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March 11, 2014 1:11 pm
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Israeli Foreign Ministry: ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ Conference Using Religion to Incite Against Israel

avatar by Gidon Ben-Zvi

Screenshot of the "Christ at the Checkpoint" conference website. Credit: Christ at the Checkpoint.

Just as the “Christ at the Checkpoint” (CatC) conference began Monday in Bethlehem, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that CatC poses a long-term threat to the Jewish state’s security, the daily publication Israel Today reported.

“The attempt to use religious motifs in order to mobilize political propaganda and agitate the feelings of the faithful through the manipulation of religion and politics is an unacceptable and shameful act,” Yigal Palmor said. “Using religion for the purpose of incitement in the service of political interests stains the person who does it with a stain of indelible infamy.”

In response to CatC’s gathering, watchdog group, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) held a public meeting Monday morning in Jerusalem. Christian Media Analyst Dexter Van Zile spoke about the connection between CatC and the fixation mainline American liberal Protestants have on Israel’s conflict with Palestinian Arabs. He also talked about the deafening silence by the same denominations regarding the ongoing persecution of Christians across the Middle East.

Van Zile said the ancient belief that the Christian Church supersedes the children of Israel in God’s plan, and that the New Covenant nullifies the biblical promises made to the Jews, is one factor in explaining oft-repeated condemnations of Israel by the Presbyterian Church (USA).

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Another theory posited by Van Zile is that American Presbyterians are attempting to differentiate themselves from the Evangelical movement, which has soared in popularity over the last few decades. Whereas Evangelical “born again” Protestants tend to be socially conservative and ardent Zionists, liberal Protestant churches, most notably the Presbyterian Church, display an animus towards both the American Jewish community and the Jewish state of Israel.

However, anti-Zionism is also infiltrating the Evangelical community, Van Zile said. In his presentation, he maintained that younger Evangelicals are attempting to separate themselves from the sometimes uncomfortable “bible thumper” image of their forebears.

By adopting a pro-Palestinian stance, as well as such trendy social causes as gay rights, Evangelicals coming of age today are mirroring the views of many of their contemporaries.

The Palestinian Authority is then capitalizing on this growing “Evangelical Intifada,” he said. Indeed, organizers of the “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference last week confirmed that PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah would be speaking at the event.

He ended his presentation hopefully asserting that the Hebrew Scriptures advance universal arguments about morals and politics, truth and being, struggle and faith. As such, there is no inherent contradiction between Protestant theology and the Hebrew Bible.

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