home
RSS
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. LV

    A more prominent person who lived in Lebanon is Brigitte Gabriel. The author makes no mention of why anyone but Jesus would forgive or forget about who is in that region, what their mandate is, what law they follow and how Lebanon fell. One cannot run from history by preaching about a wish.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  2. Terry Brookman

    The Jews made a choice over two thousand years ago, Barabus or Christ. They are living with that choice today, Barabus was at least to the Romans a terrorist. Bad choice!

    September 21, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • gaucho420

      Oh please. I don't support Israel or Palestine, but your comment has no basis in a real discussion.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  3. Gary

    Absolutely true!

    September 21, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • Gary

      Matthew 23:38
      "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate."
      Jesus had the final say.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • chris

      Loving your enemy.....wait for it.....does not mean allowing them to promote an establishment that calls for the destruction of Israel. Jesus was loving, but not so much when he whipped the money changers outside the temple. Could He actually whip someone he loved?....wait for it....yes, and he did.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      @Chris
      You're a liar!! Jesus never laid a hand on anyone…He turned over the tables and set the doves free they were selling!! And only because they had desecrated the House of God!!

      September 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
  4. Mojoman

    Mr. Medearis, is this the same Jesus that told his disciples to not go amongst the Gentiles and not enter into the villages of the Samaritans? Matt 10:5. Is this the same Jesus who asked his disciples why he should take bread from the children (of Israel) and feed it to dogs in discussing his refusal to heal the Samaritan woman's child? Matt 15:26. Yeah I didn't think so either. You've simply made up a version of Jesus that doesn't exist in the New Testament simply to bolster your own propaganda.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      You don't understand scripture and you took it out of context, too! Jesus was just fulfilling scripture, He came to save the children of Israel 'FIRST', and then salvation was to be offered to the Gentiles!!

      Matt:10:5 and 6 "5These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

      And in Matt. 15:25-28 Jesus knew her faith already!!
      "25Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
      26But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
      27And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.
      28Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”

      STOP trying to twist the scriptures to suit your unintelligence!!

      September 21, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  5. Jesus our KING

    Whoever don't believe in Jesus Christ is not going to heaven

    September 21, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • sybaris

      Do you have anything outside of your bible that you can use to verify that?

      Zeus is waiting

      September 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • macj121

      sybaris

      Stop being a troll and actually form an intelligent opinion.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
    • sybaris

      macj121

      Love how you faithful resort to condescending remarks when faced with questions that expose the fragility of your religion.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • macj121

      sybaris

      I am not too concerned with my relationship with Christ, but I truly am for yours. It is not up to me to have to prove anything. The book of Romans tells us that no person – based off of very creation, has any reason to doubt the existence of presence of God.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
    • macj121

      sybaris

      By the way, your tone throughout your own posts is rather condescending.

      Defintion of online Troll:
      "One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument"

      September 21, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
  6. Kat

    This is awesome.....I wish the Zionists greedy self-observed mules hear...

    September 21, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • RichInBostonq

      Kat, you are an ugly hater.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  7. Marcus

    You're kidding, right? You just happen to know that Jesus would determine that this is the logical next step for Mideast peace? No negotiations. No cessation of attacks on Israel. No recognition of Israel's right to exist. No promises to stop killing Jews in bus bombings. Nada. When Israel withdrew from Gaza, that's when the missles started. Did Jesus support that? Perhaps Jesus would support missles coming at the Jews from both sides. Since you know exactly what Jesus would think, perhaps you can answer that question. Or perhaps you are simply an idiot.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • Kat

      when Israel ceases its mass theft, murder, and destruction of Palestinians properties and lives then Palestinians would stop defending themselves. Palestinains did not invade Jewish towns in NY, Russia, Poland, and Africa and built illegal Arabs-only colonies that house immigrants from Yemen and Morocco...Israel is to blame for its occupation and the world is sick of your total BS propaganda.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • gaucho420

      GET REAL. Go to Isreal and see how racist they are FIRST HAND.

      Its N**ger this, N**ger that and they view everyone else as well,as lower than them. I don't support Islam, but the Jewish religions looks like a bunch of blowhards who view themselves better than everyone else.

      As an Athiest, one is simply better than the other, but both suck pretty hard in the end.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • RichInBostonq

      Kat...go learn some history. Who stole who's lands. Jews lived in Israel over 2000 years before any muslim prayed to alah. Idiot.

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

      And perhaps Jesus whispers in this idiot's ear every night, allowing him to really know what Jesus would think.
      If he has a point of view, let him express it, not wrap it up in religious nonense.

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

      Amen brother

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

      Hey Kat just in the past two years there have been Muslims trying to perpetrate attacks on American Jews IN AMERICA. Also if you look at history over the past 100 yrs the numbers of Jews in Arab countries went from the hundreds of thousands to the hundreds in some countries while the Arab population in Israel has only increased over the last 60 yrs. So you tell me who is persecuting who.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Kat

      JG, is that why there are 5 million Palestinians refugees who cannot return to their or their parents place of birth in what is now Israel?....Arab Jews immigrated to Israel voluterily for religious and idelogical reasons, and to get those free handouts from the West. There has been also attacks by Jewish Americans against Arab and Muslim Americans in America, so you have no argument.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
  8. Ashrakay

    If Jesus were real, then he probably would have backed them, sure. So would Santa Claus.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  9. Leafonthewind

    Arabs and Jews. Oil and water. The middle east will never be peaceful.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  10. Sheila

    The Palestinians unfortunately are pawns used by both Egypt and Syria. The Palestinians need to get smart.

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

      The U.S. is a pawn used by Israel, our lawmakers should get smart.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
  11. wisdom4u2

    Yeah, I would have to say Jesus already said what should be done: "44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; ..." Matt. 5:44
    So yeah, Jesus would want err'body to help one another, including the Palestinians.
    That Jesus, He's so AWESOME!!!

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

      Yeah we tried that in the early '40s. It resulted in 6 milion dead Jewish men, woman and children. Today Iran threatens to wipe Isreal off the map- the destruction of the third temple and all the Jews who live there. No thanks, I think we will defend ourselves this time. They slap us. We shoot them.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • sybaris

      Your jesus man didn't say that.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • macj121

      sybaris,

      I believe you know little about Jesus; however, I am sure He would like you too.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      @ RichInBostonq
      Whatever they do and whatever you do, you can believe it's contrary to what Jesus taught if it is not LOVE!!!!!

      September 21, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      @ sybaris
      Poor thing, you're dumber than the demons, even they knew who Jesus was and trembled!!

      James 2:19 (NIV)
      19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
  12. sybaris

    What all you sheeple seem to be forgetting is that your jesus man never wrote anything down. The gospels were written by.......... no, not Matthew, Mark, Luke and John......... anonymous people (who never saw the alleged jesus) at least 70 years after he allegedly walked the earth. So what you're reading about your jesus is a concoction of repackaged fables and myths from previous bronze age religions.

    Get your face out of your bible and into the library and find out for yourself.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      Oh please! Get off this forum and find your atheist forum. Why do you even come here??

      September 21, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • sybaris

      For the same reasons you do

      September 21, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Sheila

      Actually, all of God's lessons are taught throughout the whole bible, just in different forms. What you fail to understand is when Jesus ascended into heaven, he sent the Holy Spirit to those who received him. The Gospels are written by those who were with Jesus and taught by Jesus. But if you want to use the "Old Testament" I can teach you what was written about Jesus and the teachings of God out of it ! God isn't stupid when it comes to human "thinking" and human "evil". He covered all the bases. Each and every prophet relayed the same end times prophecy as did Jesus when he came. God is consistent and he is always faithful to himself. He doesn't change or lie like humankind.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • noone

      and you saw all this from your glass ball,or someone you know saw it all?
      really......

