Writes Archbishop Cranmer:
Last weekend I debated a Christian critic of Israel. I challenged his assertion that the State of Israel ‘invites’ anti-semitism by its actions. Such thinking is very dangerous, I replied. It could provide an excuse for race hatred. He did not respond.
Our discussion sprang from a statement issued on 13 March 2012 by the much-respected Council for Christians and Jews in which they took one of Israel’s fiercest Anglican critics, Rev Stephen Sizer, to task publicly. CCJ’s Chairman, the Bishop of Manchester, called Sizer’s retaining of a link on his Facebook page to an article on an anti-semitic website for over two months, ‘disgraceful’ and conduct ‘unbecoming for a clergyman’.
The Middle East conflict arouses strong feelings on both sides: but whatever led a clergyman to overlook the hateful nature of ‘The Ugly Truth’ website having allegedly been warned twice about it? Is this an isolated incident, or just the tip of a larger iceberg?
Stephen Sizer is only one of a number of Evangelical Christians whose opposition to Israel and Zionism has arguably strayed beyond the limits of legitimate debate. Many follow the ‘Palestinian narrative’ of the ‘Naqba’ (catastrophe) of Israel’s foundation in 1948, and the Palestinian misery occasioned by Israeli oppression and injustice.
As a God of love and justice – not to mention the story of David and Goliath – are part of the Christian theological furniture, it isn’t surprising that this simple paradigm of weak vs strong and good vs evil strikes a chord with Christians. But it provides an inaccurate and perilous framework for understanding a complex conflict. It was developed by veteran terrorist Yassir Arafat – which ought to alert anyone not to take it at face value.
Christian anti-Zionists rely on two theological strands to bolster the Palestinian narrative, the first being Liberation Theology. They insist that standing against Israeli injustice and oppression becomes a Christian duty in response to The Lord’s Prayer “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.
The trouble is, the Middle East today is not the Latin American of the 1960’s. Israel is not a dictatorship but a vibrant democracy and contrary to the official narrative, Palestinians are not helpless peasants stripped of all power over their lives. Of course Israel gets things wrong; but to present her actions – actually her existence – as the sole cause of Palestinian misery is absurd.
Christian anti-Zionists all but ignore the appalling security dilemmas Israel faces. Israel’s efforts to prevent or defend itself from terrorism are labelled ‘humiliation’ of Palestinians or a ‘disproportionate response’. When Palestinian children are killed or injured in clashes, Israel alone is blamed. Christian anti-Zionists rarely criticize Palestinian leaders for feeding their children a daily diet of hatred in schools and the media; nor do they hold them responsible for aiming rockets at Israeli children from behind their own human shields, or parading their dead and injured children for cameras in order to whip up hatred of the Jewish State.
The second strand in anti-Zionist thinking within the Church is Replacement Theology…
And so we come to Toulouse. Muhammed Merar had already killed 3 soldiers when he sought out Jewish children at their school, and murdered three of them. He explained to a horrified world that he was taking revenge on behalf of Palestinian children. Hateful ideas became flesh as Merar translated a distorted narrative into action…
Read the whole post here.
Christian anti-Zionists sadly plague the blogosphere too, with their pure hatred. Sometimes veiled, hatred and hurtful it remains. And how unbecoming those who claim to be following an itinerant first century Jewish Rabbi.