Can you be both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian?

While reading the CNN Belief Blog, one prediction for 2012 struck very close to home. It was penned by the publisher of Relevant Magazine – a more contemporary Christian magazine (worth reading as well):

There’s no question the worldview of most younger Christians already differs from previous generations regarding social justice, cultural engagement and politics. The next issue of probable divergence? The conflict in Israel and Palestine. The American church has largely purported just one theology about the modern state of Israel, but now questions are being asked – especially by younger Christians learning of persecution and human rights issues happening in the region – if the church should have a more active role in peacemaking. Is there a way for the Church to be pro-Israel, pro-Palestine and pro-peace? (“15 Faith-Based Predictions for 2012,” Cameron Strang, Publisher, RELEVANT Magazine)

I believe Cameron Strang is correct to point out this trend among Christian young people. I do wish he had phrased his statement about persecution and human rights issues happening in the region differently. This may have been better phrased, “learning of alleged persecution and human rights violations” – or perhaps “accusations” of the same.

But, he is correct in saying that our younger generation seem to be less supportive of Israel than the previous generation. Why? I can think of a few reasons. One has a more positive origin (though needs to be more balanced), but the other is negative.

Let’s start with the positive!

I am delighted to see our younger generation developing a greater concern for social justice issues, and many are doing a great job of making a very practical difference in our broken and sinful world. Caring for those who are marginalized is part of this concern, and it has led to more prayer, help and support of Palestinians.

I am always happy when God’s love is shown to others. I would be happier if our younger generation would be more circumspect in giving their political support to the Palestinians, but I am sincerely grateful for the love shown to those in desperate need of the Gospel.

The second reason for younger Christians’ dwindling support for Israel is not so good: many churches are no longer teaching about Israel, the Jewish people, the Holy Land, or even about the End Times! This is a problem because the Bible contains a considerable amount of teaching on these matters. Romans 9-11 is just one of many examples – read through it and see what you think!

Perhaps we need to focus on bringing a more verse-by-verse, expository style of Bible teaching back to our congregations and pulpits. There are so many needs in our world – and within our own congregations – that we sometimes miss out on other key areas of Bible teaching, that if taught would eventually reduce some of our needs!

We believe it is entirely possible to love the Jewish people and the Palestinians while believing that the Land of Promise belongs to the Jewish people. This is one of the reasons we are sponsoring another major conference on this very topic – this time on the West Coast!

The conference is entitled Israel, the Church, and the Middle East Crisis, and will be held March 23-24, 2012, on the campus of Biola University. The speakers include author and Middle East expert Joel Rosenberg, Old Testament scholar Dr. Walter Kaiser, and myself. It will be one of the only conferences of this sort that provides Bible teaching about Eschatology and the Future of the Middle East – as well as seminars on how to witness to both Jews and Muslims. Visit the website for further information and online registration!

I appreciate Cameron Strang’s having brought this trend to our attention. My prayer for all of us in this New Year is that we will commit ourselves to understanding the fullness of Scripture – and encourage our congregations, pastors, Messianic Rabbis and home Bible study leaders to delve deeply into the role and calling of God for the Jewish people as revealed in the Scriptures. After all, being chosen was not our idea… it was His! (Deuteronomy 7:6-11)

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this issue!


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7 responses to “Can you be both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian?

  1. Pam S.

    My personal two cents would be that there is a lack of teaching of Bible Prophecy in churches today. Since the Reformed churches are mainly amillenial and I think that is the view that is being taught in most of the seminaries today, there is a lack of understanding, even in the pulpit, of prophecy. Most of these ministers try to spiritualize propectic Scripture. It is very discouraging. Covenentalism also contributes to the problem. Anyway, it is part of the plan of God, according to prophecy, so I will trust in Him.

  2. birdie

    I appreciate your idea of verse by verse Bible teaching from the pulpit. That is the way I am conducting my Bible studies now. We have all been getting so much more out of the Bible and its teaching of the Word.

    • Pam S.

      Birdie, if you like, try Pastor Jim McClarty is one of the best verse-by-verse Bible teachers!! Click on listen and pick which Book of the Bible. I suggest the Book of John. Pastor Jim does an amazing job. I have never learned so much!!.

