Anti-Israel Evangelical Left Perpetuates Palestinian Suffering

Recently “Christianity Today,” the prominent evangelical journal, spotlighted the “Top 5 Books on Israel & Palestine,” as asserted by Gary Burge, a professor at Chicago-area evangelical Wheaton College, one of evangelical America’s most prestigious schools.

Burge is a crusader for trying to shift evangelicals away from their typically pro-Israel stance.  All five books naturally tout a pro-Palestinian perspective to varying degrees.   Evidently a book offering the Jewish experience did not merit attention.

The first book Burge touted was “Blood Brothers” by Elias Chacour, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church Archbishop of AkkoHaifaNazareth and All Galilee.  As Burge recounts, Chacour recalls his life story as a Palestinian cleric, confronting the “thorny problem of struggle and reconciliation in Galilee.”   Another book is “I Am a Palestinian Christian,” by Mitri Raheb, a Lutheran pastor in Bethlehem, whom Burge describes as “one of the leading Christian intellectuals in the Palestinian church.”  A third book “On the Road to Armageddon: How Evangelicals Became Israel’s Best Friend” by Timothy Weber, explains “why America and its evangelical communities are so ardently pro-Israel.” A fourth book is “Coffins on Our Shoulders: The Experience of the Palestinian Citizens of Israel,” by Dan Rabinowitz and Khawla Abu-Baker, who are sociologists, “one Israeli and one Palestinian, [who] tell their personal stories growing up near each other in Haifa.”  The final book, “Whose Promised Land?: The Continuing Crisis over Israel and Palestine” by Colin Chapman is perhaps somewhat more impartial.  As Burge describes, it is a “poignant and compelling history of the Israel-Palestine conflict, told by a British Christian scholar who now resides in Cambridge,” who was for “many years a professor in Beirut and, thanks to his fluency in Arabic, can see this struggle from the inside unlike many others.”

Burge’s book selection for Christianity Today asserts his overall narrative of Israel as an imperialist intrusion on indigenous Palestinians, for which America and especially America’s pro-Israel evangelicals are especially culpable.  By telling stories of victimhood by Palestinians, especially the tiny Christian minority, Burge hopes to influence evangelicals towards neutrality or, better yet, pro-Palestinian advocacy.

Ostensibly this new stance will deliver oppressed Palestinians from their imperialist overlords, who will accede to Palestinian demands thanks to U.S. pressure.  The assumption is that initial Palestinian political victories will actually help Palestinians, especially its Christians.  What is the basis for this assumption?  It’s not clear. Where in the Middle East currently are Christian minority groups living safely under pluralistic democracy?

Burge and fellow Evangelical Left anti-Israel crusaders of course assume that Israeli intransigence is the primary blockage to peace. But what if Israel unilaterally withdrew to its pre-1967 borders, abandoned Jerusalem, and allowed an unlimited right of return for all Palestinians claiming descent from original Palestinian residents in what is now Israel?  Would these unilateral concessions completely appease most Palestinians and create mutual concord? Or would they not likelier feed thirsts for even greater victory, to include the eradication of Israel as a Jewish nation?

Contrary to the anti-Israel narrative that Burge prefers, if the actual obstacle to peace is Palestinian refusal to accept the permanent reality of Jewish Israel, then what Burge et al advocate only fuels greater strife and suffering for Palestinians.  In reality, peace is only attainable if most Palestinians firmly accept Israel’s permanence and settle for a Palestinian state based in the West Bank, not dreams of a greater, and Jewish-free, Palestine.

The Burge/Evangelical Left narrative on Israel/Palestine also unquestioningly accepts the public pronouncements of a handful of Palestinian Christian clerics and activists without admitting these besieged Christians have little choice to say anything else.   Their survival requires constantly burnishing their Palestinian nationalist credentials.   It’s interesting that the Evangelical Left, so critical of American nationalism, and of Israeli nationalism, makes such easy cause with Palestinian nationalism.

Burge serves on the board of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding, an ongoing campaign to neutralize pro-Israel evangelicals.  This group met at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College in November 2012, featuring anti-Israel speakers like Church of England priest Stephen Sizer.  Burge was also prominent in the 2010 film “With God on Our Side,” which targeted evangelical audiences, and which aimed to caricature Christian Zionists as end-times zealots indifferent to Palestinian suffering.

If Burge and anti-Israel Evangelicals, ostensibly so concerned about Palestinian Christians, actually got their way, the result almost certainly would be even greater suffering for all Palestinians.  Israel is sufficiently strong militarily and economically that it will persevere.  Any hope for Palestinians requires acceptance of mutual co-existence.   But intentionally or not, the anti-Israel Evangelical Left urges policies that would inflame unrealizable Palestinian hopes for eradicating Israel but actually only ensure their own continued marginalization.

The “Christianity Today” anti-Israel book suggestions from Burge superficially offer empathy for Palestinians. But like most leftist political naiveté, the policies to which they point are foolish for all.

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  • Mary Sue

    The more the terrorists suffer, the better. They brought it on themselves.

