Here is part 1 of the discussion we’re having here in at Disciple Dojo regarding Israel, politics and antisemitism. Be sure to read it if you haven’t already, as many of the comments readers have left have been excellent and raised valid points on all sides of the issue!
To summarize, a Palestinian Christian friend of mine shared this cartoon on Facebook a while back, which I shared on my page as well:
Upon seeing the cartoon, a good friend of mine, Jacob, who is a Jewish believer in Jesus shared his reaction to the cartoon with me and why he felt it was very antisemitic and hurtful.
After discussing it with him and listening to his points, I could see why he felt this way and so I offered the following altered version of the cartoon which attempted to make the point of the original, politically speaking, without the antisemitic baggage:
I also asked Jacob to share how he would liked to have seen the cartoon express the political view it was espousing (which he disagrees with) in a way that would do the same thing as mine was attempting to do. He was gracious enough to do so and sent me the following revision:
One of Jacob’s main points was that it was wrong to suggest that Israel is the one in control of everything (as the original cartoon suggests) when it comes to peace talks and that doing so plays into the “greedy manipulative Jews” stereotype and fuels hatred of the Jewish people around the world [correct me in the comments section or elaborate more on this if you'd like, Jacob!]
Now, both Jacob and I readily admit that these are not examples of good photoshop skills by any means! Rather, they are “quick ‘n dirty” attempts to communicate visually what we believe better represents the point seeking to be made by the original cartoon (I agree with the original cartoon, politically speaking; Jacob does not. But I recognize Jacob’s points about the history of anti-Jewish cartoons and how they often serve to foster anti-Jewish sentiment, rather than purely anti-Israeli-government sentiment).
My concern, as a teacher of Scripture, is to combat the folk-theology which undergirds so-called “Christian Zionism” (for an explanation and history of Zionism, particularly Christian Zionism, head over to Stephen Sizer’s website or pick up a copy of his book “Zion’s Christian Soldiers?“). As we talk about in my course on Biblical eschatology “Apocalypse Now??“, Zionism is the belief that the entire land of Israel belongs solely to ethnic Jewish descendants of Abraham. Many Christians, since Dispensational Theology’s invention in the 1850s, have been taught that God has two separate “People of God”–the “Spiritual” people (i.e. the Gentile Church) and the “Earthly” people (i.e. ethnic Jews).
[Note: for those who would like to hear the specific lecture from my course which deals with Dispensational Theology's origins I've embedded it below. Consider purchasing the entire course if you like this talk...doing so supports the ongoing ministry here at Disciple Dojo!]
So in light of my experience as a teacher, I am predisposed to be critical of policies by the government of Israel which many of my fellow Christians seem unconcerned with due to their belief that the nation of Israel is the continuation of Biblical Israel and that as such, they are never to be opposed or criticized.
Thankfully, however, many Israelis as well as Jews around the world recognize the unacceptable actions taken by the Israeli government throughout the years and rightly (in my opinion) criticize Zionist ideology. Such criticism, which I believe to be valid, should not be interpreted as antisemitic; and true antisemitism should not be accepted as valid political critique.
However…as the above cartoon illustrates (pun intended!), the line between valid political critique and historical antisemitism is on that often seems blurry.
So, I want to invite readers to share your thoughts on the above images. What do you think? Which one(s) are acceptable? Which one(s) would you agree with/disagree with and why? How do you see issues of race, ethnicity and religion playing into the current state of Israel and its policies regarding the Palestinian people?
Feel free to share links as well. In that vein, I would encourage EVERYONE to watch the documentary by my friend Porter Speakman, Jr. entitled “With God on Our Side.” It will make you re-examine many things, particularly if you come from a Dispensational tradition and background.
And regardless of our individuals beliefs regarding the political actions of Israel and Palestine today, we must continue to pray for the attitude depicted below to permeate both societies. No matter what the talking heads on Christian TV say, anything less than this is not truly “praying for Israel”!