Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fr George Massouh on the Church of Scotland's Statement on Palestine

Arabic original here.

The Terrorism of "Divine Right"

Israel has not failed to use any violent means available to put an end to the Palestinian people, the owners of the land. However, they are not satisfied with practicing physical terrorism against the Palestinians—they also practice religious and intellectual terrorism against anyone who dares to cast doubt upon their claim of divine right to the land of Palestine or to cast doubt upon the myth of “God’s Chosen People.”

Jewish religious-intellectual terrorism is based on the Jews considering themselves as possessing the exclusive right to the Bible, the book that the Christians call the Old Testament, and its interpretation. Christianity, in most of its churches, rejects this Jewish monopoly and regards the Old Testament as constituting a basic element of the foundation of the faith, and that it has a special right to interpret it, especially since it includes many prophecies that were realized of the coming of Jesus Christ.

Arab Christians were pioneers in calling attention to the danger of reading the Old Testament literally and to the danger of using it to justify the establishment of the “Jewish state” in Palestine. They confirmed the incorrectness of Jewish exegesis regarding “the Land” and that it essentially contradicts the Christian theological principle of reading the Old Testament in light of the New Testament, which begins with the coming of Jesus Christ. Any other reading is nothing but a mutilated, distorted reading.

Almost half a century ago, Metropolitan Georges Khodr combatted the movement in the Western church calling for recognizing the Israeli entity as being the realization of God’s promise in the Old Testament. Khodr regarded the entire Old Testament as “having been realized in Christ the Lord… Christ is the temple, the nation, the inheritance, the kingdom, and the king. He is the completion of all the promises… For this reason, any effort to support Zionism with the Old Testament is something completely opposed to the Christian understanding of the Old Testament and is a sort of Judaization.”

Then came the statement “A Moment of Truth”, issued in 2009 by Palestinian Christian personalities in order to declare the falsehood of any theology that justifies the Israeli occupation of Palestine. It states, “Any theology that claims to rely on the Bible, dogma, or history to justify the occupation is far from the teaching of the Church because it calls for violence and holy war in God’s name, makes God subservient to temporal, human interests, and distorts His image in the human being who at the very same time is under political and theological oppression.”

Recently, some Western churches have begun to oppose the “divine right” that the Jews claim in the land of Palestine. The Church of Scotlandstates in a paper that has not yet been adopted that “the divine promise regarding the land of Israel must not be taken in a literal sense. The Old Testament is not supposed to be used to settle the dispute over domination over land.”

Israel was quick to utilize intellectual and religious terrorism against this paper and its issuers, reiterating the Jews’ exclusive right to interpret the Old Testament. The Israeli ambassador in Britain accused the Church of Scotland of spreading “anti-Semitic ideas through its challenging the basis of faith and the Jewish bond to Israel and distorting the basis of Zionism.” This despite the church’s affirmation of “Israel’s right to exist,” since it points out “the oppression of the Palestinian people.”

The church in Scotland made a bold step and we hope that it will be completed. As for the Israeli terrorism that prevents any alternative understanding of the Bible, brandishing the weapon of anti-Semitism, there is no other way to fight it than with more freedom and courage in expressing proper Christian belief.


Unknown said...

Calling disagreement with this Church of Scotland report "intellectual and religious terrorism" is a little hyperbolic, no?

As an American, and one who's a member of the Antiochian church, it's easy to forget how deep and vile the hatred for Israel runs, not just in the world but also in our church. Thanks for reminding me.

Isa Almisry said...

"it's easy to forget how deep and vile the hatred for Israel runs, not just in the world but also in our church. Thanks for reminding me."

I'll remind you that Zionism has worked long and hard for that hatred.