Christian Zionism In The News

• Learn how Christian Zionism affects the news we hear about every day.
• Discover significant stories that that our mainstream press often overlooks.

Scroll down for timely insights


PREPARING FOR A TRIP TO THE HOLY LAND: EPISCOPAL TOUR GROUP RECEIVES BRIEFING FROM A JERUSALEM QUAKER LAWYER

Jonathan Kuttab | Photo CATC USA

Jonathan Kuttab | Photo CATC USA

November 8, 2019

Jerusalem Quaker Lawyer Jonathan Kuttab was one of 7 expert witnesses who spoke to the Washington D.C. St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Holy Land Pilgrimage lecture series in preparation for a November-December 2019 MEJDI “multi-narrative” tour [www.mejditours.com]. Discover the remarkable facts and insights which Kuttab shared with this Holy Land pilgrimage group (click here): Kuttab presentation.

STRAINING OUT A GNAT BUT SWALLOWING A CAMEL

November 8, 2019

In a brilliantly written article, former dean of students at Bethlehem Bible College Rev. Alex Awad soundly refutes a claim often heard from apologists for Israel’s military occupation. The (false) claim is that the dwindling number of Christians in the West Bank and Gaza is due to persecution of those Christians by the governing bodies of those territories - the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas. Instead, argues Awad, it is the impact of military occupation, with its discriminatory policies and associated economic challenges, that has caused many Palestinian Christians to flee the country of their birth. Jesus’ rebuke, "You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel” (Matthew 23:24 NIV), is appropriate today, observes Awad, for those who falsely accuse the PA and Hamas as being primarily responsible for Palestinian Christians leaving their homes. For Rev. Awad’s article in Washington Report On Middle East Affairs (click here): Straining a Gnat But Swallowing a Camel.

WAVING THE BIBLE TO BLOCK JUSTICE

May 30, 2019

Israeli Ambassador Danny DanoN Photo: Florida International University | Flickr

Israeli Ambassador Danny DanoN Photo: Florida International University | Flickr

It is deplorable and somewhat surprising to watch Danny Danon, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, wave a Bible at a session of the Security Council to defend his country’s theft of Palestinian land in the West Bank. He is certainly inspired by his boss, Benjamin Netanyahu, who, although secular, quotes the Bible frequently to sell his expansionist agenda. 

The misuse of sacred texts to score political gains has a long history. The Bible has often been manipulated by false prophets, corrupt religious leaders, and shrewd politicians to support their self-serving agendas. In the Middle Ages, popes and emperors quoted the Bible to justify their influence on nations and armies toward committing grave atrocities. The Crusades and the Inquisition are examples. European powers supported by church leaders quoted the Bible to defend slavery and to justify colonialism. In more recent history, the Bible has been frequently used to support the occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. 

As the author of these paragraphs was interviewed by a Campus Crusade TV program and was presenting an alternative to Christian Zionism, a woman called the TV station and commented, “The guest speaker has no right to call himself a pastor or a follower of Christ because he must not know his Bible.” In this lady’s world view, true Christians are those who support Israel’s claims to Palestinian lands.

Regrettably, many Bible-believing Christians have been taught that the US invasions of Iraq, the destruction of Syria, and the plight of the Palestinian people are all in line with God’s end-time plan as predicted in the Bible.  Some Evangelical leaders and religious TV hosts claim to be inspired by the Bible when calling on US Presidents to wage wars on majority Muslim countries. TV evangelist and pastor John Hagee, on the basis of his understanding of the Scriptures, called on President Obama to invade Iran. If, God forbid, the US invades Iran in a future scenario, some Evangelical Christians will be the loudest cheerleaders for such an invasion, as they were when the US invaded Iraq. The author remembers vividly the occasion, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, when students and staff at the Bible College he attended in Switzerland were in a state of jubilation at the result of the war. They were conditioned through books, brochures, sermons, lectures, and TV programs to believe that Israel’s victories over its Arab enemies are the fulfillment of Biblical prophecies.

Today, Neo-conservatives, hyper-Zionists and Christian Zionists are received with open arms at Trump’s White House. They helped Trump to win the 2016 election, and now the President is endorsing their eschatologically based agendas. This explains why Trump goes against all logic and international consensus to grant Israel full control over all of Jerusalem, moves the US Embassy to Jerusalem, terminates US humanitarian aid to Palestinians, and accepts Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights. Bible-waving in the face of injustice may serve Israel’s immediate agenda and bring excitement to those who speculate about the end times, but the harmful effects of Bible manipulation are immense. Following are a few of the consequences:

1.    Waving the Bible to block justice is in essence an attack on the true message of the Bible: Danon waved the Bible as if to say the Bible grants exclusive rights to Israelis on all of the Holy Land while totally ignoring the rights of Palestinians to any part of their historic homeland. This logic goes counter to Biblical principles in both the Old and New Testaments that instruct the faithful not to steal or covet their neighbors’ possessions. The Bible also teaches that forcing people out of their land is a crime. Examine the following passages: 

“Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land.” Isaiah 5:8. Read also the story of Ahab, Jezebel, and Naboth, 1Kings 9:1-26.

