In some ways, the persistent ignoring of Palestinian responsibility in the never-ending crisis with Israel exhibits cult-like characteristics. My reasoning is simple.
Most of the individuals and organizations involved in writing about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and organizing protests and conference events should be informed with the true nature of the issues in the region. My contention is that they are. Yet they invariably place most of the responsibility for peace squarely on Israel’s doorstep.
The nature of the conflict is misinterpreted by avoiding the fact that both Palestinian leaderships oppress their citizens; that they misuse foreign aid for personal benefit and to finance war against Israel. Digging tunnels into Israel is a costly business.
The persecution and precarious status of non-Muslims and free-press journalists under Palestinian leadership is routinely overlooked by these commentators. The violent rhetoric against Israel is either ignored or excused, as is the recent incitement for Palestinians to kill Jews by driving over them or stabbing them with knives.
The recent willingness by certain members of UNESCO to hand over the Wailing Wall to the Palestinians indirectly placed every other Jewish and Christian holy site in jeopardy. At best it echoed the fashionably insane appeasement response to the violence-demand formula. At worst it was opportunistic sabotage.
One could do a series of articles on the Temple Mount fiasco alone. Not only have historical Jewish Temple artifacts been relegated to rubbish heaps and Jewish history denied, but non-Islamic prayer on the Temple Mount is also heavily policed. Are these examples of Palestinian tolerance?
Defenders of the Palestinian assert a neutral position. More often they are either biased or misinformed. An example is Christian publisher Cameron Strang’s 2014 comments:
“To remain a democratic state that is Jewish in character and majority, Israelis must find a way to acknowledge Palestinian demands for sovereignty in a portion of the historic land of Israel. And in order for Palestinians to achieve dignity and freedom, they must be either be allowed to create their own state in a portion of historic Palestine or be given equal civil and political rights in Israel.”
This is a popular assessment of the conflict. And it’s wrong.
When one listens to the Palestinian leaders’ Islamist rhetoric and monitors the attacks (current and past) on Israel; one doesn’t foresee a future for Jews or any other non-Muslims within the region. That’s why Christians have been leaving the area. In fact Israeli Arabs and Christians enjoy more civil liberties in Israel than they do under Hamas or the Palestinian Authority.
In a desire to be an impartial peacemaker Mr. Strang talked about an alternate world problem and applied an alternate world fix.
As CAMERA noted, his solution to the problem ignores on-ground reality. The Palestinian leaders don’t want peace with Israel – they want to remove it from the region. Unfortunately, his Relevant Magazine claims an annual outreach of over 1.35 million young adults.
The imaginary solution becomes a virtual reality to Strang’s readership. Israel is hyped as the key to the conflict. As a Christian publisher, Strang had a responsibility to provide relevantinformation. He didn’t, and he’s not alone.
Lynne Hybels (wife of Pastor Bill Hybels) also claims to be impartial yet supports what Dr. Paul Wilkinson has dubbed Christian Palestinianism. According to Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein CP is a movement which “traffics in anti-Israel propaganda and historical misinformation.” He’s correct. Notably Hybels and Gary Burge were guests at one of the virulently anti-Israel Christ at the Checkpoint (CATC) conferences which are run by Christian Palestinianists.
Hybels was even named to President Obama’s Faith Advisory Board in 2011. The Obama Administration doesn’t have an exemplary track record of objectivity regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict either. Of course White House policies aren’t a function of Hybels input. We’ve noted in previous columns that Mr. Obama sat in anti-Zionist Jeremiah Wright’s church for 20 years. He surrounds himself with like-minded people.
Algemeiner notes that Obama officials insinuated Israeli responsibility in the recent Palestinian attacks on Jews in five ways;
1) Condemning violence and incitement on both sides (when one side is the aggressor)
2) Refusing to indentify the PA incitement to violence
3) Refusing to identify which side is inciting terrorism
4) Accusing Israel of using excessive force in dealing with the knife attacks
5) Partly rationalizing violence as the product of Jewish occupation of the West Bank (an old favorite)
Elsewhere Algemeiner has also noted why the BBC – by its own admission – cannot report Israeli history truthfully. Apparently the time required for fact-checking is a scarce commodity. The BBC isn’t the only medium with fact-checking issues – ABC’s Quantico TV show made a litany of factual errors placing Israel in a bad light (hat tip Jim Fletcher). Quantico has over 11 million weekly viewers!
What I find most troublesome are instances where the church claims to adopt a peacemaking role, yet constantly absolves Palestinian culpability while being patently anti-Jewish. In one example, CAMERA asks whether CATC has a hidden agenda:
“The Kairos Palestine document asserts, among other things, that Jewish sovereignty or self-determination is contrary to God’s plan for humanity. The document is so egregious that a resolution adopted by the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) has declared it to be supersessionist and anti-Semitic.” (Emphasis mine)
Supersessionism (Replacement Theology) – the idea that the church has replaced Israel – sometimes drives unbiblical attitudes towards modern national Israel and the Jews. Often these people side with Israel’s antagonists as a knee jerk reaction to Christian Zionism and dispensationalism.
A particularly revealing example of this attitude is set out in a 2005 ELCA article. The writer cites Bishop Younan and Rev. Naim Ateek making blanket statements that Christian Zionism and premillennialism are heresies. The ELCA has its own heresy issues. But that’s another column.
In an article linked above, someone said that Lynne Hybels shouldn’t be condemned for believing that Israel isn’t a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. I agree to a point. However, contrary to Hybels, Younan and Ateek, the Bible clearly states that God is not finished with Israel. In fact God seems to think the matter important (See Zechariah chapter 8).
The Old Testament prophets portrayed a future time when unbelieving national Israel would be subjected to severe tribulation prior to Christ’s return (Jeremiah 30:7; Hosea 5:15; Matt 23:39). Secular Israel is a present reality, as are the growing portents of a Future Tribulation.
Anyone claiming to be a Christian (and especially those who aspire to teach God’s word) has a responsibility to understand what God has revealed and faithfully disseminate it. This doesn’t mean that Christian Zionists ought to idolize national Israel. It is an imperfect nation (like its neighbors) which will be subjected to God’s divine plan of redemption.
Yet neither should we pander to Israel’s enemies. The irony of doing so means that one partakes of the very prophecies which one denies.
And you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all nations where the LORD will drive you. Deut 28:37
There are close parallels to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the European refugee violence, the problem of Islamic terrorism and the purging of Christianity in the Middle East. Israel’s problem is also the world’s problem.
By the way, let’s not forget Genesis 12:2-3 and Genesis 27:29.
Isn’t it time we paid attention?