December 16, 2018

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A Palestinian Christian tries to convince American Christian evangelists to oppose Israel

The Christian Post published two articles by Rev. Dr. Jack Y. Sara, a Jerusalem-born Christian leader, on why Americans should not support Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The arguments reveal more than perhaps Rev. Sara wanted.

Because reports indicate that it was primarily American evangelicals who encouraged President Trump to make this declaration, the term “evangelical” has become increasingly despised in our region. When our people hear American evangelicals speak, they assume that all evangelicals (or maybe even all Christians) believe the same things. This makes it easy for them to dismiss Christianity and its message.

…For many years, we Arab evangelicals have been “guilty by association.” We’ve been criticized or stigmatized with the label of Zionist. Sadly, it is because of our evangelical brethren overseas that we have had to work twice as hard to maintain our witness here—and there are many who have no interest in hearing us at all.

Rev. Sara is saying that if his fellow evangelists we want to convert Muslims to Christianity – which is their main concern – then they cannot be seen as being pro-Israel, or else their job is twice as hard!

This is not a new concern for right wing Christians. Many were opposed to any part of Jerusalem being under Jewish control in 1948 for similar reasons – that Jewish control of the city would make it more difficult for them to convert Muslims.

But the underlying theme, whether Sara admits it or not, is that without antisemitism, the Arabs won’t listen to the message of Christ.

My next point is that Mr. Trump’s declaration is not in line with the Biblical teaching of justice and thus, it undermines the peace process. “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favor to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly” (Leviticus 19:15). Leaders should issue words of reconciliation and make every effort to be true and impartial mediators. They should not be instruments for division and the escalation of violence.

There is nothing wrong with justice, but there is something very wrong with the assumption that “justice” means a Jerusalem that is divided, a Jerusalem where Jews cannot freely worship, and a Jerusalem where Christians will be persecuted by the Muslim population as they are in the rest of the Middle East.

Sara reluctantly admits:

I would be remiss if I did not mention that many Christians throughout the Middle East and North Africa suffer because of their faith. It is also true that when some of the regimes in the Middle East are compared to the state of Israel, Christians here are flourishing in comparison. But why should those religiously oppressive regimes be the standard of comparison for Israel? Should we praise what is bad just because it could be worse somewhere else? 

Of course, Sara will not say specifically how Palestinian Muslims have driven out tens of thousands of Christians.  And even worse, he says:

When atrocities are committed against Christians or anyone else—in any context—we should be prophetic voices within the nations that we live.

He is saying that Israel commits “atrocities” against Christians. This is slander. And in the context of ignoring Palestinian crimes against Christians, he reveals that he is not interested in “justice” at all.

I pray that my evangelical brethren will engage in more reconciliation efforts in the Middle East instead of indirectly inciting violence through their statements. I pray that instead of pouring millions of dollars into activities that are secondary, they would join us by investing in true kingdom work throughout this region. I believe if these millions were spent in efforts to bring the people to Jesus, we would have already seen revival here.

Does Sara really think that in the State of Palestine, his efforts to convert Muslims would be tolerated any more than they are in any Muslim country?

In his follow up article, Rev. Sara rehashes old lies:

In neighborhoods like Shu’afat, the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem—many of them people who lost their homes in 1948 and 1967—are not allowed Israeli citizenship and live in walled-off, slummy neighborhoods that receive very little municipal support for things like pavement, schools, electricity and other amenities— though they pay the same municipal taxes as everyone else in Jerusalem.

They are allowed to apply for Israeli citizenship as Jerusalem residents. Most don’t. And the reason they don’t get their share of municipal services is because they refuse to allow any Israeli officials to go there to help them – ambulances and garbage trucks get stoned on arrival.

Of the negative responses that I received on my article, sadly, most of them were old-school arguments, based on misinterpretation of Scripture. None of them were brave enough to answer my primary question: What is their good news for the Palestinian people and what is their Gospel for the Arab nations in the Middle East?
Since God’s “restoration plan” has not worked so far according to their plans, I hope that more of them will begin to depart from Dispensational theology.

Sara is saying here that Christians must depart from the idea that Israel is the fulfillment of prophecy. Instead, he urges them to believe in replacement theology, where the Church has replaced Israel, Israel as a nation is rejecting God and the Jews who stubbornly remain Jewish are problematic.

Replacement theology/supercessionism is antisemitic. And, ironically, Israel’s existence today is the biggest threat to age-old Christian supercessionist antisemitism.

Which is the real problem Rev. Sara has with today’s Christian Zionists. A proud Jewish nation completely contradicts his antisemitic vision of how the world should work, how the Church is the entity to replace the Jews in Biblical prophecy. The existence of the Jewish state is a direct threat to his entire worldview.

Everything else is a smokescreen.

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