Israeli policemen stand near a checkpoint close to the West Bank settlement of Otniel.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
It’s that crazy Christian time of year in Bethlehem when traditional beliefs are thrown out of the church window. March 7-10 will see the fourth rendering of that anti-Israel libel “Christ at the Checkpoint” played out yet again.
It is bad enough when devious Arab Islamic leaders, including Holocaust-denier Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, speak at Christmas time of Jesus the “Palestinian messenger,” but it is something completely different when church leaders call Jesus a Palestinian.
They know it is a lie, yet they subscribe to this mantra. It leads one to question why they do it. Why do they go out of their way to deny the undeniable Jewishness of Jesus according to their own biblical commentaries? There can only be one inevitable conclusion.
It was anti-Semitism that fed the brutal dogma that expelled and killed millions of Jews as European Christianity pursued Jews around the globe from Spain and Portugal into central and southern America in the name of Christendom. It was anti-Semitism at the heart of replacement theology that positioned God as having abandoned His Covenant with the Jewish people in favor of Christians. It is anti-Semitism that drives Christian leaders to abandon the Old Testament narration of a return to Zion of the Jewish people in favor of promoting the notorious Kairos Palestine Document, which positions Palestinian Arabs as Jesus-figures deprived of their land, and Israelis as the Christ-killers. This blood libel is alive and well. It has shaken off the Christian shame of the Shoah, and found its voice in anti-Zionism.
Deconstructing the history of the Land of Israel in order to deny Jewish sovereignty is central to Palestinian policy. This narrative has been adopted by many Christians, who have found a moral hook on which to hang their anti-Semitism, namely the transfiguration of who are the violent and devious actors and who are the victims. It is truly appalling how cynically deceptive some Christian leaders can be. They come up with emotional but false messages. Take Christ at the Checkpoint as an example. This is the name of the event taking place in Bethlehem this month. Christians will try to portray Jesus as a Palestinian suffering at an Israeli checkpoint. In support of the Palestinian narrative it carries the message, “Your Kingdom come!” Had Jesus arrived at a checkpoint this year he would have been reminded by Israeli soldiers that, as a Jew, it was too dangerous for him to cross into Bethlehem, as his life would be in grave danger in a place that has become so radically Islamic that even the Christians have fled this once Christian town.
Elias Freij, the Christian mayor of Bethlehem at the time of the town’s handover by Israel to Arafat’s PLO , correctly prophesized that Bethlehem would be a town of churches but no Christians.
Participants at this event should be reminded that Israeli security forces arrested 14 members of Islamic Jihad based in Bethlehem. During their search, they found weapons and explosives in the houses of the Bethlehem terrorists. At precisely the same time, the rector of London’s St. James’s Church was organizing, at her church, a propaganda event called “Bethlehem Unwrapped.” In a Guardian newspaper article, said she was supporting a “beautiful resistance.” Neither should churches be supporting such “resistance,” known to Israelis as terrorist attacks. This is the campaign and cause that some Christian leaders and the Christ at the Checkpoint event promote, while hiding the truth of what is actually going on here.
What is going on is that Israelis are being targeted for slaughter, as are Christians in the Muslim world, including within Palestinian-controlled areas. In Bethlehem, they are being persecuted and oppressed, not by Israel but by Palestinians, including the leadership.
Prior to Israel’s surrender of Bethlehem to Arafat’s PLO in 1995, the Christian population was actually growing beyond the 80 percent mark, but today Bethlehem’s Christians have been reduced to a mere 10%.
This can hardly be blamed on Israel, considering that the Christian population in the Jewish state continues to flourish. Since Israel’s founding in 1948, its Christian community has expanded more than a thousand percent.
Christ at the Checkpoint is primarily a public relations plot to dissuade Evangelicals worldwide from their pro-Israel views. They state this openly in their mission statement. They wish “to create a platform for serious engagement with Christian Zionism” in order to pull them away from their support for Israel.
Mark Tooley of Front Page magazine wrote, “To succeed, they will have to put blinders on cooperatively gullible evangelicals, guiding their eyes towards disruptive Israeli checkpoints, while hiding the rest of the surrounding reality.”
How right he is. It is this dishonest act that reveals their anti-Semitism. It is not performed out of ignorance.
It is done knowingly, a conscious act of deception and yet another Christian libel against the Jew, this time the national Jew, Israel.
Participants at this event call themselves “peace activists.” They cloak themselves with a moral message of peace, while the aim of this event is not peace but division and bias against the Jewish state.
Stephen Sizer is one of the most vehement anti-Semites.
A British Anglican and a constant Israeli delegitimizer, in his book Christian Zionism – Road Map to Armageddon he suggests that “it is irresponsible to believe that God will bless Christians materially if they support the largely secular State of Israel.”
Some of Sizer’s writings have been commended by Christians who embrace replacement and liberation theology. A prominent Christian opponent of Sizer, renowned Bible teacher David Pawson, however, wrote a book called Defending Christian Zionism. Having a dig at Sizer, Pawson said, “I am grateful to Stephen Sizer for drawing attention to the legitimate criticisms of dispensational Zionism. He has rendered a service to the cause of Zionism which was needed.”
The violently anti-Semitic denial of Jewish rights at the heart of anti-Israel Palestinian and Islamic campaigning and violence is the reason why there are checkpoints in the first place. There is no room for this truth at Christ at the Checkpoint. It is an exercise in trickery, deception and replacement theology.The writer is senior associate for public diplomacy of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies, and author of best-selling books Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism and BDS for IDIOTS .