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After just over 10 years of supporting the cause for justice and self determination for Palestinians, I have gotten somewhat used to being called an anti-Semite by the fanatical supporters of the Zionist State of Israel. It is the most crass and obvious ploy imaginable to get any criticism of the Zionist State shut down. And this most disingenuous strategy has been clearly admitted to even by members of the Israeli Knesset.

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Picking the difference between anti-Semitism and legitimate criticism of Israel is really quite simple. To put it plainly, anti-Semites just hate Jews and everything about them, period. They hate Jewish anything. Jewish language, Jewish culture, Jewish religion. They hate Zionists, religious Zionists, Orthodox, Reform or liberal Judaism. They hate Jewish scientists, Jewish musicians, Jewish politicians, Jewish doctors, Jewish plumbers! They hate any mathematical, scientific, philosophical or political contributions made by Jews. They hate the Old Testament, the Torah and the Talmud. For anti-Semites, Jews can do no right, no good. They either want them to disappear, die or go live altogether somewhere where no one else needs to see them! They believe that most, if not all wars, are started by Jews and think that there exists a world-wide conspiracy of Jews to dominate the world. Many Christians believe that the anti-Christ mentioned in the book of Revelation will be Jewish. Are you starting to get the picture? And of course, they hate Israel. Their hatred of Israel has nothing to do with the human rights of Palestinians. They would hate Israel regardless of whether or not the creation of the Zionist State upset or dispossessed anyone in any way. They would hate and criticise every policy issued from the Knesset regardless of the topic, whether it involved the treatment of Palestinians, its policies on climate change, gay and lesbian rights or abortion rights. Anti-Semites, strangely, both deny the Holocaust and believe that the Jews got what they deserved in the Holocaust that they deny even occurred! Anti-Semitism is totally irrational and evil.

In the 10 years that I have been involved in this issue I have never been to a single Palestine solidarity rally or meeting that didn’t entirely focus on one issue and one issue alone. And that issue is, of course, the treatment of Palestinians (be they Christian, Muslim or otherwise) by the Zionist State of Israel. No other criticism of Israel or Jews in general, is ever made. If I believed, as many Israelis do, that the survival of the entire Jewish people absolutely depends on the existence of Israel, then I would be forced to support the Israeli State. As it is, I don’t remotely believe in such an obviously false concept.

Israel, funnily enough, although it has now got incredibly right-wing political leaders, is quite a liberal and progressive country. For Jews that is. Israel has about 20,000 legal abortions every year (which is about the same number per capita as my country, Australia), and is a self-declared beacon for gay and lesbian rights. Israel doesn’t have same sex marriage legislation like Australia, but it does recognise the same sex marriages of Israelis that were performed outside of Israel. It recognises such couples as having full adoption rights in Israel. Israel has universal health care and government subsidised tertiary education. Even the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is an advocate of Global Climate Change due to human agency and proudly boasts Israel’s development of Green technology. Netanyahu has declared that global warming is as bigger threat to the world as any other security issue. Israel, historically, has had a strong labour Union movement. It has had strip clubs and brothels and drug traffickers as well, just like most western countries. At the moment, Israeli feminist groups are trying to shut down strip clubs and brothels.

The crazy thing is that the Christian Right-wing, particularly of the English-speaking countries, pretty much despises most of these ideas as “godless, liberal or left wing” ideology, while at the same time unconditionally supporting the Zionist State in its project to take all of historic Palestine without allowing self-determination of Palestinians. When countries like Australia, England, Canada and the U.S. indulge in these policies, cries of Godlessness and imminent judgement from God can be heard from nearly every conservative Christian pulpit. But Israel gets a free pass on these issues even though on top of this the State of Israel’s state sanctioned ideology, Zionism, denies outright the divinity of Christ as being a valid belief for any truly Jewish citizen of Israel to indulge in!

And if that wasn’t enough to make your head spin, most Muslim countries in the world agree with the Religious Christian right on nearly all of the values or ideas mentioned above yet the Religious right feel totally entitled to demonise such countries day and night!

Anti-Semitism comes in many forms and degrees, just like any type of bigotry or racism. For my part, I will state my beliefs on the record here for all to see and later quote.

I believe in the right of Jews and Arabs to live in Israel/Palestine with self-determination, safety and security. I do not believe that Israel is the state that represents all Jews, nor do I believe that Benjamin Netanyahu is the Prime Minister of all Jews. I believe that Zionism is a secular movement whose goal is to change the traditional Jewish identity from a religious identity centred on the Torah, to a national identity like the nation states of Europe. Many Jews, both religious and otherwise, do not support or identify with the State of Israel. Criticism of the treatment of Palestinians by the State of Israel, nor anti-Zionism in general, is not anti-Semitism. For sure, anti-Semites would nearly always end up being anti-Zionists as well but the logic simply doesn’t go the other way around. It is no more anti-Semitic to criticise the State of Israel for its policies in regard to Palestinians as it is anti-Asian to criticise the Communist Government of China. Anti-Semitism, racism, Islamophobia, Christa-phobia, Homo-phobia, all belong in the dustbin of history.

I believe that Jews and Arabs (Christian, Muslim or secular) have a long history of mutual cooperation and respect for each other in the Holy Land before the Zionist era as Albert Einstein noted:

“There could be no greater calamity than a permanent discord between us and the Arab people. Despite the great wrong that has been done to us, we must strive for a just and lasting compromise with the Arab people. Let us recall that in former times no people lived in greater friendship with us than the ancestors of these Arabs” (cited in Jerome, 2009, p.70).

The real home of anti-Semitism is in Christian Europe, not the Middle East.

I believe that the best solution to the issue is the creation of one state, call it Israel if you must, that is a state for all its citizens equally. Neither a Jewish state, nor an Arab state. A democratic state much like the one dreamed of by Zionists like Albert Einstein and millions of Palestinians and Jews throughout the world.

CRAIG NIELSEN

February, 2020

 

It’s probably pretty accurate to say that most traditional marriage ceremonies in this country have some part of the marriage vows that include a statement about forsaking all others and being faithful to their partner.

Many young people hope, or believe, that when a person gets married they will no longer have romantic feelings or feel sexually attracted to any other than their spouse. Older heads realise that this just isn’t the case no matter how much you feel that you are in love when you get married. It is because of the fact that people feel attraction and feelings of love for others they are not married to that such marriage vows are even needed. The simple fact is that God allows people to be unfaithful in their marriages. This is obviously not because we believe God endorses such behaviour, but that God places responsibility on faithfulness in marriage on our shoulders while still being sovereign over His creation. If God had promised that somehow, He would never let Christian couples fall into the sin of unfaithfulness in marriage, then we wouldn’t need to make such vows at all!

It follows that we only need make vows regarding things that are actually possible to even occur in our world and conversely, vows to not commit any particular sin presuppose the possibility that such a sin can occur in reality.

I mention all this to make a point that Christian Zionists seem to stubbornly ignore.

The conditional nature of the relationship between Jewish people as a whole, and the Promised Land is explicitly and implicitly stated in scripture in so many places, and is an essential part of so many Biblical narratives that its denial is both incomprehensible and unacceptable. I have covered this point in my book, as well as so many of my posts, that I won’t bother going through it here.

In 130 AD, a tumultuous event occurred in the history of the Jewish people. After many years of brutal occupation of their land by a Pagan Roman empire, which they sorely resented and resisted in various forms for many decades, the Roman Emperor decided that the Kingdom of Israel be destroyed and its people scattered to the four corners of the Earth. Orthodox Judaism has traditionally seen this as an act of God, sending the Jewish people into exile. This exile continues up until this day. No Jewish Rabbi of any type has, or would, declare the Exile to be over. According to Orthodox Judaism, exile is a spiritual, rather than political or military problem and hence requires a spiritual solution. The solution would be the coming of the Messiah. This would be a supernatural event that would bring in the redemption of all God’s creation, not just the re-instalment of Jews in the Promised Land.

In 130 AD, the Rabbis of the time made oaths concerning their return to the promised land that were eventually recorded in the book known as the Talmud. The Talmud is a religious text that most Christians are not familiar with. It is central to Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source for Jewish religious law and theology.

The content of the oaths boils down to the fact that Jews vowed not to return to the promised land on mass, to create a Jewish state. They should not even try to bring this return about whether it be by force or diplomacy. They should not enter the land even if it were completely empty and or even if all the Kings, Queens and rulers of the Earth gave permission or even demanded it! They also vowed not to stir the nations up to persecute them and that the nations not persecute them.

Orthodox Judaism has taken these oaths very seriously for many centuries. It was Zionists, not Orthodox Jews, who initiated the creation of the State of Israel as it is today. Jewish law forbade such endeavours. It was even forbidden to pray too loudly or too fervently for the exile to finish lest anyone think that their efforts brought about the end of the Exile. The Exile was to be ended by God and God alone! No attempt was to be made to retake the land even in the face of harsh persecution. Jewish people were to remain in Exile as loyal and law -abiding subjects of their country of  exile. The traditional means of dealing with anti-Semitic persecution was to seek refuge in other countries of exile where other Jews could offer them safe haven.

The point that I am trying to make is that the very existence of these vows presupposes that Jews could, in fact, not only attemptto take control of the Promised Land illegitimately, but they could actuallytake control of it illegitimately. If God had somehow promised that such an action would never be allowed, then two things must follow. The first is that no such vows should have ever been taken, let alone them being put in the Talmud and secondly that any attempt, successful or not, of Jews taking control of the Promised Land must be endorsed by God and hence a fulfilment of prophecy.

The simple fact is that these vows were taken and have been a pillar of Jewish Law and theology and hence are not contradictory to any teachings of the Old Testament. Hence, they do not contradict New Testament teachings either.

The following statements can be made with full confidence from a Biblical perspective that I believe all Christian Zionists must agree with.

The entrance and occupation of Jewish people into the Promised Land in order to take control of it is conditional upon their obedience to the clearly stated commands of God in the Old Testament. Many of these statements relate to the fair and equal treatment of non-Jews living in the land with them. It is clear that oppression of non-Jews living in the Promised Land can result in the expulsion of Jews from the land.

The mere fact of the current occupation, or partial occupation, of the Promised Land by the Zionist regime is in no way an automatic sign of God’s endorsement of the Israeli State.

Israel is a Zionist State, a secular state that has, from its inception, sort to transform Jewish Identity from its traditional roots in the Torah, and hence the Bible, to a secular national identity so as to be “as the nations” surrounding them. While Zionism repudiated the Judaism of old, it does not embrace the Christian faith either.

Palestinians have a long history of respect and co-operation with the Jews of the Promised Land before the current Zionist era. Before the Zionist era, Jews and Arabs had good relations in the Middle East. Antisemitism was never a part of popular or elite culture in the Middle East. Christian Europe has always been the home of antisemitism and European nations bare responsibility for the Holocaust, not Arabs, be they Muslim, Christian or otherwise.

The above statements make it clear that no Christian has any absolute Biblical obligation to support the Zionist State of Israel or claim it to be the result of the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham or any New Testament prophecy.

CRAIG NIELSEN

December 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having been one myself for a number of years, it suffices to say that conservative Christians fascinate me.

Most secular and non-Christian people wrongly associate conservative Christian faith with some sort of Fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is then connected to a type of Biblical literalism which often includes ideas like Six-day Creationism, Premillennialism and the Rapture and a general belief in the miraculous stories of the Bible as literal, real historical events.

This categorisation of Christians overlooks a large amount of important theological distinctions that exist between conservative Christians. The real unifying factor for these types of Christians is really not their theology. When it comes to issues like Creationism, the End Times, Biblical miracles, Justification by Faith, Predestination or the Eucharist, conservatives can argue with each other just as intensely and divisively as anyone. Conservatives are equally likely to be Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox. They can be Baptists, Lutherans, Uniting Church, Methodist, Church of England or Pentecostal. Left wing, liberal or progressive Christians can also be found in all these denominations as well.

In my opinion, being a conservative Christian is far more about one’s politics rather than one’s theology. Their conservative politics often seems to be far more important to them than Biblical theology. Let me explain what I mean.

Biblically speaking, a person’s confession of Christ as God, Lord and Saviour, has long been seen as a major issue in deciding if any given person is a Christian or not. Of course, this confession needs to be heart felt and accompanied by repentance from sin. But it seems that for conservative Christians, this is often a side issue. I passionately believe that Jesus died for me on the cross and shed His blood as a covering for my sin. I believe that He is God, come in the flesh, the only begotten Son of God the Father and that He was bodily raised from the dead. I am saved by grace alone by the death and resurrection of Christ.

Yet I can hardly count the number of times that my faith has been denounced, even though I have made this confession publicly on many occasions. This denunciation has always come from conservative believers and normally for the same reason. That reason is nearly always related to my lack of allegiance to the Zionist State of Israel and my support for Palestinian human rights and justice. I’m seen as a deluded backslider at best, satanic infiltrator at worst.

Many others, who make similar confessions with regards to Jesus, have received the same treatment. Their issue may not have anything to do with Palestine. It maybe that they support gay and lesbian rights, abortion rights, believe in climate change due to human industry, denounce US imperialism, racism, sexism and fight for equality, workers and human rights and, in the worst-case scenario, support the demon of Socialism! All of these are basically recognised as the domain of leftists and liberals. They advocate for justice and mercy for Muslims and any minority group in general that you can think of.

