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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. themadjewess

    "ChristianZionist NAZI (88)

    "I will bless those that bless Israel and curse those that curse Israel"

    This is why you are an unhappy individual, today.
    Israel has *ALWAYS* been Israel and there is *NO* fakestine, which is why they are trying to make a state-gasbag.

    October 1, 2011 at 1:32 am |
    • gayjesus

      Keep your fairy tales out of my politics. Give the shoe-house back to the old lady!!! For your sake I hope you are one of the hot jew women.

      Some jewish chicks are way hot!

      October 1, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  2. Muneef

     (The Prophets)
    01) [The time of] their account has approached for the people, while they are in heedlessness turning away.

    02) No mention comes to them anew from their Lord except that they listen to it while they are at play.

    http://quran.com/21

    16) And We did not create the heaven and earth and that between them in play.

    17) Had We intended to take a diversion, We could have taken it from [what is] with Us – if [indeed] We were to do so.

    18) Rather, We dash the truth upon falsehood, and it destroys it, and thereupon it departs. And for you is destruction from that which you describe.

    http://quran.com/21

    35) Every soul will taste death. And We test you with evil and with good as trial; and to Us you will be returned.

    http://quran.com/21

    48) And We had already given Moses and Aaron the criterion and a light and a reminder for the righteous.

    49) Who fear their Lord unseen, while they are of the Hour apprehensive.

    50) And this [Qur'an] is a blessed message which We have sent down. Then are you with it unacquainted?

    http://quran.com/21

    September 30, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
  3. Anonymouse

    Netanyahu killed Tupac and Biggie!!!!!

    September 30, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • ChristianZionist390

      lol

      October 1, 2011 at 12:36 am |
  4. ChristianZionist390

    Jesus would say, "All the European Jews go back to your countries in Europe". " Or go back to America if that is where you live". Moses would say, "Thou Shall Not Steal". Give back the stolen land, Israel.

    September 30, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  5. Muneef

    I have been hearing since my childhood that the prettiest women on earth are of the "Jews" and next to them are of the "Jinn"....!! am not sure how truthful that is?

    September 30, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  6. themadjewess

    Dumb American:
    Free Palestine!
    Yes, free fakestine from HAMAS

    September 30, 2011 at 2:09 am |
  7. ProudAmerican

    Thank you Jesus for bringing us one day closer to the end of Apartheid Israel. Free Palestine!

    September 30, 2011 at 1:02 am |
  8. Muneef

    Jesus would say live and let live,love for your brother man as you would love for your self...!

    September 28, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • ChristianZionist888

      Amen to that.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • Muneef

      Amen.

      October 1, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  9. magdaleine

    I wish evangelists would quit taking every word of the Bible literally! Ever heard of metaphors, parables? You live in fear.

    September 28, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
  10. Muneef

    Interesting to read about;

    Director Marc H. Ellis Dr. Marc Ellis lecturing
     University Professor of Jewish Studies
    Professor of History
    Director, Center for Jewish Studies
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_H._Ellis).

    Obama, Israel, and Palestinian Statehood
    September 23, 2011
    An open letter to US President Barack Obama following his speech to the United Nations on the issue of Palestinian statehood.

    Mr. President, this can also be our beginning.  That beginning will only come when the truth is told by Jews and Palestinians together.  And yes, perhaps one day, by the President of the United States of America.
     
    http://www.monitor.upeace.org/innerpg.cfm?id_article=826

    September 28, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
  11. themadjewess

    DUMB American, MOVE TO GAZA since you put it FIRST.

    September 28, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • ChristianZionist888

      I put humanity first. Should I also move to Gaza? I feel that Israelis and Palestinians deserve the same rights. Jews are not better or worse than Christians or Muslims or Druze or anything. Can you say the same? Do you feel that the Goym are your equal? See? She shuts up.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
  12. themadjewess

    As long as Apartheid Israel is dismantled I am with you.

    Says "Jews4Jesus"

    You are a LIAR.

    And, you ARE of YOUR father, the devil. Period.
    To actually want the nonexistence of Gods people is SATANIC. You are a self hating LEFT WING JudenRAT

    September 28, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • ChristianZionist888

      We must understand that EVERYONE is God's people. Just because the Jews believe in one God it does not cancel out all the other Gods. Remember that the early Jews were just a bunch of tribesmen running around worshiping all sorts of things. All of humanity is the chosen people.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
  13. Mad Jewess

    "Israel receives most of the aid"
    2.7 billion and 2.3 billion to Egypt AND Israel.
    Nobody talks about Egypt, simply because you hate Jesus, Israel and the JEWS.

