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Press Statements

Arab sector survey

The results of a pioneering nationwide survey funded by the International Christianity Embassy Jerusalem and commissioned by the Forum of Social Services Directors for the Arab Community were released last week identifying the most pressing social needs and funding priorities among Israel’s Arab minority. Considered the most comprehensive study ever conducted of Arab sector welfare bureaus, the results will be used to guide Israeli authorities in targeting the most critical problems revealed by the survey: social workers overburdened by case loads involving large families, and not enough specialists in handling at-risk children.

Now 20% of Israel’s population, the Arab sector is well ahead of most Arab populations in the region in terms of economic development and well-being. Yet there are still many daunting challenges within the Israeli Arab community, which lags well behind the national averages according to most economic indicators. This gap is growing again due to the increasing number of large Arab families with low wage-earners and multiple children.

Carmi Ashboren, a consultant for several non-profit agencies combating social ills like poverty and domestic violence, approached the ICEJ AID department last year on behalf of the Forum with a request for funding of the ground-breaking survey of Arab social needs.

“There were prior surveys done of the Arab sector, but their conclusions were never adopted by the government,” said Ashboren. “This time, the Ministry of Social Welfare has commented positively on the findings and is much more likely to use the results. New minister Moshe Kahlon (Likud) is also receptive to the survey’s findings.”

“We were extremely pleased to fund this first systematic study of the welfare needs of Israeli Arab society,” added Rev. Malcolm Hedding, Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy. “It is also our hope that the results will be used effectively to lift many deserving families out of poverty and its ill effects, while also demonstrating Israel’s credentials as a fair and just society.”

The Forum is an umbrella organization set up in 2003 to coordinate efforts among directors of welfare departments in the 75 Arab-run municipalities throughout Israel. Working in unison, the Forum has managed to secure increased expenditures for the Arab sector from the annual state budget in recent years. But this has failed to keep pace with the growing numbers of large families in need of social welfare services. In addition, municipal sources of funding – which by law account for one-quarter of social welfare budgets – have been cut due to the global financial downturn. This in turn reduces the state’s 75% share, as it is based on matching funds.

“Due to severe pressures, most welfare departments devote their time and resources to extinguishing fires, rather than on planning and activities which can prevent them,” explained Emile Sema'an, chairman of the Forum and the head social worker in the mixed Druze-Christian town of Peqi’in. “This problem is even greater in the Arab sector since most of the population falls within a low socio-economic category.”

Using a NIS 115,000 grant from the ICEJ, the Forum commissioned the Massar Institute for Social Research, Planning and Consultation, assisted by a team of researchers from the (non-profit) Organization for Equal Opportunities, to conduct the comprehensive survey with the aim of pinpointing the most glaring deficiencies and recommending solutions. Social welfare managers in twenty of the 75 Arab-majority municipalities took part in the extensive interview process concerning current practices and needs. The results have been compiled in an 85-page report that has been sent to all social welfare departments in the country.

Ashboren is confident the study will lead to increased resources and enhanced performance for the Arab sector and applauded the Forum for deciding to conduct it. “The Forum does not focus on protests and complaining, but has a professional approach for constructive action in close cooperation with governmental authorities, local and national, with proven success” noted Ashboren.

The main findings of the survey include:
  1. Most managers of Arab welfare departments are saddled with too much daily case work themselves to engage in proper planning, budgeting and administrative duties.
  2. Half the Arab welfare departments have no case workers trained in the field of at-risk children, which is the most urgent problem area in the Arab sector.
  3. Over 30% of the households in Arab communities are in need of social assistance, rising to 50% of households in four municipalities.
  4. The two main types of social aid recipients were at-risk children (37%), and individuals living in poverty (20.5%).
  5. The social problems that have steadily grown over the past five years are poverty, unemployment and violence.
  6. Lack of manpower, specialized training and budgets are the major obstacles to the adequate handling of most of these social problems.
  7. Social workers in the Jewish sector handle 43% fewer cases on average than in the Arab sector, with the average size of assisted Jewish families standing at 3.5 persons in 2008, as against 4.8 in the Arab sector.
  8. During the years 2007-2009, some 252 new social worker positions were added nationwide, of which 42% went to the Arab sector. This slightly reduced the gap in case loads per social worker, but more are still needed.

