From Israel’s 1948 war of Independence until after the 6-Day War of 1967 the world largely saw Israel’s struggle for survival as David to the Arab world’s Goliath. All that changed after 1967, largely due to the success of Yasser Arafat in changing the world’s perception of the conflict by promoting the ‘Palestinian narrative’.
This Palestinian narrative has taken many Christians by surprise. They see it promoted in the media. They hear their school and university children and grandchildren parroting it from their lessons and campuses. In churches, even some evangelical Churches, Israel’s friends find their dearly-held Bible-based arguments in support of the Jewish state mean nothing to those who challenge 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 conversation about the Middle East conflict is conducted. The language now used is that of Human Rights, Peace and Justice. In this narrative, Israel now cast as the well- armed regional bully oppressing the Palestinians. Israel not seen as home to which Jews returned after 2000 years of exile but a western colony in the style of the 18th and 19th century colonies with attendant evils of exploitation and usurping the land of indigenous people.
(It plays well into the world view that the Left has promoted in universities from the 1960s and since then has cascaded into the media, politics, public services and schools. In this world view, the West, particularly the United States, is the greatest promulgator of all that is harmful and evil to humankind. Israel, being a US ally and an outpost of western values in a sea of Muslim countries whose civic values largely run contrary to the West’s became a symbol and a target for those who hate the West both on the Left and in the Muslim world.)
The main reason is that the Palestinian narrative has shifted the way in which the conversation about the Middle East conflict is conducted.
They know instinctively that the portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in the media is unfair and inaccurate and that our politicians often unfairly criticise Israel.
Evangelical supporters of Israel have largely been wrong-footed by this new, powerful narrative. They find their Scriptural basis for supporting Israel holding less and less weight with the people whose views they want to challenge. They know instinctively that the portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in the media is unfair and inaccurate and that our politicians often unfairly criticise Israel whilst whitewashing Palestinian terror and aggression. But, unsure of the politics and history, Israel’s Christian friends have too often been silent, allowing Israel’s opponents to dominate opinion-forming and foreign policy.
Now there is a new move afoot. Israel’s friends – Christian, Jewish and non-religious – realise that the Palestinian narrative can no longer be allowed a free pass in the media and, crucially, with policy makers. Their concern is not just linked to public perceptions and policy about Israel. There is also alarm over the rise in antisemitism in Europe and the UK, much of which poses as opposition to ‘Zionism’ – the belief that Jews have a right to self-determination in their ancient homeland. Jews in the UK are experiencing anti-Semitic abuse and assault on a level unimaginable 30 years ago. Anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and attacks on property have risen to alarming levels in the UK, particularly when Israel is conducting security operations against Palestinian terrorists.
Many of Israel’s Christian friends identify with Scriptural passages about the ‘Watchmen on the Walls’ and these pages are about doing just that.