The upcoming movie With God On Our Side seeks to highlight the theology of Christian Zionism and its impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Last month, the Twitter page of With God On Our Side linked to an article written by lecturer and theologian Gary Burge.
Burge’s article ‘Why I’m not a Christian Zionist, Academically Speaking’ is hosted on the website of the Institute for the Study of Christian Zionism (IFCZ) – a group monitoring Christian Zionism which Burge helped found.
Burge concluded his article:
“This is my ultimate complaint perhaps: Christian Zionists believe in Jesus, but I wonder if they are always thinking like Christians in this matter. They have uncritically inherited the territorial world view of Judaism and wed this to prophetic predictions that are unsupportable. And that is why the great historians of the future (who are not yet born) will level a serious critique against this movement.
Burge wants his Christian readers to distance themselves from the “territorial world view of Judaism”.
But is Burge’s world-view also territorial?
Neturei Karta are particularly vitriolic in their messianic opposition to the modern state of Israel. Neturei Karta rabbis attended Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust “review” conference in Iran and also congratulated Hamas for gaining power in Gaza. The Neturei Karta’s Aharon Cohen has previously claimed that the Holocaust dead ‘deserved it’.
The ISCZ have also shared a platform with Neturei Karta. In May 2008, Aharon Cohen was present alongside a representative of the ISCZ at the Voice of Palestine conference in Indonesia, in which participants called for a one-state solution.
Given their claim to be “Christians for Biblical Justice“, it is odd that someone representing Burge’s ISCZ should share a platform with alongside the Neturei Karta. It doesn’t make sense either. Whilst Burge’s ISCZ sees Zionism as a consequence of the “territorial worldview of Judaism”, Neturei Karta argue that Zionism is directly opposed to Judaism.
In doing so, however, the ISCZ lay themselves open to the same charges they lay against Christian Zionists: forming alliances with Jews based on shared political opinions about the ‘Holy Land’.
Gary Burge’s ISCZ is happy to criticise the ‘territorial worldview of Judaism’ when writing about Zionism, but then supports a Judaism with an anti-Zionist territorial worldview.
To fully distance himself from a ‘territorial worldview of Judaism’, Burge would have to distance his IFCZ organisation from any religious Jewish group expressing any theologically-based political opinions about the modern state of Israel – starting with Neturei Karta.