I had an email chat last week with a Palestinian Christian
upset over my statements about the Holy Land
belonging to the Jews. I want to present this week a view that hopefully will be
seen as balanced.
Having had only Psychology 101 in college, I can only
assume that there is a term that describes the demonization of victims. In this
context, I am talking about the daily campaign to snuff-out the Jews. This
effort, by a coalition of enemies, involves a multi-layered approach:
diplomatic, media-driven, terror, religious, and economic. And I am admitting my
bias upfront: in my world, Jews have been slaughtered and harassed for 60 years
by Arabs who feed on hate. Yet, in our culture today,
is blamed. This is surely a psychological disorder.
My chat friend has family in Bethlehem
and bemoans the fact that they cannot move freely between that town and Jerusalem, Ramallah, or any other city. We all
see things from our own perspectives. For a Palestinian, Israel
restricts his or her movements. For an Israeli, those restrictions keep a lid on
A recent poll in
reveals that almost two-thirds view Al Qaida as a legitimate entity. Friends,
that is scary in the extreme. As Middle East
analyst Barry Rubin has noted, even the effort to bring in Israeli medicine to
help a dying boy is not allowed by the Egyptians.
We also know that for decades, tens of thousands of
terrorist acts have been perpetrated by Arabs against Jews. Arab armies have
invaded Israel three times and terror organizations have
initiated hostilities several more times, most recently two years ago in Lebanon.
That is a bare-bones Israeli view.
From the Palestinian view,
“stole” land in 1948. Jewish “settlers” took over homes and land and forced
Arabs out. Today, the checkpoints and security barrier choke-off Arab movement
and result in a devastated Palestinian economy and the uprooting of families.
All Israeli leaders are viewed with suspicion. Before he (reluctantly) embraced
Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin was known as the “bone-breaker” by Palestinians
who decried Israeli efforts to deal with terrorists. No doubt the Israelis have
dealt severely with their enemies.
That is a bare-bones Palestinian view.
American Christians who support
are often accused of ignoring Palestinian concerns. To be sure, there are
stepped-up efforts by left-leaning Christians to disseminate the Palestinian
“narrative.” From Brian McLaren and his Emergent friends to Christianity Today
magazine to mainline churches, there have been plenty of opportunities for
Palestinians to get their message out.
I do take exception to the charge that Christian Zionists
ignore (and/or hate) Arabs. My dear friend David Lewis was a zealous defender of Israel. David
also pioneered efforts to reach out to Palestinians and the wider Arab nation. I
know plenty of other Christians who work to help Arabs. David’s daughter,
Rebecca Brimmer, is director of Bridges for Peace, and that organization —
based in Israel — feeds and clothes both Jews
The issue is this: both sides have grievances. The real
problem — in my humble view — is that the Arabs have chosen a path of violence:
unrelenting, diabolical, and murderous. Anyone who fails to repudiate murder
does not have the moral authority to present his or her case.
Years ago I had a long conversation with a Palestinian
regarding theological issues. I will not identify him beyond that.
I asked why Palestinians — particularly Palestinian
Christians — take a generally dim view of Jews and
Israel. I naively suggested that the Bible we
all read gives clear evidence that God gave the land in question to the Jews.
He gave a long, detailed reply that I can sum up this way:
Palestinians reject those ancient promises
because they consider them unfair.
There are various interpretations, such as symbolizing OT prophecies,
considering them myth, ignoring them outright. But generally, they are rejected.
This is really extraordinary and demands further attention.
In essence, he was admitting a very human reaction: we
don’t like something, so we simply reject it. This is the ultimate in subjective
reasoning. Please allow me an admittedly weak parallel that I hope at least
illustrates some truth.
I am a big fan of
of Oklahoma football.
Always have been.
Last weekend, archrival
upset OU and spoiled an unbeaten season. The game was hyped, OU fans were
pumped-up, and early on, I thought OU would win big. Then mistakes, penalties,
turnovers, and injuries sunk us. Yet I have no choice but to admit this:
Texas won. They played a
tremendous game, played with passion and purpose, and won fair and square. They
were the better team.
I cannot dwell on other factors, much as I would like to do
that. I cannot pretend that Texas
didn’t win. I cannot reject their victory and claim it is illegitimate.
Palestinians (particularly Christian) cannot simply reject
Old Testament prophecies and promises because they consider them unfair or
unjust. Besides, the opposite view can be taken: why isn’t it fair for
to have a sliver of land, when the pan Arab nation has 22 countries with a
combined land-mass that dwarfs the Jewish state.
Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt! Israel turned
over administration of land to the Palestinian Authority over a decade ago. As
Avi Lipkin has pointed out,
has returned over 90 percent of territory won in the Six Day War!
But we never hear this. Like a giant satellite zooming in
from space, we don’t see the gigantic Arab population and land-mass compared to Israel. The
media, anti-Jewish diplomats, and terror organizations zoom-in and present Israel as a
“Goliath” oppressing the tiny Palestinian “David.”
This is absurd and immoral. The ratio of Arab land to
Jewish land in the Middle East is roughly 540 to 1!
My eyes were opened when I learned that the Palestinian
Christians generally reject Jewish claims to the land, not on theological
grounds, but simply by subjective feeling.
And further: I cannot view with equal measure the plight of
a Palestinian family that cannot regularly visit family from other villages when
weighed against the plight of multitudes of Jewish families who have buried
loved ones murdered by Palestinian terrorists.
If we split with Palestinian brethren over this, we split.
I cannot and will not allow myself to be duped by clever propaganda. This is a
black-and-white issue. Murder is never justified. Rejection of the Bible because
one perceives it to be unfair is never justified.
We are moving into difficult times, on myriad levels. It is
my contention that support for
is diminishing, not growing. Her enemies are aggressive, well-funded, and do not
become exhausted. Not one of these traits is shared by Israel’s
defenders, generally speaking.
I do sincerely love my Palestinian brethren. But I cannot
and will not be silent while
is in danger.