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Israel or Genocide?

Many Zionists and supporters of Israel tell us that the State of Israel is the only real guarantee for the survival of the Jewish people. I remember once hearing how Jewish people who did not support the Zionist State were referred to as “Jews for Genocide” by some Zionists. A Jewish friend of mine, having renounced her Israeli citizenship, told me that as a child growing up in Israel she was constantly taught that another Holocaust was just around the corner. It was not a matter of if, but when. Zionism teaches that assimilation or integration for Jews outside of Israel is a dangerous day dream since anti-Semitism is like an incurable illness in all gentiles, even the nice ones.

It seems, from my observation, that Zionism promotes the idea in Jewish people that their abuse (the Holocaust) plays a very large part in their identity as Jews. This is the very opposite of what counselors encourage their clients, who have been abused as children, to believe about themselves. I guess in the end how Jewish people choose to identify themselves with regard to this issue is their choice. It is finally up to the Jewish people themselves to come up with an interpretation of the meaning of the Holocaust that they can live with.

Having said that, I find the notion that the survival of the Jewish people is critically dependent on the existence of the Zionist State of Israel, to be hard to fathom. Zionists are happy to affirm that from 130AD, to the beginning of the Zionist era in Palestine, Jewish people survived without the State of Israel being in existence in any form. Even the survival of the Holocaust itself by the Jews of Europe also occurred without the existence of Israel. Only about 250,000 Jews migrated to Palestine in the years of Nazi Germany. Only after the Holocaust did Jews move in large numbers to Palestine. Historically, one of the main ways that Jews avoided anti-Semitism, was to spread out in communities all over the world. This meant that if anti-Semitism sprung up in one place, that Jews would have multiple escape routes to safety. Bunching up made Jews more vulnerable. One could argue that the current situation in Israel is a testimony to the common sense of this approach for Jews today. The majority of Jews freely choose to live outside of Israel while seeing the Zionist state as a sort of insurance policy against another Holocaust.

From a Christian point of view, I see that the survival of the Jewish people (where ever they live) is due to the merciful hand of the Almighty, as it is for all the peoples of the earth. The nation of Israel, however, was never created by God as a place for Jews to “hide” from anti-Semitism. The Divine mandate for Jews in Israel was far more positive and inspiring than anything Zionist ideology can come up with. The biblical teaching regarding God’s protection of Israel in ancient times is very instructive when compared to today’s Israel. In biblical times, when Israel went to war, God commanded Israel to enter battle with inferior troops so that when the battle was won, it would be unambiguously due to the gracious hand of God and not the military strength of the Israelites. How different to the situation with the current state of Israel!

Israel today is one of the most militarised nations in the world. The armed forces are held in very high regard by the majority of Israelis. Virtually all political leaders in Israel have been military leaders sometime in their careers as well. Israel boasts one of the most well trained and well equipped fighting forces in the world and certainly the best in the region. Thanks to billions of dollars in aid from the U.S. it has access to the most high-tech armaments in the world. Though not officially recognised, its nuclear arsenal gives it regional super-power status. Without doubt the I.D.F. takes full credit for Israels military successes, due to the I.D.F.’s courage and proficiency in the profession of arms rather than telling the world of its own incompetence and giving witness to the hand of the Almighty who protects Israel. For the I.D.F. to proclaim that Israel’s military victories were not due to its own fighting ability but rather due to the hand of God acting despite Israel’s military frailty would be unthinkable.

One might imagine that if the hand of God were protecting Israel today,as He did in ancient times, Israel would hardly be in need of 200 nuclear missiles and the best military hardware money can buy. Remember that in scripture, the protecting hand of God, with regards to the wars that Israel fought, had to be plainly and unambiguously shown to be the real reason for Israel’s victory, so that Israel would know that victory had come about by God’s faithfulness to Israel rather than Israel’s own might. This factor was critical as the Old Testament clearly reveals.

Thanks for Israels continued existence in the Middle East is directed towards the I.D.F. far more that it is to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by Israelis today. If God were protecting Israel, in a fashion as depicted in scripture, to give thanks to the I.D.F. would seem paradoxical in light of the realities of war waged and won by God on Israel’s behalf. When David slew Goliath, he didn’t need the best military equipment and 200 nuclear weapons backing him up to do it. A sling shot in the hands of an untrained boy was enough to do the job. When God was on Israels side in war, He wanted this fact to be testified to by the way in which battle was actually carried out by the Israelites so that Israel could not have even the remotest grounds to boast and glory in their own strength.

The Christian Zionist claim that Israel exists today by God’s protection in a manner analogous to that displayed in Old Testament times lacks any credibility. While God sustains humanity by His providential care, to claim biblical legitimacy for the Zionist State of Israel based on claims that it is God who fights for the Israelis just as He did in ancient times as revealed in scripture, is invalid. Orthodox anti-Zionist Jews remember that it is the Torah that sustains them, the very word of God, not Zionist nationalism.

Craig Nielsen

Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict

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June 2023