Questions for a Young Christian Zionist

By Richard Edmondson

Chloé Simone Valdary is a young African American student at the University of New Orleans. Last year, she formed a campus organization called “Allies of Israel,” and on Monday, January 28, the group will hold its first major event, a rally entitled “Declare Your Freedom.” The affair is attracting some attention because Zionist and celebrity political commentator Daniel Pipes has agreed to be the keynote speaker.

A report in Driftwood, the school’s student newspaper, informs us that Valdary is a sophomore majoring in International Studies, that the purpose of the Monday event is to “raise anti-Semitism awareness,” and that other speakers will be on hand as well.

“Declare Your Freedom is a non-partisan rally that basically promotes the State of Israel and it promotes the shared values that America and Israel have, like freedom of speech, freedom of religion; democracy, rule of law, and things of that nature,” Valdary explains. “So it emphasizes how important it is that Americans be pro-Israel, because in doing so they promote American values.”

An article on Valdary also appears at the Jewish media website, The Jewish Press, which informs us additionally that she is a Christian who reads a lot (she became interested in Jews and Israel after reading the Leon Uris novel Exodus), and that she has “resolved to do what she could to fight Jew-hatred.” We are also given to understand that Allies of Israel now has an official faculty advisor and that “several area rabbis and Chabad leaders have become involved with the group” as well. Also supplied in the JP article is a quote from an announcement Valdary wrote about the upcoming event. It’s an interesting quote—it starts off a quote from anotherJewish writer she has read, and then goes on to offer some insights into Chloé’s own thoughts on injustice and human evil.

In ‘The Town Beyond the Wall,’ author Elie Wiesel writes, “…to be indifferent, for whatever reason, is to deny not only the validity of existence, but also its beauty. Betray, and you are a man; torture your neighbor, you’re still a man. Evil is human, weakness is human; indifference is not.” I was moved by these words when I first read them during my freshman year in college. It was this writing along with the Scriptures and other sources that inspire me to try to inhibit this great injustice, Jew hatred, if you haven’t guessed it, that is permeating the globe.

With all of the above in mind, I thought I would pose some questions for this young Christian student—and committed Zionist—at the University of New Orleans.

1. Chloé—if I may call you that—the article at The Jewish Press mentions that you are a Christian. I assume what that means is you believe what the Gospels relate about the life, death, and teachings of Jesus. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus urges us to be peacemakers, to be merciful and pure in heart, and to love our enemies as we love ourselves. How closely would you say the present leaders of Israel embody those teachings? Would you say it’s very closely, only somewhat closely, or not closely at all?

2. How do you reconcile these central, key teachings of Jesus with what Israel did during its “Operation Cast Lead” assault upon Gaza in December 2008-January 2009? Would you say that dropping white phosphorous bombs on civilians—a hideous, incendiary weapon designed to melt human flesh—represents an act of mercy? What about the killing of approximately 1400 people, roughly 300 of whom were children? Was that an act of faithful peacemaking on Israel’s part? And the attacks upon, and denunciations of, the Goldstone Report by Israel and its supporters—were those attacks a display of pureness of heart? Or was there about them an element of self-serving justification?

3. In the 23rdchapter of Matthew, Jesus accuses the Pharisees and teachers of the law of being hypocrites, of conducting themselves deviously, and not practicing what they preach. He also describes them as “whitewashed tombs,” that is to say, they seem bright and clean on the outside…while rotting on the inside. Was Jesus a Jew hater?

4. In 2 Corinthians 11:24the Apostle Paul says that “five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one,” while in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15, he commiserates with the recipients of his letter in Thessalonica, “You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved.” Was Paul a Jew hater?

5. The Book of Acts relates a number of violent and vitriolic acts carried out by Jews. In 18:12, we learn of Jews in Greece who “made a united attack on Paul and brought him into court;” and in 20:19 we are told that while in Asia, Paul was “severely tested by the plots of the Jews.” The book’s 21stchapterdescribes the apostle’s arrival in Jerusalem after one of his missionary journeys: “The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.”—while in the following chapter, as Paul tries to speak in his defense, he is shouted down by the Jews: “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!” Finally in chapter 23, we learn of an elaborate murder plot in which the Jews “formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul.” The plot is only thwarted when the son of Paul’s sister learns of it. The writer of Acts is generally thought to have been Luke. In reporting all these things, was Luke simply exhibiting “Jew hatred”?

6. In Matthew 3:7, when a group of Pharisees and Sadducees show up at his campsite, John the Baptist pronounces them a “brood of vipers.” Was John the Baptist a Jew hater?

7. In the Book of Revelation, at 2:9 and again at 3:9, John discusses a group of people who falsely claim to be Jews, but who are not—who are in fact a “synagogue of Satan,” as he puts it. Was St. John a Jew hater?

8. And of course, all four Gospels tell of Jesus’ trial before the Jerusalem Sanhedrin and the shouts for his crucifixion. Were the writers of all these New Testament books Jew haters?

9. As both, a) a Christian, and, b) an avid supporter of Israel, do you experience any level of discomfort upon reading these passages? If the answer is yes, how do you deal with this feeling? Do you tell yourself that today’s leaders of Israel are somehow more virtuous than the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ and Paul’s time?

10. We all know that Jews have had problems through history. They have been expelledfrom Spain, Hungary, Bohemia, and numerous other countries and cities at various different times. I’d like to ask you something, Chloé—has there ever, in your opinion, been a time in history when animosities toward Jews came about as a specific result of something Jews did—as opposed to “irrational hatred” on the part of those who were at odds with them—or is that a scientific impossibility from your perspective?

11. Are you aware of the level of racism that exists in Israeli society, not just against Palestinians, but against African immigrants as well?

12. Are you conscious of Israel’s system of apartheid—for instance that Palestinians who live in the West Bank are forced to spend many hours waiting in line at Israeli checkpoints but are not allowed to vote in Israeli elections? Are you aware that there are public roads in the West Bank used primarily by Jewish settlers, which the vast majority of Palestinians are not even allowed to travel upon?

13. Did you know that Baleka Mbete, current chairperson of the African National Congress, has called Israel’s system of apartheid “far worse” than even South Africa’s? Or that South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has also denounced Israeli apartheid and supported the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement? You are aware, of course, that both Mbete and Tutu, it could accurately be said, know a thing or two about living under apartheid?

14. Would you still be as avidly pro-Israel if you were to learn that a large majority of Israelis actually supportapartheid policies against Palestinians? Did you know that such a poll was recently conducted and that these were indeed its findings? In light of this poll, do you still believe that America and Israel have “shared values,” as you were quoted by your school newspaper?

15. Since you don’t seem overly concerned about apartheid in Occupied Palestine, would you be just as content to see a return to apartheid rule in South Africa?

Chloé, dear child, I hope you will not be offended, but will take these questions in the spirit in which they were intended. I also hope, since you seem so fond of reading Jewish writers (Uris, Wiesel, Pipes, etc.) you might also take time to read some Palestinian writers, if only for the sake of getting the other side of the story. A Palestinian writer I highly recommend is Nahida Izzat. Nahida writes articles about the Middle East as well as poetry, and one reason I mention her is she has authored some in-depth pieces about Jews, Judaism and Halacha, or Jewish law (here, here, here, and here ), written from the perspective of one who has suffered under Jewish/Israeli oppression (Nahida was exiled from her homeland at the age of 7). It’s a perspective allAmericans, but especially those who blindly support Israel, should try and open their eyes to. Worth mentioning as well is that like many Muslims, Nahida also reveres Jesus. See her poems:

When I Was Seven, Jesus Cried

I know your goal, Chloé, is to educate yourself (otherwise you would not be enrolled at the University of New Orleans), so here are some other writers to broaden your horizons on this issue. Ramzy Baroud, another Palestinian writer, is editor of the Palestine Chronicle as well as author of the book My Father Was a Freedom Fighter. And then there are some Jewish writers (since I know you have a particular fondness for them) I would also recommend. One is Gilad Atzmon, author of The Wandering Who, and who also maintains a blog here; Israel Shahak, author of Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years; Shlomo Sand, author of The Invention of the Jewish People ; and Israel Shamir, author of Cabbala of Power. And since you are a Christian, definitely give some thought to reading E. Michael Jones’ book, The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit, which includes a history of the tensions between Jews and the Catholic Church. Jones is a Roman Catholic himself, and the perspective he provides is invaluable.

In closing, Chloé, I would remind you of the quote you used from Elie Wiesel concerning what it means to be indifferent—and encourage you not to be indifferent to Palestinian suffering.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

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