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An open letter to Evangelical supporters of Israel

Addressing Christian Zionists who brush aside the occupation by saying, ‘it’s complicated,’ an American Evangelical writes: ‘Injustice is only complicated to those who don’t suffer from it.’

By Alice Su

Christian Zionists march in Jerusalem, Octover 4, 2012. (Photo by Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Christian Zionists march in Jerusalem, Octover 4, 2012. (Photo by Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

What would Jesus do if he were standing at a checkpoint in Israel/Palestine today? Asked that question one year ago, I would have given you a blank stare. Growing up as an evangelical Christian, I thought of Israel only as a Bible-place of God’s chosen people, quaintly holy and surely blessed. Checkpoints, occupation, Palestine – these words meant nothing for most of my 22-year-old life.

Today I write from Bethlehem at the end of “Christ at the Checkpoint,” a Christian conference that asked “WWJD?” in context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I have an answer.

The question is complicated, as is any discussion of Israel and Palestine in America. I studied the Middle East at Princeton and Oxford, where my classes were objective, historical and politically correct. I swallowed timelines and parsed narratives, but never wanted to make a value judgment on the situation. In my eyes, Tigers for Israel and the Princeton Committee on Palestine were akin to College Republicans and Democrats. Both had valid points and interesting arguments, but no one was right or wrong. Both groups also seemed very emotional, and I wasn’t one to get swept away with radical types.

Then I graduated and came to the Middle East. I first visited Israel and Palestine last August, after a summer of Arabic study in Oman and before moving to Jordan. I wanted to see things for myself but kept my eyes narrowed, wary of activists’ exaggerations.

Instead, I found an occupation; a deliberate power imbalance where the weak were daily stepped on by the strong. Israel’s being “chosen by God” somehow exempted it from international law, basic human rights and the command to love our neighbors. My church and state saw innocent people illegally hurt and beamed in approval.

This went against everything I knew about Christ’s teachings. I came expecting to find suffering but not systematic injustice, and never any Wrong in which my country, church and self were complicit. I felt shocked, confused, and used.

My friends in Jordan are always astonished to hear that I went to the best school in America, but never knew that there is ongoing oppression in Palestine. “I thought it was complicated,” I tell them.

Living here, I’ve learned that injustice is only complicated to those who don’t suffer from it. In faraway America, I’d confused myself with semantics and details on who shot what or signed which treaties when and where, and why this or that made occupation reasonable.

But nothing is complicated to my arbitrarily detained friend in solitary confinement, to the mother whose baby cries from tear gas, to the man who has lost three daughters in a second’s bombing, or to the child who is afraid. Nitpicky suspicions fall apart when I face their eyes and stories. I am ashamed that I ever thought violence might be justified in the ostensible name of God.

At the conference, one older British woman told me she was a Christian Zionist.

“It’s wonderful that Jesus said we are to be peacemakers,” the woman said, brushing white hair back with wrinkled hands. “But I’m afraid.” How can we give up land to Arabs who are bloodthirsty terrorists, she asked? There are too many Muslims wanting to destroy the West, she said, in Israel and in Europe, feeding off welfare systems to plot suicide bombings behind closed doors.

“I like this conference but have trouble applying what we hear,” the woman said. She’d lived in an Israeli settlement for 10 years, working for Christian Friends of Israel. “I want to feel for Palestinians as I do for Jews when they are dying or hurt. I want to feel for children, women, civilians…” Suddenly she was crying. “Oh, dear, I’m sorry. I’m not quite there, but I want to be. Do you understand?”

I did. It can’t be easy to stake your life on something and see it flipped inside out, I thought, remembering an Israeli friend who’d changed his thinking after a gap year in Tibet. “The Tibetans live there with their language, religion and culture. It’s all Tibetan,” he’d told me, face wrenched, words slow. “But the people in control are all Chinese. Another race is in charge. I thought that was so wrong. Then I felt upset, because like, you know, it was sort of, it reminded me of what we have here.”

Questioning one’s belief system hurts. An Omani friend once told me that he’d woken up every night at 4 a.m. for two weeks, crying, when he converted to Christianity. “It felt like I was ripping off my own skin,” he said.

“Can we pray together?” I asked the woman, and we did.

Globalization is a gift to my generation. We don’t believe people in other countries are so different that we can treat them as lesser humans. A surfer friend in Tel Aviv once asked me: “What are the Arabs like? Do they drink? Smoke?” I laughed, telling him about my Jordanian friends who Instagram their parties, struggle with their sexual orientations, play flamenco guitar and wish they could just make music instead of being engineers and accountants. We are young, we are the same, we all just want to live. Our generation knows this.

Yet relating to one another is not enough. Before coming to the Middle East, my American millennial privilege had made me globalized but desensitized to suffering. I knew injustices existed but was too busy writing Facebook statuses about my thesis to examine them. I enjoyed feeling like a generally good person and skirted around sensitive questions that might threaten my career or upset my worldview.

