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The Root of Anti-Semitism

As Israel honored her Holocaust martyrs and heroes on Yom HaShoah in April, the media reported that there is an upsurge in violence against Jews all over the world. Indeed Jews in Norway and France have been advised not to walk on the streets wearing symbols that may identify them as Jewish. Anti-Semitism is not a new arrival on the world scene. It has a history that goes back thousands of years. Many people appear to simply hate Jews and they will latch onto anything to justify this hatred. Even the attack on the Twin Towers in New York is still blamed on the Jews, despite the fact that bin Laden and his gang of thugs have laughingly confessed to the crime!

So what lies at the bottom of anti-Semitism? Or to put it another way, what are its root? To be sure this question has occupied the minds of scholars for centuries and I would not be so arrogant as to presume that I could fully answer it in this short space. However, having said that, the following are some thoughts on the subject that arise from the Bible.

  1. The reality of evil: We live in a world today that generally seeks to discount and ignore evil. Past generations, being more impacted by the Judeo/Christian ethic, had no such problem. Evil was a reality and was defined as that which contradicts the demands of a holy, loving and righteous God. The more one contradicts the 'values of God' as revealed in Scripture, the more evil one becomes. It was this challenge that was put to the newly created man and woman in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8-17).
  2. The fall of humankind: The third chapter of Genesis records man’s rebellion against God and with this rebellion the entry of evil into the hearts of all men and women, and thus by implication into the world. Thus it is no surprise that thereafter murder, lying, cheating and conflict became the norm in terms of the human experience. It remains so today, as the tragic events at Virginia Tech University have just demonstrated. Evil is everywhere and clutches at every heart. God warned Cain about this and exhorted him to deal with it (Genesis 4:4-7). Paul the Apostle referred to its reality by stating that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory (character) of God.” (Romans 3:23)
  3. The demonic realm: Though for some it is hard to understand, the Bible acknowledges the existence of the devil and his dark hoards throughout both testaments. The devil was himself in the Garden, inducing Adam and Eve to rebel against God and embrace evil. The decision was wholly theirs; the devil merely provided the opportunity for choice. In the end, Adam chose evil over good and, as a consequence, made himself a willing ally of Satan meaning "the adversary." In some ways, the same drama is being played out from generation to generation. Not all that is perceived as evil originates with mankind. There are unseen powers seeking by every means possible to gather converts from the human race.
    Once these converts have been gleaned, they are ready to further the deeds of evil and thereby to resist the purposes of God. Crucial to this purpose of God is the nation of Israel. To therefore discount the existence of the devil is to make a devilish mistake! If you don’t believe that he exists, you will never be able to fully identify the horrors of evil and of anti-Semitism. Herein lays the message of that amazing Book of the Bible called Job! (Job 1:6-12)
  4. The redemptive initiative: In Genesis 12, we have recorded God’s move towards this fallen world. We did not look for Him, He came looking for us! He did this by approaching a Sumerian called Abram, who later 'crossed over' into Canaan and thus became the first Hebrew, today's Jews. This is the 'dawn of world redemption' and Israel is at the heart of it. Redemption is that process whereby God buys back humanity from all that is wicked and evil. Israel is the 'vehicle' of world redemption or the 'delivery mechanism.' She is the means by which God will make Himself known to an evil world and reach out to it. For this reason Jesus said, “Salvation is of the Jews,” (John 4:22) and Paul maintained that Israel’s uniqueness lies in two things: One, she is the custodian of the oracles of God (Romans 3:1-2), and two, the 'house' out of which the great redemptive acts of God for the sake of the world have arisen (Romans 9:1-5).
    This reality, that no other nation lives in, has made the Jewish people the target of all that is evil and wicked kill the Jew and you will kill God and His purpose in the world! This is the dark sinister plan that lurks in the heart of men and that drives the powers of darkness. It has manifested throughout history, finding its most diabolical expression in the Holocaust.
    John saw this phenomenon on the isle of Patmos when he received The Revelation. In chapter twelve of this “unveiling,” he sees a woman clothed with the sun, moon and 12 stars. She is pregnant but challenged. That is, opposing her is a red dragon who seeks by all means possible to destroy her. The dragon is identified as the devil!
    The imagery here is taken from Genesis 37, where Joseph had a dream in which his father, mother and eleven brothers are presented as the sun, moon and twelve stars (including himself). So, the message is clear; the woman is Israel! She is pregnant because she births God’s redeeming purpose into the world. In fulfilling this role, she has to endure the wrath of all that is evil. This is the root of anti-Semitism.
  5. The human factor: The fact that the Scriptures acknowledge a demonic reality in no way gives humankind an excuse for the role that it plays in the manifestation of anti-Semitism. The human heart is a citadel of decision making and thinking. It therefore is entirely responsible for its actions. This means that it willingly entertains evil, embraces it and pursues its goals. There is no excuse for anti-Semitism. Haman, of Esther’s time, was held accountable by God and paid the price, and so have all the other anti-Semites of history. This will also be true of the future. Again I say, there is no excuse!

