That a serious Christian can place political agreement with an intransigent enemy before the simple morality of calling for an immediate end to terrorism beggars belief.
Given that the Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel or the rights of the Jewish people, the Pope’s recognizing a state of Palestine seems a contradictory gesture. By making this badly-thought-out choice, the Vatican simply encourages the Palestinians in their conviction that their tactics of violence, rejection of peace offers and glorification of terrorists and suicide bombers across their towns and villages is, regardless of all morality and prudent policy, the right course of action.
If morality is at stake, it will also enthuse them to continue with the lies about Jews, hate videos, hate preaching, false historicism, and school textbooks and TV shows that teach children to despise Jews as “sons of apes and pigs.” Is that what the Vatican really wants? Is that a goal remotely in keeping with the wishes of Pope Francis?
“Christian children are massacred, and everything is done in plain sight. Islamists proclaim on a daily basis that they will not stop until Christianity is wiped off the face of the earth. So are the world Christian bodies denouncing the Islamic forces for the ethnic cleansing, genocide and historic demographic-religious revolution their brethren is [sic] suffering? No. Christians these days are busy targeting the Israeli Jews. The Pope, who should represent the voice of one billion Catholics around the world, was not busy these days in writing an encyclical against the Islamic persecution of Christians. No, the Catholic Church was very busy in signing a historic agreement with the “State of Palestine,” a non-existent entity which, if it (God forbid) should be created, would be the first state after the Nazi Germany to officially ban the Jews and expel the remnant of its Christians.” – Giulio Meotti, journalist.
One might safely assume that Jesus would never have approved of Palestinian anti-Semitism, the preaching of bilious hatred, or the infliction of violence on innocent followers of the community to which he himself and his mother belonged.
According to Jerusalem Post columnist Max Samarov, “In a defining moment, UCC [United Church of Christ] officials rejected an amendment calling on the church to listen to Israeli perspectives and encourage cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians.” Clearly, a search for truth and an openness to dialogue form no part of the UCC’s agenda.
When the Vatican recognized a self-proclaimed “State of Palestine” on June 22, 2015, it not only defied international law — there is no such state to recognize — it acted immorally in religious terms.
In July, the Holy See praised the controversial nuclear deal between Iran and several Western states and said it viewed the agreement in “a positive light.” According to the Catholic News Agency, Bishop Oscar Cantu of New Mexico stated, applying a logic that defies understanding, that “Iran’s hostility to its neighbors in the Middle East is all the more reason for the international agreement on its nuclear program.” The agreement will allow Iran to acquire as many nuclear bombs as it likes after ten years, or sooner, plus the intercontinental ballistic missiles to deliver them to America.
Pope Francis rightly declares himself to be a man of peace, a religious pontiff and statesman dedicated to an end to violence everywhere on the globe, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, where fanaticism and slaughter are almost ubiquitous.
But why, then, would the Vatican, a city-state ruled by the Pope, give recognition to a would-be state that for over 67 years has been dominated by war and terrorism? The would-be state is also, according to a 2014 Anti-Defamation League poll, the most anti-Semitic in the world, with a political consensus that calls for the killing or expulsion of Jews. In current Palestinian theory, this slaughter would lead to the eradication of Israel and its replacement by an irredentist “State of Palestine,” which, in its turn, would quickly be transformed into a fundamentalist jihad state.
To be fair, Pope Francis himself has said (in an e-mail to Portuguese-Israeli journalist Henrique Cymerman) that “Whoever does not recognize the Jewish People and the State of Israel falls in anti-Semitism.” But given that the Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel or the rights of the Jewish people, recognizing a state of Palestine seems a contradictory gesture.