Here, I’ve learned that people suffer when the privileged are ignorant or apathetic. Millennials like humanitarianism. We Tweet about Syria, work for nonprofits and glory in social entrepreneurship, all of which I love. But what if we microfinance a rural woman’s handicraft business, and then a drone kills her and her children? Seeking justice must extend beyond doing Good to also checking ourselves for Bad. We must ask harder questions, dig deeper into our state and military’s actions, not to undermine America but because we love her.

Having seen the occupation, I believe it is unjust and must end. I am not against Israel, America, or evangelicals. I just don’t want policies that hurt people in my church and nation’s name without our understanding or consent.

Conservative evangelicals may call me naïve. My response is not argument but invitation. I grew up in Asia, so when Americans ask if Shanghai is a Communist rice field, I laugh and ask them to come look around for themselves. When others say Palestinians are hateful and all Arabs want to push Israel into the sea, I again say, come and see.

As a follower of Christ, I believe that God stands with the oppressed. But oppressors are themselves oppressed by insecurity and fear. I’ve heard many Israeli and American friends speak out of terror: the Communists will get us! The jihadis will bomb us! The non-Western world lives in cultures of hate that will crush us the moment we let them, so we’d better crush them first!

If Jesus were here today, I believe he would pierce these lies in a second. They are so flimsy against the truth that man is man, filled with dignity, and no one is less human or less fiercely loved by our God than another. I believe Christ can and will free the oppressed by freeing their oppressors from fear.

But we must first commit to seek truth, relentlessly and humbly. I speak to Americans, Christians, and especially my generation: friends, political vitriol and religious rhetoric are distractions. Let us choose honesty over comfort. Let us ask questions even if they lead us to give up our privileges. Let us be smart and let us be brave – above all, let us be human.

Alice Su graduated from Princeton University in 2013. She now freelances as a journalist and works with refugees in Amman, Jordan. Follow her on Twitter at @aliceysu.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Bar

      Dear Alice,

      Just as you kept an open mind that permitted you to quote propaganda promulgated by Israel’s opponents, I hope you can also keep an open mind to the reality Israelis face.

      Let’s begin with your claim that you found “an occupation; a deliberate power imbalance where the weak were daily stepped on by the strong.”

      As you must know, 98% of Palestinians who live under Israeli occupation actually live under the governance of the Palestinian Authority (a government with a police and military force, ministries, significant funding sources and leadership that is accepted as heads of state by most of the world) and Hamas in Gaza.

      It is true these Palestinian governments are authoritarian in nature and restrict their people’s freedoms, but placing the blame on Israel is the same as placing the blame on Israel for the absence of freedoms in Egypt or Syria. Israeli military control does not extend to civil matters conducted by the PA or Hamas who think nothing of arresting or harming those who dare speak against them.

      Second, the statement “Israel’s being “chosen by God” somehow exempted it from international law, basic human rights and the command to love our neighbors” is not only incredibly inaccurate, it is a smear that connects with historic anti-Semitism. I don’t know whether you wrote this knowing you were tapping into historic anti-Semitic ideas but the rest of your article is naive, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

      First of all, Israel is not in violation of international law. It is in full compliance. Its occupation, for example, is prescribed by UNSCR 242 and 338 which are also the foundations for the Oslo Accords.

      I am happy to go into great detail to explain why the claims made by Israel’s opponents are false and intended to tap into your reservoir of goodwill, but for now let’s just say that there are thousands of legal experts who believe Israel is not in violation of international laws. Israel’s military provides its soldiers and officers with extensive training intended to avoid circumstances that violate the laws of war.

      Second, Israel has made peace with Egypt and Jordan already and has made three offers of peace to the Palestinians since 2000. To suggest this isn’t an attempt to love one’s neighbor and find common ground is highly inaccurate, to say the least. Ironically, it is the side for whom you claim to speak, the Palestinians, who have rejected these peace offers.

      “My church and state saw innocent people illegally hurt and beamed in approval.”

      Israel is a country of laws with a very robust legal system. A recent Prime Minister is currently on trial for alleged misdeeds prior to his term as PM and essentially lost his post because of these accusations. A previous President (mostly an honorary position in Israel) is sitting in jail because of his former crimes. The judge who sentenced him is a Christian Arab Israeli.

      The robust justice system in Israel prevents the abuse of innocents of which you speak. On the contrary, Palestinians have direct access to Israel’s highest court, something that even we Americans do not enjoy within our court system. Also, since you’re speaking about Palestinians living in the territory under Israel’s control, the Israeli military constantly strives to minimize harm to innocent civilians. As an example, consider that its ratio of civilians to combatants killed in wars in Gaza in recent years stands at a tenth to a thirtieth of the ratio we see in American and NATO wars. This isn’t accidental. It is part of a broader design to minimize civilian casualties while targeting the Palestinian fighters. Since you brought up the Palestinian who tragically lost 3 daughters, one of the problems Israel faces in these wars is the cynical use by Palestinian fighters of civilian neighborhoods and infrastructure as a base from which to launch attacks.

      As for permitting people to “just live as people,” Israel can show, in good faith, this is precisely what it does. Inside Israel, for example, more Christian Arabs matriculate from high schools than Jewish Israelis. Their community, like the Muslim counterparts, have absolute freedom of religion, expression, equal voting rights and access to courts. The Christian community in Israel is the only one to be growing in the entire Middle East.

