One of the great untold stories of the Middle East conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is that one side is guilty of the worst kind of ethnic cleansing and advocates a genocidal policy of extinction toward the other.
It is official policy of the Palestinian Authority and its supporters through the Arab and Muslim world that Jews cannot live in their territories and in any future Palestinian state. It remains to this day the official policy of the Palestinian Authority that the Jews of Israel must be wiped out, their state destroyed and its people annihilated.
Meanwhile, Israel grants full citizenship rights to Arabs, no matter what their religious affiliation. They vote. They elect leaders to the Knesset. They publish Arabic-language newspapers. They preach anti-Semitic hate sermons in their mosques. There is almost no limit to the freedom bestowed to Arabs of any faith in Israel. In fact, Arabs have more freedom in Israel than in any Arab or Muslim country in the world.
Nevertheless, despite this clear contrast, there are some misguided, myopic people who view this conflict and somehow construe the Israelis to be guilty of ethnic cleansing.
One of those people is Tony Campolo, a well-known evangelical leader in the U.S. who formerly served as a spiritual adviser to Bill Clinton.
Speaking to United Methodist leaders in Birmingham, Ala., earlier this month, he warned that too many Christians have become “evangelical Zionists” who favor ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the Middle East.
“The evangelical community has gotten so pro-Israel that they’ve forgotten how to love Palestinians,” Campolo told the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church, according to news accounts.
To underscore his point, he told an interviewer after the speech: “Some evangelicals have gotten caught up in the theology that before Christ can return, the Holy Land must belong to the Jews,” said Campolo, professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University in Pennsylvania. “They’re really advocating ethnic cleansing. There’s no justification for that in Scripture.”
This charge of Israeli ethnic cleansing is the 21st century version of the blood libel. Worse, perhaps. In effect, the Jews are being charged with the crime perpetrated against them.
Worse yet, Campolo hurls these misinformed accusations in the name of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
To comprehend the nature of this false witness against Israeli Jews and their Christian brothers and sisters who support them in America, you have to first appreciate that there has never been an Arab country known as Palestine in the history of the world.
The overwhelming number of Arabs in this territory today have come from other countries for very good and understandable reasons – jobs, economic opportunity, freedom that they have never known in their homelands.
The Israelis did not throw any Arabs out of their homes. Some left the region in 1948 at the urging of Arab leaders who declared a war on Israel the day it was reborn.
Why did they declare war? Because they didn’t want any Jewish state in the region. The U.N. had voted to create two nations – one Arab and one Jewish in the region of Palestine, but that was not acceptable to the Arabs.
It is still not acceptable to the vast majority of Arabs today. They want it all – and nothing less than the destruction of the Jewish state will satisfy them.
Campolo conveniently forgets that some 750,000 Jews – all living in Israel today – were kicked out of their homes in Arab and Muslim countries like Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, etc. They were forced out with little more than the clothes on their backs. Many didn’t make it at all. Many died in pogroms before they got the chance to leave.
The only people getting thrown out of their homes in the Middle East today are Jews – Jews who happen to have made the mistake of living in traditionally Jewish lands now claimed by the genocidal maniacs who control the Palestinian Authority and who say no Jews can live in their lands.
It’s happening now in Gaza. It is expected to begin soon in Judea and Samaria.
Hurling false accusations against the persecuted is not the Gospel of Jesus. Bearing false witness against Christians who seek to aid their Jewish brothers and sisters in Israel is not the Gospel of Jesus. Confusing misinformed political analysis with Scripture is not the Gospel of Jesus.