A response to an ashamed elder

Israel is a small country, as Moses said, “YHVH did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples” (Deuteronomy 7:7). Not size, but God’s covenant love is the basis for His gifts and calling on the Jewish people (see Romans 11:28-29). The Messianic Jewish movement in Israel is only a small percentage of the whole Jewish people (see Romans 9:27-29; 11:4-5). Within this small community, many of us know each other, have eaten at each other’s table, have worshipped together and prayed with each other. So my response to my brother David Loden comes with much appreciation and love for the many years we have walked together.

I am glad that David has expressed what has been on his heart for a long while, things which (according to his own confession) his wife Lisa has spoken about over the years. Some of those expressions germane to this subject include books Lisa co-authored with Salim Munayer, “The Land cries out” and “Through my enemy’s eyes”. Lisa also serves on the Board of Musalaha Reconciliation Ministries (for a Messianic perspective on this see https://davidstent.org/the-abcs-of-replacement-theology-palestinian-style/).

It would probably be correct to assume that the perspectives openly communicated for years by Lisa are ‘in the general ballpark’ as those of David. The perspective presented in these works is that Jews and Arabs each have their own ‘narrative’ of what is going down in Israel. The biblical view of Jewish restoration according to the vision of the Hebrew prophets is ‘simply one more narrative’ which needs to be factored in to the theological cholent. This sidestepping of the prophetic word is part of the underpinning foundations of such teachings. This is speaking from a post-modernist view of biblical truth – one which makes room for the denial of healthy evangelical roots and hermeneutics by simply allowing it as ‘one of the available options.’

In his letter David stresses the need for us all to get back to a “biblical and moral compass.” That requires each one of us to present ourselves “approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). It is one thing to write a public letter saying that one feels ashamed of the state of Israel. It is another thing to end up being ashamed due to inaccurate handling of the word of truth and of basic facts.

From one hippie to another

David was a Sixties hippie at one time, as was I. He has a deep love for music, as do I. He is getting on in years, and I am manfully trying to catch up. David wants to share the wisdom he has garnered over the years, specifically about his take on Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. The Scriptures say, “Wisdom is with aged men; with long life is understanding” (Job 12:12). Job’s youthful friend Elihu adds, however, that “the abundant in years may not be wise, nor may elders understand justice” (Job 32:9). 1 Corinthians 2:6-13 says that the epitome of true wisdom in the end is to found in the gospel of atonement through Yeshua the Messiah.

Although David’s article discusses spiritual dangers, the gospel is not mentioned at all – that antidote to the very real spiritual danger facing both Jews and Arabs who do not know the God of Israel, who have not accepted Yeshua as their atonement. David refers to “deadly dangers and abysmal neglect of biblical principles” and defines them as Israeli sins against Palestinians. He adds that the list of Israel’s sins “is very long.”  Israel is not yet a believing nation. Certainly there are areas where the nation sins, as 1 Kings 8:46 says: “Who is there who does not sin?” But when a letter like David’s focuses only on Israeli sins (and that in a propagandistic and tendentious way) while ignoring their enemies’ sin, this borders on ‘fake news.’ The result can be ‘fake shame.’

A long list of Israeli sins?

Certain buzzwords in David’s article are rather similar to those of the current unrest in the USA – “systematic evil,” “cry for justice,” “shameful silence,” “hard questions,” “equal rights,” “raids” and “lack of justice.” Based on my own history – I was raised by Marxist-Stalinists – I recognize the Marxist origins of such argumentation.

David presents seven examples from his ‘long list’ of Israeli sins. These include IDF midnight raids on terror suspects, IDF use of snipers, and a Knesset Law that champions the prophetic vision of Hatikvah (Israel’s national anthem) that our 2,000 year old hope is for a Jewish national homeland and not a two state solution.

The positions David takes on these issues here sound close to the legal arguments of Felicia Langer, a now-deceased Communist lawyer and defender of PLO terrorists. Are we getting closer to the day when ropes will be thrown around the statue called Hatikvah to pull it to the ground à la recent events in San Francisco?

David’s charges are nearly identical to today’s far left arguments in Israel’s body politic – “settler land grabs” is how the far left describes the settler movement. Leftist media does not let their readers know if the land in question was legally purchased by the settlers, if it was ‘jiftlik’ (an Arabic word signifying ‘land registered in the name of the Turkish sultan, often with no specific owner known’) or whether it was illegally seized. Without that context being presented in David’s letter, the result is an unprovable assertion with no facts to back it up.

David also uses the broad phrase “lack of justice for Palestinians” but does not explain. When a phrase is used as an accusation without specifics being presented, all the reader can do is either agree or disagree. There’s no dialogue here but rather diatribe. In that sense Lisa’s poem might be seen as agitprop, a propaganda piece that stumbles her readers by leaving them in the dark about the reality of multiple Palestinian terror attacks at the Damascus Gate (the same area where the autistic young Arab Eyad al-Hallaq was tragically shot, in violation of the Israeli Border Guard commanding officer’s order to stand down).

The IDF midnight raids David refers to are probably anti-terrorist raids, where those involved in violence against Israeli civilians and soldiers are arrested. The snipers in the IDF that David refers to in passing actually prevent Hamas terrorists from destroying the Gaza security fences and attacking Israeli civilian kibbutzim. Casualties do occur to those Hamas forces who attack Israeli forward lines. This context is absolutely essential in order to properly weigh David’s fuzzy charges. King David himself was known as someone who hand-delivered to King Saul 200 Philistine foreskins taken in battle (1 Samuel 18:25-30). The Bible says that as a result he was known as a highly esteemed Special Forces soldier. The “hundreds of Palestinian children in military detention” – is David referring to teenagers caught engaging in terror activities, throwing Molotov cocktails or concrete blocks at civilians and soldiers? Without context, these phrases lend themselves to anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish interpretation.

A famous Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral once said, “He who marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next.” The Zeitgeist (spirit of the age) today champions leftist political perspectives. Some believers get caught in the undertow here and end up confusing Marxist Liberation Theology perspectives with biblical and prophetic perspectives.

A text without a context is a pretext

David’s article does not address some hard questions – that Israel exists in a hostile context called Palestinian jihad, where al-Fatah, the PFLP, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hezbollah etc., refuse to recognize a Jewish state or live in peace with Israel. His description, and therefore his ‘J’accuse’ is sadly one-dimensional, and even secular Israeli Jews would come to this same conclusion.

David’s writing does not show any interaction with the prophetic-biblical perspectives on upcoming events – attempts to destroy Israel on the part of Middle Eastern and Arab neighbors (see Psalm 83, Ezekiel 35-36, Zechariah 12, etc.). Though it is today politically correct to be a Social Justice Warrior, it is not always biblically correct. The Jewish people’s restoration to our Promised Land is an ongoing work of God, even if most of our nation is still lacking the Holy Spirit (which comes through believing in Yeshua; Ezekiel 37:8-13). A secular and Marxist worldview cannot grasp this. David’s letter does not reflect any interaction with these prophetic issues. His finger pointing shows some commonality with those who are not considered friends of the Jewish people or advocates for Israel.

I have known David for years. I have been aware of the tendencies revealed in his article through occasional comments of his and, of course, in Lisa’s writings and teachings. Yet David is a brother, he loves the Jewish people, and he has given his life and strength to encourage the body here in the Land. There is a striking disconnect and dissonance here between love for Israel (on the one hand) and intemperate and inaccurate attacks on that state (on the other). This should move us to prayer for God’s word, revelation and truth to win the day.