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02 November 2010


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Simon Jones

Excellent post, David, that says all there is to say graciously and eloquently.
When I visit Alex and others in Bethlehem and elsewhere on the West bank four years ago, I was struck by the impasse, the fear and sense of injsutice on both sides, but above all by the amazing fortitude of those working for peace and a just settlement.
Visitng the wall with Palestinian activists and settlements with Jeff Halper and others ICHAD, I thought if passion and good will on its own changed the world, what a world it would be.
Thanks again

Haydn Davies

Thank you David. I grew up in a family that supported the Christian Zionist Movement but as I thought things through I searched for better answers. Your comments are very helpful!


As others have said, thank you for grace and eloquence, and for the courage to speak of what needs to be spoken.

Wayne Clarke

Very helpful post, David. my views on Israel have changed over the years and I find your approach sensible and based on good theology.
The Israel/Palestine conflict is set to be the defining international dispute for some years yet and it's painful to see the British Christian community divided on the right way to proceed.

David Kerrigan

Wayne, you're right that there is division within the Christian Community here but on the whole (and there are exceptions) it seems more possible to have a reasonable conversation with people here. Why is that?

Across the pond (where most of the protest letters have come from) its often a different matter. There, the reaction is sometimes vitriolic. I worry for America and its tendency to polarise so quickly - I worry for the state of the Church, and for its political discourse.

Juliet Kilpin

Well written David, with much grace. Well done. Blessed are the peacemakers...and those who can understand irony!

Chris Luff

I read the last magazine with great interest and encouragement that this subject was being aired. I've been on a trajectory away from Zionism for some years, prompted in the first place by the fact that its adherents accepted no criticism or questioning. Lebanon 2006 did the rest.
Well done, keep up the good work!

David Kerrigan

Haydn and Chris, your comments are courageous and generous. When I hear people proof-texting their Zionist convictions, I long to say that whatever the apparent strengths of one's exegesis, if the outcome is unjust, as the Israel-Palestine situation sutrely is, then the theology cant be right.


Just for David Kerigan

Look and learn and use the link below to gain the facts about "Palestine" and Israel


Stephen Gutmann

David, I am a Baptist Minister, and have been for over 25 years. I am also the son of a German Jewish refugee from the Holocaust, whose parents never left Theresienstadt alive. Most blog contributers, like you, focus on Zionism, particularly Christian Zionism, it seems. On that score, I wonder how the Jewish desire to return to the land that after nearly 1500 years possession of, they were removed from by Roman might, just as Babylon had done beforehand. can be seen to be a "mistake." You rightly speak of "Arab Palestinian people" because under the "Palestinian Mandate" jews as well as Arabs were seen as "Palestinians." Actually the Arab population were part of the State known as "Trans-Jordan." Many of these migrated from beyond the East of Jordan to settle in the area we know as Israel and the West Bank today. You speak of dignity for Palestinians and Muslims-know this; that Muslims have been systematically destroying the Christian communities throughout the Middle East-from Bethlehem, to Iran and Iraq in particular. Israel, on the other hand, defends the rights of other faiths, including Islam! Whilst Messianic Jews do face harrasment, even persecution from the ultra-Orthodox, their actions are not official State policy.

James Mendelsohn

Hi David
Quick question: were you aware that the Palestinians have been offered statehood in 1938, 1947, and by Israel in 2000, but on all three occasions their leaders declined and instead resorted to terrorism in an attempt to destroy the Jewish state? Or that Israel's security barrier has reduced the number of suicide bombings by over 90%? (I am aware, and do not defend, the ROUTE of much of the wall, but that does not detract from its success is saving Israeli lives). I mention these facts because they are absent from your piece, particularly the final paragraph, but cannot be overlooked if Christians are to come to a true understanding of the current situation.

James Mendelsohn

PS Calvin Smith of Kings Evangelical Divinity School is what some would call a moderate Christian Zionist, and his theological & political commentary is well worth reading
as is his book

David Kerrigan

To Stephen - thank you for your comment. The mistake I refer to is my contention that the biblical promises made concerning the Jews find their fulfilment in the current State of Israel. The Bible speaks of a special place in God's economy for the Jewish people - God has not forgotten them. But God is a God of justice and I believe he abhors the humiliation and degradation of the Palestinian people.

He abhors too the violence of the Palestinian minority. I have received letters saying in effect 'how can you defend Hezbollah or Hamas?' I don’t defend them - violence is an offence to God and humankind. Nor do I defend Syrian-sponsored assassinations in Lebanon; I don’t support Iran's backing for Hezbollah and I don’t support any nation's threat to wipe Israel from the face of the earth. What I support is peacemaking, and my heart breaks that Israel does not seem to be serious about this.

When you say "Muslims have been systematically destroying the Christian communities throughout the Middle East" the truth is 'some Muslims have been doing this'. To be peacemakers we need to get beyond lumping all Jews, all Muslims, all Arabs and all Christians together and follow the example of Christ. That is why so many are critical of the State of Israel - not the Jewish people.

Stephen, I know peace would be your goal too. It once was the case that Jews, Muslims and Christians lived in peace in Palestine – and it could be so again in Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu could start this in a moment. What power to have!

Stephen Gutmann

David, yes, we must beware of lumping people together. I work with many Muslims, and enjoy warm friendships with them. However, the systematic elimination of Middle-Eastern Christian communities warrents the use of the generic use, in much the same way as political analysts talk about "Americans" or even "Britons" having "invaded" Iraq and Afghanistan. Or Germans invading Europe and murdering 6,000,000 Jews , and countless other minorities. Of course, many, maybe the silent majority abhorred what Hitler and Nazism did in their name, and compelled their allegience to their programme. Nevertheless,history judges the governing power as the voice of the people especially in the absence of dissent. As for the plight of the Palestian citizens of Gaza, for example, "starving" because of the blockade; how does the ultra modern Shopping Mall recently opened there get its supplies? Nor the many Bazaars? And how did those in "the peaceful" flotilla sent to break the blockade manage to produce and turn a large quantity of weapons upon the Israeli boarding party resulting in so many tragic and futile deaths? and injuries? Incidentally, Israel has a number of Arab MPs, and not even averse to supporting acts of terroism like the recent parcel bombs addressed to Jewish synagogues in Chicago, apparantly intended to kill Americans, Jewish and non-Jewish indiscriminately. How many Jewish MPs would there be in an independent Palestine, indeed, how many Jewish inhabitants would be permitted? I think not only is "Christian Zionism" deemed to be anathema to right thinking Christians as you have portrayed the issue, but now it seems that we must embrace the anti-Israel bias that the BBC and the world's media unfailingly employ. As an afterthought-I wonder if Bible prophecies about the Lord gathering His people Israel back in the land He gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob might possibly be taken literally. Rather like the iChristian mpetus that led to the Balfour Declaration?

Stephen Gutmann

Sorry, the "i" of impetus lost its place!

David Kerrigan

Hi James – good questions. As far as I am aware, the 1937 (you say 1938) offer was indeed rejected by the Palestinians and other Arab leaders who all had a finger in the pie at that time. The 1947 offer based on a UN decision was indeed rejected by Arabs, but it was widely considered doubtful as to whether that particular proposal could ever have worked. The 2000 ‘offer’ is far more debatable. If, as I assume, you’re referring to the Camp David negotiations, the reason it was rejected was because Israel would not agree to the right of Palestinians refugees to return to what had been their land. Further, the refusal of Israel to dismantle settlements meant the so-called Palestinian State was full of holes - something akin to what has since been called a Swiss cheese – a state with multiple pockets of Israeli settlements. That situation is even worse today.

Over the years, Arab-Palestinian leadership, it seems to me, has not been altogether clever! Too many people have called for the wholesale destruction of Israel. I understand Israel’s nervousness. But right now they are the ‘Goliath’ and the Palestinians are the ‘Davids’. Past injustices do not permit current injustice. Unless someone has the courage to strike out for peace, the next generation will be even worse. Of course this is a Christian ‘peacemaker’ perspective which we cannot expect secular Jewish leaders to buy into. But that’s another reason why I am perplexed when Christians lash themselves unreservedly to the Israeli State.

And yes, the wall has reduced suicide bombs to almost zero. And yet, behind that wall, the pressure is building all the time. And angry people, left with no hope, do what angry people the world over do. They fight. The wall solves nothing in the long run.

Thanks for the Calvin Smith link – I’ll have a look as soon as I get the time. Stick around - I appreciate the contributions that you and Stephen made here.

David Kerrigan

Stephen, I agree with what you say about describing nations generically. But when we come to talking peace we need to be more nuanced. My guess is that most Palestinians and most Jews and most Christians want peace.

A mall in Gaza - wonderful! But you're not suggesting that there isnt an embargo? In April Israel allowed the import of shoes and clothes for the first time in three years, most ruined by damp when the containers were opened. No construction materials yet allowed. In fact 114 items are permitted. The blockade will be lifted if if Hamas recognise the State of Israel (as if), recognise previous peace agreements (unlikely) and stop all violence (which they should). But you can see the spiral continuing for ever. Jesus said turn the other cheek. Jesus said go the extra mile. Jesus said offer your cloak as well. As Christians we must advocate for an alternative.

