Jesus the Palestinian...Really?

Saying that Yeshua (Jesus) was one of the most controversial figures of all time is not an exaggeration. He was a revolutionary, a rebel and a rabbi. His existence is seldom put into question by anyone, even those who don't believe in God. Another aspect of Yeshua that until recently was never argued was His human origin. He was born of human parents–a human mother to be exact, and an adoptive father. His ethnicity is also a slam dunk. Since His mother was Jewish, He was Jewish. Well, I wish it was that simple, but unfortunately, He has recently been painted as a Palestinian. Let us look at how and why such a claim is made and if there is any validity to it.

First, let me start by defining the meaning of Palestine. While the exact origin of the name “Palestine” is still debated, there are aspects of the word’s meaning that we can know for sure. It once possibly described a people group known as the Philistines, but that people group was in no way connected to the current era Palestinians – not ethnically, not linguistically, not historically and not culturally. In A.D. 132, the Jewish Bar Kochba revolt took place against the Romans. Things didn’t end well for the Jewish people; and in addition to a bloodbath of gigantic proportions, Israel was renamed Palaestina by the Romans. The rebranding of the land with the name of their enemies, the Philistines, was an effort to undermine Jewish history and humiliate the Jewish people further.  Jerusalem was also renamed Aelia Capitolina by emperor Hadrian. The name Palestine stuck and continued to be used after that time. It is nowhere to be found in the Bible.

When the British were in control from 1922 to 1948, the area was governed under what was known as the British Palestine Mandate. In the original text of the Mandate itself, dated 1922, we can read:  “Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”

We should not have an issue calling Israel “Palestine” as long as it is a description of the landmass of Israel prior to 1948. Up to that time in history, the term “Palestine” simply described a piece of land in the Middle East. Even after Israel became a State in 1948 and the name Eretz Yisrael started being used, the word “Palestine” was not an issue for anybody; it was more or less an outdated name for the land of Eretz Yisrael. It is after that time, and under the leadership of Yasser Arafat, that the definition for Palestine went from geographical to political, in an attempt to describe a displaced people group named “the Palestinians”, in need of an “ancestral” homeland. Before the 1960s, historical documents were replete with descriptions of Israel as Palestine, such as the British Palestine Mandate already mentioned. Israeli stamps, coins and newspaper said “Palestine”, and nobody cared. Palestine was always synonymous with Israel, the Jewish State. Arabs in neighboring countries never called themselves Palestinians, but rather Syrians, Lebanese, Jordanians, Egyptians, etc. Most Arabs in the early 1900s would have argued that Palestinian Arabs were simply Syrians as Mitchell Bard documents in his well-researched book Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict. He writes: “Prior to partition, Palestinian Arabs did not view themselves as having a separate identity. When the First Congress of Muslim-Christian Associations met in Jerusalem in February 1919 to choose Palestinian representatives for the Paris Peace Conference, the following resolution was adopted: We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria, as it has never been separated from it at any time. We are connected with it by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic and geographical bonds.”

God used different names for the Land of Israel such as “The Land of Canaan” (Genesis 17:8), “The Promised Land” (Genesis 50:24), or even “The Land” (Exodus 6:8), nowhere in the Bible is Israel ever called Palestine even once. Even the Qur’an (Sura Maida 5:21-22) mentions the “Holy Land” in the context of Moses and the spies preparing to enter the Land of Canaan; but never does it call it Palestine. Jerusalem isn’t even mentioned by name in the Qur’an.

Today, nobody questions the etymology of the word “Palestine” and that is a shame. What is really sad, is that the Arab refugees who were forced by their own countries to remain in Israel post-1948 ended up having children who then had children. These innocent subsequent generations have been labeled "Palestinians" for political gain. They are real people who deserve a real home and a decent life. Backtracking to pre-1948 “Palestine” would connect them all with one or another of the neighboring Arab countries, but that doesn’t serve the current antisemitic agenda of Israeli occupation, colonization and ethnic cleansing, does it?

