Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and received his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, and Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith.

5 Reasons Why I’m A Christian Who Stopped Supporting Israel

 

Growing up conservative Evangelical, we loved Israel as much as we loved America– probably even more.

And why not, right?

We truly believed that among the world’s nations, God actually has a favorite– and that he will curse anyone who doesn’t blindly support his team.

When you sincerely believe that, there’s little room left for actually thinking, because anything you see is filtered and given meaning by the narrative we were given at church. This false narrative we’re told about Israel makes it almost impossible to see the situation fairly or clearly, because we become victims of confirmation bias– we’re only willing to consider evidence that verifies the narrative we were taught.

As an adult at seminary studying theology and international culture, I finally broke free from the confirmation bias that had caused me to support Israel and ignore Palestinian suffering. As such, I now see the Israel and Palestinian conflict in a completely different light– one where my Christian faith itself dictates that I cannot stand with Israel and still be faithful to Jesus.

Here are 5 reasons why I stopped supporting Israel:

5. I realized that loving Jewish people was completely different from supporting the modern, secular state of Israel.

Many quickly confuse loving Jewish people with supporting Israel– but a religion/people group and a secular nation state are not the same thing. For example, one can be opposed to US policy without being “anti-American.” In the same way, one can look at Israel and say, “Wow, this is absolutely wrong” without being anti-semitic (though that’s the first thing you’ll be accused of).

I love the Jewish people because as a Jesus follower, I love all people. But I do not– I cannot– support Israel as a nation, precisely because I love all people.

4. I realized Israel was a violent military occupation, much like the one Jesus lived under.

I used to think the Israel was a peaceful nation who just wanted to mind their own business but couldn’t because those darned Muslims wouldn’t leave them alone, but that’s not the case at all. Israel is a violent military occupation, with no end in sight.

Where Palestinians once lived in peace and security, they now live under military rule by a foreign military that controls nearly all aspects of their daily lives.  Their access to water is tightly restricted, their movement is restricted, and they are denied security in their homes by military forces who often stage middle-of-the-night raids under the accusation of “rock throwing.”

Furthermore, children are often Israeli targets and are imprisoned and tortured by Israeli solders. There have even been cases of Israeli soldiers shooting Palestinian children for sport. How a Christian can support this is literally unfathomable to me.

3. I realized Palestinians weren’t terrorists, but a frustrated people living under apartheid.

Imagine it this way: what if you woke up one morning and world leaders had given the Southern United States to Russia, to be a country for displaced Russians? The Russians arrive, kick you off the land that’s been in your family for generations, confiscate your homes and possessions, burn your farms, and put everyone into refugee camps or segregated into ghettos, which are then policed by the Russian military.

Would it not be understandable that once in a while you’d attack the Russian soldiers? In fact, if that were in America, most conservatives would call it self defense.

While I am against all violence, it’s important to understand why violence happens, and in this case it is quite understandable that such an oppressed people would resort to violence against the oppressors. However, this violence is not about Muslims hating Jews– it’s about people being tired of an occupying army taking their homes, their land, and harming their children. Truth be told, as wrong as I believe it is, I’d be tempted to throw a few rocks too.

2. I realized Israel continues to steal land and violate international law.

I once thought that Israel just wanted to peacefully exist, but the truth is they are on a violent conquest to take all the land they can get– even though it is a total violation of international law.

Day by day new Israeli settlements crop up on land that still belongs to Palestinians. Quite often the Israelis will burn down Palestinian crops  before harvest (this is in the news often), and try to take Palestinian land by terroristic force. Illegal settlers have firebombed Palestinian homes, most recently burning a baby and mother to death. Settlers recently even attacked a Rabbi who had previous work with Christian Peacemakers, showing they’re willing to not just attack Palestinians, but even their own peacemakers.

This reminds me of someone who once said, “Oh Jerusalem! You who kill the prophets and stone those God sends to you.” (That was Jesus, BTW.)

Until Israel stops violently and unapologetically violating international law by their conquest for more land, they could never have my support.

1. I realized Christians were being persecuted and oppressed, and I choose to stand with them.

One of the ways Evangelicalism continues selling support for Israel is by painting this as a Muslim vs Jew situation– but that’s not reality. This is a situation of a violent, secular nation state, who is oppressing a group of people that include Christians.

