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How did we ever survive without Israel? The following comments were sent to me by a Christian friend of mine who does a lot of surfing on the net, looking at the blogs of conservative Christians to get an idea of what is going on in the world of the religious right. In my experience the sentiments here expressed are typical of Christian Zionism.
“We better be on our toes and identify with Israel because in the last days to be identified with them is to be identified with their God. Nations will be judged upon their treatment of this people, as everything is condensed down to how they treat these his chosen people…. It is the issue of Israel in the end that reveals all hearts. Even to the point of martyrdom for the believers if they refuse to bow down to the false god. Two clear cut choices with no fence sitting allowed. Just like Jesus as the rock many stumble over, likewise nations are brought to the valley of decision over Israel.” (I will not reveal the author’s name in order to protect the identity of the uninformed). To me this statement borders on idolatry.
Perhaps I am going too far with the previous statement but the placing of attitudes of Christians towards the Zionist state of Israel on a par with our attitude towards Jesus is certainly going too far as well. We are not called to give our lives to the Zionist State of Israel, we are not called to follow the Zionists regardless of the cost. It was not the Zionist state that put the Sermon on the Mount out as a press release. The state of Israel does not vicariously represent God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It was the Son of God (not the Zionist State of Israel) that vicariously died for the sins of all humanity (Jews, Palestinian Arabs, Muslims and Christians included). The connection made between the Zionist State of Israel and Jesus almost inevitably leads to a type of transference, whereby the State of Israel becomes our very Savior and the words of Jesus about loving ones enemies and seeking reconciliation and peace with all men, evaporates in a cloud of religious nationalism.
The intention of God in creating the Children of Israel was to create a Royal Priesthood, a Holy nation and through them God would “bless all families of the Earth”. For the Christian Zionists, God has made the state of Israel to be a line in the sand where we can clearly see our enemies so as to unambiguously direct all our hatred and blame for the evil in the world on them. Apparently God made Israel to divide, not reconcile. It is not surprising that the religious right take this attitude about the State of Israel; it is the very same way that they have been portraying Jesus for decades.
For many Christians, the teachings of the Bible lock into their desperate need to affirm their own identity by degrading the identity of others. We call this self righteousness. It is one thing to criticise the ideology of others that you disagree with (as I am doing here) but it is entirely another thing to virtually deify one particular racial or ethnic identity over another. In dying on the cross for us, Jesus identified equally with all of humanity. Israel is the front line in the war of Us (civilization, decency, democracy, Christianity, Salvation, Education, women’s rights, free speech and any and every other virtue you can name) against Them (Islam, Arabs, totalitarianism, sexism, evil, pedophilia, eternal damnation to hell, and just about every other vice you can think of), according to every Christian Zionist I have spoken to in the last year. If Israel falls, then all is lost. The Arab/Muslim world will overrun us somehow and we will all be praying to Mecca, circumcising our women and forcing them to wear the Berka before you can count up to “Dispensationalism”. This type of fear mongering will always get a victory of sorts in the short term, but in the end I believe the truth will win, and when the truth wins, we all win.
Inconvenient facts like that Muslims (having been readers of the Koran for centuries) have never seen anything in Judaism/Jewishness to flag Jews as intrinsic enemies of Islam, requiring the death penalty, for some thirteen centuries in the Arab world before the advent of Zionism or that anti-Zionist Arabs still see that Judaism is not to blame for the current violence in the Middle East or that the world was not in any peril from Islamic hordes before the State of Israel existed or that even repressive Islamic states like Iran, that have tens of thousands of Jews living in them, are not hell bent on the extermination of the Jews they have within their borders, are just completely forgotten. How on earth did civilization survive without Zionist Israel? Christian Zionism attributes a burden of importance on Israel never intended by God. They are not the saviors of the world.
Why should any nation, or person, unconditionally support the State of Israel when one of the most patently obvious facts of the Bible is that God has never unconditionally supported Israel Himself? There is no greater critic of Israel in the Bible than God and the prophets He sent. Read the curses that God will bring down on the Israelites if they disobey Him and are sent into exile that are written in scripture (see Deuteronomy 28:15 – 68). Is God an anti-Semite? Was Jesus a self hating Jew? We need to refocus on the real teachings of Jesus with regards to how we treat those we disagree with, and are different from, by taking a deeper look at the Sermon on the Mount and the ethical traditions of Judaism.
The words of an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi ring true…
“Our business is only to follow the laws of the Torah. Of course, often when people try to fulfill scriptural prophecies they end up violating G_d’s laws on the way. Our opposition to Zionism is based on the laws of the Torah, which obligate Jews to be in exile until the messiah comes.” True Torah Jews. (2008, June 11). Questions from Christians: What Do You Say About the Magazine Tomorrows World? Message posted to True Torah Jews Discussion Forum, archived at http://www.jewsagainstzionsim.com/about/
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