The report also quotes Dexter van Zile, a researcher and writer for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America [CAMERA] as saying: “The story told in this movement is of Israeli guilt and Palestinian suffering and innocence.”
Bishraw Awad, former president of Bethlehem Bible College opened the CATC with a pledge of Allegiance to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas: “As evangelicals we pledge our allegiance to Palestinian President Abbas and the Prime Minister.”
Not only did Abbas complete his PhD with a dissertation that was replete with holocaust denial, he recently reaffirmed that the Palestinians will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state and also declared that any Palestinian state must be completely free of Jews. Yet, possibly to be on both sides of the issue, Alex Awad, a professor at Bethlehem Bible College stated he is “not against Jews living in this country,” emphasizing that the “gospel is and should be good news for both Palestinians and Israelis.”
Just before the turn of the new year, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned Abbas for referring to Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails as “heroes.” The prime minister rightly stated that “murderers are not heroes” and added that, “Peace can be achieved only when the education toward incitement and toward the destruction of Israel is stopped.”
In response to the groundbreaking warning about the CATC by the Israeli government, CATC speaker Gary M. Burge, professor of New Testament at Wheaton College in Illinois, told Christianity Today by email that the statement was “tragic on so many levels” and “ill-informed.” He also accused the Israeli government of political propaganda, of being absurd and called the statement “an incitement.” Ironically, he substantiated the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s warning by accusing the Israeli government of being “worried about this gathering because every year evangelicals are growing in their understanding of this conflict and questioning the standard Israeli narrative of things” — even as during the conference, rockets were being launched from inside Gaza across the border into southern Israel.
For those who need a reminder about the contents of the Charter of Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip and has a joint agreement with Abbas and Fatah, it states that Israel “will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors.” It also echoes the motto of its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood: “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”
Despite the anti-Israel propaganda, Luke Moon, of the Institute on Religion & Democracy in Washington, D.C, issued a critical warning about the conference’s agenda, referring to the organizers of the CATC as “saavy” and having “found a way to reach Middle America….they took the liberals out of the program and kept the conservatives. The liberals were prominent at CATC 2010 and 2012, but they are gone.”
Back in 2012, David Parsons, media director of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem [ICEJ], warned that “what makes this ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ conference unusual is that it is largely an initiative of Christians from the Evangelical movement, whose ranks traditionally have held favorable views on Israel.” ICEJ Executive Director Reverend Malcolm Hedding — a South African-born anti-apartheid activist, theologian and evangelical minister — also pointed out in 2012 that “certain segments of evangelical Christianity are being drawn away from the movement’s traditional support for Israel by those claiming the moral high ground in advocating for social justice.” He stated that many of these “liberal, anti-Israel Evangelicals” are showing up at the CATC conference and they view Israel as an “occupying power oppressing the Palestinians.” Hedding also pointed out a disturbing fact that they use Israel’s security “wall as a prominent symbol of injustice” and that “such imagery is powerful and takes well informed minds to counter them.” He further warned that “the lack of information has started to dupe many Evangelicals, who are being shamed into abandoning Israel because they are supposedly uncompassionate and blocking peace;” and that finally, “this new initiative aims to totally discredit pro-Israel Evangelicals with clever lies and distortions.”