Jews and Arabs in Christ

Jews and Arabs are locked in the Middle East in what seems to be and endless, hopeless conflict. Their national interests are described, defended and advanced in such in such a radical way that the two sides repeatedly fail to find common ground. Before any semblance of peace is established, one of the two sides will have to vanquish the other – or the two collapse, exhausted, into each other's arms.

Naturally, Jews and Arabs love their own people and have their best interests at heart. Naturally, the two sides will tend to view the conflict from their own people's point of view. National selfishness, devoid of moral considerations, inexorably leads to an inexorably endless struggle, ever increasing in intensity. Such a process brutalizes both societies while eroding higher aspirations and leading to a desperation that destroys society from within.

There is a better way.

Elsewhere (click here). I discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Here I offer but a summary of what I believe to be relevant to this issue from a frankly Christian point of view.

A Christian approach to the Middle East conflict must begin where all Christian convictions and perspectives should begin – with the injunctions and implications of the Bible, God's word to man and the guide for man's path.

This is not meant to imply that quoting a few texts and assuming one eschatological system over against another will bring us to the right solution. Eschatology should not be the determining factor, and quotes should reference their native, natural and intended meaning by serving within their original contexts rather than be wrested from their context to serve the interests of a theological system.

God has indeed promised Israel the land. But he also warned the people that they would lose the right to the land if the society they established there was godless and corrupt. Twice the people lost the land because of the society they established there, and Israel's present society is no more godly, no more moral and no more worthy of possessing the land than earlier generations. If eschatology has anything to say to us with respect to the present situation in Israel it is this: Israel must repent and reform before it has the moral right to lay claim to the land.

Christian Zionism – a political platform in the name of Christ – is invalid. No political platform should be promoted in the name of Christ, and no political platform that claims even the slightest reference to Christian principle can be indifferent to moral issues both within Israeli society and in some aspects of its conduct of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A prophetic voice is one that dares to call nations into account, and Israel needs bot to hear and to heed just such a call.

Christian Anti-Zionism is no less of a political platform and is no less invalid. Contemporary efforts to yoke Christian principle to the yoke of Palestinian political aspirations are, at best, ill advised. Palestinian society and Palestinian conduct of the conflict with Israel must likewise be subjected to the scrutiny of the word of God and will undoubtedly be found grossly lacking.

Those clamoring most loudly for a kind of perfect justice are, as usual, the cruelest, most intransigent on both sides. They have been allowed to determine the course of the conflict and to stymie every significant effort at its resolution. In an imperfect world, perfect justice is beyond our reach. The only solution is compromise.

So far as I can see, the issues between these two nations must be viewed on historical and moral grounds and the only way forward for both sides to make that kind of concessions that will accord each reasonable scope for the fulfillment of their national aspirations and reasonable securing of their national interests.

Abraham knew God had promised him the land, and he had enough trust in God to avoid conflict with Lot and offer him the liberty of choosing what part of it Lot wanted for himself. That is the example both sides should follow.

There is no point in entering here into the historical and moral arguments made by both sides in support of their respective positions. These are discussed in other papers available elsewhere from this web site (click here). But I do want to say that, being Jewish, the national interests of my own people are not only closer to my heart, but that they should be closer. My duty is toward my people. Being a Christian, I cannot, dare not and do not wish to ignore my people's moral errors both in the conduct of this present conflict and in the structure and function of Israeli society.

Being Christian, I cannot and have no desire to encourage Jewish national selfishness. Another people, created perhaps by a fluke of history but nonetheless now existent, has needs, hopes and longings that have every right to be taken into account as well as our own. Nor can I ignore the moral errors of which Palestinians are engaged as they conduct their conflict with Israel.

I have little doubt that Islam on the one hand and Rabbinic Judaism on the other, have contributed significantly to these errors. Jews and Palestinians, Gentiles and Jews must ultimately turn from themselves and their false religions to God.

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