Among the primary recommendations are:
  1. A mechanism to guarantee a more equitable sharing of case loads between welfare departments in the Jewish and Arab sectors, taking into account family sizes.
  2. A more equitable formula for allocating budgets.
  3. More training programs for Arab social workers, including in specialized fields like at-risk children, which is the most prominent social problem in the Arab communities.
A non-partisan organization serving all Muslim, Christian and Druze communities in Israel, the Forum will now seek official approval for implementing the survey’s recommendations while also working in partnership with private charities to promote social services nationwide from a systemic perspective.
 

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For more information, contact the following:
For more information, please contact:
David Parsons,
ICEJ Media Director
Cell: +972 52 381 6214
Carmi Ashboren,
NGO Consultant
Cell: 050-7630636
E-mail
Emile Sema'an,
Forum chairman
Cell: 050-3133766
E-mail
Kher Elbaz,
Segev Shalom welfare director
Cell: 050-5605819

While they were sleeping

JERUSALEM - The world has been gripped in recent days by news of the earthquake and tsunami that have devastated the eastern seaboard of Japan. And while the thoughts and prayers of Christians around the world have been focused on the dire needs of the Japanese people - other headlines have passed us by.

On the evening of Friday March 11th, at a time when most of the world was first beginning to recognize the severity of the events unfolding in Japan, a group of Palestinian terrorists crept into the Jewish town of Itamar in northern Samaria and stabbed five members of the same family to death.

According to Israeli news reports, the killings occurred shortly after 10pm when the terrorists broke into the home of Ruth and Udi Fogel, aged 35 and 36, respectively. The attackers went from room to room, stabbing the parents, before slitting the throats of their 11 year-old son Yoav, his 4 year-old brother Eldad, and their 3 month-old baby sister Hadas. Miraculously two other young children were spared, as they lay sleeping on the couch, presumably unnoticed by the killers. The victim's blood-soaked bodies were found by their 12 year-old sister as she returned from a youth group meeting in the village later that night. 

"They say Eretz Yisrael is acquired through pain and suffering," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the grieving family of the victims on Sunday. "But we didn't think the pain and suffering would be so great."

And yet the pain and suffering of which the Israeli Prime Minister spoke has only been intensified in recent days as media networks across the world have sought to 'explain' the killings as part of a 'cycle of violence' caused by the decision of the Israeli government to temporarily allow the building of new homes within existing West Bank Jewish communities.[1]  

Once again the heart-breaking story of a family slain in their beds has been buried under the political agenda of news editors. Many headlines simply treated the victims as anonymous "Jewish settlers" dehumanizing the Fogel family with accompanying pictures of Israeli soldiers carrying machine guns - as if to suggest that the real villain in the tragedy was Israel itself.[2]

Some went even further. The Los Angeles Times blamed the settlements as the "provocation that led to [the murders] in the first place,"[3] whilst CNN and the BBC both cast doubt on the fact that Palestinian terrorists were to blame despite a clearly-issued claim of responsibility by the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade - the military wing of the Palestinian Authority's governing Fatah party. [4]

"Only you decided to use the term terrorist attack in quotation marks, as if this were not necessarily the case," Oren Helman of the Israeli Government Press Office wrote to CNN. "There is a limit to the extent of objectivity regarding such a horrific deed." [5]

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem condemns in the strongest possible terms the persistent attitude of the international media that seeks to dehumanize the Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism and blame their deaths on the policies of the Israeli government rather than the culture of jihad and incitement that fills the schools, mosques and state-run media throughout the Palestinian territories.

The ICEJ also calls on Christians to stand against the creeping demonization of the State of Israel that is gathering momentum throughout the nations of the world; a demonization that denies the Jewish people's historic and legal right to live in their historic homeland and seeks to equate Israeli actions of self-defense with murderous atrocities such as the killing of the Fogel family in Itamar on Friday.

