The Christian Coalition & Israel
An Open Letter

By Terrell E. Arnold

This week you, the Christian Coalition of America, announced your intent to hold mass rallies across the United States in support of Israel. These rallies, you stated, are intended as follow-up to a reportedly successful rally in Washington DC in October. As your President stated in announcing these events, they are designed ãto activate people more in support of Israel, because we do have a common bond with one another, and we want to show supportä.

This drive to show solidarity with Israel is driven, it is said, by interpretations of the Biblical predictions, mainly in Daniel, that the second coming of Christ will occur 7 years from the date that Israel acquires control of the Temple Mount. The Coalition, as would all of Christendom, would hope to be present and accounted for in that event. In current predictions, the starting date for that 7-year period was the 1999 agreement between Israel and Palestine on settling the status of Jerusalem. 

The Second Coming has been long awaited by both Christendom and Islam. Because the event is much anticipated by both religions, and because adherents of both share the same prophets, save for Mohammed, the two religions ought to have much to share on this subject. In light of that shared interest, the Coalition and its members should ask themselves hard questions about the situation in Palestine before jumping into this alliance, and they should be prepared candidly to assess the answers. The hard questions you should ask include:

In view of the Christian, Muslim and Jewish histories tied to the holy places of Jerusalem, is anyone entitled to exclusive control or ownership? When Israel became a state, the United Nations partitioned Palestine into three elements: The state of Israel, Palestine, and Jerusalem. The UN assumed that, in view of the many historic religious interests in Jerusalem, it should not be ceded to either the Israeli or the Palestinians. Should not the 2 billion or more Christians, Jews and Muslims of the world be guaranteed free access to the holy places? Would you cede control to anyone who does not guarantee unimpeded access to and protection of the sites? Is not the most reliable approach to religious sharing of the city to assign its management to a neutral party?

While we all must deplore the suicide bombing of Israeli people and places, how should the virtually complete destruction of Palestine by the Israeli Defense Force be considered? Is it morally acceptable for a heavily armed state to destroy the foundations of an unarmed state? If you were a Palestinian, would you endure the constant repressions of an occupying army without fighting back by whatever means available to you? If you were a world court, would you put three or more million people on trial and make them endure endless hardships for the violent acts of a small number or the threat posed by even a few thousand? That is what present Israeli leadership is doing to Palestinians. Can you whole-heartedly support the Israeli cause with these facts staring you in the face? . Should you care, or is caring irrelevant to the purposes of the alliance?

In coming weeks there will be a national election in Israel. Up for decision will be a new Prime Minister and a new cabinet. Present prospects are that hard-line leadership will prevail, and the willful destruction of the Palestinian state will continue. More settlements will be built. Less space will remain for the Palestinians. More Palestinian homes and businesses will be destroyed to make way for new settlements. The de-facto repression of Palestinian Christians and Muslims will go on. Will it matter to Coalition leadership and members how this electoral process turns out? Should it make a difference to you whether the new leadership of Israel will be just and fair to all people?

Inside Israel there are several distinct levels of society that are racially and religiously determined. The Central European Jews, the Ashkenazi, and their descendents are on top. The Sephardic Jews, the people or the offspring of people who lived in Israel before statehood or who came from surrounding countries, in truth, the people of the book, are second-class citizens. So are the Jews who intermarry between Ashkenazi and Sephardic. The Christians are looked down upon as well as limited both in number and what they are free to do. So are the Muslims. This is a description provided by Israelis and American Jews. Do members and leaders of the Coalition wish to bless an Israeli leadership with unquestioning support if that leadership does not give equal status to Christians or adherents of other religions? In your view is it all right to discriminate in this manner? Would you willingly bond with people who think your faith is inferior to theirs? Is the outcome of a gamble on prophecies that have existed for thousands of years worth taking part in violating so many human rights?

These comprise a short list of questions that are worth asking before deciding on this alliance. Equivalent questions must be raised regarding any alliance. One would hope that the Coalition will ask these and related questions, and that you will find answers that give your leaders and members a balanced feeling for all peoples of the Holy Land.

The writer is a retired senior foreign service officer of the United States Department of State.


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