Today anti-Semitism has become anti-Israelism. In much of the Middle East, Hitler and the Third Reich remain admired, and Mein Kampf and the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion are still freely available. Cartoons depict Jews in much the same way as the Nazis did and the Holocaust is denied. Aspects of the liberal left are now also embracing these ideas, demonstrating yet again that education or intellectual ability is no defense against this evil. The Nazi elite who planned the extermination of the Jews of Europe at the Villa Wannsee near Berlin in January 1942 were all highly educated people. Some of them were doctors of law and theologians!

Truth that is the liberating truth of God’s Word is the only real weapon against this evil, for it leads to repentance and redemption.

Rev. Malcolm Hedding is the former Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism

It is with concern that we note the negative opinions about Christian Zionism voiced by certain church clerics in Jerusalem in a recent statement entitled, “The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism” (view entire statement below). Using inflammatory language they have expressed views that are far from the truth.

The truth is:

1. Christian Zionism is a theological position that sees a future destiny for Israel in the land of her forefathers. A Christian Zionist believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible and rejects replacement theology that definitely played a pivotal role in the persecution of Jews through the centuries, and under girded the Holocaust. Christian Zionism is not heretical; in fact, Christians from all traditional backgrounds have held such a view for two thousand years. Simply put, a Christian Zionist is one who believes that God, by a sovereign choice, gave the Land of Canaan as an everlasting possession to the Jewish people, for His kingdom purposes. (Genesis 17:7-8).

2. Christian Zionists believe that while God loves all people equally, He has chosen the Jewish people to bring redemption to mankind. Our Messiah and King, Jesus Christ, was born of Jewish parents, into a Jewish society, thus making the Jewish people our 'royal family', to be honored because the King was born to them. Christian Zionists reject hatred of any people group.

3. Christian Zionists do not base their theological position on end-time prophecy, but on the faithful covenant promises of God given to Abraham some four thousand years ago. They do not have a “thirst for Armageddon,” and do not claim to know the sequence of events that will lead to it.

4. Christian Zionists recognize that Israel has a right to exist in peace and security. Moreover, there are biblical considerations that regulate Israel’s national existence and these have to do with the issues of justice and righteousness and her treatment of the stranger within her midst. Christian Zionists fully recognize this and stand for these.

5. Christian Zionism is not a threat to anybody, but instead seeks to be a blessing. The Christian Zionist organizations in Israel have given millions of dollars of aid and care to all the population groups in the land, including Israeli and Palestinian Arabs, Druse and others.

We pray for peace. But we note with sadness that the present Palestinian Government is totally dedicated to the destruction of Israel and its charter declares it. So, the problem in the region is not as simple as the Jerusalem Declaration makes out!

6. Sadly there have been no meetings between the Jerusalem clerics and their Christian Zionist counterparts. We invite such a dialogue and consider it a biblical prerequisite. We are distressed that a public denunciation has occurred first. We feel that we have been treated with disrespect and disdain, and attacked by the issuing of these public declarations. They present themselves as lovers of justice, mercy, truth and peace! This public attack seems lacking in these qualities.

We find the paper unbalanced and notably one-sided. It totally ignores the jihadist goals of the Hamas government and turns a blind eye to terrorism perpetrated by this regime. Everything is attributed to “occupation and militarism”, meaning Israel is the only problem. We think not! This one-sided unbalanced view of the conflict is in fact unhelpful to the peace process and contributing to its failure!

So, in closing, we Christian Zionists call upon Christians and Churches everywhere not to remain silent, but to break their silence and speak for reconciliation with justice in the Holy Land. To pray for the peace of Jerusalem, to affirm Israel’s right to live in peace and security, free from the threat of liquidation by Islamic Jihadists who definitely seek to 'colonize' the Jewish State by bringing it into the Empire of Islam. We reject all forms of discrimination.

Signatures

Rebecca Brimmer
International President, Bridges For Peace

Ray Sanders
Executive Director, Christian Friends of Israel

Malcolm Hedding
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem


 

"THE JERUSALEM DECLARATION ON CHRISTIAN ZIONISM"

Statement by the Patriarch and Local Heads of Churches In Jerusalem

"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God." (Matthew 5:9)

Christian Zionism is a modern theological and political movement that embraces the most extreme ideological positions of Zionism, thereby becoming detrimental to a just peace within Palestine and Israel. The Christian Zionist programme provides a worldview where the Gospel is identified with the ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism. In its extreme form, it places an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ's love and justice today.

We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation.

We further reject the contemporary alliance of Christian Zionist leaders and organizations with elements in the governments of Israel and the United States that are presently imposing their unilateral pre-emptive borders and domination over Palestine. This inevitably

leads to unending cycles of violence that undermine the security of all peoples of the Middle East and the rest of the world.

We reject the teachings of Christian Zionism that facilitate and support these policies as they advance racial exclusivity and perpetual war rather than the gospel of universal love, redemption and reconciliation taught by Jesus Christ. Rather than condemn the world to

the doom of Armageddon we call upon everyone to liberate themselves from the ideologies of militarism and occupation. Instead, let them pursue the healing of the nations!

We call upon Christians in Churches on every continent to pray for the Palestinian and Israeli people, both of whom are suffering as victims of occupation and militarism. These discriminative actions are turning Palestine into impoverished ghettos surrounded by exclusive Israeli settlements. The establishment of the illegal settlements and the

construction of the Separation Wall on confiscated Palestinian land undermines the viability of a Palestinian state as well as peace and security in the entire region.

We call upon all Churches that remain silent, to break their silence and speak for reconciliation with justice in the Holy Land.

Therefore, we commit ourselves to the following principles as an alternative way:

We affirm that all people are created in the image of God. In turn they are called to honor the dignity of every human being and to respect their inalienable rights.

We affirm that Israelis and Palestinians are capable of living together within peace, justice and security.

We affirm that Palestinians are one people, both Muslim and Christian. We reject all attempts to subvert and fragment their unity.

We call upon all people to reject the narrow world view of Christian Zionism and other ideologies that privilege one people at the expense of others.

We are committed to non-violent resistance as the most effective means to end the illegal occupation in order to attain a just and lasting peace.

With urgency we warn that Christian Zionism and its alliances are justifying colonization, apartheid and empire-building.

God demands that justice be done. No enduring peace, security or reconciliation is possible without the foundation of justice. The demands of justice will not disappear. The struggle for justice must be pursued diligently and persistently but non-violently.

"What does the Lord require of you, to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)

This is where we take our stand. We stand for justice. We can do no other. Justice alone guarantees a peace that will lead to reconciliation with a life of security and prosperity for all the

peoples of our Land. By standing on the side of justice, we open ourselves to the work of peace - and working for peace makes us children of God.

"God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." (2 Cor 5:19)

 

His Beattitude Patriarch Michel Sabbah
Latin Patriarchate, Jerusalem

Archbishop Swerios Malki Mourad,
Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem

Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal,
Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Bishop Munib Younan,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land

Israel: Vehicle of World Redemption

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Vehicle of World Redemption

This teaching is taken from the first part of Rev. Maclolm Hedding’s series on Biblical Zionism. It explains the unique role that God has designated for the Jewish people in terms of delivering His gift of salvation to the world. Go to our online store to purchase the entire series.

Listen Israel - Vehicle of World redemption

Israel and Jesus

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The Tension of Jesus

For too long Jews and Christians have been engaging with each other by ‘dancing’ around the real issues. I have been involved in this field since 1975 and therefore can speak from experience.

Even though Christianity is an offshoot of the Jewish faith, the gulf between the two belief systems is great, and there is no reason for us to pretend otherwise. Judaism and Christianity have a lot in common, to be sure, but the stumbling point is most certainly Jesus and His mission to the world, including the Jewish world.

