In today's Jerusalem Post, I wrote an article calling upon US Christians to stand up and raise their voices against the proposed withdrawal from Gaza and the possible establishment of a Palestinian state.
The Jerusalem Post, March 16, 2005
Calling All Christians
Calling All Christians
By Michael Freund
Is George W. Bush missing a couple of pages from his Bible? In a speech last week at the National Defense University, the president repeated what has become one of his primary foreign policy mantras.
Asserting that the only way to bring about tranquility in the Middle East is through the establishment of a Palestinian state, Bush said, "We seek two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security."
In addition, Bush insisted that Israel must "freeze settlement activity" and "ensure that a new Palestinian state is truly viable, with contiguous territory on the West Bank," meaning that he expects the Jewish state to withdraw not only from Gaza and northern Samaria, but from large chunks of the rest of the territories as well.
The president's statement, of course, is nothing new. It is a theme he has harped on for the past few years, laying down his conviction that the Land of Israel should be partitioned between Arabs and Jews.
But what is truly remarkable, and as yet inexplicable, is that a man so committed to his Christian faith and to belief in the Bible could possibly be unaware of the inherent contradiction in his policy toward the region.
Indeed, how is it that the most devoted Christian to sit in the White House in decades is the same person pressing to divide God's Holy Land, the very same land promised exclusively to the Jewish people by Divine right?
Now, I am neither a theologian nor a Christian, but I do know that the words "Palestine" and "Palestinians" do not appear anywhere in the New Testament. So Bush could not have gotten the idea to establish "Palestine" while attending Sunday school. Did he not learn that Jesus was a Jew who, like the Jews who today are called "settlers," lived in land given by God to the Jews, the same land in which he would now create a hostile Palestinian state?
To be fair, Bush has been a great friend of Israel, deflecting international criticism over the Jewish state's efforts to defend itself while pushing to reform and democratize some of our nasty neighbors.
Nonetheless, his insistence on pressing for the establishment of a Palestinian state remains baffling, if not incomprehensible, as it would appear to conflict with both his religious and his ideological worldviews.
Even in terms of the war on terror, Bush's stance on the Middle East is laden with inconsistency. In that same National Defense University speech last week, Bush said, "The theory here is straightforward: Terrorists are less likely to endanger our security if they are worried about their own security. When terrorists spend their days struggling to avoid death or capture, they are less capable of arming and training to commit new attacks. We will keep the terrorists on the run, until they have nowhere left to hide."
And yet, when it comes to the Palestinians, that is precisely the opposite of Bush's policy, as the creation of a Palestinian state would inevitably give terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad a perfect place "to hide."
In light of the president's position, as well as his religious beliefs, there is one group in particular that should seize the moment now and come out against the current drive toward Israeli withdrawal and retreat: American Christians.
As the core group of Bush's Republican constituency, and as a growing factor to be reckoned with on the American political stage, evangelical Christians have the clout, the numbers and the conviction to help forestall the creation of "Palestine."
Efforts by Bush and by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to carve up the Holy Land and turn over parts of it to the Arabs should offend anyone who takes the Bible seriously, including evangelicals. To stand by and watch this process unfold without speaking out is simply unthinkable.
There are three things – the three P's – that US Christians can and should do to make their voices heard: protest, pressure and pray. They shouldn't wait for a divided American Jewry to take the lead, because time is of the essence, as the planned withdrawal from Gaza is just four months away.
Hence, there is no reason why American Christians can't start taking to the streets to organize rallies and protests under the banner of "Don't Divide the Holy Land." What a powerful message it would send to decision-makers in Washington and Jerusalem to see hundreds of thousands or even millions of non-Jewish Americans speaking out on this important issue.
US Christians can also apply pressure on their elected representatives. Next Thursday, March 24, when Jews mark the Fast of Esther, a grassroots effort is being planned to get as many American Jews and Christians as possible to phone, fax and e-mail the White House, with the central theme being "President Bush: Honor God's covenant with His people. Stop Disengagement."
Lastly, it is time for Jews and Christians to pull out the most potent weapon in their arsenal, the power of prayer. The Land of Israel is in danger, and there can be no better way to influence events than by turning in prayer to the One who guides all human events.
There is still time to act, to make a difference. American Christians have been put in a unique position, one in which they can have a direct impact on the future of Israel and its land. At this critical hour, when the integrity of the Holy Land is at stake, they cannot and must not be silent.
The writer served as an aide to former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.