    • Mary Sue

      (that's palestinian terrorists, in case that was not clear)

  • AdinaK

    IF the true goal is to stop the anti-Israel train, emanating from the evangelical left, there is a way, but its essence, its roots, must be targeted.
    As such, the blueprint can be found within and its meaning must be taken to heart, not only by Christians but by leftist Jewish helpmates –

    The ISM and its terror hydra (on America's shores!) must be uprooted!

    Mark, if you want to join forces, please contact me at my blog or Facebook page.

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel –

  • Femi Mafe

    It's a dialectic dilema. This viewpoint is very delectable and plausible. But when you listen to the Palestinian Christians too, you kind of feel great symapthy for their cause. It's time we all realize that the enigmatic imbroglio in the Middle East, particularly Israel and Palestine, is no matter for human solution. In fact, human attempts to solve the stalement continues to fuel more fracas. A deeper shot at it would even lead to the Antichrist occupying that area in the pretense of peace. Perhaps, our attempts are further hastening the 'apocalypse' of the holy scriptures. As for me, I am eagerly awaiting the Prince of Peace…

  • C.R.

    Most people who claim to be Christians–are not in fact Christian–and "Christianity Today"–does not speak for Christians!

    • Lutz

      Replying to C.R. who said, "Most people who claim to be Christians–are not in fact Christian–and "Christianity Today"–does not speak for Christians! "


  • Evan Davis

    Burge should start by reading his Bible. His theological prejudice is showing since he obviously doesn't think that any of the promises to the nation of Israel are in effect today. The very existence of the nation today is a literal fulfillment of Bible prophecy and there will be no elimination of Israel in favor of Muslim triumph. This article is based on Replacement Theology which attributes the promises to Israel in the Old Testament to the Church today and requires many fanciful interpretations. I hope that Wheaton has not moved in this direction to the extreme that is spelled out here. The reading of Christianity Today is not recommended for Bible believing Christians these days.

    • John D. Abbott, Jr.

      Evan, the promise in the Bible, made by God to the Israelites in no way means or says that we as Christians must accept their behavior. God didn't and I don't! Maybe and most likely God will indeed give them another opportunity to return to Him…I hope He does…if He doesn't, hell is hot.

      • ziontruth

        Suit yourself with any Christian-tolerant Islamic country of your choosing… Egypt, Pakistan, you name it.

        Oh wait, no Islamic country is tolerant of Christians. So the logical thing to do, of course, is to bash the Jewish State.

        Yes, hell is hot, hot enough for the Islamonazis and their Christians appeasers like you.

      • objectivefactsmatter

        ".. the promise in the Bible, made by God to the Israelites in no way means or says that we as Christians must accept their behavior. "

        What behavior are you judging?

  • Diann

    They should read 'Son of Hamas', for a clearer understanding of the situation in Israel and Palestine.

  • Beth

    Gary Burge claims to be a Christian and supports Palestine. Here is what a true Christian needs to know:

    Exd 15:14 The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina. [Song (prophecy) of Moses – The saints ‘sing’ this song – Rev 15:3]

    Joe 3:4 Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head

    Isa 14:31 Howl, O gate; cry, O city; thou, whole Palestina, art dissolved: for there shall come from the north a smoke, and none shall be alone – in – his – appointed – times.

    If you support Palestine – you are Palestine.

    Mat 12:30 He that is not with me is against me [There is no inbetween]

    If you’re a Christian – stay away from Gary Burge….

    Isa 34:16 Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail

    1Jo 2:27 ….ye need not that any man teach you

    • Lutz

      Beth – Death.

      Take a breath.

      You are a scriptural gymnast who does VIOLENCE to GOD's Holy WORD.

    • ziontruth

      Nowhere does scripture say "Palestine." It's "the Land of Israel" everywhere. Your airbrushing of the Jewish national claim to the land out of history is noted.

  • Lutz' SillyBus

    RE: "Anti-Israel Evangelical Left Perpetuates Palestinian Suffering"

    Dat 'jus plain Ignorant, son.

    "Pro-Palestian Evangelicals" is analogous to:

    …"MILLIONS of HARD-WORKIN' – Fifth Generation of OBAMA FOOD STAMPIN"…..
    YOU-OWE-ME-CRACKER OBAMA ETB Card-Holding craps

    Re-align yer smelly syllaBUS

  • Saul of TARSUS

    The Anti-Israel activists rightly see American evangelicals as key to U.S. support for Israel.

    The Obama-style, pro-Sandinista Nicaraguan hosts of 25 years ago, will perform like like monkeys, their Oracle of Delphi, clarifying reality, and blowing away the deceptive fog of Western colonialism.

    That is why we need Biblical and Constitutional Understanding

  • DMac

    'Christianity Astray'.

  • Herb Benty

    I am a Christian and since I was 5 yrs old have been in love with Israel and the Jewish people. I was taught to read my King James early and well. Reading Romans carefully, it is plain that Christians are – grafted in to the promises of God- we become part of Israel. These New Age( progressive, Commie, socialist etc.), believers who would turn us against Israel are straight from the pit of hell. They want us to damn our own souls along with theirs- NOT.

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