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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. Joe Fattal

    The only reason the US is helping Israel is they don't want millions of them ending up in our airports asking for assulym. The US will do whatever is needed to keep the Jews at bay. Even during WW2, we all remember the ship "the St Louis" that was not allow to disembarque in New York and finaly was send back to Europe. Sure they have won few wars and the US will help them win another one usualy by adding more weapons and all intelligence available to them. Te US is not helping them for any Biblical reasons, they help them out so they can stay were they at and leave us alone.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  2. 21k

    hey could one of you jesus-folks explain again why god, powerful enough to have created the entire universe from nothing, couldn't take a small effort to kill or stop hitler before he murdered all those people? a trip on stone stairs, stray bullet or bomb, something pretty easy to do you know. anybody! oh yeah, a reasonable explanation, not the same old gawd works in strange ways bit.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      God did not stop Cain from murdering Abel either.God did not stop you from spreading lies and sowing discord.Maybe there are things we need to be responsible for,like our choices! God bless

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

      herbie, thanks for the effort, but it's lacking. i take responsibility for all my own actions, i don't blame it on whether some supreme being acted or didn't. you sound like maybe you do use god as an excuse for your own failings. anyway, what about the reason for him not stopping the murder of 6 MILLION innocent people?

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

      or........why this almighty "creator" who allegedly created man out of dirt had to use another mans wife to recreate himself? OR better yet (John 3:16) why couldn't he do it again?

      The best one.......... why does god help people find their car keys, cure cancer, warts, make it rain and a host of other non-tangible events and ailments but when "true christians" pray over a "true christian" amputee nothing grows back?

      September 21, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      Does the principal change if you add zeros to a number?If you took responsibility for yourself you would be aware of the undermining evil you are engaged in.God bless

      September 21, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  3. LALALA

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! the JEWS HAVE A RIGHT TO ISRAEL.
    and seriously...you think that politicians are saying that the Jews have a right to Israel because of Jesus?
    THAT IS BS. THIS IS NOT A COUNTRY FOR RELIGION. although there is nothing wrong with other countries who are based on religion, (except for radical palestinians who want to kill jews and america) , AMERICA IS NOT. THEY DO NOT VOTE FOR ISRAEL BECAUSE OF RELIGION, BUT THEY VOTE FOR ISRAEL BECAUSE AMERICA SUPPORTS ISRAEL CONSIDERING ISRAEL IS ALWAYS THE ONES BEING BOMBED BY TERRORISTS FROM PALESTINE. WE DO NOT NEED A 24/7 WAR IN ISRAEL...WELL NOT MORE THAN WHAT IS ALREADY HAPPENING BECAUSE THEY ARE THE VICTIMS OF MANY TERRORIST THREATS, JUST AS AMERICA WAS ON 9/11...from arabs may I add.

    and where were you educated...? you probably failed out of school. you are not an expert on anything.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  4. Descarado

    Jesus would have supported a tribe that invaded Israel three times in failed attempts to exterminate the Jews?

    September 21, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  5. Zito

    You are wrong in many aspects. I am surprised you wrote books and gave speeches. I guess there are enough lemmings to cover the costs.
    1. To begin with earth has been around for 1000s of years. Many rocks are promised to more than one person at one particular time.
    2. Christianity was created for money and power. Since I never met jesus, I have no clue who he really is. But, my guess is bible got nothing to do with him rather than an image created.
    3. The anti-christ is the opposite of christianity, he got nothing to do with jesus. Per definition, the anti-christ is a very straight honest nice man.
    4. israel and usa are friends with benefits, they could not care less about each other. long story short, jews killed christian's beloved since jesus was a fake king per storyline.
    5. jews are arabs. blonde ones with blue eyes with euro last names are euro stock. it is a joke that their mom was a jew.
    6. the reason usa is interested in middle east is jarusalem. if jarusalem fails, so does christianity. there goes the money and power. oil is just a cover up for an average joe to justify the cause of the wars.
    7. anyway, there are lots of other things. one thing for sure is that the 3rd anti-christ is here.

