All along this has been the modus operandi of the Palestinian-Arabs and their supporters. They have fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians; committed shootings, stonings and bombings; and incited hatred and violence among the Palestinian-Arab population. Outside of the region they seek to defame or delegitimize Israel or punish Israel economically. This onslaught has been incessant. Hardly the ingredients for “peace.”
A major conference taking place in Philadelphia on March 28 and 29 by supporters of the Palestinian-Arabs looks to perpetuate the attacks rather than end them.
Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) is staging “The Role of the US in Israel-Palestine: Current Realities and Creative Responses” at the American Friends Service Committee (the Quakers) headquarters in Center City Philadelphia. FOSNA is a support arm of a radical Christian Palestinian-Arab group based in Jerusalem called Sabeel.
Sabeel is a stew of Christian liberation theology and replacement theology that politicizes religion to advance a political agenda. In this case, that agenda is an end to the Israel we know and love; an Israel that serves as a vital ally to America.
Rather than truly seeking ways to co-exist or to build up a normal Palestinian-Arab society, FOSNA has assembled a roster of Israel haters and antagonists to present discussions and workshops geared toward delegitimizing and defaming Israel, hurting the Jewish state economically and eroding support for Israel – particularly among American Christians.
Based on a conference schedule posted on its Web site, the FOSNA conference will encourage the termination of American military aid to Israel; recast “the Israel-Palestine conflict as a civil rights struggle, with parallels to South Africa and the American South;” seek to increase anti-Israel activities on campuses; and promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. FOSNA believes that the mainstream media is not already biased against Israel and thus will discuss strategies to make it more unfavorable to Israel, and to turn more Christians against Israel.
According to its Web site, conference sponsors include: Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, American Friends Service Committee (Quakers), the Catholic Peace Fellowship, the Philadelphia Coalition for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Jews for a Just Peace, and the Peacemaking Committee of the Presbytery of Philadelphia.
To the Jewish community, the lack of a consistent position regarding Israel within Christianity can be confusing. Groups including Friends of Israel (founded in 1938), Christians United For Israel (founded about a decade ago) and smaller groups such as Delaware’s Olive Tree Ministries are fervently pro-Israel, while other Christians such as the Quakers and “Main Line” Protestant denominations have been antagonistic toward Israel. This divide is as old as the modern State of Israel itself.
When the State of Israel declared its independence in 1948, many Palestinian-Christian clergymen abandoned the Hebrew Bible because they believed it was too Zionist. In an effort to reclaim it for their people, they replaced the Israelites with Palestinians in the narrative. For example, instead of adhering to the biblical context of the Exodus, they supplant that with an interpretation of the Palestinian-Arabs going to the Knesset, saying: “Let my people go!”
“Palestinian Liberation Theology” takes interpretive liberties with the biblical accounts and prophecies of the Hebrew Bible in order to mold it to specific political and theological agendas. It maintains that certain Torah passages are outdated and irrelevant, claiming they reveal a primitive way of understanding G-d’s revelation to man. A majority of these “irrelevant” sections often involve G-d’s promise to give or return the Jewish people to their land.
“Palestinian Liberation Theology” is still considered fringe within mainstream Christianity. Its proponents wish to advance the cause of the Palestinian Christians, who desire to create a Palestinian state. The impetus for the movement stems from “Replacement Theology,” a faulty method of biblical interpretation that claims the church has replaced the role of Israel in the Bible. Denominations that commonly hold to “Replacement Theology” to a degree include some Catholics, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Methodists.
About the Author: Steve Feldman is executive director of the Zionist Organization of America's Greater Philadelphia District. Christopher J. Katulka is church ministries representative and director of ORIGINS for the Friends of Israel.
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