Growing up in the evangelical church, support for Israel was simply part of the culture. It was just accepted that the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy, heralding the Last Days and the return of Jesus to the earth. In Sunday school we performed plays from the Old Testament. This history was part of our own history, and the miracle of the modern State of Israel was seen as proof that God continued to work in the world.
Like many who grow up in the church, in high school I started to have doubts about some of the simple narratives with which I was raised. Eventually, it was a conversation with a professor at the Christian college that I attended that brought home the basic truth that, while both sides have suffered and bear a measure of blame for the conflict, there’s no way to square the message of Jesus with support for Israel’s policies of occupation and settlement.
So when I read Christians United for Israel director David Brog’s post on Tuesday, in which he detailed Christian Zionists’ views on Israel, I felt a strong familiarity. Just as with the way I learned about the conflict as a child, the Palestinians went unmentioned. They were invisible.
Brog cited two Bible verses, familiar to any Sunday school kid like myself, one from the Book of Genesis and another from the Book of Joel, to justify Christian Zionists’ belief that “all of the land of Israel—including the West Bank—belongs to the Jewish people.” But it’s worth noting that, while Jesus said a lot about helping the poor, being peacemakers, and living righteously, he said absolutely nothing about land, or the importance of controlling it. So it’s odd that Christian Zionists should make control of land such a focus of their advocacy.
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