"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My "Enlightened Viewpoint" re: Israel

So here is another in my "stepping out of my box and changing my mind" series that I first discussed here.

Last month E and I were still talking on that same thread where he asked me about my views on Islamic jihad and sharia, (I shared my views on that here) and he could tell I wasn't fawning over Israel as much as I should have been.  I mean we grew up in churches and households that strongly supported God's Chosen People. And even if we didn't support them on religious grounds, how about the fact that they are our strongest ally and "the only democracy in the Middle East" surrounded by those angry Arabs and Persians who hate them so much they want to wipe them off the map?  For all its superpower status which puts us in some ways at the top of the heap, Americans tend to love a worthy underdog. And poor little Israel with its persecuted Jews fit the bill in a region of the world full of strife and multitudes of non-Jews who hated these people for daring to reclaim their ancestral lands.

OK, let's leave the land stuff alone and even who has rightful dibs on it.  I say the land belongs to God and I am extremely sorry to see what people do to each other for the sake of land.

Anyway, E noticed my replies weren't adding up to what should be 'normal' for me.  I think I had mentioned how awful life was for the Palestinians which prompted this:

Susanne, that's just not true. UN reports say that food, medicine, and humanitarian supplies are uninterrupted. Weapons, on the other hand are being stopped.

I can understand why they do what they do. The god of this world has blinded their eyes. The hatred of the Jewish people began where you say it did. From that time, they have been suffering persecution. Slavery in Egypt, Herod, attacks from all sides, Hitler, more attacks from all sides.

I believe that the persecution will never end until God puts an end to it; and despite what Daniel says, I know you know what the Bible says about that.

Forget what others believe, what do you believe? Do you believe the Bible account of the end days? I do, or do you have a more "enlightened viewpoint"?

So I decided to share

My "enlightened" view just for E: :-)

E, I'm not denying there has been hatred of the Jews since ancient times. I believe Satan would like for this ethnic group to have been destroyed in order for the Messiah (whom I consider the Savior of the world) to never come. Of course he failed. God always preserved a remnant and even when Israel went "whoring after other gods", He was always faithful to His promise to Abraham. Not because of the Jews' innate goodness, but because of God's.

I think many American Christians have taken Genesis 12:3 as their way for dealing with the current Israel which was established by mostly secular Zionists such as Hertzl who mocked the OT as a book of fables. He used it to his advantage, however, and knew when to use it as "Thus saith the Lord" when appealing to religious folks.

Genesis 12 talks about God blessing those who bless Abraham's descendants and cursing those who curse them, correct? I am fine with that. I believe the Bible. But I ask now what does blessing someone mean? Does it mean being OK with them mistreating others or does it mean encouraging them to do right in God's sight? God dispersed the Jews into other nations because of their unfaithfulness to Him. The OT Prophets often scolded Israel for injustice, lack of mercy and their arrogance. How is this different from today? Do we suddenly wink at their sins because we want to "bless them" (which being interpreted is: do whatever evil, sinful thing you want and we will pat you on the back and give you more money because WE ARE STANDING WITH YOU, O ISRAEL!)? You don't bless a drug addicted child by giving him drug money and okaying his lifestyle. You get him help. You show him the forgiveness and life changing power of God.

I'm not arguing about End Times happenings. I'm talking about the here and now and treating people as God wanted the Israelites of old to treat those living with them.

"The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God." (Lev. 19:34)

I have Christian missionary friends living in the West Bank and they have seen the situation first hand unlike most of us. I'm not saying everything is Israel's fault, but neither do I give them a blanket endorsement. Many of their policies perpetuate the cycle of hatred. This is what I want us to understand better. I'm not debating or trying to change minds on your interpretation of the end times. I'm simply saying we need to remember Jesus' words about loving our enemies and the reminders in Scripture.

"If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink."

We can't expect Jews to follow Jesus' commands, but I surely can expect my fellow Christians to obey their Lord if they truly claim to follow Him. Why do we not take Jesus seriously?

