Contra Cruz or, I Support Israel’s Right to Exist, but I Support My Christian Family More

ChristtraThis is going to be a very long read, so let me go ahead and get the main point out of the way here: Ted Cruz was absolutely, 100% wrong for what he said. In telling persecuted Christians, “If you don’t stand with Israel, I don’t stand with you,” in his capacity as a senator for the United States of America, he effectively told these Christians that unless they give support to Israel, he will do all he can to avoid giving any aid to persecuted Christians.

Could you imagine what would have happened if President Obama said the same thing? He would be (rightfully) attacked by both the Left and the Right. In fact, Cruz has been attacked by both the Left and the Right. When traditionally conservative websites condemn what Cruz said, perhaps it’s best for Cruz to sit back and realize he’s in the wrong.

See, Cruz is a self-proclaimed believer, meaning he was telling his brothers and sisters in Christ that if they don’t support him on a political issue, he doesn’t support them. Now, there are times for Christians to turn against other Christians and those times typically involve some type of heresy. Churches have split over heresies, such as the Divinity of Christ or the Trinity. These divisions are expected and, while harmful, work to preserve the faith. Likewise, there are times to actively work against other self-proclaimed Christians, such as when a majority of German Lutherans supported the Nazis in their pursuit and eradication of the Jewish people (and other people). In these instances, it’s okay to take a stand against another Christian. But on the issue of Israel? None of these Christians are calling for genocide against the Jews and last time I checked one’s stance on the secular state of Israel isn’t a litmus test for pure doctrine, so what is Cruz thinking?  Continue reading

Can There Be Peace? Israel and Palestine


One of the most polarizing issues facing the world is that of Israel and Palestine. While one can find groups for a middle ground on a number of other issues, the Israeli-Palestinian issue seems to be cut-and-dry. Either one supports Israel in all its actions or one denounces Israel in all its actions and draws attention to the “plight of the Palestinian people.”

What everyone seemingly ignores is that both sides have legitimate claims on the land and subsequently both sides are engaging in genocidal acts and killing innocent civilians to validate their claims. One side calls on the Palestinians to stop their violent acts (and they should), but they don’t voice for the Israelis to stop oppressing the Palestinian people. Even if the Palestinian people stopped supporting violent acts against Israel, they would still be disenfranchised and forced to live in abject poverty.

Likewise, the other side calls on Israel to stop oppressing the Palestinians (and they should), but they don’t voice for the Palestinians to stop launching rockets into population centers or to stop targeting Israeli civilians. Many people on the “pro-Palestinian” side seemingly ignore or even partake in anti-Jew (it’s hard to say anti-Semitic since this would include Palestinians) propaganda. A simple perusal through the multiple Facebook groups and posts finds that the hatred extends beyond the so-called “Israeli Occupation,” but well into simply hating Jews.

It seems that those who support Israel believe the Palestinians should just up and leave, or die. It seems that those who support the Palestinians believe the Jews should just up and leave, or die. We have people who claim that the Palestinians are not really a people because they lack a culture and a language (can I use this same argument on the term “Americans”?), but turn around and you have people denying the Holocaust and saying that Jews don’t deserve to have rights. In the midst of it all, we have Christians denouncing Israel’s actions and taking up their old role of anti-Semitism, saying that the Jews persecute Christians and killed Christ, so why support Israel? Then we have Christians denouncing the Palestinians, declaring all actions of Israel justified as a way of self-preservation. In all of this blind rush to support one side or the other it seems that no one is really seeking actual peace.

What should the Christian position on this issue be? Regardless of how one feels about the Jews having their own nation (and rest-assured, for practical reasons they deserve their own nation; every other nation has persecuted them, so they need a safe-haven), the fact remains that they currently have one and it is currently located in Israel. We don’t need to turn to Biblical prophecy or anything like that to realize that Israel deserves to exist; Biblical prophecy has nothing to do with my beliefs on this (as I really don’t believe the current state of Israel to be a thing of prophecy). Rather, I think the Jews deserve to have their own land and it only makes sense for it to be in Israel, which already had a huge Jewish population in 1948.

Likewise, regardless of how one feels about the Palestinians having their own state (and rest-assured, for practical reasons they deserve their own nation; they’ve been massacred in all other nations they’ve gone to, so they need a safe-haven), the fact remains that they are people without a land and currently live in Israel. We don’t need to turn to Biblical prophecy or anything like that to denounce the existence of the Palestinians. They are people made in the image of God and therefore have certain rights.

So what’s the solution? Is there a middle ground on this issue?

Sadly, I simply don’t see a solution forming in any realistic sense. The idealists on both sides don’t realize that the only way for their solutions to formulate is for genocide to occur (either a complete killing of the Jews or a complete killing of the Palestinians). The Palestinian idealist and the Israeli idealist do share one common trait, and that is that both want to see the other side completely eradicated. For the Christian, this ought to be a far more complicated subject that it is; in short, an honest Christian cannot support the Palestinians or the Israelis. An honest Christian cannot support a system that is predominately run by radical Islamists who have no problem murdering innocent people, including their own people. Even if one admires their ends and their plight, at the point innocent civilians are targeted and treated as combatants, or used as human shields, one simply cannot support such a movement. Likewise, an honest Christian cannot support a secular state that seeks to oppress Christians as well as humans in general who aren’t of a certain ethnicity and religion. If Barak Obama attempted to pass laws in the United States against Christians that have been passed in Israel, there would be rioting and rebellion on the streets tomorrow morning. If we wouldn’t support it here, why should we support it overseas?

Ultimately, I think all political options have failed. I don’t think any amount of diplomacy will fix the problem at this point. Rather, politics has to wait for the cultures to catch up. In other words, the solution has to be found at a grassroots level among a small group of activists who just want peace. It needs to be a group that, instead of blaming one side more than the other, realizes that both sides are full of significant flaws that need to be corrected. Most importantly, they need to speak to their peers and do all they can to convince their peers that peace is far more preferable than continued bloodshed and animosity. Both sides need to find a way to avoid bloodshed and instead take on peaceful acts of civil disobedience; if bloodshed simply cannot be avoided, then it needs to stay between military combatants.

The arguments on both sides of number of Israeli deaths vs. number of Palestinian deaths, or the popular argument of “proportionate response” simply minimize this issue. The loss of life is not some brute and cold calculus that can be used to measure our response to a situation. Whether it is 18 Israelis dead to 100 Palestinians dead or 20 Palestinians dead to 40 Israelis dead, the fact is they’re dead. All military responses are inherently out or proportion to the initial attack – otherwise the military would never win. No war is won by even responses. This is the nature of warfare and why warfare should be avoided unless absolutely necessary; war will progress with disproportionate responses until one side finally says, “Enough,” or until one side is simply eradicated. Thus, to expect a proportioned response is naïve as no military that wants to achieve victory will ever do this. Instead, we need to cast aside our superfluous calculus and simply recognize that both sides are living in terror and both sides are mourning the loss of innocent loved ones.

As a Christian, I do believe that the Jews are God’s chosen people (for a more nuanced view of this, go here), but that doesn’t mean I need to support everything Israel does. Why should I support everything Israel does (a secular nation I might add, thus casting quite a bit of doubt that Israel fulfills any prophecy) when nowhere in the Bible do we find God supporting everything Israel does? Along the same lines, as a Christian I believe that all humans are made in the image of God and therefore should not be oppressed, but that doesn’t mean I should support the Palestinians in their actions against innocent civilians.

Thus, the Christian position is one that is ultimately one of non-support, but condemnation to both sides. I believe the Palestinians are made in God’s image. No amount of prophecy (or misinterpretations of Scripture), however, can convince me that God somehow wants them all wiped out or moved from the land of Israel. Such a belief is antithetical to the Gospel. At the same time, I believe the Jews are also made in God’s image. No amount of support for the oppressed, however, can convince me that the Palestinians are somehow justified in launching rockets into Israel or that all the Jews should be relocated. Again, such a belief is antithetical to the Gospel.

I do hope that one day there is peace. I hope one day the wall in Israel can be brought down, not for the sake of being brought down, but because there is no need for it. I hope one day to see two nations, not brokered by UN charters with UN “peacekeepers” at the border, but put together by both societies in a peaceful manner. I hope that one-day disputes over land are settled through negotiations and maybe even competitive trade, not through suicide attacks and helicopter gunships. Ultimately, I hope for peace, but this may just be a fool’s hope.

How the Palestinians can win independence (in a way)

The conflict between Israel and Palestinians has heated up quite a bit lately due to the attack on the “aid” flotilla sent to Gaza. This has left many wondering, “Can there ever be peace between Israel and the Palestinians?” Some Jews (and supporters of Israel) think that peace can only be found when the Palestinians leave Israel. Alternatively, many Palestinians (and supporters of Palestinians) believe peace can only be found when the Jews leave ‘Palestine’ (hat tip to Helen Thomas). The fact is, neither option is tenable or humane.

