SURVEY: Christian Zionism – The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and Yeshua (PART 4)

Christian Zionism is the topic of this fourth article in our four-part series of surveying Messianic Jewish and Arab Christian leaders in Israel on issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and religious extremism. The final question of our survey appears to be simple.

 

Is Christian Zionism a form of religious extremism?

It is a simple but polarizing question, since it reflects both how a person defines Zionism and how the phrase Christian Zionism is perceived.  The word Zionism has become increasingly polarizing in many circles. Some view it as a synonym for “pro-Israel” or “supporter of Israel”. Many define the word Zionism as the Jewish people’s biblical right to a homeland in “Zion” or Jerusalem. Others view Zionism as a political position.

The opposing views of Zionism, or anti-Zionism, are also wide-ranging. Some may view anti-Zionism as opposition to the establishment of the State of Israel. Some view it as politically related. Others including the United Nations in 1975 view Zionism as a form of racism and racial discrimination.

The goal of our survey question is not to debate the definition of Zionism. Kehila News Israel (KNI) hopes to publish more articles on this hotly debated topic in the future. For this article, we were interested in learning how the local Messianic Jewish and Arab Christian leaders view Christian Zionism.

Christian Zionism Survey Infographic

The results clearly show that the vast majority, 78%, of Messianic Jewish leaders, responded “No” whereas more than half, 58%, of Arab Christian leaders responded “Yes” that Christian Zionism is a form of religious extremism.

Would the survey results be the same if the question referred only to Zionism and not Christian Zionism? Probably not. The phrase Christian Zionism has become synonymous with organizations such as Christians United for Israel (CFUI) led by Pastor John Hagee and International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) led by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. Both CUFI and IFCJ raise a lot of money from well-meaning Christians not knowing that some of their money goes to organizations that oppose the gospel and/or persecute Messianic Jewish believers. Furthermore, the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC) has written publicly against Pastor Hagee’s book “In Defense of Israel”.

Another explanation of the survey results is that Christian Zionism has become synonymous with blindly supporting Israel and not being able to criticize the policies of the Israeli government.  This is echoed by some of the following comments of local Messianic Jewish and Arab Christian leaders who commented on the survey question with the following answers:

Not in its pure sense. When it becomes blind belief in all that Israel does, then there’s a problem.

Generally no. However, if it gives carte blanche to just settle as one pleases in territory that is not Israel proper then yes.

There are versions of Christian Zionism that are religious extremism, but generally it’s not.

When there is a signed agreement not to spread the gospel to the Jewish people, then yes, it’s considered extremism

Does Zionism or Christian Zionism really mean blind support for the Israeli government? Let’s compare.

* Can an American criticize the American government and still be a proud American? Certainly, yes.
* Can a German criticize the German government and still be a proud German? Certainly yes.
* Can an Israeli Jew criticize the Israeli government and still be a proud Israeli and even a strong Zionist? Certainly, yes. (Israelis do this all the time.)
* Can an international Christian who loves Israel speak out against the Israeli government and still be a proud Christian Zionist? Why is the answer not certainly yes?

Some of the Israeli government’s policies directly oppose Messianic Jewish believers in issues such as aliyah or the right of return to Israel. If the international Body of Messiah (not just those who label themselves as Christian Zionists) would stand with their brothers and sisters in faith in Israel, both Jews and Arabs, as much as they stand with Orthodox Jews and Israeli government officials, then the survey results might be drastically different.

In closing, we hope this four-part survey has given you a “window” into the Messianic community in Israel which is one of the goals of Kehila News Israel (KNI).

[Related Article]: SURVEY: Political Solutions – The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and Yeshua (PART 1)

[Related Article]: SURVEY: Speaking Out Against Terrorism – The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and Yeshua (PART 2)

[Related Article]: SURVEY: The Israeli Army – The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and Yeshua (PART 3)

NOTE: Survey results were calculated from 37 Messianic Jewish leaders (approx 20% of the total) and 19 Arab Christian Leaders in Israel (approx 20% of the total) who responded to the survey in March 2016.