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Christian Zionists, from the most influential like John Hagee and Pat Robertson, to the most anonymous, like the many extreme Pentecostals that weekly protest in the CBD of my hometown, Adelaide, are eager to tell us that the Zionist State of Israel must be unconditionally supported by all. In fact, Pat Robertson has said that it is only when he finally decided to support the Israelis no matter what they chose to do, did his ministry start to increase, and, in fact, it only then began to explode in numbers and wealth. God loves those who love Israel and loving Israel means supporting the Zionist state no matter what it does.

I find this type of behaviour beyond comprehension. I fully support the cause of the Arabs of Palestine in their search for justice, equality and self determination yet I would never say that I unconditionally support them no matter how they choose to achieve their goals.

I do not support the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel; I do not support suicide bombings or aircraft hijackings. I don’t support anti-Semitism by Arabs or anyone else. I do not believe in Arabs (Muslim, Christian or secular) forcing their ideas on non-Arabs.

I would not support the destruction of villages and the ethnic cleansing, murder and land theft of Jews by Arabs or anyone else if it occurred.

I would not support the demolition of Jewish homes by Palestinians; I would not support a nation that gave nationality to Arabs but only citizenship to non-Arabs. I would not support the building of a wall that separated Jew from Jew in Israel. I would not support Palestinian only settlements in Israel that hog precious water resources for themselves while denying Jewish people decent drinking water.

I would not support the detention, without charge or trial, of Jewish people (children included) by Palestinians. I would not support an Arab nation that kept 93% of its land for sale to Arabs only.

Whether or not there are Arab countries that would, or in fact already do such things is a worthy argument but the issue is that as a human being, I could not support such actions.

My point is that the state of Israel already does do such things to Palestinians and Christian Zionists proudly support the State of Israel as it does them. We either reject injustice and inequality everywhere or we do not. Zionist Israel does not get a free pass from God on this. The truth is that the Bible clearly teaches that while God unconditionally loves the Jewish people; He does not unconditionally support them in their behaviour. This point is declared in scripture in so many places that listing them would fill page after page in this blog article.

The idea that being “the apple of God’s eye” means a license to commit ethnic cleansing and discrimination against non-Jews in Israel is correctly termed heresy.Scripture plainly teaches that Jewish occupation of the Holy Land is completely dependent on the Jews adherence to the ethical and religious traditions of the Torah. Ethical traditions that leave Zionist Israel in a place of moral bankruptcy.

Any group that openly supports the state of Israel in such behaviour could never be said to be a true friend of Israel. The truth is that it is just such groups that are the true anti-Semites.

CRAIG NIELSEN

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The most powerful Christian Zionist in the U.S. (probably the world), John Hagee,  has called on numerous occasions for the U.S. to attack Iran. Jeff Halper, an Israeli peace activist, believes Israel may be poised to do the job for them. Read what he said in the following article posted on the Mondoweiss website by Philip Weiss.

Halper: Israel may attack Iran so that we won’t hear the word ‘Palestinian’ for another 5 years
Nov 02, 2011 09:47 am | Philip Weiss

Israel may well attack Iran in an effort to distract the world from the Palestinian issue, Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions said last Saturday in New York.

“There’s a very real possibility that Israel will attack Iran,” he said. At a time when there is tremendous international pressure on Israel to end the occupation and even the U.S. discourse is beginning to shift on Israel, an Iran attack would be the “ultimate deflection… it would deflect everything.”

“It’s a delaying thing. You won’t hear the word Palestinian for another five years,” Halper said. And Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, government ministers from rightwing and centrist parties, could work together on the effort, seamlessly.

The Minnesota born activist, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, spoke at the Tree of Life conference on the conflict at Advent Lutheran Church on the Upper West Side. And Halper spoke frankly of the American interest and of the issue of dual loyalty.

“I don’t want to become all jingoistic,” he said, but there are real questions of where AIPAC is leading the US that should be in the conversation politically: “You’re an American member of Congress not an Israeli member.”

At the beginning of his term, Obama was talking the national-interest talk: “Resolving this issue is in the vital national interest of the United States.” Halper said that Ronald Reagan played the same card when he sold the AWACs airplanes to Saudi Arabia in the 1980s– it’s not in Israel’s interest but it’s in the American interest.

And when the issue is framed in that manner, most American Jews are going to fall into line “150 percent.” Even AIPAC supporters’ greatest fear is that they are going to be seen to have dual loyalties because there is a “conflict between the interests of Israel and the United States,” Halper said, and that cleavage ought to be stated now.

That has been Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas’s achievement in going to the U.N.: U.S. support for Israel is “really beginning to bring the United States down,” in the eyes of the world. Obama’s speech before the General Assembly in September was met by “stony silence;” he has “alienated the entire audience.”

(Ron Paul subliminal advertising moment)

Halper also said that the two state solution is no longer viable, and that one great outcome of the U.N. process is that 140 members of the General Assembly are likely to vote for a Palestinian state, and then send their ambassadors to Jerusalem. And then if Palestinians march on a checkpoint, and if one Palestinian is shot, it would “absolutely be a war crme,” in the eyes of the world.

The Tree of Life conference will continue this weekend in Old Lyme, CT. See Ashley Bates, Mark Braverman, Daoud Nasser, Laila El Haddad and Adam Horowitz among others…

 

Christian Zionism: The Opiate of Some People.

If ever there was a doctrine floating around the Christian world that rightly gets the tag of “opiate of the people”, it is Christian Zionism. If ever a doctrine has kept a people in a drunken “spiritual” stupor so as to blind them to the real historical and material causes of a conflict, Christian Zionism is that doctrine.

The doctrines of today’s Christian Zionism are not put together by any of the University trained  Christian teachers or theologians of any of the three major denominations of the Christian faith. So insulated from Biblical scholarship are the prophets of Christian Zionism, that they can publish books like John Hagee’s “Jerusalem Countdown” without the slightest concern for what type of critical review they might get from trained  theologians. This is because trained theologians consider books like that just mentioned to be basically a joke in so far as their attempts at Biblical exegesis go as well as the fact that the leaders of the Christian Zionist movement generally consider trained theologians to be the enemy.

Many conservative evangelicals and Pentecostals have an innate distrust of the formal academic study of theology. They fear that such study will undermine their simple “child like” faith in God’s word and turn them into cloistered academics who no longer love Jesus. They consider many of the mainstream theological colleges and seminaries to be hopelessly liberalized and hence demonic. They generally take the words of “mega pastors” to be inspired almost on a similar level to scripture. These Pastors have concocted a parallel reality for their flock with regards to the telling of history, science, politics, economics and religion. This parallel reality is drummed into the faithful unerringly.

The reality that the rest of us deal with is pure delusion in their eyes. Trying to have any reasonable dialogue with such believers takes patience to say the least. Most trained theologians seem to prefer to stay out of the firing line of the culture wars that rage through the west, particularly in the U.S., until the last minute. A few scholars have, however, started to stand up and be counted in the debate that Christian Zionism has created in the Christian church. Stephen Sizer has probably been the most active with a number of books on the subject being written by him. The prolific scholar N.T. Wright and Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, Gary Burge have also joined the fray to some degree.

A few comments from them will suffice. Gary Burge says of Christian Zionism that:

“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)  and more recently he added in a discussion of eschatology:

“For some, alas, the very phrase ‘second coming’, and even perhaps the word ‘eschatology’ itself, conjures up visions of the ‘rapture’ as understood within some branches of (mostly North American) fundamentalist or evangelical Christianity, and as set out, at a popular level, in the ‘Left Behind’ series of novels by Tim F. LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, and the theology, if you can call it that, which those books embody. That scheme of thought, ironically considering its fanatical though bizarre support for the present state of Israel, is actually deeply un-Jewish, collapsing into a dualism in which the present wicked world is left to stew in its own juice while the saints are snatched up to heaven to watch Armageddon from a ringside seat” (Paul: Fresh Perspectives, 2005, p. 141).

References:

Wright, N.T. (2005). Paul: Fresh Perspectives. First Fortress Press. MN, U.S.A.

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 Moral and Biblical insanity that is Christian Zionism

The rapturous applause of the U.S. Congress for the unctuous nonsense that poured from  the mouth of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in recent days pales into insignificance when compared to the out and out idolatrous behavior of philo-Zionists like John Hagee. Even the Israeli Knesset  would not indulge their own Prime Minister in such a manner as  the U.S. congress let alone the hysterical ravings of those Christians who wrap themselves in a Zionist flag and sing Hallelujah.

I believe that the Christian Church in the U.S., and the church in those countries who choose to follow their example, are facing the greatest danger of  spiritual, moral and ethical collapse that has been seen in the Christian world for the last 500 years. This collapse into intellectual and theological bankruptcy is no doubt being lead by the Christian lobby that has replaced worship of its Savior with an allegiance to the state of Israel that would make David Ben Gurion blush. This insane devotion to the Zionist state forces Christians to abandon virtually every spiritual and ethical boundary for which they have been known for over the last 80 years. Like a co-dependent lover who can’t see that their relationship is destroying them, the Christian Zionists drown their own inner voices of conscience to the sound of praise for a secular state that opposes the preaching of the Gospel within its borders with greater vigor than Cuba or Venezuela ever have. The Zionist state forbids professing Christians to migrate to Israel. Similar behaviour by Arab states gets a firm rebuke by the religious right,citing this as evidence of the anti-Christ like nature of Islam as well as justification for supporting the state of Israel.

Advocates of the Christian right are almost universally supporters of anti-abortion doctrines. Laws allowing for abortion rights are deemed satanic and are frequently equated with Hitlers extermination of the Jews of Europe in  the Holocaust. Yet Israel, seeing itself as a liberal democracy, made in the mold of civilised Europe, allows some 40,000 abortions every year. It is the only country in the region that has pro-abortion rights legislation yet once again the Christian Zionist movement has suddenly nothing to say about the matter.

Attempts to bring universal health care to the U.S. have found their most ardent opponents being members of the religious right. Universal health care is seen as just another step down the dark road to Socialism. Yet the Israeli system of universal health care is never held up as an example of Godlessness in action by right or left wing religious conservatives in the west.

The religious right is often very skeptical about the so called Christian confessions of their political leaders, particularly if they are black and Democrat. They hate to see religious belief being exploited by those whose real goal is the attainment of power, status and wealth without true belief in the God of the Bible. They want their Christian political leaders to be the “real deal”. Yet Israeli leaders can be out and out atheists who clearly use biblical texts to bolster their arguments while in truth seeing those biblical texts as being nothing more than myth and legend. Once again they do this without a word of criticism by the Christian Zionist masses.

Professor Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin of Ben-Gurion University is alleged to have once made the sarcastic comment, “Our claim to the land could be put in a nutshell: God does not exist, and He gave us this land.” Any such comment showing such open cynicism and exploitation of biblical belief by U.S. politicians would ensure their political doom.

Religious right doomsday prophets routinely predict the demise of the U.S. due to its abandonment of biblical ethics and values regardless of the fact that it was Moses and not George Washington who stood on Mount Sinai and accepted the covenant made with them by God regarding the land their people was to inhabit. No curses of destruction of the U.S. nation for abandoning the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are revealed in the Old Testament. Yet the very nation whose destruction IS promised in scripture if they disobey the commandments of God, continue to reject both Torah values and the acceptance of Christ without a word of warning by Christian Zionists.

The Christian Zionist disdain for the U.N. continues regardless of the fact that it was the United Nations that created the state of Israel and that the U.N. Charter is deeply dependent on values obtained from the Christian and Jewish scriptures. U.S. Evangelicals that support Israel speak of a Jewish people “returning home” when in fact the Jews of Europe who went there during the Zionist migrations to Palestine would have not known Hebron from Albuquerque. The hundreds of thousands of Palestinians ( now numbering in the millions) who were forced to leave their actual brick and mortar residences in Palestine during the ethnic cleansing that took place in 1948, are considered to be illegitimate candidates for citizens of the land where  they were born even though they still have the keys and the land title deeds to the houses they once occupied. Even if the Palestinians did leave of their own free will at the command of their Arab leaders (a point clearly refuted by the indisputable evidence from the archives of the Israeli  Defense Force) the Israelis have no right to deny them return.

I have personally spoken to hundreds of Muslim followers regarding the Israel-Palestine issue and never once have I detected any hatred of Jewish people or animosity towards Christians. Yet the Christian Zionist world continually derides the Islamic faith and paints the picture that it is Muslims who are bred to hate Jews and detest all forms of the Christian faith. I am a Bible believing Christian and I have been invited to speak to Muslims on a number of occasions about the Israel-Palestine issue. I have always been able to talk about my own faith in Jesus without fear of being persecuted while at any of those meetings. It has been my experience that Muslim people have done everything to respect my faith. This obviously is not the case in all parts of the Islamic world but it is certainly true in many instances. It has NEVER been my experience for Christian Zionists to respect the beliefs of Muslims. No Muslim has ever told me that Jesus is damned, while I have heard Christian Zionists scream, at the tops of their voices, that the prophet Mohamed is in hell, in public places like Rundle  Mall in the heart of Adelaide during rush hour. Whom is it that is being disrespectful of whom?

Muslims recognise that many Arabs in Palestine are Christian and even Hamas has allowed them to join them in government in Gaza. Yet these Christian brethren have been totally ignored by the religious right in the west. Their persecution by the Zionist state is not  a topic for discussion. Stories of Christian persecution in the Middle East are never allowed to include the suffering of Palestinian Christians at the hands of the Zionist state.

If the Zionist state of Israel ever falls, then I believe the Jewish people will still flourish in the rest of the world (even in the Middle East). Christian Zionism, however, will be consigned to the already huge pile of kooky and dangerous ideas that Christians have managed to invent out of their distorted understanding of the Bible. Zionist Israel is more important to Christians Zionists than it is to the Jewish people themselves. The CZ’s are more Zionist than Israel. Their lack of tolerance for those different from themselves and for the oppressed of the world makes them less Christian than the truly Islamic.

It has been said that the attitude of the U.S. to Cuba is like the attitude of a werewolf to a full moon. It suffices to say that the  Christian Zionist cult-like devotion to Israel does not permit them to be able to dispassionately debate the Israel-Palestine issue. I have discovered this, to my dismay, on too numerous instances to mention.

Craig Nielsen

ACTION FOR PALESTINE

Christian Zionism and Palestinian Christian Arabs.

A few months ago I spoke to a Christian Pastor whose family had fled to Gaza in 1948. I pulled him aside after his talk to ask him the truth about how Hamas treats Christians in Gaza. He told me that Hamas was not really the problem. The oppression experienced by Gazans at the hands of the Zionist government of Israel does not discriminate with regards to religious belief. Muslims, Christians and secular Arabs all share in the suffering in Gaza. The Pastor told me that he thought the blockade of Gaza and Operation Cast Lead had only consolidated Hamas’ hold on Gaza, and that there were now even  more extreme groups in Gaza than Hamas.

Any hope of removing Hamas by the same  process that Hamas was elected to power in 2006 has been destroyed. What the real intentions of the Israeli government in dealing with Gaza in the manner they have are a mystery to me. Here we are in 2011 and Hamas shows no sign of giving up its resistance to the Zionists.  Would Israel officially recognise the Palestinian peoples right to a state of their own with safe and secure borders if Hamas laid down its arms? Would Israel stop its construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank if Hamas recognised Israel? I don’t think so.


I saw a photograph of a Baptist church right next to a Mosque in Gaza on the net just yesterday. Apparently members of the respective religious groups are not at each others throats. If anyone persecutes the Christians of Gaza (apart from the Israelis) it is the wealthy Christian Zionists in the West who will not make a sound about the sufferings of their brethren. In my country, Pentecostal churches will give the stage of their mega-churches to the few misguided Arab Christians that take on the doctrines of Christian Zionism while ignoring the testimony of the tens of thousands of Arab Christians in Israel and the Occupied territories simply because their stories don’t conform to the narratives of Christian Zionism. We are meant to believe that Arabs persecute God’s people, not the other way around.

The racist attitude of Christian Zionists towards Arabs crosses religious barriers. Palestinian Arab Christians can not be trusted to tell the truth about issues like the ethnic cleansing in 1948 or even just the history of Arab occupation of Palestine in the last 150 years. Palestinian Arab Christians are second class citizens in God’s Kingdom. The only Arab Christian that tells the truth is one that is enlightened by the teachings of John Hagee. I am quite sure that many Muslim extremists think that the only good westerner is a Muslim westerner…maybe. But we all know that Christian Fundamentalists are nothing like Islamic Fundamentalists. Or are they?

