The idea that Christians are obligated to share the gospel with Jews while at the same time are given leave (or even encouraged) to ignore acts of violence against them is the hidden centerpiece of Christ at the Checkpoint Theology.
Sara has been kind enough to unveil this centerpiece for all the world to see.
He did us this favor in a recent article in the “Voices” section of The Christian Post, a popular Christian website published in England. Ostensibly, the article, titled Jeroboam, Abishalom, Trump and Their Advisors, published on 27 February, was a critique of evangelical Protestants in the U.S. who reportedly convinced U.S, President Donald Trump to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
Sara did not name the evangelical advisors who urged President Trump to make the move (which, by the way, was initially set in motion by an act of Congress in 1995).
Regardless, Sara declared that these unnamed advisors support Israel “to promote their eschatology concerning the coming of Christ.” This eschatology, he said, is dependent on Jerusalem being under “Jewish control so that a third temple can be built.” The goal is to provoke the arrival of the antichrist and witness the establishment of his kingdom which, in turn, will bring about Armageddon and then the Kingdom of God.
To borrow a word from post-modernism, Sara’s depiction of Christian Zionism is monolithic.
Evangelical Protestants who support Israel do so for a number of reasons. They include remorse over the Holocaust, a sincere love for the Jewish people, gratitude for the Hebrew Bible, and the conviction that when God says a promise is forever, he means it. Yes, some Christian Zionists believe in the rapture and Armageddon, but not all of them. The vast majority of those who do believe these things make no connection between them and their support for the Jewish State of Israel.
Maybe it’s time to insist that critics of Christian Zionism be required to use the phrase, “Christian Zionism(s),” if for no other reason that it will encourage the movement’s critics to come to grips with the complexities of the movement as a whole. (Hint: A good place to start is with the writings of Gerald McDermott.)
What we are seeing is a reverse of what Palestinian intellectual Edward Said called “Orientalism.” Said condemned Western scholars for coming up with a false mythology about the Middle East that justified Western imperialism in the region.
But here we have Sara and other Palestinian Christians doing this very thing regarding evangelicals who stand with Israel. What they repeatedly offer is a monolithic view of these evangelicals in order to justify their own demonization of the Jewish state.
Let’s call Sara’s mythological and distorted view of evangelicals whom he dislikes precisely what it is: Occidentalism, a crippling world view that deflects attention away from problems indigenous to the Middle East and deflects moral blame for suffering in the region.
Along these lines, Sara downplays the issue of antisemitism that motivates anti-Israel hostility in Palestinian society. Instead, he places responsibility for regional Jew-hatred squarely on the shoulders of Westerners. Sara tells us the Palestinians are a semitic people and that antisemitism “has historically been a Western issue rather than something that is rooted in these semitic lands.”
The fact of the matter is that there has been a long standing problem with Jew-hatred in Islam, the religion that dominates the semitic lands of the Middle East, whether Sara wants to confront it or not.
Haj Amin Al Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, invoked Islam’s anti-Jewish messaging, present in the Koran, the Hadiths and Mohammed’s biography, when he allied himself with Hitler in an effort to prevent Israel’s creation.
As far as the notion that the Palestinians cannot be antisemites because they are semites ignores the context of the word antisemitism, which was created by Wilhelm Marr in the 1800s to denote contempt for Jews.
Sara’s “we’re semites too” argument is akin to someone from Italy declaring that they too are Latinos, because their language, like that of Spanish-speakers in the Americas, is rooted in Latin. Sara’s illogic is an attempt to distract people from the animating and unifying agenda of Jew-hatred that has hindered the ability of Palestinians to make peace with Israel and build a future for themselves.
A prophetic Christian would confront this problem, not obscure it.
But Sara has done even more than obscure the problem; he has praised it.
After a Facebook commentor at one of his articles at the Christian Post called Christian supporters of Israel “shabbos goys” and hurled the epithet “Zio-supremacists” at pro-Israel activists, Sara thanked him for his support.
In his 27 February 2018 and for the fifth time, Sara also condemns the Trump Administration for moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
Okay, we get it. Sara thinks Trump made a bad decision. But when is Sara going to start talking about the misrule of Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority?
