|PROSELYTIZING FOR PALESTINE
by Mark D. Tookey, May 25, 2010,
|Evangelist and activist Tony Campolo, Formerly spiritual counselor to Bill Clinton post-Monica [Lewinsky], recently sojourned to Bethlehem Bible College in the West Bank for the school's convocation of "Christ at the Checkpoint: Theology in the Service of Peace and Justice." Ths Palestinian evangelical school peddles a form of Palestinian liberationism that much of the Evangelical
Left in the U.S., increasingly anxious to justify hostility to Israel and its U.S. allies, eagerly finds persuasive.
Besides Campolo, other speakers included British anti-Israel Anglican priest Stephen Sizer, author Lynne Hybels (wife of Willow Creek mega-church pastor Bill Hybels), Wheaton College professor Gary Burge, United Methodist missionary Alex Awad, and
Naim Ateek of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre.
Campolo effusively rhapsodized about "Christ at the Checkpoint" in a column for Jim Wallis' Sojourners. The "horror stories" from "Oppressed Palestinians" that Campolo heard at Bethlehem Bible College "sent chills" up his back and aoused his "indignation" and "compassion." Naturally, Campolo is angriest at pro-Israel evangelicals in the U.S. who are the real culprits for Palestinian suffering.
"Why don't our Christian brothers and sisters in America care about what is happening to us?, "Campolo remembered one Palestinian emploring of him. "Do they know that their tax dollars paid for the Israeli tanks that destroyed my house and the
houses of my neighbors"?
Predictably, Campolo recited the usual narrative of Christian exodus from among the Palestinians, reporting that Bethlehem has declined from 70 percent to 15 percent Christian. "Sometmes heartless and dehumanizing treatment that Bethlehem Christians have had to endure over the years has led most of them to immigrate to other countries. Supposedly Israel is exclusively to blame for Christians leaving the region. But the overall Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza, which is 95-98 percent Muslim, continues to grow. For the most part, Muslims are not leaving. Why would the one or two percent of Palestinians who are Christians most likely immigrate. Could radical Islam's influence be a factor? Could it also be that Christians have more contacts with the West that more easily facilitate immigration?
Campolo like most Evangelical and Religious Left, does not try to answer these questions. Nor does he express alot of public interest in Palestinian and other Middle East Christians except as a cudgel against Israel, and ultimately, against conservative Christians in the U.S. -- Campolo's favorite bete noire. "The most serious threats to the well-being of the Palestinians in general, and to the Christian Palestinians in particular, come not from the Jews, but from Christian Zionists here in the United States," he charged.
Of course, Campolo repeats the usual canard that U.S. Evangelicals are uniformly bewitched by "Dispensationalism," which originated in the 19th Century English Theologian Nelson Darby. In the stereotype that Campolo rehashes, these Darbyite Dispen-sationalists blindly believe that Jesus Christ will not return "until all of this land is occupied by Jews, and all others are forced to leave." Trying to sound equitable, Campolo notes that "Jewish lobbies" are not the main villian behind the "30 percent of all U.S. foreign aid" going to Israel which enables the country to have the "forth most powerful army in the world." No, it is the Christian Zionists who are the "primary sources of pressure on the U.S. Congress to financially back the Israeli military that has made the injustices I have described possible."
In the Campolo/Evangelical Left narrative, pro-Israel Christians foolishly ignore how the "entire Islamic world views what is happening in the Holy Land," U.S. evangelical support for Israel is "hindering evangelism among Muslims," and "so many of the conflicts that exists between Muslims and Christians around the world are partially due to what is happening in the Holy Land." The Muslim media is quick to link the "oppression of Palestinians to the justification of attacks on Americans, in particular and the Western world, in general."
For Campolo, the solution is simple, "we should be calling for the demolition of the separation wall that is as offensive as the Berlin Wall was." And we should be demanding "a return to the 1967 borders. He says he favors "safe and secure borders for the State of Israel and protection against terrorists." But evidently, Israel should not be permitted to build walls against suicide bombers or
to negotiate defensible borders. Presumably good will and accomodation will create all the security needs.
Anti-Israel Anglican priest Stephen Sizer, who participated with Campolo at "Christ at the Checkpoint," enthusiastically interviewed Campolo afterwards for his website. The only talk of a resistance against the Israelis that I heard is non-violent resistence," Campolo blithely assured an eagerly listening and believing Sizer about Palestinian intentions. The evangelist apparently also likes the Israel-Apartheid comparison: "When you begin comparing this to Apartheid in South Africa, you immediately communicate to the American people... The phrase has power." And Campolo warned that "both sides," i.e. Israel and Palestinians are guilty of hateful portrayals of each other in educational curricula, but Israel is especially guilty. "Hate is allowed to reign free within the Israeli community" he warned. "And we incited the Hilltop situation in Hebron in the young men going in... " he continued, in an apparent reference to the 2008 incident when Israeli youth rampaged over Israeli court ordered evictions of Israeli settlers. It's not clear who the "we" is who provoked this violence but presumably it is the dreaded pro-Israel Christians in the U.S.
According to the pew poll, evangelicals, mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics in the U.S. also sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinian cause. But for the angry Evangelical Left, including Campolo, supported Israeli opposition is due exclusively
to Zionist evangelicals purportedly obsessed with Biblical prophecies about the end-times.
Most American Christians sympathize with Israel because it is a pro-American democracy and not owing to 19th Century Darbyite Theology. But Campolo and the Evangelical Left prefer not to discuss the merits of democracy vs. its Islamic alternative. Instead, they demonize pro-Israel evangelicals and hope cries of "apartheid" will persuade when sound argument will not.
|After reading this article, click on the following two articles to know the real truth on who's persecuting who.
- International Wall of Prayer -
THE REAL REASON WHY
THE PALESTINIAN CHRISTIAN POPULATION IN BETHLEHEM HAS BEEN DWINDLING
DENIAL OF RELIGIOUS RIGHTS BY THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY: NOT JUST JEWS, BUT
CHRISTIANS HAVE ALSO BEEN VICTIMIZED BY ISLAMIC INTOLERANCE FOR "INFIDEL" HOLY SITES
(MR. CAMPOLO, PLEASE GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT!)