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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. ABSOLUTeTRUTH

    Bravo! This clearly articulates the REALITY of the situation: the vital few (Zionists/Christian Zionists) undermining the trivial many (Arab-Christian/Muslim Palestinians).

    *WWJD?

    September 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • MICHAEL WHITE

      Pal, you missed this one: I think Jesus would also say to the Palestinians,"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me". John 14:6. In other words, give up Mohammad, whom Jesus would consider a false prophet and follow the word of Christ instead. How could he advocate otherwise? He's concerned for all souls, so to misdirect them would be dereliction of duty.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
  2. Liz K

    Beyond your religious "theories" the basic fact is that the Palestinians have TERRORISTS as their leaders. HAMAS is not a government, it began as a terrorist group and continues to be one. Get the terrorists out of their so called government dealings and maybe then there will be value to "speaking" about becoming a nation with them. Personally I still think we should refuse to speak to terrorists and try to "negotiate" with them.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
  3. bailoutsos

    Jesus also said, "Don't touch satellite chunks."

    September 21, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  4. JEWS FOR JESUS THE KING!

    Jews for Jesus Christ.... our Lord & Saviour!! (<

    September 21, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  5. heliocracy

    Jesus would also be a Democrat. Read the Sermon on the Mount in your precious Bible if you don't believe me.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • MICHAEL WHITE

      Jesus Christ was also morally conservative. He did not embrace immorality which many Democrats do.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • PattyPal

      To Mr. White – If Democrats embrace immorality, then Republicans embrace hipocrisy.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • OnLooker

      Jesus would not be a party of either party, lets be honest

      September 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
  6. Art

    Jesus allowed Himself to be crucified so that the relationship between man and God be restored. Man can be in right standing with God through faith in Him (Jesus). All men/women, all races (pales,jew,hisp,black etc....) can now be called friends of God and sins forgiving in just believing and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Not what the article states ..."One of the reasons Jesus was crucified was because of his refusal to embrace a nationalist agenda."

    September 21, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • Aaron

      That's what the Bible wants you to believe... but it really is that he went against the wishes of the pharisees who then prompted Pilot to execute Jesus as he was a threat to their, then, established status quo. That Is Fact.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
  7. macj121

    Try reading your Bible Carl ... Jesus didn't really concern himself with 'Earthly' politics or statehoods ... His focus was on the eternal kingdom and the salvation of souls.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  8. Arran Webb

    With The News of The World gone CNN is primed to become tabloid King! Run this one CNN "Sperm Donor Unknowingly Dates Granddaughter!"

    September 21, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  9. Ron

    Jesus was a Jew. He became the Jewish Messiah. He would turn against what the Father freely gave to Israel and those who know that Jesus is Lord. Not a prophet of Allah but LORD.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • Mike NY

      For those that don't know, Allah means God in Arabic and it's the same God that Christians believe in. Those that "claim" to be religious would know that if they weren't consumed with their uneducated agenda of pushing their version of Christianity. I'm Catholic and have never felt so ashamed of how my fellow Americans and so called "Christians" talk in this forum. In my opinion, when all religious houses of worship pay their fair share of taxes, we'll see who attends religious services and who buys into hateful messages disguised as religion. Our tax dollars are sent to Israel and we're broke. Think of how to strengthen our country and how to stop buying into rhetoric and hatred that Israel helps promote. Being uneducated, weak and never traveled is a very dangerous and hateful combination. We're all God's children and spewing hate here with sick bigotry is disgusting and all that claim to be religious with such hate will be judged accordingly. Carl did a good job writing this and it's only an opinion as a writer. It's NOT the next bible.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • reACTIONary

      This is the sort of religious mumbo-jumbo that prevents us from solving our problems and living in peace with one another. God didn't give the Jews anything. They took over by force. They made a big mistake and we have all been paying for it since. Or objective should be to find a reasonable way to reconcile without a humanitarian disaster – which is the direction the zionists, of whatever type, are heading.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • reACTIONary

      Mike of NY, thanks for posting. More people with a moderate, reasonable and compassionate understand need to speak out.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  10. dave

    "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.
    ...
    Not all evangelical Christians believe this, but the ones that do are the loudest voices in the media, and they lead huge organizations."

    So you named two of them, Pat Robertson and John Hagee, Are "those pastors and conference leaders" who contact you also Zionists? (You must be pretty popular among Zionists) Mind to get some quotes and let them have defend their stance? You make an accusation painting a big portion of American Christians as Zionists, what is the proof?

    September 21, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  11. Timothy P. Niedermann

    Finally! A Christian who dares speak the truth about the people who have commandeered Christianity and indeed all religious debate in America. The Bible has a great deal of wisdom in it for believers and non-believers (and I am one) alike. Jesus can be an inspiration to those who don't worship him as a god. Why? The message of love and peace is what the world needs. And the Christian Zionists have turned Christian teachings into a message of hate. Keep up the good work, Carl! Keep spreading the real message–the one Jesus intended! (Timothy P. Niedermann is the author of "The Words That Created God")

    September 21, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  12. Rachel

    Yes, Jesus would support Palestinian statehood but also out of his immense love and kindness would also forgive Adolf Hitler for the Holocaust. Jesus would also instruct the Jews to turn their other cheeks and accept being slapped around and to accept humiliation and suffering even being killed by terrorists without defending themselves. Most definitely Jesus would unwittingly be the greatest enemy and annihilator of the Jewish people. Please, leave Jesus out of it the Jewish people have suffered more than enough because of him and Christianity.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  13. MICHAEL WHITE

    You know what I think Jesus would say to the Palestinians? He would say,"“I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12. In other words, he is the savior and Muhammad was a false prophet. Of course, you conveniently left that part out. That's the fallacy of suppressed evidence, lie by omission. I'm not so sure the Palestinians would like to hear that.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • Alyssa

      Good portion of Palestinians are Christian dumb a#@

      September 21, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • Evard

      I'm not sure why Christians have sided with the Jewish people on this. For years and years (since Christianity was created) the Western Christians have attacked, killed, and stole from the Eastern Christians, Jewish, and Muslims.

      The first Holy War by Pope Urban II was a war to get the Holy Land back into Christian control. The Christians went to Israel not to give it to the Jewish people, but to take it for themselves.

      What really makes me sad is that right after WWII, the people of Palestine invited the Jewish people to settle there and get away from the racism of Europe. They thought they could live in peace with their "brothers" but the people they invited ended up causing millions to be displaced 🙁 .

      People think that the Muslim countries of the Middle East wants to destroy Israel because of religion, but they see Israel as a western state brought forth to invade their lands.

      September 22, 2011 at 6:14 am |
  14. a slozomby

    jesus was a fan of mortar attacks and suicide bombing?

    September 21, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • PattyPal

      Not likely. It also not likely that he would be in favor of either side that continues to kill over a piece of land, whatever it's worth.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • reACTIONary

      Jesus asked us to turn the other cheek. This may be hard for mere humans, but those who have the power and the advantage also have the responsibility to take the first step.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • Evard

      Both sides are killing and performing inhumane acts. Look into the history of how Israel (post WWII) was formed, the Jewish people have done just as bad or worse things.

      September 22, 2011 at 6:16 am |
  15. Skipper

    Wait! What? Jesus wasn't a white guy who looked strikingly similar to Barry Gibb?? Say it ain't so!

    September 21, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  16. swamp fox

    @ bobg2. Actually, the Philistines are unrelated to modern Palestinians. They belonged the Phoenician peoples, a seafaring group that also colonized Carthage. The Arabs only came after 600 AD, killing the local inhabitants with the sword (unless they joined Islam) and later settled down there.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  17. Voiceinthewind

    Definitely especially since Da Zionist Jooz were responsible for killing him by lobbying Herod to do it for them. They are nothing but a bunch of spinless, sneaky, evil, predatory people with nothing but Greed on thier minds and they don't care who they have to kill to satisfy that Greed. Ever since they killed Jesus Christ they have lived in turmoil and no country wants them around, since they pay American Poli-tickers dearly some of them defend them but the problem is we are giving them 10 million a day in welfare which they use to pay off the poli-tickers. Wow what a country, the best Poli-tickers money can buy. Just what the Zionist Jooz pray for a country with a bunch of on the take Poli-tickers. It is such a sad commentary on both sides of the aisle. All you can do is keep letting them know you are aware of thier dirty dealings and hope that sooner or later some of these people will get a little hint of self respect and pride which right now they don't have a hint of respect or pride or character for themselves or thier country or friends. Greed is amazing as to what it can turn some people into.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  18. sybaris

    Another dopey christard speaking on behalf of his mythological leader.

    Tin hats all around!

    September 21, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  19. anon

    One doesn't need religion to justify the position of Israel. The Jews have lived continuously in (all parts of) Israel for thousands and thousands of years. They deserve the right to self-determination and security just like anyone else. It gets complicated in that Arabs have lived in the area for quite a long time as well, but they will get their own state AND have full rights if they are citizens of Israel. Israel has repeatedly shown willingness to compromise and make peace, but have been met time and again with refusals and provocation from the Palestinians. Case in point: the withdrawal of all Israelis from settlements in Gaza resulted in a significant increase in rocket attacks at Israel... many from the very land that was given back to the Palestinians.

    If we are to assume Jesus is real, I guarantee he is not backing the Palestinians. Creating an ethnically cleansed state (Palestinian leaders have openly stated that no Jews will be welcome in a future Palestine) is not exactly "loving the other group". And launching rockets at and suicide bombing Israel is hardly "turning the other cheek". Widespread support for attacks on Israel do not make the Palestinian population "peacemakers". Oh and for good measure the Palestinian Authority AND Hamas both discriminate against Arab Christians. I'm not an expert on Christianity, but I'm pretty certain Jesus wouldn't support the side that is hostile to the religion he started.

    This piece brings up two important questions: Is Carl Medearis so ignorant he isn't aware of all this, or does he simply not care and puts politics ahead of truth and his own religion? And why is CNN acting as a forum to such lies and slander, even if it is under the guise of opinion?

    September 21, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • PattyPal

      A rather one sided viewpoint.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • reACTIONary

      This guy guarantees Jesus does not back the Palestinians! Man, he has connections!

      September 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
  20. Bravo

    Wonderful sentiments and you are absolutely spot on. Jesus would have voted for fairness, justice and freedom. He would have supported the entirely legitimate desire of Palestinians to have what is left of their country, officially recognized.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • MICHAEL WHITE

      I think Jesus would also say to the Palestinians,"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me". John 14:6. In other words, give up Mohammad, whom Jesus would consider a false prophet and follow the word of Christ instead. How could he advocate otherwise? He's concerned for all souls, so to misdirect them would be dereliction of duty.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • reACTIONary

      Jesus might say that but it is irrelevant to the hostile situation. Jesus asked us to turn the other cheek – that is what he would ask both sides.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:27 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.