Misconceptions about Israel, Palestine conflict
Palestine Solidarity Campaign driven by religious devotion, much of the Christian world has been supporting Israel in its conflict with Palestine, which has largely been misrepresented as a conflict with Islam.
In supporting Israel, Christians believe they are responding to a religious calling.
This should not be the case.
First of all, Israel is not a Christian nation.
It is Jewish but has Christian and Muslim populations as well.
It is also important to point out that Palestine has a vibrant Christian population.
In fact, Palestinian Christians are considered the “living stones” of Christianity and the direct descendants of the disciples of Jesus Christ, and they are as persecuted as their Muslim compatriots in their ancestral lands under Israeli occupation.
Together, they resist the occupation in their struggle for self-determination, the legitimacy of which is recognised by the United Nations, whose resolutions support the right of people under occupation to resort to ‘all available means, including armed struggle’ to achieve freedom.
The point must also be made that Palestinians who are Christians are more than Israelis who are Christians.
While seven per cent of the 14-million Palestinian population are Christians, only 1.9 per cent of the 9.4-million Israeli population are Christians.
More than 18 per cent of Israel’s population are Muslims.
In other words, there are more Muslims in Israel than there are Christians.
Without prejudice to the fundamental differences between Islam and Christianity, it is worth mentioning that Islam, unlike Judaism, shares with Christianity many common frames of reference regarding their belief systems.
For example, Muslims believe Jesus was the Messiah.
They believe in his miraculous birth.
They believe he performed many miracles — all by God’s permission, and they believe in his second coming.
Furthermore, Muslims are enjoined by the Holy Qur’an to treat Jesus with reverence.
For example, chapter 19 of the Holy Qur’an is named “Mary” in honour of the mother of Jesus.
And in verses 16 to 21 of this chapter, the Holy Qur’an speaks of how God sent Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary to deliver the good news that she would be having a holy son.
‘She said: “How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?”
He said: “So (it will be): Thy Lord says, ‘that is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a sign unto men and a mercy from Us’: It is a matter (so) decreed.”’
Jews, on the contrary, consider Jesus as a false Messiah.
I refer readers to an article by Rabbi Shraga Simmons: Why Jews don’t Believe in Jesus (http://www.aish.com/jw/s/48892792.html).
The book of Jewish religious law, the Talmud, actually pokes fun at the birth of Jesus. It rejects the claim that he was the Messiah and maintains that he was rightfully executed for blasphemy.
It even goes as far as saying that the actual father of Jesus was a Roman soldier named Tiberius Pantera, who had had an affair with Mary, and that it was out of this illicit relationship that Jesus was born.
So resentful are Jews towards Christians that they actually spit on them at the slightest opportunity.
As recently as October 3, 2023, a video appeared on social media showing orthodox Jews spitting on Christian worshippers in Jerusalem.
The worshippers were performing a religious ceremony in which they traced Jerusalem’s Old City route they believed Jesus took before his crucifixion.
Jewish leaders defended this outrage, saying that spitting at Christian clergy and at churches is an ‘ancient Jewish custom.’
Jews also reject The New Testament. In 2012, the Bible Society sent copies of the book to members of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset).
Most members ignored it or returned it to the sender, but one member, Michael Ben-Ari, tore his copy into shreds, angrily calling it an ‘abominable book’.
He described the action of the Bible Society as an ‘ugly missionary provocation by the Church’, declaring that the New Testament ‘and all it represents belong in the garbage can of history”, and actually dumped the shredded pieces in a garbage can nearby.
And with particular reference to the ongoing attacks on Gaza since October 7, homes of Christian families have been destroyed as well, and some of them have sought refuge in churches.
In fact, the Greek Orthodox Church spokesman in Jerusalem, Isa Muslih, has urged the world to ‘take immediate action to stop’ what he called ‘the genocide committed against innocent Palestinians.’
So, when Ghanaian Christians display miniature Israeli flags in their vehicles as an expression of their religious devotion, they better be careful what they wish for; they may just get it.
The political construct representing the modern state of Israel is not the Biblical Israel.
So says the community of Orthodox Jews, who refuse to recognise today’s Israel as the land promised them in the Jewish scripture.
The writer is a lecturer at the Islamic University.