Israel–a just cause

CNN’s religious blog listed 15 predictions for 2012, and one of them had to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Cameron Strang, publisher of RELEVANT magazine said:

There’s no question the worldview of most younger Christians already differs from previous generations regarding social justice, cultural engagement and politics. The next issue of probable divergence? The conflict in Israel and Palestine. The American church has largely purported just one theology about the modern state of Israel, but now questions are being asked – especially by younger Christians learning of persecution and human rights issues happening in the region – if the church should have a more active role in peacemaking. Is there a way for the Church to be pro-Israel, pro-Palestine and pro-peace? (religion.blogs.cnn.com)

I think Strang is saying that younger Christians aren’t buying the Christian Zionist line, and tend to view the conflict in Israel strictly in social justice terms (generally with the Palestinians on the victim side of the equation). I see that trend among younger Christians myself, especially as evangelicals become more concerned with social justice, which is in general a good thing. Therefore, it’s urgent that advocates for Israel argue on the basis of justice and not solely on biblical prophecy. There are two claimants to justice here–Jews and Arabs–and we can defend Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state in the Middle East on that basis.

On the other hand, if we rely on biblical prophecy alone, we limit ourselves to a smaller audience, and it’ll be one primarily of those who are already convinced. We’ll lose lots of younger people, who have seen many interpretations of biblical prophecy fall apart. In arguing for Israel from a justice standpoint, we can acknowledge Israel’s shortcomings, but insist these don’t invalidate it as a state. If we talk as if Israel is always right, we weaken our case. But Israel, as Alan Dershowitz points out, has a better human rights record than any nation ever facing the kinds of threats that it faces (http://youtu.be/OiTh730rk-Y). And Israel has demonstrated its ability to correct and reform itself in ways that no other Middle Eastern nation can claim at all.

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