A disturbing movement is making inroads in the evangelical Christian world. A recent op-ed in the Jerusalem Post
summed it up: “Evangelical and conservative Christians — Israel's most important allies — are increasingly targeted for conversion from Christian Zionism
to Christian Palestinianism.”
What is “Christian Palestinianism”? It is a movement that purports to be “pro-Palestinian” but in fact traffics in anti-Israel propaganda and historical misinformation. And, as its adherents work to influence the evangelical community, support for Israel among evangelicals is in danger of being undermined, and the next generation of evangelicals may well grow up with a very dim view of Israel and her supporters.
“Christian Palestinianism” manifests itself in a variety of ways. It’s on display in a 2010 film widely screened at colleges and churches titled With God on Our Side
, which claims to refute Christian Zionism, but in fact offers only half-truths and outright lies packaged to appeal to Christians who haven’t been exposed to the facts of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It has taken hold at evangelical colleges like Wheaton in suburban Chicago, where professor Gary Burge indoctrinates his students with a pathological contempt of what he calls Israeli “apartheid.” And it’s alive and well at megachurches like Willow Creek, where Lynne Hybels, wife of pastor Bill Hybels, enthusiastically embraces the Palestinian “Christ at the Checkpoint” movement, which reduces Zionism to “a modern political movement” that “has become ethnocentric, privileging one people at the expense of others.”
For Christians who love and support Israel, as well as for Jews who have come to take evangelical support for granted, all this might come as a shock. But there’s no time to be shocked — it’s time to act. The battle to inform Christians about the truth of the Arab-Israeli conflict is a struggle we can’t afford to lose — but if we wait too long to engage in it, we easily could.
At The Fellowship
, we’re working hard to do just that by revamping and rejuvenating our Stand for Israel
program. We’re also establishing a new youth initiative to reach out to high school and college-age Christians and young pastors, who represent the next generation of Israel’s supporters. These young people are all potential future supporters of the Jewish state — and it’s our conviction that, given the facts, they will come to love and support Israel.
But at the end of the day, countering “Christian Palestinianism” must fall to each of us as individuals. I urge all Christians who love Israel and care about her future to be aware of what’s going on in your churches and schools. If speakers are invited to talk at your church about the Arab-Israeli conflict, find out who those speakers are. Attend the sessions, and ask questions. If you have children in college, ask them what they’re learning about Israel in their classes, and be well-informed and ready to counter lies they may be hearing. Armed with the truth, and determined to make it known, we can make sure that the wonderful, historic phenomenon of Christian support for Israel not only survives, but flourishes — for many years to come.
With prayers for shalom
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein