Aaron David Fruh

Christ at the Checkpoint Pushes Woke Antisemitism, Empowering Extremists

The Evangelical anti-Zionist and antisemitic organization Christ at the Checkpoint (CATC) completed its biannual conference in Bethlehem last week. Bethlehem Bible College sponsors the conference. In 2017, the NGO Monitor reported that “Christ at the Checkpoint seeks to advance the Palestinian nationalist agenda within Evangelical Christian churches while simultaneously reviving theological antisemitic themes such as replacement theology . . . Other anti-Jewish themes promoted at CATC include the de-Judaizing of Jesus and the promotion of a racial theory of Jewish origins.”

This year’s conference pivoted—leapt would be a better description—from its traditional theological foundation of supersessionism (the false narrative that the church has replaced Israel and that Palestinian Christians are the rightful owners of Jewish land). Gone were the old-guard supersessionists, like former Wheaton College New Testament theologian Dr. Gary Burge.

It’s obvious why CATC broke free from its old haunts of supersessionism: they were losing the argument. Scholars like Gerry McDermott (PhD, University of Iowa and editor of The New Christian Zionism), Craig Blaising (PhD, University of Aberdeen), Joel Willitts (University of Cambridge), Mark S. Kinzer (PhD, University of Michigan), David Rudolph (PhD, University of Cambridge), Mark Tooley, Robert Benne (PhD, University of Chicago), Robert Nicholson (JD Syracuse University), Shadi Khalloul, and Darrel Bock (PhD, University of Aberdeen) are unmasking the deceptive and false doctrine of historic European antisemitic super-sessionism, and Christ at the Checkpoint does not have the depth or scholarly acumen—theological chops if you will—to go up against those who are challenging their shallow, desultory, and pedantic theology.

So, what did CATC put in place of their old and tired replacement theology? An ideology that David Bernstein, a colleague at the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP), calls “Woke Antisemitism.” In his book Woke Antisemitism: How a Progressive Ideology Harms Jews, David clarifies,

“By ‘Woke Ideology,’ I mean the outgrowth of postmodernist thought that holds two
core tenets: that bias and oppression are not just matters of individual attitude but are
embedded in the very structures and systems of society and that only those with lived
experience of oppression have the insight to define oppression for the rest of
society. . . . woke ideology inflames both anti-Israelism and antisemitism by spreading
dogma that empowers extremists and antisemites.”

In the forward of Bernstein’s book, former Soviet Jewish refusnik, human rights activist, and Chairman of ISGAP, Natan Sharansky writes,

“Growing up in the Soviet Union, there was an ideology that we had to learn in grade
school and in the university and were forced to repeat at every opportunity. This
ideology stated that the entire history of the world is a fight between the privileged and
unprivileged, between those who have and those who have not. The ideology held that
people of good will must join in a fight by the proletariat against the capitalists. And the
proletariat are always right because they are the victims. The ideology held that
capitalists should be deprived of their right to speak because when they speak, they
merely justify thousands of years of exploitation. That very ideology was used as a
pretext to kill tens of millions of people for belonging to the ‘wrong’ class, to the ‘wrong’
nation, or to the ‘wrong’ political views. . . . In woke ideology, there are good identities
and bad identities. In this worldview, the most victimized identity is Palestinian, and the
worst identity is Israeli, which represents the last colonial project. Intersectionality unites
woke progressive theory with the most primitive forms of antisemitism.”

The radical shift from classic supersessionism to woke antisemitism in the presentations at this year’s CATC conference was, well, unimaginatively boring. For the most part, this year’s speakers were not theologians but rather community organizers, peace activists, social justice warriors, thought leaders, and harmony builders—pushing an antisemitic racist ideology.

Rev. Renee August from Cape Town, South Africa, entitled her presentation: How Genocide Can be Normalized.” Remarkably, she accused Joseph, the Jewish son of Jacob in the book of Genesis, of committing “a crime against humanity”:

“Joseph commodifies what God had given freely. This is a crime against humanity.
Joseph gathers all the money in Egypt for Pharaoh. Notice the movement of economic
power toward the empire. The movement of spatial power now rests with the empire.
The work of decolonization must include a relocation of power—of economic power, of
social power, of political power, of religious power, and of spatial power. How do we
normalize genocide? Easy: if Joseph remains the hero and If there is only one way to
think about him, there is no problem. But when we acknowledge that Joseph is not
good or evil—he’s both! We can reorganize God’s power for the world.”

