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No Biblical basis for Unconditional support of the Zionist State of Israel

A theme that runs right through both Old and New Testaments of the Bible is that the gracious promises of God are not there to inspire us to act with arrogance, considering ourselves to be more worthy of God’s favour than others once we have made the initial step of acknowledging the mercy of the Almighty or to endow us with a sense of entitlement that gives license to indulge ourselves in our own personal agendas regardless of who we hurt in the process. The words of John the Baptist should ring loudly in the ears of those who wave Israeli flags at evangelical gatherings:

“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our Father”. For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham “(Luke 3:8).

Here John the Baptist is simply repeating a major theme of scripture, that is,  claims of unconditional favour and support by God for Jewish people simply on the basis of their lineage to Abraham are invalid. Simply being Abraham’s descendant does not give any Israelite an entitlement to God’s blessing and escape the ethical requirements of God’s covenental relationship with the Jewish people. This theme holds particularly to the concept of the promises of land to the Jewish people. In chapter 8 of the Gospel of John, Jesus confronts His fellow Jews who also believe they have a privileged position with God due to their status as Abraham’s descendants, but Jesus rebukes them as well.

Jewish territorial theology can either be a blessing (for those who understand that God’s promises require humility and patience in waiting upon the Lord), or a curse (as in the case of those who see those promises as a justification for selfishness and the brutal grasping of what they see as their own personal entitlement).

Christian Zionists see only the promises of God to give the land to Israel and ignore the ethical demands that are inextricably linked to those very promises. Hence they see no need to criticize the Zionists unethical pattern of acquiring more and more territory in Israel-Palestine. But scripture tells a completely different story. The prophets Isaiah, Micah and Ezekiel condemn the actions of those who use the promise of land to dispossess the Jewish or Gentile inhabitants of the land:

“Woe to you who join house to house, who add field to field, until their is room for no one but you and you are alone living in the midst of the land.” (Isa 5:8)

“Woe to you…who covet fields and seize them, houses and take them away, who oppress householder and house, people and inheritance” (Mic 2:1-3)

““You are to distribute the land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. In whatever tribe the alien settles, there you are to give him his inheritance,” declares the Sovereign Lord” (Ezekiel 47:22-23 )

A good case in point regarding the proper understanding of God’s gracious promises comes in the case of the birth of Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah that was promised to Abraham by God. As the story is told in the book of Genesis, Sarah was barren and Abraham had no heir and no one to pass on his name. Though in their nineties, God promised a son to the elderly couple but in verse after verse of the Old Testament scriptures we see how Abraham foolishly tried to grasp at this promise (even sleeping with his wife’s maidservant Hagar), causing no end of pain and misery to everyone in the process. But the promises of God can not be obtained by the selfish and greedy attempts of humanity but must be waited for with patience and faith. So too the promises with regards the land of Canaan. Just as Abraham could not force the promises for a son to become a reality, so the Jewish people can not take it into their own hands to take the land of Canaan for their own purposes. The land is not theirs, it is God’s land. They are His tenants (Lev 25:23)

In the book of Genesis we see Abraham willing (quite disturbingly to our modern minds) to give his only son to the Lord rather than disobey the Lord’s command even though the boy was promised to Abraham by that very same word. So too Israel’s connection to the land can only come when it is accompanied by obedience to God. Obedience to God’s ethical responsibilities in the land trumps mere possession of the territory itself.

The Christian Zionist position regarding the current Zionist state of Israel lacks the support of any rigorous Bible study. Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College states that with regard to Christian Zionism:

“No New Testament scholar has written in its defense. Its advocacy groups such as Christians United for Israel and Camera, are generally run by political activists. Its books come from the pens of popular television preachers or lobbyists. I have been invited to debate some of their leaders and find myself with people who have no training in theology. How can such a widespread movement in the Church be successful without a thoughtful theological undergirding?” (2010,  p. 123)

The Anglican Bible scholar N.T. Wright says of Christian Zionism that it is:

” the geographical equivalent of a soi-disant  ‘Christian’ apartheid, and ought to be rejected as such.” (1994,  p 53 – 77)

Christian Zionist theology cannot be taken seriously. To unconditionally support the Zionist state of Israel on some imagined Biblical grounds is pure heresy in both Christian and Jewish tradition.

References:

Burge, G. (2010). Jesus and the Land:  The New Testament Challenge to “Holy Land” Theology. Baker Academics, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Wright, N.T. (1994). Jerusalem Past and Present in the Purposes of God. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Craig Nielsen

ACTION FOR PALESTINE


The Biblical Understanding of the Relationship of the Jewish People to the Land of Canaan.

Although I have already posted articles on this blog about the relationship of the Jewish people to the land of Israel-Palestine, from a Biblical perspective, I feel it is necessary to revisit this issue once more (and probably not for the last time).

Let me say emphatically what I believe is the black and white teaching on this subject from a Biblical perspective.

The Jewish people do not own the land of Israel-Palestine. They have no entitlement to it by virtue of their Jewishness alone according to the promises made by God to Abraham and the Patriarchs in the Old Testament of the Bible.

Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, Gary M. Burge, sums up the issue quite accurately:

“God’s remarkable interest in this land can be explained by one undergirding theme. In a profound sense, Israel never “owns” the land of promise. God owns this land. Leviticus uses this idea to explain why the land cannot be sold permanently to others, “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants.” (Lev 25:23). Israel here is viewed as a tenant in this land, an alien, a renter. The recipient of a gift for use. But not a landlord. Israel must hold this land loosely, because God will determine the tenure of its occupants.” (2010, p. 4)

Burge’s work has been endorsed by Walter Brueggemann, of Columbia Theological Seminary, perhaps the worlds leading Christian authority on the Old Testament.

The term “tenants” in the Leviticus quote above is not there by accident. Tenants do not own the land they live on. Outside of the conditions of their tenancy agreement with the lands owner (in this case, God), the tenants do not have any legitimate claim to the land.

