Report: Palestinian Christian Diplomacy in Fight against Christian Zionists
Source: International Middle East Media Center
By Daoud Kuttab
Published February 8, 2019
The Palestinian government is turning to its own Christian community and even its evangelicals to campaign against distorted Christian Zionists.
Palestinian foreign ministry officials were in a quandary in recent months. Despite the strong support for the Palestinian cause around the world, a handful of small Latin American countries were causing a political-headache, as they were publicly talking about the possibility of moving their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
For the Spanish speaking Palestinian foreign minister, Riyad Malki, this was truly troubling. He has been to many Central and South American countries and is aware that Palestinian and Arab immigrants to these countries are among the most important communities, both in terms of economic abilities and political power. Arab social clubs are so powerful that anyone wanting to have a chance for networking and influence wanted to join them.
The trouble, of course, was coming from a wave of new fundamentalist Christian leaders, often referred to as Christian Zionists. These leaders, who often get their theology from fellow American televangelists, were bringing the Middle East conflict into internal discussions and promising their supporters to move their embassies as part of their distorted view that somehow blessing and supporting Israel would bring blessing to them.
To counter these new phenomena, Foreign Minister Riyad Maliki and his staff decided to turn to their own Palestinian Christian community to enlist them in the campaign to put a stop or to reverse the pro-Israeli shift that was taking place by some right-wing Latin American leaders in regards to the cause of Palestine.
Former Bethlehem Mayor Vera Baboun and others were asked to travel to countries like Guatemala, Honduras and Brazil to argue the danger of such a reckless move not only to regional peace, but also to the very same religious communities that these leaders claim to be supporting.
Among those invited were a number of Christian Palestinian leaders of the Evangelical faith, who have been arguing for years the fallacy of Christian Zionist theology. Palestinian Evangelicals have been organising for years a theological conference arguing against the false wholesale Biblical interpretations of Christian Zionism. The “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference, organsied by the Bethlehem Bible College, invited theologians from around the world to discuss and to debunk Christian Zionist myths justifying occupation and denial of freedom to Palestinians.
Christian theologians debated what is often referred to as the “dispensational” theology, which distorts Biblical prophecy to argue that the rise of the modern day Israel is the fulfilment of God’s will and, therefore, it is incumbent on all committed Christians to support Israel and its chosen people. They pointed out for example the difference between the Biblical Israelites and today’s Israelis.
The president and former chair of the Bethlehem Bible College Dr. Jack Sara and lawyer Jonathan Kuttab, were asked to be part of two delegations; one that went to Brazil and the other to Guatemala and Hondorus. Palestinian officials in these countries working with local Palestinian communities organised meetings with top officials, as well as with members of local Christian Evangelicals. Reports from those Latin American countries were that the visit was successful and that Palestinian Evangelicals turned the tables on their counterparts, using biblical arguments that there are no more chosen people and that God’s blessing is no longer limited to one people, but as Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount “blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God”.
The PowerPoint presentations made in English full of chapter and verse from the Bible became so attractive that those present all wanted a copy of it translated to Spanish.
While politicians have for ever used religion to advance their own interests, it is not expected that a single tour and a PowerPoint presentation will reverse the many distortions about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. However, this small experiment points to a much more important fact, namely that our own leaders have been ignorant of the wealth and richness of our own societies and the chance that thinkers in the Arab world, including patriotic Christian Evangelicals, can be of tremendous help in exposing the myths that are being perpetuated by Christian Zionists and are being taken as the gospel truth.
Government officials in Palestine and Jordan need to refresh their own relationships with their own communities and understand that they can use them to bridge the gap with Christian fundamentalists in the west. Arab Evangelicals are nationalist who love their country and support Palestinian rights and can argue chapter and verse with anyone about the right of people to live in freedom, and that occupation, land theft and killing of civilians is abhorrent to the message of peace and justice taught by Jesus Christ.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SHARE YOUR OPINION, POST A COMMENT
Fill in the field below to share your opinion and post your comment.
LATEST OPEN LETTERS
- 05-06To International Community and Leaders around the world
- 03-07Letter of Apology
- 20-05Sace palestine
- 20-05Free Palestine
- 17-05A suggestion for some economics problems
- 15-05Free Palestine
- 04-04A moment of the sound of silence, a prayer for Russia
- 03-04The Gilbratar burn out and how it can be solved peacefully
- 03-04Biafra Freedom from Nigeria
- 24-03Open letter to António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations
VIRTUAL POST OFFICE
Latest Blog Articles
- 17-04German leader calls Netanyahu, stresses need for two-state solution
- 10-04QUESTIONS TO CHRISTIAN ZIONISM
- 09-04No Country for Palestinians
- 09-04Looking for the Brothers and Sisters of Jesus: Challenging the Ideas of Israelism (including Christian Zionism and Replacement Theology)
- 20-03Politics is religion, and the right is getting ready for the end times
- 01-03Will Palestine finally recognize local evangelicals?
- 08-02Report: Palestinian Christian Diplomacy in Fight against Christian Zionists
- 23-01Time to Break the Silence on Palestine
- 18-01Opinion // I'm Shaving Off My Zionism, the Worst a Man Can Get
- 18-01The moral travesty of Israel seeking Arab, Iranian money for its alleged Nakba
- 03-01Opinion // 'Trump Will Make Palestine Great Again': The Most Combative, Uncomfortable Op-eds of 2018