By making this badly-thought-out choice, the Vatican simply encourages the Palestinians in their conviction that their tactics of violence, rejection of peace offers (however generous), and glorification of terrorists and suicide bombers across their towns and villages is, regardless of all morality and prudent policy, the right course of action. And if morality is at stake, it will also enthuse them to continue with the clutter of lies about Jews, hate videos, myth-making, hate preaching, false historicism, and the use of school textbooks and TV shows that teach children to despise Jews as “sons of apes and pigs.” Is that what the Vatican really wants? Is that a goal remotely in keeping with the wishes of Pope Francis?
According to Italian journalist Giulio Meotti, the Vatican has been engaged in a deliberate coldness towards Israel since the emergence of Zionism at the end of the 19th century and the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948. He has advanced this argument at length in his 2013 study The Vatican Against Israel: J’Accuse. In a short article dated July 3, 2015, Meotti expands this argument. He does so by pointing out the shocking disparity in what so many churches do by focussing on Israel instead of acting to defend their own coreligionists in the Middle East.
Christianity is dying in Syria and Iraq. Christian churches are demolished, Christian crosses are burned and replaced with flags of the Islamic State, Christian houses are destroyed, entire Christian communities are displaced, Christian children are massacred, and everything is done in plain sight. Islamists proclaim on a daily basis that they will not stop until Christianity is wiped off the face of the earth.
So are the world Christian bodies denouncing the Islamic forces for the ethnic cleansing, genocide and historic demographic-religious revolution their brethren is [sic] suffering? No. Christians these days are busy targeting the Israeli Jews.
The Pope, who should represent the voice of one billion Catholics around the world, was not busy these days in writing an encyclical against the Islamic persecution of Christians. No, the Catholic Church was very busy in signing a historic agreement with the “State of Palestine,” a non-existent entity which, if it (God forbid) should be created, would be the first state after the Nazi Germany to officially ban the Jews and expel the remnant of its Christians.
We should pause here to ask why the Catholic Church has moved in this direction. It is, in part, a legacy of its centuries-old anti-Semitism, something that existed officially until the Second Vatican Council between 1962 and 1965, specified in Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Nostra Aetate, beginning in article 4 with the words, “As the sacred synod searches into the mystery of the Church, it remembers the bond that spiritually ties the people of the New Covenant to Abraham’s stock.” Unofficially, however, that underlying anti-Semitism continues, and nowhere more visibly than in the modern Catholic embrace of Marxist, socialist, postmodernist and other theories and — crucially — praxis, the putting into action of philosophical, theological or ideological ideas.
Although a concept with a long history in philosophy, praxis in the modern period has a particular association with Marxist thought. This strand, which has a marked influence on the Church even at the highest levels, is rooted in the beliefs of Liberation Theology, an approach to Christian practice that emerged in Latin America after the 1950s and has since spread worldwide. In its essential principles, Liberation Theology is rooted in genuine Christian belief, linked to the message of Jesus in his sermon known as the Beatitudes. It is “an interpretation of Christian faith out of the experience of the poor… an attempt to read the Bible and key Christian doctrines with the eyes of the poor”.
In Latin America and some other places, however, this “option for the poor” embraced support for “liberation” movements, even violent ones. It is this that has led many Catholics to support the Palestinians in their struggle not just for “liberation” from Israeli so-called “occupation” but for the replacement of Israel by a wider Palestinian state — one that is being eyed for a new “occupation” by terrorists such as Hamas and ISIS.
Today, there are many forms of Liberation Theology, from Brazilian to Black to Feminist. There is even a Palestinian version supported by many Palestinian Christians and by pro-Palestinians abroad. Many Liberation theologians seem to have been deeply influenced by Marxist and socialist theory, and for this reason the Church originally rejected it. Over the years, however, there has been a growing shift towards similar approaches. General Ion Mihai Pacepa, formerly of the Romanian secret police, has claimed (with perhaps some exaggeration) that Liberation Theology was created by the Soviet Union, specifically by the KGB, meaning that it was part of a wider campaign to undermine the capitalist system in the West. Western “fellow travellers” who unwittingly furthered Soviet policies in Europe and North America were to be joined by unwitting theologians and laypeople.
If that is correct, it has certainly left a mark. Christian Communist Liberation Theology dates back as far as the work of Father Thomas J. Hagerty, a priest from New Mexico and a co-founder of Industrial Workers of the World in the late 19th and early twentieth centuries. It continues down to the present day. A more focussed version of this is the movement known as Christians on the Left (since 2013), formerly the Christian Socialist Movement from the 1960s. Non-denominational, it is allied to the British Labour Party’s left, is politically active, and seeks to “change the system” in order to make society more open to socialist political approaches.
Within the Catholic Church, a shift has taken place. Apparently recognizing that many of the goals of priests and laymen involved in work for social justice, help for the poor, assistance for minorities, freedom for slaves, and liberation for the oppressed are entirely above reproach, the Vatican has come to accept the nobly well-intended — but often sorely misrepresented — vision of supporting the poor that it had previously, and often perceptively, condemned.
The first sign of this came after 1971, during the reign of Pope Paul VI, who had previously rejected Marxist commitment to work in the world to alleviate suffering through political action. His views softened and he moved the Church in a less conservative direction.
After him, Popes John Paul II, Benedict, and the current Pope, Francis I, came to the position that the Catholic concept of solidarity (in which believers must value all human beings as individuals) was close to the Marxist idea of putting theory into social practice. This change is expressed clearly by Professor Edward Martin and Mateo Pimentel:
The Catholic Church advocates worker participation and contribution in economic matters as a solution to poverty, worker alienation, and exploitation. Such is the case in Marxist and socialist praxis. In this development, Marxist theory and analysis has become a significant part of the Church’s critiques of social and economic relationships and its support of human rights, in identifying the causes of poverty and injustice.
To the extent that this alignment of Marxism and Catholic tradition truly does effect the alleviation of suffering, it can only be commended. But sometimes radical political views about poverty that are misrepresented and badly implemented can lead well-meaning Christians – Catholic or not — into adopting political views that might be less commendable and even lead to injustice.
Foremost in this hijacking of values is the way in which so many Christian churches and NGOs have been led to prioritize hatred for Israel and support for Palestinian “resistance.” In doing so, they act under many illusions created by the Palestinians and their socialist and communist (and often Jew-hating) allies, who prey on the hearts and consciences of people of faith: That Israel is an “apartheid state,” that Israeli settlements in Judaea and Samaria are illegal under international law, that Israeli occupation of the West Bank is illegal, that Israel deliberately commits war crimes against the Palestinians, and much more. If any of these allegations were true, a Christian response would be wholly understandable. But Christians, like many others, often choose to accept whatever lies the enemies of Israel churn out, without using scepticism, cross-checking information or even exercising common sense.
At an anti-Israel Christian conference some years ago, a representative of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme spoke eloquently for half an hour about the evils of Israeli checkpoints and the damage they did (in an “apartheid” way, of course) to Palestinian victims. It did not once occur to her that there might have been quite a different reason for the presence of checkpoints: the extent to which Palestinians in the past (and even now) have crossed into Israel to blow up innocent Jews and Arabs, shoot them, or knife them. Having experienced many checkpoints in Northern Ireland during the Troubles there, it seemed blindingly obvious to me why Israel would want to protect its citizens in this way. And it should have been obvious to a Christian of good will to see that the prevention of death and injury is more important than the minor inconvenience of waiting in a queue. Yet it was not obvious at all.
|Rifat Odeh Kassis, co-author and general coordinator of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Kairos Palestine initiative, former head of the WCC’s Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, and Special Adviser to the WCC’s General Secretary, is pictured above giving an interview to Al-Manar TV, the official TV channel of Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorist organization. (Photo source: Kairos Palestine)|
If we pass on from Catholicism to other Christian churches, organizations and NGOs, there seem to be a great many that constantly berate Israel and defend the Palestinians, whatever either side says or does.
