thy God. (Amos 9:15)
    He placed them back in their land in 1948 and 1967. They will not be taken out of their land, regardless of what the world thinks. I am offended that the author speaks for Jesus without knowing, or believing, what the Bible says!

    September 22, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • TheenD

      "The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed."

      September 22, 2011 at 12:30 am |
  15. samhain

    well it would be tough for jesus to back palestine since he didnt exist ro begin with

    September 22, 2011 at 12:08 am |
  16. Alex in NJ

    Actually I think Jesus would tell them BOTH to stop acting like extremists and killing EACH OTHER. The thing neither side seems to get is that God isn't in the real estate business. I doubt he cares who lives on that land as long as the violence ends.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • LoveLife

      This guy is obviously ignoring some major facts like: talking about tolerance toward your hater, Palestinians tried to destroy Israel and yet Israel provides them with free electricity, water and gas, despite all the human "Palestinian bombs".
      And another thing, Israel is not a religious state neither is USA, so the relation that the two countries have, is anything but religious.
      I can't believe that CNN posted this delusional "Christ spokesman's" little article.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • TheenD

      "May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!"

      September 22, 2011 at 12:31 am |
    • Dave

      Lovelife, you seem to be ignoring 2000 years of history prior to 1948 when there was was only a small population of Jews there and Palestine was a peaceful place, except when the occasional horde of Christian Crusaders swung through.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • LoveLife

      Dave: Judea was rarely peaceful, and since Jews were exiled from their land by Romans, not even one new city was created in that land until Jews started to come back.
      But all this doesn't really matters, what matters is what is happening today, and today Palestinians want to take what Jews have built and own.
      Not cool.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:03 am |
  17. NorCal

    Good article. Salient points. The truth hurts, yet releases us from the bondage of ignorance at the same time. We Americans tend to be quite ethnocentric, myopic and xenophobic at times of duress. I understand our fear but do not condone our fear-based, reactionary thinking and behavior. Peace to all and remember: the bad guy lives within each one of us and is not "out there" or solely possessed by "them."

    September 22, 2011 at 12:05 am |
  18. SBY

    Baloney. If there were Palestinians at the time of Jesus, which there weren't since there was never a Palestinian nation, they wouldn't have allowed him. You forget, Jesus was Jewish and the Palestinians don't want Jews in their territory.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • TheenD

      "They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance."

      September 22, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • Jagermeister

      Yeah but didn't the Jews kill Jesus Christ?

      September 22, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  19. Fool Detector

    The author has been duped by the Muslims, and knows neither history nor God.

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

      "Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?"

      September 22, 2011 at 12:19 am |
  20. TheenD

    "Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves." - Exodus 1:10-22

    September 22, 2011 at 12:03 am |
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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.