The Ancient Christian Roots of Some Modern Anti-Zionism

March 1 2019

According to a doctrine espoused by some of the earliest Christian thinkers, Jesus’ life and death brought an end to Jews’ identity as the chosen people, now replaced by the Christian church. To this idea, known as supersessionism or replacement theology, St. Augustine added what was later called the “teaching of contempt”—that Jews are condemned to suffer for their rejection of Jesus and complicity in his death. These doctrines were renounced by the Vatican and by most Protestant denominations following World War II. Yet, writes Jon D. Levenson, they have resurfaced, in modern guise, in anti-Zionist rhetoric. Take for instance, the decision of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to endorse divestment from Israel in 2004:

The gross double standard [at work in such condemnations of the Jewish state] suggests that the loudly professed moral concerns of the Presbyterians (and other Protestant groups that have passed similar resolutions) do not fully account for their anti-Israel actions. What, then, does account for them?

To answer this, we must return to [the Presbyterians’] 1987 statement renouncing the teaching of contempt. In its sixth affirmation, the statement makes the claim that the book of Genesis

indicates that “the land of your sojournings” was promised to Abraham and his and Sarah’s descendants. This promise, however, included the demand that “You shall keep my covenant” (Genesis 17:7-8). The implication is that the blessings of the promise were dependent upon fulfillment of covenant relationships. Disobedience could bring the loss of land, even while God’s promise was not revoked. . . .

[I]f we read Genesis 17 as the Presbyterian statement does, we have a ready explanation for [this] double standard: the legitimacy of China, Iran, North Korea, and other malefactors does not rest upon fidelity to a covenant with God. Israel’s does. . . .

Liberation theology has [also] long had a problem with Jewish particularism. Consider the liberationists’ penchant for interpreting the poor and oppressed as the beneficiaries of one of their favorite biblical events, the Exodus. That the God of Israel is especially concerned with the vulnerable and eager to protect them is exceedingly easy to document. [But] what links the beneficiaries of God’s intervention in the Exodus is something very different: descent from a common ancestor. . . .

When the poor and oppressed replace the people Israel as the beneficiaries of the Exodus, an idea, or social norm, has replaced a flesh-and-blood people. It then becomes possible for any group that can be made to fit into that idea or to benefit from that social norm to be the new Jews. This is the replacement theology secularized, or supersessionism without the church—and it swiftly opens the door for the old anti-Judaism to reappear in a post-Christian culture—not in the mouths of theocratic reactionaries but in those of free-thinking progressives. Les extrêmes se touchent.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, History & Ideas, Jewish-Christian relations, Liberation theology, Supersessionism

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela