Monday, 7 March 2016

Barry Shaw: Jesus at the Check Post.




It’s that crazy Christian time of year in Bethlehem where traditional beliefs are thrown out of the church window.
March 7-10 will see the fourth rendering of that anti-Israel libel ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ played out yet again.
It is bad enough when devious Arab Islamic leaders, including Holocaust-denier Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, quote at Christmas time that Jesus was a “Palestinian messenger,” but it is something completely different when church leaders call Jesus a Palestinian. 
They know its lie, and yet they subscribe to this mantra. It leads one to question why they do it. Why do they go out of their way to deny the undeniable Jewishness of Jesus according to their own biblical commentaries? There can only be one inevitable conclusion. It’s anti-Semitism.
It was anti-Semitism that fed the brutal dogma that expelled and killed millions of Jews as European Christianity pursued Jews around the globe from Spain and Portugal into central and southern America in the name of Christendom. It was anti-Semitism at the heart of replacement theology that positioned God as having abandoned His Covenant to the Jewish people in favor of Christians. It is anti-Semitism that drives Christian leaders to abandon the Old Testament narration of a return to Zion of the Jewish people in favor of promoting the notorious Kairos Palestine Document. This document positions Palestinian Arabs as Jesus-figures deprived of their land, and Israelis as the Christ-killers. This blood libel is alive and well. It has shaken off the Christian shame of the Shoah, and found its voice in anti-Zionism.

Deconstructing the history of the Land of Israel in order to deny Jewish sovereignty is central to Palestinian policy. This narrative has been adopted by many Christians who have found a moral hook on which to hang their anti-Semitism, namely the transfiguration of who are the violent and devious actors and who are the victims. Clearly, they have repositioned Israelis and Jews as the oppressors, and a Palestinian society, despite it being one that has been incited against Jews carrying the racial hatred, violence, and terror, that has attacked to many innocent Israeli victims and made Palestinian Islamic heroes of the killers.
It is truly appalling how cynically deceptive some Christian leaders can be. They come up with causes that elicit emotional, but false, messages. Take “Jesus at the Check Post,” as an example. This is the name of the event taking place in Bethlehem this month. Christians will try to portray Jesus as a Palestinian suffering at an Israeli check post.  In support of the Palestinian narrative it carries the message “Your Kingdom Come!”
Had Jesus arrived at a check post this year he would have been reminded by the Israeli soldiers that, as a Jew, it would be too dangerous for him to cross into Bethlehem under Palestinian control, and his life would be in grave danger in a place that has become so radically Islamic that even the Christians have fled this once Christian town. 
Elias Freij, the Christian mayor of Bethlehem at the time of the town’s handover by Israel to Arafat’s PLO, correctly prophesized that Bethlehem would be a town of churches but no Christians. 
Participants that this event should be reminded that Israeli security forces arrested fourteen members of Islamic Jihad based in Bethlehem. During their search, they found weapons and explosives in the houses of the Bethlehem terrorists. At precisely the same time, the rector of London’s St. James’s Church, was organizing, at her church, a propaganda event called “Bethlehem Unwrapped.”  In a Guardian newspaper article, said she was supporting a “beautiful resistance.”  There was nothing “beautiful” in the blowing up of the bus near Tel Aviv that these Bethlelem-based Islamic terrorists attacked. Neither should churches be supporting such “resistance,” known to Israelis as terror attacks. This is the campaign and cause that some Christian leaders and the “Jesus at the Check Point” event promote, while hiding the truth of what is actually going on here. 
What is going on is that Israelis are being targeted for slaughter, as are Christians in the Muslim world, including within Palestinian-controlled areas. In Bethlehem, they are being persecuted and oppressed, not by Israel but by Palestinians, including the leadership.
Prior to Israel’s surrender of Bethlehem to Yasser Arafat’s PLO in 1995, the Christian population was actually growing beyond the 80% mark, but today Bethlehem’s Christians have been reduced to a mere ten percent. This can hardly be blamed on Israel, considering that the Christian population in the Jewish state continues to flourish. Since Israel’s founding in 1948, its Christian community has expanded more than a thousand percent.
 “Christ at the Check Point” is primarily a public relations plot to dissuade Evangelicals worldwide from their pro-Israel views. They state this openly in their mission statement. They wish “to create a platform for serious engagement with Christian Zionism” in order to pull them away from their support for Israel.
Mark Tooley of Front Page magazine wrote, “To succeed, they will have to put blinders on cooperatively gullible evangelicals, guiding their eyes towards disruptive Israeli checkpoints, while hiding the rest of the surrounding reality.”  
How right he is. It is this dishonest act that reveals their Anti-Semitism. It is not performed out of ignorance. It is done knowingly, as an act of deception of yet another Christian libel performed against the Jew, this time the national Jew, Israel. 

Participants at this event call themselves “peace activists.” They liberally cloak themselves with a moral message of peace but their actions concentrate on dumping down on Israel while ignoring Palestinian, official and unofficial, intimidation, threats and violence against the remaining Christians under their control, let alone against the Jews of Israel. The aim of this event is not peace, but division and bias against the Jewish state.
Stephen Sizer is one of the most vehement anti-Semites. A British Anglican, and a constant Israeli delegitimizer. In his book, “Christian Zionism - Road Map to Armageddon,” he suggests that "it is irresponsible to believe that God will bless Christians materially if they support the largely secular State of Israel." 
Some of Sizer's writings have been commended by Christians who embrace replacement and liberation theology. A prominent Christian opponent of Sizer, renowned Bible teacher, David Pawson, however, wrote a book called “Defending Christian Zionism.” Having a dig at Sizer, Pawson said, "I am grateful to Stephen Sizer for drawing attention to the legitimate criticisms of dispensational Zionism. He has rendered a service to the cause of Zionism which was needed." 
If truth were told they would bring an expert  to explain  the violently anti-Semitic denial of Jewish rights that is at the heart of anti-Israel Palestinian and Islamic campaigning and violence, and the reason why there are check posts.
However, there is no room for truth at “Christ at the Check Post.”  It is an exercise in trickery, deception, and replacement theology.


Barry Shaw,  Senior Associate for Public Diplomacy, Israel Institute for Strategic Studies, and author of best-selling books ‘Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism’ and ‘BDS for IDIOTS.’