    People that read the bible know you. We know who you are, we know what you will *try* to accomplish;
    Extermination of Christians that support Israel (GODS land) and JEWS.

    September 28, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • DevilForYou

      Get over yourself. Close your bible and read the UN resolutions. Israel is stealing land from the Palestinian people.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • DevilForYou

      Hey MadJewess answer this for me; if religion is so good why is it that Jewish women are forbidden from worshiping alongside the Jewish men?

      September 28, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
    • DevilForYou

      Answer this for me; if religion is so good why is it that in the morning Jewish men say "Thank God I am a man and not a woman"? Hmmmmm..... I wonder. Sounds to me like some people are still living in the dark ages.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  14. Greg

    No way would Jesus support Palestinian statehood!! Especially if it meant giving over Israeli land....promised from the Old Testament. Just a little advice for this guy.....READ YOUR BIBLE!!!

    September 28, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • ChristianZionist888

      Word to the Wise Greg, our precious Jesus had Semitic DNA. If you believe in science, that means that the Palestinian People are descendants of Jesus Christ. So are the Semitic Jews. The land called Palestine has been contested by the Canaanites, Jews, Muslims, Romans and many others. The Semitic Jews are not the only ones who have a valid, historical claim to Palestine. If you adhere to international law, however, The West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem belong to the Palestinian People.

      September 28, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • themadjewess

      These people do NOT read the Bible, And "Christian Zionist 88" BS.
      There are a people called the JEWS, or Ju's for JUDEA.

      A-rab people do NOT have a COVENANT with GOD,. period. The JEWS are the ones with an everlasting covenant.
      IF you WANT to be part of this covenant, than you must become born again, (grafted in)

      September 28, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • DevilForYou

      Hey my God spoke to me last night, in my sleep. He said that he was giving me all of Judea and Sinai. He also said that we had a covenant and that I should get drunk often. Yeah, I believe your fairy tale Mad Jewish woman.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
  15. Ron Stuart

    Science and Evolution.....I think it's sad that when well over half of the country doesn't believe in macro evolution, that Huntsman and other public figures are so quick to jump on the evolution bandwagon. I've done a significant amount of research on the subject, and while there is no real question that micro evolution exists (i.e. small changes/adaptations in a species over time), there is no real evidence to support macro evolution (i.e. a species morphing into a completely different species over time). Case in point, if macro evolution exists, then where are all of the missing link/transitional forms? They don't exist!!!!!!...and the most prominent evolutionists admit this. I would be willing to debate any scientist on this subject. They may hold to thier belief that they sprang up from an ape....but I for one believe strongly in a divine creation.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • DumbAmerican

      I keep replying to Ron Stuart but my posts don't appear. What a drag.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • AK

      Most of macro evolutionary theory is made up of statements that basically say "given that our assumptions are true, X is the only logical explanations for Y phenomenon." This is logical statement, not a scientific one, but is the proper way to go about theorizing the history of life. The problem with macro evolution is that scientists have forgotten that there is a major difference between theory and fact, and macro evolution is indeed a theory.

      I actually think that many scientists are hoping for an alternative hypothesis to emerge, because macro evolution has worn its welcome. The only reason it's still favourable is the unwillingness of today's scientists to accept that they have no explanation for the existence of life (something science has always had) aside from accepting God. I think, though, that they would begin to learn a lot more about the world if, instead of trying to force everything into an evolutionary framework, they studied the world with an open mind.

      September 28, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  16. Truth Hurts So Good

    Nice work, Carl. This is not to state agreement or disagreement with your take on the statehood bid, but rather to comment on your ability to clearly communicate a message that needs to be heard. The message? Truth – for those who will hear it. The incessant bickering among enemies and by those quick to judge without thinking appears to be revealing enough from these blog posts. The world needs to hear less about "religion" and "Christianity" with all its human errors and history, but more about Jesus. If people think the prior statement is a contradiction, then they are possibly either not paying attention or seeking to understand the difference. If people would only take the time to read your articles, let alone your book, Speaking of Jesus, in their entirety before judging you and your comments (and better yet to also read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) they might gain the perspective necessary to have a healthy dialogue on the subject. Some do, but it appears that most do not. I could be wrong. In any case, keep up the good work. There are those of us who know how to take a thought captive and appreciate a perspective that may differ from our own. I suppose that this post will incite some to make an enemy of me because they may disagree with my words, interpret them differently than I intend, or make some assumption about my experience, background, ethnicity, education, etc. in order that they might attempt to disparage my credibility or this message (as many have also unfairly done to you here). That's human nature. For those who choose to make me an enemy because of this, I've already forgiven you for it without your asking and no apology is needed. In all seriousness, I wish you well and consider you better than myself. I hope you'll take the time to get to know the Jesus that Carl refers to apart from Christianity. And as for the debate over statehood and any debate, the answers for how to relate to others will all start to become more clear the closer one gets to knowing Jesus. CNN may have needed you to take a side, but I think encouraging people to get to know Jesus apart from "religion" is the real message and answer to solving the debate in a way where everyone can win. Right, Carl?