Any of the above can earn you the title of non-follower of Christ, by conservatives regardless of any confession of Christ as Saviour, no matter how heart felt you feel your conviction is.

Conservative Christians are united by their conservative politics and allegiance to conservative and right-wing political parties like the Republican Party in the US, the Conservative Party in the UK and the Liberal/National Party Coalition in Australia. Many times, I have felt that their conservative politics is far more important to them than their Christianity.

I know that in my own case, I felt that the Christian faith was innately conservative. In some ways I still believe that this is true. Christians seek to conserve, or preserve the original essence of the faith as God revealed it to humanity in the first place. While Christian theology has clearly developed over the centuries, it is generally agreed that it cannot develop in such a way as to contradict the original concepts of the faith. It cannot progress beyond a certain limit. In this sense Christianity is conservative by nature. Finding out what these limits are, however, is another question entirely. It’s an endeavour that is far easier said than done in practice.

I long felt that somehow conservative politics owned the Christian faith with its conservative moral values. While liberals and progressives might have some interesting points to make, the real home of Christianity, politically speaking, was right-wing conservatism. Christian values would be safer in the hands of conservative governments.

I’ve since come to believe that this view is both un-Biblical and quite naïve. I think the best example that demonstrates the truth of this is the case of Palestinian Christianity. When I first got involved in the Christian faith I was told that I had many hundreds of millions of brothers and sisters in the faith all around the world. I thought that in the end, there must be some type of solidarity between Christians regardless of their theological differences. It wasn’t long before I started reading a bit of church history and finding out that this was far from the case. But at least I thought Christian faith would tie people together despite their political differences!

But the case of Palestinian Christianity blows this sky high. Conservative Christians, especially in the US, dominate the ranks of Christian Zionists. They passionately believe that it is their religious duty to unconditionally support the Zionist State of Israel in its project to colonise the region known as historic Palestine. These Christians have no pity for the Muslim people who have suffered due to this Zionist project, after all, they’re only Muslims! Enemies of God to be sure! Justice for Muslims in the Israel/Palestine conflict is a contradiction in terms.

But you would think it might be a different thing altogether when it comes to the case of Palestinian Christians. Palestinian Christians are Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic. They are Lutheran, Church of England, Baptist and even Pentecostal. Yet their cries to conservative Christians in the West about injustice and oppression perpetrated on them by the Zionist State of Israel gets completely ignored. Not an ounce of solidarity exists. Every year, the heads of the Palestinian Christian denominations make their suffering known to the Western conservative church via means like the Kairos Document and numerous conferences and meetings. All this gets ignored. The fact is that the overwhelming majority of Christian Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza recognise that their oppressor is the Zionist State of Israel, (not Muslim Palestinians). The voices of one hundred and seventy thousand Palestinian Christians are ignored, while the voice of one Palestinian convert to Christianity that supports Christian Zionism is heralded around the world in every Christian bookshop you can find!

In 2015, I went to the West Bank to observe this myself. I lived for 3 months in a conservative Muslim village in the West Bank as part of a program ran by the World Council of Churches. The program was called for by the Jerusalem heads of churches, (all of which are Palestinian). They wanted there to be a continuous western presence in the West Bank to observe the reality of the oppression that is the occupation. This program has had a continuous presence all over the West Bank for some 20 years now. Many of the people who have participated in this program have been from conservative Christian backgrounds like myself. We met Palestinian Christians who have visited the west only to find that their Christian faith was denounced when they owned up to being an Arab Christian that doesn’t support the dispossession of their own people by a secular state like Israel.

What motivates conservative Christians is not simply stated. To say that it is their theological beliefs, however much that they proclaim that it is, is still too simplistic. It is obvious that their political beliefs inform their conservative theology and vice versa. An uncomfortable fact for conservatives is that virtually no professional theologians in the English-speaking world endorse Christian Zionism. It is utterly bereft of any rational Biblical support but this seems to make almost no impact on them whatsoever.

Conservative Christians in the US routinely herald any President that seems to come from the right-wing as God’s man of the hour, come to save the world from judgement regardless of how immoral their actions might be on a personal level. Australian conservative Christians are often not far behind them.

When the excesses of a conservative President are finally brought to the public eye, the American public are reminded of their Christian duty not to judge, but to support their leader! But God have mercy on a non-conservative President, regardless of any professed Christian faith! God must be a Republican…surely?

So many conservative Christian friends of mine bemoan our secular, godless state with its permissive values. One particular sore point is the acceptance, by ultimately both political parties, of gay and lesbian marriage rights. Criticism of this judgement comes thick and fast from conservative pulpits. Yet the Zionist State of Israel has plans to follow this path. One of the reasons that the State of Israel says that it should be supported by the western world is its tolerance of gays and lesbians in contrast to the conservative values of Muslim countries.

Apparently these liberal, progressive values are all ok in a secular Israeli State, but deserve wrath and condemnation in our own western countries. It seems that the only duty of Israel is to take all of the land into its possession and sovereign control. Anything else it may do is irrelevant. This backflip on the moral values of God’s chosen people is hard to justify Biblically, but once again is not even acknowledged by conservative Christians in the west.

My belief is that Christianity is not owned by either side of the political divide. We are free to accept or reject political ideas without fear of abandoning God’s own political party. God’s politics don’t conform to the ideology of any political party, nor does His politics encourage us to turn a blind eye to the corruption and injustices perpetrated by those that we perceive as being our political friends. Nor does it prevent us from listening and learning from those whom we traditionally feel are not the friends of the faith. We are free to listen and to learn from anyone. Free to use our own God given reason and our knowledge of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as revealed in the scriptures with humility.

Unfortunately, conservative Christians are greatly in error when they unconditionally support the State of Israel with regard to its policies towards the Palestinian people. This does not mean that conservatives have nothing positive to offer or that progressives have all the answers. For Christians, humility and the mercy and justice of God for all humanity is our eternal duty. Amen.

CRAIG NIELSEN

December 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Zionists, as well as religious Zionists in Israel and throughout the world, believe that Jewish people have an absolute entitlement to the lands of Israel including the occupied territories (OPT).

They claim that this fact is unambiguously stated in the Bible and can be seen to be so by anyone who bothers to take the time to read the Old Testament scriptures. They believe this fact is so clearly and obviously proclaimed that it is indeed a dividing line between those who honour God’s word and those who don’t.

Anyone declaring that the Israeli settlements are illegal, no matter what legal arguments are used to defend such a position, are denounced as being in league with Satan. The very concept of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Gaza or the Golan Heights is a contradiction in terms. The recent denial of the illegal status of Israeli settlements in the OPT by the current US administration has been met with rapturous approval by Christian Zionists the world over. This would be seen as further proof, as if any were needed, that the US is indeed God’s instrument on Earth in worldly affairs.

Any protests against Israeli settlements are met with accusations of anti-Semitism and racism against Jews. The spectre of Nazi Germany is quickly invoked to demonise anyone even thinking about Palestinian rights. Palestinians rights are the rights of the devil!

I well remember once telling an avid Christian supporter of Israel that Palestinian Christians didn’t share his view of Zionist entitlement. His only answer was a sarcastic, “Have they read their Bible?”

A “no concession” policy is rigorously held to by Christian Zionists when it comes to any type of negotiations with Palestinians. After all, you don’t negotiate with the devil!

But the simple fact remains that the settlements ARE illegal under the clear and reasonable demands of International Law, and the concept of illegal Israeli settlements, within the bounds of what is considered “the promised land”, is completely compatible with scripture and the justice and mercy of God as revealed in both Testaments of the Bible. I believe it is not only compatible with, but is indeed demanded by those same scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation.

My defence of this position is based on a two-pronged argument:

  1. The Bible does not teach that Jewish people, simply by virtue of their Jewishness,

have an absolute and unconditional entitlement to the “Promised Land”. Jewish

occupation of the land can indeed be illegitimate in God’s eyes.

  1. International Law on this issue is completely compatible with God’s will for how

nations should deal with each other and hence it’s clear dictates need to be

respected by ALL Christians who claim to believe in the rule of law.

I will start with a defence of point one.

From the very first instances in scripture, when God promised the Land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants, we see that the relationship of the Promised Land (TPL) to the Jewish people was conditional. God delayed Abraham’s taking of TPL by some hundreds of years so as to make sure that no injustice was done to the people then occupying the land. It was not until God judged the people in the land as being guilty of innumerable sins and hence needing to be justly removed from the land that Abraham’s descendants were allowed to enter TPL.

But even then, as the scriptures clearly tell us, there was no unconditional entitlement of Jews to enter the land. We see that even Moses, hardly a more prominent Jewish person could there have been, was not allowed to enter TPL. The most obvious question to be asked is, “Why wasn’t he allowed to enter?” Even a cursory glance at the text shows that it was his behaviour that was the key reason that he was barred from entering TPL, and this provides us with the basis for the whole concept of the totally conditional nature of the Jewish people’s relationship to the land.

