This coming June, The Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) will meet for their General Assembly in Detroit, Michigan. Among the many items on the agenda you can be sure to find BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions). PCUSA is hoping to pass a resolution that would result in divesting from Motorola, Caterpillar and Hewlett-Packard because of their involvement with Israel. This is not their first attempt but each year they get closer to success. It is some sort of witch-hunt against Israel and the Jewish people.
PCUSA produced a booklet/DVD teaching packet entitled “Zionism Unsettled“ in which they hope to educate their constituents about Israel and Palestine and lead them to make the right decision about BDS. Behind the thin veneer of an ethical study performed by reputable academics and theologians, we find nothing but anti-Israel propaganda. The appearance given by the “pseudo-scholarly” approach of the people used on this project is very misleading. Unfortunately, many people within PCUSA and even outside of the denomination but within Christendom will buy the story hook, line and sinker! This will only worsen Israel’s image.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of some of the issues I have identified in my review:
• In their introduction “Zionism and the Rocks of Judea” they use archive footage of pre-1948 Israel known then as Palestine. The narrator indiscriminately calls the Arab inhabitants of the Land “Palestinians” even though it is clear that no such ethnic title was really given to them until after 1967. When asked about Palestine in 1946, Arab-American historian Philip Hitti said: “There is no such thing as “Palestine” in history, absolutely not.” The name Palaestina was given to Judea by the Romans to humiliate and ridicule Israel.
• The second chapter on political Zionism titled “Historical Myths, Obstacles to Peace” they use footage of Jewish historian Ilan Pappé speaking at a conference. Labelled as an “Israeli Historian”, Ilan Pappé has a worldwide reputation of being an anti-Zionist or like some would call him: “a self-defeating Jew”. On anti-Zionist site such as Electronic Intifada, Ilan Pappé writes about Israel apparently ignoring Palestinians and states:“This denial was there at the beginning of Zionism and led to the ethnic cleansing in 1948. And it is there today, which may lead to similar disasters in the future — unless stopped immediately.”
In Zionism Unsettled, Pappé claims that Jewish people abuse the memory of the Holocaust and that Israelis compare Palestinians to Nazis. A quick perusal of anti-Semitic sites, articles and books will prove the opposite. Israel is constantly accused of being the “New Nazis” of the Middle East. Cartoons abound on the topic, and the world is starting to believe it.
• The third chapter on the Jewish State titled “The Triumph of Judaism” has several narrators. The first one is Palestinian-American writer and poet Susan Abulhawa. She recites a poem over footage of Palestinians going through the checkpoints. She call the fenced turnstile gates “cattle cages” and the buses used by Palestinians “cattle buses”, using terminology reminiscent of the Nazi cattle cars of the 1940s that took the Jews to their death. Who’s is using and abusing the Holocaust now?
Following her, movie director Ronen Berelovich gives us a quick lesson on Israeli government. He says that: “All parties in the Israeli Parliament are Zionist from right to left”. Is Mr. Berelovich aware of at least two parties in the Israeli government known as Balad and UAL-Ta’al are Arab parties absolutely not in favor of Zionism and opposed to many of the laws passed by the Knesset, yet they are part of the Israeli government? Are there any Jewish representative on the Palestinian government or any other Arab country? Of course not!
Another gentleman by the name of Jeff Halper, an American anthropologist who resides in Israel, claims that: “The current situation is because the media tries to be even-handed or pro-Israel”. Which media Mr. Halper, because just about everywhere I look, I see anti-Israel bias in the vastly liberal media? I still have chills as I recall the 2012 60 minutes on “Christians in the Holy Land”.
The next few chapters give the platform to a Catholic priest and a reformed theologian as they continue to paint Israel as the oppressors and Zionism as racism and ethnic cleansing.
• Chapter seven on evangelicals and Christian Zionism titled “Onward Christian Zionists” is meant to be more theologically oriented that the rest of the series. It contains commentaries by Reverend Donald Wagner associated with anti-Zionist organization Friends of Sabeel as well anti-Semitic author Irving Wesley Hall who is featured on the movie of the same title as this chapter Onward Christian Zionists. Between the two men, the viewers are exposed to a theology that is Christian only by name. They try to paint a picture of Christian Zionism by showing selected clips of John Hagee and CUFI (Christian United for Israel) interspersed with theological vignettes void of any biblical foundation, but delivered with enough authority to fool those who don’t open their Bible much.
So Wagner goes on saying that John Hagee is a dispensationalist, which according to Hall is synonymous with Christian Zionist. This is not a forum for such a discussion but let me just say that while all dispensationalists are Christian Zionists, not all Christian Zionists are dispensationalists. Hall adds that: “Zionists have a primary obligation to support the policies of the State of Israel above all things”. While as a Zionist myself I support Israel’s right to exist and right to the Land, I also do it from a biblical viewpoint, according to God’s decree and certainly not in blind accordance with every move made by the Israeli government. Some Christian Zionists might be blindly supporting Israel and all government decisions, but they are not the majority.
Wagner continues by saying that: “Christian Zionists do not represent the Gospel and have no concern for Palestinian Christians”. I know this is not the fact for the majority of Christian Zionists, but I have to say that in regards to John Hagee, it is true since he doesn’t even believe that Jewish people need to acknowledge Yeshua as their Messiah to be saved. Hagee’s approach is known as Dual Covenant Theology and THAT is a faulty view of salvation. True Christian Zionists are Christians before they are Zionists and they regard all human lives equally; Jewish, Palestinian or other. If some people have given a bad rep to the Christian Zionist movement over the last few decades, it certainly is no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water. We can always find people misrepresenting any movement or organization anywhere, anytime, yet we do not dismiss the whole for a few of the rotten parts. I also find it interesting that the terms “terrorist” or “terrorism” were never mentioned in the whole three-hour program.
• The last chapter titled: “A Zionist Dream–The Shadow Side” was actually embarrassing for me as a Jew. I saw a South African family who converted to Judaism and then moved to Israel to live in the settlements. The father acted arrogantly as if he had lived there all his life. He belittled the Palestinians and even humiliated them. But I do not see this man and his family as bona fide Jewish settlers since they converted.
For the most part, Zionism Unsettled is a patchwork project composed of many parts, several individually available on YouTube. The theme is clear; it is the delegitimization of Israel. It is a witch-hunt that has been going on for a while now. One reason why it is gaining momentum is because true Christian Zionists are not doing enough to counteract and expose this evil propaganda. We cannot sit and watch history being re-written in front of our eyes!
Many Christian within PCUSA and outside the denomination will fall into that trap. This is all a part of the new anti-Semitism that Jewish politician Natan Sharansky capsulized under the 3Ds definition as follows: “The first “D” is the test of demonization. The second “D” is the test of double standards. The third “D” is the test of delegitimization.
God was the first Zionist (Genesis 12:3, Psalm 83, Jeremiah 31:35-37) and as one who follows the Bible, I am also a Zionist and like God, I respect human life and care as much for my fellow Jews as I do for anybody else including the Palestinians. If PCUSA still claims to be part of Christendom, they certainly are making a huge mistake by demonizing Israel. It would behoove them to spend a little more time in God’s Word and a little less time trying their anti-Semitic agenda.
Note: for a serious, scholarly and heavily documented study of the topic, this writer recommends Mitchell Bard’s book: Myths and Facts about the Arab-Israeli Conflict (fully available on line for free).