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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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 8 February 2014
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
3. Sermons on Romans 11 – Martyn Lloyd Jones
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
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.
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.
Following on from my objections in part one and two, I reject Christian Zionism because of its unconditional support for the current Zionist State of Israel. I find this to be objectionable on political grounds as I firmly believe Zionist Israel to be an Apartheid state which is involved in a colonialist mission in the West Bank and Gaza. This colonialist project is fundamentally at odds with International Law and ethically bankrupt, as it is a clear violation of any reasonable concept of human rights. As an occupying force in the West Bank, and the ultimate authority over the “open air prison” that is Gaza, the Zionists have violated every law governing the behaviour of occupying forces as laid out by the United Nations.
Objections to my position usually start with the fact that anyone who believes in democracy should support Israel, as it a democracy: the only democracy in the Middle East. One should note that at the writing of this post, the western world is celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela. Mandela fought against apartheid in South Africa in the name of freedom and democracy for all South Africans. As noted in previous posts, Mandela fundamentally supported the cause of the Palestinian people and identified his struggle with that of the Palestinians. Mandela declared the policies of Israel regarding the Palestinian people as definitely being a form of apartheid. Alan Boesak, a long time South African opponent of apartheid said that the system of oppression in the West Bank and Gaza was worse than the system in South Africa.
The claim that Israel is a democracy needs to be looked at carefully, but even if Israel is a democracy, why does that mean that its treatment of Palestinians is ethically sound? I do not remotely believe that Israel’s violations of International Law and human rights are the worst of any country in the world. But that hardly means that I should therefore support them and not be critical of them! I believe that during World War 2, Italy was not as guilty of human rights violations as Nazi Germany, but that hardly means that I support Mussolini!
As a school teacher, I routinely hear the objection, to my rebuke of a student caught off task, that, “I should be picking on other students, that are involved in greater wrong doing”. This is not an argument from the student that he/she is innocent, but, in 99.9% of cases, is an attempt to evade responsibility by shifting attention away from the issue of the student’s behaviour in the first place. I believe the Zionist state of Israel makes very similar claims. When caught doing what is universally recognised as being against the law, simply finding someone else who is doing something worse and allegedly getting away with it, is not an ethically sound response. Certainly I think it will hold no weight in God’s eyes.
But is Israel a democracy? The answer is yes and no. Mainly no, I believe. The reason for this is that being a democracy goes beyond the simple idea of giving everyone a vote. Democracy is about real power sharing. It’s true that Arabs inside the Zionist State do have the right to vote. The problem is that the state of Israel has been put together in such a way so that it is impossible for Arabs in Israel ever to have real power at the ballet box. Israel accomplished this by firstly expelling hundreds of thousands of Arabs from their homes within the borders of the newly formed state of Israel in 1948. This made sure that Israel now had a majority of Jews within their borders. They now made this majority permanent by enacting laws that basically forbade anyone but Jewish people to migrate to Israel. Hence the Zionists had created their dream of a majority Jewish state that would be owned by Jews in a way that non-Jews could never hope to attain no matter how many generations of their ancestors had lived in the land. The Zionist State is not a state for all its citizens. It is a Jewish state. It conveys rights and privileges to Jews that non-Jews can never have.
It is worth noting that other nations, like Iran for example, have Jewish people as members of their parliament, yet I doubt that anyone would claim that Iran is a democracy.
If Arabs had real political power in Israel to change their situation, I doubt that they would ever need to resort to violent resistance. They would not need to. But with a Zionist State with a permanent majority of Jewish people (at the very least 80%) no real change can ever be made at the ballot box. Israel is a Zionist State and this Zionist ideology is not up for grabs at polling booths in Israel on voting day, it never can be, the type of “democracy” that exists in Israel has seen to that.
For most Christian Zionists, it is probably irrelevant whether or not the State of Israel is guilty of the crime of Apartheid. This is probably due to their unconditional allegiance to the Zionist State. They care little if Israel is guilty of discrimination against Palestinian Arabs. As far as they are concerned, Arabs in Israel and the Occupied Territories are persona non grata at best. At worst, they are irredeemable reprobates who desire nothing but the destruction of the Jewish people and the thwarting of God’s plan of salvation through Christ (even if they are Christian Arabs in the vast majority of cases).
The only crime the State of Israel can commit, in the eyes of Christian Zionists, is to give land rights and rights of self determination to Arabs. Stopping the dispossession of Arabs in Israel and the Occupied Territories is the only thing that Zionist Israel can do that would warrant a rebuke from the Christian supporters of Zionism.
Getting back to the issue of apartheid in Israel, it is often stated, by supporters of Zionist Israel, that the claim that Israel is guilty of the crime of Apartheid is absurd because anyone with any understanding of South Africa can see that the Zionist State is vastly different from the South Africa of the apartheid era. They argue that if it can be shown that modern Israel is sufficiently differnt from apartheid South Africa, then Israel can not possibly be guilty of the crime of apartheid and hence should not suffer any sanctions.
The error in this arguement falls fundamentally in the direction of the comparison. It is not a matter of how Zionist Israel stacks up against South Africa, but how it stacks up against the definition of the crime of apartheid as described by international law.
As an example, take the case of the infamous Australian serial killer, Ivan Milat. One might object to calling him a serial killer because his number of victims was small in comparison to serial killers like the notorious American murderer, Ted Bundy. So if we compare Milat to Bundy, since Milat is not equivalent to Bundy, then Milat must not be a serial killer. The flaw in this logic is obvious.
Yet this is the very same type of logic used to argue that Israel is not an apartheid state.
Comparisons of Israel to South Africa are interesting, but completely miss the point in answering the case against Israel with respect to its guilt with reference to the crime of apartheid. In some ways Israel is better than South Africa was, and in some ways worse. The comparison is irrelevant. What matters is how Zionist Israel can defend itself against the charge that it is guilty of the crime of apartheid according to the definition given by international law. Not the spurious charge that it is guilty of being identical to South Africa in the era of apartheid in that country.
Just adding a few thoughts on from my last post. One other reason that I can not support the doctrines of Christian Zionism relates to the outrageous bias and racism that seems to be associated with this theology, if one could call it that. Let me explain…
As a supporter of the Palestinian people in their search for justice and peace in their homeland, I am equally concerned with the rights of Israelis and Jewish people in general no matter where they live. I would not want to see the homes of Israelis bulldozed in the manner that Palestinian homes are at the present. I don’t wish to see checkpoints run by Palestinians pop up all over Israel causing the same humiliations and frustrations that the Palestinian people now endure on a daily basis.
I do not lobby for the creation of a Palestinian state that would be owned by Arabs in a manner that non-Arab residents never could, as is the case in Zionist Israel today where Jews own the Israeli state in a manner that Arabs do not and never can. Descrimination and racism are equally abhorent no matter who it is directed at or by whom it comes from.
I believe in the rights of Israelis to live their lives in peace and security throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world. No Palestinian has the arbitrary right to dispossess them no matter what the alleged justification is, be it religious or otherwise.
In otherwords, I believe in the rights of both parties and consider this to part of a God given mandate to every person on Earth. Yet I would clearly have to abandon this God given mandate if I were to become an advocate of Christian Zionism. Christian Zionists show no concern for the rights of Palestinians. They could not care less if millions of Palestinian Arabs are dispossessed and forced to live in refugee camps. They consider that Jews have every right to expell Arabs from their homes in Israel or the Occupied territories and care nothing for the plight of these people once they have been disposseessed. In the minds of Christian Zionists, the Palestinians deserve this fate as they are illegal occupiers of the Jewish homeland and since they come under God’s wrath, then they should come under our wrath as well.
Christian Zionists abhor acts of terrorism by Arabs and Muslims, but show not the slightest interest in condemning the terrorist acts of groups like the Irgun, The Stern Gang and the Haganah. In my ,and the case of every Palestinian solidarity activist I have ever met, ALL acts of terrorism are equally tragic and must be condemned.
To be a Christian Zionist requires that you must abandon any ideas of equality of human beings with regards to any of the rights that we would normally consider to be fundamental. This is something I simply will not do and no person should be asked to do anything but condemn such ideas.
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.
Due to illness and work committments I have been unable to post on my blog for some months. My apologies for this. Hopefully I will, from now on, be able to post more regularly, particularly concernng my recent trip to the West Bank.