A documentary is about to be released by the name of  “Pentecostals in Palestine.” The documentary follows the story of a group of pro-Israel Pentecostals who traveled to the West Bank to see for themselves the conditions that people are forced to live  under due to the military occupation of the Zionists. Though I have only seen a small portion of the footage of the doco, it seems that the group from the U.S. was greatly shocked by what they saw to the point of making some radical changes to their theology and politics. This is highly commendable in my opinion but one aspect of the documentary (and remember I have only seen promos of the whole documentary) that was a bit disturbing was that the Christians mainly changed their minds when they saw that there were large numbers of Arab Christians that were suffering as a result of the occupation. It seemed that the suffering of non-Christian Arabs in the occupied territories might not have been enough to sway the minds of these Christians. Still, I will have to wait until the documentary is finally released to make a final judgment. The point is that  Christian Zionists betray their brethren’s suffering in Palestine, and it seems that even when they do finally recognise the injustices that occur in the occupied territories, they still end up discriminating on the basis of religious belief even then. Why can we not show solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters in Palestine while at the same time recognise that the suffering and loss of non-Christian Palestinians (and Jews be they Zionist or not) is equally unjust and hurtful in God’s view?

If our theology leads us in a direction that causes us to become blind and deaf to the injustices that go on in our world, them our theology is flawed no matter how big, powerful and wealthy the church and Pastor is that is telling us these “Godly truths”.

Craig Nielsen                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ACTION FOR PALESTINE

A Chosen People.

A non religious person asked me the other day,” if the Jewish people are a chosen people, what are they chosen to do?” A pretty good question. One that doesn’t have any particular answer from a secular Zionist perspective, but, then again, Zionism never bought into that stuff about Jews being the chosen people of God. If you listen to Christian Zionists, the only thing Jewish people are chosen for is to hurry up and ethnically cleanse Palestine of Arabs so that the rapture can occur and the non-Christian world can finally get whats coming to it! And about time too…Hallelujah!

Two thousand years of the teachings of Torah Judaism give quite a different picture. Orthodox Judaism teaches that being Jewish historically, up until about 1860, was always about being willing to accept the “yoke” of the Torah. That is, being Jewish was a religious identity. An identity that was intimately tied to a person’s ethics, a person’s responsibility to God and humanity. John Hagee’s version of Jewishness is more about an entitlement to real estate than ethics towards the vulnerable and “despised” in society. Rabbi Hillel (1st century BC), when asked what was the essence of the Torah, said “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour. That is the whole Torah.” Christian Zionism…far more Zionist than Christian, simply has no understanding of what Jewishness is even remotely about.

The Torah teaches Jewish people that just as God sent Moses to tell Pharaoh to “Let My People Go!”, so God tells Benjamin Netanyahu to not keep the Palestinians captive in their own land. Ex 22:21 “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.”

God does not love His chosen people in such a manner that banishes all boundaries, giving license to whatever avarice and self righteousness the Jewish people may wish to indulge in. His covenant with the Jewish people in the Land of Israel has never been revoked. It is because of God’s love for His chosen that He resists the Zionist state of Israel. To endorse the Zionist Government would require a reversal of His very character. Something all Christians say can never happen.

If there ever was a people whose religious heritage should cause them to side with those suffering under the rod of oppression, it should be the Jewish people. If ever there was a people who should never be guilty of oppressing a people living with them in their land, it is the Jewish people. This is why anyone with eyes and ears can see why Boaz Evron said…”Zionism is indeed the negation of Judaism”

It is because the Jewish people are God’s chosen people that God is saying to them, of the Palestinian people, “Let My People Go!” The oppressed of the world are God’s chosen people too, the warnings of the Torah are ignored at our peril. The Jewish people are chosen, chosen to be responsible, not to be free from responsibility toward the Palestinian Arabs who live amongst them.

Craig Nielsen
ACTION FOR PALESTINE

Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict

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