      But you’re referring to the situation of the Palestinians who live in Judea and Samaria. Again, they almost all live under PA authoritarian rule, but I suspect you are troubled by the Israeli soldiers in certain areas and why these Palestinians are part of the Israeli state and cannot enjoy the same benefits as Israel’s Arabs (and Jews).

      First of all, Israeli soldiers are present not because of some imaginary fear of the “other” but because thousands of Israelis, almost all of them civilians, have been killed intentionally in Palestinian attacks. This isn’t imaginary fear, it is real. If you simply look at the statistics from 1998-2002 when Israel’s soldiers weren’t in Palestinian areas, you can see a significant number of successful attacks against Israeli civilians. The number of successful attacks drops dramatically after 2003 when Israel re-enters these areas. The number drops even more significantly a couple of years later as the separation barrier is built. In fact, you can see this effect in the number of checkpoints. in the mid-2000s, you had hundreds. Currently, due to the small number of attacks, there are eleven (!!). The history of this violence which targets Jews in this land goes back a century.

      Second, Israel has, in good faith, made three peace offers, two of them official, in the past 13 years. The offers included a Palestinian state (for the first time in history) over 100% of Gaza and 95% of Judea and Samaria/West Bank, a capital in eastern Jerusalem, control over Muslim and Christian holy sites, a reparation fund worth tens of billions of dollars, a return to Israel for many original 1948 refugees and, permanent peace. The offers have been rejected by the Palestinians because they want to control Israeli holy sites (including Judaism’s holiest site) and flood Israel with Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian and West Bank non-Jews. If you look at the problems Lebanon, Syria and Iraq face internally because they have multiple groups competing for power, it becomes clear why this would be a bad idea for Israel.

      Ultimately, Alice, Israel is a very small country amidst 22 Arab countries. It sits on 20% of Mandatory Palestine (Jordan sits on the other 80%) and Israel has consistently sought peace with its neighbors and a settlement of the conflict with the Palestinians. It seems to me that any person, devout Christian or otherwise, could see the justice in this desire and would support it.

      Reply to Comment
      • george smiley

        Bar, the fact remains, despite all your talk, that Israel has been so clever that they haven’t got a friend in the World. At this stage only crazy folk align themselves with this cruel, abnormal entity. To everyone else it’s just an embarrassment.

        Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          George, I agree that the PA and Hamas lead cruel, abnormal entities, but what does that have to do with Israel, a functioning, thriving democracy that has been accepted to the OECD and whose trade with Europe has increased from $20 billion/year to $36 billion per year over the past decade.

          Reply to Comment
          • george smiley

            Impressive numbers, mister Bond. Proof again that money can’t buy you love.

            Reply to Comment
      • BaladiAkka 1948

        I wonder if Bar is working full-time here while her colleague at the Hasbara Central Ginger Ale is off on vacation.

        Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          That’s funny considering the huge industry out there funding the bashing of Israel.

          Reply to Comment
    2. Tzutzik

      And people like you are not cruel entities, George?

      What was that you said about the final solution?

      Reply to Comment
      • george smiley

        Oh, come on, Tzutzik. Just because you’re so intelligent, there’s no need to bully me.

        Reply to Comment
        • Tzutzik

          Bully the bully? Nooooooo why would one do that?

          Hey Georgy boy, you are unbullyable. You have too thick a skin.

          As to your comment about OUR cruelty. Just study the history of mankind and if you are unbiased (that’s not you of course), you will unavoidably come to the conclusion that we cannot possibly compete with most of the rest of humanity. We are rank amateurs compared to most. But hey we are good apprentices. We are willing to learn and if necessary do whatever we have to do to survive.

          Reply to Comment
    3. Tzutzik

      The occupation could have ended decades ago if only the Palestinians would have accepted compromise solutions.

      The fact is that the Palis stumbled onto what they think is a winning tactic.

      Either Israel accepts their unreasonable terms which would then lead to Israel’s defeat in the longer term.

      Or

      If Israel rejects their terms, the occupation continues and they can make themselves appear as victims and isolate Israel.

      But they are wrong even though one has to grant them that they stumbled onto a clever tactic. They will lose this battle too and ultimately the war. Yes, Israel is here to stay whether the Arabs like it or not.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Tony Riley

      If you read Alice’s blog, rather than just her article, she says that Jesus was a Palestinian, rather than an Israeli Jew. She probably thinks he was a Christian! Standards at Princeton and Oxford are slipping.

      Reply to Comment
      • george smiley

        “Standards at Princeton and Oxford are slipping.”
        Since they opened the gates to all-sorts, yes, standards have plummeted.

        Reply to Comment
      • Bar

        Interesting. According to the Christian Bible, he attended synagogue.

        Reply to Comment
      • Danny

        FYI, Israel did not exist in biblical times. Jesus was closer in genealogy and cultural tradition to today’s Palestinians than to modern Israeli Jews, despite the fact he was a Jew. So, in a sense, he was Palestinian. We know for certain he wasn’t an ashkenazi like most modern Israeli Jews.

        Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          Do such lies make you feel better?

