Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Some U.S. Christians Rank Cult of Israel above Teachings of Christ

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Some U.S. Christians Rank Cult of Israel above Teachings of Christ

Article excerpt

Some U.S. Christians Rank Cult of Israel Above Teachings of Christ

Do literally millions of U.S. "Christian fundamentalists" put a cult of Israel above the teachings of Christ? Do they not care that, in the Land of Christ, Israeli tactics of confiscation of land belonging to Christians, denial of building permits to Christians, and denying Christians access to their jobs are creating a new and terrible Christian exodus?

I dealt with Exodus II in the March-April issue of the Link, published by Americans for Middle East Understanding (AMEU). * Responses to that article, entitled "In the Land of Christ, Christianity is Dying," indicate that for some U.S. Christians, whatever Israel does is fine with them.

* Copies of the January-March issue of the Link may be obtained from AMEU, Room 570, 475 Riverside Dr., New York, NY 10115, tel. (212) 870-2053. Copies of Jewish History, Jewish Religion by Dr. Israel Shahak may be obtained from the same address for $15.50 each.

For example, my own cousin Henry, who lives in my home state of Texas, wrote to say he had read the Link article. Regarding the death of Christianity in the Land of Christ, he at first seemed to share my concern: "Can you imagine the Holy Land becoming an amusement park--with the Israelis owning all of it," he wrote, "and Christians paying to gain entrance to the Holy Sepulcher and the manger where Christ was born?" But then he added, "Well, maybe those age-old animosities will never be solved. Maybe we should just let the Israelis manage it!"

My cousin seemed to be saying: Let the Israelis be in charge of our Christianity, let them tell us what our faith really means, what we should believe, and then if they say a cult of Israel is above the Sermon on the Mount, so be it.

A friend, a woman professor at a Texas university, wrote that she was "alarmed" by the Link article. She suggested it should be made widely available and added: "How about sending it to denominational papers, to allow them to reprint it?" It's a good idea, and I know one regional officer at a major Protestant denomination has ordered copies for every minister of his denomination in the district for which he is responsible. But how many Washington Report readers can actually name an American church paper that might print, or even consider for publication, any article raising questions regarding Israeli treatment of Palestinians? (I'll exclude Christian Century from this contest. Its editor, James Wall, has written on exactly the same subject both in 1994 and now again in 1995.)

Responses to my article raise a second question: Do some U.S. Christians believe that Jews read the Bible in the same way Christians do? Many apparently do.

For example, Sara Mae, a friend in Washington, DC, telephoned after reading the article to say she found the situation "alarming." And then she told me this story: She and her Aunt Pearl signed up for a tour of the Land of Christ. Because of some incident in the news, most of the other tourists dropped out. This meant that Sara Mae and her aunt had a guide all to themselves. "He took us around to the Christian sites, and he read from the New Testament," she told me. "He was a--[pause] a Hebrew," Sara Mae continued, using her ancient terminology to indicate she had an Israeli Jew for a guide. "He carried a New Testament, and at the Christian sites, he read so beautifully, so movingly. …

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