MESSIANIC JEWISH LEADERS RESPOND TO “Christ at the Checkpoint Conference” (Part 1)
Sunday, February 12, 2012
As representatives of the international Messianic Jewish community, we raise deep concerns about the anti-Israel and, indeed, unbiblical nature of the Christ at the Checkpoint conference soon to be held in Bethlehem.
(This conference was held in Bethlehem, Israel, on March 5-9, 2012)
The Messianic Jewish community has noted the growing opposition to Zionism and the state of Israel within some elements of the Evangelical Christian world. Such opposition ignores the profound and ancient connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel, and the modern history of the founding of the state of Israel. Equally troubling, this opposition is often linked to a resurgent supersessionism, the doctrine that the church replaces Israel as God’s covenant partner. This theology, which has led historically to anti-Semitism and the tragic oppression of the Jewish people, appears to permeate this entire conference. The conference is being promoted internationally and features speakers from around the world, including prominent American and European Christians, several of whom have a decidedly anti-Israel bias.
We address the following to the conference organizers as evidence of our concerns:
- Your conference title, “Christ at the Checkpoint,” places the Israeli border checkpoints as the central issue of Christian concern. You frame the entire story of Israeli-Palestinian conflict in terms of Israel’s alleged oppression and abuses, with no historical or political context provided, and no allegations of oppression or abuse on the part of any Palestinians or other Arabs historically or currently.
- You state a desire for “hope in the midst of conflict,” and for peace and reconciliation among followers of Jesus. Sadly, both the structure of your conference, with its one-sided focus on the Israeli “occupation,” and the anti-Israel record of some of its key representatives, work against peace and reconciliation. Your website features speakers who repeatedly raise “the grim reality” of “the occupation” as virtually the only challenge that Palestinian Christians face. Your conference objectives discredit Zionism alone of any political movement, thereby undermining your own talk of peace and reconciliation, which would require seeing both perspectives.
- You claim to “stand resolutely against all forms of violence and racism, regardless of the perpetrators,” but the only form that you mention is Zionism. There is no mention of the violence perpetrated against Jews by Palestinians, including Hamas, which regularly attacks Israeli civilians. In the tragedy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict there are two claimants to justice, Jews and Arabs, and true reconciliation efforts must recognize this reality.
We urge you, therefore, to be true to your own affirmations and disassociate from all anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish expressions during your upcoming conference. You have taken a stand against Zionism as “ethnocentric.” We disagree with this characterization and challenge you instead to take a stand against anti-Semitism, against jihad, against fascism in the Arab world, and against the cult of child martyrdom, as promoted by many opponents of Israel, including several that have hosted visits by your organizers.
We urge you to state support for peace efforts between Israel and the Arab world that recognize the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, and its right to firm and secure borders, without any threat of terrorism.
We urge you to remember the terrible history of Christian supersessionism, which led to invalidating the Jewish people and their unique covenant with God, stripping away the Jewishness of the Biblical message of redemption for all through the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus), and promulgating Biblical interpretation that demonized the Jewish people and inevitably resulted in centuries of Christian anti-Semitism and persecution of the Jewish people.
And, finally, we urge you to remember the words of that famous Rabbi, Paul of Tarsus, who wrote these words to Gentile Christians concerning their relationship with the early Messianic Jews and the Jewish people: But if some of the branches are broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root that supports you. Do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. (Rom. 11:17-18)Paul Liberman, President – Messianic Jewish Alliance of America
Joel Chernoff, General Secretary – Messianic Jewish Alliance of America
Howard Silverman, President, Director – Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations
Russell Resnik, Executive Director – Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations
Jeff Forman, Chairman – International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues
John Fischer, President – International Messianic Jewish Alliance
Joel Liberman, Executive Director – International Messianic Jewish Alliance
Joel Chernoff, [email protected] 610-304-2237
Russ Resnik, [email protected] 505-440-2265