Friday, March 14, 2014

Christ at the Checkpoint Conference: Promoting Delegitimization not Reconciliation

by Dan Calic

March 10 – 14 marks the third Christ at the Checkpoint conference, in Bethlehem. Initiated in 2010 this is a gathering of hundreds of Christian leaders from around the world. Much discussion has been raised about the conference with respect to its balance, or shall I say lack thereof. Indeed the very name of the conference suggests that if Jesus were alive today he would be subject to interrogation by Israeli security. It also suggests that he is not a Jew, but a “Palestinian.” While his status remains an issue of debate for many, there is no evidence whatsoever suggesting he is ‘Palestinian.’ This is part of an ongoing effort by the organizers to rewrite history.

In spite of lofty words such as “peace, justice and reconciliation,” used in part to describe their goals, the conference ignores Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism, and singularly focuses on the “suffering Palestinian people.”

Another effort to rewrite history is their promoting of the “Palestinian Church,” and the “ancient nation of Palestinian people.” Theologians need only look at the Bible they claim to follow to know there is no such “church” or “ancient nation.” The “Palestinians” are Arabs which Yasser Arafat renamed in 1967 as such in order to invent a unique ethnic and cultural heritage.

The conference manifesto contains several points which bear close examination.
For example-

5. "Any exclusive claim to land of the Bible in the name of God is not in line with the teaching of scripture." In other words it’s unacceptable to use the Bible to confirm who the land was given to. What do Christians use as the very foundation of their teachings? The Bible. Yet this conference says it cannot be used when confirming rightful ownership of the land. Why? One has to conclude  they know the Bible confirms God gave the land to the Jews. Thus the Bible becomes an inconvenient truth. In a word this is hypocritical.

9. "For Palestinian Christians the ‘occupation’ is the core issue of the conflict." This statement ignores the actual “core” issue which is two-fold- The refusal of the Arab world to accept Israel’s right to exist, and the need for Israel to protect itself from terror and attempts to destroy it. Indeed, so many terror attacks were launched against innocent Israeli civilians a wall needed to be erected to protect them against continuous attack. Since 1948 over 3,900 civilians have been killed by Arab terrorists. However, instead of recognizing this reality, conference organizers refer to the wall as the “segregation,” or “apartheid wall,” in a blatant attempt to brand Israel as bigoted and racist. An honest statement would reference Israel's need for security.

12. "Christians must understand the global context of the rise of extremist Islam." In other words the Christian organizers and attendees should be empathetic about why fundamental Islam has risen? Fundamental Islam’s goal is to destroy the Jews and the Christians. Why would a conference of “Christians” suggest empathy for such a goal?

Part of the reason is most people, especially outside the region, are unaware many of the Arab Palestinian Christians view Arab Muslims as their ‘brothers’ in the struggle for ‘armed resistance’ against Israel. This suggests their material goals are more important than their faith, which contradicts a fundamental Christian tenet.

 Indeed, one of the conference organizers, and speakers Sami Awad, founder of the Holy Land Trust, has been quoted as saying non-violent demonstrations “are not a substitute for the armed struggle.” Plus, they conveniently ignore the fact that harassment by Arab Muslims is the main cause of the huge population decline of Arab Christians in Bethlehem, Nazareth, etc. They would have you believe it’s Israel’s fault, when it’s a known fact Muslims are persecuting Christians throughout the entire Middle East, and elsewhere.

Another effort to rewrite history took place at the 2012 conference. Only in this case it the victim of rewriting history was the Bible. Jack Sara, President of Bethlehem Bible College, the event’s host revised Ezekiel 37. This is a well know section of the Jewish Bible which refers to the House of Israel.

Here’s what Sara said (p. 43):
“The hand of the Lord was on me and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of the West Bank – Bethlehem, Jenin and Salvit and Nablus and Ramallah.**
It was full of bones ... He asked me, ‘Son of Man, can these bones live?  Can the Palestinian people live?**
Then He said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord”’

**The words in red were added by Sara and are not in the Bible. [Editor: there were no red words in the American Thinker post]

A look at the conference speakers is revealing as well. The organizers say all points of view are included. However, the list of 34 scheduled speakers and their records confirms the glaring imbalance of the conference. 32 of the speakers are known critics of Israel and adherents to replacement theology. If the organizers wish to claim a balance of views, they must also think the moon is made of cheese.

Also a recently released NGO report confirms the governments of the US,UK and Netherlands have donated funds to the conference and Sami Awad’s Holy Land Trust. For the US government to donate funds toward such anti-Israel theological endeavors will only enflame the conflict instead of resolving it.

If the conference organizers truly wish to promote understanding they can begin by naming it something less inciteful, stop disallowing their own Bible when it inconveniences them, and be honest about Israel’s need for security. Maybe then there’s a chance for genuine “peace, justice and reconciliation.”

Dan Calic is a writer, history student and speaker. See additional articles on his Facebook page


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