          Jesus, genetically, would have been quite close to today’s Jewish men. That’s been proven by a number of studies now. In terms of cultural tradition, perhaps you missed the part where I mentioned his attending synagogue? In fact, his cultural traditions would have been those commemorated and celebrated by Jews for hundreds of years at that point. If you have any confusion on this issue, take a look at the books and laws included in the Dead Sea Scrolls (most of which precede Jesus’ time).

          Speaking of the Dead Sea Scrolls, I am able to read most of them and Jesus would have been as well. He spoke the same language and used the same alphabet.

          As for most modern Israeli Jews, actually the majority are from Sephardic roots with the vast majority of those originating in Arab and Muslim countries around the Middle East. Iraqi Jews, for example, are descended from the Jews of the Babylonian exile.

          Seriously, this entire POLITICAL maneuver to turn Jesus into a Palestinian doesn’t only mock facts and the truth, it makes its adherents look like the liars they are.

          Reply to Comment
          • Danny

            You sound like those Fox News anchors who tried to argue that Santa Claus was white.

            Jesus was a Jew. No argument there. He spoke, read and wrote in Aramaic, not Hebrew. Likely, if you tried holding a conversation with him, you would be as lost as you would be speaking with an Arab in Arabic. Jesus was genetically a Middle Easterner, very close to the Palestinians with whom he would have likely shared many genes, as opposed to pink-skinned Jewish Israelis.

            Today’s Jewish ashkenazis (like that imposter who calls himself Netanyahu) are closer genetically to the Tatars than to Middle Easterners.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            “You sound like those Fox News anchors who tried to argue that Santa Claus was white.”

            Wait, so now Jesus wasn’t Palestinian, he just didn’t exist? Is that what you’re saying?

            “Jesus was a Jew. No argument there. He spoke, read and wrote in Aramaic, not Hebrew.”

            Actually, you don’t know this for a fact. One of the interesting facts that came out of the Dead Sea Scrolls’ discovery is that most of them, including the psharim, were in Hebrew and only about 15% were written in Aramaic. The alphabet remains the same regardless and the Hebrew used in Torah reading was the same as that we read today.

            “Likely, if you tried holding a conversation with him, you would be as lost as you would be speaking with an Arab in Arabic.”

            See above.

            “Jesus was genetically a Middle Easterner, very close to the Palestinians with whom he would have likely shared many genes, as opposed to pink-skinned Jewish Israelis.”

            Look, I’m not going to do your research for you. Shlomo Sand already tried this line of reasoning and genetic studies have proven him wrong. Look it up. Regarding skin color, I repeat again that half of Israel’s Jews come from very close by.

            “Today’s Jewish ashkenazis (like that imposter who calls himself Netanyahu) are closer genetically to the Tatars than to Middle Easterners.”

            Look at the genetic studies. Your ignorance (and hatred) are glaring.

            Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          Oh, and I forgot to add that what we now call Israel was divided into Israel and Judah (Judea), two monarchies. Read your Torah. So Israel most certainly existed. Ironically, although it didn’t exist in the time of Jesus any longer as a monarchy, he originated from the land that had previously been part of that territory.

          Reply to Comment
        • Samuel

          Oh give it a break. All this argument about who was Jesus. He was Jesus, he was himself and if I understand him correctly as a Jewish person, he advocated for humanity.

          As far as the war between Jews and Arabs. It is a war between two nationalist movements. The ultimate solution is a live and let live compromise. Unfortunately, the Arab nationalist movement does not see it that way. It wants to see the Jewish nationalist movement crushed and destroyed. The Jewish nationalist movement on the other hand is on the record of supporting the two state solution since 1948.

          One has to wonder which solution would Jesus have supported? The one that wants to see the triumphalism of Arab nationalism and the crushing of the Jewish people? Or a two state solution which is compromise?

          Reply to Comment
        • Markos Kidane

          You say that Israel didn’t exist in Jesus time? Have you ever bother to count the number of times Israel appears both in the old and new testaments? Have you never read the fact that Mary and Joseph in the gospel of Matthew, during their journey to Egypt left the Land of Israel, end returned to the same Land of Israel? Matthew 2:20-22 No mentioned of “Palestine” here is there? Is there something blocking you from seeing and accepting the plain truth?

          Reply to Comment
        • Danny Shlanger

          Israeli are now claiming Jesus as their own. I’m getting mind f&^%cked right now.

          Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            Oh, don’t take it too hard. If Jesus did indeed exist, then he Christian Bible describes him and one of the things we know is that he followed the laws of Judaism. Think of him the way you would a revolutionary or an original thinker. You know, Marx, Einstein, etc. ;)

            Reply to Comment
    5. Kolumn9

      What would Jesus do if he was a soldier at a checkpoint and his choice was either to search every car and passerby or to see his friends and family members blown up on buses and in restaurants?

      Reply to Comment
    6. Ray Packham

      Bar and Tzutzik can spew out the Zionist ‘party line’ as often and at as great a length as they like, but the fact is that they and their kind are losing the argument internationally. More and more people are seeing their propaganda for what it is. Justice will prevail, perhaps not tomorrow, but it will prevail.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        We are losing the battle eh?