We can leave all the end time stuff to God. We can't bring it to pass any earlier or later by trying to finagle things in the region so everything is right for Jesus to return. But we can take Jesus seriously and love all people -- even our enemies. Leave the vengeance stuff to God. Let's be faithful in sharing -and living- the good news of Jesus with a world that needs Him. That is what will change things in the region.

I hope that helps explain where I am coming from. Thanks for your questions. I'm glad I had a chance to share my thoughts on this topic.

Any thoughts, corrections,questions or details to add?  Do you think I'm silly for expecting followers of Jesus to see Palestinians with love and compassion instead of solely as enemies because they hate Israel?  What do you think?


Carmen said...

Do I think you're silly? No.

My question, are the Palestinians expected to not hate too? Or just the Americans?

Are you asking America to side with the Palestinians or are you asking them simply to not take sides?

So it's wrong for Israel to kill. Is it also wrong for Israel to be attacked? Or is that justified?

We all feel entitled really. IT's hard to be the first side to step back and stop when there have been thousands of years of animosity and war and hatred.

It's hard for me to personally even approach the subject because it seems like it's answerless. Not only answerless but I certainly feel powerless in it all.

I'm not being facetious. I guess I just feel like there are sides. Either you have to be with Israel or you are with their enemies. Seems to me their both mad the other for how they are being treated but it's the same way in how they treat their enemy.

If I'm not supposed to approve of Israel's ways, do I hold their enemies to the same standards?

Carmen said...

they're both mad, not their.


Amber said...

You know I don't think about Israel very much. Certainly not in the Jews must live in the Holy Land sort of way. I wasn't raised that way. It was never a part of our beliefs and all I can see when I look at it is a bunch of people killing each other. It's tragic and that's all it is.

Why do Americans support Israel against all arguments? Against any and all evidence that they are committing terrible crimes against Palestinians? Some because they believe that it's justified. Some because they've fallen for the right-wing fundamentalist evangelical story that the Jews *deserve* and have a God given right to the land, come hell or high water. They think, whether they want to articulate it or not, that by creating a Jewish state in Israel that they're following God's plan and ushering in the Apocalypse. And, of course, that they'll be among the ones 'taken up' when Jesus returns. Because they're such shiny people. :(

You can point to both sides and say, 'but they'. No one has behaved well over there. Not at this point. It's a clusterfuck through and through.

As far as I'm concerned, the only good thing to have done would not to have forced the creation of Israel in the first place.

Durriyyah said...

Ahhh, Israel. *sigh* This topic brings a lot of emotion with it for many people. Personally, I very much admire your viewpoint on this. Too many of us pick a side and just say "they started it!" or we throw our hands up and say "it has gone on since forever... there's nothing we can do."

We could stop sending military aid to Israel, for one. Then maybe the rockets would be fought back with rockets and not bombs and jet planes. It is grossly one sided in terms of who has military power.

I highly suggest watching Occupation 101. Sadly, it isn't available on Netflix, but you can see it here on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWpOqAitZLs

Carmen said...

Just wanted to add that in no way do I think I'm right, my stance is right, or that I have the answers. Quite the opposite actually. I don't trust our news sources to give us the truth. I don't expect those covering Israelis or Palestinians to either though.

I have a hard time believing truth is available to any of us when it comes to conflict, war, or even peace. In that sense, enlightenment feels really far away for me.

I don't want to others to feel I'm attacking, so if my previous post came off that way. I'm really sorry.

Susanne said...

Amber, but, but, but *splutters*...I am a shiny person! ;-)

" They think, whether they want to articulate it or not, that by creating a Jewish state in Israel that they're following God's plan and ushering in the Apocalypse."

You know, I don't even think they believe *they* were following God's plan, but that God created the Zionist State and it was a prophecy being fulfilled. So I don't blame them for that because most people alive today never were influential in creating Israel. But I do think they believe they should bless Israel (Genesis 12) and my argument is that you don't bless murders by giving them more weapons and by OKing their racism against others. I think we need to analyze what "blessing Israel" involves. Does it mean we approve of everything they do? God never did. *shrug*

"As far as I'm concerned, the only good thing to have done would not to have forced the creation of Israel in the first place."

The more I learn about how this was done and how the British played both sides lying to the Palestinians, I have to agree. It's so tragic and makes sense why there are such hard feelings in the land. What was done in the early to mid 1900s and since then has never been addressed except with hatred and bloodshed. It's so sad especially when some Zionists will use the Bible in order to appeal to fellow Jews taking the land, but they don't see the call for treating those living among them as brothers such as the verse I quoted above from Leviticus.

Thanks for your feedback!

Durriyyah,nice to see you again! Hope you are doing well these days!

I enjoyed your comment and I appreciate the link! I agree that the Israelis often counterattack with way more force than is necessary since they have the weapons to do so. It's a very sad situation all around.

Thank you for dropping by!

Susanne said...

Carmen, thanks for your feedback and your good questions. I'll try to answer them now.

"My question, are the Palestinians expected to not hate too? Or just the Americans?"

I'm speaking to followers of Jesus Christ. Like I said, I don't expect Jews (most of Israel) to live this way, but I do expect American believers who follow Jesus to love their enemies whether those enemies are Arabs, Israelis, Muslims, Jews, Palestinians, fellow Christians, etc. I don't expect Palestinian Muslims to not hate because they are not required to. But Christians are required to feed their enemies and love them. There needs to be SOME difference Jesus makes in our lives, right?

"Are you asking America to side with the Palestinians or are you asking them simply to not take sides?"

I'm asking American followers of Jesus to be more balanced. They tend to be SO into Israel that they will damn anyone against Israel without, first, knowing the other side and why there are problems in the region. And second, if you still consider the Palestinians your enemy, fine. You love them per Jesus's instructions.

Susanne said...

Carmen, cont.

"So it's wrong for Israel to kill. Is it also wrong for Israel to be attacked? Or is that justified?"

Again, Americans need to better understand the situation. Why do the Palestinians attack? Could it be they are being nearly starved to death (Gaza) and mistreated? I just finished a book by a doctor from Gaza who explained how he grew up and the situation there. He is working towards peace with the Israelis because he says hatred is a disease. I have two book reviews from 2008. I'd really like for you to read them just to hear a few examples of things going on there. Americans for the most part have been fed the Israeli side because our media is very pro-Israel and the Israeli lobby (AIPAC) is among the top ten most influential lobbies in the US. Plus we have a multitude of Christian Zionists who believe they should never criticize Israel and everything Israel does is justified even when they do not know the whole situation and have never bothered to learn. Or if they do know it, they dismiss it. Again, if your enemy is hungry, feed him. Overcome evil with good. It's amazing how these Christian pastors will dismiss Jesus as if Jesus were a lunatic!

Please read these when you get a chance.



"If I'm not supposed to approve of Israel's ways, do I hold their enemies to the same standards?"

Yes, and again this is more for how *Christians* should look at both sides. If you consider Israel your friend, fine. But urge your friend to do what is pleasing to God so he will avoid God's wrath. (God never excuses Israeli murder and oppression in the Prophets. One example: look at Isaiah 1.) If you consider Palestine your friend, fine. Do the same. Tell them to do what is right. But again since they are mostly not Christians, we can't expect them to do what we want, so we have to look at ourselves. How do we treat each group? Do we wink at sins of either or do we urge goodness and fair treatment and forgiveness on both sides? And again, if you come down against the Palestinians after weighing all the evidence, that's not an excuse to hate them. In fact you must do something only possible through Christ who strengthens you: you must love them.

My urging is for my fellow believers. Those who want to take Jesus seriously. That was my whole point in my Facebook talk with E (above). I do expect a better response from true followers of Jesus. It's time we step up to the plate and start taking Jesus' "love your enemies" talk seriously and stop this pussyfooting around it justifying our hatred of others with violence.

Thank you for your comment!

Amber said...

Blogger ate my comment! *grrrrr*

Basically, my question is, how are we defining the Israel we are supposed to bless? Are we talking only about those who are genetically Jewish? Or about those who are religiously Jewish? Which do you think God meant when He said we were to bless them?

