the heavenly jerusalem orthodox

Is Israel the Promised Land?

by Fr. Emmanuel Hatzidakis on August 10, 2014

It seems that America is pro Israel, no matter what. No matter what Israel’s policy is; no matter what crimes it commits. America, the Big Brother, stands by Israel’s side no matter what it does, over the objections of the international community. There is an occasional slap on the wrist, just for the show, which is totally ignored by the Israelis, while the United States' support for Israel remains unwavering and unabashed. How come? And why in the U.S.A. and not in Europe?

I have the deepest sympathy for the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis. But I’m at a loss at their behavior towards the Palestinians that emulates that of the Nazis. It seems the persecuted have become the persecutors. How can it be? And how can it change?

The apartheid state the British established, and the United States of America supports, is at the root of the problem. There is only one solution—a democratic state in which Jews and Palestinians will live together in peace as equal. A Jewish apartheid state will never allow a Palestinian independent, sovereign state to exist next to theirs, and a Palestinian state, if one were to be formed, will never tolerate the continued occupation of their ancestral lands by a Jewish state.

Short of this solution the rockets will keep raining on Israel that will retaliate with the power the West allowed it to have. Incidentally, Israel is the only nuclear country that is not subject to inspections. In the continued warfare Israel is viewed as legitimately defending its right to exist, whereas the Palestinians are labeled as terrorists, because they don’t accept the Israelis’ God-given right to the land they have occupied.

Zionist Jews, and with them many fundamentalist Bible thumpers, literally believe in the eternal covenant Yahweh made with them, 4,000 years ago. According to these accounts, their God, Yahweh, will deliver to the Jewish nation the land that stretches from Nile to Euphrates (Genesis 15:18-20 and Numbers 34:1-12), and will completely destroy all its inhabitants (Exodus 23:20-33). They call this land “Eretz Yisrael,” Land of Israel.

Those who believe in a Destroyer God1 are sorely mistaken, whether Jews or Christians. For as long as the Israelis, along with the fundamentalist Christians, accept this view there is no possibility of ever allowing a Palestinian state to be formed in a land believed to be theirs jure divino, and they will barely tolerate the presence of non-Jews among them, whom they treat as second class citizens.

Even as I write these lines the Netanyahu government spurns the US efforts to end the violence in Gaza.2 The Israelis behave as the God they created does, leading them to occupy by force a land that wasn’t theirs and probing them to slaughter all its inhabitants. Even one of their leaders describes the founders of the Zionist state as terrorists, worse than Hamas, who fight for their independence and the freedom of their occupied land.3

The atrocities committed by extremist Moslems against Jews (and Christians alike) cannot be condoned. But neither can the world remain silent about the atrocities committed by a Jewish state armed to the teeth, thanks to the assistance of the United States. The protests in Europe against the indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza are not instigated by Moslem groups, as a recent article by Roger Cohen intimates,4 but by traditional Europeans who can no longer provide the unconditional support the Americans, backed by the Evangelicals and the powerful Jewish lobby, provide.

The only viable solution is coexistence, as a project called Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel5 advocates. It’s a small step in the right direction. But it has to include all Arabs that have been displaced from their ancestral lands. Until this happens speaking of justice, inclusion and equality is only a smokescreen.

Oh, I must tell you what the Orthodox Christian understanding of the Promises is: it’s not about earthly lands, favored nations with special land rights, earthly kingdoms, and earthly Jerusalems; it’s about Christ, His Church and a heavenly Jerusalem. The prophecies relate to Christ and to the Church He established, “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16), rejected by the Jews. All the covenants are fulfilled in Christ. And everyone, Jews and Arabs and heathens, is invited to share in the Promises. “Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”

  1. See, for example, http://www.shamar.org/articles/right_to_the_land.php#.U9-FXUg2ygs.
  2. See “Gaza War Strains Relations Between U.S. and Israel” by Mark Landler, The New York Times (Aug. 4, 2014).
  3. Henry Siegman, interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! (July 30, 2014). See also related story by Prof. Ilan Pappe: Israel Has Chosen to be a “Racist Apartheid State” with U.S. Support.
  4. Why Americans See Israel the Way They Do,” The New York Times, August 2, 2014.
  5. http://www.handinhandk12.org