This would be bad if it stopped there, but it doesn't. To garner more support from Christians who might not check the accuracy of what they are told, there is now a movement to paint Yeshua as a Palestinian and not a Jew. This is part of what can be called Christian Palestinianism.

In his book For Zion Sake, Dr. Paul Wilkinson writes about the grave danger posed by Christian Palestinianism: “Christian Palestinianism is an inverted mirror image of Christian Zionism. All the basic elements of a Christian Zionist eschatology are reversed so that the Bible is seen to be Christian, not Jewish, the land of the Bible is Palestine, not Israel, the son of God is a Palestinian, not a Jew, the Holocaust is resented not remembered, 1948 is a catastrophe, not a miracle, the Jewish people are illegal occupiers, not rightful owners, and biblical prophecy is a moral manifesto and not a signpost to the Second Coming.” 

To some, this might sound like an exaggeration that nobody will take seriously. I wish it were true, but there are groups of Christians who actually buy into that lie. Such a group is SABEEL. While I honestly understand the desire of such a group to minister to Arab Christians, I strongly disagree for it to be done at the expense of historical truth. Another venue where "reconciliation" between Jews and Arabs who believe in Yeshua is claimed, is Christ at the Checkpoint. That venue seems to preach a reconciliation that looks a lot like a one-way street towards complying with antisemitism and Christian Palestinianism.

Additionally, Yeshua was born in Bethlehem, Judea (Micah 5:2), not Bethlehem, Palestine, and it would be another 700 years before Arabs would get to the Promised Land and invade it. At the time of His crucifixion, Yeshua had a sign nailed above His head that read, Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm meaning "Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews" in Latin. It never said King of the Palestinians.

Victimhood and social justice go hand in hand, and if we can lead some people to believe that the Messiah was a Palestinian, it would go a long way to help further the myopic Palestinian agenda. To that end, in 2013, Mahmoud Abbas declared in a Christmas message that "Jesus was a Palestinian messenger who would become a guiding light for millions." Linda Sarsour, who describes herself as a Palestinian-Muslim-American, tweeted in 2009 that Jesus was a Palestinian from Nazareth. It is important to note that neither Abbas nor Sarsour cares about what Yeshua represents as they both claim to be Muslims. Even if Yeshua is mentioned in the Qur’an, He is never recognized as Messiah. Fortunately for them, from a public relations standpoint, "Jesus the Palestinian" sells well!

It doesn't help when UNESCO decides to call the Temple Mount only by its Muslim name. So, the Kotel or western wall is called al-Buraq wall, and the area in front of it the al-Buraq plaza. It is also claimed that the Al-Aqsa mosque on top of the Temple Mount is the mosque that is referred to in the Qur’an (17:1). There it talks of a journey Muhammad made at night from the Sacred Mosque (Mecca) to the "Farthest Mosque". Muslim scholars have later identified "The Farthest Mosque" with Jerusalem, but there was no mosque in Jerusalem at that time. Additionally, the al-masjid Al-Aqsa mosque was built in AD 705, which happens to be 73 years after the death of Muhammad. Here we have a historical anachronism conveniently ignored.

Setting the record straight from the Jewish Bible, Yeshua is from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10). Judah was one of the twelve sons of Jacob who was not a Palestinian. Yeshua is from the line of King David, one of Israel's most famous biblical kings (2 Samuel 7:14). David was never called the king of Palestine. Yeshua was born in Bethlehem, Judea (Micah 5:2), long before the world bought into the concept of the "occupied territories" that I prefer to call the "disputed territories". Yeshua was also to be a prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-19), and Moses was not a Palestinian prophet. Yeshua was also circumcised (Luke 2:21) on the eighth day, per Jewish law (Exodus 12:48; Leviticus 12:2-3).

