A New Book Exposes How Some Christian Denominations Have Embraced Anti-Zionist Anti-Semitism

Sept. 22 2022

Reviewing Peace and Faith, a collection of essays by writers from various religious backgrounds examining the attitudes of different churches to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, John C. Campbell finds much that is informative. The book above all makes clear where anti-Jewish attitudes can be found in Christianity, and where they can’t:

[It is the] introduction’s description of the work of the Christian biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann that may be most useful, especially for readers new to the anti-Israel sentiment increasingly dominant in mainline (i.e. broadly non-fundamentalist) Protestant churches. Brueggemann, in his 2015 book Chosen?: Reading the Bible amid the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and elsewhere, offers a noxious mix of politics and theology that caricatures Israel as an uncompromisingly brutal state vis-à-vis the Palestinians so that he must then “bring down the wrath of the [biblical] prophets” upon the country in condemnation. Despite the obvious echo of old ideas about Jewish power and malice in his writings, it is hard to overestimate how influential Brueggemann’s work has become in the mainline churches of the English-speaking world.

Jonathan Rynhold, [in his chapter] “Evangelicals and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” shows how evangelical Christian organizations in the USA more often than not fail to live up to their reputation as unthinking and extreme in their support for Israel. More particularly, it is clear that the majority of evangelicals are not in fact opposed to a genuine peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, even one requiring Israel to give up territory. Neither do most evangelicals hold views about the end times that might be construed as anti-Jewish.

More problematic, to Campbell, is the concluding section, written by Cary Nelson, one of the volume’s editors. Although Nelson is a dogged opponent of BDS and of the excesses of academic hatred of Israel, his prescriptions seem out of touch with the harsh realities of the Middle East:

[This chapter] makes approximately 40 urgent recommendations on how to prepare for a two-state solution and then implement it—most requiring action only by Israel. Nelson justifies this imbalance by appeal to Israel’s superior power and the fact that “the key requirements for Palestinians, like adopting transparent finances and eliminating incitement, are difficult, transformational requirements.” However, since Palestinian leaders certainly rejected generous peace deals in 2000 and 2008, and almost certainly rejected a more modest one in 2014, it is arguable that these and other “difficult, transformational” issues on the Palestinian side also need prioritization.

The very assumption that [the independent Palestinian state Nelson hopes for] must be Jew-free will be viewed by some as a warning sign that the political entity envisaged will almost certainly not be democratic or peaceful.

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Read more at Fathom

More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Evangelical Christianity, Jewish-Christian relations

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy