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An Invisible People

Christian Zionists are very fond of telling me that there is no such thing as a Palestinian and no such country as Palestine. The memorials to fallen diggers who died in a place (inscribed on the monuments) known as Palestine, seems to speak otherwise. These religious Zionists maintain that the ancestors of the Arabs who lay claim to rights of self determination in Israel-Palestine today, had no interest in the region until the Zionists came and drained the swamps and made the desert bloom. They demand that the vast majority of the so called “Palestinians” are recent immigrants and hence have no claim to the land in any sense. This argument somehow enables Christian Zionists to close their eyes and ears to the plight of Palestinians, denying them rights that any other people in the western world would take for granted.

Official census data inform us that the Arab population in Palestine in 1893 was 466,200. This would have made Palestine three times more densely populated with Arabs than the state of Tasmania is today with peoples of any type. The population of Jews in Palestine in 1893 was close to 30,000 and the vast majority of them were anti-Zionist in orientation. They required no “Separation Barrier” to protect them from suicide attackers and while they welcomed Jewish migration to Palestine, they did not want a Zionist State to come and ruin the centuries long peace they had enjoyed with the Arabs they lived with.

Christian Zionists tell us that even these 466,200 Arabs in 1893 were drawn to Palestine by the Zionist colonies that existed in Palestine at that time. The fact that the first Zionist colonies in Palestine (impoverished as they were) did not occur until around 1880 and were not to become a “going concern” until the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, doesn’t bother the advocates of this notion. An authoritative study done on this period by Neville Mandel reveals that only a tiny minority of Arabs and Bedouin would have felt any direct presence of the Zionists before 1908. The reality is that these hundreds of thousands of Arabs chose to live in Palestine of their own free will, completely independent from the influence of Zionism in Palestine. Large numbers of them could trace their family lines in Palestine back for centuries. I personally know a Palestinian living in Adelaide who can trace his family line back some 600 years in the land of Palestine.

British census data in 1922 state that the population in Palestine was 757,182 with 11% being Jewish. In 1930 the British counted 1,035,154 inhabitants of Palestine with 16.9% of them Jewish. By the time of the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan, some 1.3 million Arabs lived in Palestine with just over 500,000 Jews. Christian Zionists also charge that the increase in Arab population in the inter-war period was due to migration from Jordan and Syria despite the fact that this argument has been shown to be based on fabricated and unreliable evidence by numerous scholars all over the world, including Israel.

Defenders of the Zionists state’s sense of entitlement to the land of Palestine, over and above any consideration of the Arab population, are forced to admit that the only thing that everyone agrees with, is that it was the Jewish population that was (in the vast majority) the actual newcomers to Palestine. How can it be that recent Arab arrivals to Palestine somehow prove that Arabs have no claim to the land of Palestine while even more recent Jewish arrivals to Palestine never call Zionist sovereignty into question? A Zionist once insisted to me that some Arabs in 1947 had only been in Palestine for 8 years. I countered that a greater number of Jews had only been in Palestine for 8 months! The Bible tells us that the Jews were never indigenous to Palestine. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb (all the founding fathers of Israel) were not born in Israel. Other people groups lived in Palestine well before the Jewish people. Shall we trace their descendants and give them greater rights to anyone else who currently lives in the Holy land?

The point is that no matter how long a person has been living in the place that they choose to call home, they have the right to be treated as equals with all those who share the land with them regardless of race, colour or creed. We all have the right to live in the land we choose to live in, in a manner such that our identity does not place us in a position of disadvantage when compared to those that the state considers to be preferred.

The first Palestinian National Congress occurred in 1919, some 48 years before 1967, the date that some declare to be the time Arabs became interested in the concept of a Palestinian state for the first time. Prior to 1919, Palestine had been part of the Ottoman Turkish empire and Arab nationalist movements would have (not surprisingly) been frowned upon to say the least. Arab Palestinians contributed far more to the defeat of the Turks in Palestine in the First World War, to make a Jewish or Palestinian state even possible, than did the Zionists. Some Zionist leaders even considered supporting the Turks, the allies of Germany, in the Great War.

The Palestinian people might be invisible to Christian Zionists, but not to the God of the Bible. Not to Jesus. Jesus legendary desire to advocate for those considered invisible in Israel in His time, should ring alarm bells for followers of Jesus when we hear the Christian supporters of Zionist Israel demonise and disregard the Palestinian Arab population.

The right to equality for both Jews and Arabs in Israel-Palestine is not conferred by migration statistics, Zionist ideology, the Holocaust, misguided conceptions of God’s promise to Abraham advanced by Christian Zionists but by the simple fact that we ARE ALREADY EQUAL IN GOD’S SIGHT. God loves Palestinian Arabs just as much as He does Jewish people. That should be the beginning and end of the story for all Christians.

Craig Nielsen
ACTION FOR PALESTINE

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Christian Zionist Ethics

The ethical stance taken by advocates of Christian Zionism, with regard to the Israel-Palestine conflict, although somewhat convoluted and contradictory at best, can be summed up by the following: Unconditional support for the State of Israel is the duty of all Christians.

For Christian Zionists, the Israelis have a license to do as they wish in the land of Israel with possibly the only exception being that they must not give in to the cries of injustice made by the Palestinian people and allow any of Greater Israel to come under non-Jewish rule. Hence Christian Zionists never criticise Israel for any atrocities they commit against Palestinian Arabs, be they Christian, Muslim, secular or even other Jews, but they would, for example, criticise Israeli leaders like Ariel Sharon, for the withdrawal of Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip in 2005. In the eyes of the Christian Zionists, the only mandate for Jews in Israel is to conquer all the land at any cost.

The ethical and religious traditions of Judaism, with regards to the covenant of the land, made by God and the Jewish people at Mount Sinai, are basically irrelevant according to Christian Zionist teaching. The fact that the State of Israel is a Zionist Secular State is of no consequence to them regardless of the fact that scripture plainly teaches that God is intimately concerned with the ethical behaviour of His people while living in the land of Israel. In fact, occupation of the land by the Jews is completely conditional upon their adherence to the ethical and religious traditions of the Torah. As the Chosen people of God, they are unique in that they alone have a specific covenant, recorded in detail in scripture, regarding their occupation of the land.

A secular state ideology that repudiates the Torah clearly stands outside the conditions of the covenant of the land God made with the Hebrews at Sinai. It doesn’t take a prophet sent by God like Jeremiah or Isaiah to see that secular Zionism is a rebellion against the open worship of God. Christian Zionist silence on this matter puts them in a position of complicity with the Zionist rebellion against the Torah and hence against God. God calls all people, not just specially designated prophets, to speak out against injustice and rebellion in the land of Israel. Why? Because God cares about injustice against the vulnerable in the land as mentioned in scripture too many times to enumerate here.

Christian Zionist apathy towards the breaking of the covenant of the land by the Zionist State is achieved by an argument that over-emphasises the concept of the Sovereignty of God in the history of the world and a virtual complete dismissal of the responsibility of Jewish people with regard to their ethical behaviour on a day to day basis in Israel. In Christian Zionist theology, the Sovereignty of God not only trumps the responsibility of Jews in Israel, it annuls it.

The Christian Zionist demand that the State of Israel is the “apple of God’s eye” and that the hand of God is upon them means that no criticism of Israel is allowed. God’s overall plan repudiates the need for Israel to be challenged about its rebellious behaviour against the Torah of God. Whereas the prophets of old challenged Israel with great force, no such criticism is allowed today.

The Zionist rebellion against God is of no consequence since we are told that God’s hand is on the land and that He has brought the Jews back to the land as He said He would. Israel has a blank cheque, a license to do as it pleases in the eyes of Christian Zionism. The responsibility of Jews in Israel, as clearly stated in the Torah, is suddenly drowned out by hysterical appeals to the sovereignty of God and claims of fulfilled prophecy. The disappearance of the moral and ethical demands of God regarding the Jewish people in Israel, has been justified in Christian Zionist dogma.

All Christians must endorse the state of Israel and not criticise it, regardless of the fact that it has violated its covenantal responsibilities with regard to the land from the very outset. Anyone reading the curses that Jews must face if they disobey God while in the land, would be forgiven for thinking that God is deadly serious about whether or not Israel obeys Him while occupying the land, but the Christian Zionists inform us that this would be a mistake.

While God was really concerned about this in the past, it matters to Him no more and so it should not matter to us either. God’s plan to restore the nation of Israel can only apply to the Zionist state as it is today and hence all will be put right by God in the near future. No need for crying out about the rebellious Zionists and the atrocities they have committed in the recent past. Since God is going to restore Israel any moment, there is no need to worry about whether or not Israel fulfils its covenantal responsibility. In other words, the end justifies the means! Because God knows (and so would we if we would only listen to the wisdom of the Bible as revealed by Christian Zionists) that He has plans to make all things right in Israel, we should not criticise Israel for the sins that it commits today. Injustices committed today and in the making of the Zionist State should be ignored. God is using all things to bring about His plans for Israel and so nothing should be challenged.

Perhaps Jeremiah should have responded to the word that God gave Him regarding Israel as follows;

Hmmm…Israel is the “apple of God’s eye” and His hand is upon them and He has a wonderful plan for them. He has everything in control! No need to worry about the sins of Israel…God is Sovereign. He is allowing them to do these sinful acts for a reason! I should just shut up and remember that God will curse me if I criticise His people.

The Christians Zionists attitude to the state of Israel verges on idolatry. Israel can do no wrong, it can never be challenged. To criticise or challenge the State of Israel when they break their covenantal responsibilities will invoke a curse from God, while blessing it in its rebellion will ensure a blessing from same. Such interpretations of God’s promises to Abraham are unknown to Judaism. In effect these interpretations are invoked when Christian Zionist interpretations are challenged by students of scripture.

The ethical stand of Christian Zionism towards the state of Israel is contradictory in the extreme. The legitimacy of the state of Israel in the land is not decided on by whether or not is in rebellion against the covenant of the land God made with it at Sinai, but simply by the Christian Zionist pronouncement that the current State of Israel, regardless of its attitude now, will be restored in the future. It’s what happens in the future, according to their reading of scripture, which decides what is acceptable today. This ethical stance is fundamentally repudiated by scripture.

The contradictory nature of Christian Zionist logic is clearly evident when we give it even the smallest amount of scrutiny. Since the creation of the State of Israel, as it is today, is by the Sovereign plan of God and part of His plan to restore the nation of Israel and the return of Christ, we should not be concerned about Israel’s legitimacy in the land because of its breaking of the covenant that it made with God at Sinai. That is irrelevant. God doesn’t care about such things these days. We should endorse anything that brings about the creation of the State of Israel and its project to take control of all of Greater Israel because this is the Sovereign plan of God. God can use any means to bring about His plans, even if they might seem unfair at first.

By this logic, all Christians should endorse the Holocaust. It is universally recognised that the Holocaust was a major factor in the minds of the members of the United Nations when deciding on whether or not to create an Israeli state in Palestine. Jewish migration to Palestine, something applauded by Christian Zionists, took a major move upward during the reign of the Nazis. God clearly used the Holocaust to bring about the state of Israel so we must endorse the destruction of six million Jews! Any other attitude to the Holocaust shows Christian Zionist hypocrisy.

Christian theologians of all descriptions have agreed that God sovereignly allows evil to occur for purposes that may seem obvious sometimes and completely inscrutable at others. Regardless of how we do or do not interpret the reasons that God allows evil, we are called by God to resist that evil ,even if it appears to be facilitating prophetic fulfilment or not. The act of God in allowing evil in no way implies God’s endorsement of that very same evil. What God does not endorse according to His own morality, should not be endorsed by us regardless of the fact that God has chosen to allow it to happen. The end justifies the means is a fatalistic statement not found or endorsed in any way in scripture. The details of God’s plan to fulfil His predestined decrees are His business. Our business is to resist the evil that God allows to occur in this world regardless of whether or not we think we understand why it has occurred according to our own understandings of eschatology. The breaking of the Mosaic covenant of the land by the Zionist State is a breaking of God’s covenant and is not endorsed by God regardless of how in the end God uses that rebellion to fulfil His plan. Since God does not endorse such behaviour then neither should we and silence on such a matter, when the possible consequences are so grave, is not justifiable. The future is for God to decide. The responsibility to our fellow human beings, as outlined by the merciful actions of God who hears the voice of the poor and oppressed and advocates for them, is just that…our responsibility. Our ethics are derived from the Sermon on the Mount and God’s universal concern for all people’s rights as revealed in God’s word.

The ethics of Christianity are Christalogically based. They are not centred on doctrines of eschatology. Ethics based on eschatology are presumptive upon alleged knowledge of future events and inevitably lead to an “end justifies the means” mentality. This type of arrogant use of God’s word betrays itself as bad theology by its outcome. The priority of caring for one’s neighbour regardless of colour or creed is abandoned for an ethic that discriminates against those who are alleged not to be in God’s books according to sectarian doctrines of the end times. Christ calls us to see each other first as human beings rather than those who are on the right track of God’s end times plan and those who are not.

CRAIG NIELSEN

Action for Palestine.

Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict

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