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

      I don't think I want to learn the teachings of a god who created man out of dirt, recreated himself via another mans wife, disappears for 30 years then sacrifices himself to himself in order to atone for creating "flawed" man which, in his omniscience, would have known in the first place.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • The Logician

      Hey Sheila, can I buy pot from you?

      September 21, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • CatS

      Sorry 'Wisdom' but he's right. The books you see in today's Bible were specifically selected a century later to support a particular social and political Christian view at the time. All others were declared heresy and destroyed. None of the original new testament letters have survived. We have no way to ensure that what was put in the Bible was actually Jesus' teachings. We do have proof that sections have been changed over time and that some of the letters are forgeries.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      @ CatS
      It really doesn't matter what you say or think, the formulas in the Bible still works today as it did when first written down!!
      Just like any other equation – there is only one true answer – and the same applies to the Bible.
      There is a very wonderful thing about how God worked His Word; You see, we can misinterpret the language, but numbers cannot be misinterpreted – numbers are numbers in any language. So when you work the equations in the Bible every nation and tribe will have to admit there is only one TRUE answer to each of the equations! Awesome, isn't it?

      September 21, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  13. Asklepios417

    Jesus never got involved in political issues.

    He never even criticized the Roman occupation of Judea.

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

      I wonder where the Roman King is today?

      September 21, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  14. Seik

    Your naivete about the world is astonishing. Human nature is not as simple as 'love your neighbor'. Bury your head in any form of faith you want, but it's not a reality.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  15. Sheila

    The land wasn't stolen from them back in the days of David and Goliath. God gave over their land to the Hebrews. He wasn't unfair. The Palestinians were engaging in false idol worship and brought God's wrath upon them. Had they been living in righteousness, God would not have brought any loss to them. When we sin, any nation sins, God's blessings are lost. For it is God who gives us our very breath and can withdraw it at any time if he wishes. But he will not put up with evil doing of any kind of any nation, even of Jerusalem. He will return soon in judgement of all nations which will be done "in the valley of decision".

    September 21, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      David never battled palestinians.palestinians have no home in that area.They are modern transplanted people.God bless

      September 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • Aaron

      God does not give land. Never did and never will. People occupy land, buy land, and sometimes take land. God has nothing to do with it.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • The Logician

      Hahahaha, Cool story bro.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
    • noone

      nice.....

      September 21, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
  16. petemg

    I would never speak for God or Jesus, He can do that on His own. We should never guess God. We should mainly pray all of us for the guidance of God. We should pray for our President who does not know which way to turn. We should pray for politicians to think and research and question as they make decisions. We should pray for unity. Mainly we should just ask our Creator for leadership for we are the ones who have turned a back on God. If this were not a Christian nation many would not have the freedom to believe or not believe the way we chose. We are all God's creatures.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • norker

      thanks for the kook viewpoint.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • The Logician

      OK great idea. Then when the response is the sound of crickets, we'll know what to do. Keep waiting on your favorite pretend sky fairy to make the matters of the world that cannot be easily solved to give you an answer. I, in turn, will look for answers using my brain.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • noone

      Never forget! God controls everything and everybody,even Nation leaders!Everyday he runs things.As humans we can not grasp this thought.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
  17. I love Jesus forever

    I love Jesus forever !!!!!!!

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

      Maria Conchita Vazquez from the barrio sprayed that on the wall!

      September 21, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  18. Cyrus

    Jesus was totally neutral in human politics. Unlike christendom

    September 21, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • macj121

      He wasn't so much netural as he was more focussed on proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom to come.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
  19. herbert juarez

    Let the palestinians go back to where they came from.Oh yeah, they weren't wanted in their home country,they can't go back.A palestinian has less right to land in Israel than an eskimo.God bless

    September 21, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  20. Jesus Christ loves us all

    Jesus loved everybody and forgave the Jews and Romans that killed him! I wish every single person on Earth trusted Christ and was like him

    September 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • The Logician

      I wish I was an Oscar Mayer weiner.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33
Advertisement
About this blog

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.