Zionism: Israel's Claim to the Land

Nothing seems clear about the protracted Palestinian-Israeli conflict except that nothing seems clear. Pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian, neither Jews nor Christians can agree on even fundamental levels regarding the thorny mess. Arab Muslims see the bloody dispute as a rallying point for Islam, meanwhile making no obvious attempts to take in the Palestinians they eagerly portray as beleaguered and persecuted. (This week, as militants who had holed up in The Church of the Nativity for weeks sought exile, no Arab state received them--just as happened in 1948, when the British Partition Plan created displaced Palestinians).

Zionist Jews, some secular and some religious, lay claim to either the political right to the current state of Israel or, alternately, the Biblical promise and mandate to possess all of historical Palestine and beyond. Christians divide along several lines, including those:

Daily news coverage--at least in the United States--picks up the story of struggles as if it started only recently. This myopia--often leaning towards the pro-Palestinian side--overlooks a long history of Diaspora (dispersion of Jews, thus exiled from their original homeland) and persecution, as well as Jewish and Christian Zionism (most notably springing from Victorian England). Above all, mainstream news outlets seldom give attention to the siren calls for Israel's utter destruction by large numbers of Palestinians and Arab Muslims and the prohibitive environment this creates for peace. On the other hand, the conservative--sometimes evangelical Christian--reaction tends to overlook Palestinian human rights and the sizeable population of Palestinian Christians.

Few other causes polarize and inflame like this one. Israel compares its military actions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (areas Israel conquered during the 1967 War) to America's War on Terrorism, recalling the Arab refusal to honor the UN Partition Plan of 1947 and immediate attack on the day-old state of Israel. Palestinian militant groups view so-called suicide bombings as necessary to secure freedom for their long-displaced people. The world looks on, parts of which show increasing anti-Semitism, especially Western Europe. American Christians call on President Bush to denounce the rising anti-Semitic sentiments (see link in list below).

How is a layperson to understand the issues, given the plethora of perspectives: secular Jewish Zionist, scriptural Jewish Zionist, Christian Dual-Covenant Zionist, Christian Zionist (not Dual-Covenant), Palestinian Christian (tolerant of Jewish right to land or otherwise), anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic, etc.? A brief, biblical-evangelical (but balanced within that category) viewpoint on the convoluted issues follows in our Special Focus. You will also find a Jewish Zionist perspective, along with some requisite history and resources for further research from various viewpoints.

—Byron Barlowe, Editor/Webmaster, Leadership University

Featured Articles:

Engaging Israel's Disengagement—NEW
Jill Nelson
Provides a useful basic primer on three basic viewpoints of the evangelical Protestant Church regarding Israel's role and right to the Palestinian land now that settlers from Gaza and the West Bank are being relocated. Mainline denominations, dispensationalists and reformed traditions vary from liberation theology to nearly unqualified pro-Israel to a qualified view of Israel that makes allowance for Palestinian autonomy.

Land Divine?
John Piper
How should bible-believing Christians align themselves in the Jewish-Palestinian conflict? There are biblical reasons for treating both sides with compassionate public justice in the same way that disputes should be settled between nations generally. In other words, the Bible does not teach us to be partial today to Israel or to the Palestinians because either has a special divine status. Israel has a unique place in God's plans, but this status does not warrant a claim, at the present time, to divine prerogatives. Note: from a covenant theological position.

Five Key Biblical Arguments for Israel's Right to the Land
John S. Kanter

Kanter, a Messianic Jew and traveling speaker, outlines well-footnoted reasons for the Biblical claim to the land traditionally known as Palestine. His views are based in dispensationalist theology and highlight the eternal (or unconditional) covenant that the God of Israel made with Abraham and his descendents.

The Zionist Imperative
Emil L. Fackenheim
A Jewish Zionist perspective: Fackenheim, by stepping through the mid-Twentieth Century history of the Jews, argues for the reasonableness--actually the inevitability, if they were to survive--of a Jewish homeland, given the persecution and shunning of a homeless people.

The Untold Story
Jamie Cowen
The author discusses the role of Christian Zionists in the establishment of modern-day Israel.

Israel's History Written in Advance
Robert C. Newman, condensed by Rich Milne
In the Old Testament, God made many predictions about nations and cities and their fate. With remarkable accuracy, archeology shows that in every case, what God predicted would happen even hundreds of years later, came to pass. That the Jews still exist is an amazing testimony to God's faithfulness even as He judged the nations around them.

Who is 'Israel' and What is Her Future?
Jonathan Went
The author discusses the issue of what, biblically, is meant by the term 'Israel,' and what God has planned for the future of the Jewish nation.

Related Articles and Link:

'To bigotry no sanction'
World Magazine
On April 25, 2002, seven Christian leaders wrote the following open letter to President Bush in response to a growing number of anti-Semitic incidents around the world.

Remnant Theology: A Different Perspective on Israel and the Church
John Gay
Through the centuries there have been two predominant concepts concerning the relationship between Israel and the Church. Is it possible that both of these popular positions have been somewhat in error? Is there a middle ground of truth?

News From Israel
Web site of David Dolan, "Broadcast Journalist, Popular Speaker, Author" CBS radio correspondent and resident of Israel since 1980, Dolan's experience covering the Middle East is vast. See the link to Monthly News Digest on his homepage.

Other Viewpoints:

(Editorial Note: LeadershipU provides URLs, not links, in the interest of avoiding dead links in the future.)

Dual-Covenant Christian Zionism Perspective:
Christian Zionism
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

Christian Zionism Web site:
THE LAND OF ISRAEL - A Christian Zionist View
By Halvor Ronning, Board Member of the ICEJ

"Anti-Zionism" Perspective:
Christian Zionism Web site
Arab Press: Christian Zionists Aren't Real Christians
Christian Zionist site synopsizes and responds to anti-Zionist comments by Fr. Atallah Hanna, official spokesman of the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem.

Pro-Palestinian Perspective:
The Middle Eastern Research and Information Project
MERIP Primer on the Uprising in Palestine

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