God told us, now Amnesty

Virulent racism and xenophobia in Israel are perennial nightmares, even when the victims are part of the family of Abraham (father of the Hebrew people), namely the family of Lot (Abraham’s nephew), and the family of Esau (twin brother to the man whose name the people and the land have inherited). Palestine is a fact, and everyone who lives there is Palestinian no matter what other name anyone acquires. People do not morph into another species because of where they live. Now that Amnesty International has published its findings of how non-Jewish Palestinians have fared in a nation whose law is globally recognized as central to morality.

Palestine is God’s chosen real estate

This comes down as a respected African American public figure speaks in ignorance about the attempted genocide of Jewish people, exposing the undercurrent in many communities. The facts are simply not circulating as extensively or vigorously as the misinformation. I have seen reference to the Palestinians as nobodies, people who merely call themselves by that name without a lock on any ancient people of the land. That only puts into clearer light the sentiment that foreigners can never be fully integrated into the Israelite (or Israeli) community. As long as Moses remains the sole authority in matters of history and identity that will be the case. Did not the rise of the Way (Christianity) successfully challenge the view that God has different strokes for non-Jews than he has for Jews? The prophets agree, and David in particular sings loudly, that the Holy City is a place for all humans, with pointed reference to Egypt, Babylon, Philistia, Tyre, and Ethiopia. Do we have to mention Ireland, Papua New Guinea, the American continent and the Caribbean island?

The wilful misbehaviour of the State of Israel is unmistakable when we see how the leaders of Jewish communities in North America sever their links with xenophobic foundations. Equality in modern societies may be often unrealized but it is a noble goal. Only the most depraved will keep up the narrative about superiority and resort to violence to maintain it. Women and children are not second class citizens, and citizenship can only be withheld for very specific class of criteria, to which ethnicity and nativity do not belong.

I am reading Amnesty’s report of Israeli apartheid and crimes against humanity because there is no nation that can place itself beyond scrutiny by appealing to a failed tradition. It is a big read. I would be pleasantly surprised if it changes my mind about our friends in Israel, Jew and Palestinian, or at least gives me reason to hope that goodness does triumph. We – Christian believers – the vast majority of evangelicals excluded – believe that justice running down like water is perhaps the most noble goal for rulers in all nations. Israel can deny all she wants, but the facts about walls, theft of land and destruction of homes, crushing curfews, covering up crimes in East Jerusalem, and assassinations will make her a laughingstock. The last laugh will be the Heavenly Father’s, and he insists that his king, established in Zion, deserves a kiss.

1) Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? 2) The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, 3) “Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!” 4) He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. 5) Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury, saying, 6) “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.” 7) “I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 8) ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.” (Psalms 2:1-8, NASB)

Pray for Jerusalem

We do it because God invites us.  We can visualize the interest of the King in this piece of real estate and our own residential stake in the future Jerusalem. There is much to peace that people do not want to manage either mentally or physically, and that is why Jerusalem has no peace.  People stuck in their traditions will be the last to become courageous heroes. We pray and use our voices to light up the dark corners where evil hits the airwaves dressed up a strength and goodness.

Traditions dominate Islam and Judaism. There are patriarchal practices, purely human traditions (like everyone else on the planet), tribal heritages, social norms (some of which are the subject of revision by Moses, the Lord, and the prophets) and statutes and judgments picked up over time. The fact that Islam guts the Jewish traditions with Arab views, and Christians will not accept any adjusting of what Moses wrote (as Islam does) afirms that there is no people of the Book because there is no “book”.

Jews do not even bother to try to convert Gentiles using television and radio as Christians and Muslims do. If either of these communities of believers had a rock solid foundation there would never be any amendments or adjustments to belief or practice.

Marketing in East Jerusalem

The Israeli PM is no king.  His political base, the supposed zealots of Yahweh’s ways, has been unable to secure a majority among the religious coalitions, after four elections in two years.  A more illegitimate government head is hard to find on the planet. A PM who fails to accept the Jerusalem for all people indicated by Abraham’s fatherhood, by David’s songs and actions, by the prophets’ messages, by the embedding of the chosen people in Babylon and Persia, by the domination of Judah by Greece and Rome. It is too plain to be missed. Discrimination of the worst kind – genocidal- makes an alien practice of stopping those bent on spilling more innocent blood in Jerusalem. It is already abundantly clear that banning Gentiles from the holy city is an abomibable practice.

Pray for eyes to see why

He who has ears will hear. He who has eyes will see. People absorbed in their own identity to the detriment of all other peoples can hardly be depended on to do justice, love mercy, and walking humbly was ditched every time Yahweh engineered a rescue from hostile hands. Yes, let us pray for Jerusalem to have her peace; she cannot keep forever missing her dates. No, we cannot be silent about the atrocities happening in settlements and curfews and expropriation of land legitimately owed by Palestinians. Christians are not a rubberstamp for bad actors anywhere. If you had to choose between an American cop or an Israeli cop would you not go copless? Pray for Jerusalem, you’ll be living there soon, believer.

Egypt negotiates ceasefire

Why didn’t France, Germany, the UK or one of the Gulf states. Why didn’t the PRC have a role? We should not underestimate the tribal layers that matter in the Middle East. Just as Israelis may say “Palestinians and terrorists do not understand or respect our Jewishness” anyone in the Levant may say that westerners do not get his culture or social priorities. This means that the influence of western powers – after the UK and the US have wasted their function as honest broker – will depend upon more forceful efforts to resolve the Palestinian Problem.

The Prayers of the Faithful in the Vatican

as I write this many eyes are trained on the Vatican and its attempts to mediate in the Palestinian Problem.  Theologians are most likely longing to hear the prayers of a Christian, a Jew, and a Muslim aimed at finding a solution.  The probability of anyone ever hearing what the three leaders actually say to their God is extremely low.  We can imagine though.  The Vatican Prayers (Vota Vaticana) are an intriguing innovation.  The only avenue of resolution is an appeal to Abraham which would involve each of the leaders to set aside the centuries of jockeying for validity.

Will Pope Francis call on the Father of our Lord Yeshua as Christians are expected to do ?  Will the Israeli President invoke Yahweh of the Sinai Covenant, Abrahamic (land and progeny) covenant, Davidic (monarchy/messianic/dynastic) covenant, or Zionistic (return to Palestine) covenant and promise?  Will the Palestinian President pursue the human rights prospects or the superiority of Islam?  The potholes are huge.

If the prayers are a silent exercise it would seem to defeat the purpose.  These men have declared that they will appeal to a greater power and we have seen what the dependence on a greater power have brought to the Middle East and beyond.  What lies beyond is most likely to be a new centre for the arguments for the future of Jerusalem.  The scariest prospect is the emergence of a new syncretistic expression of the three faiths.  We can expect a announcement that JudaChrislam is born, not as a clearly defined new religion, but as a working model for creating harmony in preparation for the last deception, namely, that mankind can solve spiritual problems without a transparent dependence on God.

We may see Jewish superior claims to Canaan, and an Islamic appeal to variants of the Biblical record of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  It is the Pope who will hold the trump card with the approval of the vast majority of earth’s governments.  All he has to do is decry the inhumanity of the Palestinian problem.  The parties will have to work out something, anything, or all will be seen to be window-dressing and a waste of time.

One cannot fail to see that Islam is heading for a new caliphate, and it will have no respect for Judaism or Christianity.  Islam is the revision of all religions and Mohammed gets the last word.  The rise of ISIS (the Islamic State now pushing up across Iraq and Syria) is a threat to peace.  Pope Francis cannot fail to condemn the violence with which Islam rules.  He must insist on Jerusalem being a citadel of human creativity, co-existence, and freedom.  But how?

The report is that Francis has stressed that he is not seeking to jumpstart peace negotiations, but merely bring the two sides together to pray. He said he had arranged for a rabbi and a Muslim cleric to lead the prayers, along with him. (http://metronews.ca/news/world/1049062/vatican-israel-palestinian-peace-prayer-june-8/)

The Vota Vaticana are bound to be a personally edifying experience, and we wait to see whether a political pathway emerges, because prayers and votes have always been in tension.  People, even in nations with a strong and even declared religious governance have been unable to decide whether they want a theocracy or a pluralistic and humanistic government and society.  Will Moses’ disciples give way?  Will Muslims agree to a government that is mixed with non-Islamic tenets?

Sinning and hitting the mark are the only two outcomes.  There is no grey area.  Hitting the mark calls for personal honesty, the integrity of each leader’s claims, and an unabashed trust in what is good.  We pray, we hope, but ultimately we will vote.  The presidents have taken an unprecedented step to pray together and it would seem that the prayer leaders will have to package their prayers more to the liking of their partners than to God. God cannot fail.  Humans do.  God cannot be blamed for centuries of hatred and bloodshed or for the failure of men to work together within their differences.

I say let us pray for Jerusalem’s peace and may God have His way in uniting humanity under a banner of honesty, integrity, and trust.  A prayer that focuses on these three ways of life are bound to be a hit.

As I publish this months have passed since the Roman Pontiff and the Presidents of Israel  and the Palestinian Authority met to pray.  However awkward, comical, or self-effacing their prayers may have been I dare not say that the answer to the prayers of the faithful are denied because we see only more hostility and violence between the parties in Canaan.  If the attempts to bring the Palestinian problem to  UN vote is thought to be an answer to prayer one only need listen to the bombast form the Israeli PM and visiting US legislators.  The direction is nowhere!  It is not enough to pray.  Long prayers have been a cloak for abuse, greed, and self-centered pride.  Short prayers also may be shallow and mere words.  What is needed is courageous action.  Funny how those willing to kill for land are afraid to die for peace in the land..  When I say that the faithful will rise from their knees and proclaim their claims inappropriate and that there is an authority beyond their religious enclaves we will see the answer to the prayers of the faith.  Pipedream?  No.  A prayer of  the hopeful.