Rev. Malcolm Hedding serves as the Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem -an evangelical ministry headquartered in Jerusalem that stands at the forefront of a worldwide movement of Christians who support Israel.  For 30 years the ICEJ has funded social and humanitarian projects that have helped every community and people group in the land of Israel.

Notes

[1] For a more detailed treatment of media responses to the Itamar killings see Honest Reporting Media Critique: 'Baby Killers: BBC Butchers the Real Story' (March 13, 2011 - www.honestreporting.com)   

[2] New York Times: 'Suspecting Palestinians, Israeli Military Hunts for Killers of 5 West Bank Settlers' (March 12, 2011)

Washington Post: 'Israeli troops scour West Bank villages for killers of 5 Jewish settlers' (March 13, 2011)

[3] Los Angeles Times: A fatal Israeli-Palestinian flaw (Editorial, March 14, 2011)

[4] CNN: Israeli family of 5 killed in 'terror attack,' military says' (March 12, 2011);  BBC: 'Palestinian' kills 5 Israelis in West Bank (March 12, 2011)

[5] Ynet News: 'Israel demands CNN apology over attack coverage' (March 13, 2011)

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For more information: 
David Parsons, ICEJ +972-52-381-6214

ICEJ Caring for Sudanese Refugees

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem on Sunday assumed responsibility over a group of 37 Sudanese refugees (18 children, 19 adults) who had entered Israel near Eilat over the weekend to reach what they described as "safety" and "freedom." 

Israeli humanitarian authorities approached the ICEJ on Friday with an urgent request to take care of the Sudanese refugees after they arrived from Egypt overnight with assistance from local Bedouins. The Christian Embassy agreed and placed them Sunday in the Imperial Hotel inside Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem for the next three weeks, until they can be processed and absorbed into Israeli kibbutzim and moshavim. 

The group consists of 10 Sudanese families who have fled the genocide and ethnic cleansing campaign of the Khartoum government. Two families are Muslims from Darfur, while the remainder are Christians from south Sudan. Seven of the children are under two years of age, and two women in the group are pregnant. 

"These destitute Sudanese refugees told us today that they came to Israel because here their human rights can be respected and they will be free from danger," said ICEJ executive director Malcolm Hedding. "We were happy to assist the state of Israel by caring for them at this time." 

The refugees spoke of not only the violence and atrocities they faced in Sudan, but added that they were mistreated in Egypt, with some beaten on the streets and imprisoned under harsh conditions. 

"It is remarkable that while some highly educated British academics consider Israel a racist and immoral country, these simple Sudanese refugees seem to know better," noted Hedding. "Israel has a reputation among them as a place of freedom, safety and decency. Since more Sudanese are likely to come, our ministry is gearing up to help Israel be a 'light to the nations' in caring for them." 

"The Sudanese question is one that begs for greater global participation in order to help those suffering in Sudan from Islamic radicalism and genocide," concluded Hedding." 

UNHCR officials are expected to visit the group of 37 Sudanese refugees in the Old City of Jerusalem on Monday and verify their refugee status under an international genocide treaty. 

An increasing number of Sudanese refugees fleeing Darfur and other conflict zones have been entering Israel through Egypt in recent weeks. Due to their UN refugee status, Israel is obligated to care for them. The Jewish state also feels a moral obligation to aid and assist victims of the genocide campaign in Sudan due to the unique tragedy of the Holocaust. 

Israeli authorities approached the ICEJ to assist with this group of Sudanese because the Christian Embassy was already preparing to launch a new aid relief project to help Israel handle this influx of refugees.

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For more information: 
David Parsons, ICEJ 052-381-6214;  OR 
Dani Wassner, Ruder Finn Israel, 054-467-6961; 

If you would like to make a donation, please click here and mark your gift as "Operation Hope: Help Sudanese Refugees in Israel." 
 

ICEJ-Norway rally demands Oslo government seek Schalit’s release

On Sunday, 14 June 2009, the Norway branch of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem held a mass rally attended by 4,000 Christians which called upon the Government of Norway and the International Red Cross to redouble their efforts to secure the release of captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit from Hamas and his other abductors.