  3. It is somewhat refreshing to hear prophetic Scripture both preached and taught in our churches. However, since we preach only Jesus Messiah and Him crucified I would not place a lot of import on staying into areas of contemporary or social discussion.
    The prophecies most important to us are those already fulfilled thru the Lord Jesus. Humbly, I do stress and agree on our evangelism when we speak to others and share our faith in Messiah. But to spend God’s time on these social-political issues is not what the Kingdom of God is about. Jesus HImself even says, “My kingdom is not of this world” [John 18:36]. So as to not get side-tracked from preaching the gospel, let the social-political involvement and comments be for individual Christians

  4. Michelle Gold

    Thank you Mitch for your sharing about such a vital topic. I can tell you that for many years, though proud to be a little Jewish girl from Brooklyn, I was not even aware of how important it is to support Israel.

    I was raised to think of Israel as a state and not as a people, my people. I was even raised to resent that Israel could need or require more support than Jews anywhere else in the world. Besides, my Dad would tell me about all the Jewish people on Kingshwy in Brooklyn and in Russia- they needed my “support” or so he taught me there was nothing different about Israel.

    But I know now thatthere is. What changed my heart towards Israel is this. My friend Byron Spradlin said to me, Michelle, if you don’t go (and help the Jewish people) who else will? That day I realized that I was called as a Jewish woman like Esther to bring salvation to my people, for such a time as this.

    I came to realize that though there are Jewish people all over the world, that most of my Jewish PEOPLE live in the land of Israel. It then dawned on me that the land is vital because our people are the heartbeat of God. (as stated in Romans 10 when Paull expressed his desire to see my people saved) God longs for us.

    I have a deep love and support for Israel like never before. Yes, some might argue that supporting Israel is a political thing and that the topic should stay out of the church. But the Lord has shown me, the contrary. Israel is His people, that’s a spiritual topic. Supportng Israel is part of the great commission. I feel like God is saying to the church today, “If you love my people, you’ll protect their land.”

    michelle gold
    Music dscribed as Celine Dion & Beyonce meet Yeshua Jesus in Jerusalem.

  5. Amy

    I believe we do need to pay attention to these issues because it’s the way the world is deluding young Christians not grounded in G-d’s Word. Social justice in the Middle East has become synonomous with a pro-Palestian attitude that justifies Israel-bashing and anti-Semitism. It is a sign of the times we’re in but means that our churches need to be teach the importance of the Jewish people in G-d’s eternal plan (after all, it’s through the Jewish nation that the Savior came into the world), as well as teach about the covenants G-d established with the Jewish people that have gone out of done — just out of style.

  6. Jon

    I recall sitting through a biblical apocalyptic class in the mid-90s and leaving that class having no definitive positions about eschatology. I was not happy about this… I wanted to take the class and come out an expert on the end times. However, the professor was moderately liberal and didn’t seem indicate any belief in predictive biblical prophesy. I think most of us shared this disappointment with the class, but we had a certain level of trust and respect for the professor, as he led us through the often times similar apocalyptic traditions and themes from other cultures.

    It occurred to me then, that what we really need is for a majority of theological persuasions – conservative, moderate and liberal – to respectably come together and debate the whole thing. Hoping that this will happen on some level at the Biola event later this month…. although, I don’t anticipate many moderate or any liberal theologians will be present, or if they will be there, I doubt they’ll be given any time at the podium to present a view that is largely divergent from that which has made Tim LaHaye and others before him millions. (…Not that having made millions has any ultimate bearing on the accuracy of conservative or liberal eschatology.)

    The alternative to a well-informed, well-rounded discussion on eschatology is for us all to just stick our heads in the sand and wait for the inevitable advance of technology to bring about the popularized notions of eschatology, such as biometric IDs, required for conducting commerce.

    Should we all run for the hills when that happens? It’s probably only a few years (or one more 9/11 event) away.

    I’ve contended for the last 15 years that it would be much easier to have a rational discussion now, ahead of the inevitable.

    … ah, but it’s easier to fall back on the main premiss/message of eschatology… The stock answer of pastors that don’t want to be bogged down in the mire of a theology without any real academic consensus. And so we’re told the message is… “be ready”. OK… but are we really “ready”? Shouldn’t “ready” include a vigorous academic debate, ahead of the inevitable, that is accessible to the mainstream church?

    … one can only hope.

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