God indeed made a covenant with the Jewish people in that the only way that they could legitimately enter and occupy the land was that they faithfully obey the commands of God. Many of these commands relate to how they treat non-Jews living in the land with them. The punishment for disobedience with regards to this issue was expulsion from the land.

Every orthodox Jew in history will tell you that the occupation of the land for Jews is tied up with the concepts of redemption and exile. Jews are currently in a state of exile and are therefore forbidden to try and take control of the land. No Jewish Rabbi anywhere in the world would dare declare that the exile is over! So, if that be true, how is it that the State of Israel is in existence with half the world’s Jews living there?

The answer is that the responsibility for the creation of the State of Israel was in the hands of Zionists, not Jews who were faithful to the Torah and its traditional teachings about exile, redemption and the coming of the Messiah. Orthodox Judaism had taken oaths, as far back as 130 AD, to never even try and take TPL even if all the rulers of the Earth commanded it, even if the land itself was empty, even if it did not involve any kind of violence whatsoever.

Exile was a spiritual problem and required a spiritual, not military or even diplomatic, solution.

Scripture clearly relates that the Jewish people are God’s tenants, not landlords in TPL. If they do not obey God’s covenant with them, they will be expelled from the land, just like any other nation or people that defiled the land. Their Jewishness would not confer any special privileges for them if they were disobedient. If anything, it made them more accountable. God’s covenant with Abraham would not mean that they could unconditionally enter and occupy the land. Being in exile would not, however, make the covenant with Abraham void. This covenant was still in operation regardless of whether the Jewish people were in exile or not. Exile came when the Mosaic covenant was broken by the Jewish people while in the land. The Mosaic covenant could be broken but the covenant of God with Abraham could not. God would never give up on the Jewish people no matter how many times He had to cast them from the land. Orthodox Jewish tradition holds that this expulsion has already occurred twice. The end of the current exile will be heralded by the miraculous coming of the Messiah and not before. This event will come in God’s sovereign time.

God’s command that Jews treat the “alien”, (non-Jew) in the land fairly and justly and as an equal, stems from the fact that when Israel was in bondage as slaves to Egypt, God stood up for them against the oppressor and gave them freedom. In scripture God continually reminds the Jews to remember how they were slaves in Egypt and in doing so therefore do not oppress the non-Jews living amongst them. Failure to do this would bring consequences to the Jews almost too horrible to think of!

So, the question can legitimately be asked, “Is the Zionist regime in Israel legitimately occupying TPL?” The simple fact of their confessed Jewishness is not sufficient, regardless of any claims about fulfilled prophecy. End times prophecy can never be twisted in such a way so as to negate the righteous demands of God for the descendants of Abraham to live up to their obligations to God with regards to their relationship to the land. A secular Zionist state does not get a free pass any more than Moses did!

I will now move on to my second point:

The basis of the United Nations Charter and International Law with regards to how nations should deal with one another is grounded in the desire to avoid violent conflict and oppression by powerful nations over less powerful nations. This is clearly stated in the concept of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by means of force. This acquisition of territory in order to gain access to living space, resources or anything else by force is seen as the main motivation for armed conflict in our world. Making this type of acquisition of land illegal, by any nation, is a clear a deterrent for conflict between nations by removing the legitimacy of the very motivation for conflict.

This is obviously a good idea, and I see nothing in this that is somehow innately anti-Semitic or against God’s word. Whether or not this concept has been applied fairly and consistently is another matter entirely.

We need to remember that all members of the United Nations must sign on to this principal. Australia, the US, Israel, Canada and the UK have all signed on to this principal as a matter of law.

In 1947, the United Nations created a partition plan that gave the Zionists 55% of historic Palestine for the creation of a Jewish state and 45% of the land to the Arabs for the creation of a Palestinian state. The Zionists accepted this plan. The current regions known as Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights were not part of the land that was given to the Zionists in the 1947 partition plan. These regions are currently under Israeli control since they entered these areas by force in 1967. As such they are under Israeli military occupation.

The validity or fairness of this partition plan will not be dealt with here. At this stage it suffices to say that the Zionist State is in control of lands that it acquired by means of military force and is holding onto these regions by military force as well, despite the fact that International Law and UN Resolutions have demanded Israel’s ending of the occupation way back in 1967.

The Fourth Geneva Convention, of which all member states of the United Nations must sign on to, clearly states that no occupying power may transfer any of its population into the areas being occupied. Israel has clearly been in breach of this since 1967 when it started building Israeli only settlements in both the West bank and Gaza. It entices Israeli citizens to come and live in the OPT with significant financial incentives. These settlements are fully integrated into the rest of the state of Israel via Israeli only highways that connect the settlements back to greater Israel. Palestinians are forbidden to travel on these roadways.

The Israeli government rejects this judgement based on the fact that they do not consider the OPT to be occupied and hence International Law does not apply. This idea is based on the fact that the West Bank and Gaza had no official governance at the time of the 1967 War and so International Law does not apply.

This judgement has been rejected by the entire international community. The issue of governance is not the point. The fact is that Israel has gained access to territory by means of force. This territory was not granted to any Israeli government in the 1947 partition plan that the Zionists did agree with. That territory was inhabited by a people who did not identify as Jewish and hence are not represented by any Zionist government.

The Israeli settlements in the West Bank have been judged as illegal right from the start and this decision has been reviewed and verified on numerous occasions since then by the best legal minds in the world. This judgement is firmly based in International Law.

From the above we can see that the Israeli settlements are clearly in breach of International Law and that International Law in this particular context is neither anti-Semitic or un-Biblical.

It is possible, and I would say, highly likely, that God respects and agrees with the judgement that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal.

CRAIG NIELSEN

December 2019

 

God Hears the Cry of the Oppressed

“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 Old Testamenst clearly teaches us that the land of Canaan is not owned by the Jewish people. Leviticus 25:23  informs us that…”“The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is Mine and you are but aliens and My tenants”. 3,000 years of Jewish tradition and 2,000 years of Christian tradition affirm that the occupation of the land of Canaan by the Jewish people has been conditional upon their adherence to the religious and ethical traditions of the Torah. These ethical traditions demand that the Jewish people treat non-Jews in a manner reflecting the very heart of God towards all humanity. No sense of arrogant entitlement to the land of Canaan is condoned by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Rabbi Moshe Sober sums up the tradional idea of the relationship of Jews to the land of Israel:

“The notion that we can do whatever we please, to any kind of temptation, or engage in any form of foolish self-aggrandizement without fear of penalty because we have an inside track to the Almighty is the plain opposite of religious faith. It is in fact an affront to the Divine, whose authority to determine the course of history we are usurping. The traditional penalty for this sin is to be sent to face a hostile world with no lucky breaks, no Divine assistance whatsoever, until we learn that only those who are performing God’s will can count on His assistance. Such blind faith is not really a faith in God at all, but rather faith in ourselves. It makes a tool out of the Almighty. It turns Him into a kind of “secret weapon” whose purpose is to guarantee our success at whatever we fancy. It is an idolatrous concept that masks what is actually an irrational belief in our own invincibility” (Sober, 1990, p. 30, 31).

Zionist ideology  hardly places the current state of Israel  within the confines of the conditions of their tenancy agreement with the Lord God. Rabbi Isaac Breuer (1883–1946) tells us that:

“Zionism is the most terrible enemy that has ever arisen to the Jewish nation. The anti-nationalistic Reform engages it [the Jewish nation] at least in an open fight, but Zionism kills the nation and then elevates the corpse to the throne.”

In response to the disobedience of the Jewish people in Israel with regards to the ethical demands of the Lord, God sent His prophets to warn Israel of their impending exile if they did not repent and treat the vulnerable amongst them as if they were one of their own:

if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm,  then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever.” Jeremiah 7:6,7

This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.” Jeremiah 23:3

“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.” Ezekiel 47:21-23

When Israel ignored the cry of the alien in the land, God sent prophets to call them to repentance. God held Israel to account for not listening to the voice of those who were oppressed in the land.

In 2005, 170 civil Palestinian organisations (many of them Christian) called on the world to enact a program of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against the Zionist state of Israel in order to bring them into line with international law regarding the human rights of the Arabs of Palestine and Israel. This BDS program is the “cry of the oppressed in the land” to God Himself. God has promised in His word that He will hear their cry and bring justice. It is the cry against the illegal occupation of the West Bank with its illegal settlements, Israeli only highways, checkpoints and house demolitions as well as the siege of Gaza.

God’s love for the Jewish people only acts to make them more accountable for their behaviour in the land of Israel, not less. They have no legitimate occupation of the land outside the ethical and religious conditions of their tenancy. It is because of God’s love for them that He resists their colonialist project to ethnically cleanse the land of Palestine.  The BDS movement is the will of God for the Zionist state of Israel and as such it can not be thwarted. The quicker the Zionists, be they Christian or otherwise, come to realise this, the better for all the peoples of the Middle East.

References:

Sober, M. (1990). Beyond the Jewish State: Confessions of a Former Zionist. Summerhill Press, Toronto.

Craig Nielsen

ACTION FOR PALESTINE

 

Does God Allow Criticism of Israel?

Christian Zionists often have a very strange understanding of God’s attitude towards the Jewish people living in the land of Israel. According to their dogma, anyone criticising the Zionist State of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians is doing so illegitimately, regardless of the truth or untruth of the allegations of mistreatment of non-Jews (Arabs) living under the authority of the State of Israel. Apparently only God, or a prophet sent by God whom the Christian Zionists are willing to endorse, has the right to scold the Zionist State. Any ordinary person caught criticising the Israelis for their treatment of Palestinians is placing themselves under a God ordained curse (see Genesis 12:1-3). The catch-22 is that any Christian who criticised Israel would not be deemed a legitimate prophet of God in the eyes of the Christian Zionists in the first place. In the end, no matter how you tell it, criticism of Israel is forbidden (unless of course the Israelis decided to allow a two state solution and Palestinian Arabs are allowed rights to self determination in the land of their birth).

The truth of the matter, from a Biblical perspective, is that God hears the cry of the alien (non-Jew) living in the land of Israel.

Ex 22:21 “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.
Ex 22:22 “Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan.
Ex 22:23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.

The cry of injustice by the non-Jew in the land of Israel is heard directly by God. No prophet need mediate. The only reason that God needs to send a prophet in the first place is that the ordinary Jewish person, and those in authority, have not heard the cries, complaints and criticisms of Israel made by those who have been unjustly forced to suffer at the hand of God’s people in the land of Israel.

Below are some of the many verses in the Old Testament that cry out to Jews living in Israel to care for, and do justice when dealing with, non-Jews in the land of Israel as they (the non-Jews) are loved by God.

Ex 23:9 “Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt.

Ex 23:12 “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed.

Lev 19:33 “ ‘When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him.
Lev 19:34 The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

Lev 23:22 “ ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.’ ”

Lev 24:22 You are to have the same law for the alien and the native-born. I am the LORD your God.’ ”

Lev 25:35 “ ‘If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you.

Nu 9:14 “ ‘An alien living among you who wants to celebrate the LORD’S Passover must do so in accordance with its rules and regulations. You must have the same regulations for the alien and the native-born.’

Nu 15:15 The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before the LORD:
Nu 15:16 The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the alien living among you.’ ”

Nu 15:29 One and the same law applies to everyone who sins unintentionally, whether he is a native-born Israelite or an alien.

Dt 1:16 And I charged your judges at that time: Hear the disputes between your brothers and judge fairly, whether the case is between brother Israelites or between one of them and an alien.

Dt 10:18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.

Dt 14:21 Do not eat anything you find already dead. You may give it to an alien living in any of your towns, and he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner. But you are a people holy to the LORD your God.

Dt 23:7 Do not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother. Do not abhor an Egyptian, because you lived as an alien in his country.

Dt 24:14 Do not take advantage of a hired man who is poor and needy, whether he is a brother Israelite or an alien living in one of your towns.

Dt 24:17 Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge.
Dt 24:18 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this.
Dt 24:19 When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

Dt 24:20 When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow.
Dt 24:21 When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow.
Dt 24:22 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.

Dt 26:12 When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.
Dt 26:13 Then say to the LORD your God: “I have removed from my house the sacred portion and have given it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, according to all you commanded. I have not turned aside from your commands nor have I forgotten any of them.

Dt 27:19 “Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”.

Ps 146:9 The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

Jer 7:6 if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm,
Jer 7:7 then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever.

Jer 22:3 This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.

Eze 22:6 “ ‘See how each of the princes of Israel who are in you uses his power to shed blood.
Eze 22:7 In you they have treated father and mother with contempt; in you they have oppressed the alien and mistreated the fatherless and the widow.

Eze 22:29 The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice.
Eze 22:30 “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.
Eze 22:31 So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD.”

Eze 47:21 “You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel.
Eze 47:22 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.
Eze 47:23 In whatever tribe the alien settles, there you are to give him his inheritance,” declares the Sovereign LORD.

Zec 7:10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.’

The BDS, (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement against Israel was called for by 170 civil Palestinians organisations in Israel and the occupied territories in order to bring the Zionist State of Israel into line with international law with regards to human rights and rights to self determination. The BDS movement is the cry of the non-Jew which has been ignored by the Zionists, Christian or otherwise. God is hearing their cry.

Craig Nielsen
ACTION FOR PALESTINE

Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict

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