In an appeal delivered to a Norwegian representative of the Red Cross and the Government of Norway, the ICEJ rally noted that Prime Minister Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre have opened contacts with Hamas, placing a special responsibility on them to seek Schalit’s release. The appeal letter also noted that Norway currently chairs the forum of donor nations to the Palestinians and thus should also use its leverage in that capacity to free Schalit, now held hostage for 1086 days.

The rally was held in the amphitheatre of the Kongeparken family park outside Stavanger and drew 4,000 Christians from all over Norway. The Israeli ambassador Michael Eligal was the guest of honor.

“This was the largest pro-Israel rally ever held in Norway, and we’re hopeful it will spur our government leaders to renew their efforts to free Gilad Schalit. They are in a unique position to do so and have a special duty to pursue this humanitarian mission,” said Leif Wellerop, Chairman of ICEJ-Norway.

During the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead in January, the ICEJ-Norway branch also held a large pro-Israel rally at the Parliament building in Oslo, and were attacked by pro-Palestinian protestors.

An English translation of the rally appeal letter follows below:

 

Appeal on behalf of captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit
Delivered to the Government of Norway
and
The Norwegian Chapter of the International Red Cross
Sunday, 14 June 2009

It is as of today 1085 days since the young IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped on Israeli territory by Hamas. He has been 1085 days without contact with his family; 1085 days in which the International Red Cross has been denied access to his prison; 1085 days of insecurity, not knowing his conditions as a prisoner of Hamas.

The Norwegian Government, under Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, has given their recognition to the terrorist organization Hamas. This brings a particular responsibility upon the Norwegian Government to address the violation of international law concerning the treatment of Gilad Shalit, in that it should insist that Hamas respect international conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners in uniform.

Hamas has terrorized southern Israel for many years with thousands of Kassam rockets and mortars, solely aimed at the civilian population. Hamas is holding Gilad Shalit captive to blackmail the Government of Israel. We challenge the international community not to comply with this strategy. Furthermore, we urge the Palestinian donor nations’ forum, currently chaired by Norway, to use their influence as a means to gain access to Gilad Shalit for the International Red Cross and to secure his release.

On 16 December 2008, Gilad Shalit was declared an honorary citizen of Paris. He holds dual French and Israeli citizenship. We ask the Norwegian Government to contact French authorities and make a joint effort to get Hamas to apply with the Geneva Convention of 1949 concerning the treatment of prisoners.

We encourage the International Red Cross not to give up, but to strengthen and redouble their efforts to work hard and tirelessly to gain access to Gilad Shalit, and to contribute in raising international awareness on his situation in every contact with Hamas. In the words of Jacob Kellenberger, President of the International Red Cross in Geneva: “Every prisoner has the right at least to let their families know they are alive.”

We demand that Hamas immediately give the Red Cross access to Gilad Shalit, and give him the opportunity to communicate with his family.

Wherever Gilad Shalit may be, we promise never to forget him nor rest until he is free.

ICEJ-Norway
Leif Wellerop, Chairman
Kongeparken, Ålgård
Norway

Appeasing Wickedness

On the evening of September 25, a group of mainline Christian denominational leaders hosted a New York ‘dialogue dinner’ in honor of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who was concluding a 4-day visit to the States to address the United Nations General Assembly. In response, the ICEJ joined forces with an unprecedented coalition of human rights and advocacy groups to protest the event outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel, opposite the city’s landmark Grand Central Station.

“While the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem welcomes efforts to de-radicalize religious perceptions and create an atmosphere of tolerance and respect for our differences,” said ICEJ Executive Director Rev. Malcolm Hedding  in a statement read out to the hundreds of protesters assembled at the rally, “it is outrageous that the main guest at this dinner is someone who so thoroughly mocks and loathes these valued ideals.”

