The following is the first in a short series of responses by Israeli Messianic Jewish leaders to a problematic video produced by Bethlehem Bible College regarding this summer's Gaza war.
Bishara Awad (pictured), founder and former president of Bethlehem Bible College, opens this video with a stark announcement: "There is a church of Jesus Christ here in this land and that church is the Palestinian church." He then warns his American Christian audience that without their help, "the church will disappear from this part of the world."
Awad's comments lay the theological basis for the highly political message of this short video. According to Awad, only the "Palestinian church" has the right to receive the support of American Christians in the west, because they alone are the "Church of Jesus Christ" in this land. In one sentence, Awad has declared the Body of Messiah "judenrein" ("free of Jews"), even as Hamas has declared its intent to purge "Palestine" of its Jewish inhabitants. Awad and Hamas have a shared theology of Replacement: Palestinians replace the Jews, whether in the community of faith or in the community of nations.
Awad's exclusion of the Messianic Jewish Community (numbering 10-15,000) from the Body of Messiah in the Land is used to perpetuate the lie that the Arab-Israeli conflict is "a war of the Jews against the Christians," which therefore demands the political intervention of the Christian world on behalf of their beleaguered Palestinian brethren. In fact, nominal Christians (almost all being Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox) make up less than 2% of the total Palestinian Arab population. The overwhelming majority are Muslims, many of whom support jihadist terrorist (aka "resistance") movements like Hamas.
It is therefore not surprising to hear a later interviewee declare, "We have been under Israeli occupation for 65 years"; that is, since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. For the producers of this video, liberation from "the Occupation" can only be accomplished by the destruction of Israel, reversing the "nakba" or catastrophe which befell Israel's enemies when they failed in their attempted "infanticide" of the new-born Jewish state.
Rather than using their media department to produce evangelistic and discipleship materials, BBC has 'unequally yoked' itself to an Islamic political program, becoming the Christian "face" of what is at its root an anti-Christian, anti-Semitic jihadist movement. Although Awad begins with a plea for "help...prayer...love" for the sake of the "church", his true goal has nothing to do with lofty spiritual principles. Instead the repeated chorus of this video is "to make big pressures in the United States", "to push their governments", and to "lobby your congressmen, senators, and your president."
Bethlehem Bible College, through its sponsorship of the Christ at the Checkpoint conferences, claims to be a force for "peace, justice, and reconciliation" for the sake of the "Kingdom of God." They seek to recruit Messianic Jews into this movement, claiming that they are both "pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel." Such claims run aground on the reefs of their violent rhetoric, as evidenced in this video: "The suffering is going to be extended to their [the Israelis] land if they keep going.... This is not a war, it is a genocide."
Even children are exploited for the sake of the cause, to recite the same twisted, one-sided litany that Hamas spokesmen have repeated daily to western reporters: "Enough support for Israel! This support is destroying Gaza using illegal bombs and hitting hospitals and schools and shelters and destroying Gaza and its people."
If this is the gospel of Bethlehem "Bible" College, it is "a different gospel" (Galatians 1:6), not worthy of the One whom they claim to serve.