        Ok then, tell us what is your idea of justice? Another majority Arab Muslim country? And no Jewish state? Is that your justice?

        What? 22 Arab Muslim states NOT enough for you? Is ONE Jewish state too much for you?

        Reply to Comment
        • Yep

          Yes one is too many. Why did that Jewish state have to be formed in the heart of the lands where it is most hated? A religious claim to land they felt entitled too. They could’ve formed a Jewish state nearly anywhere else in the world and been fine but it had to be THERE.

          Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            Yeah, it had to be here.

            Yeah, it just happens to be at this certain place.

            “The Qur’an cannot deal with the State of Israel as we know it today, since that State came into existing in 1948 only, i.e. many centuries after the Qur’an itself was revealed. However, the Qur’an specify that the Land of Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people, that God Himself gave that Land to them as heritage and ordered them to live therein. It also announces that – before the end of the time – the Jewish people will come from many different countries to retake possession of that heritage of theirs. Whoever denies this actually denies the Qur’an itself. If he is not a scholar, and in good faith believes what other people say about this issue, he is an ignorant Muslim. If, on the contrary, he is informed about what the Qur’an and openly opposes it, he ceases to be a Muslim.”
            Imam Abdul Hadi Palazzi, leader of Italian Muslim Assembly and a co-founder and a co-chairman of the Islam-Israel Fellowship

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_supporters_of_Israel#In_the_Qur.27an

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “Why did that Jewish state have to be formed in the heart of the lands where it is most hated”

            Because that land happens to be where our state was historically.

            As for the hate bit. You are welcome to wander perpetually from place to place till you find a desert island where you are not hated.

            The rest of us will settle where we belong. Let them hate us. We can hate them too. That will make us even, no?

            Reply to Comment
    7. Marcos

      Not impressed at all by the academic credentials. This is a hysterical piece, largely constructed by willfull ignorance. Shame!

      Reply to Comment
      • Samuel

        “I believe Christ can and will free the oppressed”

        The question is who are the oppressed?

        Jews are oppressed by terrorism and fear of terrorism.

        Palestinians are oppressed by measures necessary to make sure that Jews don’t become victims of terrorism.

        “by freeing their oppressors from fear.”

        Just because one is prone to paranoia it does not mean that one does not face real threats and real justifiable fears.

        The true oppressors are the fanatics amongst the Palestinians who want to keep the conflict alive long enough till they think that Israel would be defeated and crushed.

        Fear is not their problem. Fanaticism and unreasonableness is their problem. That is what they need to be freed and cured from.

        Reply to Comment
        • An economic confederation would try to do this–clearly with resistance. But there will always be resistance to any rapprochement given the generations of evolved ideology.

          I do think, though, that people like Alice are rather rare and important. We need to hear from them. And I am not a believer.

          Reply to Comment
          • Lisbon Portugal

            Greg, what’s a “rapproachment”? Is that when Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. iron out their differences? Who do you represent Mr. Pollack?

            Reply to Comment
          • Rapprochement, LP, is not for me to define, but those living it. I believe an economic confederation with truly independent economic courts could help evolve that.

            As to who I represent–only myself. I know, hard to believe these days, but in this case true.

            Reply to Comment
    8. Elizabeth M

      What a totally made up bunch of hooey! What simplistic narratives and presumptions the writer has of people who empathize with the Israeli position. Must think her readers are a crowd of boobs.

      Reply to Comment
      • Samuel

        Thats a very specific comment, Elizabeth, NOT!

        Which bits of our comments are simplistic? Which bits are hooey?

        And more importantly WHY?!

        Us humans have been bestowed powers to reason, argue and debate. Any old boob is capable of dismissing someone else’s arguments by simply asserting that someone else’s argument is simplistic and hooey. ONLY people with powers of logic and reason can actually prove such assertions.

        Reply to Comment
    9. Barbara Gregg and Harry Steele

      Having visited Isreal and Palestine last year we appreciate your comments and insights.

      Reply to Comment
    10. “If Jesus were here today, I believe he would pierce these lies in a second. They are so flimsy against the truth that man is man, filled with dignity, and no one is less human or less fiercely loved by our God than another. I believe Christ can and will free the oppressed by freeing their oppressors from fear.

      “But we must first commit to seek truth, relentlessly and humbly. I speak to Americans, Christians, and especially my generation: friends, political vitriol and religious rhetoric are distractions. Let us choose honesty over comfort. Let us ask questions even if they lead us to give up our privileges. Let us be smart and let us be brave – above all, let us be human.”

      I don’t think some of our commenters realize what you are saying, nor what you have done.

      From my readings, Jesus appeared within a structural trap. Romans occupied the land, with some troops, but with threat of many more (as came to be), with vassal king and priesthood. None cared about the poorer class. Militant Messianic groups were common, and seen as danger by all of the ruling elite, either directly, or as bringing Roman notice upon all. A Messianic movement as defined at the time would fail and probably yield retribution from above.

      Jesus sought a way out, or at least a way to live, for this underclass which would not involve rebellion, at least not rebellion against military authority. He failed, for the mass following he generated at Passover was threatening, so assumed punishment by allowing his own arrest, thereby delaying rebellion and Roman reprisal. Through that failure he helped create another way to live.

      The people you advocate are also caught in a structural trap. As Jesus once said you can still help one another, so too today. The trap makes them pawns of others’ views. They become “the Palestinians,” somehow responsible for every violent act, even opinion polls seen as a violent act. They become “the people” who must resist the occupier. And they ever remain those whose lives have been truncated just for having been born where they are.

      As you can tell from what I say, I am not a believer. But I greatly admire the stand you have taken. Perhaps you have or will meet Vicky occasionally of this site. I think you would have things to say to one another.

      Reply to Comment
    11. The Trespasser

      >Conservative evangelicals may call me naïve.

      Naive? Author of this piece lives in an imaginary world. In modern scientific terms it is called “schizophrenia”

      Reply to Comment
    12. Mark

      What would Yahushua (aka Jesus) do? Let’s see. Scripture prophecy says the antimessiah (aka antichrist) will gather the world’s nations to war against Israel. 1/3 of Israel will be destroyed and then the antimessiah and his armies will be destroyed by Yahushua at His return to the Mount of Olives. My guess is that many Palestinians will welcome the opportunity to destroy Israel so will join the antimessiah’s war against Israel. If this is the case, then Yahushua will destroy these Palestinians like he destroys the rest of Israel’s enemies. There are a few Palestinians who recognise Yahushua as Messiah. They will live peacefully in Israel under Yahushua’s reign.

      Reply to Comment
      • Marjorie Stewart

        I wish people would stop quoting religious texts as if they were history.

        Reply to Comment
    13. Leonard

      “It’s complicated” is meant to shut down the conversation. It is not complicated. It is simple. Zionists from Europe have colonised Palestine since 1948.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        You mean like the whole world is colonised by the rest of humanity? And the worst colonisers are the Arabs. They trampled on the identities of all the people whom they conquered. Where are the ancient languages, customs and religions of people whom they conquered? All gone …

        Oh and what about the European colonisers? What did they do to the continents of North and South America? And Australia? And places like New Zealand?

        I think we are in very good company, preacher. Look at the log in your own eyes then preach about the splinter in our eyes. Shame on you!

        Reply to Comment
        • andrew r

          It seems like you view Arabs much as zombies – once you get bitten by the Arab virus, you’re now as guilty of colonization as the original invaders. Therefore, if someone invades your country, you have no cause to complain – you’re an invader in perpetual standing.

          Plus, even though it’s historically established that European colonization of North America, starting with the Caribbean, resulted in the physical extermination of almost all the indigenous, somehow the wide-spread adoption of Arabic makes Arabs the “worst colonizers”. Nevermind that you’re speaking with ridiculous hyperbole; the Aramaic/Syriac and Berber languages are still used in Arabic regions.

          Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “It seems like you view Arabs much as zombies”

            Yep, a bit like the haters who post here view us.

            What is good for good for the goose is good for the gander.

            Reply to Comment
          • andrew r

            Obviously, you don’t think people view Jews the way I laid out (Worthy of respect only before adopting Judaism) and completely ignored the text after that sentence fragment.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “Obviously, you don’t think people view Jews the way I laid out (Worthy of respect only before adopting Judaism) and completely ignored the text after that sentence fragment.”

            Huh? I for one don’t know what you are saying. Do you know? If you do, and you want me to respond, you better do a better job to explain what you are trying to tell me. I do however suspect that it is another sermon telling me how to be more human like you people? (I mean the haters who post here who think that they are beyond reproach and only us Zionists are eeeeeviiiiiil).

            Do you think that if I apologise for breathing that would make me more human, Andrew? I hope you won’t say yes to that because I certainly won’t volunteer to do that …

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Oh Andrew, you know what? I don’t really care whether the Arabs are the WORST colonisers, or the second worst or even third worst colonisers … The fact is that like most of the rest of humanity, they descend from colonisers and they benefit from ill gotten gains.

            So tell me, why are they better than us? After all we too are only descendants of Zionists who started returning to our ancestral homeland back in the 1850s … you know the ones that you lot claim were colonisers.

            How come you want us to pay for our father’s “sins” but you don’t expect today’s Arabs to pay for THEIR father’s sins?

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          • andrew r

            Most Arabs don’t descend from colonizers — that’s what I’ve been going on about the last two posts. They descend from those who were conquered and adopted the Arabic language. Let’s not let that point get lost in the self-pitying rhetoric.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Ah and you know that for sure, right Andrew?

            If you do, then maybe you could tell me what percentage of them descend from Arabs? What percentage are part Arabs? And what percentage are poor old natives who were coerced to become Arabs?

            I bet you can’t give me a meaningful authoritative answer.

            In the meanwhile, are you going to answer the question that I asked you in my previous post?

            Reply to Comment
          • andrew r

            Fine. You want the land of Israel because it belonged to your “fathers”, but you don’t want to pay for their “sins”. It seems you are just entitled to what you want without the consequences. In fact, it’s a waste of time quibbling over the Arabization of the Levant and Maghreb, because even if the Arabs were 100% native to the region, you’d just move on to the next excuse, Europeans killed the natives, why can’t we?

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “Europeans killed the natives, why can’t we?”

            The first part of your sentence is correct. The second is not.

            In all the combined wars in which we had to defend ourselves from the descendants of Arab invaders, slightly more than 91,000 of them died. That is between the 1920s and 2009. Of course, many of us also died in those wars which were not of our choosing.

            So to put things in perspective, let me say it again. We are just amateurs compared to the rest of humanity including your Arabs (see how many died in Syria just in the last 3 years?) and of course I won’t mention Europeans. Sooner or later you will just have to get it. I know it will take you a few hundred years but you will just have to get over it because we are here to stay, like it or lump it.

            Reply to Comment
          • andrew r

            The problem with this excuse is that half the people who should be living in Palestine are outside the reach of the Israeli military. You said it yourself – the Zionists are amateurs at mass killing, but they still played the sport in 1948, 1967, 1982, 2006 and 2008-9 especially.

            If you think literally every Arabic person is descended from Arabia, it almost makes me wonder why you even bother practicing an ancient religion since you don’t care about ancient history. There’s no case for the pre-Islamic population of the Levant and Maghreb being killed off or displaced by the Caliphate. In fact, by the mid-8th century, the Berbers of Morocco and Algeria rebelled against the Caliphate and were no longer controlled by the original Arab conquerors.

            p.s. re: “your Arabs” – Grow up.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “If you think literally every Arabic person is descended from Arabia”

            They (and people like you) think of us in terms of “every Israeli”, “every Ashkenazi”. Maybe you people could grow up before you point at us for adopting your methods?

            May I remind you how this conversation started? One of the posters here, Leonard, called us “colonisers”. That is all we are to him. We are not people, we are just an object to be hated, “colonisers”. You know what he did? He dehumanised us. Yes, I then responded in kind and you reacted to me but not to him. Why is that Andrew? Could it be because you too are driven by bias and a tendency to dehumanise us?

            I held up a mirror, you looked into it and you didn’t like what you saw. Try and fix the problem at BOTH ends not just at our end, Andrew.

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          • andrew r

            I did think about letting him know Zionist colonization of Palestine started in the 1880′s, but didn’t bother.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            There you are, Andrew, we are just colonisers to you too, not people.

            So please don’t cry to me crocodile tears when I call Arabs the descendants of colonisers too.

            Reply to Comment
          • andrew r

            What you aren’t is intelligent, since I’m acknowledging a certain number of Arabs colonized the region. However, just because someone speaks Arabic doesn’t mean they are descended from colonizers. Zionism began as a self-styled colonialist movement; its leaders lobbied Germany and Britain for a protectorate. Historical facts don’t change because someone’s feelings got hurt.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Even if you would be right, which is arguable but I won’t argue against it now, even then, now 120 years later we are still just colonists to you people?

            Ok then, so are the Arabs by your own logic. Historical facts don’t change because someone’s feelings got hurt. Your own words.

            I’ll tell you what though, I will be more reasonable than you. If you manage to identify which Arabs are not descendants of invading Arab colonisers, just Arabised people, I will exclude them from that description. Even though historically they too probably were invaders at another time.

            Now Andrew, if you would be intelligent, you would have understood what I was saying all along. The history of humanity is migration, invasion and conquests. Jews are not the only ones who do it. We may just be one of the latest ones and we at least tried to make it less bloody than many more before us. At least in modern times as opposed to biblical times. Yet according to you guys we are worse than the rest of you. That is called bias and hatred. But hey, many of us are past caring. We don’t care what haters think of us. We just dish to you back your own medicine.

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    14. Aaron

      Depends…hopefully Jesus would have not been shot, stabbed or blown up by a Jihadist trying to kill as many Jews, like Jesus, as possible.

      Once there were no checkpoints in the Territories (Judea and Samaria) and no fence/wall. Both were instituted to prevent terrorists from entering Israel.

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    15. FreeOfPrejudice

      Alice Su is going to present us the truth one day in place of the delusion/illusion of today.

      My hope is that the Palestinians and Israelis will use truthful textbooks to teach their children.

      My hope is that the Palestinians will run out politicians who can not liberate the people from nasty myths.

      We need American journalists who can pave the road to reconciliation.

      We need American journalists who can deflate Palestinian myths.

      Reply to Comment
    16. george smiley

      Tzutzik asks,”…what about the European colonisers? What did they do to the continents of North and South America? And Australia? And places like New Zealand?”

      All that happened in the 16th, 17th,18th and 19th centuries, Tzutzik. We are now in the 21st century. What you are arguing is akin to someone defending cannabalism on the grounds that his ancestors practised it 200 years ago. Not a very water-tight defence, perhaps.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        Yea, Georgey boy?

        And now you grew up and you are good people? Only we are bad?

        If you say so Georgey boy. But you are not biased are you?

        I tell you what, you go on preaching your little hate spiel. We will just ignore the likes of you and will do whatever is necessary to ensure that you won’t get the chance to carry out your final solution against us that you would so love to do.

        OK, Georgey boy?