Quite possibly the most surreal experience of my life came during my recent stay in Jerusalem when I decided to go and visit one of the Rabbis from the staunchly anti-Zionist Orthodox Jewish organization known as Neturei Karta. While I am convinced that the anti-Zionist position taken by Neturei Karta is virtually identical to the mainstream Orthodox position on Zionism some 50 to 100 years ago, I am equally convinced that nowadays their viewpoints are very much in the minority.
What is extremely disturbing, is the virulent hatred for these Rabbis that is both harboured and promoted by Zionist Jews. I would be hard pressed to remember a case where such dreadful words of hatred and violence are spoken towards a people who basically want to be left alone to live in peace with all men…, Jew, Muslim, Arab and Chrisitian.
I visited the home of Rabbi Hirsch, a Neturei Karta Rabbi, who lives in the Orthodox suburb of Jerusalem known as Mea Shearim. Walking down the main street of this suburb is something that I will never forget. Every person, except myself, was wearing the traditional black clothing that is the standard ‘unifrom’ of the Orthodox. It was like walking into a time machine, into an age and a place more foreign to me than anything I could have ever imagined. Yet at the same time I felt perfectly safe, just as safe as I felt walking through any Arab part of Jerusalem at any time of the day or night. I spoke to a number of Orthodox Jews, all of them very friendly and helpful, some even willing to talk about Zionism and Israel and a few even reminding me gently that the views held by Neturei Karta represent a tiny minority!
While I was dressed appropriatley for the occassion and obvioulsy not a western looking female, or a tourist running around taking photos, I felt that my presence in Mea Shearim was quite easily tolerated. Wandering through the tiny, dimmly light neighbourhoods trying to find Rabbi Hirsch’s home was daunting and yet fascinating.
Having finally found the Rabbis house at about 11:00pm at night, the Rabbi warmly invited me in and I sat down with him and his family and started to talk about the issue that burns in the both of us, be it for probably different reasons.
After spending about two hours talking with this Rabbi and his family, I could not help but see a man, very passionate about his convictions, but mostly concerned with finding a way to live in peace with his fellow men and women. He believes a key to this is telling the world that Zionism is not Judaism. That the current problems in the region are not the cause of relgious conflict or bigotry, be it from Christians, Jews or Muslims. As Orthodox Jews who have lived throughout the world, they are used to being surrounded by peoples of other faiths and cultures.
No, the problem, in the Rabbis opinion, and in my opinion, lay fundamentally at the feet of a type of European colonialist ideology that is known as Zionism. This is obviously not to say that no fault can be found with Palestinian Arabs in their handling of the conflict. That would be ridiculous. But the roots of the conflict and the ongoing oppression of Palestinian Arabs can be found in the Zionists states unwillingness to give up on it’s colonialist project which the Rabbi and I find to be unjust and immoral.
I discovered no words of hatred from the mouth of the Rabbi who sees that, as an Orthodox Jew living in a Zionist state, he is a Jew in exile, living within an exile. He mourns the death of every Jew and Arab in the conflict and seeks to be reconciled with all his fellow men and women. No curses were reserved for his detractors nor does he somehow wish to see a return to the days of oppression of Jews in Europe.
As the night wore on, the more I could see how much I had in common with this man’s family. The more our common humanity, desire for peace, justice and reconciliation became obvious, the more pain I felt for these people who are treated in such a vile way by other Jews. How is it that those like myself can be labelled an anti-Semite even when I have plainly stated that I firmly believe in the rights of Jews to live every and anywhere in the world they wish in peace, justice and freedom, while those who cry out for the death of Neturei Karta Rabbis claiming that Neturei Karta do all they can to ensure another Holocaust, can do so without the slightest accusation of anti-Semitism, is unfathomable to me.
My visit to Mea Shearim, and the world of the Orthodox anti-Zionist Jewish people will stay with me for ever. Their warmth and hospitality was matched only by their passion for peace and justice in the Middle East. Though as a western Chrisitan I will always have disagreements with them from a theological perspective, and I realise that many people’s visit to Mea Shearim was not so enjoyable as mine, I will always consider the Rabbis of Neturei Karta to be basically a people on a mission of peace and reconcilliation, and as such, I call them brothers and sisters in the faith.
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.
Professor Yakov Rabkin concludes his article on the Roots of Zionism.
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.