Palestinians include both Muslims and Christians, and Christians are being just as persecuted as the rest of Palestinians. Israel has targeted Christian schools while Christians in the West remained silent. Christian churches and institutions have a long history of being burned and vandalized by the Israelis. Furthermore, Christians have lamented that the Israelis spit on them as they walk down the street, with many Christians ultimately accepting that being spat on in Israel is part of daily life. (Can you imagine if it were the Muslims doing that? Conservative leaders would be calling for war.)

And this is perhaps the top reason why I no longer support Israel: to do so would be a complete betrayal of my Christian brothers and sisters who suffer under anti-Christian persecution in Israel.

So, your pastor growing up taught you to support Israel.

I get it. Mine did too. As a result, I blindly supported Israel for many years– even to the point of voting for candidates I thought would be the most pro-Israel.

But now that I have set aside my bias, and been willing to consider the facts as they are, I realize I can’t support Israel and still be faithful to Jesus.

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Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is a cultural anthropologist, public theologian, writer, speaker, global traveler, and tattoo collector. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell with graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies, and went on to receive his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, and Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus. In addition to his blog, Formerly Fundie, his work has been regularly featured by a wide array of media outlets such as TIME magazine and CNN, among others.

BLC

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is a cultural anthropologist, public theologian, writer, speaker, global traveler, and tattoo collector. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell with graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies, and went on to receive his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, and Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus. In addition to his blog, Formerly Fundie, his work has been regularly featured by a wide array of media outlets such as TIME magazine and CNN, among others.

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Post Comments:

  • Patrick says:

    Pray for the peaceful dismantlement of the zionist state that arrogantly refers to itself as Israel. This apartheid cult does not represent Jewish people or their religion.

  • jekylldoc says:

    Brought back by Patheos. What click-fed platform could resist a topic that got 1086 comments, and probably turns up on lots of feeds to draw more clicks?

    Personally I appreciate all coverage that draws attention to the egregious behavior of the Israeli society, and the egregious behavior of the Palestinian resistance. In a fight between the strong and the weak, we know who will suffer the most, and we know who has the most responsibility to make peace. But I can never accept a narrative in which one side is the bad guy, and the other the good guy. It was one more struggle to be decided by force, and it remains that kind of situation, but it is not impossible to reach peace and have the key decisions made on the basis of law, not force.

  • Lilly Munster says:

    I’m an American Jew, raised by wealthy parents who sent me to Israel for post grad work, after suffering the indignities of being a Jew at Stanford…the white, tight ass Republican factory for compliance and obedience. While living in Israel (actually, Palestine)I saw the violence, racism and rabid hatred and persecution of Muslim Arabs at the hands of the Chosen People. Chosen People? So Gentiles are UN-CHOSEN people? There’s the problem….if you start out with a system of beliefs that regard The Other as moral trash, you can justify such a vile thing as the violent, racist, Police State of Israel, built on stolen lands, with a 69 year history of genocide, land theft, and immeasurable suffering inflicted on the OWNERS of that land. Jews have absolutely NO moral, legal, familial, DNA or social identity, history or claim to Palestine……any more than Texas has a claim to Arizona just because they choose to imagine that God gave Arizona to them.
    In a Nation that requires that your race and religion is on your driver’s licence, so you cannot drive on Jewish Roads, or enter Jewish Neighborhoods, you cannot possibly call that Police State a Democracy. When you deliberately bomb schools and hospitals, poison wells to drive out the Palestinians, and shoot children in the streets for protesting, you are a Police State. Israel is a copy of Nazi Germany, and behaves like it. Anyone with a Moral Compass knows that.

  • Christian Truth says:

    Thank You for this as it totally describes the antithetical behavior that so violates everything Christ stands for. Simply put God is NO RESPECTOR OF PERSONS therefore neither should anyone be excused from stealing, killing & destroying b/c of their religious affiliation. Since Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God He showed us clearly that laying down our lives & loving one another was priority. Never did or never will we see Christ exalt a physical ‘nation’ based on their name. So why do so many ignorantly support this rogue behavior of Israel? Could it be they simply do not read the Word of God nor do they have a viable relationship with the Living God…

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