The UN General Assembly today passed a resolution to grant Palestine “observer-state status,” which Palestinian Authority premier Mahmoud Abbas declared the “last chance to save the two-state solution.” I’m actually opposed to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. I don’t think it can be supported Biblically, because the Biblical prophecy about Zion in Isaiah 2:2-4 says that it’s the mountain of the Lord’s temple to which “all the nations will stream” in order to receive God’s judgment and teaching so that no one will “train for war anymore.” There is no mention of national borders, checkpoints, 40 foot high walls, or barbed wire fences in Isaiah or Micah or any of the other prophecies about Zion in the Hebrew Bible, because the Biblical Zion is not an apartheid state in which non-Jews are disenfranchised and under military occupation. Christians who support the Bible shouldn’t be advocating a two-state solution; we should be advocating a one-state solution in which Arabs from Gaza and the West Bank have full citizenship rights as well as Palestinian refugees around the world, who should all have birthright citizenship no differently than Jews around the world currently enjoy.
Just imagine the witness to the world if Israel and Palestine became a single nation. Jerusalem would be the “city of peace,” which is what its name literally means. The nations really would stream there to receive the teachings of the God of Jacob. There would have to be allowances for autonomous regions in which the ultra-Orthodox Jews and the ultra-conservative Muslims could do their thing. There would have to be some kind of constitutional assurance that neither ethnicity could be discriminated against or deported even if Jews were in the minority (which is the reason that Israeli Jews have disenfranchised the Palestinians in the first place). There would have to be a once-and-for-all settlement for Palestinians who were driven out of their homes in 1947 after which everyone would have to hold their peace.
Would not such a strange and wonderful occurrence remove the “abominating sacrilege” (Daniel 9:27) that keeps the Temple from being rebuilt? Most scholars believe that Daniel’s “abominating sacrilege” was the statue of Zeus that Antiochus IV Epiphanies set up in the Jerusalem Temple in 167 BC. But I have become more and more convinced that Daniel’s prophecy also refers to the apartheid practices within Israel today. I realize I’m going to sound like a tinfoil hat guy for saying this, but if peace came to the land and the temple were rebuilt, wouldn’t that be a much better reason for Jesus to return than if He had to come back with a whip to use on His people because we had no interest in being the peacemakers who are called children of God (Matthew 5:9)? If there were ever a good reason for the world to accept Christ en masse, it would be the resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through being reconciled into one state as the result of American Christians demanding that our government be true peacemakers.
I’m fully aware that modern Israel is a secular nation-state that is not the same entity as the ancient Israelite people who were expected to obey the laws of the Torah like Deuteronomy 10:19: “You are to love those who are aliens in your land for you were aliens in Egypt.” But I also believe that God has a stake in that land, and the way that things are being done over there right now is a mockery to what He said over and over again through the Israelite prophets. Terrorism is obviously absolutely evil and nothing justifies it, but the rage in the land has its source in God’s wrath against the dishonor to His name, no differently than God expressing His wrath through Assyrians and Babylonians before, even though the cruelties they inflicted on Israel were obviously sinful. It is utter blasphemy for American evangelicals today to be the fanatical cheerleaders for the modern nation-state of “silver and chariots” (Isaiah 2:7) as though it were the Biblical Israel, while shouting down any prophet who dares to criticize Israel, when ferocious self-criticism was the one activity that made Biblical Israel different than every ancient people around them. And let me tell you that Jewish people really get it. They honor the social justice teachings of their Torah unlike the shallow American evangelicals who just see this as another “us vs. them” match. Some are being very courageous in speaking out, and most are at least very conflicted about what’s happening.
But imagine if an impossible peace came to pass because the cry for peace and justice in the American church overpowered the cowboy sheiks of Armageddon who cause every politician to fear doing anything other than a knee-jerk unequovical endorsement of whatever Benjamin Netanyahu decides to do. The US presidents and Congress over the past two decades have become so cowardly. Ronald Reagan stood up to Menachem Begin when he was butchering Lebanon. Even Bush was less of a coward than Obama. The reason we have the power to create peace is because we have the power of the purse to the tune of $3 billion of annual military aid to Israel and we are the only thing blocking the UN Security Council from enforcing the international laws that Israel has violated and installing a peacekeeping force in the occupied territories that would prevent Israeli soldiers from taking the cheap shots at Palestinians that don’t get reported in US media. 952 Palestinian children were killed by Israeli forces between 2000 and 2008. The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem has compiled a number of statistics like this that are quite disturbing.
The US is the obstacle to peace between the Israelis and Palestinians right now. We either need to engage or disengage. If we’re going to keep the rest of the world from holding Israel accountable, we need to do so ourselves. If we’re going to be hands-off as Obama has been doing, then we need to cut the military aid and abstain from the Security Council votes also so that Israel can be held accountable by the world no differently than Iran or Sudan or anywhere else. Whatever Israel is right now, it’s not Zion, at least not according to the terms of the sacred scripture that is the only reason that particular piece of land has a special significance for the royal priesthood of YHWH. Jews need a homeland where they can be safe. So do Palestinians. Zion can be both.