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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. Gario

    You better go back and read the history of David and Goliath

    September 21, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
  2. Meki60

    Eat $–t

    September 21, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
  3. Joe

    Smart guy.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  4. Michigal

    You have GOT to be kidding me. Now I've heard it all. I hope this guy didn't get paid for writing this...

    September 21, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  5. PJNevada

    Great... Another idiot claims to know what Jesus would say...

    September 21, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  6. Peggy

    I am going to pray for you tonight. Have you studied your bible? God Bless Israel. I have been praying that this matter will work out ok.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • Allan

      cuz we know what prayer has ever done for anyone: nothing, ever. period.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • Judas

      If you took all the prayer efforts and $ given to the church, multiplied it by all the religious people on earth, and then applied those resources to solving cancer, hunger, etc., then there would be less need for prayer in the first place. There has been no greater drain on humanity than religion. I am wealthy, healthy, and wise, and much better off without prayer. Go ahead and pray to be like me, while I will continue working hard and constantly learning to make myself and my planet a better place.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • the real john

      actually, i saw a scientific show studying the effects of prayer on sick people. they were approaching it from a scientific POV, like energy collaboration or something. but they have proof that prayer does indeed influence events and people.. you arent as smart as you think. being angry or hateful is fine just dont be ignorant or naive about why you are..

      September 21, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  7. 7TX

    The Palestinians need a home land and America needs a safer Mexico at our back door. How about the U.S. supply the Palestinians with weapons, air, and sea support and in turn they invade Mexico. They can do anything they want with the country as long as it's lawful and peaceful over there.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • Vorps

      +1

      September 21, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • 2011cnn2011

      why wont the big arab world give then some land ?

      September 21, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
  8. ari

    "Christian Zionists say the Bible predicts that Jews and Palestinians will forever be at war until Jesus returns."

    you don't need to be a christian zionist to believe that. you just need to have eyes. (but replace "until jesus returns" with "until some meteor or nuclear war wipes out our species").

    September 21, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  9. JWC

    I am glad this fool thinks he knows what a person named Jesus would do here. I don't think so and if he would read his bible he would see that moses was instructed to rid the lands of these people

    September 21, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      Moses was not instructed anything regarding palestinians ,palestinians are not and have never been native to Israel.God bless

      September 21, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
  10. Patti

    There isn't any secular, historical evidence that Jesus exsisted, so how could he support anyone?

    September 21, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Evan

      That's quite an ignorant statement. I'm guessing you did absolutely no research. Christ is mentioned by a number of sources, such as Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Lucian, Mara Bar-Serapion, and the Jewish Talmud. There is also a verse in the Jewish Talmud that could possibly be His arrest notice. Also, in the Bible, we can find a number of pre-NT creeds. One example would be 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, which most scholars place within 5 years of Christ's life, and some even within 18 months. The source material that Mark used for his Gospel is extremely early (within 5 years). Saying that there is no evidence that Jesus ever existed is just beyond naive. I'm not aware of a single contemporary scholar or historian who believe that Jesus never existed.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      @patti the parrot, We have all heard that before,the simple fact is it is a lie.There has always been evidence from multiple sources that Jesus existed on earth and was who he claimed to be.If that's the best you got you need another hobby for your hands.God bless

      September 21, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  11. Alientech

    Jesus would say "I gave you some ideas, work it out among yourselves. I'll be back later to see how you did".

    September 21, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • Insight

      Some buried and some invested and he would take the idea from the one who buried and be given to the person who invested for the peace on earth.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  12. mike

    "The good news is that extremists are a minority on both sides of the conflict." Wrong.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • ari

      +1

      September 21, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
  13. Insight

    Leave Jesus alone.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  14. Roscoe Chait

    And would Jesus support the murder of an Israeli family including a baby in a crib? Would Jesus support a campaign of rocket attacks against a peace-loving population? Would Jesus support Sharia law?

    September 21, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • AZlib

      Whould Jesus support an F15 shooting rockets into a school? Would your Jesus support tanks firing machine guns into groups of children tossing rocks? You might check your facts a bit buddy. those rockets you hear about are pop-bottle rockets... notice they NEVER cause death.. The Pals are locked in ghettos just like the Nazi's did to the jews.. they have had their entire culture ruined under the gun by Israel whos only focus is to take land and water. The jews have the media and the US politicians... Why in the world do you think that Jimmy Carter wrote a book about it?????? Why becuase he is maybe the only person that can the word out. Your support for Israel is like supporting Nazis in the late 30's. Get a grip and learn the bitter truth... This is apartide in action... this is one society eliminating another society WITH YOUR TAX DOLLARS... Time for Christians (like myself) to say wait a minute.... Even good preaches can do bad things.. even prists can do terrible things and in this case a government of Israel is practicing genocide with YOUR MONEY. Someday I hope some of you will spend a day or two there (West Bank) and find people living in pure terror...not just the Jewish side of the story!!!! Wait to you see the wall circling the best land and taking away even the most basic fundemental rights of people... that is Israel... They are the mondern day Nazis....