“So let not the land spew you out for defiling it, as it spewed out the nation that came before you.” (Lev 18:28).

“You shall faithfully observe all My laws and all My regulations, lest the land to which I bring you to settle in spew you out.” (Lev 20:22).

The “rent” that the Israelites had to pay for occupation of the land was faithfulness to God via obedience to the ethical and religious traditions of the Law of Moses. Traditions that demanded that Israel treat all its inhabitants with justice and mercy.

Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt. Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.  My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.” (Ex 22:21-24)

“When an alien (non-Jew) lives with you in your land, do not mistreat or oppress him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native born. Love him as yourself for you were an alien in Egypt. I am the Lord your God “(Lev 20:33, 34. Emphasis added).

Right from the Exodus narrative itself we see that the descendants of Abraham did not have unconditional title to the land God had promised them. Implicit in the promise was that the Jewish people must live up to their end of the bargain or face exile, or, as in the case of Moses and the generation that was delivered from Egypt, not be allowed to enter the land at all. While God promised that they would one day have the land as an everlasting possession, this did not abrogate God’s demand that Israel can only occupy the land while they are living up to their covenantal responsibilities. The Holy land was not simply a homeland. Just as the High Priest had an entitlement once a year to enter the inner most sanctum or the temple (the Holy of Holies) this did not mean he had license to do what ever he wanted while there. He had a strict mandate that carried dire consequences if ignored. God was not “playing around or joking” about the severity of His demands for Israel as they were soon to find out. Nowhere in scripture has God’s demand that Israel can only have legitimate access to Israel-Palestine as a consequence of obedience to the Torah been revoked.

Nowhere in scripture are the Jewish people given license to mistreat non-Jews in the land in order to simply increase Jewish holdings in the land of promise. The inhabitants of Canaan previous to Joshua were not expelled simply because they were in the way of Jewish occupation of the land. Rather God had waited 400 years before expelling them for their own sins. Implicit in these scriptures is that it would have been wrong for God to expell the Canaanites just to make way for the Jewish people (regardless of the promises He made to Abraham) if they had not piled their own sins up to the heavens first.God would not dispossess anyone just for the sake of making way for the descendants of Abraham.

After the exile of Israel in 586 BC, the “second Exodus” occurred only when acknowledged prophets of God let it be known that it was OK to return. Laws about the treatment of non-Jews who had moved into the land while they were in exile are of profound importance to this discussion:

“You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. In whatever tribe the alien settles, there you are to give him his inheritance,” declares the Sovereign LORD.” (Ezek 47:21-23)

The Jewish people are a people in Exile. No theologically Orthodox Jew anywhere in the world believes that the Exile is over regardless of the status of Zionist Israel. In a personal letter from an Orthodox Rabbi, he said, in response to my claim that Orthodox Jews believe the exile to be still on:

” … you said that “Virtually every Orthodox Jew on earth agrees to the fact that the exile of the Jewish people has not ended. The exile is a spiritual problem and cannot be solved by nuclear arsenals or secular European colonialist ideologies” is absolutely true and I don’t see why any Jew had a problem with it. Every Orthodox Jew, even the Zionist settlers, fasts on Tisha B’av, the Jewish day of mourning for the Temple and the exile, which will be abolished when our redemption comes. Every Orthodox Jew recites the prayers that say, “Because of our sins we were exiled from our land.” (personal communication with Rabbi E. Beck)

Zionist ideology stands outside the covenental responsibilities of the Jewish People while in the land. As such the Jewish people are facing sanctions by God if they do not repent. Rather than egging the Zionist state on in its Godless treatment of Palestinians, we should be reminding them of their responsibilities to God and the dire consequences they face if they continue to ignore them.

The purpose of God’s promises was to “Bless all families of the Earth”, not give legitimization to secular nationalism. God’s desire was that Israel not be “as the nations.”, exactly the opposite of Zionist aspirations for their state today. Christians do not support  an ethic that states that “the ends justify the means”, regardless of God’s plans for the Israeli state today, God never calls us to unconditionally support and endorse a regime that is in specific rebellion to His mandates.

Jesus said,“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) and a century earlier Rabbi Hillel (1st century BC) said:

“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour. That is the whole Torah.”

As is in complete accord with the voices of the prophetic, the sum of the Law and the Prophets is a statement of ethical responsibility. Not the ravings of a Judaic version of Nostradamus. A wise mans once told me…if your eschatology (end times theology) leads you to a view that rejects or even diminishes the ethical demands of God, then your eschatology is the problem, not the ethical demands of God for you towards those who are oppressed and vulnerable in your world.

The minimum requirement of Jewish people to re-enter the land was repentance. There simply is no precedent in scripture for God endorsing a non-repentant Jewish people to take the land legitimately. The Jewish tradition as given by the Three Oaths of the Talmud, also upholds this scriptural legacy as well, if not, even more so. This is why all those of the Christian persuasion who believed in the restoration of Israel in pre-Zionist times demanded that the restoration of Israel could only come after a mass conversion of Jews to Christianity. When the embarrassment of the fact that it was a secular Zionist movement that was charging ahead to colonize Palestine, a quick about face was required by the forerunners of today’s Christian Zionists.

One of Darby’s disciples, W.E. Blackstone, makes an interesting point about the Zionists:

“The Zionists have seized the reins and eschewing the help of Abraham’s God they have accepted agnostics as leaders and are plunging madly into this scheme for the erection of a Godless state. But the Bible student will surely say, this godless national gathering of Israel is not the fulfilment of all the glorious restoration, so glowingly described by the prophets. No indeed! ” (Blackstone, 1916, p. 240)

Suddenly those prophets that were telling us that a restoration of Israel was about to occur were now telling us that the Bible predicted the Zionists all along! But the fact is that the Bible will accord no such fantasy. This type of about face has been a regular fixture for the prophets of Christian Zionism. You may have heard of examples of this yourself.

Craig Nielsen

ACTION FOR PALESTINE

The following post is from Jesse Zaplatynskyj. Jesse is a registered nurse and has a Degree in Theology from Tabor College Adelaide, South Australia.

I’ve often heard Christian Zionists say that the promise in the Old Testament (OT) regarding the Land that was given to Israel is something that is still to be fulfilled (and apparently happening currently). I hear of all the passages they speak of – the Torah (esp Genesis 12) and the thousands of mentions throughout the prophets which speak of a ‘return’ to the land.

But I have to then ask them (and myself) why isn’t there such a big emphasis on this in the New Testament (new covenant)? If this was such a huge part of our belief system as Christians today and the New Testament church then, why didn’t Jesus speak of it with the passion I hear from Christian Zionists? And while Paul spoke about it a bit in Rom 9-11 there isn’t much else mentioned about it? Why is this? I hear a lot about the “kingdom of God” throughout the gospels, and the struggles Paul has with his Jewish friends regarding all sorts of problems regarding how to now understand Jesus as the Messiah everyone’s been expecting – but not a lot about the necessity of ethnic Jews returning to a specific land in order to usher in a new age. Why is this? Every Jew knew that the messiah was to come in and get rid of the Romans and establish an ever-lasting Israel. But for some reason Jesus seemed to predict the end of the Temple (and the end of Israel as a nation) with agreement (eg Matt 21:12-27). What’s up with that?

Let’s briefly look at Romans 9-11 as I’m sure some may not think I’m taking this seriously if I just pass over it so casually. Firstly, Paul is challenging the established idea of what it means to be an Israelite. In Romans 4 we here that Abraham was righteous not because of his nationality “according to the flesh” (v 1) but because he “believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (v 2). This was not about circumcision (or the law) (v 9-11a) but “was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised” etc (v 11b). In chapter 9 again he is challenging what it means to be Jewish by looking at Jacob and Esau concluding that “it does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” (v 16). The Gospel according to Paul is not about being God’s people through the traditions of Israel anymore but about believing in God. He is challenging the identity of Israel now that Jesus has come! He says “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” (9: 6). Paul then goes on to discuss how Israel has misunderstood its call (9:30-10:21) but refuses to believe that they have been abandoned and speaks about the engrafted branches (11:1-24). He is one of them, and he speaks with great emotion – he wears his heart on his sleave here. And as such, “all [re-defined] Israel will be saved” (11:25-32).

The problem for Christian Zionists however, is that there is not one mention of the land throughout this section! Furthermore, this section is heavily filled with OT references and not one of them is about returning to the land. Why? Because it’s about righteousness, belief, and being God’s children: “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him” (10:12).

But what about all those OT prophecies? How do we then interpret them? I believe the prophets were talking of an earth where God would be known to all and the land was a symbol for that message. Essentially, they were speaking in terms they understood about something they could not explain. The Land was always given so that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen 12:3). The land, along with the rest of the Old Covenant, only did a partial job of the restoration of our hardened hearts. It needed something more. It needed to be more directly connected with God. It needed Jesus (see book of Hebrews).

Jesus said “I have not come to abolish the Law but to fulfil them” (Matt 5:17). Jesus (Immanuel), as God, came to be with us (humanity) – for all. This is the way the first church understood it. In Acts 2, Peter uses OT passages such as Joel that already started to understand this where God “will pour out his spirit on all people” (Acts 2:14). Other OT prophesies such as Ezek 34 speaks of a true Shepard (compare John 10), Ezek 37 speaks of the dead bones of Israel being made alive by the spirit of God (compare John 3). Jesus has done this. This is the Gospel. This is the new covenant where we do not need a temple to have access to God, but all have direct access to the Father through the life and death of Jesus (see Hebrews again).

As such, why would anyone want to go back to the old way? If Christian Zionists want to be so strong about the Old Covenant calling about the land then what about the other laws of the Torah? Should we also be circumcising our boys, following food laws, and all the other hundreds of laws in the Torah? A quick reading of Galatians’ should clear that question up (answer is an emphatic ‘no’ in case you’re wondering).

As Christians we do have a hope that Jesus will return and bring heaven and earth together in a way that resembles God’s initial plan: the Garden of Eden. The groans of the world (Rom 8) will end and a new order will be established. God will bring a “new Jerusalem” from heaven and heaven and earth will be united (Rev 21). I don’t personally think that that is now happening in Israel at present. Do you?

Jesse Zaplatynskyj

A Foolish Gospel

If you are reading this blog you have probably realized that prophecies of the latest, rescheduled, return of Jesus, are in fact…false. May 21st 2011 did not end up being the end of the age. According to the latest news from Yahoo…

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Warnings by a US fundamentalist preacher that Saturday is Judgment Day have sent some people into hiding or scrambling to repent, while others are planning parties to wave off good Christians.

Eighty-nine-year-old tele-evangelist Harold Camping’s prophecy says the Rapture will begin with powerful earthquakes at 6:00 pm local time in each of the world’s regions, after which the good will be beamed up to heaven.  Source  http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/newshome/9489973/apocalypse-almost-world-waits-for-rapture/

These sort of predictions (with the obvious back peddling after the fatal day passed without the prophetic words of the faithful revealing anything but the tragic and gullible nature of evangelical Christians) are not new. By 1989, the book entitled, “12 Reasons why Jesus is coming in 1988”, strangely had no more sales, but the theological position that lay behind the publication continues to march on with never a glimmer of  questioning by its adherents. The “Left Behind”  series of books continued to sell like hot cakes. Perhaps if the writer of the 1988 book had failed to make a prediction in the form of a concrete date, he may still be getting royalties to this day. But the issue with Christian Zionist credibility does not rest on its so far inability to predict the correct date for Jesus return (they’ll probably get it right sooner or later!).