History, geography and archeology all testify to the Jewishness of Yeshua. Anyone trying to cancel his Jewish roots is ignoring it all and is guilty of historical revisionism. Unfortunately, in the age of canceling anything and anyone that might be offensive to the current politically correct agenda, making Yeshua into a Palestinian doesn't seem so far-fetched. Calling Him a Palestinian will not change who He was and who He continues to be. It will only lead people astray from the true Yeshua and His simple message of redemption and salvation, as well as encourage anti-Semites to further cancel anything Jewish in order to ostracize and demonize our people.

By the way, I have often received criticism from my own Jewish people for being a follower of Yeshua, but NEVER because He was a Palestinian. Just sayin'!

Can a Biblical Zionist Love the Palestinians?

Whenever one puts biblical, Zionist and Palestinian in the same sentence, definitions are in order. Unity might never be fully achieved, but it should never be because of lack of clarity. First, what I mean by biblical is "in accordance with the biblical record" that as far as I understand includes the sixty-six books of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. As far as a fair definition of Zionism, lest I'd be accused of any bias as a Jew, I prefer to give a plain dictionary definition of the word as, "a movement for (originally) the re-establishment and (now) the development and protection of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel. It was established as a political organization in 1897 under Theodor Herzl, and was later led by Chaim Weizmann."

Now, for the definition of who is a Palestinian, it gets a little tricky. Again, for the sake of clarity, I will say, "any physical descendant of the various Arab inhabitants of the Land of Israel known as Palestine prior to 1948." While I do not believe that tracing the Palestinian people historically is possible, we must recognize that Arabs born in the Land of Israel when it was still known as Palestine are real people, not responsible for the conflict in which they were born. We must not forget that Palestine as a word was introduced by the Roman empire at the time of the Bar Kohba Revolt in AD 132 (A failed Jewish revolt against Rome.) To humiliate the Jewish people, Jerusalem was renamed Aelia Capitolina and Israel became known as Palaestina. Unfortunately, the word stuck and until 1948, "Palestine" was the word used to describe the geographical area that has always been known as Israel before. Eventually, under the leadership of Yassir Arafat and subsequent "Palestinian" leaders, the etymology of the word was expanded to mean both a land AND a people, a political claim that cannot be proven historically, archeologically, culturally or biblically.

Logically, we now need to look at what defines a "biblical Zionist." We often hear the words "Christian" and "Zionist" put together to describe someone who would consider himself a follower of Yeshua (Jesus) and a supporter of Israel and the Jewish people's right to the land. I prefer the term "biblical" to "Christian" as it pertains to those who love and support Israel.  Unfortunately, in the last few years, many people who call themselves Christians have displayed quite a bit of antisemitism and have supported faulty views like Replacement Theology or Christian Palestinianism. We also need to mention the recent upsurge of support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement from several mainline Christian denominations.

The biblical Zionist position is usually taken as a result of one's eschatological (End-Times) perspective and/or theological approach. Many evangelical Christians have supported Israel over the years, seeing that God is not finished with the Jewish people and has never fully fulfilled His promise given to Abraham and his descendants in Genesis 12:1-3. That same promise was ratified as a covenant known as the Abrahamic Covenant with a promise of a seed, a land and a blessing.  At the signing of the covenant made between God and Abram (Genesis 15:7-19,) no conditions were made, but specific land boundaries were given, that incidentally are much larger than current Eretz Yisrael. When God specifically gave Abram the boundaries of the land He was giving him, He simply stated,  “To your descendants, I have given this land.” When Abraham's son Isaac settles in Gerar instead of moving to Egypt God repeats the promises of the Covenant He made with Abraham (Gen 26:1-4,) Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham. I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed." 
Furthermore, in Genesis 28:13-15, the Abrahamic Covenant is reconfirmed through Isaac's son Jacob where the same land (vv. 13, 15) spoken of prior, is promised to Jacob and his descendants, as it was promised to Isaac before. It continues to be unconditionally given as we know through the biblical record that Jacob lied to his father about his birthright. Apparently, it was in God’s plan to have Jacob and not Esau inherit the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant from Isaac. So biblically speaking, the descendants of Abraham, through Isaac and through Jacob can only be the Jewish people.

