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Bethlehem’s ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ Conference: A Personal Report

The facade of the Bethlehem Jacir Palace Hotel were the Christ at the Checkpoint conference was held.

The facade of the Bethlehem Jacir Palace Hotel were the Christ at the Checkpoint conference was held.
Photo Credit: Brian Schrauger

Last week Bethlehem Bible College, BBC, hosted its third ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ conference. Like the two that preceded it in 2010 and 2012, #CATC2014 was a rhetorical propaganda masterpiece. I am a Christian who attended, listened and via social media, reported throughout.

I did not go with the intention of making waves but did so anyway. I was outed on the first day when, in an opening session introducing ‘the conflict’ vis-à-vis ‘The Palestinian Church,’ everyone in attendance was asked to introduce themselves and who they represented. When I announced that I was reporting for The Jewish Press, there was no turning back.

In that first session, our teacher, Reverend Alex Awad, instructor and Dean of Students at BBC, put up a photo of carnage from a suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem that took place during the Second Intifada. He said, “We renounce the horror of atrocities committed by both sides.”

My hand went up. “I see horror in the picture we are looking at, the horror of innocent civilians slaughtered by Palestinian terrorists. You say that Israel is guilty of equal atrocities? Specifically, what has Israel done that is comparable to this?”

Awad hemmed and hawed, then said, “Well, there is the Apartheid wall, the dehumanizing checkpoints and, of course, so many Palestinians killed by Israeli armed forces.” The entire classroom of about 200 erupted in cheering and applause.

Discussions at the CATC2014 conference.

Discussions at the CATC2014 conference.

When the room quieted, I followed up. “Are you saying, then, that Israeli military operations in response to terrorism are an atrocity equal to or even worse than the carnage of Israeli bodies we are looking at on the screen?”

“Yes,” Awad replied, “they are.” More cheers and applause exploded from the class.

I tweeted Awad’s words, “2nd intifada Israeli military operations were terrorist acts, no different than suicide attacks against Israel.” I added the conference’s official hashtag, #CATC2014 and then one consisting of my initials, #BS. And so began the first of five long days.

Want to know what ensued as it happened? Go to twitter.com and search #CATC2014. Read everybody’s tweets from beginning to end, from 10 to 15 March.

Read them and weep.

Except for explicit calls to violence, every part, every aspect of rhetoric by Islamic Fatah and Hamas was brilliantly, horrifically ‘Christianized’ by the 5-day gathering that calls itself, ‘Christ at the Checkpoint.’

In the aftermath of attendance, I find myself nauseous, shocked and soiled in my soul. The language and sensibilities of my own evangelical Christian faith were prostituted—offered, sold and used—to seduce, ensnare and captivate young evangelicals, millennials, the sons and daughters of Christians who stand with the Jewish State.

What can be done to stem this tide, to neutralize this virus? In my opinion, we cannot stop it. It is too late for that. We can, however, rescue and recruit a faithful remnant. How? This essay is not the place to set forward a comprehensive strategy. But it can acknowledge that our strategy must include three key points.

First, we must identify, empower and promote Jewish and Arab voices who respectfully understand Christianity and stand with the State of Israel. Jewish voices like Kay Wilson, articulate and witty survivor of thirteen vicious stab wounds in her attempted murder by Palestinian terrorists in 2010 – the same year as the first CatC conference. Like Yishai Fleisher, well known to readers here, who recently attended the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville, Tennessee, engaging in spirited and respectful dialogue with leaders of U.S. evangelical Christianity. Like Jonathan Feldstein, an orthodox Jew who regularly and successfully writes for the top evangelical magazine, Charisma. Like Ardie Geldman who for more than ten years has addressed anti-Israel tour groups, most of them ‘Christian,’ that include a token visit to ‘a settler’ in Efrat. Like orthodox Rabbi David Nekrutman, pursuing a Masters degree in Christian studies at Oral Roberts University.

About the Author: Brian Schrauger is a freelance reporter and social media consultant. He currently lives in the Jerusalem area.


