Beware those who want peace but carry a sword

You would think that after centuries of anti-Jewish harassment, which culminated in the Holocaust, Christians would think twice before admonishing the State of Israel.

But it seems that a coalition of believers in Jesus cannot resist the temptation to hound the Jewish state.

Over the past few weeks, there has been a glut of news stories about Christian groups considering – or actively calling for – a ban on Jewish settler produce. The most recent example is that of Christian Aid and the Quakers, which are calling on the UK government to implement a total ban of settlement goods.

Meanwhile,  United Church of Canada (UCC) is expected to finalize its official policy towards Israel. Following the publication of a one-sided report, UCC delegates may find themselves persuaded to vote in favour of a settlement boycott when they meet in August.

Next month, Anglican leaders will meet in the English city of York to decide whether the Church of England should adopt the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniers Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).

The EAPPI, which also has the backing of Christian Aid and the Quakers, is extremely biased against Israel and clings to the belief that Israel should be held to a higher standard than the Palestinians.

The number of Christian organisations interfering in the Israel-Palestinian issue and censuring the Jewish state is increasing. It is common practice for left-wing Christians to exonerate the Palestinians of accountability and hold Israel solely responsible for ending the crisis.

All of the above Christian groups would undoubtedly deny they are anti-Semitic and are simply advocating a humanitarian and non-violent approach to ending the “occupation.”

Except there is nothing humanitarian about turning a blind eye to Palestinian anti-Semitism and the glorification of terrorism. And there is nothing non-violent about calling for the economic (and physical) destruction of the settlements, which may be the beginning of a total boycott of all Israeli goods and services.

I write this not as an Israeli or even as a Jew, but as a former Christian who is appalled by the blatant prejudice against Israel by those who preach the merits of justice and love.

But discriminating against the Jewish state and failing to hold the Palestinians to account is the opposite of justice.  Moreover, pro-Palestinian Christians refuse to accept the possibility that it is the Palestinians themselves who have squandered every opportunity for self-determination.

Israel is expected to “love thy neighbor” and withdraw from Judea and Samaria.  This is asking too much. Israel needs the settlements in order to give it strategic depth should there ever be another Arab-Israeli war.  Loving others should not involve destroying yourself in the process.

Of course, there are many Christians who are supportive of Israel. The Christian Zionists are incredibly supportive of the Jewish people’s right to live in Israel. There are also Anglican and Catholic organisations which advocate on Israel’s behalf.

But I fear that the growing phenomena of Christian Palestinianism (an ideology embraced by left-wing protestants, liberation theologians and Arab Orthodox priests),  is outpacing Christian Zionism, and is doing so at a time when mainstream opinion in the West is turning against Israel.

Meanwhile, both Christian and Muslim Palestinians have appropriated Christ as an icon of their self-declared victimhood, thereby resurrecting the myth that it was the Jews who killed Jesus. This a blatant and cynical attempt  to provoke anti-Semitism in those Christians who already have anti-Israel leanings.

Indeed, Yasser Arafat not only proclaimed that Jesus was a Palestinian but is “our Lord the Messiah,” which is an astonishing statement for a Muslim to make. More recently, Mustafa Barghouti, from the Palestinian Authority, claimed that Jesus was “the first Palestinian who was tortured in this land.”

The invention of the Palestinian Jesus and the misuse of the crucifixion as a political weapon is just one more lethal narrative aimed at demonizing Israel.

And there is a danger that the Muslim appropriation of Jesus will converge with Christian Palestinianism and form a kind of political Chrislamism.

Pro-Palestinian Christians need to take a long, hard look at themselves and ask whether their actions are likely to lead to a fresh outburst of religiously-motivated anti-Semitism.  But I suspect that they will close their eyes to this possibility and continue to raise their fists against the descendants of Isaac and Jacob.

Perhaps this is to be expected. After all, it was Jesus himself who said, “I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword.”

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