2.    Distortion of the character of God: Danon’s assumption that God is only for Jews and that he does not care about other people and their aspirations is an attack on the character of God who cares for and loves all people. John 3:16 and Isaiah 45:22 

3.    Misleading: In his speech, Danon made many false assumptions as to the duration of the Jewish possession of Palestine. Any objective historian will know that Palestinians have lived in the Holy Land as long as Jews lived there, if not longer. It is sacrilegious for an Israeli ambassador to wave the Bible while uttering half-truths and falsehoods. 

4.    Obstruction to the advancement of peace: To achieve a just peace, both Israelis and Palestinians need to realize that both lived in the land for centuries and both have deep historical and emotional connections to the land. No side should deny or delegitimize the history of the other side. Danon, waving the Bible, was denying Palestinian history and Palestinians’ connection to the land. Such rhetoric adds obstacles in the path of peace and reconciliation.

5.    An attack on human dignity: Danon’s waving the Bible before the Security Council of the UN is an insult to the intelligence and dignity of world leaders and the countries they represent. Does Danon assume that these leaders are not aware of the Balfour Declaration, the UN partition of Palestine in 1947, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 and after? Is he ignoring the fact that the UN voted repeatedly and overwhelmingly that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal and an obstacle to peace?

6.    Indifference to human suffering: The lingering Arab-Israeli conflict has caused immense suffering to millions of people around the world but especially to Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims. Danon’s waving the Bible serves only to prolong the conflict and hence the suffering. When Israel comes to the point of wanting peace with her neighbors, her leaders will take note of the international consensus at the UN rather than having her ambassador wave the Bible to maintain a regime of oppression, death, and suffering. 

The Israeli Ambassador should stop waving the Bible and start reading it. Once he reads the Bible, he may discover the following words from the prophet Isaiah:

“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” Isaiah 1:17 

Trump  Recognizes Israeli Sovereignty Over the Golan Heights: Pompeo Claims “Trump Is the New Queen Esther Poised to Save Israel”

March 26, 2019

AFP: Trump And Netanyahu Show Presidential Decree Changing US Policy by Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty Over Syrian Golan Heights

AFP: Trump And Netanyahu Show Presidential Decree Changing US Policy by Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty Over Syrian Golan Heights

As President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order making the United States the first nation to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian Golan Heights, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo affirmed President Donald Trump as a new Queen Esther, poised to save Israel. Two Hispanic Senators, Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), are following their leaders by co- sponsoring legislation in the U.S. Senate to change official U.S. policy to “recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”

Rev. John Hagee, President of the Christian Zionist organization, Christians United for Israel, and leading Hispanic clergy praised the decision. The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, took to social media and celebrated Trump's announcement, stating: “I applaud this administration’s decision to recognize what’s been true since God gave the Israelites the Promised Land, and more recently when Israel re-took control of the land during the Six-Day War in 1967, that the Golan Heights are the rightful, sovereign lands of Israel.” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a fundamentalist Christian Zionist, went further, telling the Christian Broadcasting Network that it is entirely possible God is using President Trump as “a new Queen Esther,” to save Israel from attacks from Iran. When asked if that is a possibility, Pompeo responded: “As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible.” Read it at Christian Broadcasting Network.   

But is this a faithful way to interpret the Bible in the light of current events?  We at christianzionism.org have a different view.  PLEASE CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:

As we launch the new Spanish version of the website christianzionism.org, we ask everyone to stop and consider a short Biblical, theological, and historical exercise to determine if Israel’s claim of sovereignty over the Golan Heights is consistent with Bible prophecy or the ethics of the Hebrew Prophets and Jesus Christ? Among the questions you might consider are:

First: did God give the modern state of Israel the right to seize the Golan Heights, or for that matter East Jerusalem and the West Bank as sovereign Israeli territory? Does the modern state of Israel have a right to seize Arab land and make a “biblical” claim to justify its actions?

Second: how would the Prophets Elijah, Amos and Micah judge the Trump-Netanyahu decision to claim Israeli sovereignty or new legislation co-sponsored by Senators Cruz and Rubio that support the questionable claim? Read I Kings 21 and consider how the Prophet Elijah viewed King Ahab and Queen Jezebel’s “political plot” to steal land from a farmer named Naboth? Elijah says to Ahab: “I have found you because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord” (I Kings 21:20). Could Elijah’s prophetic challenge have any bearing on the proposed Trump and Israeli decision?

