In a lengthy declaration labeled as a message of "faith, hope and love," dozens of Arab Christian leaders from various churches represented in the region denounced Israel as the main obstacle to peace and rejected the validity of the biblical link between the Jews and the land.
Published on Friday by regional leaders of the Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican and Baptists churches, the document, titled "A Moment of Truth," lamented that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process had reached an impasse, and that there was now little hope of reversing "Palestinian suffering."
"We, a group of Christian Palestinians, after prayer, reflection and an exchange of opinion, cry out from within the suffering in our country, under the Israeli occupation, with a cry of hope in the absence of all hope, a cry full of prayer and faith in a God ever vigilant, in God's divine providence for all the inhabitants of this land," read the statement. "Today we have reached a dead end in the tragedy of the Palestinian people."
Israel was solely blamed for the situation. In a section titled "The reality on the ground," the Christian leaders listed the reasons peace had not been reached, including Israel's security wall, the presence of Jews in Judea and Samaria, Israeli checkpoints, the jailing of Palestinian terrorists, and Israel's control of a unified Jerusalem.
Like their Muslim counterparts, the Christian leaders insisted that the suicide bombings and other attacks against Israelis that necessitate many of the above measures are not terrorism, but rather legitimate resistance:
"Israel justifies its actions as self-defense... In our opinion, this vision is a reversal of reality. Yes, there is Palestinian resistance to the occupation. However, if there were no occupation, there would be no resistance, no fear and no insecurity."
That position, of course, ignores the fact that Arab terrorism against Israel began long before 1967, when Israel liberated the so-called "Palestinian territories" from Jordanian occupation and took possession of them in line with the original UN mandate for the region.
The leaders then took aim at Evangelical Christians around the world that support Israel based on biblical precepts.
"[Jesus] came with 'a new teaching' (Mk 1:27), casting a new light on the Old Testament, on the themes that relate to our Christian faith and our daily lives, themes such as the promises, the election, the people of God and the land," read the statement.
"For this reason, it is unacceptable to transform the Word of God into letters of stone... This is precisely the error in fundamentalist Biblical interpretation that brings us death and destruction when the word of God is petrified and transmitted from generation to generation as a dead letter. This dead letter is used as a weapon in our present history in order to deprive us of our rights in our own land," it continued.
The Christian leaders insisted that the biblical mission of universal salvation had everything to do with the land itself and the body of believers in it, and not with the Nation of Israel, as defined in scripture. They were adamant that the Bible offers no spiritual or divine mandate for the Jews to have sovereignty over the land today:
"We know that certain theologians in the West try to attach a biblical and theological legitimacy to the infringement of our rights. Thus, the promises, according to their interpretation, have become a menace to our very existence.
"We declare that any use of the Bible to legitimize or support political options and positions that are based upon injustice, imposed by one person on another, or by one people on another, transform religion into human ideology and strip the Word of God of its holiness, its universality and truth.
"We also declare that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land is a sin against God and humanity because it deprives the Palestinians of their basic human rights, bestowed by God."
Many will recognize these positions as thinly-disguised Replacement Theology. While the church leaders are not calling for Jews to be expelled from the land, they are disputing the Jews' right to lay claim to biblical promises, since in the Christians' view, those promises are either no longer valid, or have been transferred to "the Church."
Ironically, while the bulk of the statement rejected the politicization of spiritual matters when they were used to justify Israel's right to the land, the Christian leaders demanded political "justice" and the fulfillment of their political aims in the name of "Christian love."
Israel is home to many Arab Christian-run ministries that advocate peace and reconciliation, both good and biblical goals. However, with very few exceptions, their idea of reconciliation is nothing short of Jews getting on their knees and begging for forgiveness for "stealing" Arab lands, and offering to unconditionally return that land.
Want more news from Israel?
Click Here to sign up for our FREE daily email updates