I believe He meant those who followed the Jewish faith. So the current state of Israel is not what we are meant to be blessing. It is not what God intended. They don't, as a state - there are individuals within who do -, follow God's commandments and Laws.

I think there are some 'Christians' who support Israel, even those who helped to create it who honestly believed that they were either instruments of God, helpless to do anything but everything and anything that they could to force Israel into existence, or that they were jump starting the 'prophecy' so they could get the end of the world rolling. I view what they've done and continue to do as attempted global suicide/homicide. They're trying to kill themselves and everyone else by proxy. Because it'll be God's will, won't it? /end sarcasm

There are far more calls in the OT to kill every non-Jewish person in the land of Israel to make it clean for the Jewish tribes than there are for them to treat the aliens among them well.

Susanne said...

Amber, good question re: who are considered Israel. You also have some Christians who believe the true Israel are those who have accepted Jesus per some of Paul's teachings in Romans 11 or thereabouts. So, yeah, are we talking about ethnic Jews, religious Jews or those who have been grafted into the family via Christ? Good thought.

True. Those who created Israel probably did think they were helping God along in bringing life on earth as we know it to an end. Maybe we are reaping now what we have been sowing over the years.

Yes, you are right in saying that there are a lot of "kill them all" statements in the OT, but I like to appeal to the other since we aren't in that time or place any more. :) Hey,if we are going to follow God's Law within Judaism and Israel,why not point out this forgotten (or not-quoted-often) one?

Sadly I've often heard CHRISTIANS use those passages as justification for the Israelis to mass slaughter the Palestinians! It doesn't matter to them that Jesus came with a new covenant and told people to not only love their neighbors, but also their enemies. It doesn't matter that Jesus set the example of reaching out to and offering salvation to non-Jews in the region (e.g. the Samaritan woman, the Syro-Phonecian woman, etc.). All that matters is Joshua failed to complete the mission thousands of years ago,so Jews today must finish the job. All from people who say they follow Jesus. I don't see how that much hate for a population can exist in one who truly follows Christ.

Sorry blogger ate your comment...annoying! I am writing in Gmail so my draft is being saved as I type. I have had too many comments eaten so I try to take precautions when remember! :)

Susanne said...

I was so glad to see a pastor finally speak up for someone other than the State of Israel. My brother actually posted this on his Facebook profile so I got it from him.

Israel, Arabs, and the Family of God


Becky said...

I very much agree with your points! I think this is an incredibly important issue, which is way too often ignored (usually to the advantage of Israel and status quo). I grew up in a very pro-Israel family, but when I was 18 I ended up in a school with several stateless Palestinians, which slowly started affecting how I see things, by understanding things from their point of view. Then about a year ago, I started reading about and articles by the Israeli journalist Amira Hass ( http://www.haaretz.com/misc/writers/amira-hass-1.278 ). She's Israeli (born to parents who both survived the Holocaust), but has lived and worked in Gaza, she doesn't favour either side, rather she criticizes both equally.
There are definitely wrong on all sides, but we are giving preference to Israel on all accounts, and that's not right in my opinion.

Susanne said...

Becky, I'm glad you can relate! Yes, it really changes your mind when you hear the other side and make an effort to understand their perspective is also valid. Thanks for your feedback!

Carmen said...

There needs to be SOME difference Jesus makes in our lives, right?


I have read those posts previously, but I will revisit them. When you asked at facebook what you wish was the one thing that people knew about your country or state, and I said I didn't want to answer, I was specifically thinking about this issue.

I am not as educated on the world as I should be. However, I wish other people understood how hard it is to be an American and feel judged constantly.

Americans are human just like the rest of the world. We don't always do the right thing. We live in a country where we vote for politicians who are going to say one thing and do another. I feel like there is this world push for Americans to see how bad we really are for never being able to choose a "right" side. IF we help someone, we're wrong. If we don't help someone, we're wrong. If we give money, we're wrong, if we don't, we're wrong.

I certainly don't hate either group of people. That goes against the teachings of Jesus, as you've said. You brought up us as Christians, but I also believe our government has been specifically brought up on this issue before. The two are very much separate.

Although, we as Christians, want to think we are a Christian country, we are not. If others across the oceans are judging us by the label of Christian country, I'm afraid they are going to be on a road of continual anger and disappointment.

So, practical question, what can one do on a very, very practical level? So you educate yourself, then what?

I don't think I hate either side. Honestly, I've admitted a rather hopelessness about it, but it's definitely not hatred.

Susanne said...

Carmen, thanks for your thoughts. I'm glad you admitted what you had thought of back when I asked that question on Facebook. Glad to know what you were not willing to share that day.

Yes, I do often criticize our government's role in Israel/Palestinian issues...very true. There are a few reasons for this, but the main one is that the Israel lobby - AIPAC - is one of the most influential lobbies. Recently I posted this article on FB and said how much I hate bullying lobbyists.

"The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), makes clear to them that touching the aid package will mean big trouble for them in the next election....If only infants, working Americans, and the poor were somebody's special interest. Maybe then, someday, they too could intimidate congress."


I don't think ANY special interest group should have this much control over OUR government. Our gov't is there to represent US, not another country. And when programs are cut to American citizens yet AIPAC threatens if we cut their aid...this bothers me like crazy! Do you know they have BOTH parties, MOST libs and conservatives - everyone - under their control? The very few who dare to speak out against them are often threatened and they work AGAINST them in the next elections. I think it's criminal for any lobbying group to have this much power.

That is the main reason I talk about our gov't and connect them with Israel. They are grossly unfair in the matter.

And, sadly, people overseas often DO see our country as Christian. WE know it is not because many Americans do not follow Jesus even if they call themselves Christians. But overseas they see us as Crusaders (religious Christians who are coming to kill Muslims) and they see us as hateful people. I've heard they often fear evangelical Christians getting power - why? BECAUSE WE ARE MORE LIKELY TO SUPPORT WAR! Why in the world are people called to love their enemy and feed their hungry enemy known instead of being the most pro-war group? It may not be a true picture of us, but sadly, I DO see it. Too often. And I am reminded of books I've read that show us that people think of Christians for all the negatives instead of good things. We do a very poor job of showing Christ to the world. So, yeah,I get on my soapbox because I am really tired of this. I think this is taking God's name in vain. We are supporting a war mentality and a very unjust system and calling ourselves Christians so I just have gotten more bothered by this in recent years. I guess meeting folks from overseas and realizing how we come across has made me more sensitive to this.

I don't like America bashing.It makes me sad and hurt to read it on blogs of foreigners, but then I think, "Well, that must be how we come across to them" and it makes me wonder if we deserve it. Do we put off these arrogant (or whatever) vibes? The Bible says to whom much is given of him much will be required so I guess since we make ourselves part of nearly every worldwide situation, we should be man and woman enough to be criticized. Maybe if we were not involved in so many countries, trying to make them obey (when we often break the same rules) then we wouldn't be criticized so much.

Susanne said...

I admit that it hurts, but when people criticize maybe we should ask them why. What are we doing wrong? Tell me your perspective. How do you see us? Why do you feel that way? If you are honest and humble in asking people, you can often learn a lot about how we are perceived. Maybe we are doing something culturally wrong that offends people when we are really trying to help? Maybe we did a good deed, but had too many strings attached? It's fun (sometimes more than others...ha!) to talk to others and find out why they think the way they do and learn from them. That would be the biggest suggestion that I have. This is one reason I often put things on FB that I hope will attract readers from various backgrounds so we can hear other points of views and learn from each other.

I really appreciate your comment and your willingness to learn. I've learned how important having a teachable spirit is. And never underestimate listening to others. Try to leave defensiveness at the door and just listen and recognize other people have perspectives. I think our willingness to listen and try to understand (does NOT mean we have to agree) works wonders in opening doors. Oh, also ask God to help you understand others and see their needs through His eyes. Doing this in our own power is rather pointless.

Thanks for your follow-up feedback! :)

Carmen said...

Totally agree, no special interest group should have that much power, control or influence.

You're right, listening is definitely a way to learn more and I should do that more often. =)

The world is a very volatile place right now.