A small but growing circle of Christian leaders is seeking to lead evangelicals in America away from support for Israel and are doing so under the banner of “social justice” and “just peacemaking.” These leaders are portraying themselves as “pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian, pro-peace and pro-justice.” And while their intentions may be good, they are actually playing into the hands of a larger, more sinister campaign seeking to delegitimize and demonize Israel.
Even more disturbing, their words expose a trend in the evangelical world to disregard the authority of the Bible. They deny the irrevocable calling on the Jewish people and they teach variations of Replacement Theology which requires sections of scripture to either be disregarded or spiritualized to take on new meanings. This theology has historically been the basis for anti-Semitism in the Church and its influence should be guarded against.
One does not have to dismiss the biblical significance of the Jewish people and the modern-day return to their ancient homeland in order to have a heart for the Palestinian people. As Christians we should have a love for all men. And in this situation, we need to appreciate the very difficult position that the Palestinian people are in, the additional difficulties facing Palestinian Christians in general and evangelical Palestinian Christians in particular.
Those seeking true justice must ask the question: just what are the Palestinians’ difficulties and who is to blame for them? Instead, the blame is always placed squarely on Israel and rarely do pro-Palestinian voices put any blame on Arab leaders. At the end of the day, this dishonest brokering does nothing to help the Palestinian people.
Future articles in this column will discuss some of the issues that are used to delegitimize Israel such as the legality of Israel’s founding, the plight of the Palestinian refugees, the “occupation” and accusations of being an Apartheid state.
But before taking on the very complex and complicated issues in the Arab-Israeli conflict one must have a firm foundation of biblical and historical truth.
Social justice must not be confused with biblical justice. While the Bible is clear that we are to judge situations righteously and honestly it does not call us to impose a certain social structure.
Leviticus 19:15 is very clear that righteous judgment is based on the facts without respect to persons or their status.
15 ‘You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor.
Justice is based on the truth. That is why one had better know the history, culture and religious ideologies in the Middle East before making judgments and ascribing blame.
In Jesus’ day, there was considerable conflict within society from living under Roman rule, yet Jesus never addressed it and instead went about ministering compassion to the people. So too Christians today should have a heart of compassion for the Palestinian people, living under their own repressive and corrupt government, just as we have for the Jewish people who live under constant threat of war and annihilation.
This is why the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, which is a ministry raised up to minister love and support to the people of Israel, has always provided humanitarian assistance to Arabs as well. In addition to 33 years of outreach to Israeli Arabs the ICEJ is also partnering with an evangelical Palestinian ministry to provide humanitarian aid in the Palestinian areas.
The truth is that the Jewish people have a four thousand year-old claim and connection to the land of Israel. God gave this land to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as an everlasting possession and they are the only people who ever built a nation there. Likewise, Jerusalem was established as Israel’s capital by King David and it has never been the capital of any other nation.
The Jewish people have now returned to their homeland as foretold by the Hebrew prophets and as legally sanctioned by the Balfour Declaration of 1917, League of Nations in 1920, Ran Remo conference in 1920, the UN Partition Plan of 1947 and finally UN recognition of Israeli statehood in 1948.
Israel was not built on stolen land but private land that was purchase and public land conveyed from the Ottoman Empire to the British Mandate and then to Israel. The Jewish people returned in peace. But they were faced with war and in those wars borders changed and some Arabs lost possession of homes, lands and even life. This is an injustice. But who is really to blame? The Jews who returned in peace or the surrounding Arab countries who declared war?
Justice is Based on Truth
Justice for the Palestinian people will only come when their supporters are honest enough to address their situation candidly. They are suffering at the hands of Palestinian leaders who care more about hating Israel than helping their own people and who are skimming off billions of aid dollars into personal bank accounts. Palestinian Christians are suffering discrimination in aid distribution, land ownership and business by the Muslim Palestinian government. Anyone speaking against the Palestinian Authority can be arrested including journalists. There is no freedom of press or freedom of speech.
This is why numerous polls reveal that 40% of Palestinian Arabs living in Jerusalem would move to Jewish neighborhoods in order to remain living under Israeli rule rather than to live under Palestinian statehood. There is obviously more to this than the usual anti-Israel narrative that some Christians are being taught.
When faced with lies and delusion we need to take a stand for the truth – both biblical and historical.
Only then can there be true justice.
Susan Michael is the director of the US Branch of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem