Anti-Zionist Christians

The day before yesterday, we are told, the Church of the Disciples of Christ demanded that Israel tear down its security fence, which has saved countless of Jewish women and children from being blown to smithereens. Twisting the words of Ronald Reagan, Minister William McDermet III of Panama, N.Y., shouted into the microphone to the assembled delegates,

"Say to Ariel Sharon, 'Tear down this wall!'"

Well, the Rev. McDermet is either a fool or a demagogue, but I suspect the latter, since even a fool can distinguish between a defensive wall and a prison wall. It is difficult to imagine the towering heights of spiritual arrogance required for an American minister, living fat, dumb and happy 6,000 miles away from any danger, to demand that the people of Israel expose the lives of their children to endless terrorist assaults.

For twenty centuries many Christians have tried to live a Christ—like life. Their ideas about what that meant has varied, according to their concept of Jesus ———  who was called the Messiah, the anointed one or Christos in Greek. Anointing the hair with sacred oil was of course the ceremony by which a descendant of the House of David was crowned King of Israel, also called Zion. Sometimes the desire to imitate Christ has inspired actions that would have seemed strange to the historical Jesus. But none could be more bizarre and morally perverse than the current movement among leftwing Christian clergy to make their churches turn away from Israel. For the historical Jesus must have been a passionate Zionist, just like all the faithful Jews of his time.

Recently the Episcopal Church voted to disinvest from Israel; the Anglicans have done so; and the Disciples of Christ simply denounced the Israel security fence. Disinvestment is not a serious economic threat to Israel, because other investors will come forward to fund productive economic enterprises. Rather, it is a symbolic excommunication of Israel from the world of nations. In the same way, the failed effort by the Hard Left in Britain to boycott Israeli universities was an act of excommunication, as if Israel were South Africa. A million full—fledged Arab citizens of Israel know better; they are not inclined to move only a few miles, in order to live under the Palestinian terror regime.

Such self—righteous Leftist campaigns are never directed against Stalinist North Korea, which just in the last few years has starved hundreds of thousands of its people to death, nor against the genocidal regime of the Sudan, which has waged murderous jihad and slave—taking against African Christians and animists for the last twenty years. No, leftwing church disinvestment is exclusively reserved for what its cutthroat enemies call "the Zionist entity."

The very word "Zionist" has now been tarred by a generation of anti—Israel propaganda, most of it easily seen to be false — except to the True Believers of the Left, who are quite happy to think the worst about democratic Israel.  Most Leftist Churches have given up their faith in God, and substituted instead faith in the Left.  They are therefore simply following a political party line, certainly not the example of Christ.

A Zionist is one who supports the national liberation of the Jews in their land, living in peace with Arabs and Christians. Jesus was a Zionist, because the land of Zion was oppressed by the iron fist of the Roman Empire during his lifetime. His home of Galilee was known as an endless source of rebellion against Roman rule. The rise of Jesus as a figure of religious adoration was therefore viewed by the Roman Empire, and by the Jews who appeased it, as a political threat. Jesus the anointed one took upon himself the symbolic Kingship of the Jewish people. In the first century land of Zion  there was no difference between religious and political nationhood. Whatever else he was, Jesus was a Zionist.

Crucifixion was the Roman method of executing rebels. Forty years after the crucifixion of Jesus, the landscape of Jerusalem was dotted with tens of thousands of Roman crosses, bearing the dying bodies of the Jewish rebels of 70 CE, the date of the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem. That was where Jesus had come on pilgrimage, to worship before his arrest and crucifixion. The ancient name for Jerusalem is Zion, after the sacred Mount Zion near the city. The "Disciples of Christ" are therefore anything but that.

Historians believe that Jesus saw himself as a deeply devout Jew. As such, from childhood onward he must have chanted this passage from the Psalms, written five hundred years before:

    By the waters of Babylon,
    there we wept and there sat down;
    Hung our harps on the willow trees;
    Zion yet we remembered thee!
    Then our captors required of us;
    "Sing a song of Zion now!"
    Could we sing the Lord's songs
    by the waters of Babylon?
 
    Let my right hand forget its skill,
    if I forget Jerusalem;
    If I fail to remember thee,
    let my tongue cleave unto my mouth!
    But we thought of Jerusalem
    when we sat near Zion's streams;
    Far above even our chief joy,
    We remembered Jerusalem.
 
 (Psalm 137; King James Translation.)

For two millennia Jews and Christians alike sang Psalm 137 because it expressed their own yearning and sense of exile. To them, the word "Zion" was not tainted. In Handel's oratorio The Messiah, "Zion" is a word of joy, not vilification.

It follows that Jesus would have greeted the rebirth of the State of Israel with joy and gratitude, just as he would have seen the current Palestinian death cult, which indoctrinates even tiny children to become suicide bombers to kill Jews, with sadness and disgust.

What does that make the Christian clergy who now work to excommunicate Israel from the world, and to expose its children to ruthless butchery?

Whatever it makes them, Christ—like is not the word.

James Lewis is a frequent contributor.

