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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

Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict

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May 2023