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38 Responses to “Bethlehem’s ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ Conference: A Personal Report”

  1. Thanks for this important story. I applaud your courage for reporting from this snakepit. The swastikas on the meeting place are reminiscent of the Wannsee conference, in which Jewish extermination was planned. CATC is a classic anti-Semitic movement dedicated to Hitler's vision in the 21st century

  2. As a veteran of positive engagement with Christian Zionists for almost four decades, I am surprised at this turn of events.

  3. With the SWASTIKA?

  4. Ruth Hirt says:

    Anti-Israelis, anti-Jewish sentiments should not stem from the true Christian adherent's heart, not unless him believer has no genuine conversion in heart and spirit. It is the Holy Spirit Who convicts individuals and guides the faithful believer into all truths. In this end, a professing believer lashing out lies, unjust, false accusations to G_D's heritage, that I call (The Scriptures too) the man's faith is *(in) vain.

  5. LOL. Hey, I have news, the Germans are in fact the ancient Assyrians, and guess what 2 symbols are found in their ancient religion? The iron cross and swastica. 1/3rd of the german language is hebrew in origin. And the 2 langauges contain the shifts in about the same time period. The romans re named the Assrians Germani, meaning war like. xtianity is a fascist religion. So this does not surprise me.

  6. Ruth Hirt says:

    Israel/Jew antagonism an evidence of rebellion to Holy Scriptural creed, tenets. -RH

  7. Christ and swastikas– is this finally an admission?

  8. Keep up your jokes are going to catch up with you., and your knees (will bow!!!!!)

  9. Read this and weep – for all decent-minded, non-Jewish friends of Israel like the excellent Brian Schrauger who wrote the piece.

  10. John Haller says:

    Yisrael Medad: I am afraid that the trend is that this is going to get worse.

  11. Kimberley Palfrey says:

    So very proud of you Brian, knowing what you went through not just the week of the Conference but the whole year before of Spiritual preparation for this assignment and how the Lord had His hand in you being there!! For Such a Time as This, Indeed! Baruch HaShem!

  12. I attended the same conference and have a very different take. A conflict involves more then one point of view, and when people of both sides begin to walk in the shoes of the other there will be a beginning of peaceful reconciliation. Let's all have courage to follow Jesus in doing all we can to build bridges instead of walls. The peace and security for all people in the area will be enhanced when we do.

  13. If you want peace, work for justice.

  14. David Dorris says:

    be sure to look at the facade of the hotel where this conference was held

  15. Dale Ross says:

    Are there other symbols on the facade? Rumor has it that they designed it so that there are symbolic representations of all the world's faiths and beliefs. I'd be hard-pressed to believe that there's a Magen David anywhere to be seen, obviously preferring to include the Nazi swastika.

  16. Jesus at the checkpoint? He wouldn't have to go through a checkpoint; he would be Israeli by virtue of his Jewishness, inherited from his mother Mary. Jesus was, and still would be, a member of the Jewish people, and I suspect he would stand by the necessity of the existence of Israel after the appalling reality of the Holocaust.

  17. You can't captivate or ensnare Christians who look to God instead of listening to men. God told us very clearly what to do with enemies. We have to forgive them. And we have to pray for them. That is very hard sometimes but we still have to do it. It has never been an option. If anyone wants to compare wrongs they need to know that disobeying God is the greatest wrong.

  18. It's ALL happening just as GOD'S WORD prophesy's. Read the WHOLE BOOK.

  19. Agreed!!! However, I would not willing stand by and let someone filled with hate kill me.

  20. YESHUA was NOT there at that conference….except for the JESUS Brian brought with him. Just like the Canadian Pres Church that curses Israel and stands behind the Palestinians. YA also said "I will curse those who curse you and bless those who bless you". HE did NOT say ONLY if Israel is RIGHT.