“Ahmadinejad drinks daily from the same poisonous trough of Jew hatred that intoxicated Hitler. He denies the Holocaust while aspiring to carry out another one against the Jewish people re-gathered in Israel,” Hedding’s statement continued. “He rejects everything that the United Nations charter and genuine interfaith dialogue uphold. We cannot fathom why his Christian hosts would debase their own faith so shamelessly by honoring him at this occasion.”

Among those hosting the dinner at the Grand Hyatt Hotel were leaders from the Mennonite and Quaker movements, as well as the World Council of Churches.

“The Bible nowhere advocates this type of engagement and in fact warns against it,” added Hedding. “Jesus did not talk with Herod because he represented a system that was corrupt and evil. These Christian leaders will forever be associated with the appeasement of wickedness!”

The ICEJ protest came less than a week after the presentation of a global petition to UN Secretary Generaal Ban Ki-moon signed by over 55,000 Christians from 128 countries worldwide calling for a stronger UN and international response to the growing Iranian nuclear threat, including the demand that Ahmadinejad be indicted for incitement to commit genocide against Israel. 

ICEJ Petitions UN to Stop Iran

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has today delivered a global petition to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon signed by over 55,000 Christians from more than 120 countries worldwide demanding that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad be indicted for incitement to genocide against Israel.

The petition was delivered to the United Nations on the eve of the Iranian leader’s planned visit to New York to address the Opening of the UN General Assembly next week, where he will be greeted by a mass rally on Monday demanding a stronger UN and international response to the growing Iranian nuclear threat.

“In a sense, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and the United Nations were both born out of the ashes of the Nazi Holocaust. The silence of most Christian clergy in the face of Germany’s horrific bid to annihilate European Jewry left a deep stain on the churches. Yet from it has arisen a sense among multitudes of Christians today that we have an inescapable moral duty to earnestly speak out whenever another genocidal campaign threatens the Jewish People,” said Rev. Malcolm Hedding, the ICEJ’s Executive Director.

“Unfortunately, we are concerned that just such a genocidal campaign is taking shape in the form of Iran’s repeated threats to eliminate the Jewish State and its quest for the nuclear means to carry out these threats,” Hedding said.

In a letter to the UN Secretary General accompanying the petition, Hedding noted that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other senior Iranian officials have made repeated calls to “wipe Israel off the map.” Employing inflammatory language, they have labelled Israel and Jews as “the source of plague and typhus,” “parasites,” “cancerous tumours,” and “a germ of corruption”, among other slanders also used by the Nazi propagandists.

Hedding also noted that Amadinejad appears to have developed a warped self-awareness that he is to play a key role in the advent of the 13th Imam expected by many devout Shia Muslims. In his last address before the UN General Assembly, he insisted that an “aura of light” engulfed him as he prayed for the coming of this mythical figure.

“Taken together, this makes for a highly potent elixir, as the Iranian regime would possess both the motivation and the means to trigger unspeakable carnage and chaos worldwide,” warned Hedding.

Hedding also took to task certain leaders in the Mennonite and Quaker movements that will be hosting Ahmadinejad at a ‘dialogue’ reception during his visit to the US.

“The Bible nowhere advocates this type of engagement and in fact warns against it,” said Hedding. “Jesus did not talk with Herod because he represented a system that was corrupt and evil. These Christian leaders will forever be associated with the appeasement of wickedness!”

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is headquartered in the Israeli capital, with branch offices and representatives in some 80 nations, and a reach into more than 125 nations around the world. Its primary mandate is to serve as a “ministry of comfort” to Israel and the Jewish People worldwide, as a means for Christians to finally redress the lingering grievances which the Jewish people have against us due to the tragic history of Christian anti-Semitism.

Welcome at Succot

During Succot, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem again will host thousands of Christian pilgrims for our 28th annual celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. The largest annual tourist event in Israel, our gathering draws Christians from nearly 100 nations and we expect a record crowd of 7,000 visitors this year. These pilgrims have a deep love and concern for Israel, and bring a lot of colour and joy to the city of Jerusalem. And they always receive a warm welcome from the Israeli people, as seen in the streets of the capital during the Jerusalem March. Our international participants have been the largest delegation in this parade since 1980, and are the reason most of the city's residents come out to watch.

