U.S. Israeli embassy move to Jerusalem negatively affects Palestinian Christians

By May 17, 2018
Pixabay -- Jerusalem

Israel/Palestine (MNN) — On Monday, May 14th, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment, the United States moved its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The current administration is the first in U.S. history to announce Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Effects of Move to Jerusalem

The problem? The move has neglected the lives of Palestinians in the area. The day of the move, Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians participating in protests. At least 60 Palestinians were killed that day, with one more death reported on Tuesday.

“I mean, it was seen within the peace process that part of Jerusalem would be recognized as the capital of Israel. Nobody denies that. But then the other half, which is 300,000 Palestinians who live in Jerusalem, they were kind of like, left behind,” Bethlehem Bible College’s President Jack Sara shares.

Palestinian demonstrators run for cover from Israeli fire and tear gas during a protest against U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem and ahead of the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip May 14, 2018. (Photo/Caption courtesy of Jordi Bernabeu Farrús via Flickr) 

It’s been perceived on the ground that American Evangelists were behind the push for the U.S. embassy move. And that perception has marred all Christians’ witness in the region. But, it’s particularly marred the Palestinians Christians’ witness to their neighbors.

“People see evangelicals, ‘evangelicals’ means they’re from the same tribe. So, are they the same? Are they traitors? Are the Zionists? Are they pro-this politics?” Sara explains. “We were keen to say, yes, we are evangelicals. Yes, they are our brothers. We’re not disowning them because they supported such a decision. Yet, we are not the same in terms of our theology or understanding of these politics.”

Adjusting How We Think

The embassy move has also promoted the idea that Israel is of more value to Christ than all other peoples. And it’s frustrating for the Christians in Palestine who are trying to share the love of Christ; they’re trying to decrease the hopelessness these people face. But for many Christians in the West, the U.S. specifically, the question remains: Isn’t Israel God’s chosen nation?

“I think that we are forgetting that once that happened, [when Israel was established], six million Palestinians lost their land, 750,000 Palestinians became refugees, including a lot of Christians, a lot of believers who [are] basically suffering out of this,” Sara explains.

“What’s the Good News for them if this is what God is doing? So, I think we have put a lot of weight on God that He is not responsible for, specifically with this whole idea of Israel and all the [ideas] of the end-time theology and eschatology.”

A Problem for Palestinian Christians

But when Christians from abroad encouraged this embassy move and declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it brought that much more hopelessness to the lives of Palestinians. And it’s made the Palestinian Christians’ jobs harder.

“I think after the coming of the Holy Spirit, I think it meant a lot that God didn’t change His plan. From the beginning, He had all the nations of the earth on His heart and for His salvation, but it was much, much clearer than any time before, that God loves all people the same. He loves all nations the same,” Sara says.

Pixabay -- Jerusalem

“Nobody’s favored before [God], everybody is favored in front of His eyes. And we need to think like Him in our mission work, in our kingdom building. I think we really need to think of how is God’s heart to all the nations, how He sees all the nations. Specifically, in our area, I think Christians need to start thinking of the Palestinians and seeing them in the same lens that they see Israelis.”

Pray that despite the politics, Christ would still be seen through our Palestinian brothers and sisters. Ask for peace to be brought to this region, and for both the Jew, the Muslim, and the Palestinian to encounter Christ. And pray for our own hearts to align with God’s will.

Find more ways to pray or get involved with ministry to Palestinians here!

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