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A Jerusalem Disconnect
Thoughts on Gaza and the 2018 Christ at the Center Conference
Israel - Middle East
Friday, June 01, 2018
Alf Cengia

There is a Jerusalem disconnect. It has infiltrated churches, media, secular organizations and individuals. It isn't just the city which is affected by this disconnect. Under the same umbrella is the Jew, Israel, Zionism and biblical theology.

The word "disconnect" was effectively used by John Haller during a recent presentation which discussed Jerusalem, the United States Embassy, the history of the Middle East conflict and Gaza. You can watch that video HERE. The term struck a chord with me. "Disconnect" is an appropriate word for it.

The world seems to have embraced a particular ideology regarding Israel's connection with Jerusalem and "the land." It views the current Palestinian Arab-Israeli conflicts through this same ideology. This ideology is heavily influenced by Palestinian Liberation Theology and a presumption of Israel's culpability.

This approach to the land of Israel, the Jews and Jerusalem is disconnected to biblical theology, and often disconnected to facts about the conflict. People tightly hang onto their favorite crusades. Facts are ignored because the matter is settled in their minds.

The current Gaza skirmish is a classic example of what I'm trying to convey. News outlets like Christianity Today have continued to cite Christian observers sympathetic to Hamas and the Palestinians. The ubiquitous term "disproportionate response" has been resurrected once more.

It is assumed by critics that Palestinian violence is a desperate response to years of "oppression" and "occupation." How quickly we forget what happened when Israel withdrew from Gaza! A 2005 article by Daniel Pipes discussing the possible ramifications for Israel's withdrawal from Gaza was prophetic.

Pipes observed back then:

At a mass rally in Gaza City last Thursday, some 10,000 Palestinians danced, sang, and chanted, “Today Gaza, tomorrow Jerusalem.” Jamal Abu Samhadaneh, commander of Gaza’s Popular Resistance Committees, announced on Sunday, “We will move our cells to the West Bank” and warned that “The withdrawal will not be complete without the West Bank and Jerusalem.” The Palestinian Authority’s Ahmed Qurei also asserts, “Our march will stop only in Jerusalem.”

As they say, the rest is history.

None of the arm-chair critics ever offer constructive advice on how to deal with people who are intent on destroying Israel, even at the cost of Palestinian lives. In fact by Hamas' own admission the blood of their children has been strategically exploited by them.

In their alternate reality world, Trump's embassy move been heralded as a catalyst to the violence (along with all the other excuses). And Zionism is at the heart of the Iranian conflict. Again, I don't like over-using the word - but this is a total disconnect of history. The Arab leaders wanted to destroy Israel from the beginning.

For more on Gaza read Dexter Van Zile's CAMERA article World Council of Churches Gets it Wrong on Gaza. See Simon Wiesenthal Center's Inconvenient Truths About Gaza. And this article: ''Palestinians innocent, Israelis evil" is morally bankrupt.

At the time of writing this column the 2018 Christ at the Checkpoint Conference is being convened. The CATC5 has a Manifesto which can be read on their website. The subtitle on the main page contains the words "Christ at the Center." Its pamphlets state several objectives. Two of them are:

1) To challenge the theology of Christian Zionism in its latest developments, especially when it comes to the centrality of Israel in its theology and mission.

2) To mobilize advocacy initiatives that are based on Christian principles and worldview, and are motivated by love and hunger for justice.

One would think that justice and love would smoothly integrate with honesty and the facts. Yet, as CAMERA quickly noted, speaker Jack Munayer managed to get his data wrong. He got it wrong by defending the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, despite ample historical evidence of his collusion with the Nazis.

He also called the expulsion of Arabs from Lydda during the 1948 war a premeditated act of ethnic cleansing by Israel. Yet CAMERA notes:

Arabs were expelled from the city after a previously agreed upon truce was violated by the inhabitants of the city. It was this violation that precipitated the expulsion that Munayer describes.

Then there's biblical theology.

Any conference purporting to have Christ at its center should honor His teachings in full. Christ taught through the Old Testament. Yet as has been noted before, Palestinian priest-activist Naim Ateek discounts the Old Testament because it doesn't align with his Palestinian Liberation Theology. He wants to "de-Zionize the Bible" and portrays it as an unreliable source of history.

Brian Zahnd was invited to speak at the current CATC conference, obviously because of his anti-Zionist sympathies. However, Zahnd's theology is also problematic. One reviewer of his book "Sinners in the Hand of a Loving God" observes that: "Zahnd hates the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement. He has made no secret of this."

If Zahnd is willing to depart from the essential biblical teaching of Penal Substitutionary Atonement, how is he holding Christ at his center in other areas? Christ affirmed a future for national Israel (Matt 19:28; Luke 22:31; Acts 1:6-7). Paul did too - see Romans 11:28-29.

CATC speakers claim to be "peacemakers." Instead, the conference is nationalistic and structured to vilify Israel and its supporters. This is the sort of thing which feeds hatred. Jewish Christian Dr. Michael Brown was asked to speak at CATC5 and went on the offensive.

According to CAMERA he told them:

I have already been grieved by things I heard from leaders in private, comparing Israel to Hamas, vilifying Palestinian Christians who have a different perspective, CATC encouraging tours of the blatantly propagandistic Walled Off Hotel, which distorts the past and the present and accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing...

He added:

Openly express your disagreements with the Palestinian Authority and Fatah and Hamas. Otherwise, the feeling is that you’re in harmony with them.

More on Brown's talk HERE.

The plight of the Palestinian people mustn't be forgotten. They are suffering. Most of them need the Lord. But we ought to be diligent in discerning the true cause of this suffering, rather than to use it to attack Israel.

There is another CATC conference scheduled for October 2018 in Oklahoma. Will the organizers take Dr. Brown's message to heart? Somehow I doubt it. If history and the Bible are any indication, peace will only come when the True Prince of Peace returns to inaugurate the Kingdom.

May He come quickly!

P.S. Dexter Van Zile and Brian Schrauger attended CATC 2018 and will report on it in the near future.

Further resources:
Israel’s Greatest Methodist
Learning About Evangelical Zionism
Why I am a Christian Zionist
Whose land is it anyway?
Territorial Supercessionism: A Response to Gary Burge (Barry Horner)
How Palestinian Activists Manipulate Western Christians (and avoid Scripture)

About Alf Cengia 
Zeteo316.com

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