Like it or not, disdain for Abbas in American society was one of the factors that led to Trump’s decision to move the embassy.
You would think that Sara would have something to say about Abbas’s misdeeds. While he himself lives in Jerusalem under Israel's control, he is a vocal supporter of the Palestinian national cause. Its elites have promoted genocidal hostility against Jews for decades. You won’t find much criticism of this incitement against Israel and Jews at Christ at the Checkpoint conferences.
But whatever you do, Sara's readers should not dare to think that his silence about Palestinian Jew-hatred is rooted in his own disdain for Jews. Perish the thought!
Unlike evangelicals in the U.S., Sara loves Jews enough to share the gospel with them—even if he can’t bring himself to condemn Muslim antisemitism in the Middle East. Sara chides evangelicals for not loving Jews the way he says they ought to do:
[I]f Evangelicals truly loved our dear Jewish brothers, they would have invested more towards reaching them with the gospel and supporting ministries among the Jewish people. They would have preached the true Gospel that no man shall be saved without Christ, rather than justifying or ignoring the injustice and cruelty of an occupation that feeds hatred towards another people—the Palestinians.
In a subsequent paragraph, Sara says he is worried about evangelical witness to Jews and Arabs in light of the end-times theology held by some evangelicals, declaring,
It is madness and anti-gospel to hold a theology that dismisses their need for salvation now and leaves it until after another holocaust.
This is the third goal of Sara’s rhetorical hat trick.
First, he downplays the relationship between the Palestinian national cause led by the Grand Mufti his enthusiastic support of Nazis who perpetrated a Holocaust.
Second, he distracts his readers from the genocidal hostility toward Jews and Israel that has manifested itself in the violence perpetrated by groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.
After doing these two things, Sara connects Israel’s evangelical supporters in the U.S. to a potential holocaust.
This is the underlying logic of Occidentalism: Nothing is ever the fault of the Arabs or Muslims in the Middle East and all the problems in the region are rooted in what outsiders have done.
All this begs a question: If Sara truly loves his dear Jewish (and Muslim!) brothers and sisters in the Middle East, why doesn't he invest any energy confronting Islamic Jew-hatred in Palestinian society? Both Jews and Muslims suffer as a result of Muslim Jew-hatred. Moreover, Christian failure to speak up about this problem contributes to Jewish disdain for the Christian faith.
One of Sara’s main talking points is that evangelical support for Israel, especially from those in the U.S., undermines the credibility of Christianity in the Middle East. Because Muslim hostility toward Christianity existed long before modern-day Zionism, it is a dubious claim.
If however, and for the sake of argument, we grant some degree of merit to it, must we not also consider that Christian indifference toward Islamic antisemitism—so evident in the polemics of Christian peacemakers—harms Christianity’s reputation among Jews in the region?
Thus, if Sara really wants to share the gospel with his beloved Jewish neighbors, should he not, at the very least, go through the motions of condemning indigenous Jew-hatred in the Holy Land?
Does he really expect readers to buy the notion that Jew-hatred in the Middle East is entirely a matter of Christian and Western import? Does he think Christians in the West have not read the Koran, studied the Hadiths and read about Mohammed’s life, where hostility of the Jews is taken to cosmic levels?
The upshot is this: With his recent article in The Christian Post, Sara has dropped the mask of peacemaking to reveal his true visage: he is that sort of a Christian who thinks that one can share the gospel with Jews while at the same time ignoring physical and ideological threats to their safety. He chides evangelicals for not sharing the love of Christ with Jews while at the same time working to shut down honest discussions about antisemitism in Palestinian society.
That’s a funny sort of love, one that Jews have seen before and have decided they can do with out.
Who knew that tolerating and ignoring murderous hostility toward potential converts is congruent with sharing the Christian gospel with them? But apparently it is when those potential converts are Jews. At least it is for the president of Bethlehem Bible College and the Christ at the Checkpoint movement that he leads.
Dexter Van Zile is Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). His opinions are his own.