The day before yesterday, we are told, the Church of the Disciples of Christ demanded that Israel tear down its security fence, which has saved countless of Jewish women and children from being blown to smithereens. Twisting the words of Ronald Reagan, Minister William McDermet III of Panama, N.Y., shouted into the microphone to the assembled delegates,

"Say to Ariel Sharon, 'Tear down this wall!'"

Well, the Rev. McDermet is either a fool or a demagogue, but I suspect the latter, since even a fool can distinguish between a defensive wall and a prison wall. It is difficult to imagine the towering heights of spiritual arrogance required for an American minister, living fat, dumb and happy 6,000 miles away from any danger, to demand that the people of Israel expose the lives of their children to endless terrorist assaults.

For twenty centuries many Christians have tried to live a Christ—like life. Their ideas about what that meant has varied, according to their concept of Jesus ———  who was called the Messiah, the anointed one or Christos in Greek. Anointing the hair with sacred oil was of course the ceremony by which a descendant of the House of David was crowned King of Israel, also called Zion. Sometimes the desire to imitate Christ has inspired actions that would have seemed strange to the historical Jesus. But none could be more bizarre and morally perverse than the current movement among leftwing Christian clergy to make their churches turn away from Israel. For the historical Jesus must have been a passionate Zionist, just like all the faithful Jews of his time.

Recently the Episcopal Church voted to disinvest from Israel; the Anglicans have done so; and the Disciples of Christ simply denounced the Israel security fence. Disinvestment is not a serious economic threat to Israel, because other investors will come forward to fund productive economic enterprises. Rather, it is a symbolic excommunication of Israel from the world of nations. In the same way, the failed effort by the Hard Left in Britain to boycott Israeli universities was an act of excommunication, as if Israel were South Africa. A million full—fledged Arab citizens of Israel know better; they are not inclined to move only a few miles, in order to live under the Palestinian terror regime.

Such self—righteous Leftist campaigns are never directed against Stalinist North Korea, which just in the last few years has starved hundreds of thousands of its people to death, nor against the genocidal regime of the Sudan, which has waged murderous jihad and slave—taking against African Christians and animists for the last twenty years. No, leftwing church disinvestment is exclusively reserved for what its cutthroat enemies call "the Zionist entity."

The very word "Zionist" has now been tarred by a generation of anti—Israel propaganda, most of it easily seen to be false — except to the True Believers of the Left, who are quite happy to think the worst about democratic Israel.  Most Leftist Churches have given up their faith in God, and substituted instead faith in the Left.  They are therefore simply following a political party line, certainly not the example of Christ.

A Zionist is one who supports the national liberation of the Jews in their land, living in peace with Arabs and Christians. Jesus was a Zionist, because the land of Zion was oppressed by the iron fist of the Roman Empire during his lifetime. His home of Galilee was known as an endless source of rebellion against Roman rule. The rise of Jesus as a figure of religious adoration was therefore viewed by the Roman Empire, and by the Jews who appeased it, as a political threat. Jesus the anointed one took upon himself the symbolic Kingship of the Jewish people. In the first century land of Zion  there was no difference between religious and political nationhood. Whatever else he was, Jesus was a Zionist.

Crucifixion was the Roman method of executing rebels. Forty years after the crucifixion of Jesus, the landscape of Jerusalem was dotted with tens of thousands of Roman crosses, bearing the dying bodies of the Jewish rebels of 70 CE, the date of the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem. That was where Jesus had come on pilgrimage, to worship before his arrest and crucifixion. The ancient name for Jerusalem is Zion, after the sacred Mount Zion near the city. The "Disciples of Christ" are therefore anything but that.

Historians believe that Jesus saw himself as a deeply devout Jew. As such, from childhood onward he must have chanted this passage from the Psalms, written five hundred years before:

    By the waters of Babylon,
    there we wept and there sat down;
    Hung our harps on the willow trees;
    Zion yet we remembered thee!
    Then our captors required of us;
    "Sing a song of Zion now!"
    Could we sing the Lord's songs
    by the waters of Babylon?
 
    Let my right hand forget its skill,
    if I forget Jerusalem;
    If I fail to remember thee,
    let my tongue cleave unto my mouth!
    But we thought of Jerusalem
    when we sat near Zion's streams;
    Far above even our chief joy,
    We remembered Jerusalem.
 
 (Psalm 137; King James Translation.)

For two millennia Jews and Christians alike sang Psalm 137 because it expressed their own yearning and sense of exile. To them, the word "Zion" was not tainted. In Handel's oratorio The Messiah, "Zion" is a word of joy, not vilification.

It follows that Jesus would have greeted the rebirth of the State of Israel with joy and gratitude, just as he would have seen the current Palestinian death cult, which indoctrinates even tiny children to become suicide bombers to kill Jews, with sadness and disgust.

What does that make the Christian clergy who now work to excommunicate Israel from the world, and to expose its children to ruthless butchery?

Whatever it makes them, Christ—like is not the word.

James Lewis is a frequent contributor.