There's Nothing Christian about Zionism
March 20, 2006, I traveled
from the Little Town of Bethlehem: Occupied Territory to the Mount of
Beatitudes in Israel. This awe inspiring site sits above the shimmering
Galilee where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, and I ended up
my own Sermon on that Mount!
Four Franciscan Sisters, one each from Syria, Jordan, Malta and Italy care for the shrine and the pilgrim guests at the Hospice Center where I spent two nights and a day of silent reflection after nine days on a Sabeel Reality tour through occupied Palestine.
At dinner a Catholic Pentecostal from Scotland introduced himself and asked me why I was there and what church I was from.
I responded that I have
Irish Roman Catholic, Polish Jew, Russian
Orthodox DNA, but my rock is The Beatitudes.
He looked even more perplexed when I told him I had come to the Mount of Beatitudes to decompress and reflect upon my nine days in Occupied Territory. I asked him if he were aware of the work of Sabeel, the Palestinian Christian liberation theology organization founded by a 1948 refugee, which promotes a theology of liberation, based on justice, peace, non-violence and reconciliation with all people regardless of faith path or nationality.
He sternly admonished me; "God gave this land to the Jews! The Bible never mentions Palestine, and that is that! God gave this land to the Jews and that is that!"
I responded just as fervently that the Palestinian Christians are the descendants of those who first followed Jesus and they have been denied inalienable human rights by the Israeli government. I told him the Christians in the Holy Land have shrunk from 20% of the total population to less than 1.3% since 1948 and if things don't change soon, there will be no Christians left in the land where Christ promised that it is the peacemakers who are the children of God.
He sputtered, "But the Jews have suffered! God gave this land to the Jews and that is that!"
This really got my Irish up and I retorted, "Yes they did because good people did nothing for far too long, and now the oppressed have become the oppressors. In the 21st century good people are unaware, ignoring or are in total denial of the injustices Israel gets away with in the so called Holy Land. And the Hebrew prophets, such as Micah reminded the people of what the Lord requires: To be just, to be merciful and to walk humbly with your God!"
I could NOT shut up although I knew that that Scotsman was trying to get away from me, but, I was on a tear and barely took a breath as I told him that instead of staying in Israel for his entire visit, he should go and witness life in the occupied territories; go and see the effects of The Wall on his spirit and see what it has done to the Palestinian economy. I told him he should go and tour some of the Bethlehem refugee camps and see the ruins of all the uncompensated home demolitions. I brought it on home by telling him that I also doubt that God was ever in the real estate business!
His eyes had bugged out and his mouth had dropped open while the torrent of words spewed out of me. After I finally shut up, he stammered, "But there is suffering everywhere!"