One of these ‘real issues’ confronting us is his command to His followers to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to "every creature" (Mark 16:15), even the Jewish ones. This is a major tenet of biblical Christian faith, but it is totally rejected by the Jewish world for many reasons, chiefly historical but theological as well. Sadly, the historical Christian obedience to this command was to persecute, harass and even kill Jews. One cannot therefore act surprised at the Jewish position on missionizing.

Nonetheless, you can still be in dialogue between the two distinctive systems if you dance around this issue as well. But such an approach is threatening to derail one of the greatest movements in history in terms of healing Jewish-Christian relationships.

Some Evangelical Christians say there can be no compromise and are publicly calling for aggressive missionary activity to be directed at Israel and the Jewish world. Others are so moved to engage with Israel that they feel a need to completely remove the ‘tension’ of Jesus from between us through Dual Covenant and other erroneous teachings.

Meantime, a small band of Jewish anti-missionary activists are trying to spoil the burgeoning relationship between Christians and Jews by attacking the Christian belief system and even calling for benevolence organizations like the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem to be branded as missionary and thereby banned from Israel.

Now if I said to my Jewish friends that in order to have a meaningful relationship with me, they must stop celebrating Shabbat, they would be horrified and reject such a position out of hand. But this is what some Jews are doing to Christians! They assert that no relationship between Jews and Christians can take place unless the Christians disavow missionary activity.

The Jewish world must know that the call to be obedient to world missions, including the Jewish world, is not a small matter that can be compromised. No, this call is a major tenet of our biblical faith (Romans 1:16; Matthew 28:18-20). It cannot be done away with easily, just as keeping Shabbat cannot be done away with easily. If pro-Israel Evangelicals reject this call they would be totally discredited in the wider Christian world.

So the question is: How do Christians obey their own Scriptures to preach the Good News everywhere and at the same time engage Israel in a non-offensive way?

First, by affirming who we are and not by trying to play at being Jewish. Though our ministry does not engage in traditional missionary activity in Israel, neither do we hide who we are as devout Christians, and we make clear all that we do is compelled by the love of Jesus in us. Thus our conduct itself is a “witness” to the transformation Jesus has done in our lives, and if someone then wants to ask me about it, I will tell them.

As the Apostle Peter instructed: "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." (1 Peter 3:15) In other words if Jews do not want to know, they simply should not ask!

For nearly three decades now, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has embraced this position with integrity and been able to engage with Israel without compromising on our obedience to own faith. We have been sincere and honest and many Israelis know they can trust us because there is no hidden agenda. This is who we are as both committed Christians and genuine friends of Israel, and we have the track record to prove it.


Rev. Malcolm Hedding is the former Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

Biblical Zionism

Tens of thousands of churches have a committed belief in the importance of standing with Israel and blessing the Jewish people. The verse most often referred to as their biblical mandate is Genesis 12:3 in which God tells Abraham “I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

Since the birth of the State of Israel in 1948 the theological error known as Replacement Theology has begun to decline and increasing is a theology of Christian Zionism that understands the importance of God’s everlasting covenant with Abraham and the nation he would birth.

However, just as the term “Zionism” has been turned into a negative word by Israel’s enemies, so “Christian Zionism” is under attack and often misrepresented in the media and in some public discourse. For this reason, the ICEJ’s articles and monographs defining and clarifying the beliefs of Christian supporters of Israel and placing their “love for Israel” within its proper biblical context are proving invaluable.

Christian Zionists

"Zionism, [is] the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel, advocated, from its inception, tangible as well as spiritual aims. Jews of all persuasions, left and right, religious and secular, joined to form the Zionist movement and worked together toward these goals. Disagreements led to rifts, but ultimately, the common goal of a Jewish state in its ancient homeland was attained. The term "Zionism" was coined in 1890 by Nathan Birnbaum." (Jewish Virtual Library).

If Zionism is the belief in the Jewish people's right to return to their homeland, then a Christian Zionist should simply be defined as a Christian who supports the Jewish people's right to return to their homeland. Under this broad and simple definition, many Christians would qualify no matter what their reasons are for this support. Just as Jews of all persuasions formed the Zionist movement then Christians of all persuasion can also fall within this broad definition of a Christian Zionist.

For this very reason, a myriad of answers may be given by a Christian when questioned about their support of Israel. Answers can include political, historical, and/or religious reasons.

Theology of Christian Zionism

The actual theology of Christian Zionism, also known as Biblical Zionism, supports the right of the Jewish people to return to their homeland on scriptural grounds. The biblical foundation for Christian Zionism is found in God's Covenant with Abraham. It was in this covenant that God chose Abraham to birth a nation through which He could redeem the world, and to do this He bequeathed them a land on which to exist as this chosen nation.

Christian Zionism is confirmed throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. The major and minor prophets consistently confirmed this national calling on Israel, promised her future restoration to the land after a period of exile, and spoke of her spiritual renewal and redemption bringing light to the world.

Christian Zionism differs with Replacement Theology which teaches that the special relationship that Israel had with her God in terms of her national destiny and her national homeland has been lost because of her rejection of Jesus as Messiah, and therefore the Church has become the new Israel. The Church has then inherited all the blessings promised to Israel but the judgments and curses still conveniently remain over the Jewish people.

Instead, Christian Zionism teaches from the scriptures that God's covenant with Abraham is still valid today. There remains a national destiny over the Jewish people and her national homeland is her everlasting possession in fulfillment of God's plans and purposes for her. The New Testament scriptures not only affirm the Abrahamic covenant, but they confirm the historical mission of Israel and that Israel's gifts and calling are irrevocable.

Thus, Christian Zionism is not based on prophecy or end-time events. Most Christian Zionists would agree, however, that Israel's reemergence on the world's scene, in fulfillment of God's promises to her, indicate that other biblically-predicted events will follow.


Rev. Malcolm Hedding is the former Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

Israel's Calling

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In Romans 9-11, the Apostle Paul deals extensively with the Gentile Christian’s response to Israel. While the passage has been debated by the best theological minds through the centuries, Paul still exhorts us to accept certain clear facts. The failure of the Church historically to do this sadly has allowed anti-Semitism to grow and flourish in many churches and traditions. We should examine these again in light of the following:

  1. The God of the Bible has never “cast away His people” (Romans11:1). This means He has a redemptive plan for national Israel. He has not forgotten them and has a surprise in store for all of us. Just as Elijah thought that all was lost and hopeless, so even today the Lord is allowing a remarkable miracle to unfold in Israel. He is more than active in Israel’s present journey.
  2. God has used Israel’s unbelief to bring salvation to the Gentiles (Romans 11:11). This has an element of mystery in it, yet the passage is clear that there is a Church in the world because of Israel’s rejection of Jesus. Paul encourages us to view this fact with gratitude and not disdain. Their fall, he says, “is riches for the world”. The Church should have shown kindness and appreciation to Israel. That is, we should have been a provocation to jealousy.
  3. God requires that we desist from arrogantly boasting against the Jewish people, because we have been grafted into their spiritual tree (Romans11:17-19). That is, our spiritual heritage is Jewish. Jesus said, “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). Ours is essentially a Jewish faith built on the great lives of Moses, Joshua, Esther, David, Isaiah, Daniel, the Apostles and our wonderful Messiah Jesus.
  4. God calls us to fear Him; to show reverence and awe (Romans11:19-20). The Jewish world can easily be grafted back into their tree because they are “natural branches”, whereas we are “wild branches”. That is, we are in a way misfits and it is easier for God to graft His people back into their own tree than to place us there. We should therefore fear God and thank Him by showing love to the Jewish people. Our arrogance against them incurs His displeasure and He warns that this can lead to spiritual death (Romans11:21-22).
  5. God calls us to embrace mystery (Romans11:25-26). There is a glorious future for Israel. That is, her failure is only partial and one day all Israel will be saved. Her journey is fully bound up in the sovereign plan of God. His ways are past finding out but they are clear to the extent that out of Zion a deliverer will come and bring great blessing to Israel. This vision of Israel’s future will not fail. There is thus an “irrevocable” national destiny for Israel that began with Abraham and will conclude with the Holy Spirit being poured out upon them (Romans11:29).

All this means that God has not forgotten Israel and we should be a people filled with love and gratitude as we engage them. Though centuries of Christian anti-Semitism heap shame upon us, it is true that in recent decades a revolution in Jewish/Christian relations has taken place, with the ICEJ at the forefront.


Rev. Malcolm Hedding is the former Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

©2010 International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

Christian Zionism 101

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Tens of thousands of churches have a committed belief in the importance of standing with Israel and blessing the Jewish people. The verse most often referred to as their biblical mandate is Genesis 12:3 in which God tells Abraham “I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

Since the birth of the State of Israel in 1948 the theological error known as Replacement Theology has begun to decline and increasing is a theology of Christian Zionism that understands the importance of God’s everlasting covenant with Abraham and the nation he would birth.