The biblical Zionist's love for Israel and the Jewish people is a result of his understanding of the eternal, unconditional and unilateral Abrahamic Covenant and its three promises made that were later amplified in three other unconditional covenants known as the Land Covenant (Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20; Ezekiel 16:53-63,) the Davidic Covenant (II Samuel 7:11-16,) and the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34.)

But the great love that biblical Zionists display for Israel and the Jewish people should not be exclusive, and it should extend to all, even those who have been indoctrinated to hate and destroy Israel. In the words of Yeshua in Matthew 5:44, we read, "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. This absolutely doesn't imply that all Palestinians today hate the Jews, as we should never paint with broad strokes. Yet, as difficult as it might be to fulfill that command, for those who take the Bible seriously, it is a command nonetheless.

So YES, a biblical Zionist not only can but should love the Palestinians.  Over the years, I have found that to love Israel one doesn't have to hate the Palestinians, but sadly, the opposite is seldom true!

 

Southern Baptists support Israel "for such a time as this!"

The Southern Baptist Convention (the largest evangelical denomination in America), just passed a resolution that boldly proclaims support for Israel. This is not highly unusual for the SBC that has a solid reputation for supporting Israel and the Jewish people. Yet, it comes at a time when other evangelical denominations such as PC USA have chosen to pledge allegiance to the Palestinian cause and are heavily promoting its narrative with whatever baggage comes with it (Christian Palestinianism, BDS, Campus Intifada to name a few.)

The SBC has a long history of biblical support of Israel coming from a rather conservative and mostly dispensational view of the land and its people. That biblical foundation can be found in the new resolution, especially in articles 1-4, 8 and 11 reading as follows:
• The Old Testament declares God’s promise to Abram, “I will make you into a great nation…. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:1–3)
• Israel represents the descendants of Jacob as an ethnic, cultural, and national entity (Genesis 32:28)
• The New Testament affirms that salvation is from the Jews and that God’s Word concerning Israel will be fulfilled (John 4:22; Romans 9–11)
• We are to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for the salvation of Israel (Psalm 122:6–7; Romans 10:1)
• We thankfully remember that we are indebted to the Jewish people, who gave us much of our Bible and our Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
• At this critical time when dangerous forces are mounting up against the nation of Israel, we recommit ourselves to pray for God’s peace to rule in Jerusalem and for the salvation of Israel, for the Gospel is “God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew” (Romans 1:16).

This 2016 resolution (#5) is different because it is extremely bold. It clearly speaks out against the vile agenda of the new antisemitism. The biblical approach taken by SBC regarding Abraham, the Jewish people and Jerusalem has become somewhat of an expected position by the SBC–not that every single one of its sixteen million members adhere to it in one accord. But this wan't just a theological resolution, it was also a political move by SBC, as delineated in articles 5, 6 and 9. This is what makes it very unique:
• The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement seeks to isolate the nation of Israel economically and socially.
• We are concerned by anti-Israel activities in this country within certain university campuses, academic and professional associations, and popular culture.
• We support the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign state and reject any activities that attack that right by promoting economic, cultural, and academic boycotts against Israel.

SBC made a bold statement against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement. To date, twenty three US states as well as some evangelical denominations have taken a stand against BDS. More and more people are seeing the destructive agenda of the Palestinian Authority through the BDS propaganda. They are also realizing that it is extremely biased at best and certainly seldom relying on factual truth if ever! I would have liked to see the SBC statement to read more like: "The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement seeks to unjustly isolate the nation of Israel economically and socially. But even without that clarification, their statement is already going further than many other denominations.