One might safely assume that Jesus would never have approved of Palestinian anti-Semitism, the preaching of bilious hatred, or the infliction of violence on innocent followers of the community to which he himself and his mother belonged, not to mention the believers who followed him.
Many Christians have transformed themselves into deeply biased political activists, as much influenced by the anger of Marxist theory as by the teachings of the Gospels. Others, like the movement Sabeel, work at the theological level, stripping Jews of their rights as a people whose identity is derived from a belief in God, a community of people, many of whom believe they have been invested with a deep responsibility to perform tikkun olam, the “repairing of the world.” In other words, Jews are single out for abuse despite the fact they were the earliest exponents of social action in the real world, not the next. There is a high level of hypocrisy when Christians who work to repair the world in their way condemn the actions of Israel, a country that has visibly improved the lives of millions.
The view of Christians like Sabeel, who are motivated by the outdated theological doctrine of supersessionism (that the Jews are no longer a people of God and have been replaced in God’s eyes by the Christians) is troubling, yet their message chimes with the views of their fellow believers in many places. Beneath that theological façade, however, unfortunately lurks a very real body of incipient or actual anti-Semitism.
The modern period has seen this concern for social activism grow, especially among younger evangelicals.
One well-known evangelical is former US president Jimmy Carter, whose support for the Palestinian cause has been well documented. His 2006 book Peace Not Apartheid has been widely applauded by Palestinians, but deeply criticized by the former head of the Carter Center, Kenneth Stein, who resigned because of the book’s countless factual errors and lies that he lamented Carter refused to correct. The book was also strongly criticized by Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League (in The Deadliest Lies, chapter 5) and others. Carter states that the Palestinians should only end “the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Roadmap for Peace are accepted by Israel” — in contravention of the Oslo Accords, in which both parties agreed to negotiate a peace.
That a serious Christian can place political agreement with an intransigent enemy before the simple morality of calling for an immediate end to terrorism beggars belief. Yet Carter is not alone.
Christian political activists work for the most part through NGOs, covering their views and actions under the allure of goodwill to all men or a vocation of reconciliation. To the extent that they want peace, they are to be congratulated. But all too often, the sorry truth seems to be that their choice is to subvert a fair and just peace by advocating the “Palestinian solution” — namely, the use of violent and potentially genocidal methods to defeat, expel and ideally slaughter the Jews. This gives cause for the gravest concern.
Not only that, but the views of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and possibly a majority of Palestinians (and certainly their leadership) are based on strict adherence to Islamic shari’a law, which maintains that any territory, once conquered, must belong to the Islamic political theocracy in perpetuity. Any such territory, if it should escape from Muslim hegemony (as happened in Spain, Portugal and India) must be brought back within the fold by subterfuge or, if necessary, violence — a plan that will inevitably lead to disastrous consequences for Christians, Jews, and other non-Muslims.
How thoroughly ironic is it then, that Christians who support Palestinian irredentism thereby endorse the application of a legal system that claims to have superseded all others, especially the judicial norms of Christian countries.
Adherence to shari’a norms also constitutes a slap in the face to modern international law, to the principles of the Enlightenment, and to the Christian ethics of tolerance, fairness, and the pursuit of truth.
According to the Dutch scholar Rudolph Peters, the Islamic version of international law is based entirely on the existing laws governing jihad: whatever is inside shari’a law is legal, whatever is outside shari’a law is not. If another legal system (national or international) contradicts shari’a rulings, then it is deemed illegal. Hence, UN resolutions, the mandate system of the League of Nations, and any number of treaties are regarded as invalid by radicals in Hamas, Islamic Jihad, ISIS, al-Qaeda and other organizations. Why would Christian churches, in their pursuit of peace, want to endorse that? No doubt they will say they do not, even as they turn the other cheek to the terrorists who now are slaughtering and enslaving Christians across the Middle East.
Ironically, those who support the Palestinians do support shari’a law — by default — as Hamas and other Palestinian groups cite jihad as their reason for being. According to Article 13 of the Hamas Charter (the Mithaq Harakat al-Islamiyya al-Filastiniyya), for instance, “there is no solution to the Palestinian problem except through jihad” (la hall li’l-qadiyya al-filastiniyya illa bi’l-jihad).
More than that, overt Christian support for Islamic intolerance and war constitutes an outright denial of their own scriptures. Regardless of what the Qur’an really says, many devout Muslims, including Palestinians, consider the Old and New Testaments to have been misinterpreted or, at worst, falsified by Jews and Christians. More than that, this doctrine (known as tahrif) has allowed Palestinian preachers and intellectuals to overturn the entire narrative of the Tanakh, the Jewish Bible. They do this by claiming that they themselves are the real descendants of an ancient Palestine, dating back many thousands or even tens of thousands of years. The corollary is that there was never any Jewish presence there at all, no land of Israel, no people of Israel. They maintain there was never a first or second Jewish Temple, that other Jewish shrines — such as the Cave of the Patriarchs (Ma’arat Ha-Machpelah) in Hebron — are really Muslim shrines, and that the prophesied return of the Jews to the Holy Land is false. Now, to be frank, this contradicts many verses in the Qur’an and other early Islamic writings as much as it flies in the face of all sound historical texts and archaeological evidence. Even a ten-year-old child can see clearly just how falsified the Palestinian narrative of its origins is.
There seems to be no let-up in Christian-inspired actions against Israel. On June 30 this year, the United Church of Christ (UCC), a socially liberal million-strong protestant denomination in the United States, voted 508 to 124 in favour of divestment and boycott, with 38 abstentions. It was one of two resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict debated by the church. The resolution that called the actions of Israel, in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, “acts of apartheid,” received 51% of the vote, but it failed to reach the two-thirds majority it needed to be passed. Had it been passed, the UCC would have been the first American church to describe Israeli behaviour as apartheid.
According to Jerusalem Post columnist Max Samarov, “during the UCC conference, when a dissenting speaker lamented that the UCC ‘did not allow’ mainstream Jews and Israelis to have a voice at the table, few voters seemed to care. In a defining moment, UCC officials rejected an amendment calling on the church to listen to Israeli perspectives and encourage cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians.” Clearly, a search for truth and an openness to dialogue form no part of the UCC’s agenda, which remains opposed to any initiatives outside their rigidly enforced political dogma. And all this in the United States, a country built on democratic standards.
This vote was in keeping with two earlier resolutions against Israel, such as one that called for Israel to tear down its anti-terror security barrier with the West Bank — but without asking the Palestinians to cease their terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. That a Christian church should call for an act that would result in dozens and eventually hundreds of murders of innocent Israelis leaves anyone with a sense of conscience aghast.
Writing for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), Dexter Van Zile remarks that
“Not only did the UCC’s 2015 General Synod fail to speak up about the corruption of the Palestinian Authority and the violence and ideology of groups like Hamas and Hezbollah in its resolutions, it did not offer up any official condemnation of ISIS and Boko Haram, two groups that have engaged in horrific crimes against humanity on two different continents – often specifically targeting Christians. The General Synod also failed to condemn the Syrian government, which has repeatedly used chemical weapons against its own citizens in that country’s civil war.
“The conclusion is inescapable: As a body, the UCC’s General Synod is irrationally obsessed with Israel and indifferent to Arab and Muslim misdeeds, no matter how outrageous and horrific. Misdeeds perpetrated by Arabs and Muslims simply do not offend the sensibilities of the UCC’s deliberative body with the same force as Israel’s efforts to defend itself from terrorism. This distorted focus immeasurably harms Muslim and Christian victims of Islamist aggression who warrant world attention and rescue.”
In 2014, the Presbyterian Church (USA) approved a resolution to divest from three companies that supplied Israel with equipment used in the West Bank, the resolution passed without due application to the actual legal status of the territory administered by Israel.
In May 2015, another Protestant evangelical and Pentecostal movement sponsored a Global Congress in Jerusalem. Empowered 21 is a worldwide organization based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which claims to represent 640,000 believers. This organization, which has grandiose plans to evangelize every person on earth by 2033 (an objective not only beyond its means but flatly impossible in any Muslim country) nevertheless seeks to play a role in world affairs. Its chief problem lies in its collaboration with Palestinian Christian leaders who demonize Jews, delegitimize Israel, and present a supersessionist theology. It sponsors two of the most important anti-Israel Christian groups in the region, the Bethlehem Bible College and the Christ at the Checkpoint conferences. These conferences perpetuate the doctrine that Jews are an obstacle to God’s purpose in the world. They present a version of replacement theology couched in Palestinian terms, claiming that Jesus and the first Christians (in Jerusalem) were not Jews but the ancestors of today’s Palestinians, regarded as the indigenous inhabitants of the land and the only people with a right to it.
It is important to note that the General Synod of the UCC (referred to above) invited Rev. Dr.Mitri Raheb, the pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, to deliver a sermon at a service held the night before the votes on Israel. According to a report by CAMERA:
“During his talk, Raheb wrote the Jewish people out of their scriptures and out of the Land of Israel itself, repeatedly referring to the people of ancient Israel as ‘the Palestinians’ or the ‘people of Palestine.’ He did, however, use the word Israel in reference to the ‘occupation’. Raheb’s ugly effort to write the Jews out of the Bible is contrary to the spirit and letter of a resolution passed by the UCC’s 1987 General Synod which condemned replacement theology (which it referred to as ‘supersessionism’), but that did not stop delegates from giving the pastor a standing ovation.”
It has been argued that anti-Zionism within many churches is “a symptom of the death throes of mainline Protestantism.”
“All of the denominations that have gone into the camp of advocacy for divestment, divestment and sanctions are losing members at a catastrophic pace. For example: the United Methodist Church, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church have all lost around 30% of their membership over the last couple of decades…. Within the whole body of Christian[s] in our part of the world [the U.S.] these Liberal-Protestant denominations are losing membership by very large factors, while those denominations that have stood apart from the WCC [World Council of Churches] have been gaining in membership, by approximately the same factors.”
This may, in part, explain why the mainline churches have moved to the radical left on several issues, including support of the Palestinians, in an effort to win back members from a population that is generally more liberal than, say, fifty years ago. But it does not explain why so many evangelical and Pentecostal denominations, as we have seen, share this anti-Zionism while being, for the most part, more conservative in their social views. Nor should it diminish our awareness of the role churches and other bodies linked to the WCC still play in promoting BDS and generally propagating a pro-Palestinian narrative that plays into calls for the abolition of Israel and the expulsion or genocide of the Jewish population there.
Under the influence of Christian Aid, a World Council of Churches affiliate with a marked socialist agenda, many churches in Britain are also engaged in boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activities.
According to Chana Shapira, writing for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:
Christian Aid works to influence public opinion and policy with a two-pronged approach of Israel-delegitimization and funding of far-left pro-Palestinian organizations. It also works with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Israel and Palestine (EAPPI), a project of the World Council of Churches that recruits volunteers to participate in on-site propaganda tours, and then work as activists back home. In very loose terms, Christian Aid provides funding and EAPPI provides personnel.
Pro-Palestinian positions are advanced while there is a complete absence of any representation of moderate Israeli viewpoints. Errors of omission are frequent. ‘Israeli’ statements generally appear as anonymous, unverifiable remarks allegedly made by Israelis who defame Israel and the IDF.
Christian Aid’s biased agenda is supported by WCC member churches. Although it is not clear that these in fact represent the majority views of church members, this is the policy view adhered to by the clerical elites. The volume of material condemning Israel’s policies overwhelmingly dwarfs the few official statements supporting Israel’s right to exist.