However, just as the term “Zionism” has been turned into a negative word by Israel’s enemies, so “Christian Zionism” is under attack and often misrepresented in the media and in some public discourse. For this reason, the ICEJ’s articles and monographs defining and clarifying the beliefs of Christian supporters of Israel and placing their “love for Israel” within its proper biblical context are proving invaluable.

Christian Zionists

"Zionism, [is] the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel, advocated, from its inception, tangible as well as spiritual aims. Jews of all persuasions, left and right, religious and secular, joined to form the Zionist movement and worked together toward these goals. Disagreements led to rifts, but ultimately, the common goal of a Jewish state in its ancient homeland was attained. The term "Zionism" was coined in 1890 by Nathan Birnbaum." (Jewish Virtual Library).

If Zionism is the belief in the Jewish people's right to return to their homeland, then a Christian Zionist should simply be defined as a Christian who supports the Jewish people's right to return to their homeland. Under this broad and simple definition, many Christians would qualify no matter what their reasons are for this support. Just as Jews of all persuasions formed the Zionist movement then Christians of all persuasion can also fall within this broad definition of a Christian Zionist.

For this very reason, a myriad of answers may be given by a Christian when questioned about their support of Israel. Answers can include political, historical, and/or religious reasons.

Theology of Christian Zionism

The actual theology of Christian Zionism, also known as Biblical Zionism, supports the right of the Jewish people to return to their homeland on scriptural grounds. The biblical foundation for Christian Zionism is found in God's Covenant with Abraham. It was in this covenant that God chose Abraham to birth a nation through which He could redeem the world, and to do this He bequeathed them a land on which to exist as this chosen nation.

Christian Zionism is confirmed throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. The major and minor prophets consistently confirmed this national calling on Israel, promised her future restoration to the land after a period of exile, and spoke of her spiritual renewal and redemption bringing light to the world.

Christian Zionism differs with Replacement Theology which teaches that the special relationship that Israel had with her God in terms of her national destiny and her national homeland has been lost because of her rejection of Jesus as Messiah, and therefore the Church has become the new Israel. The Church has then inherited all the blessings promised to Israel but the judgments and curses still conveniently remain over the Jewish people.

Instead, Christian Zionism teaches from the scriptures that God's covenant with Abraham is still valid today. There remains a national destiny over the Jewish people and her national homeland is her everlasting possession in fulfillment of God's plans and purposes for her. The New Testament scriptures not only affirm the Abrahamic covenant, but they confirm the historical mission of Israel and that Israel's gifts and calling are irrevocable.

Thus, Christian Zionism is not based on prophecy or end-time events. Most Christian Zionists would agree, however, that Israel's reemergence on the world's scene, in fulfillment of God's promises to her, indicate that other biblically-predicted events will follow.

Rev. Malcolm Hedding
ICEJ Spokesman

The Plight of Christians in the Holy Land

 

Sunday, July 16, 2006

By: David Parsons

The long-neglected plight of Palestinian Christians has finally hit radar screens in the US Congress, though there is still lots of clutter to clear up over the source of their distress and how to remedy it.

The unlikely catalyst was conservative commentator Robert Novak, who relishes any chance to spread dirt on Israel. In a Washington Post column in late May, Novak disclosed that veteran Congressman Henry Hyde, Republican chairman of the House International Relations Committee, sent President George W. Bush a private letter suggesting American support for Israel's security fence may involve "the affirmation of injustice" due to its "negative consequences on communities and lands under their occupation."

Accompanying Hyde's letter was a report compiled by his staff over recent years detailing the alleged impact Israel's security barrier is having on Arab Christians in the Holy Land, particularly in Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

In response, House members Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Joseph Crowley (D-NY) circulated a proposed resolution in June that blamed the Palestinian Authority's systematic abuse of Palestinians Christians for their continuing flight from the land where Christianity began.

