With news that the Presbyterian Church (USA) has narrowly voted to divest from three companies doing business with Israel, pro Israel activists watch with dismay as another victory goes into the win column for proponents of the Palestinian narrative.
According to an article from Religion News Service, the vote not only has divided the Presbyterians — it threatens other relationships, as well.
“But the vote also bodes ill for Presbyterian-Jewish relations, which are particularly fragile since the publication in January of ‘Zionism Unsettled,’ a booklet produced by the church-chartered IPMN and sold on the PCUSA website, which argues the right of a Jewish nation to exist in the Holy Land is based on bad theology.”
Arab propagandists are busy on other fronts, as well.
Equally troubling is the rapprochement between major evangelical leaders in the US, and radical Islamists. Ryan Mauro of the Clarion Project reports that a recent trip to Iran by US evangelical leaders has the mullahs licking their chops at the prospect of swaying opinion in America. Mega-church pastors Joel Hunter and Bob Roberts Jr. failed to advocate for Saeed Abedini, a fellow pastor currently being tortured for his faith in Iranian prisons.
(Bob Roberts Jr. meets the Muslim Brotherhood''s Muhammad Morsi in New York.)
“We didn’t go over there to confront people on certain issues,” Hunter said.
Such efforts on the part of evangelical leaders are alarming. But the Iran trip is far from the only misstep by evangelical leaders.
A year ago, LifeWay Research Division President Ed Stetzer interviewed Roberts about interfaith dialogue with Muslims. Stetzer referenced Eboo Patel as an example of a moderate Muslim, yet Patel — appointed in February 2009 to President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships — has a history with the family of Hassan al-Banna, the radical who founded the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928. The Brotherhood is the spiritual forefather of today’s most lethal terror groups, including Hamas and Al-Qaida.
Frontpage magazine’s Daniel Greenfield reported in 2013 that Patel was one of six men named by an Egyptian magazine as having infiltrated the White House, advocating on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood. Patel also participated in a panel in 2011 at an event sponsored by the Muslim Students Association. The same panel included Tariq Ramadan (grandson of al-Banna) and Siraj Wahhaj (former vice president of the Islamic Society of North America; he was named as a possible co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing).
Why are leading evangelicals like Stetzer mainstreaming Muslim Brotherhood operatives?
It should be noted that Stetzer is a major figure within the Southern Baptist Convention, so his lack of discernment about radical Muslims is disconcerting, at best. He routinely joins in ecumenical gatherings, so his influence is growing.
As if all this news isn’t bad enough, CAMERA’s Dexter Van Zile broke the story on June 20 that American freelance journalist Brian Schrauger was taken in for questioning by the Palestinian Authority and told that he was no longer safe living in Beit Jala. According to Van Zile, Palestinian activists Munther Isaac and Sami Awad both denied complaining to the PA about Schrauger’s “Christ at the Checkpoint” reports this past spring.
The PA had told Schrauger that “local people” and “internationals” had complained about Schrauger’s reporting.(Among the “internationals” who have spoken at Christ at the Checkpoint: Joel Hunter, Bob Roberts Jr., author Colin Chapman, Wheaton professor Gary Burge, filmmaker Porter Speakman, Jr., World Vision’s Ruth Padilla DeBorst, ORU President William “Billy” Wilson, Willow Creek Community Church co-founder Lynne Hybels, Presbyterian pastor John Ortberg, anti-Zionist activist Stephen Sizer, activist Tony Campolo, and The Simple Way founder, Shane Claiborne.)
(Lynne Hybels advocates for the Palestinians at Catalyst East, 2012)
(Stephen Sizer denounces Christian Zionism at a gathering for Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding.)
At a foundational level, all this pillow talk between American evangelical leaders and Muslim propagandists and sponsors of state terrorism is not only deeply troubling — it is an outrage. “Leaders” who purport to speak for the rest of us, and who give cover to radicals sworn to Israel’s destruction and our destruction are irresponsible in the extreme. These leaders are dupes and useful idiots for the world’s most murderous regimes and organizations.
It is instructive to look at the roots of such breathtaking gullibility.
One of the earliest examples of rapprochement with the Palestinian narrative, specifically, comes from Elisabeth Elliot’s 1969 book, Furnace of the Lord. Elliot, an iconic figure within evangelicalism (her late husband, famous missionary Jim Elliot, was murdered by a remote tribe in Ecuador in 1956) spent decades as a writer and lecturer.
Only months after the 1967 Six Day War, Elliot journeyed to Jerusalem, to get a firsthand account of the war’s aftermath and to find “truth,” as she put it. An Episcopalian, Elliot admitted early in her book that Israel’s prophetic, biblical significance “had been obscure to me,” and while she managed a bit of balance in her observations for the first half of the book, she eventually tilted heavily toward the Palestinian view.
Interestingly, Elliot followed (pioneered?) the exact path trod today by Christians who advocate for the Palestinians. Her visits were apparently dominated by conversations with Arabs, including former Jerusalem Mayor Aref al-Aref. Musing about the jubilation from Christian Zionists who said that God had intervened for the Israelis during the June War, Elliot said something very telling:
“I wanted to know whether Israel was on God’s side. Was Israel really for Him?”
Here, Elliot falls into the classic trap of those who wish to marginalize Israel’s legitimacy as a sovereign nation, assuming that the Jews who returned to Palestine were supposed to get their spiritual house in order and only then establish the state. Reading Ezekiel 37 reveals that God’s plan for His people proceeds in exactly the opposite way.
Tragically, Furnace of the Lord continues on this trajectory, as Elliot makes it clear she had real issues with the Jewish state and its newfound territorial realities. This then is perhaps the genesis of modern evangelical leadership and its “Jewish problem.”
In 2000, I wrote to Elliot and asked to interview her about her recollections of the 1967 Israel visit. She replied that it was long ago and she didn’t have interest in re-visiting the subject. This is the reply I frequently get when I attempt to ask questions of well-known Christian Palestinianists, including Lynne Hybels.
It is popular now for Christian Palestinianists to claim they don’t have a problem with Jews or Israel per se, only with Zionism.
On a broader level, the (successful) attempts by totalitarians to dupe well-meaning Westerners pre-dates Elliot’s experience by decades. Georges-Elia Sarfati, professor of linguistics at the Sorbonne, understands how language is a powerful tool in shaping propaganda. From his book, The Captive Nation:“Most people think that language, and in particular speech, is transparent and that it serves to transmit information. All words have a history, which have an impact on their use, even if people are not aware of this. Rather than words being neutral, they serve to introduce a certain vision of the question one addresses.
“This is particularly clear in the case of anti-Semitism and its manifestations, including anti-Zionism. When analyzing the various phenomena of Judeophobia, one discovers an archive of words used against the Jews over the centuries. It aims to criminalize all forms of Jewish identity: spiritually as religious anti-Judaism; culturally as anti-Semitism, and socio-politically as anti-Zionism.”
“It was the Soviet Union’s Ministry of Information whichbegan to use the expression ‘anti-Zionism’ systematically after the Six-Day War. From the Soviet press, it migrated to the media of the French extreme Left. Prior to that, the word’s use was sporadic at most. It did not appear in dictionaries until the 1970s. One has to recall however, that Hitler claimed in Mein Kampf that Zionism was the bridgehead of the ‘Jewish conspiracy.’ Anti-Zionism’s major ‘canonic’ texts are first and foremost Soviet fabrications. One of the supreme Soviet ideologists, Trofim Kitchko, published several anti-Semitic books between 1963 and the beginning of the 1980s. His first one, Judaism Unembellished, was sponsored by the Academy of Sciences.
“Marxism had negated the idea of Jewish sovereignty; Stalinism radicalized this view. Propaganda techniques of the Nazis were recycled by the Soviets. When parts of the Arab world were influenced by the Soviet Union, their propaganda apparatus appropriated itself of the anti-Zionist discourse.”
These foundational beginnings of modern antipathy for Israel, among evangelicals, have built a House of Ideological Horrors for the rest of us, now threatened in myriad ways by forces who want to do us great harm on the way to establishing a new caliphate.
Pro Israel supporters, primarily those who identify as Christian Zionists, had better get in the game and oppose these monstrous efforts by our opponents. Some would label my views as melodrama, hyperbole, or overstatement.
So did most of Europe’s Jews in the 1930s.