Shapira’s lengthy and fully referenced article is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the impact of Christian Aid in the UK, where it is supported by a government agency, the Department for International Development, and a group of 41 churches. She provides a detailed breakdown of major UK churches, Anglicans, Methodists and others, and their work with Christian Aid’s agenda. Outside the UK, Christian Aid supports Marxist and socialist political NGOs such as B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence, a stance that contradicts the organization’s stated aims of relieving poverty.
Depressing as this all is, there are glimmers of hope in unexpected places. In Israel, a multi-party group within parliament formed the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus in order to strengthen cooperation between Christians in general and the state of Israel. Its mission statement reads as follows:
The mission of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus is to build direct lines of communication cooperation and coordination between the Knesset and Christian leaders around the world. We strive to establish relationships between the members of Knesset and leaders of Churches, Christian organizations and political representatives throughout the globe.
The Knesset Christian Allies Caucus has attracted an increasingly diverse and growing number of Christian leaders globally. The Caucus works with Christians who support Israel alongside those who are undecided on their position towards Israel. Many Christians recognize that their belief in the Bible connects them to the land and the people of Israel. On this basis, we work together to achieve our goals.
Also in Israel, the Christian Empowerment Council, headed by Father Gabriel Naddaf, a controversial Greek Orthodox priest from the Aramean community, works hard to integrate Christian Arabs into Israeli society, encouraging enrolment in the Israel Defense Force through a separate organization, the Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum, for which he is the spiritual leader. Naddaf has written feelingly about the opposition to his work among many Arab Christians and Palestinians, opposition that has led to death threats, his excommunication, and constant harassment. Isolated though he may be, he has brought large numbers of young Christian Arabs to join the IDF and integrate fully into Israeli life.
In the United States Christians United for Israel, a large lobbying group, has been described by the Washington Post as “America’s largest and most dependable pro-Israel group.” Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Charles Krauthammer has said, “I do not know of an organization in the world more important to Israel than CUFI.”
According to CUFI, with a membership of two million, it has “driven hundreds of thousands of emails to government officials, held 2,162 pro-Israel events in cities and towns across the country, garnered more than 1.2 million Facebook fans, brought 304 leading pastors to Israel on 12 Pastors Leadership Tours, has trained more 2,500 students on how best to stand with Israel, presently has recognized college chapters on 140 campuses as well as an active presence at an additional 163 universities.”
CUFI has now opened a branch in the United Kingdom, where it has started to work along similar lines, but with a smaller following. It follows in the footsteps of a much older UK organization, Christian Friends of Israel (CFI), a non-denominational body with activists across the country. CFI also has branches throughout the world, and has had a centre in Jerusalem since 1985. Over the past year, Nigel Goodrich, a Christian pastor in Scotland, has successfully created some seven Friends of Israel groups in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dumfries and Galloway, and elsewhere, and has organized large conferences attended mainly by Christians but also Jews, who are acting solidly with him and his following. This author has lectured at his conferences in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and can affirm the genuine enthusiasm and love of Israel displayed by the audiences. Inspired by Goodrich’s example, Glasgow Friends of Israel now runs a weekly stall in Buchanan Street, where the vicious anti-Israel Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign have held sway for many years.
Clearly, there is a new momentum within some Christian churches that presents a serious challenge to those denominations that are anti-Zionist. Where organizations such as Christian Aid seem more motivated by political considerations and adaptations of Marxist philosophy, these new supporters of Israel appear to be inspired by a love for the Bible and the rights it offers to Israel and its people, the Jews.
It is too early to say, but a shift seems to be taking place. As Christians in the West become more and more aware of the slaughter and expulsion of Christians in the Middle East, and the ongoing war of Muslim extremists against them, many have started to realize that the enemy they now face is the same enemy the Jews have been facing for centuries, especially since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
There may yet come a time when Christians opposed to Israel understand that its abolition would mean the end of any protection for their fellow believers across the region and a dramatic clampdown on Christian freedom across the Muslim world.
Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute