Unveiling the influence of Christian Zionism on the current Hamas-Israel war

Gerry ChidiacI am addressing Christian Zionist educators today, hoping they can help clarify the confusion I feel when observing current world events. I believe many could benefit from their insights.

As we watch the unprecedented suffering of millions of residents in Gaza, those of us in Western countries are asking ourselves, “Why would our governments support this?” We see children wounded and killed by bombs that we paid for, and we are horrified. We cannot understand why the life of a Ukrainian child needs to be protected, but the lives of Palestinian children are “collateral damage”.

One of the primary reasons why this is happening is because Christian Zionists in the United States – who form a very large voting block and a very powerful lobby group – insist that the Israeli government is doing God’s work. Many in Canada and other Western countries are also part of this movement.

What is Christian Zionism?
Christian Zionism is a belief system and political ideology that combines elements of Christianity and Zionism. It centres around the idea that the establishment and support of the modern State of Israel is in alignment with biblical prophecies and is, therefore, a fundamental aspect of Christian faith.

Christian Zionists believe that the return of Jewish people to the Holy Land and the establishment of Israel are part of God’s plan, as foretold in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament. They often view Israel’s existence and security as a key part of biblical prophecy, including the Second Coming of Jesus and the end times.

It’s important to note that Christian Zionism is a particular interpretation of biblical texts that is not universally accepted within the Christian community.

I am also a Christian. My ethnic roots go back to the Middle East, and it is even possible that, like many people in that region, I have early disciples of Jesus in my bloodline. As I study the teachings of Christian Zionists, however, I find myself quite perplexed. I cannot make historical or theological sense of their arguments.

I want to accept others, and the last thing I want to do is condemn another person’s religion or life philosophy. I have always found that engaging in honest dialogue promotes acceptance and understanding. I hope my Christian Zionist neighbours do not mind my inquiry.

We both believe in the same Bible, so perhaps we can begin our discussion there. To me, two passages stand out, one from the Old Testament and the other from the New Testament. The prophet Micah asks, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tells us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself.”

The message is straightforward. Like every other person who walks this world, I recognize that I am a sacred child of God. I live my life treating others with kindness and respect, and we all try to work together to build a more just world.

When I hear preachers of Christian Zionism and watch tutorials on their philosophy, I find myself befuddled. I hear words that I do not understand, like dispensationalism. Does that really mean that God favours some people over others?

I also hear preachers like John Hagee talking about how there are messages in scripture that offer warnings to countries that are not allied with the State of Israel. Why would God say things like that?

I also don’t understand why there is so much concern about the second coming of Jesus and the End Times. Why would a God of love want so many of his sacred children to be exterminated in a genocidal conflict? The world will end when it ends, and we will all die when we die. Our job is to promote peace and justice while we are here. Isn’t it?

Historically, I am also puzzled. Why is there so much emphasis on the ancient tribes of the Middle East? The truth is that the Abrahamic religions have thrived in this part of the world, evolving into modern Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. As a person whose family is from the region, I understand how we see ourselves as neighbours with different religions. While there were times of conflict, we have coexisted for many centuries. Why would God require that we mistreat one another?

I want to thank you in advance for clarifying my confusion. I hope we can join together in praying for the safety and well-being of all people of the Middle East, no matter their ethnicity or religion.

Gerry Chidiac specializes in languages, genocide studies and works with at-risk students. He is the recipient of an award from the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre for excellence in teaching about the Holocaust.

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