McKay Coppins has a superb piece on an increasing sense among a new generation that the past fusion of evangelicals and neo-conservative views on Israel is too lop-sided. One key factor? Palestinian Christians, and their plight. And it’s not only a lefty fringe:
Organizations like the Telos Group and the large Christian nonprofit World Vision have joined a small army of ministers and Christian opinion-makers working to reorient Evangelicals’ stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — producing documentaries about the plight of Palestinian Christians, providing theological rationale for a more “balanced” view of the issue, and taking Evangelicals on trips to the Middle East … One of the evangelical leaders calling for a more “nuanced” view of the conflict is Todd Deatherage, who spent five years in the Bush State Department before co-founding the Telos Group to expose Evangelicals to the complexities of the issue. He said their purpose is not to persuade Christians to turn against Israel, but rather “to affirm and support the dignity of all the people of the Holy Land, to be truly pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian at the same time.”
That’s exactly the point: pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian at the same time. In my view, all US foreign policy should be framed around that rubric, and the knee-jerk, Dispensationalist End-Times rhetoric that is routinely used to crush any even-handedness needs to be supplemented by a less Christianist politics and more Christian temperament. Peace will never come through immiserating and stigmatizing one side of this tragic conflict – and defending it automatically by religious fiat. We need nuance and moderation. And given the coalition that still operates to provide Israel with a carte blanche at US expense, a shift among evangelicals may be far more important than any signs of flexibility among American Jews.