James Mendelsohn

HI David
Re Camp David 2000 - if Israel was to allow all Palestinian refugees to return to Israel that would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state! - the so-called "right of return" has always been used as a ploy by Palestinian leaders to dismantle Israel by demographics rather than by violence. (See http://www.aijac.org.au/review/2001/266/essay266.html ) Also Israel did offer to dismantle a large number of settlements - as they had done when making peace with Egypt in 1978 - but Arafat rejected this, left without making a counter-offer, and started preparing for the 2nd intifada. AS for the wall, I would love there to be no need for it. But right now I can't think of a better way of protecting my relatives in Israel, not to mention the 10-15,000 Israeli Messianic Jews, at least one of whom has died in a suicide bombing. None of which justifies continued Israeli settlement building, but we need to be as careful about adopting an "Israel can do right" mentality as we do an "Israel can do no wrong" mentality! The truth is that both sides need to be serious about peace-making, and any approach which places the blame exclusively on one side has to be defective.

David Kerrigan

James - let's find some stuff to agree on, because two more people having a spat doesnt help anything. I meant what I said above - we need peacemakers, not more idealogues.

So, Arafat was no great help to the Palestinians and it is certainly argued that he probably had something within his grasp at Camp David and he fluffed it. I also agree that any sense of 'Israel can do no right' is to be avoided. (Same goes for the Palestinians, though it isnt you who has suggested otherwise). I agree that the right to return for Palestinians gets kicked into the long grass by Israel because of demographics. But that doesnt make it right. And lastly, I agree both sides need to be serious about peace and whilst everyone I spoke to in Israel a few weeks ago were desperately serious about it, there are hawks on both sides who may not be (right wing Israeli politicians like Netanyahu and his ilk; Hamas too probably.

So, no-one thinks this is going to be a walk in the park, but the most powerful people are the ones who can make this happen. And those of us who are relatively powerless can only do our bit to increase the pressure on the politicians.

Richard Matcham

Hi David,
I was very encouraged and surprised to read the article in the BMS Engage magazine, and the clarity with which you have replied since. Surprised because coverage of this theological and political problem is not that often spoken of in Baptist circles.

When I was in Beirut over Easter (2010) with BMS I asked several ministry leaders and a couple of church leaders what their greatest struggle was regarding mission. They all answered, without hesitation, the influence and impact of Christian Zionism. A visit to a Palestinian refugee camp in the centre of Beirut had the most overwhelming sense of hopelessness. They weren't terrorists, they were Christian and Muslim, fifth and sixth generation refugee victims of an international injustice the world just can't solve.

I agree with your peaceable approach, and know it is the only way, but even so, it's just too easy saying that sat in my office sipping tea.

David Kerrigan

Hi Robert – it’s significant that several people have said to me ‘this isn’t talked about in Baptist circles’. I guess it is in some but not in enough. Certainly our colleagues in the Baptist Union, not least people like Graham Sparkes, have long championed the cause. So, let’s resolve to keep on keeping on and do whatever we can.

Brian Noel Morris

I would like to say that I did not intend to post this website as proof of what is really happening in Israel, I was convinced that My post was about the messianic jewish site http://www.therefinersfire.org/ and not http://www.terrorismawareness.org/what-really-happened/

I do not support this site and I know I have appologised to David personally, I would like to add that I do support both Israel and the Palestinians and do feel that David leans more to the Palestinian cause and overlooks much of what has been done for the Palestinians by Israel as a nation. We must always strive for justice for all and before Israel became a State, the land of Palestine was governed by the British and was never a Palistinian State and was never "occupied". It was conquered after the 6 Day War when 5 nations attacked Israel. Many people don't realise that God was directly involved in helping Israel survive a 5 country attack. Israel did not win because they were militarily superior but because many miracles happened to protect them. They will never be uprooted from the land again as the Bible states (Amos 9:15.)
While Israel uses the strong arm politics to defend their samll nation Islam is violently opposed to their very existence. Israel would be the first to lay down their arms if the threat against them would cease. The Palestinians have a chance for peace but there is a spiritual battle going on and it seems to me that many just cannot see biblical prophecies unfolding today regarding Israel.

I hope this is a polite response and I do not intend to insult or offend anyone. My post of that site was wrong and I meant it to be the therefinersfire.org and simpathise with the messianic Jewish view of scripture because it makes so much sense. I cannot understand why I put the wrong site on the blog (Maybe I had too much wine ha!)
I could go on and site many scriptures to support my view including current events in Israel and the world but I am not here to make a scene but to just say that Israel has tried hard and worked hard to make things work against an opposition who do not weant peace with them but to illiminate them from existence and I feel that many do not understand this.

I was reprimanded by the the college Principle for my post so have felt what it is like to write something and get slammed for it. It was a student who told a tutor who told the principal that got me in trouble and I am sorry if I hurt anyone. But I want to say that I back both Israelies and Palestinians for peace but know that it won't happen until the return of Jesus.

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