  21. Pamela Myers says:

    Because someone, or a group of people, identify themselves as Christian, it does not mean that they are Christian at all. A Christian who is walking with and listening to God and His Word will love Israel and pray for her peace – and will not appease her enemies. A Christian will love even the enemies of Israel and will pray for them, but will not take the side of those who want to harm Israel. A discerning Christian will not be deceived by the lies of Israel's enemies.

  22. If Christ were at the checkpoint He would be rebuking his Palestinian "brothers" who believe that suicide bombing is a legitimate form of resistance. The wolves have dressed like sheep.

  23. Conflict does not mean there must be equal culpability. To equate the actions of the I.D.F. with those who openly and actively seek the destruction of a civilian population will not bring about reconciliation. Let's start with the truth.

  24. The division of the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25) has begun. This trend should not surprise you too much Mr. Medad, a significant portion of the church does not fear the Lord. Without fear of the Lord, the foundation for wisdom and understanding will crumble.

  25. Sientje Seinen says:

    What is with the nazi signs at the front of the hotel of the "Christ at the checkpoint conference'?

  26. There is no such thing as "Palestinians" , there is no such a nation, its all a lie, and people do not want to hear it. Palestinians of today actually half Egyptians and half Jordanians, so their homeland is Egypt or Jordan.

  27. if, as a Jew, he would have survived the Holocaust

  28. I agree with your first statement, David. Those who do not "fear" (or hold in awe) the Lord are not in fact a genuine part of the "church"; those who don't fear Him may be on church roles but are not written in the Book of Life.

  29. I agree with Andrei. I apologize for those who claim to be Christian but fail to follow the teachings of Christ. Please know that there are many Christians who fully support Israel and daily pray for peace in Israel and I do not mean a peace that divides Israel. I believe you are being very generous to the Arabs who have caused you so much pain for so long. G-d bless you and bring you peace.

  30. Thank you Brian for your honest and clear assessment of CATC2014. I'm sure you know Kay Wilson, a Palestinian terrorist attack victim was not allowed to speak at CATC2012. However, Palestinian Dr. Izeeldin Abuelaish, who lost three daughters in an IDF military action, was allowed to speak this year as Sami Awad interviewed the doctor via Skype. So victims of Palestinian terrorism are not relevant and cannot share their stories with the CATC audience but victims of IDF military actions are given front and center stage. What ugly hypocrisy. Thanks for your excellent article and all those tweets during the conference.
    Louis Lapides

  31. John Conrad says:

    I understand why there would be a "Palestinian" point of view and also a "Jewish" point of view. What I don't understand is the lack of responsible journalism among major news organizaitons. As the author states how do you equate the actions of a military engaged in a response to violent aggression to senseless acts of terrorism launched against civilians even children? Where is the world reaction to the dismal leadership of the Palestinians who do not want peace but Israel's destruction, who do not want a solution but want to perpetuate the conflict as it has become their rasion d'etre? Christianity demands that we speak the truth in love but this does stipulate that we speak the truth not propaganda.

  32. Nancy Rexin Evans says:

    Interesting article!

  33. Clear, honest reporting. "I find myself nauseous, shocked and soiled in my soul" perfectly describes one's reaction to the Anti-Jewish, and Anti-true-Christian, spirit of Amalek.

  34. Michele Guthrie Bartlett says:

    Look closely at the pillar … says it all.

  35. yes the nazi signs on the wall for all to read, wake up people

  36. Yisrael Medad, these are not really Christian Zionists. A true christian zionist stands with Israel all the way through!

  37. David Baynes says:

    Good article. Just got back from an evening the same anti-Israel gang from this group mentioned above – and standing up for Israel and asking challenging questions to the Sebeel group here in the UK doing the rounds here showing the anti-Israel film called 'The Stones cry out' about one-sided Palestinian stories… We Keep on Standing with Israel here in England and speak for truth! Am Israel Chai! SEE THE LINK AND WARN OTHERS – http://www.thestonescryoutmovie.com

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The facade of the Bethlehem Jacir Palace Hotel were the Christ at the Checkpoint conference was held.

I did not go with the intention of making waves, but when I announced that I was reporting for The Jewish Press, there was no turning back.

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