Paradox is a Christian Ministry which seeks:
- to further balanced understanding of and prayer about the Israeli-Palestinian situation
- to further reconciliation which requires justice for the Palestinians as well as the Israelis
in the context of taking seriously the purposes of God for Israel in the End Times (see below).
You will find many websites that are either strongly pro-Palestinian and somewhat anti-Israel or alternatively decidedly Christian Zionist and rather anti-Palestinian. It is my belief that God loves both the Israelis and the Palestinians equally, and wants the best for both people groups. See our Theological Basis for further information.
When my wife and I lived in Jerusalem, we became weary of this Christian polarization on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I decided to start producing my Paradox Newsletter which seeks to take the needs, pain and fears of both Palestinians and Israelis seriously.
I have been a Church of England clergyman for 40 years. For several years we lived and worked in the Old City of Jerusalem at the interface of the Jewish and Arab communities. Being the General Director of the Church of England’s official ministry among Jewish people, I was called to stand with the Jewish people, after almost two millennia of shameful Christian anti-Semitism, which has created enormous barriers between Jewish people and the Church.
However, I could not do this in a way which ignored the needs, fears and pain of our Palestinian and Israeli Arab neighbours and colleagues. Half of my local staff in Jerusalem were Jewish and half Arab. Living in the land, amidst the two people groups, had a profound effect. I started from a position which largely ignored the needs of the Palestinians, and focused only on the terrorists among them. Eventually I could no longer do that. I was deeply and extensively involved with Jewish Believers in Jesus (Messianic Jews) but many of our immediate neighbours were Arab, both Christian and Muslim, whom I also came to love.
I have been for some time on the advisory board of a wider ministry of reconciliation and relief in the Middle East, FRRME, which includes diplomats and politicians.It is involved in encouraging and facilitating high level negotiations between very senior politicians and religious leaders in the Middle East, including in Israel and the Palestinian areas. Its aim is to achieve reduction of violence and ultimately peace with justice (it is not about theological dialogue).
The pictures above are of a Palestinian Refugee Camp in Bethlehem and of Auschwitz, depicting tragedy in the history of both peoples
The biblical context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
We need to take seriously the purposes of God for Israel in the End Times. The following points are vitally important.
Scripture foretells that:
- The Jewish people would regain control of Jerusalem, i.e. they would return to the land (Luke 21:24) – this has happened but they have returned in unbelief. (See footnote for further comment.)
- God has not given up on the Jewish people and they will eventually turn to Christ in massive numbers (Rom 11) – more and more Jewish people are doing so. (See footnote for further comment.)
- Jewish people would rebuild the Temple – there is a strong movement towards this, based on Ezekiel 40-46, which is linked to the growing trouble on Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The rebuilding of the Temple is not God’s will because it is contradictory to the Gospel but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. (See the footnote for further comment.) God can use events which are not according to Gospel principles as a factor in his purposes for the world.
- The world would turn against the Jewish people (Zech 12-4; Rev 16:12-16) – this is happening partly because of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel attitudes but also because of Israel’s intransigence over a just settlement for the Palestinians, unjust treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and rejecting of world opinion in these and other matters. On another level, growing Islamic extremism is bent on the destruction of Israel (Hamas, Iran, ISIS and Hezbollah, in particular). (It is worth saying that Jewish people have sometimes gained the impression that Christians are rather looking forward to the attacks on Israel because it is an indication of the approach of the Return of Christ. Such an attitude would, of course, be quite wrong. We should lament such attacks). (See the footnote for further comment.)
Current events give a clear indication that we are living in the End Times and witnessing the fulfilment of prophecy. We do not, of course, know the timescale, but what is happening in the world today underlines the credibility of the biblical prophecies.
We Christians should be praying:
• For Jewish people to turn to Christ
• For Israel to obey Scripture and so to treat the Palestinians justly, seeking peace.
• For the protection of the Jewish people and Israel from anti-Semitic attitudes and actions, including Islamic extremism.
• For the fulfilment of God’s End Time purposes, which includes a major impact on the world for the cause of the Gospel caused by Israel coming to recognise Jesus as their Messiah.
Christians who, like me, believe God has brought the Jewish people back to Israel, differ over the issue of a just solution for the Palestinians. Some believe that the West Bank (with some territorial adjustments) and Gaza should become the State of Palestine – the two state solution (See my article “Is it right to divide the Promised Land?”) Others believe that the Palestinians should be incorporated into the nation of Israel – the single state solution. The two state solution involves dangers. A Palestinian state on Israel’s borders could become a real threat to Israel’s security. The single state solution also has serious difficulties. It would be unjust for the Palestinians to become second-class citizens of Israel but the Arab birth rate is such that over a period of years there would be a majority of Arab citizens in the democracy of Israel and the Jewish citizens would become a minority.
All of this should be a strong motive for praying earnestly for Israel and the Palestinians.
Paradox Ministries is a UK Charity (No. 1125582), headed by The Rev Tony Higton
The Tragic History of Anti-Arabism
In order to understand the outlook and reactions of Arabs, including Palestinians, one must take seriously the long, tragic history of anti-Arabism.
Anti-Arabism is prejudice or hostility against people of Arabic origin. It is considered to be the same as anti-Arab racism and is associated with “Islamophobia” (an irrational fear or prejudice towards Muslims or Islam). Click below for more detail on the history of health Anti-Arabism.
The Call to Reconciliation
It was during our time living in Jerusalem, alongside Jewish people and Arabs (Christian and Muslim, Israeli and Palestinian), that I gained a deep concern for reconciliation. In fact it was a sense of obligation to further reconciliation.
Why emphasise reconciliation? Does the Bible show any interest in reconciliation other than in the context of churchmanship? Here is my response to these questions:
The Tragic History of Anti-Semitism
In order to understand the outlook and reactions of Jewish people, including Israelis, one must take seriously the long, tragic history of anti-Semitism culminating in the Holocaust.
Anti-Semitism is prejudice, discrimination, hostility or hatred against Jewish people. This has created deep sensitivities and insecurities, and these influence how Israelis approach their situation in the Middle East. Click the link below for the full article: