Levellers

Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

U.S. Evangelicals Send Bush Letter On Israel-Palestine

In case you missed it, as I did, at first, on 27 July 2007, a group of U.S. Evangelical Christian leaders sent President Bush a letter endorsing a two-state solution for Israeli-Palestinian peace and urging more vigorous U.S. engagement in the peace process! They were, of course, denounced by Hagee and the “Christian Zionists,” but this did manage to quell the media-induced view that all U.S. evangelical Christians believe, with the “Christian Zionists,” that Palestinians have no claims on any part of the Land of Promise and that ethnic cleansing of all Palestinians from “Greater Israel” is God’s will.

To view the original letter and its initial signatories, click here.  On this page you can add your own name in support, plus additional comments to the White House. (Keep them clean and Christlike, folks.)  You can see the names of additional signers (including yours truly) here.  I’d also suggest sending a copy of this letter to your local newspaper and to your Congressional Representative and both Senators.  Write an op-ed about it for your local paper.  If we break the image of evangelicals as uniformly “Zionist,” we may do as much for Middle East peace as anything else. After all, U.S. politicians of all stripes know that Evangelical Christians are a powerful voting bloc.  Many may be more stridently pro-anything-Israel-wants not out of personal conviction, but out of a desire to remain in office. So, maybe it would be a good idea to send the letter to your favorite presidential candidate (or all of them in both major parties!), too.  Maybe the simple realization that Jimmy Carter isn’t the only evangelical Christian who wants a two-state Middle East peace will allow these politicians to act on their best convictions, instead of out of a mistaken belief that they will lose ALL of a powerful constituency unless they back every move of the Israeli far right.

August 21, 2007 - Posted by | Israel-Palestine

6 Comments

  1. Michael,
    Its obviously good news to see U.S. evangelicals clearly breaking ranks with the Christian Zionists. But I think that I’d have problems supporting this because (apart from the fact that I’m neither American or evangelical!) I don’t think that anyone other than the Palestinians has the right to impose a two-state solution on them. That may – or may not as the case may be, I’m becoming rather sceptical about it – be the best solution in the situation but it involves giving a lot of ground and I don’t think that outsiders can expect that of a subjugated people.

    And as for the language of blessing the state of Israel … we’re talking about a situation in which Israel’s very right to exist is disputed – and not without reason! To speak of blessing it in that context sounds, well, perhaps better than the Christian Zionists, but still rather problematic!

    Comment by Macrina | August 21, 2007

  2. I would have written the statement differently, Macrina, but most Palestinians still support a two-state solution–well over 90%. The “one state” solution, modeled on post-apartheid South Africa, of allowing Palestinian birthrates to eventually overwhelm Israel is not workable. It turns Israeli moderates into hardliners and is a recipe for years more of repression–which most Palestinians know all too well. I read releases from the Palestinian News Network weekly.

    I would, however, have written this statement with strong language about the need IMMEDIATELY to tear down the apartheid wall/”security fence.” And, I would have endorsed stronger plans than the stalled “road map.”

    But I don’t expect perfect statements. Whether or not I am “evangelical” depends on who is using the term and in what way. But my concerns about the statement’s warning or about issues with the word “evangelical,” Macrina, paled before the need to support this alternative to Christian Zionism. We must never allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. I signed this as a “first step,” and I included my call for stronger measures in my comments.

    If you cannot sign this in good conscience, Macrina, can you commend it to evangelical friends–who may have contacts with evangelicals in the U.S.?

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | August 21, 2007

  3. Hey Michael,

    I was happy to see the American National Director for my denomination on the signees list (Vineyard). I was involved with ESA way back when it started, but unfortunately didn’t fully appreciate what they were doing at the time. Live and learn eh? Thanks for pointing this out. Hagee is hardly representative of the majority of evangelical.

    Frank

    Comment by Frank Emanuel | August 21, 2007

  4. Thanks for dropping by, Frank. I was involved with ESA in the ’80s, too, but I dropped out when they began to make what I considered too many compromises over military and economic issues. Later, I thought of re-joining when they moved back to what I thought of as their original position on these kinds of issues, but, by then, I had become an inclusive revisionist on GLBT issues–and this is a complete non-starter for Ron Sider and ESA. So, I simply cooperate where I can–where we have common ground–without attempting to join where I don’t really fit.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | August 21, 2007

  5. Christian Zionism is a contradiction in terms. Our Lord said “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:36)

    People who try to force the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven by means of money and weaponry are like Barabbas, or Judas who betrayed our Lord for the price of a piece of land.

    By their fruits you shall know them. Murder, theft, cruelty, heartlessness, immorality, pornography, drug-dealing – these are all hallmarks of the State of Israel. True Jews who follow the Torah, of which there are many and whom we Christians are obliged to defend, do not do these things.

    Comment by Tom | January 26, 2009

  6. I agree that “Christian Zionism” is self-contradictory, but I use the term not with approval or disapproval, but as the self-description of the movement–which is quite large in American conservative Christian circles.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | January 26, 2009


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