We all know how important Christian Zionists are to maintaining Israel’s support on the Republican side in the U.S. Many Christian Zionists came to the Israel lobby AIPAC’s conference last week. Well it turns out there’s diversity in the evangelical community (as in so many other religious communities), and Israel is displeased by that.
This Tuesday to Thursday, evangelical Christians are having a conference in Bethlehem called Christ at the Checkpoint. It’s their third such conference, talking about how Christ would resolve the conflict.
“Each morning of the conference… will offer an optional visit to the Bethlehem checkpoint.”
The evangelical Christians’ “manifesto” for the conference also makes strong political points. Read to the end and you’ll notice the rejection of Islamophobia:
Any exclusive claim to land of the Bible in the name of God is not in line with the teaching of Scripture.
All forms of violence must be refuted unequivocally.
There are real injustices taking place in the Palestinian territories and the suffering of the Palestinian people can no longer be ignored. Any solution must respect the equity and rights of Israel and Palestinian communities.
For Palestinian Christians, the occupation is the core issue of the conflict.
Any challenge of the injustices taking place in the Holy Land must be done in Christian love. Criticism of Israel and the occupation cannot be confused with anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of the State of Israel….
Christians must understand the global context for the rise of extremist Islam. We challenge stereotyping of all faith forms that betray God’s commandment to love our neighbors and enemies.
Pamela Olson explains the religious significance of the conference back home:
The president of Oral Roberts University here in Tulsa will be speaking at the Christ at the Checkpoint conference in Bethlehem this month!
Why is that so exciting? Well, Oklahoma is the buckle of the Bible Belt, and Oral Roberts University is perhaps the little diamond in the center of the buckle. Full-on conservative Christian heartland stuff. I would never in a million years have expected their president to attend such a conference.
Now guess who’s not happy about evangelical Christians coming to Palestine? The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).
Israel Today reports on the Christ at the Checkpoint conference and highlights the political ramifications, undermining Christian Zionism.
In a personal correspondence with Israel Today, an MFA official said that “unfortunately, we well know about the [Christ at the Checkpoint] conference,” explaining that for the Israeli government, the event “is particularly problematic, because it is designed for the evangelical Christian leadership – an extremely important audience to us.”
Israel Today published a statement from the MFA with very strong language indeed.
“The attempt to use religious motifs in order to mobilize political propaganda and agitate the feelings of the faithful through the manipulation of religion and politics is an unacceptable and shameful act. Using religion for the purpose of incitement in the service of political interests stains the person who does it with a stain of indelible infamy.”
Who the shoe fits… There follows some smearing, from the Israeli government:
Furthermore, the government has indicated that it considers certain people involved in CatC to have a reputation for being involved in malicious acts against the state. For example, it was recently revealed that some of the leading figures at CatC have very close ties to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that aims to delegitimize and ultimately to undermine entirely the Jewish state.
Here’s some more pushback from the Times of Israel. I find this frightening, the stuff of religious war, in which a religious writer disputes the evangelicals’ manifesto.
The benefits of the Abrahamic Covenant as multi-faceted as they are promised to both the Jewish people and the nations through Abraham, yet the physical land is ONLY promised to the Jewish people, ethnic descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
If you want to follow the conference, twitter hashtag is: #CATC2014. I am told it heated up yesterday and should be interesting this week.
P.S. This piece originally stated that the last quote came from a Jewish writer. Commenter Hophmi said he isn’t. Here it says he was born Jewish and is now a follower of Yeshua.