    September 28, 2011 at 2:42 am |
  17. Tax

    So what would Jesus say to Carl Medearis? "Depart from me, I never knew you..."

    September 27, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • DumbAmerican

      Jesus would say: Don't pay your war tax and don't give our taxes to Israel.

      September 27, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
  18. CrazyWorld

    This guy is a joke. He must be a secret closet Muslim like Obama...

    September 27, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • DumbAmerican

      I bet you still want to see President Obama's birth certificate, you cretin.

      September 27, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • themadjewess

      'Jesus would say: Don’t pay your war tax and don’t give our taxes to Israel.'
      Jesus would say that I am very angry at the Democrat , Jimmy Carter who made an annual deal with Egypt and Israel in 1979 for them to split 5 billion dollars- and to render unto Caesar the things that belong to Caesar and to render unto God, the things that belong to God.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • DumbAmerican

      I say, don't give any aid to Egypt either. We are BROKE. Why should we give Israel a free lunch? Screw Caesar, he should have been aware of the ides of March.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • DumbAmerican

      By the way miss MadJewess, Israel always got the bigger part of the Aid. In fact Israel receives the highest amount of foreign aid. Enough is enough. Let the Israelis learn to live in peace with their neighbors and let them work for their money.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  19. roshea1956

    He must not know Christ b/c anyone knows Christ has his own kingdom that will replace all others. All earthly kingdoms will be shaken and fall as they are doing now. All we see will be history and forgotten so who cares abt man's kingdoms built on shifting sand? Their labor is futile. What is important is the spiritual kingdom that lasts forever. The USA and all nations will be nothing and gone. The soul of man is G d's battlefield. Your either a servant of G d or your not. You follow Christ or you don't and make your own rules. You can not serve two masters, you can only have one and it ain't building states and kingdoms of earth b/c what you see now will be long gone and forgotten and only Christs kingdom will be here and those who live for Christ will be in HIS kingdom all others will be forgotten and dust.

    September 27, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • ReligiousFanatic

      @Roshea1956

      Amen....

      September 27, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • JewsForJesus

      Amen brother. As long as Apartheid Israel is dismantled I am with you.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  20. otep

    shame on you AmericanborninCanada! If you continue to take sides- which is what America has been doing from the very start-you only reap more shame upon yourself....Rather than figuring out how Jews & Arabs can live together in peace-forgetting the brands as Jew or Arab-you only trigger hate among these people! Time for us to consider all races as ONE-that is HUMAN!

    September 27, 2011 at 4:53 am |
    • Budhist578

      I agree totally. No one is above anyone else. The Israeli and Palestinian war criminals should get a fair hearing, after Palestine is liberated.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • CLARENCE PUCKETT

      PALESTINE/JORDAN END OF STORY. [U N MANDATE 1947] ISRAEL ACCEPTED THEIRS; ARABS REJECTED THEIRS, FIVE ARAB NATIONS INVADED ISRAEL WITH FULL INTENT TO DESTROY HER, AND DRIVE HER INTO THE SEA; FIVE WARS LATER, AND MANY PROVACATIONS BY THE ARABS, OVER 6000 MISSILES FIRED FROM GAZA AIMED AT ISRAELI SCHOOLS, POPULATION CENTERS; ISRAEL RESPONDS TO AGGRESSION, ALL THE WORLD RAISES HELL, NEVER A WORD WHEN ISRAEL IS ATTACKED; ARABS HAVE A PACT TO DESTROY ISRAEL; TOO BAD, IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN !!!

      September 28, 2011 at 1:00 am |
    • DumbAmerican

      Now now miss Pucket, you better go back and read your UN resolutions that set land aside for a Palestinian State. You can not pull things out of your bottom and call them facts. Lets be civil now.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:23 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.