Thus it is disappointing to learn that rabbinic authorities are trying to discourage the Jewish public from participating in this traditional march. They suspect that parts of our group are engaged in missionary activity, but the ICEJ has never conducted any missionary programs in Israel and we instruct our Feast pilgrims against such activity during their stay here.

The truth is that these Feast pilgrims are coming up to Jerusalem at Succot because the Bible invites them, and the members of the Rabbinate know this well. Israel's former Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren once addressed our gathering with the words "Bruchim habaim b'Shem Adonai!" – the traditional greeting given to feast pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. He knew that Succot is a time of joy when even the nations are invited to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob here in this city. So it would go against the Hebrew Scriptures to now reject our presence in Jerusalem.

For nearly 30 years now, the ICEJ has served as a "ministry of comfort" to Israel and the Jewish people in order to address the historic grievances that Jews have suffered at the hands of Gentile Christians down through the centuries. Evangelical Christians like us did not commit these atrocities, but we must bear the bitter legacy of those who came before us in the faith.

Thus the Christian Embassy has engaged in many dynamic, pioneering works in the fields of aliyah, absorption and social assistance. Our social aid programs have touched the poor, the elderly, the disabled, Holocaust survivors, single mothers, battered women, troubled youths, and many others with needs. For instance, we sponsored Israel's first mobile medical clinic and recently dedicated a new therapeutic swimming pool in Ashkelon to serve all the handicapped children of the Negev. We have assisted over 100,000 Russian-speaking olim in making aliyah since 1989. And we have defended Israel's cause abroad through our network of national branches and representatives in some 80 countries worldwide.

In times past, the great Sages of Israel read the Hebrew prophets and declared that when the Lord would begin to restore Zion, Gentiles would be involved as well. As the prophet Isaiah foretold:

“The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you... That men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles, and their kings in procession... Also the sons of those who afflicted you shall come bowing to you, and all those who despised you shall fall prostrate at the soles of your feet; and they shall call you The City of the Lord, Zion of the Holy One of Israel." Isaiah 60:10-14

We see ourselves as those friendly Gentiles promised in Scripture.

Sadly, however, some in Israel are alarmed by a Christianity that is no longer intimidating or hostile towards Jews. The Christian world has undergone tremendous changes in recent generations, and many of us now have a compelling love and concern for Israel and the Jewish people, instead of the hatred and contempt of the past. Many Jews have come to recognize this transformation. We will continue our efforts to win the trust of others who have not yet accepted our sincere repentance and righteous deeds on behalf of the Jewish people.

Rev. Malcolm Hedding is the Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem; www.icej.org.il 

Response to Evangelical Letter to President Bush

Recently, a group of 34 Evangelical Christian leaders in America wrote an open letter to U.S. President George W. Bush to register their support for his efforts to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and to clarify that not all Evangelicals oppose such a resolution of this long-running dispute. As a leading Christian Zionist ministry, we value the opportunity to graciously respond to these Christian brothers, particularly in regards to their handling of the Biblical "mystery" that is Israel. 

We respect the right of American citizens to engage with their government on matters of such immense importance as the Israeli-Arab conflict. We cannot agree, however, with the historical and moral equivalence that these Christian leaders have drawn between Israel and the Palestinians, nor with their exegesis of Scripture. 

The Jewish people have an ancient claim and attachment to the Land of Israel dating back 4000 years to the Hebrew Patriarch Abraham. There they became a nation that made universal contributions to all humankind, not least of which are the Bible and the Messiah that we Christians hold so dear. In modern times the Jews have returned to their ancient homeland many centuries after being violently uprooted from it not once, but twice. On repeated occasions, Israel has demonstrated its bona fide willingness to partition the land into separate Jewish and Arab states for the sake of peace with their Arab neighbours. 

