Evangelical theologian Brian McLaren writes:
Please be assured, I love the Israeli people, and I want nothing more than for them to enjoy God’s blessings in a safe and secure homeland. Even in my critique of the occupation by the Israeli government, I’ve tried to be respectful and fair, and careful in my language – although I’m sure I’m far from perfect in anything I say or do. Because I love Israelis and want them to experience true security, I hope they will change certain unjust policies that I believe undermine what they truly want and need.
I suppose that McLaren’s declaration of love for Israelis is welcome, as is his admission that he is fallible in this area.
McLaren’s endorsement of Ben White is especially worrying given that White seems to think:
- Palestinian Christians should be accepted into Palestinian society specifically because of the violent resistance of some Palestinian Christians to Israel (published in Ismail Patel’s Al Aqsa Journal).
- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s labelling of the Holocaust as a “myth” can be understood if you actually think about what he’s saying.
- The arrest of anti-Semites plotting to blow up a synagogue in New York was a ‘fully controlled threat to our freedoms.’
- ‘The Palestinian Authority is also staffed with “native” West Bank leaders for whom business interests long since trumped fighting for national liberation.’
- One can ‘understand’ racism against Jews.
- We should really listen to those who argue that, as God has broken his covenant with the Jews, Israel should not exist.
- Convicted Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy is a credible source.
- People concerned about any of the above are ’smear merchants.’
Of course, uncritically supporting any Israeli policy for political or eschatological reasons is not the best way to show one’s love for Israel. In the same way, neither is promoting such a polemic thinker as Ben White on the thorny issue of Israel/Palestine the best way to show one’s love for Israel.
I’d like to believe McLaren when he does say he loves Israelis, and he definitely advocates dialogue rather than violence. I hope McLaren could become one of the voices who seeks to find a third way between the polemic talks of Christians boycotting against Israel on the one hand and an overly-romanticised nationalist Christian Zionism on the other hand.
But there’s more.
So does McLaren love Israelis or not, given that he’s promoting a man who wants to exclude Israeli teenagers from global culture?
In a sense though, it shouldn’t matter. Christian leaders should not need to say they love Israelis. If they teach that Christians should love everyone, then Israelis shouldn’t be a quirky case where the ‘love’ needs some kind of Zionist or anti-Zionist rationalisation.