A heated debate has ensued on Capitol Hill, fueled by Arab clerics and pro-Palestinian American clergy who fault the draft resolution for exaggerating the role Islamic radicalism plays in the Christian exodus from the Holy Land. Three senior Arab clerics in Jerusalem (Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, Anglican Archbishop Riah Abu al-Assal, and Lutheran Archbishop Mounib Younan) even invited McCaul and Crowley to visit the region and see for themselves how the "massive migration to other countries of Palestinian Christians [is] largely due to the illegal [Israeli] Occupation."

This debate is not new and all sides agree that the Palestinian Christian community is dwindling fast, from around 10% of the population in 1948 to barely 1.5% today. What remains in dispute is who should be held responsible for the decline - Israel or the Palestinian Muslims.

IT WOULD seem Chairman Hyde has fallen victim to that evil twin of divestment - namely the dismantlement campaign. Both are anti-Israel propaganda initiatives launched after the infamous UN conference on racism in Durban in 2002. While divestment made some in-roads in the Presbyterian and Anglican churches, the campaign to force Israel to dismantle its security fence has now penetrated the halls of Congress - thanks mainly to Arab Christian activism.

Yet it is farcical to pin the primary blame for the Palestinian Christian exodus on Israel's security fence or its "occupation," since the phenomena predates both by decades.

More than 60% of the native-born Palestinian Christians had already fled the land long before the fence started going up three years ago. And most of that emigration occurred prior to Israel's entry into the West Bank in 1967, when the area was under Jordanian occupation. The last British census in Jerusalem, for example, found 28,000 Arab Christian residents in 1948, while Israel's first official tally in 1967 registered only 11,000.

So for the bulk of the ancient Arab Christian community of the Holy Land, the current debate over the impact of the security fence is rather pointless - they fled long ago.

TRUTH BE told, Palestinian Christians have been driven out by the Arab-Israeli conflict itself, which arose from and is perpetuated by the Islamic world's bitter and unremitting rejection of Israel's very existence.

These Christians have wanted little to do with this conflict, which stymied economic opportunities in the land. More mobile and better educated than their Muslim neighbors, they sought a future elsewhere. Some crossed over into Israel proper, the only country in the Middle East where the Christian community has actually grown over the past 50 years, while scores of others started anew in such far off places as Toronto, Santiago and Sydney.

Those that remain suffer under the same hostile Islamic spirit battering Israel, which views Jews and Christians as followers of "inferior" faiths who are naturally destined to be subjugated by Muslims. Palestinian Christians - like other Christian minorities in Arab lands - have grown accustomed through the centuries to this sad state of dhimmitude, with most of their leaders maintaining a code of silence about it to protect their flocks.

It is a truism that the higher up the Palestinian Christian cleric, the greater their likely silence. The signers of the invitation letter to Cong. McCaul and Crowley are cases in point.

"The entire history of Palestine never witnessed any religious conflict between Christians and Muslims," Bishop Riah told The Washington Times at a time when Muslim gunmen were invading Christian homes in Beit Jalla to shoot at Gilo.

"[1]n Arab countries there is no persecution of Christians," Latin Patriarch Sabbah assured Newsweek at Christmas two years later.

BY PUSHING for dismantlement of Israel's security barrier, Palestinian Christian leaders seek to accomplish two goals:

First, they prove their nationalist credentials to the Palestinian Muslim majority. They have not given any sons as shahids (martyrs) in the jihad against Israel, but they are contributing to the cause and thereby appease the Islamist beast.

Second, they genuinely want to keep the door open to Israel, lest their parishioners get trapped beyond the wall without any escape hatch from the menacing Muslim masses.

Nonetheless, they would have us pretend that Palestinian society is the shining exception to the prevailing Muslim oppression of Arab Christian minorities throughout the Middle East. Hundreds of thousands from the ancient Assyrian Christian community have fled the Sunni insurgency in Iraq over recent years. The proud Egyptian Coptic and Lebanese Maronite communities are wilting and fleeing under official and societal persecution. The practice of Christianity is banned in Saudi Arabia. But all is fine in Palestine!?

I suspect Bob Novak probably cares more about smearing Israel than the fate of Palestinian Christians. By the same token, some probably highlight Muslim maltreatment of Palestinian Christians just to score points for Israel. But for far too many of them, it is much too late to play the blame game over who or what caused their exodus from the Holy Land. Rather, the pertinent question should be what can be done to preserve the embattled Christian remnant still clinging to the land. The answer to that, dear friends, lies largely in Israel's protective hands.

David Parsons
Media Director
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

©2010 International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

 

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