The consensus view of the Christian Church over 2,000 years has been that Christ can return  any day, and that no one knows the hour or the day of Jesus return. The very words of the Messiah that we wait for declare that there is no particular sign of Jesus return that we are waiting for. If such a sign did exist, then in times prior to the arrival of that sign, we could surely say in unison, “He’s not coming today!”, an attitude not endorsed by any of the Gospel narratives.

In Old Testament times, the prophets were social critics rather than soothsayers. Their concern was Israel’s conformity to the ethical and religious traditions of the Torah. They were not Judaic versions of Nostradamus. Eschatology in the Jewish religious tradition is based on the premise of the hope that tomorrow can be a better day than today. Christian Zionist Eschatology, with its longing for the rapture, Armageddon and world Judgment, produces an indifference to all attempts at making peace in the Middle East.  In some extreme versions, it encourages all out war-mongering. You can’t have Armageddon if we get rid of the world’s nuclear arsenals!A wise man once said to me that if your view of eschatology leads you to become indifferent to the cause of peace and reconciliation in the world, then regardless of the seemingly endless “proof texts” touted by Christian prophets of doom, your Eschatology is going in the wrong direction. The Gospel calls us not just to be peace lovers, but peace makers. Jesus said:

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

The sum of the Law and the Prophets is a statement of ethics, not doomsday predictions. This ethic is not conditioned upon whether or not one is on the right or wrong side of the Christian Zionist Eschatalogical blanket.

The words of an anti-Zionist Haredi from the True Torah Jews against Zionism website are very apt for anyone whose view of the Middle East is driven by Christian Zionist Eschatology:

“Our business is only to follow the laws of the Torah. Of course, often when people try to fulfil 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 “. Source http://www.jewsagainstzionsim.com/about/visitorcomments/comment_details.cfm?ItemNo=1242

Craig Nielsen

ACTION FOR PALESTINE



Human Shields

In 1985 the British singer, Sting, released his now famous song, “Russians”. In it he claimed that our only hope back then was to understand that the Russians love their children just as we do. The concept was that if the Russians love their children as we do then they will finally come to their senses and move in a direction so as to avoid the mutually assured destruction of a nuclear World War III.

Sting’s conviction that the Russians must surely be just like us who love our children above all else is not entertained by Christian Zionists with regard to Arabs, with particular reference to Muslims and especially to Hamas. These forces of the anti-Christ do not have the normal emotions towards their children as we do.  They think nothing of forcing their women and children to take a bullet in the head for them, so they can live on to kill more Jews another day.

The issue of the use of human shields as a deterrent for hostile fire in armed conflict has raised its head again with the allegations that Osama Bin Laden’s wife offered herself as a human shield to protect her husband. The vast majority of the writing on the issue of human shields  in our media fails to recognise a large number of important facts.

Firstly, almost all the cases of the use of human shields involve armed combatants forcibly using civilians from the opposing side as a deterrent to enemy fire. The use of people as human shields from the same side is extremely limited and really occurs only in cases of asymmetric conflict where one side is forced to fight a guerrilla war against a much more militarily powerful opponent. The forcible use of civilians from one’s own side as human shields is virtually unheard of and extensive reports on this matter by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have found no evidence of the forcible use of civilians as human shields by militants on the same side as the civilians. This is true in the case of Hamas or any other militant faction of the Palestinian resistance.

Apart from the obvious ethical issues, the reason for this is simply that no guerrilla resistance force, particularly like Hamas which is trapped with the civilian population in Gaza, would risk a revolt from the 1.5 million strong , as is the case in  Gaza, civilian population that would inevitably ensue if Hamas embarked on a program of forcing Palestinian civilians, women and children included, to act as human shields. One must remember that Hamas, along with its independent and Christian candidates, were elected to power by the Gaza population in 2006 in elections that were considered free and fair by such international monitoring organisations as the Carter Center.

Secondly, over the last decade, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and B’Tslelm (an Israeli Human Rights group) have documented the widespread forcible use of Palestinian civilians as human shields in various military conflicts by the I.D.F. The evidence was so overwhelming that even the I.D.F. was forced to prosecute Israeli soldiers who were caught using Palestinian civilians in this manner. This behaviour of Israeli soldiers raises some questions about the use of Gazan citizens as human shields by Hamas. If Hamas militants are so indifferent to the lives of their fellow citizens of Gaza, then why would any Israeli soldier feel that a Gazan citizen would be an effective human shield against the attacks of Hamas extremists? If the Hamas militants are as evil and heartless as our media continually suggest, surely they would see a Gazan citizen being led in front of a group of Israeli soldiers as very little deterrent to them opening fire on the Israelis. If I were an Israeli soldier and I believed that Hamas are as evil as the media say they are, I would not be very confident in the ability of a Gazan to act as a deterrent to attacks by Hamas, yet the use of Palestinians as human shields by the I.D.F. has been documented as being widespread. Perhaps the Israeli soldiers aren’t really that convinced by the stories of Hamas being so indifferent to their fellow citizens.

Thirdly, what has been documented about the use of human shields by Hamas begins with an incident in November 2006,  when Palestinian women volunteered as human shields to protect Hamas gunmen  in Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip. A Hamas spokesman is alleged to have said that  a crowd of women gathered  in response to an appeal on the local radio station for women to protect the Hamas fighters. The tactic succeeded and it has been claimed that this inspired Hamas to use the tactic whenever there have been reports of imminent targeted assassinations of Hamas officials by the Israelis or in other situations where the I.D.F. threatened to attack. This tactic was a desperate last resort. Its success in that case has not deterred Israelis to any large degree since then according to the Israelis themselves. The I.D.F. has obviously decided to go ahead and kill Hamas militants even when they are surrounded by human shields. The Israelis claim that the high mortality count of Palestinian children as a result of I.D.F. attacks is due to the continued use of human shields by Hamas. Two things follow from this: the obvious ineffectiveness of the use of human shields by Hamas militants as a deterrent to Israeli fire has somehow evaded the notice of the Islamic militants in Gaza (its not working!) and the Israelis have decided to attack despite the use of human shields, willfully making the choice to kill civilians in Gaza (they “know” human shields are being used). The ethics of both sides should be challenged, not just Hamas.


Lastly, resistance to Hamas by Gazan’s is more common than represented by our media. The Goldstone report tells of a case where Hamas militants were chased away by Palestinian civilians when they noticed that the militants were planning to set up mortar fire against the Israelis in a position too close to the civilian’s home. Gazan Youth resistance groups have openly challenged Hamas on their websites. Hamas is not powerful enough to stifle dissent and resistance from all other Palestinian groups in Gaza.

Islamic militants were not the cause of the Israel-Palestine conflict; they are a product of it. The siege of Gaza is an ideal breeding ground for extremism and terrorism. The Israelis know this yet continue to provoke the Palestinians to resistance, legitimate or otherwise, in both the West Bank, with the continuation of settlement construction and a raft of illegal activities designed to confiscate land, and in Gaza in order to demonise the Palestinians  before the world and gain the approval of the western media in the Israelis program to deprive the Palestinian people of their basic human rights.

The violence in Israel-Palestine continues because of the age long habit of the west in placating the Zionist state of Israel. Palestinian resistance will continue until this habit is broken and justice is seen to be  done for all the victims of terror; Islamic or Zionist.

Jesus said, “If you, then,though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11

Craig Nielsen

ACTION FOR PALESTINE

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/

Craig Nielsen

ACTION FOR PALESTINE

The Legacy of Oppression in Palestine.

Supporters of the current policies of the Zionist State of Israel point to the situation in Gaza as proof as to why Israel can not afford to allow a Palestinian state of any kind to exist until the Palestinians somehow prove themselves to be worthy of such an honour.

They point to the brutality of Hamas militants and other extremists as justification for the oppressive policies of the Israeli state. “What else can Israel do?” they say. Such people seem to forget that self determination is a right, and a right is something you do not have to earn. What sort of behaviour do they think people will exhibit when their rights are continually denied? What behaviour did the Zionists themselves exhibit such that they earned the right to statehood in Palestine? Zionist terrorism in the British Mandate period (when Jews in Israel suffered the oppression of British policies that amounted to collective punishment against Jews) is well documented.

Was it the Holocaust that gave Zionists the right to self determination in Palestine? Do some people groups need to first become victims of atrocities before they are granted the same rights that we in the west take for granted? I think not.

Arab or Islamic extremists were not the cause of the Israel-Palestine conflict any more than the Black Panthers in the U.S. were responsible for the creation of slavery, discrimination and racism against Negroes in the U.S. or Aboriginal Land rights activists in Australia were responsible for the dispossession of Aboriginals in Australia that occurred at the hands of British colonialism. Nelson Mandela and the ANC were not responsible for the creation of Apartheid in South Africa.

Hamas and other Arab or Islamic extremists are the product of the Israel-Palestine conflict, not the cause of it. Those groups (with their hostility and violence towards Jewish people) simply did not exist before the advent of Zionist colonialism in Palestine. Religious Zionists who call for the extermination of Palestinian men, women and children did not exist then either. Those who do not grasp this fundamental reality will never make sense of the situation in the Middle East and hence will never understand the nature of any real solution.

What do we expect as a reasonable outcome of the conditions now experienced by the citizens of Gaza? A society under siege and cut off from the rest of the world. Do we really believe that such a situation is conducive to the creation of pacifism or democracy? Have such conditions anywhere else in the world been able to create such things? Conditions of despair and hopelessness make fertile soil for the voices of revenge and violence. Is anyone surprised that Gaza does not produce 1.5 million Zionists? Did Operation Cast Lead endear the citizens of Gaza to the state of Israel? Apparently not, yet the Zionist state is once again gearing up for another round of destruction in Gaza. Why do they think another episode of murdering Palestinian civilians will solve anything this time when it has clearly only strengthened the resolve of both moderates and extremists to continue to resist the Zionist state in the present?

If we do not approach the Israel-Palestine conflict with a sincere desire to listen to the basic, historic grievance of the Palestinian people, we can be assured that violence and horror will continue in this part of the world. What can Israel do? They can acknowledge the pain of the Palestinian people when they suffered the terrible dispossession of 1948. They can acknowledge the wrongs they have committed against the indigenous Arab population. They can stop perpetuating the odious lie that Israel was a land with no people for a people with no land. They can reciprocate the acknowledgment of the Palestinian people in 1993 that Israel has the right to exist with safe and secure borders. They can acknowledge the legitimacy of International Law that deems the occupation of the West Bank with its Jewish only settlements, Israeli only highways, checkpoints and separation barrier as being illegal. This would be a brilliant start and would not require Israel giving up once square metre of land that was not given to it by international law. I am certain such acknowledgments would bring a lasting peace within a very short period of time.

But Israel is drunk with power. Power that has been inflated by the continued empowerment of the U.S. and the west. And the powerful never just hand over their power; that would require a type of wisdom never seen by politicians. Anyone who empowers anyone else to commit crimes against humanity is no true friend, but is exploiting the other party just as surely as night follows day. The U.S. in reality is no friend of Israel.

The open-air prison that is Gaza will continue to fill the need for justification felt by the supporters of the Zionist state of Israel. The continued oppression of the Gazans will undoubtedly provoke some to violence and this violence will be used by the self righteous amongst us to say yes to yet more oppression of the 1.5 million inhabitants of that tiny piece of real estate. Sanity and humility must prevail. Put yourself in the shoes of the powerful, the ones who have the power to make real steps towards reconciliation and justice. What would you do? If you are a Christian…what would Jesus do?

Craig Nielsen
ACTION FOR PALESTINE

The Lord hears the cry of the Palestinian people.

As a Bible believing Christian I find the anti-BDS sentiment of so called journalists like Greg Sheridan and Andrew Bolt to be based in nothing but European supremacist, pro-colonialist bigotry. The media representation of what the BDS campaign is all about is reprehensible to anyone who knows anything at all about the movement.

The BDS program against the Zionist state was called for by 170 civil Palestinian organisations in 2005 as a non-violent means to pursue the cause for self determination and justice for the Palestinian people by putting economic pressure on the state of Israel to align itself with international law regarding its behaviour and policies towards the Palestinian people. The goal of the BDS movement is not necessarily aligned with either a one or two state solution. At all levels, the BDS movement recognises the right of the state of Israel to exist with secure and safe borders. A right acknowledged by Yasser Arafat in 1993 but never reciprocated by the Israeli government to this day.

The western media has no complaint with sanctions against those nations that don’t “play ball” with us, regardless of the fact that, in Iraq for example, thousands of children suffer and die as a result. But when it comes to countries that are aligned with us, even the slightest hint of sanctions against them is met with almost hysterical cries of racist and terrorist motivations, regardless of the fact that, as in the case of Israel, the nation is guilty of more violations of International law than all the Arab/Muslim nations put together. We can bomb Iraq to the ground (killing hundreds of thousands) on the faulty premise that it had weapons of mass destruction and links to Al Qaeda when in fact it did not and our leaders had access to (or could have easily gained access to) information to the contrary. We can do these things without the slightest pang of conscience or pain of remembrance because our media and our leaders do not allow them to be part of our remembrance. They are not worthy victims; they are not worthy of our grief or sorrow let alone remorse. they are not us, they are them.

To the opponents of the BDS movement, the only true course for the Palestinian people is to either self dispossess from their homeland or be complicit with the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza. The refugees that live outside of Israel-Palestine should just “get over it”. Those who oppose the BDS movement deny the Palestinian people any means to fight for their rights to self determination at all. They must in effect become Zionists or suffer the consequences. The anti-BDS proponents demonise all Palestinian resistance. They condemn Palestinians as terrorists if they resist with violence or condemn them as anti-Semites if they resist non violently as is the case with the BDS campaign. They demand that the game be played in such a way that “heads Israel wins, tails the Palestinians lose”.

John Pilger puts a far more correct spin on the BDS campaign when he says in support of the BDS movement:

“Sometimes, looked at from the outside, Australia is a strange place. In other ‘western democracies’ the ‘debate’ about the enduring injustice dealt the Palestinians and Israel’s lawlessness has moved forward to the point where the cynical campaign of anti-Semitism smears is no longer effective — in the UK, much of Europe and even the United States.
If Israel’s bloody assault on Lebanon was not the turning point, the criminal attack on the imprisoned population of Gaza certainly was. The same is true of the BDS movement. This eminently reasonable, decent and necessary campaign enjoys a respectability across the world, not least in South Africa, where it’s backed by the likes of Desmond Tutu and especially those Jews who fought the apartheid regime. The University of Johannesburg, the country’s biggest, has just broken all ties with Israel. Justice for Palestine, said, Mandela, is ‘the greatest moral issue of our time’. That’s the company those Marrickville councillors who have stood up for this ‘greatest moral issue’, keep. And those who have wavered and walked away should think again – remembering other waverers who, long ago, walked away from speaking out against what was being done to Jews. The scale is very different; the principle is the same. Do not be intimidated by Murdoch vendettas or by anyone else. All power to you.”

John Pilger

The words of the Torah cry out to all Christians, Muslims and Jews.

“Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt. Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.”( Exodus 22:21-24)

The God of the Old Testament cries out in dozens of verses in the Torah for Jews to reach out beyond the bounds of hatred, racism and bigotry; to take hold of the hands of the oppressed and the alien just as God reached out to them when they were helpless in Egypt, suffering under the oppression of Pharaoh.

The BDS movement will be heard in heaven, of that we can be assured. God’s promise to hear the cry of the oppressed in Israel should send shudders up the spine of those who arrogantly deny the right of the Palestinian people to be heard. The words of Jesus ring in our ears as well:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)

Jesus care and concern for the marginalised and demonized in His time reflect the love of God for all humanity. His special concern for those at the “bottom” is a perfect reflection of God the Father’s heart towards Jew and non-Jew.

The gospel of Christian Zionism is not a gospel of Good News to Palestinians be they Christian, Muslim or secular. It is not really a gospel of Good News to anyone whose heart rejoices at the news of God’s reconciliation of all humanity to Himself.

The BDS movement affirms the right of Jewish people to live anywhere in the world (not just in Israel) in peace and equality with all peoples, free from racial and religious bigotry. The BDS movement wishes for exactly the same right for Palestinians. As such, the morality of the movement matches the morality of the God of both Testaments of the Bible. Anti-BDS supporters reject the concept of equality for Jew and non-Jew in Israel and the occupied territories. As such, they align themselves with the powers already defeated on the cross of Jesus some 2,000 years ago. Justice and equality for all in the Holy land is the ultimate goal of the Lord God and the BDS movement. That is why I endorse and am involved in it.

The New Testament affirms to Christians that both Jesus and Moses concur about justice and equality in all the world. Religious nationalism, self righteousness and hatred will be swept away, once and for all. this is the true hope that lies at the heart of all truly Biblically based doctrines of Eschatology.

Craig Nielsen
ACTION FOR PALESTINE

A True Prophet of God and Lover of Israel.

Recently I saw a dedication to the late Christian Zionist evangelical, Derek Prince, on the front pages of a book by a Mega-Church evangelical leader in the U.S. The dedication named Derek Prince as “a lover of Israel”. Prince died in Jerusalem in 2003.

Many hundreds of years earlier, another man, the prophet Jeremiah, would die and leave a legacy of what a “true man of God and lover of Israel” really looks like. It suffices to say that apart from two legs, two arms and a head (and other genetically transmitted features of the human species), the similarities between the two men (particularly with regard to their theology, understanding of Jewishness and the land of Israel) are virtually non-existent.

Christian Zionists, like the late Derek Prince, would never dare to criticise the Zionist State of Israel (unless the Zionists decide to allow the creation of a Palestinian state), while Jeremiah castigated the leadership of Israel more than any of the prophets of old. Yet few would doubt that no prophet of the Old Testament ever loved the Jewish people more passionately than Jeremiah. Jeremiah was in a state of constant turmoil over his fellow Jews lack of desire to fulfill the covenantal responsibilities that they must uphold in the land or be sent in to exile. Christian Zionists could care less. I have never once heard a Christian Zionist speak of the danger of a Secular Zionist State being cast into exile because of its lack of desire to place the Torah at the centre of Jewish life in Israel. The Zionists can ignore the ethical and religious traditions of the Torah (particularly with respect to the treatment of non-Jews living in Israel) with impunity, according to Christan Zionism. Jeremiah would have run out of garments to tare from his body in anguish and dust and ashes to throw upon himself and into the air in grief had he been alive to see his beloved people living in a Zionist State.

Jeremiah spoke the truth of God to the people of Israel regardless of the popularity of his message among the leaders of Israel. The truth has authority regardless of who speaks it. At the time of the First Temple in Israel, Jeremiah pleaded with the now infamous Jews of his time, (later to become heroes in the eyes of the Zionists), who, Jewish tradition tells us, refused to surrender to the armies of Nebuchadnezzar in the face of certain defeat, to lay down their arms thereby ensuring the safety of countless Jewish lives even though the city of Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed. Jeremiah was labeled a traitor and his word rejected, resulting in not only the destruction of the Temple, but almost the entire Jewish population of Israel as well, according to the punishment from God for not surrendering that scripture reveals.

The traditions of the military forces of Zionist Israel, the I.D.F., who celebrate the Jewish rebellion at Masada, would no doubt regard the attitudes of Jeremiah as treasonous. For Jeremiah, obedience to God trumped occupation of the land. Disobedience to God in the land of Israel by the Jewish people could never be condoned or ignored by any of the prophets God sent to Israel in the Old Testament. Prophets were not sent because only they had the right to criticise Israel, but were sent because the Jewish leaders and citizens of Israel had failed to hear the prophetic word of God as revealed in the law already available to them in the Torah.

A popular habit of evangelical Christians is to reflect on “What would Jesus do?” when confronted with difficult ethical situations. I hardly think Jesus attitude would be greatly divergent from that of Jeremiah in the case of Zionist Israel. The privilege of being God’s people can not be separated from the heightened responsibilities that are at the very core of the covenant of the land that God made with the Jewish people to remain in the land of Israel. Orthodox religious Jews remind us that Zionism’s rejection of those responsibilities will mean exile as God’s character demands if the type of repentance that Jeremiah called for from his people in his time is not forthcoming from Israel today.

Craig Nielsen
ACTION FOR PALESTINE

The Samaritans

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the most well known parables of Jesus in the New Testament scriptures. The parable has for many years been used as a means to challenge the self righteous to understand the nature of the command, “love thy neighbour”. The searing challenge to our easy definitions of loving ones fellow human beings that comes from this parable is derived from the answer that Jesus gives to the question, “who is my neighbour?”.

The explanation of this parable takes place between the fervent “expert in the law” and Jesus, when he first asks Jesus how he may obtain eternal life. Jesus responds by asking the “expert” what the Law has to say about such matters. After answering correctly, Jesus further responds to the “expert” by telling him that if he does these things he will live. The scriptures reveal that the man, wanting to justify himself, then asked Jesus the question that we all would rather Jesus did not answer in the way he did. Rather than telling the man who his neighbour is, enabling the man to then seek out such people, bestowing a selfless gift of devotion to them so as to obtain eternal life, Jesus challenged the man to understand rather what it was to be somebody else’s neighbour, in a manner that ran counter to the prevailing prejudices of those days.

The title of the parable reveals the prejudice that lies behind the reality of this famous story told by Jesus in response to the questions of “an expert in the law”. The parable would be better described as, The Parable of the Samaritan. The inclusion of the term “good” reflects the innate prejudice that has been carried down the ages towards the people that have dwelled in the region of Samaria.

It has long been understood that the sting in the tail of Jesus’ parable is that the man described in the story that behaved as a neighbour to the man who had been robbed and beaten, was a Samaritan. Samaritans were despised by “pure blood” Jews and the feelings were mutual. Jesus deliberately chose a man in the story, to stand as an example of a real neighbour, from those people whom the Jewish audience would never have naturally considered to be “good”. The Samaritans lived in the northern, mountainous regions of what is known today as the West Bank. That region had previously been over-run by the Assyrians as they conquered the rebellious Northern Kingdom of Israel. The Assyrians had intermarried with the Israelites and the resulting “pollution of the descendants of Abraham” meant that the Samarians were looked down upon by self righteous Jews. The tale has further bite due to the fact that we are told that both a priest and a Levite (highly respected figures in the Jewish culture of the day) happened upon the man who had been robbed and left for dead but cared nothing for his plight. The Samaritan, however, takes pity on the man and deals with him as a true neighbour.

The deep offence that this parable would have had for the “expert in the law” could hardly be understated. The term “expert in the law” is used to signify all those who consider themselves to be justified in their hatred for certain types of people and hence justified in their non-neighbourly actions towards them. To portray one of those for whom the self righteous keep their most fervent prejudice, as being the real neighbour to the man, and pleasing to the Lord in the process, is the ultimate counter culture parable. God brings low the self righteous by lifting up those very ones for whom the self righteous justifiably point the finger of scorn. The prejudices of the self righteous (however well founded the “experts in the law” may think they are in having them) become a millstone around their necks. Jesus exposes their prejudices and treats them with incomparable disdain.

The intensity of the irony to this story has not waned over the centuries. Never more intense is that paradox in the very region of Samaria today. Samaria is inhabited today by what could only be called the most demonised people in the world. The daily violation of their rights to self determination in their place of birth, a right considered obligatory for everyone else in the world, goes on without a blink of an eye by the self righteous purveyors of power in the free world. So intense is the prejudice against them that any who openly deny them the right to determine their own future in the land they have inhabited for centuries, can do so with complete confidence that they are behaving in the Godliest fashion possible. To even contemplate doing otherwise would be proof positive to the peers of the righteous that the devil had deluded them into rebellion against God’s plan of salvation. Any hint of sympathy, let alone solidarity, for the Palestinian’s plight is deemed Satanic. Like a litmus test of ones devotion to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; if concern for Palestinian rights is detected, warning signals go up and a legion of pointed fingers and hysterical voices are raised as one to immediately denounce the evil doer amongst us!

Godly wisdom tells us that all Palestinians and their supporters are either terrorists or complicit with terrorism, just as all those who opposed Apartheid in South Africa were communists, long haired anti-establishment hippies and general undesirables. Solidarity with such evil doers is equivalent to being a terrorist sympathiser. To hint at even just a freeze on illegal settlement projects in the West Bank is ultimate proof that your heart is sided with the devil. Nothing could be more reasonable and plain. All suffering of the Palestinian people is brought on by themselves. They are the consummate case of a people who are their own worst enemies. They foolishly elect leaders who are the cheer leaders for genocide and hatred of God’s people, just as the Devil has always done throughout history. Palestinians are the enemies of God by their own choice despite Israel’s continued attempts at trying to make peace with them; the Jewish people bending over backwards, making concession after concession to them while the Jihadists spit in the face of reason and justice in their lust for Jewish blood! Such a people can never be given their rights til they prove themselves worthy by submitting to the will of God via His chosen people, the Zionists. Palestinians must relinquish their demonically inspired desire to have rights to self determination in the land that God has given to the Zionists as an unconditional possession in an eternal covenant. Injustice to Palestinians with regards to land rights in Eretz Yisrael is as contradictory a notion as one plus one equals three. All resistance to Zionism is illegitimate and equivalent to rebellion against God Himself. The United Nations vindication of Palestinian grievances is in opposition to God and has only been thwarted by the Christian nation of the U.S. There is no oppression of Palestinians by the State of Israel; only a democratic nation acting in fairness, compassion and justice towards a savage and uncivilised people that have hatred of Jews inbred in them.

The Zionist narrative of a heroic people, the survivors of the Holocaust, bravely creating a home for themselves in the land of their fore-fathers against the pitiless anti-Semitism of the Arab world is accepted as Gospel truth. The Palestinian story of their ethnic cleansing and dispossession, at the hands of the Zionists, from the land the Palestinians and their ancestors have lived in for many hundreds of years, despite the fact that Arabs played no part in the crimes of the Nazis, is silenced completely and any attempt to revive it is looked upon with suspicion of anti-Semitic motives. The easily verifiable truth that anti-Semitism was never a part of elite or popular Arab culture, as it was in Europe, has been kept hidden from the gaze of the general public. The good relationship that Jews and Palestinian Arabs enjoyed before the Zionist invasion, as well as the overwhelming religious Jewish resistance to Zionism, is likewise kept well hidden. The destruction of 25,000 Palestinian homes in Gaza and the West Bank is fully deserved and morally respectable in the eyes of the leaders of the world’s democracies. Only Palestinians commit acts of terror against the democratic nation of Israel (in no way provoked by the actions of the Israelis but clear evidence of the Palestinians innate lack of worth as a people and displaying to the world that the withholding of Palestinian so-called rights is entirely justified). The Zionist State only wishes to live in peace and defend its borders. Surrounded by hostile Arabs who have no other wish but to push the Jews into the sea, Israel has no choice but defend itself from terrorism.

The unholy alliance of Islam and the secular left is submitted as even further proof (as if any more were necessary) of the demonic origins of Palestinian Solidarity movements, ignoring the alliance of the religious Christian Right with a secular Zionism which as been at war with Orthodox Judaism for one hundred years. Palestinian Christians must understand that God loves Palestinians despite being silent (if not applauding) as Israeli bulldozers demolish their houses. This is the Gospel of God’s love to Palestinians. It is a Gospel that assuages the guilt of European anti-Semitism by placing it at the feet of a people not involved in the horrors of Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

The profound challenge of this parable to treat one another with compassion finds its roots right at the very heart of the story of the Jewish people. The message of the Exodus was that Jews should be merciful to non-Jews in the land just as God had been merciful to the Jews while they where in slavery in Egypt. They were to resist the temptation to demonise those different from them even as the Egyptians had previously demonised the Hebrews during the time of their bondage in that land.

The interpretation of this parable by the great theologian, Karl Barth, gives even greater insight. Barth sees that the parable was meant to show the “expert in the law” that it was he that lay naked in the road; battered and helpless and that Jesus was the Samaritan that behaved as a brother to him. In effect the parable says that we can not be truly merciful unless we have first received mercy. How can the Zionists be merciful to their Palestinian brothers and sisters when in their eyes all the world hates the Jewish people with merciless hatred? The answer is that they must first abandon their view that the world is or has always been merciless to the Jewish people. Only then will they give up their “destructive entitlement” in the land promised by God, by mercy and grace, to the descendants of Abraham.

Who could be more demonised than these Palestinian Arabs? Perhaps only their current oppressors, some 65 years ago when the Jewish people were demonised by a nation from civilised, Christian Europe many hundreds of miles from Palestine. How would Jesus tell this parable (The Parable of the Good Palestinian Arab) to a Jewish audience in the Knesset today? Who would be more offended by it than the Zionists and their Christian sycophants? When Jesus came to the land of Palestine the first time, he ate with sinners, tax collectors and harlots. He spoke with gentile women, Samaritans and all those who incurred the wrath of the Godly. He nullified the prejudices against them with this great parable and validated their rights to fairness and justice; determined on the same basis as such things are determined for those who pour scorn on the very ones whom Jesus stood up for and scripture calls us to do, as Jesus did then, in our time in the land of Palestine.

Craig Nielsen

ACTION FOR PALESTINE