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Zionists, and other supporters of the State of Israel, are quick to demand that opposition to the policies of the Zionist State that oppress the Palestinian people, has nothing to do with a desire for justice and equality, but are based simply in racism and hatred towards Jewish people. In other words, those who claim to oppose Zionism, are not motivated by a desire for freedom and equality, but are just using the issue as an excuse to vent their hatred of Jews and or western society.

In my previous years as a card carrying member of the religious right, I believed that all people on the left were basic hypocrites in that while they would stand all day in rain, hail or shine protesting against abuses of human rights, they themselves had an agenda that showed their true intent. These hopeless dupes of the left (be it secular or religious) were inwardly haters of humanity and all Godly concepts of human freedom! They would have us enslaved to an authoritarian state in a beehive like social order. In the final analysis, their so called desire for justice and equality was nothing but a sham! Or so I thought.

Palestinians are continually portrayed as Islamic extremists and anti-Semites. This despite the fact that Judaism and Islam have existed side by side in the Middle East for hundreds of years in peace and mutual respect. In all those centuries, neither the Koran nor the Torah changed. What changed was the creation of the Zionist state, facilitated by Europeans whose racist views laid the basis for their colonialism and imperialism.

I believe that European chauvinism is what lies at the heart of this conflict in the Middle East. The idea that there are inferior people groups, or races, in our world and that there are those of superior stock who have an entitlement to take from those of lesser races that which did not originally belong to the higher grades of humanity, was not an idea held to exclusively by the Nazis of Germany in the 1930’s.

Speaking at the Peel Commission in 1937, Winston Churchill said;

“I do not admit that the dog in the manger has the final right to the manger, even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit, for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to those people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race, or, at any rate, a more worldly-wise race, to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”

(Michael Makovsky, Churchill’s Promised Land: Zionism and Statecraft, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, p.156)

Twenty years before this the British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, wrote in a memo to Lord Curzon that;

“For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country…the Four Great Powers are committed to Zionism. Zionism, be it good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.”

(Victor Kattan, ‘The Failure to Establish Democracy in Palestine: From the British Mandate to the Present times’, Jadaliyya, 2 April 2011)

This type of thinking explains how Europeans can come to Australia or Zionist Jews to Palestine and apparently see “a land with no people”, or, “Terra Nullius”, in the case of my home country. It is not that they didn’t see any people in the land, it is that in their eyes they did not see a people who were of a high grade or quality or who were worthy of being in charge of their own destiny in the land of their birth.

The Red Indians of America, the Aborigines of Australia and the Arabs of Palestine have all been invisible to the eyes of Europeans (be they Zionist or otherwise) when it comes to a consideration of their rights and needs. They simply are not the equals of us Europeans and hence do not have the rights that we do.Hence allowing democracy for Arabs in Palestine was never a priority for the British Mandate or any other western nation. Democracy is not for savages!

In 1935, it was proposed, by the High Commissioner for the British Mandate, that a Legislative Council be established. The Zionists;

“attacked the project because the Jews were to be allotted seats in proportion to their actual population”

(Ronald Storrs, The Memoirs of Sir Ronald Storrs, Pittstown, NJ: Arno Press, p. 396)

Obviously the Zionists considered that right from the outset an Arab vote should never be equal to a Jewish vote in Palestine.

While in Israel today an Arab has a vote of equal numerical value to the vote of a Jewish person, the ethnic cleansing of Arabs from the state of Israel in 1948 and subsequent immigration laws that ensure that Jews always have an 80% majority in Israel adds up to the same situation of impotency at the ballot box for Arabs in Palestine as it would if the idea of one Jewish vote equals one Arab vote had never been thought of.

Arabs inside the state of Israel are a people under constant suspicion and control. Their loyalty to a nation that only really tolerates their presence is always considered to be dubious. They are a people with conditional rights WHILE IN the land rather than unconditional rights TO the land as Jews have under Zionist rule. Israel is a Jewish state according to Zionist ideology, not Biblical scripture.

CRAIG NIELSEN

The following article was written by Philip Jarman. In it he discusses some of the theological short comings of Christian Zionism. Philip is a regular follower of this blog and this article is his personal reflection on this issue.

CRAIG NIELSEN

A Personal Introduction :
This paper is my summary challenge to Christians who argue that there is a supportable interpretation of the Bible regarding Israel’s activities in the land of Palestine. I contend there is No such support. Christians in our generation need to know that there is historical scholarship for a valid Biblical point of view which dissolves the arguments that support Christian Zionism. Christian Zionism is defined loosely as unreserved support for the actions of the present nation of Israel justified by a misguided belief that Jews must be re-gathered to their ancient lands prior to the Lord’s return.

Of itself, this paper does not claim to be a work of theological scholarship, but it does lean heavily on the work of three well qualified theologians for its Biblical accuracy and continuity. The study of theology depends on both the sincerity and the humility of a scholar in order to permit the Scriptures themselves to interpret Scripture. To this exercise we truly bring …….no new thing. Faithfully using this method avoids the human pitfalls of presuming the meaning with only partial information or bringing preconceived human notions to the Bible in order to justify them.

After some years of casual study, I conclude that the sources I have used are faithful to the whole counsel of God and that this paper is worthy of your consideration.. I contend that a great many Christians are supporting a Zionist regime because they assume that Dispensationalism, the popular eschatology of our time, is the only option.
If this is your position, you will for certain have come under pressure to support Zionism which lays aside all the Christian principles you have learned in the Sermon on the Mount for policies that are nothing short of “Apartheid” toward the Palestinians. I urge you therefore to carefully re-consider the matter so that your support is properly placed in the cause of justice and mercy.
Sincerely, Philip Jarman voyageur@voyageur.co.cr 8 February 2014

References
1- Abraham’s Four Seeds – John G. Reisinger http://www.amazon.com/Abrahams-Four-Seeds-John-Reisinger/dp/0966084543/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1390963079&sr=1-1&keywords=abraham%27s+four+seeds
2. The Momentous Event – W.J. Grier
http://www.amazon.com/Momentous-Event-W-J-Grier/dp/0851510205/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1390963244&sr=1-1&keywords=W.J+grier+The+momentous+event
3. Sermons on Romans 11 – Martyn Lloyd Jones
http://www.mljtrust.org/search/?q=romans+11

Without doubt, the present nation of Israel, reconstituted in Palestine, by a unilateral United Nations decree dated at sundown 14 May 1948, has been responsible for disturbing years of peaceful coexistence between Jew and Muslim in the land . Wherever there is controversy, books and articles follow passionately written from differing points of view each seeking to explain or justify one side or the other. This is doubly so in this case because the arbitrary decision to insert a nation called Israel into an already settled Palestine was pre-loaded with religious implications for three of the world’s major religions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

The purpose then of this paper is to republish the historical Biblical interpretation of God’s promises to Abraham, which if graciously received, will bring a correct perspective to Christians who want to do the right thing by the Jewish people and to also promote peace in a troubled area of the world.

Contrary to the world’s historical record, the Christian worldview itself is not antagonistic toward the Jews. However, confused persons through the centuries, who have claimed association with Christianity have been intensely anti-semitic to the extremes of tragic persecution and death.

But Christian doctrine, rightly held, rejects the evil they have perpetrated on the Jewish people. Christianity recognizes that Abraham’s Natural Seed (the Jews ) were the family first, and then the nation that was chosen to bring the Lord Jesus Christ into the world. He arrived in time, to live perfectly under the Mosaic Law, and then to become the Acceptable Sacrifice for all who would believe that his death would pay for their sin. Ironically, the Jews were also the people that brought about his death on a Roman cross. But Christianity also believes that God the Father sovereignly planned that Sacrifice in eternity past, and that God the Son was obedient unto death in order to save Abraham’s Spiritual Seed. These are people, from all ages, both Jew and Gentile, who would believe experimentally that His death covers their sin and that they are delivered from the curse of the Law. *(…the soul that sinneth, it shall die. Ezekiiel 18:4 )

The Bible tells the story of Abraham and the promises made to the natural and the spiritual seed. If we understand and embrace this interpretation as the Divine plan, we will not become pawns in support of the present day Israel’s irrational drive for racial mastery in the land of Palestine.

To begin, if God in three persons, planned before the foundation of the world to rescue a people for His Name, (the Church), then that plan must emerge in Genesis and conclude in Revelation and the whole counsel of God on the matter be complete in Holy Writ.
God called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees (1) to be the human instrument for this plan. But , Abraham and Sarah had problems conceiving, so Abraham fathered

(1) Genesis 12:1-3

Ishmael by an Egyptian servant girl Hagar. Ishmael under God’s promise of Abraham’s natural seed, became the father of 10 nations known as the Arabs. (2) But then God permitted Abraham through a deliberate preplanned miracle, to father Isaac when he and his wife Rachel were humanly – too old to have children. Isaac, unlike Ishmael, was identified by God as Abraham’s Spiritual Seed. (3) Isaac in turn, married Rebekah and fathered twin sons Esau and Jacob. Again, it was God himself who chose Jacob as the spiritual seed and left Esau as he was – a natural seed.(4)
As difficult as it may seem to our sense of fairness, God chose some from Abraham’s family to be the Spiritual Seed who would believe the Gospel of a coming deliverance through a Messiah, and he left the rest in their unbelief.
So two peoples were at one and the same time–inside Abraham’s family – The Spiritual Seed, those who believed in the promise of the Messiah (5) and those who,
¬¬¬¬although natural sons of Abraham, did not believe. Further, Abraham , Isaac and Jacob were all in their turn, the spiritual Fathers of the Spiritual Seed for the Gentiles of all the ages. (6)

The Old Testament then, is the Jews earthly story and the beginnings of a heavenly story for all peoples. Through the Hebrews, and the resulting nation of Israel, God produced a type or an illustration of the Church. The nation of Israel itself, was brought into existence from Jacob’s enslaved descendants in Egypt on the night the death angel passed over the Hebrew homes that had the blood of a lamb daubed on the lintel and door posts . In the Egyptian homes all the first born died. In the Hebrew homes marked by blood, everyone lived. (7)

This is a type of the Lord’s crucifixion. As the Hebrews were protected by the blood daubed about the door, all who are covered by Christ’s blood sacrifice will look to Him and be justified (made righteous) and live forever. (8) Those that do not, though they live for a time on earth, are under an eternal sentence of death.

The Exodus from Egypt is the saga of God’s patient work with an earthly people to whom he gave the Law and the Oracles . Yet despite the Red Sea crossing , the firey pillar, the manna and quail, the rock in the desert that spewed a river of water, the people built an idol at the foot of the mountain while God was writing the 10 commandments on Moses’ tablets of stone (9). The majority in the nation were rebellious unbelievers and because of their failure to believe Joshua and Caleb concerning the promised land, God made them wander in the desert for 40 years until all the adults who had left Egypt had died.

You can read the rest of the story for yourself as the pattern remains the same . In every generation through to the birth of the Messiah, God called only a remnant from the nation of Israel to believe the Gospel of the Messiah’s future saving work on a the Roman cross . These were the Spiritual Seed of Abraham and the remainder of the nation were left in their superstition , idolatry and unbelief.

(2) Genesis 21:13 (3) Genesis 21:12 (4) Romans 9: 11-13 (5) Galations 3:26 (6) Galations 3 24-29
(7) Exodus 12:13 (8)Isaiah 45:2 (9) Exodus 32:1
As to the land, when God promised Abraham the land of Palestine,(10) it was also a type of things to come . It’s true that following the Exodus from Egypt, Joshua more or less conquered the land. But Israel, because of disobedience, had only partial success through the time of the Judges and the Kings. Rebellion and unbelief eventually caused them to be judged for their idolatry and taken into captivity in Babylon.

When Abraham received the land promise he knew that he was not looking for the ultimate fulfillment of the promise on earth (11) . Abraham knew that if Israel as a nation was to bring forth the Messiah, an earthly territory would indeed be necessary, but he also knew that the land was a type of a heavenly kingdom which he would one day see in glory.

God’s promises for an eternal kingdom and eternal rights to the land of Palestine were also made Conditional. (12) If then the condition of obedience was broken what of the promise ? We know from the Biblical record in the prophets , that the majority of the people of Israel rebelled against God, burned their children in the fire to Moloch, worshipped many false Gods and forsook the Gospel. In fact, the prophets were ruthlessly killed because their message was damning to the majority conscience.(13) So God stopped sending prophets 400 years before the Messiah although there was always the Gospel by which a remnant in every generation were saved.

When Jesus did come, the scribes and Pharisees had so modified the Law of Moses and the Gospel, that a whole set of human traditions had been overlaid on top of the Sinai Law perverting its meaning. When you read the Sermon on the Mount, (14) look for all the corrections Jesus made to their errors. They hated him for it, for they had what they wanted ,- respect from men. As far as they were concerned, any and all excuses to reject Jesus’ authority over them were valid.

The crucifixion without doubt is the pivotal point in history. The Old Testament and New Testament are on different sides of the crucifixion, yet they both proclaim that the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is the same and Jew and Gentile from Abraham to the last trumpet are now members of the Bride of Christ – the Church.

When Jesus died the veil of the temple, the heavy curtain through which only one priest per year passed to offer sacrificial blood for atonement, was ripped by God the Father from the top to the bottom because a Holy of Holies was no longer needed. The Priesthood of the Believer had been established .

At the resurrection, the Hebrew nation and all the ceremonial law depicting Jesus’ sacrifice were also finished . The nation through sovereign Providence had fulfilled its role all the way from Abraham to the cross. In 70 AD the Roman General Titus

(10) Psalm 105: 6-11 (11) Hebrews 11: 8-10 (12) Deuteronomy 30: 15-20 (13) Hebrews 11: 36-40
destroyed the last vestiges of the nation and its religion by slaughtering the inhabitants of Jerusalem and destroying the temple completely .

The Lord predicted this would happen for with His ascension to his Heavenly throne and the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the “Israel of God” was now proclaimed a spiritual kingdom. There was no further need of earthly types. The Nation of Israel had fulfilled the purpose for which God had brought it into existence in the land of Palestine and it is now gone forever. The Bible needs no other support, but it is significant, that some important sects who are current followers of Judaism agree that God has never recalled Israel, to the land.

At Pentecost , as Jesus promised, the followers of Christ were visited by the Holy Spirit and empowered . In one day 3000 souls from many nations and tongues were converted to begin spreading the message out across the world .

The apostles, those that had been chosen by the Lord, and Paul who had been under the Lord’s instruction in the third heaven, are our best authority on just how to view these events. They interpret the Old Testament in many passages of the New Testament. The literal depictions of the Old Testament then, should never be imposed on the New Testament . The prophets knew and accepted the Gospel of the coming Messiah, but when they did prophesy the future, they saw only shadows and types. The New Testament apostles therefore interpret with authority the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and their interpretation declares that the Lord now reigns in His Kingdom in heaven (15) and that the time that has elapsed since his ascension are the days prophesied by the prophet Joel. (16) The next and final event we can anticipate is the Last Trumpet – His Second Coming, where ALL the dead of ALL ages will be raised to stand before him.(17)

So what of the Jews ? Is God finished with them?
Following the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus the Jews were dispersed throughout the nations . They clung to the memory of their Old Testament privilege and based on portions of Old Testament scripture called the Talmud, they founded the religion of Judaism . Over the centuries their have been many conversions to Judaism among non-Semite peoples . So who among the Jews today, are Abraham’s natural seed? I am sure there are many, but not one of them is able to trace his lineage with any certainty to the Jews of Jesus time. Therefore any self-proclaimed racial identity is a voluntary willingness to be associated with either the religion of Judaism, the present Jewish culture or the political movement Zionism.

Nevertheless, Paul the apostle in Romans 11 says that God still has plans for the descendants from Abraham’s natural seed. But do not make the mistake of equating Jews with the former nation of Israel or any present counterfeit. Paul prophesies in the book of Romans that one day the Jews will recognize their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, and will turn en masse to Him in repentance and faith .(18)

(14) Matthew 5 (15) Acts 2: 29-35 (16) Acts 2:14-21 (17) 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17 (18) Romans 11:26
He also says that this event will strengthen and encourage the Church world wide and that this will all come to pass during this present Kingdom Age . (19)

This knowledge does not define the day or the hour of the second Coming but the Holy Spirit through Paul does promise that God will save his people the Jews before Jesus returns. As in every age, there has been a remnant of believing Jews and so there will be again. The Jews as individual persons will be converted wherever they are on the earth and their conversion grafts them into the Church, the Bride of Christ and the Heavenly Kingdom.

The land of Palestine or the current nation of Israel is irrelevant to the fulfillment of this prophecy. None of the New Testament writers make any reference to a re-gathered Jewry in the land of Palestine. The apostles agree with Abraham that they look for a heavenly Kingdom which is far better than an earthly one.(20) Admittedly this is an argument from their silence, but the New Testament writers were all Jews and they were under pressure from the Jews who were certain that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was bent on destroying their religion. Surely, under the circumstances, if national Israel was to be a factor in the future, the apostles would have mentioned it.

So how should this impact your view of the present tragedy in Palestine ?
Using the Nazi Holocaust for all its worth and more, the Zionist movement has persuaded much of the western world to hold their peace while they carry out “ethnic cleansing” on the Palestinians, wholesale expulsions from their historic lands, and acts of aggression against neigboring Arab nations — all in the name of a resurgent nation of Israel.

If the historical perspective in this paper is correct, many Christians are in real danger of being complicit in quietly accepting the Zionist Program for reasons that are not Biblical. The Zionists are not Joshua cleansing the land under God’s specific instructions; Orthodox Jews who have lived peacefully for centuries in the land of Palestine, oppose Israel because they have no confidence that God has ended the Diaspora ; …and finally, the Lord Jesus Christ has given us the Sermon on the Mount to guide us in our behavior and all Christians should therefore be compelled by conscience to advocate a peaceful compromise that foundationally, establishes true democracy and human rights for all ?

(19) Romans 11: 32-33 (20) Hebrews 11: 8-10

PHILIP JARMAN

The following article was written by one of the Rabbis at Neturei Karta. Neturei Karta is an Orthodox Jewish movement that rejects Zionism and does not recognise the Zionist State of Israel as a legitimate heir to the promises of G-d to the Jewish people. While they are a fairly small group at the moment, their views on the subject corespond to what was until recently the majority mainstream Orthodox position. I beleive their ideas concerning Zionism and Judaism are correctly reflective of the true teachings of the Old Testament. Their testimony desperately needs to be heard by the Western World.

Why do Orthodox Jews refuse to serve in the Israeli army?
Dec. 20, 2013

Opposition to Zionism and the State of Israel is not just our position; it’s the position of all traditionally Orthodox Jews today. Nowhere is this fact more prominent than in the battle going on right now in the State of Israel over the military draft.

For hundreds of years before the Zionists created their state, there existed an Orthodox Jewish community in Palestine. These Jews had no political aspirations; their only goal was to live out their days on the holy soil, studying the Torah and worshipping the Almighty. When the ideology of Zionism was born, they wanted no part in the new movement, because the Torah teaches that the Holy Land was given to the Jews by G-d and was taken away from them 2000 years ago by G-d. Since G-d sent the Jews into exile, only He can redeem them from exile. The Torah forbids us to fight wars or to have our own state.

Needless to say, this small but longstanding Orthodox community in Palestine lived on the best of terms with its Palestinian neighbors. This peaceful coexistence was typical of Jews living throughout the Middle East in Muslim countries prior to Zionism.

When the state was founded in 1948 through massive land theft, murder and expulsion of the Palestinian people, the Orthodox community was repulsed by the Zionists’ immoral conduct and refused to serve in their lawless army, the deceptively named “Israel Defense Force.”

The Zionists, in order to uphold the facade of full control over the Holy Land and representing the whole of Jewry, decided that rather than confront the Orthodox Jewish community, they would simply exempt them under the pretext that they were students in school. And so a deal was worked out in 1948 under which Orthodox Jews, who all studied in Torah academies, would be granted a students’ exemption. Although this was far from ideal, since it effectively made it impossible for an Orthodox man to leave school and support his family, the community has managed to survive until now.
By 2012, the number of students receiving exemptions had grown to almost 50,000.

Of course, there are untold numbers of others who due to the fact that they do not want to give any recognition to the State of Israel, therefore they simply do not obtain any government papers and are not registered. Again, for the most part, the Zionists have turned a blind eye, fearing that the world would become aware of the ugly truth, that they are not the “Jewish” state they claim to be – that the Jews true to Judaism totally reject their states existence.

Last year, after the Israeli Supreme Court struck down the law granting students exemption, the Orthodox community was left without a legal means of avoiding service. The government is now giving them the choice of army service or prison. And for the highly principled Orthodox community, the choice is clear. Orthodox young men have already begun going to prison.

As one member of the Jerusalem Jewish community commented: “For all these years we have suffered indescribably under Israeli rule, yet persevered by insulating our communities and preserving our way of life. Now they want to take us away and force us to fight in their army. They want us to rebel against the Almighty, oppress and massacre another people, help them make enemies in the world and portray us as partners in their military campaigns.”

Clearly, the Zionists are embarrassed by the Orthodox Jews’ refusal to join them, and that is why they are trying to force them into the army. The Zionist goal is clearly to oppress or be rid of all who stand in their way, whether non-Jewish or Jewish. It should be clear to the world that they don’t represent Jews or Judaism.

The Orthodox Jews of the Holy Land, with the help of the Almighty, will continue to go to jail and submit to whatever punishments the state can devise, but they will not succumb to this decree of forced conscription. And we, their brethren in America and throughout the world, support them all the way.

We pray to the Almighty for a speedy, peaceful and total dismantlement of the Zionist State of Israel.

OrthodoxJews1

Thousands of Anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews protesting outside the Israeli military Prison Six, where Jews are held for their refusal to serve in the IDF, December 9, 2013

Banner reads: We are all ready to go to prison!

orthodoxJews2
Banner reads: Right – The entire history of the Zionists is one long chain of bloodshed, may G-d spare us. Zionism is the source of all suffering in the world, whether spiritual or physical. Left – We will fill up all the prisons, both military and civilian, but we will never betray our true ideals.

Some of the most prominent anti-Zionist religious Jewish leaders of Jerusalem
OrthodoxJews3

Over the last 4 or 5 years of talking with Christian Zionists I have discovered that they have not the remotest objection to racism, barring anti-Semitism, that is. Of course the very anti-Semitic nature of much of the theology behind Christian Zionism seems to go unscrutinised by the vast majority of those who hold to this novel and unbiblical idea.

In general Christian Zionists are not interested in large scale conversions of Jews in Israel to the Christian faith. This is because by becoming Christian, Jewish people are no-longer Jewish and if this occurred at a magnitude anything close to a national level; it would mean the end of the Jewish State. Christian Zionists abhor this concept. Without a Jewish state their end-times prophecy schedule lies in tatters!

Christian Zionists require that Israel be a non-Christian, Jewish state. This is somewhat ironic since the theologians of history who did predict a literal revival of the nation of Israel held to a belief that Jews must first convert to Christianity before reclaiming the Holy Land. They did this because they recognised (unlike todays Christian Zionists) that Jewish reclamation of Israel was not unconditional and that a rebellious Jewish people could never retake Israel on account of the covenant they made with God as described clearly in the Old Testament. They understood that the Jewish people were in exile because of their sins and I guess, in the minds of those Christian teachers who believed in a revival of literal Israel back then, they thought that mass conversion to Christianity was the necessary act of repentance required for it to be ok for the Jews to retake Israel as a nation.

All of these arguments are ignored by Christian Zionists today. Christian Zionist also believe that when Christ does return, the Jews in Israel will have to decide whether or not they will accept Him as the Messiah. If they do not, they will be cast into the lake of fire, if they do accept Him they will be saved. It is generally assumed that the vast majority of Jews will not accept Christ and hence will be cast into Hell. Somehow the Jews alive at the coming of Christ will at least get a chance to choose, those who have persihed before the final return will not get this privilege. Seems it pays to be born in the right part of history!

Getting back to the racism issue, I believe the position I hold to is ethically far sounder than the Christian Zionist belief system. I consider ALL racism to be equally abhorrent regardless of the circumstances pertaining to who is the victim and who is the perpetrator. A state where Arabs discriminate against Jews is equally repugnant to a state where Jews discriminate against Arabs. The ethnic cleansing of Arabs from Palestine will not be justly dealt with by the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Israel. Such a situation will only inflame conflict in the world.

Martin Luther King’s vision of a world of equality where a man is judged on his character, and not on his ethnic background, is not a vision shared by Christian Zionists. In their way of thinking, if Arabs are displaced and dispossessed in order to make a Jewish state a reality, then bring it on! This twisted ethic is not shared by God and is explicitly condemned in the Old Testament Scriptures in dozens of places.