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

      legit this is just dumb....
      JEWS ARE NOT ARABS.
      the difference is while jews and ISRAEL ARE THE VICTIMS, the ARABS ARE THE ONES DOING THE BOMBINGS!
      also, DO YOU KNOW ANUYTHING AOBUT AMERICA?!?!?!?! THIS IS NOT A COUNTRY FOR RELIGION YOU BIGGOT!!!!!! IT IS NOT ABOUT CHRISTIANITY THRIVING!!!!! it's a country for all.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
  6. branttravis

    You're Stupid. Sorry. I know Islam and I know the things you are too afraid to report.

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

      LOL, so YOU are the authority on "the one Islam"? Who are you to say what Allah's will is?

      September 21, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  7. rep

    If Jesus were alive today, I'm quite certain many of these self-proclaimed Christians would try to crucify him again.

    Kindness to enemies? Shunning the supposed religious leaders (and outward shows of faith)? Giving to the poor and needy? Turning the other cheek? Not judging others???

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

      you're absolutley right

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

      Jesus and the first century christians were politically neutral. It was not until christianity lost their neutrality that christianity became corrupt.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
  8. 4juices

    Oh Please give me a break. Until the Palestinians except that some of their citizens will be Christen or Jewish, then there should not be a Palestinian nation. Israel has both Christen and Moslem citizen, in fact 3% of the Kennesett (their congress are Israeli Arabs who are not Jewish. As far as taking land, that land was bought. Unfortunately the sellers become TRAITORS to both Palestine and Arabs and need to be protected.

    Palestinians have stated they want to wipe the Jews out of Israel. You don't see the Jews pushing their Arab Israelies out – there would be world condemnation – how about equity when looking at the issue. Finally, Israel did not start the 1967 war that brought about the occupied territory. The land has been returned little by little with a promise of peace. So far there has been no promise of peace, but a contual threats and barage of rockets. I'm all for a Palestine nation but after a promise of Peace.

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

      3 whole percent? Wow, that's like, major! I bet they really can get a voting bloc together with those kinds of numbers.

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

      you missed the Palestinians spokeswoman in CNN today. She is a Christian. Her name is Hanan Ashrawi. She appeared in John King live show and shut the host with her eloquent defense of her people, the Palestinians rights and freedom. Look it up.
      Also, you're brainwashed by Zionist propaganda. Check out Israel's horrifying human rights records. Non-Jews citizens are treated like 2nd class. Non-citizen Palestinians are denied completely all civil, human, political rights and are ruled through a brutal military nazi dictatorship.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
    • Nick

      Here is a little bit of history and civic education for you about Israel: Israel was created with terrorism by Begin and his ilks against the British. Palestinians learned the tactics from the Jews and have been applying the same against them. Arabs have no rights in Israel. They can only participate in local elections and the jews don't allow them to vote in the national elections.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  9. Descarado

    Jesus would not teach that you should stone women or strap suicide bombs onto your own children or follow a violent, 6th century pagan cult leader..

    September 21, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • Backtalker85

      No, we wouldn't. He would say do them good.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
  10. Dan Jones

    This is complete nonsense with no understanding of scripture at all. For Jesus to support a Palestinian state he would have to violate God's own covenant with Israel. So first he would have to be a liar and a traitor. Then he would have to deal with the issue of supporting Palestinian hate and agression towards the Jews. Do you really think Jesus would be willing to support terrorism, to support the call for Israel's destruction, to support the organization whose leader Arafat called for the death of every Jew down to the youngest child? I don't know what banana boat this author fell off of but he is dead wrong.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • its all about you

      omfg i think Dan Jones and i agree on something

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

      And you my friend, understand God's will exactly, having read the Bible in its original languages and consulted international scholars on the issue...

      September 21, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
  11. AtheistSteve

    Everybody on this post who is so adamant that poor battered Israel is in the right and that Palestinians are murderous thugs have swallowed all the lies, twisted truths and missing information about the history of the region. Watch the docu.mentary "Occupation 101" to see the other side of the argument. Before the Zionist movement Muslims, Christians and Jews lived cooperatively in the region for centuries.
    Here is a link to the video http://vimeo.com/14327996

    September 21, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
  12. Jesus !!

    2000 years ago the Jews chose the murder and killer Barabas over Jesus Christ – the nicest and best person on Earth helping all the sick and poor. When they killed Christ, they cried and changed their mind because their temple got destroyed after he died. JEWS FOR JESUS CHRIST! Stop denying our Lord and Saviour!

    September 21, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • Bob Scratchit

      At first i Lawled, but then i serioused.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
  13. 21k

    oh for x sake. doesn't he realize that the different xtian teams each have different versions of ja-sus? he should have checked with the various factions of jesus-people before he wrote this. for instance, i bet the westboro baptist inbreds would say that the palestinians should be pushed out into the desert or into the sea.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  14. the_dude

    Jesus would support someone giving me a million dollars in cash.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  15. kandinsky

    who knows Jesus now? Jesus needs to speak for himself, he doesn't need us mortals to speak for him!!!

    September 21, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  16. Descarado

    Wouldn't Jesus kindly suggest that the Palestinians go back to Jordan where they belong?

    September 21, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  17. Kat

    The world has known nothing since ancient freed Egyptian slaves lost in the desert authored the Old Testicles to justify wars, invasions, genocide and roberries.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  18. GOD IS MADE UP

    HARRY POTTER would support Palestinian statehood bid

    September 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  19. Jesus (L)

    J E W S F O R J E S U S

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

      AKA christians

      September 21, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
  20. Arthur

    Carl Medearis does not know wooden nickel about Israel, the Pakestinians, or Jesus. We support Israel for a lor of reasons that have nothing to do with Evangelical Christianity. For example Israel mis a world leader in technology and invenmtions. The cell phone? Invented in Israel! USB flash drives? Thank Israel! Tell me what have the Palestinians accomplished? Any inventions? Nobel prize winners? Just endless whining about how litle land they hasve. If Jesus were here today, he, as all good Jews wouldm, support Israel against a harefilled atmosphere of Islamic countries that strongly resembles Rome!!!

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

      jeeze! the palestinians must sound like..... the jews did back before they took land to create israel. a bunch of big whiners who killed people ( ie the british back then) with bombs.

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

      He doesn't know a wooden nickel? He lived in Lebanon for 12 years. I think he knows a thing or two. And to say "what have the Palestinians accomplished" is a false comparison. You try living in refugee camps, have another country strangle hold goods coming in, bulldoze your homes because it wants to expand, and see how many inventions you'll make. One reason Israel can invent a thing or two – huge influx of money from the U.S. Huge. And did Jesus tell his disciples to take up arms against Rome, or did he say "give unto Caesar what is Caesar's"?

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

      Thank you Robert

      September 21, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • Larry L

      I worked as a membeer of the Multinational Force and Observers for a year and got a pretty good look at Israel and the Palestinians, The Palestinian culture has not produced the leaders in technology, art or medicine we see from Israel. The Arab culture is based on corruption and bribery – hardly a formula for successful business in today's dynamic economic environment. The Jews are magnificent warriors and have defended their "acquired" homeland with bravery and honor. Arabs just don't make good fighters. How smart do you need to be to strap a bomb on a kid and send him to town?

      On the other hand, Israel has lived under the protective mantle of the US military power and with a tremendous exchange of technology from the US and Europe. My dentist in Tel Aviv was educated in Washington DC. Israel has consistantly expanded it's territories and isolated the Palestinians in ghettos of poverty and hopelessness. The Western business culture was not created in Israel.

      My point is simple. Time is up! We've supported you and protected your country at great cost to our country. Our sleazy politicians have accepted contributions and votes with more dedication to Israel than they've shown to other parts of the US. Mississippi? We're now broke. It's time for Israel to either create real peace, totally conquer the Arab neighbors, or get pushed into the Med. We're no longer willing or able to provide cover.

      September 21, 2011 at 8:18 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.