Aziz Abu Sarah, +972 Blog, Feb 22, 2012
This article was originally published by +972 Blog and is republished with permission.
Yesterday, Pastor Chuck Kopp of the Baptist Church in West Jerusalem woke up to find his church vandalized. The Jerusalem Post reported that police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld suspects that Jewish extremists are responsible for the act. According to the Post, Rosenfeld said, “Officers are investigating a strong possibility of a (Jewish) nationalist motive, but no one has been apprehended yet."
Cars that were parked outside the church were also vandalized, and their tires slashed. Graffiti left on the church walls included the famous term "price tag," which has been used by settler extremists in attacks on mosques in the last few years. Other graffiti in Hebrew reads, "Death to Christianity," "Jesus son of Mary, the whore."
The church actually shares a parking lot with a synagogue, and ironically, one of the cars that had its tires slashed and was spray painted with graffiti belongs to a congregant of the synagogue.
The Baptist Church includes a number of Messianic believers, and the leadership has historically had connections to top Israeli political officials.
The "price tag" radicals are well known to police as products of the most extremist settlements. The irony in this case is that right-wing Christian support for settlers is a major source of income for even the most radical settlements, constituting a thorn in the side of both the American government and the Israeli military for years now:
So now we have Christian funds from the United States that have effectively supported the misguided second and third generation settler youth who are actively attacking churches and referring to Jesus as a son of a whore. If this is what Pastor John Hagee and other radical Christians intended, then it suggests a rather bizarre theology of interfaith love and care. It seems in reality that these funds are intended to foment conflict, to promote a confrontational, apocalyptic and messianic end to the State of Israel.
Is this a pro-Israel Christian position? Are these the allies that Jews and Israelis really want? Would it not be better to stand in solidarity with a church that was attacked, which exists side by side with a synagogue in Jerusalem in respect and mutual toleration? Even better, would it not be wise to embrace and support interfaith peace and tolerance?
This is the choice that is facing Christians who love Israel, and Jews who welcome Christian support for Israel. It is the commonsense approach to the interests and values of both religious communities, Jewish and Christian, that they support only those forces on the ground that are fostering coexistence and nonviolent forms of engagement and even disagreement.
The strange culture of “price tag” Judaism is a sad stepchild of the occupation. It will ultimately hurt Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike, and it will compromise the viability of any state that Jews want to live in and feel safe in. This strange new reality of Christian funds going to support attacks on Christian churches is something that should cause some real soul searching, both among Jews and Christians.
Pastor Chuck Kopp mentioned that following the attack on his church, the synagogue next door gave flowers to the congregation. That is worth remembering. Also, the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land issued the following condemnation:
It is also worth recalling the parallel verses in the New Testament from Peter, and from the Hebrew Bible's Book of Psalms.
"For whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil, and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it." "Who is the person who desires life, who loves the days of life to see only good? Guard your mouth from evil, and your lips from deceit. Veer away from evil and do only good, seek and pursue only peace."
The New Testament and the Hebrew Bible got it right here. When will today's Christians and Jews get it right?
For more pictures of the church vandalization click here
Rabbi Dr. Marc Gopin is director of George Mason University's Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution, and co-owns MEJDI Tours with Aziz Abu Sarah
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