The ethical bankruptcy of Christian Zionism with regard to its attitude to racism is a major stumbling block for me. The Zionist dream of an Israeli state that is both owned by Jews and democratic for all its inhabitants, is a contradiction in terms. If the fact of Jewish ownership of Israel were not a source of discrimination against non-Jews living in Israel, then why do the Zionists so passionately demand that Israel be a Jewish state? What purpose does it serve for Israel to be a Jewish state if it conveys no advantage to Jews over non-Jews living in Israel? If Israel did not discriminate against non-Jews in Israel in any way at all, then why the determination for Israel to be a Jewish state?

When I visited Israel last year, I spoke to a representative from the Israeli trade union Histadrut. She told me the reason that Israel must be a Zionist state was that Israel was the only way to protect Jewish culture and way of life. How Jews had managed to keep their culture and way of life intact for the last two thousand years (even surviving the Holocaust) and how the 50% of Jews outside of Israel today have managed without a Zionist state, was not explained to me. I doubt that it can be explained.

CRAIG NIELSEN

It’s generally assumed that anyone showing the remotest concern for Palestinian rights takes either an anti-Israel stand or is a complete anti-Semite. Supporters of Zionism are quite eager to tell you that any such person must be both, by definition.

The situation is indeed very similar to the case of Apartheid South Africa. It was argued then that anti-apartheid activists were anti-South African. It was impossible for some to conceive of a South Africa without the apartheid system. But here we are today facing the situation of apartheid being scrapped, but South Africa still in existence. Anti-apartheid activists argued then that they were in fact pro-South African since they believed that the end of the apartheid system was the best thing for all South Africans in the long run.

Those who rightly recognised that apartheid in South Africa was unjust did not seek the destruction of South Africa. Rather, they saw themselves as the first line of those who sought to create a better and more truly democratic South Africa.

So it is with the current BDS movement in the sense that this movement envisions an Israel without Zionism, not the destruction of Israel (regardless of whether a one or two state solution prevails). An Israel without Zionism, (or at the very least a much reformed Zionism), is indeed not only possible, but probably inevitable. The belief that not only Israel, but the survival of the entire Jewish people is dependent on the survival and dominance of Zionism is a foundational part of Zionist ideology itself.

The fact that Christian Zionists also believe this is an amazing reality to say the least! Christian Zionists reject any criticism of Zionist Israel and agree with the Zionists that anti-Zionism is just anti-Semitism in another form. The notion that Israel be non-Zionist is firmly rejected by Christian Zionists. While many Christians criticize the Zionist ideology that dominates Israeli thinking, the Christian Zionists will have none of this criticism.

My position is that Zionist ideology is the root cause of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. My vision is for a truly democratic Israel: an Israel that is truly for all its citizens, not just for its Jewish inhabitants. Regardless of whether a one or two state solution is arrived at, my vision is for a non-Zionist Israel. The idea that Israel cannot exist without Zionism is not only illogical (ancient Israel was not Zionist), but unbiblical, and therefore it is completely incompatible with Christian faith. This is why I consider myself to be both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian.

CRAIG NIELSEN

Most conservative Christians in the West have heard of Bill Hybels and the Willow Creek mega-church in Chicago, Illinois in the U.S.A. Bill Hybels books on Christian living and church growth have sold millions of copies and his church has been voted the most influential church in America. The following article was written by his wife, Lyn Hybels. http://lynnehybels.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/the-israeli-palestinian-conflict-six.html

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Six Things I Believe

This paper was presented to a gathering of Palestinian Christians, Israeli Messianic Jews, and American Christians and Messianic Jews on December 5, 2013.
 
In 2010 I spoke at the first Christ at the Checkpoint Conference in Bethlehem.  I gave a talk called “It’s All About Jesus: A Personal Journey.”  I chose that title because my engagement in the Holy Land was a very personal attempt to follow in the way of Jesus.  I had been spending considerable time in the region and was broken-hearted by the suffering that resulted from ongoing and often violent conflict.  I believed that what Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs, needed most was to see Jesus incarnated in his followers in the Holy Land.  I came to Christ at the Checkpoint with the desire to encourage and lift up the Christians in the land.  To stand in solidarity with them.

I had learned by that time that this issue could be theologically controversial.  I was still caught off guard, after my talk, when a Messianic Jewish theologian from Israel told me he believed I had totally violated scripture by talking about the plight of the Palestinians. He reminded me that God had given the land to the Jews, and if the Palestinians were suffering it was because God’s will regarding the land was being violated. If I thought the treatment they were receiving was unjust it was because I didn’t understand God’s purposes in the world.

It was a very awkward and disturbing conversation.

Now, fast-forward two years.  In 2012 I spoke at the second Christ at the Checkpoint conference.  Again that same Messianic theologian approached me afterwards. I assumed we would again have an awkward conversation.  

But instead, he said, “Thank you for that talk.  That was a great talk.  In fact, I think you should give that talk to some of our Jewish congregations.” 

What happened during the two years separating those conversations? 

What happened in me is that a very wise friend—actually a Palestinian Christian—challenged me to spend as much time with Israelis as I had been spending with Palestinians. 

So I began doing that. In subsequent trips I met with secular mainstream Jews.  I met with people in the Israeli peace movement. I ate Shabbat meals with Orthodox families. I talked with Israeli families who’d lost children to the violence of suicide bombers.  I listened to the perspective of Messianic Jews.  Perhaps most significantly, I walked slowly through the halls of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.   

In my second talk in Bethlehem, I described those experiences.

I also said, “I will never bring a group of people to visit Israel and Palestine again, without taking them to Yad Vashem.  How can we begin to understand this place without holding the reality of Jewish history in our conscious awareness?”

So, my heart had been broken on a deeper level for the Jewish people and that came through in my talk—and made a difference to the Jewish theologian.

What also happened during those two years was that the Jewish theologian spent time with Palestinians in the West Bank, and he actually saw the reality of their daily lives.  He said to me, “I still support the State of Israel and believe the Jews have a unique role to play in God’s redemptive plan.  But the kind of injustice I’ve seen in the West Bank, and that you have described in your talk, is unconscionable. It can’t continue. But few Jews actually know what’s going on here.”

That story—of those two very different conversations—is so encouraging to me.  I’ve been similarly encouraged by many people with whom I may disagree on some points of theology, but for whom I have the deepest respect, because they manifest a level of compassion and wisdom that challenges and humbles me. Honestly, when it comes to my engagement in the Holy Land, I’ve been blessed by gracious mentors from many different directions. 

At the same time that I’ve been encouraged, however, I have also been greatly discouraged—especially recently—by the increasing number of blogs and articles and emails written about or to me that question not only my theology, but my motives, my calling, and my intelligence. 

I’ve been called a threat to the state of Israel, a subtle (and therefore extremely dangerous) anti-Semite, a spokesperson for the PLO, and a Christian Palestinianist who traffics in anti-Israel propaganda and historical misinformation. 

And I’ve been described as part of a massive effort in the heart of the evangelical church to lure its members—especially its youth—away from the pro-Israel position God commands to an uncritical and unbiblical support for Palestinians. 

I am not new to the world of criticism. Forty years ago my husband and I started a church in a movie theater where we used drums and guitars in worship.  We were immediately denounced by the evangelical establishment that called us a cult and warned its young people to stay away from us. Since then, we’ve taken plenty of other actions that many people deemed worthy of criticism. Generally we don’t respond to our critics, unless they approach us personally. If we responded to every anonymous or public criticism, we would have little time to do anything else.

But, rightly or wrongly, I feel that I need to respond to the criticism related to my involvement in Israel and Palestine.  I’m choosing to do it in this setting, not because I believe my harshest critics are here; I don’t think they are.  But the recent criticism has challenged me to strip down my message and say very clearly what I mean and what I believe about the conflict. I’m doing it here because this is supposed to be a forum where we can speak honestly, if we do so carefully.

I want to clarify that I’m not speaking on behalf of my husband, my church, the Willow Creek Association, World Vision, The Telos Group, or any other organization with which I might be associated.  I am speaking strictly as an individual.
 
In the next few minutes I’ll make six “This Is What I Believe” statements.  Each of these statements deserves extensive discussion, which we don’t have time for today. So this is basically an outline, which needs to be developed more fully in another setting.

1. I believe it is possible to be truly pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian at the same time.  On my first meaningful trip to the region both Israeli and Palestinian leaders said, “This is not a zero-sum conflict; in the Holy Land, nobody wins unless everybody wins.  Either Israelis and Palestinians learn to live together, or we will die together.  If you’re here to pick a side, go away.  We don’t need that kind of help.  But if you are willing to figure out how to be a common friend to Israelis and Palestinians, then we welcome you.”

