The blogosphere has exploded with people defending and attacking Israel’s recent actions in Gaza. The media, likewise, is weighing in on the issue, and its portrayal of events can hardly be called objective (see here and here). Joining the so-called debate are Christians. Without compromising the difficult and bloody history between the Church and the Jewish people, it must be noted that some of Israel’s most loyal supporters are Christians devoted to the God of Israel.
However, despite having many friends in the Christian community, Israel has her share of enemies. The most recent evidence of this is the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) vote to divest itself from companies it sees as profiting from Israel’s occupation. In the summer 2013, the Methodist Conference debated the so-called nuances of the BDS movement. This is after the Methodist Church of Britain voted in favor of BDS targeting companies in the West Bank. Reading and listening to the arguments given be these groups for their anti-Israel stances hardly builds confidence in their claims of “we are not antisemites.” The presumption in both cases, and in others, is that Israel is guilty.
Some Christians call for love in the name of faith, but their love only extends to Hamas. They claim to preach “the love of Messiah,” but it is done at the expense of historical and Biblical truth. There is no need at this point to play the semantics game and claim that “real” Christians love Jews and have always loved Jews. Yes, “real” Christians love Jews, and other “real” Christians hate Jews (I have met both). The challenge for those of us who wish to enter into this discussion is confronting the ideologues whose hermeneutics confine them to anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish positions, which no amount of facts and counter-points can sway them.
Barry Horner, author of Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged, states in a position paper that for Christians, the authority of the Word of God must be “determinative with regard to the contemporary status of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.” Another theologian well versed in the Hebrew Bible, Walter C. Kaiser Jr., aptly states: “to argue that God replaced Israel with the church is to depart from an enormous body of biblical evidence.”
Despite our friends’ challenge to their fellow Christians, ideology more often than not wins over. However, collaboration and cooperation is not impossible. In January of 2011 StandIWthUs reported that Christians and Jews came together to stand for Israel and against anti-Israeli propaganda. The report states: “At the end of December, many pro-Israel Jews and Christians felt their successful joint campaign to keep anti-Israel ads off buses in Seattle was an example of cooperation that allowed the good guys to win.”
So where does this leave us? First we must not generalize; not all Christians are against Israel, and those who support her do not do it for nefarious reasons. Second, working together will build bridges between Jews and Christians, and it will help our cause. Finally, working together with those Christians who stand with Israel to stand against extremism and antisemitism will only help to educate more people.