For the Jews, Israel holds significance for two reasons. First, it is their ancestral homeland. Their history centers around what occurred in Jerusalem, so much so that for 2,000 years Jews would always say, “Next year in Jerusalem.” Jerusalem was their home, given to them (in their minds) by God. While they faced various wars and occupations during their reign in Jerusalem, they at least had a home. After the Roman Empire expelled the Jews from Jerusalem in 70AD, they were on their own. Wherever they went they faced persecution. When the German princes, Italian provinces, French government, and Spanish inquisitors punished the Jews, the Jews went east and settled in Prussia and Hungary. How ironic that a few hundred years later, a population of over 7 million Jews in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia was reduced to a population of just over 6,000 in the modern day (not all died in the Holocaust, many fled to other countries). This points out the second reason why Israel holds significance for the Jews – it ensures that they are free from persecution.

The Jews have learned the hardway that just because a nation is friendly to them today does not mean they will be friendly tomorrow. As I pointed out above, the Polish government was friendly to the Jews, but eventually turned on them. Even the various German provinces under the Holy Roman Empire in the 16th century were friendly to Jews, but turned on them when financial crises hit or when plague hit. America has traditionally been friendly to the Jews, but there’s no guarantee that America won’t turn on them tomorrow. For the Jews, to have a homeland of their own is of vital importance; to have it on their ancestral grounds is even better.

In all of this, however, the Palestinians cannot be ignored. In Israeli society they have been treated as second-class citizens. They are not allowed to vote, not allowed to serve in the military, and so on. Granted, these measures are taken to keep a Jewish majority in the government and military, but it is still unfair to the Palestinians. Likewise, Israel’s neighbors of Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria have been quite unwilling to allow Palestinians to integrate into their respective societies. This leaves the Palestinian without a place to call home.

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Moral Equivalency

When asked what the biggest hurdle to the Middle East peace process was, Jimmy Carter said it was the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. I have to ask – did Carter fall down and hit his head somewhere between 1980 and the present day? 

Let’s look at a few facts:

* The biggest obstacle is most likely the fact that Hamas – the biggest governmental party for the Palestinians – does not recognize Israel as a legitimate nation

* It is the express intent of such terrorist organizations to “drive the Jews into the sea,” not back to the pre-1967 borders

* Like it or not, Israel won those lands in a battle against 6 different Arab nations. They didn’t take it from the nation of Palestine, because such a nation did not exist. Rather, those lands were owned by Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. There was no Palestinian government (or solidarity movement). It is the equivalent of saying the US needs to return the Southwestern portion of the United states to Mexico, or make it its own nation, even though we won that land in a war

* All land is taken from someone. The land of Israel is no different. It is currently owned by the Jews. Before that, the British. Before that, the Ottoman Empire. Before that, the Muslim armies under Saladin. Before that, the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. Before that, the French. Before that, the Muslim armies. Before that, the Eastern Roman/Byzantine Empire. Before that, the Roman Empire. Before that, the Jews. And the list goes on and on. Multiple nations have staked claim in Israel. To say that it belongs to the Palestinians – a bedouin people who decided to settle there – is quite absurd. 

* Israel often takes harsh actions against the Palestinians because the Palestinians are known for blowing Israelis up

* Even if we say the terrorism is a response to what Israel has done, does that make it right? Israel targets military targets surrounded by civilians, which inevitably leads to collateral damage. The Palestinians target civilian targets – the death of Israeli citizens aren’t collateral damage, they are the targets

* The Israelis have shown they wanted peace and want a co-existence with the Palestinians. The Palestinians have shown they want peace by the eradication of the Jewish government

Regardless of one’s religion or views of Biblical eschatology, from a purely rational point of view, Israel is in the right. Israeli settlements may hinder the peace process, but they are a far cry from the biggest obstacle. Every time Israel has done something to move toward peace, it has been met with rocket launches and bombs…and silence from those who want “peace” in Israel. Carter, Obama, Clinton…all of them are silent when rockets fall in Israel or busses are blown up. But the moment those Jews build a house on land they won in a war, well that’s just the biggest obstacle to peace. 

A nation with leaders such as these, leaders who are blind and don’t understand the first thing about justice, is a nation that will not survive, nor does it have a right to survive.