With each trip I make to the region my commitment to that perspective grows.

When I say I’m pro-Israeli, I mean that I support the existence of the State of Israel as a home for the Jewish people.  I want Jews to be able to live there without the fear of rockets falling from Gaza, or suicide bombers attacking civilians, or any other kind of violence against them.  In a world in which anti-Semitism is, tragically, still alive and well, I am thankful for the State of Israel. The fact that I may disagree with some of the policies of the government of Israel doesn’t mean that I’m anti-Israel or anti-Jew, anymore than my disagreement with certain policies of the US government means that I’m anti-US or anti-American.

When I say I’m pro-Palestinian, I mean that I believe the Palestinians have an equally valid right to live in the land and should have the same civil rights that are afforded to Israeli Jewish citizens, whether that’s in one state, two states, or however many states.  I believe Palestinians should be free from military occupation.  They should be able to travel freely between their own communities, engage in commerce, and have easy access to the outside world.

2.  I believe that if we want to engage in the Holy Land as peacemakers, we must recognize that Israelis and Palestinians have very different, and often conflicting, histories and narratives, each of which must be sought out and respectfully heard.  I have been accused of trading the Jewish narrative for a false Palestinian narrative.  I have to say, I just don’t understand that accusation.  How could two groups of people on opposite sides of a violent conflict not have different experiences of what happened, and different memories? 

When you pay attention to both narratives, it’s easy to understand why the Jews would want a homeland and why they feel they have a legitimate claim to the Holy Land based on biblical promises.  And it’s easy to understand why the Palestinians feel they have an equally valid claim on the land based on centuries of residence in the land.  

Certainly, either narrative can be mythologized and distorted and used to demonize the other.  So, part of our task as people seeking peace is to listen with a discerning ear, to study well, to question what we hear, and to learn from a wide variety of people. 

About year ago in Bethlehem I had just such an opportunity.  I attended a meeting of Palestinian women, both Christian and Muslim.  There were two speakers at the meeting.  One was an Israeli Messianic Jew who traveled into Bethlehem, actually breaking the Israeli law that forbade her to go into the West Bank, because she was so determined to meet with these Palestinian women. The other speaker at the event was a Palestinian Christian woman.   Each of these women, in turn, described the typical narrative that is commonly held by her people, and then she critiqued it. 

The Jewish women said, “You won’t like what I’m going to say, but this is what most Jews believe.  They believe that Jewish violence in the war of 1948 was purely defensive; Jews were simply defending themselves against Arab aggressors.  But before you get mad at me, I need to tell you that I realize that is not true.  The tragic truth is that in 1948 many Arabs were aggressively forced from their land and/or brutally killed by Jewish fighters.” She said, “Admitting this makes me pretty unpopular with some Israelis, but we must be open to self-criticism.”

The Palestinian woman described some of the hardships of the occupation, but then she said, “We Palestinians tend to think that all our problems are caused by the occupation.  But that’s not true.”  She said, “We must accept culpability for allowing a victim mentality to dominate our actions and for making many poor choices along the way that have hurt us collectively.”  That was hard for some of the Palestinian women to hear, and they discussed it at length.  But at the end of the meeting they asked to meet again so they could continue such discussions.

It was such a privilege to be able to sit in on that meeting.  How admirable, how wise, how courageous, for these women to be willing to listen to the narrative of the other and also to critique their own.  Surely, they are laying a foundation for peace, and modeling that for all of us. 

3. I believe biblical theology leaves room for Jews and Arabs to live together as neighbors and equals in the land. I recognize there are differing theologies of the land, based on differing hermeneutical approaches.  These differing theologies often appear to be at odds when it comes to the question of who rightly belongs in the land that we call holy. 

I hesitate to speak about this because I’m not a theologian, and I can’t enter theological battles.  But I so appreciate a book written by two people who will be speaking here: Salim Munayer (Palestinian Christian) and Lisa Loden (Messianc Jew).  They edited a book called The Land Cries Out, which includes essays by a wide variety of Messianic Jews, Palestinian Christians, and a few international voices.  There are many different theologies of the land presented in this book, but because most of the writers actually live in the land and deal with the complexity of reality, they speak with the careful, nuanced voices that complexity requires.

Some of the essayists make a strong case that the birth of the modern State of Israel in 1948 and the ingathering of the Jews to the Holy Land is a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy that’s tied to end time events and the second coming of Christ; other essayists have different ways of looking at that.  But running throughout all the chapters of the book was an image of Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, living together in the land in peace. 

For some of the writers (including both Palestinian Christians and a number of Messianic Jews), that peace could conceivably be manifested, to a degree anyway, in the two-state solution that is being discussed in current peace talks.  For others, that vision of peace is for a time far in the distance, when Jesus’ Kingdom is here in fullness.

But what strikes me as critically important is that people with different theological perspectives, who are willing to look at reality honestly and think carefully, can envision Jews and Arab living peacefully and equally as brother and sisters. 

4.  I believe that the ongoing military occupation of the West Bank and the continuing blockade of Gaza is a violation of human rights; as such, it deeply harms the security, freedom, and dignity of both peoples. The very fact that I use the word “occupation” has led some people to judge me as an enemy of the State of Israel; they have told me the only “occupation” is the one perpetrated by the Arabs who are occupying the land of Judea and Samaria that belongs to the Jews.

I won’t try to argue with the religious logic behind that claim, but I will say that I know many Israeli Jews who believe that the occupation is wrong; that it violates their Judaic ethic; that it breeds hostility and undermines security; and that it has to end. 

Just last week I read an op-ed by an Israeli journalist, an American Jew who moved to Israel as an adult because she loves Israel and wants to live there.  She wrote, “Why can’t ‘pro-Israel’ mean anti-occupation, support for human rights, equality, democracy for all peoples under Israel’s control?  Why should we perpetuate the conflict, by supporting Israeli government policies that perpetuate the conflict?”  She suggests, in fact, that that’s about “as anti-Israel as you can get.”

Some of my critics say that people who talk like the woman I just quoted, are left wing radicals that we as Christians should not be aligning ourselves with, or they’re self-hating Jews who should be silenced.  I can only say that I’ve met some left wing radicals who are also ardent Zionists who seem to be wise and compassionate people and who, in their words, are patriots who are fighting for the soul and security and integrity and future of their country.  I may be wrong, but I respect them and I think their voices ought to be heard in America.

5.  I believe that any violence against civilians, whether carried out militarily or through guerrilla tactics, is illegal under international law, damages prospects for peace, and should be stopped immediately. I want to state that clearly, because my critics have asked why I don’t spend more time talking about Islamic extremists and Hamas and the battle between Muslims and Christians.  Part of my reason is that I think we hear plenty about that.  I have no desire to give more airtime to the voices of violence.  

The other reason is that I’ve traveled to the Holy Land specifically in search of those who are committed to nonviolence, forgiveness and reconciliation.  Interestingly, those voices of peace have come from a variety of directions.  While I believe Jesus is the Prince of Peace whose power will ultimately unleash peace, I have met Muslims and Jews, who may or may not give any conscious consideration to Jesus, but who seem to be living out Jesus’ ethic of peacemaking.  In fact, they often challenge me to take Jesus’ way of living more seriously.  As I get to know them and become friends with them, I pray that the gentle community we create will become a space in which Jesus can do his best work of healing, redeeming, and transforming each of us in the ways we most need.  

6.  While I do pray for the peace process that’s now going on, and I hope there is some positive outcome from that, I acknowledge that our work for peace is not dependent on what happens in official, political peace talks—not because what happens politically is not important, but because what happens on the grassroots level of relationships is even more important.  And we are all positioned perfectly to make a difference there, as we build little enclaves of peaceful relationships from which peace can bubble up.

Several weeks ago, thirty American, Israeli and Palestinian women met for two days in Washington DC.  We were Christians, Muslims and Jews, religious and secular, youngish and oldish—united by our commitment to human rights in the Holy Land.

Some of the Palestinian women had been criticized by their friends in the West Bank for attending a meeting with Israelis, their oppressors.  Some of the Israeli women had been criticized by their friends for attending a meeting with Palestinians, their enemies. Some of the American women showed up at the meeting licking wounds sustained from journalists who wrongly judged our character and motives.

So, there was a rather high degree of emotional “rawness” in the gathering.  While that rawness could have pushed us all to put up protective barriers, it actually had the opposite impact.  There was an unusual level of honest communication and vulnerability, with Israeli and Palestinian women talking about the fears they have for their children and the loneliness they often feel as women committed to peace and reconciliation.  

There was a particularly profound connection between a young Palestinian woman and an older Israeli woman.  They were both psychologists, highly educated and articulate, but neither could quite contain their emotion as they spoke.  

The young Palestinian woman described what it was like to send her teenage son through a checkpoint, knowing that he would feel frustrated and humiliated; she feared that the humiliation, repeated over and over again, would turn him into an angry young man, maybe even a violent young man.  She tried to keep him away from checkpoints, but she couldn’t keep him locked in one little neighborhood.  So she feared for his future.

The older Israeli woman described what it was like knowing that her teenage grandson was an IDF soldier, standing at a checkpoint with a gun in his hand, terrified of using the power of that weapon, and yet terrified not to.  She didn’t want him to become the oppressor, but he was.  She feared what that would do to him, inside. 

The two women agreed:  “We are both victims of this conflict, this occupation, this ongoing tragedy.  We are both victims of the fear that sets our people against each other.”  

Then the Israeli woman spoke out of the wisdom of her years: “But look at us here,” she said, “in this room.  Today we talked about our fear, and instead of fear driving us apart, it has brought us together.  We need to keep talking with one another, deeply and honestly.  We need to use this fear to draw us together.”   I have to tell you there was magic in that room.  I have nothing against men, but I’m not sure that magic would have been felt in a roomful of men. 

The only thing that saddened us was knowing that, despite the wonderful connection we had in Washington DC, once the Israeli and Palestinian women went back home there would be no place for them to meet—except, one of them joked, at a checkpoint.  Interestingly, that idea of “pitching a tent of meeting at a checkpoint” became sort of a metaphor for our remaining conversations that day.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it continues to describe our future meetings.

I’m telling you this because I left that gathering deeply moved by the potential women have to establish healing relationships, and to advocate for human rights in a profoundly personal and captivating way.

One thing we speakers were asked to do in our presentations today is to share what we believe we can do for the sake of peace.  I have concluded that one of the most valuable things I can do is to create more and more connections between Palestinian, Israeli and American women—which will be my focus in the future.

Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

My goal will be to remind American and Israeli and Palestinian women that we do, in fact, belong to each another, and together we can do a work for peace that we could not do without each other. 

That is my vision for the future.

Anyone reading the articles posted on this blog will be able to see for themselves the reasons why I am not a believer in the very popular heresy known as Christian Zionism, but for the sake of those who don’t have the time to look through all the articles on this site, I thought I would briefly lay out my basic complaints with this so called Biblical doctine.

My first issue is with the Christian Zionist claim that (according to the Bible) God has unconditionally given the land of Israel-Palestine (call it IP in the rest of this post) to the Jewish people such that they own the land and therefore have the right to take it and do anything they wish with it. Christian Zionists claim that God has given the Jewish people “the title deed” to the land and hence since they own the land, they have the right to dispossess any non-Jews from the land regardless of how long or how many of them have lived there in the past or present.

This claim is so patently wrong that it amazes me that any serious reader of the Bible could hold to it. For the last two thousand years, no Orthodox Jew has ever believed that Jews have an unconditional right to IP.  The Orthodox Jewish understanding of thier relationship to IP is grounded in their concept of exile and redemption. According to this view, based on what Christians call the Old Testament of the Bible,  Jewish enterance and habitation of the land is absolutely conditional upon their adherance to the teachings of the Torah. Teachings that (apart from many other requirements) demand that non-Jews living in IP must be treated as equals with Jews living with them. Orthodox Jews all over the world still beleive that the Jewish exile is not over. Orthodox prayers seeking the end of exile are still regulalry prayed by Orthodox Jews all over the world. Exile is a spiritual problem and can only be solved by spiritual means. Military or political power are impotent to end Israel’s exile.

The understanding of the Christian Church is much the same as the above as it is based in the Old Testament, just as the Orhtodox Jewish view is. It seems that only Christian Zionsits ignore this point. How a secular Zionist state like modern Israel lives up to the covenental conditions of possession of IP is beyond the understanding of any serious student of scripture. This is no side issue. Anyone reading the curses given by God to a disobedient Jewish people inhabititng or, even trying to take IP,  by force or diplomacy (actions forbidden to Jews according to the famous Three Oaths of the Talmud) realise that it is the Israeli nation that is in a precarious position and rather than encourage them in their Zionist colonialist project (illegal as it is under International Law) we should be crying out to them to reform themselves and bring peace and justice to the land.

Secondly, Christian Zionists believe that the existence of the current Zionist state of Israel is an unambiguous portent of the imminent return of Christ. The most obvious problem I have (amongst others) is that scripture nowhere teaches that any such sign even exists. The Church has long believed that Christ can return at any time and hence the faithful should always be ready for His return in that they should be “about the Father’s business”, that is, living a life that exemplifies the Gospel of Reconcilliation that Jesus preaches in the New Testament. A life of righteousness, a life that seeks peace and justice for all God’s people and a special desire to standup for the poor and marginalised in our world.

Put another way, my problem is that if the Chrisitan Zionist understanding is correct, then believers in Christ, before May 1948, could have rightfully said to themselves that, ” He is not going to return today!” A proclamation quite logical according to the Christian Zionist view, but at odds with the plain teachings of the New Testament.

The prophets of scripture speak more like social critics, than Judaised pre-cursors to Nostradamus! The fatalism and indifference to the troubles of our world that is inevitable from the Christian Zionist viewpoint is nowhere to be found in the writings of either Testaments, or of Orthodox Jewish Rabbis for that matter.

Lastly, for this post, is the Christian Zionist view that unless we unconditionally support the Zionist state of Israel, God will bring punishment on us at both a national and personal level. According to this doctrine, since the Jewish people are a special chosen people of God, they have a sort of “get out of Jail free card” in that they must be supported in a manner that no loving parent would support even their own children. Unconditional love and unconditional support are two very different things as the scriptures so clearly teach.  A more Biblcial approach would be that God does not unconditionally support the nation of Israel because He unconditionally loves them.The prophet Amos clearly reveals that at times God’s wrath is upon Israel because of their priveliged status, not despite it. God has always lent his ear to the real complaints against the nation of Israel regardless of where those complaints come from and warned israel about not listening to the cry of the non-Jew and the vulnerable living with them in IP. To criticise the secular Zionist state of Israel is not remotely at odds with God’s attidue to the ancient nation of Israel. If Israel deseves criticism, then God is ready to hear it. In fact, as is plainly seen from scripture, it is God who ends up having to send prophets, critical of Israel, because noone is Israel is listening to the cries of the poor and the alien in the land.

Much more could be said than this and I encourage readers of this blog to look deeper into this matterr. Professor Yakov Rabkin’s book, “A Threat from Within – A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism” would be a good start.

CRAIG NIELSEN

After an unfortunately long absence from posting on my blog, I am back. To all the followers of my blog I apologize for the lack of posts! This is soon to change dramatically as I am leaving Australia on Sunday January 6th to visit Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza as part of a 14 day study tour with Union Aid Abroad. I imagine a long and healthy amount of blogging will ensue!

I will endeavor to meet up with some Rabbis from Neturei Karta in Jerusalem and will be reporting on the situation as I see it on a regular basis. I will be back in South Australia on Jan 23rd and back to my role as Maths and Science teacher at Waikerie High School the following week. Wish me luck and/or keep me in your prayers.

Regards,

Craig Nielsen

Professor Yakov Rabkin concludes his article on the Roots of Zionism.

Conclusion

The Zionist project in the Holy Land has passed the centenary mark. This initially socialist-oriented secular settlement has undergone sacralisation, becoming a focal point for right-wing Christian nationalists in many countries of Europe and beyond. Unlike Jews and Muslims in the Holy Land, who actually live with the conflict and know its practical consequences, Christian Zionists relate to the conflict from afar. For them the Holy Land remains a purely spiritual entity. This is why Christian Zionism, together with some adepts of National Judaism, may be the only truly religious obstacle to peace in Israel-Palestine, or, to be more precise, a mighty political obstacle rooted in religious discourse. While Jews constitute an indispensable instrument in the realization of the Restoration, their role remains subordinated to the theological desiderata of the Second Coming of Christ.

If there was a religion that inspired political Zionism, it was Protestantism, rather than Judaism. Jews were introduced to Zionism centuries after the idea was born in Protestant circles in Europe, and the current number of Christian Zionists is estimated at four to five times the total number of Jews in the world. These Christian and European contributions to the emergence of Zionism and the Zionist state must be taken into account in any analysis of the State of Israel and its position in the Middle East.