      September 21, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
    • Vorps

      Are you a moron? It was never proven that it was Palestinians who committed that killing. And even if it did, a few people's actions don't speak for an entire nation.

      You're insane. If you're one of these so-called "evangelicals," I can't wait until the day you meet Jesus Christ and realize just how wrong you were about "peace-making is the work of the devil."

      September 21, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  15. Phil

    Foolish thoughts. Do people really believe that Jesus would approve the killing of women and children with bombs and rockets.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  16. Janice

    The author of this article is speaking nonsense. Some day he will bow before Jesus and repent of his sins.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • me

      Come on CNN–this is what happens with a 24-hour news service. They have to come of with crap to talk about. Let's not take this story seriously or "God forbid" (talking to your dad, Jesus) make it a true political/religious issue. CNN–you can/should do better!!!!

      September 21, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • Jeff

      huh?

      September 22, 2011 at 2:33 am |
  17. skeptic

    My take- There's no concrete evidence that the so called "Jesus" (not what his name supposedly was in real life), even existed.

    My imaginary friend thinks you're an idiot.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • Sheila

      You are going to eat those words as all eyes will see Jesus when he returns in the clouds. If you knew him and knew how he loved you, you would love him. Maybe you ought to get to know him a bit ?

      September 21, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • Evan

      That's quite an ignorant statement. I'm guessing you did absolutely no research. Christ is mentioned by a number of sources, such as Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Lucian, Mara Bar-Serapion, and the Jewish Talmud. There is also a verse in the Jewish Talmud that could possibly be His arrest notice. Also, in the Bible, we can find a number of pre-NT creeds. One example would be 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, which most scholars place within 5 years of Christ's life, and some even within 18 months. The source material that Mark used for his Gospel is extremely early (within 5 years). Saying that there is no evidence that Jesus ever existed is just beyond naive. I'm not aware of a single contemporary scholar or historian who believe that Jesus never existed.

      His name in Hebrew is Yeshua ha Notzri, which would mean "Jesus of Nazareth".

      September 21, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  18. Brandon

    This seems silly to me. As an American Atheist I firmly support Israel. While an oversimplification, I tend to root for the guy who isn't looking to get into a fight. Constantly using terrorism as a tactic, especially after promising not to do that anymore time and time again, isn't very nice.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  19. chuck

    "When it comes to Israel and her neighbors, many Christian Zionists believe that peacemaking is the devil’s work."

    I never knew that; although it would why some Christians such war mongers.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • chris

      believe half of what you see and nothing of what you read from CNN. if you want to keep your mind.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • Sheila

      Actually Chuch, the Holy Christian Bible teaches that the so called "peacemaking" is a lie. It is a falsehood being spoken of to the people but there is really a different agenda behind it. After deceiving the nations and the "man of perdition" arises to power, there will be a point where he will be the worse oppressor of all "leaders" that have been on the earth. He will force people to take the "Mark of the Beast" (if you do, you will not enter the Kingdom of God), and he will set up false idol worship. He will rage with fury against all the nations with a destruction greater than ever has been on the earth since time began. If God had not "shorted the days", he states "no flesh would be left alive". That is how terrible the "man of perdition" (lawless one (antichrist) is. If mankind could bring peace on this earth, it would have already existed. Peace will only come through the Lord who reigns with a rod of iron. Every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. If you are fairly young, you will see all this while you are still alive. Decide now, what you want to commit to. A Kingdom of Love, Peace, and Joy, or a Kingdom that destroys and bring suffering on earth and in the time of judgement.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  20. Michelle

    The scriptures are clear that in the last days the Jews will returned to their promised land. And, they have. The problem with this is that the land belongs to the Jews but the Palestinians don't think so. I say, let the Palestinians go and find some other country to live in. Why in the world would Israel sit back and let these people, lob missiles at them and not retaliate? I believe Jesus will let the Palestinians have whatever land he gives to them, unfortunately for them, it is not Israel. Until the Savior comes, they will just have to wait and see.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • *frank*

      Lol...

      September 21, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Barry

      You're insane.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • bobg2

      The Palestinians had the land stolen from them twice. First, when the Jews defeated Goliath and the Philistines (Palestinians), and secondly, when the British gave the land of the Palestinians to the Zionists. Maybe you disagree with some of the details of these real estate transactions, but solutions must be based on honest negotiations, and not on a real estate deed based on Old Testament passages. it's time for Israel's leaders to get real. They're no longer just the clients of the U.S. Turkey is the emerging dominant power in the Middle East, and it is that country that Israel must deal with. I do believe that the Israelis, once they realize their predicament, will go the extra mile to make peace. They are nothing if not survivalists, but they will have to do it without the U.S, which shot its wad in the Iraq War.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • Leafonthewind

      You lost me at "The scriptures are clear." That's a contradiction.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:50 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.