A New Book Exposes How Some Christian Denominations Have Embraced Anti-Zionist Anti-Semitism https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/israel-zionism/2022/09/a-new-book-exposes-how-some-christian-denominations-have-embraced-anti-zionist-anti-semitism/

September 22, 2022 | John C. Campbell
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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.

Read more on Fathom: https://fathomjournal.org/book-review-peace-and-faith-christian-churches-and-the-israeli-palestinian-conflict/