The Theological Roots of the Christian Left’s Turn against Israel

Earlier this year, in a brief statement in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) singled out Israel—and no other foreign country—as guilty of “21st-century slavery” and urged American Jews to call upon the U.S. government to cease supporting Israel’s “immoral enslavement.” Such rhetoric has become normal for the PCUSA. But, notes Mark Tooley, even if this denomination is one of the worst offenders, it very much represents a broader trend among left-wing American Christians:

For the old religious and evangelical left, Israel often represents Western civilization, colonialism, and imperialism. For aging [devotees] of liberation theology, the Palestinian cause offers the narrative of a Third World people oppressed by First World wealth, technology, and cultural superiority. Israel is an ally of the United States, and from the religious left’s perspective, is an unwelcome extension of American (and British) power into the Mideast. The Palestinians, from that view, are victims of the American imperium, meriting special advocacy by concerned justice-minded American Christians.

Evangelical leftists relate to this narrative, often informed by their own neo-Anabaptist perspective, which is pacifist and anti-empire. Israel of course has by necessity a significant military force, much of it made possible through American aid. This rankles neo-Anabaptists who think anti-violence is the gospel’s chief theme.

There is sometimes another underlying concern for neo-Anabaptists. They are discomfited by ancient biblical Israel, with its divinely ordained kings, warrior heroes, armies, and military victories, all of which defy the neo-Anabaptist stress on God as supremely peaceful. If only unconsciously, they are inclined towards a form of Marcionism, the early church heresy that minimized the canonical authority of the Old Testament. This discomfort with the Hebrew scriptures facilitates unease with modern Israel.

The religious left’s animus towards Israel leads to often absurd contradictions and double standards, especially for a denomination like the PCUSA. It and the other mainline Protestant bodies have countless statements condemning Israel for ostensibly oppressing the Palestinians among other depredations. But they are largely silent about human-rights abuses so prevalent among Israel’s Arab neighbors, including the Palestinian Authority, not to mention countless repressive regimes around the world.

Read more at World

More about: Anti-Semitism, Jewish-Christian relations, Liberation theology, Presbyterians

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy