It is sickening to consider centuries in which people "in the name of Christianity" attacked and killed Jews who in persecutors' minds had become uniquely responsible for the crucifixion of Christ. This record is extensive and reached its climax in the Holocaust, which was not of course the responsibility of Christians as such but nevertheless occurred in a nation with a long heritage of Christian church experience. And sadly still, some Christians supported the Nazis.
Now, since the establishment and recognition in 1948 of modern Israel as a nation state, we have decades in which people “in the name of Christianity” seem to want to care for the Jewish people. This is a legitimate and worthy attitude. The problem arises when so many people, again “in the name of Christianity,” conflate this caring for Jewish people with the modern nation state of Israel. Many in the Western Church do not seem to be able to separate the people from the nation itself.
Yet Israel is indeed a modern nation state, so it operates with realpolitik and takes actions, like all other modern nation states, in its perceived self-interest, actions which may or may not be morally justifiable. The problem in the Western Church grows when in this scenario when Western Christians seem to believe Israel can do no wrong and therefore Israel is not often held accountable by Western Christians for its political actions.
The problem gets worse when in turn Western Christians look upon Palestinians as somehow uniquely unworthy of care and concern, that they are somehow ipso facto a threat to all Jews and the state of Israel so Palestinians must be treated as enemies. Western Christian leaders often speak against Palestinians, if not all Arabs, as somehow “other,” a group we’d all be better off without. Sort of the way Jonah looked upon Nineveh—let’s just nuke ‘em and get it over with—until God reminded him, “Should I not be concerned about that great city?” (Jonah 4:11).
God looked upon Ninevites not as an existential threat to Jews in Ancient Israel but as people in need of his love, forgiveness, and redemption…just like he looked upon Jews. Jonah got his theology and his politics twisted, not unlike many Western Christians are speaking today.
Palestinians, like Jews and Gentiles in general, are just people made in the image of God. God commands us to love them like we love ourselves, along with, by the way, Russians, Chinese, Syrians, Iranians, North Koreans and more.
True, some Palestinians are bad actors, but so are some Jews and other Gentiles. And dare I say, some Westerners including Americans? Assigning blame and condemnation or what has been called collective punishment to an entire people group for the actions of a few is the worst form of prejudice and injustice.
Most Palestinians are just families, not terrorists. Most are trying to survive as refugees unwanted not only by Israel but also by Middle Eastern/North African and Western countries alike. Condemning all Palestinians as evil or unworthy just for being Palestinians is no different than condemning all Jews just for being Jews.
It therefore behooves the Western Church and individual Christians to reconsider this group-think identity politics response. It seems that a truly Christian view and action would be to work for peace, security, and justice for all peoples.
Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2018
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