Christian Protestant Zionism, a precursor to Herzlian Zionism, is a crucial linchpin of unconditional support for Israel. For the evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell, the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 has been the most crucial event in history since the ascension of Jesus to heaven, and “proof that the second coming of Jesus Christ is nigh…. Without a State of Israel in the Holy Land, there cannot be the second coming of Jesus Christ, nor can there be a Last Judgement, nor the End of the World” (Tremblay 2003: 118). This theological position ensures that the identification of the Zionist state with Christian Evangelicals in the United States is complete. In a televised address to the annual meeting of Christians United for Israel in July 2011, Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “When you support Israel, you don’t have to choose between your interests and your values; you get both. … Our enemies think that we are you, and that you are us. And you know something? They are (96 | MEDITERRANEAN REVIEW | Vol. 5, No. 1 [June 2012]) absolutely right. (Mozgovaya 2011)”

 About Yakov M. Rabkin

 Professor Rabkin has taught Jewish and Russian history, and the history of science at the University of Montreal since 1973. He is the author of Science between the Superpowers, a study of Soviet-American relations in science and technology (Priority Press, 1988), co-editor of The Interaction of Scientific and Jewish Cultures in Modern Times (The Edwin Mellen Press, 1995) and editor of Diffusion of New Technologies in Post-Communist Europe (Kluwer, 1997). His book A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism (Fernwood/Zedbooks) has been translated into twelve languages. It was nominated for Canada’s Governor-General Award and for the Hecht Prize for studies in Zionism in Israel. The Asahi Shimbun in Japan listed it among three Best Non-Fiction Books of the Year in 2010. His most recent book is What is Israel? published in Tokyo (Heibonsha) in June 2012. His list of professional publications consists of over two hundred titles. It includes studies of science in Russian and Soviet cultures, studies of non-western research cultures, of relations between science, cultures and traditions as well as contemporary Jewish history and relations between Zionism and religion. He received over twenty research awards, scholarships and fellowships.

His comments on the Middle East and international relations frequently appear on major TV and radio networks, including BBC, NHK, Radio-Canada and Radio-France as well as in printed media, including International Herald Tribune, Baltimore Sun, El Milenio, Newsweek, La Presse, and Jerusalem Post. He has been an expert witness for the Standing Committee on External Affairs and International Trade of the Parliament of Canada and has consulted for various international organizations, including the World Bank and NATO. He has also served as expert witness at legal proceedings in Britain, Canada and Israel.

The fourth post on the Roots of Zionism by Professor Yakov Rabkin

Jewish Detractors of Zionism

 Most people almost automatically associate Judaism and Zionism. The press routinely calls Israel “the Jewish State.” Israeli politicians often speak “in the name of the Jewish people.” What could be more normal than to see  Jewish religion as the foundation of the birth, some would say rebirth, of the State of Israel? Are not the Jews of the Diaspora often seen as aliens, outsiders or perhaps even Israeli citizens taking a long holiday far from “home”?

Comparisons of Jewish Zionists’ attitudes to Israel with the way other diasporas relate to their former countries miss important differences. Unlike Italians in North America whose immediate ancestors came from Italy (or who came from Italy themselves), most American and Canadian Jews came from Europe, not Israel/Palestine. Unlike these Italians who speak or spoke Italian, these Jews and their ancestors spoke Yiddish, not Hebrew, for the simple reason that Hebrew had not been spoken for many centuries. These Jewish immigrants’ eating habits developed in Eastern Europe had nothing to do with Middle Eastern fare, such as falafel, nowadays considered the quintessential Israeli food. Many Jews’ perception of themselves as being somehow a diaspora of today’s Israel is a particularly interesting case of “imagined communities. (Anderson)” Of course the way the nearly one million Israeli expatriates relate to their home country does resemble the attitude of Italian and other diasporas around the world. Ever since the creation of their political movement more than a century ago, Zionists have claimed to be the vanguard of the entire Jewish people. Some of them even assert that any threat to the survival of the State of Israel is a threat to the survival of Jews throughout the world. For them, Israel has become not only the guarantor of Jewish survival but also the standard-bearer of Judaism. Reality, in the event, is far more complex. (90 | MEDITERRANEAN REVIEW | Vol. 5, No. 1 [June 2012])

From the beginning, Zionism, widely understood as a point of rupture in Jewish history, provoked rejection on the part of most Jews. Critics of Zionism among them represent the entire gamut of contemporary Jewish experience. The Zionist movement and the creation of the State of Israel have caused one of the greatest schisms in Jewish continuity. An overwhelming majority of those who defended and interpreted the traditions of Judaism had opposed what was to become a vision for a new society, a new concept of being Jewish, a program of massive immigration to the Holy Land and the use of force to establish political hegemony there. Today, while overt rejection of Zionism has clearly abated among Jews, younger cohorts continue to desert the ranks of Israel’s Jewish supporters (Goldstein 2011). The number of active religious opponents to Zionism has remained relatively small, perhaps no more than a few hundred thousand (Ravitzky 1996: 60). But, argue Ravitzky and other Israeli experts, their influence has spread among the pious to an extent far exceeding their numbers. At the funeral service for Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum (c. 1887-1979), the author of Va-Yoel Moshe, the fundamental text of Judaic anti-Zionism (Teitelbaum 1985), several prominent rabbis, even those who opposed him during his lifetime, declared that the path of the departed was the only true one, and that it was only their weakness that prevented them from following him. This explains the Zionist leaders’ determination to undermine and marginalize religious opposition to Zionism. Important in this sense is the political assassination of Jacob Israel De Haan (1881-1924) by the Zionist militia Haganah. He was the spokesman of the anti-Zionist Agudath Israel, and the Zionists feared that De Haan would be able to set up a rival organization made up of anti-Zionist rabbinical leaders that would develop cooperation with Arab leaders. Such an eventuality struck fear into the Zionists because, in demographic terms, they were then still in the minority in Palestine (Danziger 1983: 443-4). Historically, the antagonism between Zionism and traditional Judaism should be seen in the context of the interplay of different tendencies that characterized the evolution of the Judaic belief.

This kind of religious opposition refuses to vanish in spite of the impressive achievements of Zionism and of the state that embodies it. One of the reasons for this persistence is something both Zionist intellectuals and the rabbis who oppose Religious Roots of a Political Ideology: | Yakov M. Rabkin | Judaism and Christianity at the Cradle of Zionism | 91them often agree on: Zionism is a negation of Jewish heritage and tradition (Rabkin 2006). Yosef Salmon, an Israeli authority on the history of Zionism, writes about the reactions to the emergence of the new political movement: It was the Zionist threat that offered the gravest danger, for it sought to rob the traditional community of its very birthright, both in the Diaspora and in Eretz Israel [the Land of Israel], the object of its messianic hopes. Zionism challenged all the aspects of traditional Judaism: in its proposal of a modern, national Jewish identity; in the subordination of traditional society to new life-styles; and in its attitude to the religious concepts of Diaspora and redemption. The Zionist threat reached every Jewish community. It was unrelenting and comprehensive, and therefore it met with uncompromising opposition. (Salmon 1998: 25)

Virulent opposition to Zionism and to the State of Israel has been the hallmark of several Orthodox Jewish movements. They consider Zionism to be a heresy, a denial of fundamental messianic beliefs and a violation of the promise made to God not to acquire the Holy Land by human effort. At the core of their opposition lies the centrality of exile, a universalist religious concept indifferent to geographic location. The alliance of anti-Zionist forces produced, within a few years of the first Zionist congress, several anthologies drawn from a broad range of rabbinical authorities in Eastern Europe (Landau 1900; Steinberg 1902). Among other things, they objected to the evacuation of all normative content from the Jewish identity, and its reduction to a replica of the secular European identity.