In the Q and A time after her talk, Rev. August explains her interpretation of the parable of the Talents in Matthew 25: “The person handing out talents cannot be God because if we accept this, we must be okay with God sanctioning inequality. That is a text of terror. The hero of the text is the one who buries the talent because it is an act of boycott, divestment, and sanctions: ‘I will not participate in an unjust economic system.’”

Rev. August concludes with her view of the lesson of the parable, and her tone became angry and accusatory: “If you are Jewish, you are not allowed to make money with money. If you have five talents and you come back with ten, I must ask, who got screwed?”

Sitting next to Rev. August in the Q&A session was Dr. Yousef Alkhouri, assistant professor in Biblical studies at Bethlehem Bible College. Commenting on the Genesis account of Joseph, he accused Joseph of corruption: “We, as Palestinians, have to struggle with this text. Joseph took from the Egyptians, who sold themselves as slaves to the empire and gave the best land for free to his own family. This is corruption.”

Dr. Alkhouri also explained that it seems in the book of Joshua that God is the mastermind of genocide: “The book of Joshua is a blueprint for settler colonialism and genocide. If it’s written in the Bible, it doesn’t mean it’s a command. Many stories in the Bible seem to have the voice of God, but God’s voice is not there.”

Lisa Sharon Harper, former chief engagement officer for Sojourners, discussed de-centering Israeli whiteness: “What needs to happen is the de-centering of whiteness. The brown colonized Jesus is in solidarity with Palestinians. We need Palestinians to do their decolonizing work.”

Daniel Bannoura, a PhD candidate in qur’anic studies and recent speaker at the Evangelical flagship Wheaton College, explained in his CATC presentation that he wants to “remind Christians of the context of 75 years of [Israeli] Apartheid and oppression and settler colonialism.” He said when Palestinians proclaim, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” what they are calling for is an eradication of the state of Israel and “an annihilation of a racist ideology of one people [Jews] over another [Palestinians]. He went on to argue that “the idea of Israel is an ethnic and racist supremacist state.” Bannoura endorsed the following statement: “The Palestinian has become the Jew, and the Jew has become the new white man.” He also accused Israel of white supremacy:

“I think Palestine is a theological crisis. If you are an American Evangelical and you are
having conversations about white supremacy and about patriarchy, you have to have
conversations about Palestine—these go hand in hand. Palestine is an American
Christian issue, just like white nationalism is an American Christian issue. Palestine, by
extension, is a theological crisis for the West, just like white supremacy is. Just like
racism is. Just like patriarchy is.”

The obvious problem with all of this woke, harmony-building, convoluted nonsense about Israel being a white colonial Apartheid state is that the majority of Israeli Jews are not white. In fact, only about 30% of Israeli Jews are descendants of European Jews and are known as Ashkenazi Jews. The majority of Israeli Jews come from North Africa and the Middle East and are known as Mizrahi Jews. In Israel, there are hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian Jews. There are Asian Jews and Latin American Jews. As well, there are over two million Israeli Arabs who live peacefully within Israel’s borders—many serve in the IDF and are fighting against the treachery of Hamas. Presently, ten Arab Israelis serve in the Knesset, and since Israel’s inception, a total of 100 Arabs have served in the Israeli Knesset.

The fact that the leaders of CATC have by all accounts severed the lines attaching them to the tired heresy of supersessionism and now fully embrace woke antisemitism mixed with the liberation theology of 1960s’ Latin America leads me to wonder what lightening rod they will reach for next when this one fizzles out? Woke community organizers masquerading as seasoned theologians won’t have a long run, nor is it a good optic. I found myself yawning through most of the presentations because the messaging seemed choreographed and boringly monochromatic—scripted: “White patriarchy, Apartheid, settler colonialism, de-centering of whiteness, the work of decolonization, brown colonized Jesus.” Listening to the underlying angst toward Jews in the presentations reminded me that David Bernstein was right when he said, “Woke ideology inflames both anti-Israelism and antisemitism by spreading dogma that empowers extremists and antisemites.”

About the Author
Aaron David Fruh is a Research Fellow at The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP) and the President of Israel Team Advocates, whose mission it is to change the growing anti-Israel narrative on college campuses. Aaron is the author of five books including The Casualty of Contempt: the alarming rise of Antisemitism and what can be done to stop it (editor), and Two Minute Warning: why it’s time to honor the Jewish people before the clock runs out. Aaron has written for The Jerusalem Post and The Algemeiner.
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