Editors commentary: Anti-Israel church?

In these early months of the 2013/14 Premier League season, anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head.
The Football Association has warned fans that anyone caught chanting the word ‘Yid’ could face criminal charges. This anti-Semitic term has been aimed at the fans of Tottenham Hotspurs due to Tottenham’s large Jewish population and Spurs fans in reaction have begun to sing ‘Yid Army’ as a form of identity. In recent weeks a video was posted on YouTube showing West Ham supporters singing anti-Semitic chants at their October match against Spurs.

Close to the wind
Racism has no place in any civilised society and certainly has no place in God’s church, which calls people from every nation, tribe and tongue to know the love of God in Christ.
However, it seems that some Christian groups which take an anti-state of Israel stance either sail very close to the wind or may at times tumble over into what amounts to be anti-Semitism. This year’s Greenbelt festival saw the launch of ‘Kairos Britain: Time for Action’. This is a new, avowedly pro-Palestianian, Christian organisation. Their website says that they seek a just and lasting peace in the region based on the realisation of full human and political rights for all and calls for an end to oppression and injustice. So far, so good. But when you read their understanding of the situation in Palestine you find a pretty one-sided view of what has gone on. There is no mention of rocket attacks on Israel from Hamas. There is no mention of Palestinian suicide bombings on buses with Israel. I am certainly not someone who thinks that the state of Israel is above criticism, but this is unbalanced.
It would clearly be unfair to equate criticism of the state of Israel with anti-Semitism. However, in supporting various Muslim groups in the Middle East, such a Christian organisation may well be giving support, perhaps inadvertently, to those who hate Jews per se. One only has to think of some of the extreme statements of ex-President Ahmedinajad of Iran to realise that such people do exist.
Nick Gray, director of Christian Middle East Watch, which takes a different view from that of Kairos Britain, warns of a disturbing imbalance. He says: ‘In November 2012, Christian Aid held a conference in Gateshead on “Peace and Justice in the Holy Land”. A non-Christian commentator, Denis McEoin, who is an expert on Middle East affairs, wrote a detailed account of the proceedings (1). He says: “The conference was, from beginning to end, a total travesty of those ideals (of peace and justice); it was in all respects one-sided, often dangerously so. One after another, the speakers all presented the pro-Palestinian narrative and arguments derived from Palestinian political theory. Not once was an Israeli or Jewish narrative even mentioned… yet Israel was on several occasions ridiculed and condemned”’.

Jerusalem above
With anti-Semitism finding public expression in the Premier League, Christians need to be very careful not to be understood to be aligned with it. In our politically correct environment, in which those who can paint themselves as the most victimised are always assumed to be in the right, God’s word calls us to be more discerning (Exodus 23.2,3). May God grant true peace in the Middle East. Meanwhile the Jerusalem that is above is free and those in Christ belong to that heavenly city.

(1).,  http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3529/christian-aid-conference-holy-land

John Benton

This article was first published in the November 2013 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information.
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