Orthodox Jews in Germany were no less determined to reject Zionism than their brethren in Eastern Europe whom they used to call Ostjuden and often treated with condescension. Indeed, German Jews pressured their government not to allow the first Zionist congress to be held in their country and it was therefore finally transferred to Basel, Switzerland. Rejection of Jewish nationalism drew its inspiration from influential Judaic authorities. German Rabbi Isaac Breuer (1883-1946), fulminated in the wake of World War I: “Zionism is the most terrible enemy that has ever arisen to the Jewish Nation. The anti-nationalistic Reform engages [the Jewish nation] at least in (92 | MEDITERRANEAN REVIEW | Vol. 5, No. 1 [June 2012]) an open fight, but Zionism kills the nation and then elevates the corpse to the throne” (Zur 1998: 111). Reform Jews have also formulated Judaic critiques of Zionism, drawing on their own interpretation of the Torah. Like virtually all the currents of Judaism in the early twentieth century, the Reform movement was firmly opposed to Zionism, which strove to create a new national identity. Prior to the rise of political Zionism in Europe, the program of Reform Judaism adopted in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1885, rejected all forms of Jewish nationalism (Mezvinsky 1989: 315). Reform Jews were thus prepared to refute Herzl’s Zionist theory, which postulated the absolute existence of anti-Semitism that would justify a state for the Jews. An early critic of Zionism, the Reform Jewish scholar Morris Jastrow (1861-1921) affirmed that “Judaism and Zionism are mutually exclusive”, emphasising that political Zionism was inspired by the anachronistic return to the tribal stage of Judaism (Jastrow 1919: 33). “Reform Judaism is spiritual, Zionism is political. The outlook of Reform Judaism is the world. The outlook of Zionism is a corner of western Asia,” declared Rabbi David Philipson in 1942 (Brownfeld 1997: 9). Not only did the vast majority of Jews initially reject Zionism, but the founder of the movement felt quite uneasy about his own Jewishness: “the moment which is considered the beginning of Herzl’s “conversion” to Zionism is also the moment in which he most strongly wanted to occlude the fact that he was Jewish” (Piterberg 2008: 2). This unease of several Zionist leaders could also be seen in the belief of Arthur Ruppin, the father of the Zionist settlement in Palestine, who believed that “the Ashkenazi Jew was closer to the Indo-Germanic races than the Semitic ones” (Piterberg 2008: 84).

Ben-Gurion saw Judaism as “the historical misfortune of the Jewish people” (Leibowitz 1995: 144). Hatred of religious Jews, particularly of the haredim, the so-called “ultra-Orthodox”, in Israeli society has reached levels unimaginable elsewhere in the world, and it has been suggested that anti-Semitic prejudice is alive and well in the only state that calls itself Jewish (Efron 1991: 15-22; 88-90). As the battles for territory were being waged in Palestine in 1948, the prominent German Jewish scholar Martin Buber (1878-1965), who settled in Palestine in the late 1930s, was bitterly disappointed with the path Zionism had taken before his eyes. On this occasion he wrote: “This sort of Zionism (Religious Roots of a Political Ideology: | Yakov M. Rabkin | Judaism and Christianity at the Cradle of Zionism | 93) blasphemes the name of Zion; it is nothing more than one of the crude forms of nationalism” (Buber 1948). Jewish intellectuals remain divided in their attitudes to Israel’s policies and practices as well as to its founding ideology, Zionism.

While the Jewish tradition repeatedly cautions Jews against personal or collective pride, it was precisely in these traits that the Zionists sought the kind of respect that they defined in terms of the classic Western criteria for success. Heroic romanticism, in a clean break with Rabbinic Judaism, put down roots in these new Jewish circles in the 1920s-30s, exhibiting traits of the then widely admired fascism. This is why Jewish socialists and communists have denounced Zionism as a betrayal of internationalism and a crass attempt to camouflage ethnic nationalism and promote fascist attitudes. The socialist founders of the State of Israel have come under criticism for using socialist forms of social organization as a temporary expedient to reach their nationalist goals (Sternhell 1998). This would explain the attraction Israel currently exercises on ethnic nationalists, often with a recent anti-Semitic past, in Europe. Now that old socialist forms have been largely abandoned, this admiration keeps growing, involving a broad range of anti-Islam and anti-immigrant groups. It would be wrong to view Zionism as only a vestige of nineteenth century nationalism and colonialism: Israel appears as a trendsetter for a number of European politicians espousing ethnic nationalism and convinced of the imminent “clash of civilizations”.

For many Jews, and for most Jewish organizations, loyalty to Israel has replaced allegiance to Judaism. A veteran of Jewish organisations who has taken a critical distance from his institutional past and from “Jewish community McCarthyism” has stated that for many Jewish organisations, “if you do not support the government of Israel, then your Jewishness, and not your political judgment, will be called into question” (Hedges 2002). The veteran Israeli statesman Abba Eban (1915-2002) used to point out that the main task of Israeli propaganda (he would call it hasbara, or explanation/public diplomacy) is to make it clear to the world that there is no difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Consequently, prosecution of critics of Israel as anti-Semites has been attempted in France and other countries. These measures to silence opponents of Zionism seem to bear fruit at the time of writing, as pro-Israel groups propose to outlaw boycotting and (94 | MEDITERRANEAN REVIEW | Vol. 5, No. 1 [June 2012]) other non-violent forms of protest against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians (Keefer 2010).

Most non-Arab Israelis are reluctant to admit the injustices done to the indigenous population of Palestine in the course of Zionist colonization of Palestine; they would not attribute the enduring enmity of the displaced Palestinians to grievances about their deportation and dispossession. In spite of consistent efforts by Israeli dissidents (http://zochrot.org/en) to inform their compatriots of the expulsions and dispossessions of Palestinians, legislative initiatives threatened to outlaw commemoration of the Nakba and therefore further obliterate this tragedy from the Israelis’ collective memory. Rather, “the Arabs” and “the Muslims” are portrayed as irrational haters, religious fanatics or even modern-day Nazis. The current centre among Zionist parties in Israel has moved significantly to the right of the Revisionist movement, which used to be condemned as militarist and fascist. Soon after the unilateral declaration of the State of Israel in May 1948, prominent secular Jewish intellectuals, including Hannah Arendt and Albert Einstein, qualified the party currently representing Israel’s mainstream (Likud, the heir to Herut) as a fascist party practicing terrorism (New Palestine Party … 1948). Since then, Likud has shifted to a more exclusive and uncompromising nationalism than that espoused by its founders Vladimir Jabotinsky (1880-1940) and Menahem Begin (1913-1992).

The disappearance of meaningful distinctions between left and right and a shift from a socialist egalitarian economic ethos to a neo-liberal one has been facilitated in Israel by a steady growth of what Israeli observers term as exclusive nationalism (Okon 2010; Burston 2007). “The Arab threat”, which has taken the rhetorical shape of “the Muslim threat” in the last two decades, has helped successive Israeli governments to apply these neo-liberal reforms with relative ease. The mass demonstrations in Israel in the summer of 2011 only proved this point by focusing on issues of social justice to the exclusion of “the Arab question”. Western reactions to the events of September 11, 2001 embraced Israel’s official narrative about the Muslims’ irrational hatred of progress and freedom and hostility to “Judeo-Christian” values. In the meantime, Israel had become a privileged source of expertise and equipment in “the war on terror” conducted by Western nations. Religious Roots of a Political Ideology: | Yakov M. Rabkin | Judaism and Christianity at the Cradle of Zionism | 95

About Professor Rabkin

Professor Rabkin has taught Jewish and Russian history, and the history of science at the University of Montreal since 1973. He is the author of Science between the Superpowers, a study of Soviet-American relations in science and technology (Priority Press, 1988), co-editor of The Interaction of Scientific and Jewish Cultures in Modern Times (The Edwin Mellen Press, 1995) and editor of Diffusion of New Technologies in Post-Communist Europe (Kluwer, 1997). His book A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism (Fernwood/Zedbooks) has been translated into twelve languages. It was nominated for Canada’s Governor-General Award and for the Hecht Prize for studies in Zionism in Israel. The Asahi Shimbun in Japan listed it among three Best Non-Fiction Books of the Year in 2010. His most recent book is What is Israel? published in Tokyo (Heibonsha) in June 2012. His list of professional publications consists of over two hundred titles. It includes studies of science in Russian and Soviet cultures, studies of non-western research cultures, of relations between science, cultures and traditions as well as contemporary Jewish history and relations between Zionism and religion. He received over twenty research awards, scholarships and fellowships.

His comments on the Middle East and international relations frequently appear on major TV and radio networks, including BBC, NHK, Radio-Canada and Radio-France as well as in printed media, including International Herald Tribune, Baltimore Sun, El Milenio, Newsweek, La Presse, and Jerusalem Post. He has been an expert witness for the Standing Committee on External Affairs and International Trade of the Parliament of Canada and has consulted for various international organizations, including the World Bank and NATO. He has also served as expert witness at legal proceedings in Britain, Canada and Israel.