In Iraq we are hearing of extremists calling for Christians to convert or be killed. Christians throughout history have done the same, the Jews did this in the 7th C to Christians. Acts of genocide, persecution and discrimination have continued. The reformer Martin Luther expressed enough anti-semitism to fuel the Nazi machine. The holocaust became the penultimate expression of hate. When you want to persecute a community it is easy to find a reason. Christian guilt has played a role in siding with Israel.
For centuries the Jews have been called Christ- killers. The gospels clearly portray Jesus wilfully choosing his death, realising that for earthly power to be overcome and God’s justice to reign, God needed to have the last word. Jesus said he would be handed over to the gentiles (the Romans) for it was only they that had the power to impose a death sentence. The Jewish leaders found Jesus a threat, as any leaders in authority find anyone a threat who questions their authority. Jesus chose this path, this cup, this call, to reveal God’s complete love. It demeans his volition and God’s purpose to lay it at the feet of any one people for blame, the Jews.
The Zionist movement was given its blessing by Britain and the US, because of discrimination. They wan’t the Jews to go away, somewhere else. It was not a gift, but racism that sent Jews to Israel. Israel became a convenient dumping ground for racist reasons. The Christian Zionist movement got its start in the late 19th C with a dispensational theology put forth by fundamentalists, who time-charted in millennium years, God’s plan. This is where we get “end times”, “rapture” and “armageddon”. It makes for good drama, but it is a manipulation of God’s plan. They believe that Israel must be “re-established” as a nation and that Palestinians must disappear, in order for Christ to return. Then the Jewish people will have a chance to repent or go to hell. While this is preached only by a few, this view trickles down among people of faith. Christian zionists like CUFI (Christians United for Israel) are loved by Israel for the money and tourism they provide, despite the theology that ultimately sees Israel’s covenant with God ending. Without clear thinking, we are complicit in accepting the Zionism that is driving Israel today.
I walked through the Bethlehem checkpoint to Jerusalem. When a Palestinian goes through to work in Israel, they stand in line at 4am, with hundreds of others, to make sure they get through on time. If they miss their bus to work on the Israeli side, they miss the job for the day and may be fired. Their family will suffer as well, of course. They will be intimidated by the holding pens, the guards, the guns and the identity paper checks. They are defenceless against the racist and degrading language towards them. They can be turned around or delayed for no reason or the military can decide they don’t want to anyone through all day or week or month. There are few jobs in Palestine, so it is a good way to slowly persecute. The reason given for all this is “security”. When I passed through the guard was busy doing Soduko.