Third: how does the rule of law, including international law, apply to the Golan Heights? The United Nations Charter forbids nations from seizing land from another country by aggression as do the Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949. Israel occupied the Golan Heights in the June War of 1967 but this land is still considered Syrian territory and only Israel and the Trump administration recognize this sudden change of status. Should international law and perhaps the Ten Commandments (“Thou shall not steal,” “Thou shall not covet what is thy neighbors’”) be considered in evaluating the Trump/Netanyahu decision on the Golan Heights?  

Fourth: consider the timing of this decision and whether there might be immediate political motives behind it. The Israeli Prime Minister is in a highly contested election and has been charged with criminal activity. The Mueller Report was just released on Friday, March 22nd, and eventually it may have severe consequences for President Trump and his administration. The pro-Israel lobby AIPAC will meet this week and wants to celebrate and justify the Golan Heights decision. Could there be partisan political motivations in the timing of the Israeli/U.S. decision?

Fifth: how do we separate God’s will and the call “to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8) from the possible misuse of the Bible to provide a religious “cover” for a political decision?

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Please see the articles “What Is Christian Zionism?” “Bible,” “Theology,”  “Politics,” “Story,” and “Peacemaking.” Join us in praying and acting responsibly as informed followers of Jesus and the Hebrew and Muslim prophets, in standing with the oppressed in the search for justice and a lasting peace in the Holy Land.

Christian Zionist Leader Rev. John Hagee Departs from Core Evangelical Doctrines

John C. Hagee / Photo: Christians United for Israel

John C. Hagee / Photo: Christians United for Israel

December 16, 2018

A few years ago, John C. Hagee, Pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, recorded a remarkable video: John Hagee video. In this video, Hagee is selling his book In Defense of Israel (2011) and making claims that are so outrageous that no New Testament scholars have ever taken him or this book seriously. But we should take Hagee seriously. He is the pastor of one of the largest churches in Texas, he is the highly visible leader of “Christians United for Israel,” and he is a catalyst (or lightening rod) for Christian Zionism in the US. However, this book unmasks that he is not a serious theologian. His claims cannot even be supported by other Christian Zionist supporters. In this book, he says that Jesus never claimed to be the messiah, that the church is mistaken in promoting him as the messiah, and when first century Jews rejected Jesus they cannot be blamed because they never rejected their messiah in the first place. All of this has one aim: to say that the coming of Jesus had no effect on Judaism’s covenants. This leads to his hidden aim: that the modern secular State of Israel thus still enjoys the covenant land promises of Abraham and that nothing about Jesus ever interrupted these promises. In an attempt to promote modern secular Israel, he demotes Jesus. It is an astonishing claim — which is why since its publication date in 2011 the book has been largely ignored, except by vulnerable Christians in ordinary churches that do no know they are being duped.

This pastor and his books serve as a warning. Every Christian needs to be alert to charlatans who claim that their teaching will “revolutionize the world” and “change the course of theology.” Charlatans will lead many astray. This reminds me of a valuable verse in Mark 13:22-23. Jesus warned us about charlatans. They are false prophets and teachers who will lead “many astray.” However, careful, prayerful study will easily unmask people who are charlatans and protect us from being led into false teachings

Christ at the Checkpoint: Christians meet in Bethlehem to expose cracks in evangelical support for Israel

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May 27, 2018

In the wake of the controversial US embassy move to Jerusalem, over 400 evangelical Christians from the Middle East, United States, and Europe will gather in Bethlehem, Palestine for a conference called Christ at the Checkpoint. At this conference, scheduled for May 28th through June 1st, participants will debate, analyze and seek the will of God and the way of Jesus’ life and teachings.

Featured speakers include Palestinian evangelicals, Western evangelical theologians, and Messianic Jewish leaders. They will examine biblical and theological beliefs that divide evangelicals over issues such as: Who owns the land of Palestine/Israel? Does the State of Israel have the right seize Palestinian land for construction of exclusively Jewish settlements?

Palestinian Christian journalist Daoud Kuttab has written an excellent article about the conference (click here): Christians Meet in Bethlehem.

Daoud Kuttab is Director General of the Community Media Network in Amman, Jordan. His editorials have appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and other U.S. and European papers. He was previously an Adjunct Professor of Journalism at Princeton University. He is the author of Sesame Street, Palestine, a personal story of the challenges of bringing the joy of Sesame Street to the children of Palestine.