Bible believing Christians have supported and prayed for the modern State of Israel since before its inception in 1948. Many see the prophetic theme of the return of the Jews to their ancient homeland as having its fulfilment in modern-day Israel as Jews make Aliyah from across the world, joining Jewish communities who have lived continuously in the Land for thousands of years.
From Israel’s 1948 War of Independence until after the 6-Day War of 1967 people in the UK generally viewed Israel as David to the Arab world’s Goliath and welcomed Israel’s survival in two wars against all the odds. Support began to dwindle after 1967, largely due to the success of Yasser Arafat in changing the West’s perception of the conflict by promoting the ‘Palestinian narrative’.
The success of Palestinian narrative has taken many Bible-believing Christians by surprise. They see it promoted in the media. They hear their children and grandchildren parroting it from lessons in schools and on campuses. Even in some evangelical Churches, Israel’s friends discover that their dearly-held Scriptural arguments in support of Israel mean nothing to those who question Israel’s very right to exist. Why is this? What has changed?
The main reason is that the Palestinian narrative has shifted the way in which the Middle East conflict is framed. It focuses on ‘the rights of indigenous people’, ‘Justice’ and ‘colonialism’. In this new story, Israel is cast as the powerful regional bully colonising foreign soil. No longer exiles returning home after 2000 years of persecution, Jewish Israelis are portrayed as European invaders who exploit and steal the land of the indigenous Palestinians, just as western powers did in Africa and India in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Many Evangelical supporters of Israel have been wrong-footed by this new, powerful narrative. Their Scriptural justifications for Israel no longer count with the people whose views they want to challenge – even fellow Christians. Yes, instinct tells them that the media portrays the Israel unfairly and inaccurately, and our politicians too often blame Israel whilst ignoring Palestinian terror and aggression. But Israel’s Christian friends too often lack confidence to challenge the vociferous Palestinian lobby, and for many years Israel’s opponents have promoted their position without any opposition.
The results have been disastrous. Not only have public perceptions and policy over Israel undergone a sea change, but the UK has seen a huge rise in antisemitism, much of it cloaked as opposition to Israel. Our Jewish community is experiencing physical attacks against people and property on a level unimaginable 30 years ago. Anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial is rife on social media, especially when Israel is forced to take measures against terrorist groups.
But there is a fresh move amongst Israel’s friends, Christian, Jewish and non-religious. They are taking a stand on social media, with their MPs and even on the streets. They are no longer prepared to give falsehoods about Israel – and the antisemitism that springs from them – a free pass.
These advocacy pages aim to inform and enable Israel’s Christian friends to go beyond prayer and join the conversation; to write to MPs or MEPs and engage friends and family. Others may challenge bias or inaccuracy in media coverage of the conflict or attend events as a voice for truth. Israel’s friends are standing up to be counted. Will you?
Israel’s friends are standing up to be counted. Will you?
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