In contrast, though the Palestinian Arab presence in the Land of Israel dates back several generations, they never built an independent nation here and, with all due respect, have made no positive contributions of note to the world. Palestinian nationalism gained traction a mere 40 years ago and only then due to the movement’s adoption of terrorist tactics. It is an historic fact that at every point in which the Jewish people agreed to a two-state solution, the Palestinian Arabs have rejected such compromise in favour of violent 'resistance' to any expression of Jewish sovereignty in the land. 

As a result, most Evangelical Christians distrust Palestinian intentions and therefore remain highly skeptical about the merits of a two-state solution at this time, as do a great many Israelis. We think Christians should be very cautious about urging our governments to push Israel prematurely into such risky and unworkable solutions. 

At the same time, this does not mean we are "blocking" peace in the Middle East. The blame for that lies largely with the parties in the region themselves and primarily with militant Arab and Islamic elements that seek Israel's destruction. 

It is our assessment that the Evangelicals writing to President Bush were nonetheless able to place Israel and the Palestinians on an equal footing because of two theological errors: 

  1. A failure to grasp the biblical paradox of 'free grace' versus 'divine election', and 
  2. Their adherence to the vestiges of a doctrine known as Replacement theology. 

It is clear from the Bible that God indeed loves all men the same, whether Israelis, Palestinians or others. Yet it is equally true that God in His sovereignty calls and elects certain vessels for His eternal purposes. "Jacob I loved, Esau I hated", affirms Romans 9:13. Thus we understand that God established a unique relationship with Israel for the purpose of world redemption, and that relationship is enduring and has no equivalent whatsoever on the Palestinian side. 

Yet many Christians to this day deny that Israel still stands in a special covenant relationship with God. Because it was the source of so much evil and hostility against the Jewish people down through Church history, many who cling to such Replacement thinking prefer the term “Fulfillment” theology – meaning that the coming of Christ and birth of the Church fulfilled all the promises that God made to ancient Israel. In either case, the result is the same – Israel is seen as having already completed her redemptive mission, leaving the modern state of Israel with no theological significance and she should be treated accordingly. 

It is our belief, however, that God's covenants with Israel are as valid today as when He first swore two irrevocable and unconditional oaths to Abraham:

  1. To 'bless' or redeem the world through his seed (Genesis 12:1-3), and 
  2. To deliver the Land of Canaan to Abraham's natural descendants as an "everlasting possession" (Genesis 17:8). 

Thus both the people and the land of Israel were chosen for the purpose of world redemption, and to remove either one from the equation undermines the Abrahamic covenant, and by extension even our own salvation as New Testament believers. Why? Because according to the Apostles' teaching it would render God a liar and absolutely untrustworthy (see Romans 3:1-4; Hebrews 6:13-20). 

Yet many Christians ignore or demean the land component of the Abrahamic Covenant, even though the Bible lays emphasis on it throughout its pages. For instance, when the Psalmist describes the covenant with Abraham, he stresses the land promise and its validity for "a thousand generations" (Psalm 105:8-12). Nothing in the New Testament abrogates or nullifies this land promise (see Romans 3:3; II Timothy 2:13; Galatians 3:15-17). 

Now it is true that in the Mosaic covenant, God then comes along and places conditions on Israel's right to enjoy possession of that which they already own (Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28). Yet Israel's loss of domicile in the land has never meant her loss of underlying title to the land (Leviticus 26:44-46). Even the past 2000 years of exile is not a sign of Israel's ultimate rejection before God; rather God was simply keeping His side of the 'bargain' made at Sinai. Thus in Israel's exiles we see God's righteous and just character, but in Israel's returns we see His faithfulness and favour (Psalm 102:13). 

In the end, Abraham was promised not only a ‘seed’ to bless the whole earth, but also the physical land of Israel as an ‘everlasting possession’. The Bible essentially tells us that the first coming of Messiah fulfilled the first promise (Galatians 3:16), while His Second Coming will ensure the latter. 

In other words, Israel will one day finally enter into her promised rest and peace in the land. We believe this will have its ultimate fulfillment in the Messianic Age. Until then, we will not be advocating that an unredeemed Israel enter into her full land allotment. But neither will we be a part of any effort to force Israel to permanently divest herself from her land inheritance. 

 

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