Saturday, June 13, 2009
Christian Zionists Snap at the Heels of A Man From Galilee
Archbishop Elias Chacour is a rotund 69 year old dynamo. As a child of eight he was made homeless by the Israeli army, but against all odds he stayed in Israel long after most of his villagers became forced refugees elsewhere. He went on to become one of the most important educators of Arab children, and a Christian citizen of Israel. There he built schools that teach some 4000 thousand children in Galilee, northern Israel. Now he has been appointed Archbishop over several Melkite Catholic Churches that are sanctioned by Israel within its territory. Bishop Chacour is author of “Blood Brothers” (Arabs and Israelis) and is a proven advocate of peace, preaching love of all races as his “only weapon.”
Archbishop Chacour pulls no punches in describing his background. He remembers vividly when, in 1948, the state of Israel drove them from their home the family had owned for generations. He relates with the vivid memories of a child how the Israelis separated the village men from their families, shipping the men including his own father to the borders of Israel. The men gone, they ordered the women and children out of their homes to seek refuge wherever they could find it. Later, Israel’s new Air Force bombed the empty homes to rubble so no one could not sneak back to live. It is this part of his life's story that, in part, seemed to arouse the ire of Christian Zionists in his audience.
Elias Chacour’s life seems to demonstrate peace, love and sacrifice. But he also challenges Israel’s right to take life and property from his Christian and Muslim Arab friends. And he speaks with passion to his belief that his Christian God hates killing regardless of what race of human is being killed. And he emphasizes that God has no favored race held above His Commandments.
It seems these statements, which Chacour made with indelible clarity, were enough to elicit a charged response from a dozen or more who attended his talk at SBC. We can guess at their number by counting those who either spoke out or walked out! We will examine this strange and un-Christ-like reaction to this unimpeachable presentation because it is We Hold These Truths goal to expose and reclaim Christian Zionists, most of us having once had and rejected this virus.
Chacour’s lecture, at which perhaps a hundred attended, was not, we are told, a formal function of SBC, but was arranged privately and without church advertising, nor was the meeting even noted in the Church bulletin. This seems to suggest that the church leadership had reason for concern about the reaction to Chacour’s words. The invitation was spread, not by the church, but by word-of-mouth through sponsors, Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding, and friends, including We Hold These Truths.
In contrast to Chacour’s life of self-sacrifice, Israelists, the most extreme of which call themselves “Christian Zionists,” are invariably preoccupied with what they consider political Israel and its absolute right, as they see it, to take any and all land in the Middle East. And, if taking or holding land involves killing Arabs they feel the Bible justifies killing. And, they invariably believe that political Israel and its Jewish settlers are favored by God, and are still the “chosen people” of God. Finally, they wrap these three beliefs around their borrowed “end times” eschatology, to come up with "Israelism," posing as evangelical Christianity.