        Reply to Comment
    17. Momo

      Please, please…read:
      ‘How to cure a fanatic’ by Amos Oz

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        I don’t need to Momo, I already agree with Amos Oz on this:

        “On the conflict itself, Oz opines that Israelis and Palestinians are destined to be forever divided about the past. And that’s okay … neither needs to totally except the other’s narrative. What they do have to do is accept that they need to live in peace in order to co-exist into the future.”

        You know what the problem is? In publications like these, a lot of us get provoked by too many people who are one eyed in favor of the Palestinians. They try to make us ALL bad and the Palestinians as flawless.

        Every action, has an equal and opposite reaction. Think about that …

        Reply to Comment
        • It is true that 972 tends to overlook or not report Palestinian violence toward Jews, and I think that a mistake. But the 972 design is volunteer journalism; authors post mostly for free, which means they do what they want to do.

          As to your point about incompatible narratives co-existing or ignoring one another (which is how in the US fervent religions get by), I don’t see how one can get there by predefining one narrative as a danger to the State, as the Nakba Law does. It makes more sense to me to say that if State funding memorializes Nakba, equal presentation must be provided for the travails of Jewish Independence. Here, neither side would “win,” and one might hope that the view that all people have, in their history, points of violent success and failure might take some root. The question is how to live in the day with those histories.

          So “an equal and opposite reaction” might be one reason why 972 has appeared itself, although I do know that the Nakba Law post-dates 972.

          Reply to Comment
    18. Dawn Fullerton

      I can so relate. Ever since spending a month in Bethlehem the summer of 2010, I have had hard time emotionally sorting out my faith. The best I could come up with is that I am neither pro or anti Israel (though to say anything against Israel is tricky in my world) or pro or anti Palestine. I am anti injustice. Thank you for verbalizing my heart for me!

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    19. I hate to spoil the Zionist agenda with the facts but as they say the devil is always in the details. It seems that if an Arab or Christian or anyone who is not Jewish tries to bring truth to the table they are automatically rejected for being pro this or anti that or naive at best but details and facts are hard even for a well oiled Israeli propaganda machine to hide forever. What’s the old saying “you can fool some of the people all the time and all the people some of the time but you can’t fool all the people all the time.” So if the blind supporters of Israel no matter what human rights atrocities they commit; will accept only Israeli writers then by all means read “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” by Ilan Pappe who was born and raised and educated in Israel and taught there for many years. I will list his credentials below. Or pull up “The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine” by Miko Peled who was the son of one of the generals who helped form the State of Israel or Shlomo Sand has out two books one “The Invention of the Jewish People” and a sequel “The Invention of the Land of Israel” He is a full professor of history currently at Tel Aviv. Or there are many other highly educated and honest Israelis who don’t have a Zionist axe to grind who are very open about the apartheid form of government now in Israel. In fact I have found them by far the most knowledgable and best informed critics who have written the most extensively on the war crimes that have been perpetrated against a largely disarmed civilian population and continue to this day. However, I also know the human side of this conflict since I live here and see the carnage every day of broken and oppressed lives of real human beings who suffer under the Israeli boot all for the sake of their so called “security” needs while they steal more land and control more natural resources every day. I was just talking to a young man last month who as a 14 year old boy was arrested for throwing a stone at a parked jeep of Israeli soldiers who had just thrown his mother to the ground for not happily leaving their home and farm so it could be bulldozed under to prepare for another illegal settlement. He even missed the jeep and hit nothing. Nevertheless, he was taken to prison and tortured for months in ways that would have broken any adult before being convicted and given 3 years in prison and now he is black-listed and has to support his family by selling coffee on the street because he can now never leave the West Bank. And tragically his story is the norm not the exception. It seems that every family you talk to have very similar stories to tell and some much more tragic like the man in Hebron we interviewed last week who had his pregnant wife shot 5 time for being on her roof checking the water tank which was higher than the settlers who lived next door so they shot her. She was rushed to the hospital and they saved her son but then the settlers threw acid in his face and blinded him and threw concussion grandees in his house to try and force him out and destroyed the hearing in another of his sons. Yet no one was convicted since it was against a non-people group. So it would probably be better for us all if you would please just keep your political rhetoric mouth shut until you have lived in the West Bank for a while and actually met the beautiful but oppressed people who live here and actually got to know the ones you blindly throw under the bus without ever caring for any rights they may have?

      Below is Dr.Pappe’s CV = He is currently Professor of History, and Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies.
      Professor Pappé obtained his BA degree from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1979 and the D. Phil from the University of Oxford in 1984.
      He founded and directed the Academic Institute for Peace in Givat Haviva, Israel between 1992 to 2000 and was the Chair of the Emil Tuma Institute for Palestine Studies in Haifa between 2000 and 2006.
      Professor Pappé was a senior lecturer in the department of Middle Eastern History and the Department of Political Science in Haifa University, Israel between 1984 and 2006.
      He was appointed as chair in the department of History in the Cornwall Campus, 2007-2009 and became a fellow of the IAIS in 2010

      Shlomo Sand (pronounced Zand; Hebrew: שלמה זנד‎) (born 10 September 1946 in Linz, Austria) is an Israeli professor of history at Tel Aviv University. He is an expert in the history of nationalism, film as history, and French intellectual history.

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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