Continuing its political stand for Israel, the SBC resolution also denounced the [antisemitic] activities across many American university campuses. This is also known as Campus Intifada and is more present on the West coast in places like UC Davis, UC Berkeley and UC Irvine. It consists of pro-Palestinian groups gathering on US campuses where antisemitic speakers come to boldly accuse Israel. These are US university campuses you say...So what about Freedom of Speech? I would tend to agree, except that when pro-Israel groups or speakers attempt to speak or simply dialogue, they are harassed and abused with very little disciplinary action from university faculty or management.

It was very brave for the Southern Baptist Convention to put out such a resolution. The current evangelical trend is to not show support to Israel. Christian Zionists are turning into Christian Palestinianists as the biblical narrative is increasingly suffering from historical revisionism. This is why conferences like Christ at the Checkpoint are becoming more and more attractive to mainstream evangelicals including "once reputable" names such as Hank Hanegraaff.

This pendulum swing creates a grave danger for Israel and diaspora Jews at a time when they already suffer from a resurgence of violent antisemitism. Jewish people suffer at the hands of the liberal left, the extreme-right AND radical Islam. Biblical Christianity understood and applied properly should offer a "No-Strings-Attached" sanctuary to Jews worldwide. In light of current events and the rise of End-Times antisemitism, the SBC made a very unpopular move. In other words, they made a biblically correct move, knowing very well that it was politically incorrect. Jews and Southern Baptists might still disagree on who the Messiah is but this obviously doesn't negate the Southern Baptists' unconditional love for Israel, simply because the SBC answers to a higher authority and takes the Bible very seriously. They made the right move for such a time as this!

Why Would "Christ at the Checkpoint" Compare Israel to ISIS?

While I was recently traveling throughout Israel, I drove about 600 miles. Looking at the landscape around me, I quickly realized that we were often driving nearby the Palestinian territories and at times even through some Arab neighborhoods.

It was as if someone had ripped pages from the Bible and made street signs and town signs with them, pointing to The Galilee, the Dead Sea, the river Jordan, Ashdod, Jerusalem, Jericho, Ramallah, Gaza, Jaffa, Modi'in etc.

I particularly fell in love with the Old City in Jerusalem. Its extensive color palette mixed with a myriad of scents was a perfect backdrop for Jews, Arabs and Christians to interact. We had dinner in an Armenian restaurant, a Jewish one AND an Arab one. If you asked me to tell you where the food tasted better, the answer would be.... YES!

While the Middle East crisis is indeed a crisis and Israel is far from perfect, it is obvious that Jews, Arabs and Christians share their cultures, heritages and foods on a daily basis. The mix is simply overwhelming…in a good way, of course!

Sadly, while I was in Israel I was also made aware of a video that was released to promote an upcoming conference in July 2015, by and for young adults. The conference promotional piece was advertised as coming from “Christ at the Checkpoint-Young Adults” or CaTC-YA.

While I must admit that I was unable to understand the closing commentaries in Arabic, the video collage that came first was enough to upset any supporter of the truth about the Middle East. The video is rather short and it even repeats some of its footage on a loop.

Yet, what it tries to do will turn your stomach upside-down. It sends the very clear message that Israel is equal to ISIS in violence and human rights violation. You see footage of ISIS thugs getting ready to decapitate rows of “infidels” dressed in the now world “infamous” orange overalls, juxtaposed with Israelis filtering Palestinians though checkpoints. Then, another frame shows the Islamic State brandishing their black flag followed by an Israeli tank brandishing a Jewish flag, making again a "not-so" subliminal connection.

The attempt at drawing a parallel between ISIS and Israel shouldn’t be missed AND shouldn’t be dismissed either. It is a new low in Christian Palestinianism. To be sure, the parallel was already attempted by CaTC superstar Stephen Sizer, when he compared Israel to ISIS and even said that Christian Zionists were Christian Jihadists.

Christ at the Checkpoint (CaTC) is a conference that started in 2010 and continues to take place every two years, sponsored by Bethlehem Bible College (BBC). The next official CaTC conference should take place in March 0f 2016 with the theme: "The Gospel in the face of religious extremism." In the meantime, a group of young adults proponents of the same agenda, is promoting a 2015 date. Their video is posted on their Facebook page and on the CaTC YouTube channel.

This raises some serious concerns about the biblical integrity of Bethlehem Bible College. How could they possibly claim to be Christians and promote such virulent demonization of the Jewish people and Israel. There is always the possibility that the video in question was produced by a group of supporters not necessarily officially affiliated with either CaTC or BBC (although currently posted on the CaTC YouTube channel). Even if it is the case, we need to hear from either or both very soon. I fear a silence that will of course speak tons about their position.

I cannot help but ask CaTC and BBC which “Christ” do they mean in “Christ at the Checkpoint” and which “Bible” do they use to validate him? If CaTC and BBC do not distance themselves from such unbiblical libelous attacks, they will further validate their anti-Semitic stance. This will leave a vast number of uneducated and/or gullible Evangelicals with a choice to make as well. Each choice we make leads to consequences.

Would they continue to support and attend such a conference as it compares Israel to ISIS? I certainly hope not! You can only claim ignorance for so long before you loose your credibility and ruin your reputation, but then again in a world were tolerance and political correctness are measured by one’s level of hatred for Israel and the Jews, I might be asking for the impossible.

In the meantime, if you want to know what’s going on in Israel, start by reading your bible and then consider making a trip yourself and experiencing some of what I just experienced for a few days. Incidentally, I drove by the Israeli towns of Ramallah and Jericho (under Palestinian authority) where Jews ARE NOT WELCOME EVER, and I drove by plenty of Israeli areas where Arabs AND Jews live in relative peace. But of course that is a topic that will never be covered at such conferences!

The theme of next year's Christ at the Checkpoint 4 is "The Gospel in the face of religious extremism." As of right now, I doubt that what is meant by religious extremism pertains to Islamism and/or the Islamic State. Based on the current trend and this new video, Zionism and Israel are in the crosshairs.

It doesn't matter if you follow Yeshua (Jesus) or not, the fact is that He was born a Jew not a Palestinian. He was born in Eretz Yisrael not the Palestinian territories and taught His followers to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them (Matthew 5:44)– something that isn't a characteristic of CatC proponents. So really, which Christ is at their checkpoint?

The Six Dangers of Christian Palestinianism

There has been a shift in Christian theology as it pertains to the Church’s relationship with Israel and/or Palestinian Christians. Loyalties once rooted in biblical principles are quickly changing. For followers of Yeshua (Jesus), it should not be much of a struggle to recognize Israel’s right to exist as well as the desperate need of the Jewish people for their Messiah.

Nevertheless, there is a real crisis facing Evangelicals today. A growing number of Bible believers appear to have made it their personal duty to act as theological referees between Jews and Palestinians. One of the key words heard over and over is “reconciliation,” and it often punctuates the various programs and projects aimed at bringing both Jews and Palestinians to Yeshua. It seems to be the ultimate goal of Evangelicals involved in such programs. But is it really? For any reconciliation to work, it must be a two-way street. Reconciliation needs to include forgiveness, mutual acceptance and a desire to press on together towards a common goal. The new trend in question is known as Christian Palestinianism.

Christian Palestinianism is a new way to look at the Middle East. It is almost like a new worldview. It has ramifications politically, historically geographically, archeologically, culturally and even spiritually. In his book For Zion’s Sake, Dr. Paul Wilkinson defines Christian Palestinianism by opposing it to Christian Zionism. He writes: “Christian Palestinianism is an inverted mirror image of Christian Zionism. All the basic elements of a Christian Zionist eschatology are reversed, so that the Bible is seen to be Christian, not Jewish, the land of the Bible is Palestine not Israel, the son of God is a Palestinian not a Jew, the Holocaust is resented not remembered, 1948 is a catastrophe not a miracle, the Jewish people are illegal occupiers not rightful owners, and biblical prophecy is a moral manifesto and not a signpost to the Second Coming.”[1]

I believe that Christian Palestinianism is a distorted view of God’s Word hiding a political agenda behind a reformed theology, resulting in a presentation of Christian Zionism as heretical. The Bible is slowly getting “de-judaized,” paving the way for Islam’s influence to overtake Judeo/ Christian history. This shift from Israel to Palestine in the Christian psyche really is a slap in God’s face and a grave altering of His Word. Postmodernism’s thirst for social justice and tolerance has positioned many Evangelicals on the other side of the spectrum from Christian Zionism to Christian Palestinianism. It could be argued that Christian Palestinianism is Replacement Theology amplified. It presents six dangers as follows:

• A Distortion of God’s Word
The promise of Genesis 12:1-3, made by God to Abraham and the Jewish people, still stands. The land boundaries of Genesis 15:18-20 have never changed and have yet to be fully fulfilled:“To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.”

Why is it that almost nobody questions the historical and biblical revisionism of people like Stephen Sizer, Naim Ateek, Elias Chacour and the likes? We are seeing 21st century Christians blinded by reports of occupation and ethnic cleansing against Palestinians completely turn their back on Israel. But even more than changing one’s interpretation of the Bible, we also witness rejection of the inspired Word of God.

• A Rejection of God’s Word
Christian Palestinianist Naim Ateek recently wrote in Sabeel’s newsletter Cornerstone: “The lesson is clear for me: whatever does not agree with the hermeneutic of God’s love for all people has no authority for us and must not be read even if it is written in the Bible…Jesus had a hermeneutic of God’s love for all people and Isaiah’s words did not comply with that criterion.” [2]

This desire to ignore and even reject Scripture from the Tenach simply because it appears to be in conflict with later teachings of Yeshua is strangely reminiscent of Islam’s “Law of Abrogation,” when Qur’anic verses can be annulled, when historically superseded by contradicting ones. Such an approach to God’s Word is inherently wrong, yet many Evangelicals take their lead from people like Naim Ateek on what they perceive to be a valid biblical approach to the Middle East crisis.

Biblical illiteracy is running rampant within the Evangelical Church, and it creates a very shaky foundation upon which historical revisionism can be built with very little challenge, if any. Christian Palestinianists excel at biblical revisionism. They will go as far as painting Yeshua as the first Palestinian. This far-fetched revisionist approach to Yeshua’s origins has been heavily promoted by the Palestinian Authority. [3]

In both cases of distortion and rejection of God’s Word, the authority of the Bible is put in question. The God of the Bible, who is the God of Israel, as well as the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, is made into a different god. This allows for the insertion of a revised agenda favoring the Palestinian people at the expense of Israel and the Jewish people.

The concept of Eretz Yisrael being the Palestinian homeland and that of the existence of a native Palestinian people were already looming over the horizon a couple of decades ago, but today it is no longer discussed. The land ownership is accepted without questions. The false premise of a biblical Palestine was propaganda long enough to become truth, with no longer needing to be checked for biblical accuracy.

• A One-Sided Reconciliation
Accusations of “apartheid,” “colonization,” “ethnic cleansing,” or “nazification” of Palestine are constantly brought-up without ever speaking of terrorism, rocket attacks and human rights violations ordered by Palestinian leadership of both Fatah and Hamas. Islamic terrorism is simply dismissed and, in some cases, even justified. Christian Palestinianism offers a one-sided reconciliation, and that, of course, is no reconciliation at all.

• God the Covenant Breaker
Christian Palestinianism changes God from a covenant maker and keeper to a covenant breaker. While it might not be clear to many Evangelicals yet, for Christian Palestinianism to exist, Israel has to cease to exist.
What better way to postulate that Israel has become irrelevant than to say that God’s covenants with the Jewish people have been changed? If God had reneged on His covenant or changed the original recipients of His covenantal blessings, it would become obvious that He is done with Israel and the Jews.

But God never changed His mind when He said to Abraham: “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

If God were a covenant breaker, He would also have to be a liar. 1 Samuel 15:29 tells us otherwise: “Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.”

• A Demonization of Israel
Once one is convinced that God is finished with Israel and the Jews, it becomes easier to extrapolate the generalization that Israel is the cause of evil against the Palestinians. The accusations against Israel come from Palestinians, Liberals and some Evangelicals. They come so strongly that at times, it becomes difficult to define one source from another. Additionally, the liberal media has absolutely no other agenda than demonizing the victims and victimizing the perpetrators. Facts no longer matter in our postmodern global village. As a matter of fact, radical anti-Zionism is now part of the fabric of society and is in the process of becoming the standard by which one measures his/her degree of tolerance and multiculturalism. French author Pierre-André Taguieff develops it further in his recent book Israel et la Question Juive when he writes: “ Intellectual and political conformism moves alongside radical anti-Zionism, having nothing to do with a critique of Israel’s politics but rather aiming at the final destruction of the Jewish State.” [4]

• A Promotion of Islam
In her book Eurabia: the Euro-Arab Axis, Jewish author and activist, Bat Ye’or, describes Christian Palestinianism as “Palestinian Marcionism:” “The Christian policy that would eliminate the Jewish source of Christianity by suppressing the link between the Hebrew Bible and the Gospels represents an old and lingering trend, always opposed by the Church. Today, Palestinian Marcionism (Palestinianism) paves the way for the Islamization of the Church as it prepares mentalities for an Islamic replacement theology…and encompasses the whole paraphernalia of traditional anti-Semitism.” [5]

Bat Ye’or’s assessment has tragically proven true in the last eight years. Christian Palestinianism is well on its way to de-judaize Yeshua–a job that the gentile branch of Christianity generously contributed to, out of ignorance and sometimes, pure hatred of the Jews over the centuries. Christian Palestinianism will also continue to invalidate much of the Jewish Scriptures as history gets re-written and Jewish references get replaced to accommodate the “Islamization” of the Bible.

While it would be tempting and almost accurate to describe Christian Palestinianism as anti-Semitism, we must be careful in labeling this new trend. Some Christian Palestinianists are clearly anti-Semitic, but this doesn’t allow us to paint with broad strokes and simply say that Christian Palestinianism IS anti-Semitism.

I believe that it is a fair assessment to claim that Christian Zionism and Christian Palestinianism can be found on two opposite sides of the spectrum in terms of the Church’s relationship with Israel and the Jewish people. In fact, Christian Palestinianism is Christian anti- Zionism. But rather than labeling Christian Palestinianism as anti-Semitism, I would rather place it as one of the key components of the latest trend in anti-Semitism: Eschatological anti-Semitism.

Being well aware of the fact that anti-Semitism is the “irrational hatred” of the Jewish people, I see the obvious converging of many unlikely allies against Israel. Islam, Liberals and Evangelicals have many reasons to disagree ideologically and spiritually, yet they find it acceptable to go against Israel in one accord. Campus Intifada, BDS, media bias, historical revisionism, and Holocaust denial are different arrows in Satan’s quiver of hate.

An evangelical might not be as determined to destroy Israel as a radical Muslim is, but they have become co-conspirators and co- perpetrators. As such, they become guilty of the same crime in the eyes of the God of Israel.

God was the first Zionist but He also sent Yeshua for both Jews and Arabs. I am obviously pro-God and thus I am pro-Israel, but being pro- Israel doesn’t mean that one is anti-Palestinian, sadly, and I must say irrationally, the opposite is seldom true!

[1] Wilkinson, Paul R.: For Zion’s Sake (Paternoster, Nottingham, England, 2007) p. 65

[2] Ateek, Naim: Sabeel Newsletter: Cornerstone (Winter/Spring 2014), p.3-4.

[3] http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=13536

[4] Taguieff, Pierre-André: Israel et la Question Juive (Les Provinciales, Paris, France, 2011), p. 191-192.

[5] Bat Ye’or, Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis (Teaneck, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson Univ. Press, 2006), p. 213.