16 August 2006

Why We Can't Win in the Middle East

'Cause this is what Our Leader's supporters believe:

As if we don't have enough problems with Muslim and Jewish
fundamentalists, we are now confronted with yet another -ist.
Christian Zionists, mostly from the United States, are trying to
throw their weight behind one of the parties, in effect calling for
the continuation of the war and carnage in Lebanon.

A small minority of evangelical Christians have entered the Middle
East political arena with some of the most un-Christian statements I
have ever heard. The latest gems come from people like Pat
Robertson, the founder and chairman of the Christian Broadcasting
Network, and Rev. John Hagee of Christians United for Israel. Hagee,
a popular televangelist who leads the 18,000-member Cornerstone
Church in San Antonio, ratcheted up his rhetoric this year with the
publication of his book, "Jerusalem Countdown," in which he argues
that a confrontation with Iran is a necessary precondition for
Armageddon (which will mean the death of most Jews, in his eyes) and
the Second Coming of Christ
In the best-selling book, Hagee insists that the United States must
join Israel in a preemptive military strike against Iran to fulfill
God's plan for both Israel and the West. Shortly after the book's
publication, he launched Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which,
as the Christian version of the powerful American Israel Public
Affairs Committee, he said would cause "a political earthquake."
With the outbreak of the war on Lebanon, he and others have called
to their followers to pray for Israel, and for the continuation of
the war on Lebanon. They have demanded that Israel not relent in
what they call the need to destroy Hezbollah and Hamas. They seem to
have completely forgotten the very core of the Christian faith.

I have been watching many American evangelicals trying to distance
themselves from the calls in the name of the Almighty for the war to
continue. As Christian leaders of all persuasions, including leaders
of evangelical churches, are calling for Mideast peace and an
immediate cease-fire, these Christian Zionists want their followers
to pray only for Israel.

One e-mail message that was making the rounds came from a prominent
U.S. evangelical Christian totally upset with an interview that Pat
Robertson gave to the Jerusalem Post. In it, Robertson appears more
pro-Israeli than the Israelis themselves and expresses anger at the
notion that Israelis might not completely finish off Hezbollah — a
task that he somehow sees as God's will. The author of the above-
mentioned e-mail message, Serge Duss of World Vision, a Christian
relief organization, called the Robertson interview "a perversion of
the Gospel of Jesus." Duss writes that he is sure that many
evangelicals strongly disagree and would gladly refute Robertson's
distorted theology.

Duss insists that American evangelicals are praying for 1) the
people of Israel and Lebanon; 2) for a cease-fire, so that lives
will be spared and 3) for peace with justice for all people in the
Middle East.

The discussion has reminded me of so many calls I heard as a young
Christian boy growing up in Bethlehem and Jerusalem: the false
prophets that have predicted the end days and the presence of the
anti-Christ are too numerous to list here. But I vividly remember
the very same Pat Robertson in 1982 as he spoke on C.B.N.'s "700
Club." He stood in front of a map of the Middle East, opened up a
copy of the Old Testamant and claimed to know what a particular
prophecy meant in geopolitical terms. As the Begin-Sharon army at
the time was besieging Beirut, he pointed out exactly what he said
would happen next. In particular he was keen to repeat that the
P.L.O.'s leader at the time, Yasir Arafat, was none other than the
anti-Christ himself.

Less than 13 years after that international broadcast, Robertson was
filmed visiting Arafat in Gaza, delivering food and milk to
Palestinians and applauding the peace agreement that Arafat had
signed with Israel's Yitzhak Rabin.

Christian Zionists who use religious rhetoric to justify political
and military actions are no better than Jewish or Islamic
fundamentalists who make similar outlandish claims. Peace in the
Middle East should be about the liberty, independence and freedoms
of all the people of the region, and not about whose promised land
the Holy Land is.

For the time being, I, as a Christian Palestinian, prefer to follow
the words of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount. "Blessed are the
peacemakers for they will be called the sons of God."



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