I have just been watching a video (just over an hour long) titled “With God on our side – a critique of Christian Zionism“. One of my Facebook friends had earlier posted it on her timeline and I resolved I would watch it when I had time. I have since found the time and my critique of the critique will follow shortly.
A few months ago, I was coming across all sorts of postings on social media, as well as news reports in mainstream media, relating to issues around what is happening in Israel, in particular to the Palestinians, and especially those living in Gaza and the West Bank, where there had been an escalation of violence and tensions. Understandably, people felt strongly about the issues, offering a variety of views. Because it has sort have died down for the time being and other news stories have come to the fore, for example the rise of ISIS and some of the atrocities being perpetrated by them, in particular directed toward westerners, Israel reports have been less but the issues still remain, and no sign of resolutions.
I decided at the time I would pitch in with my own thoughts in this my blog, in particular my entries “Letter to a Zionist Friend” and “Christian Palestinianism” and the links that these point to, and to carry on reading, studying what is going on and listening to others. Accordingly, I won’t go over old ground here. I will continue to seek to come to a better understanding what is happening in Israel today and why things are as they are, acknowledging people, including those from my own theological stable, often hold pretty entrenched and contrary positions, often based on ignorance, such that meaningful dialogue becomes nigh impossible and impasses arise.
Everyone, from militant atheists to religious fundamentalists, hold certain axioms that influence what they believe and do, and only a minority recognise or try to understand the views of those who hold different axioms to find just solutions. As far as the Palestinian question goes, this is all too often sadly the case. In adopting a position that tries to understand and engage with those from the different sides, I often found this has brought me into conflict with those from the different sides such that it is tempting to shut up altogether or at least continue my quest to understand and keep my own counsel until such time I understand better and the time is ripe.
Two of my axioms that are pertinent here are that God is a God of justice and addressing issues around social injustice is important and that the Jewish people and the land of Israel both matter as far as God is concerned. I have reiterated though that the question we are faced with is not that we should be on anybody’s side but that we should be on the side of God, who loves both the Jew and the Palestinian. For some Israelis, their axiom may be that Israel is a sovereign state that needs to be kept secure. For some Palestinians, their axiom may be it is their land also or only and the need is for a secular or Islamic state to replace or exist alongside it. For some Christian Zionists, an axiom is to stand by Israel come what may.
It sometimes beggars belief when engaging with those who hold strongly held views, from whatever side, that even if I were to present well rehearsed arguments and evidence that might challenge those views, these are often ignored or dismissed. The video I just watched could be classed more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israel but it seemed to me that many of the points that I was able to verify were valid and demands an answer by those who uncritically support Israel and who hold Zionist beliefs. Even in the case of unverifiable facts and opinions, what is being put forward regarding different injustices inflicted on the Palestinian people at least merits serious consideration. And all this coming from one who does support Israel and who holds, moderately at least, Zionist views.
As a Bible student, I am mindful that the Bible says a lot about the last days (which some say we are living in) and Israel and the Jewish people and justice and righteousness. I will continue to study the Bible and try to resist coming up with wrong exegesis as many have. I do believe in the coming AGAIN of Israel’s Messiah and that the issues around Israel and Palestine will not be resolved before then because men are hard of heart. The biggest hope is that there will be peacemakers that speak truth into the situation that is prevailing and that Jewish and Palestinian believers so love God, one another and the people around them, that they will find a better way and it will become all too evident for those with eyes to see.