Bradley Scott’s shout-out to the White House, silent so far about the kidnapping of three Israeli youth this week, could also be directed at an audience formerly supportive of Israel: American Christian leaders.
Response from American “Christian Palestinianists” to the kidnappings this week by Hamas of three Israeli teenagers is almost non-existent. These supporters of the Palestinian Narrative (the idea that Israel is a belligerent and violent bully in the “occupation”) never miss an opportunity to criticize Israel loudly over real or perceived abuses of Palestinians. This silence is shameful and outrageous. Yet it goes on.
The American Christian supporters of the Palestinians are led by a host of well-known activists, media outlets, and ministry leaders, among them: writer Donald Miller, Sojourners, Shane Claiborne, Christianity Today magazine, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding (EMEU), Telos Group, Lynne Hybels, World Vision, Relevant magazine, and Tony Campolo.
Todd Deatherage, co-founder of Telos, is one of the few who have even mentioned the kidnapping of Gilad Shaer, Naftali Frankel, and Eyal Yifrah. (The hostages have names and should be recognized.) Posting about the kidnappings on Twitter, [he cited] a statement that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas had condemned the kidnappings. CMEP posted about the kidnappings on its Facebook page. The others, especially Miller—who has accused the Israel Defense Forces of war crimes, without documentation—are silent in the face of this humanitarian outrage. In particular, media outlets like Christianity Today usually are quick to post negative articles about Israel (for example, when the Knesset considers bills to curtail “missionary activity”), yet so far the flagship periodical of the American evangelical world is silent about the kidnapping of Jewish youth by jihadists.
Relevant, a leader in the evangelical Millennial community, has also been silent about the kidnappings, yet rarely misses an opportunity to portray Israel in the most negative light possible. The grotesque abduction of Shaer, Frankel (an American citizen), and Yifrah does not fit the anti-Israel narrative of Relevant, CT, and others, and goes a long way in explaining their silence on this story.
Some Christian media are spotlighting the kidnappings. World magazine, in the “Midday Roundup” on June 16, detailed the Israeli search:
“Politically charged. Israeli troops have been searching house to house in the city of Hebron for three teenagers who went missing in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the militant group Hamas kidnapped them. Israeli spokesman Mark Regev blamed the kidnappings on the Palestinian Authority, but a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that was not the case. He said Israeli security controlled the area where the teens went missing. Today, Abbas publicly condemned the kidnappings.”
Abbas, of course, has allowed incitement against Jews to rage in Palestinian society for decades, and images of Palestinian children holding up three fingers to symbolize the cultural delight in the taking of three hostages have made the rounds on social media.
One would hope that those progressives who identify as Christian in America would have the decency to decry the kidnappings. Usually, the only time such do reply in these situations is when they take the opportunity to employ a common tactic from the Left: change the subject. This involves changing the focus from three Jewish kidnap victims now in the hands of jihadists, to focus on Israeli checkpoints, “occupation,” etc. This silence stands as a macabre witness to the erosion of morality in the American Christian leadership community.
It would appear that Jewish life is cheap in powerful religious circles. We have been down this bloody and horrifying road before.
I call on the aforementioned activists for the Palestinians—and their wider circle of friends—to acknowledge these kidnappings.
Jim Fletcher is a writer, researcher, speaker and director of Prophecy Matters (prophecymatters.com). He is also a member of the executive committee of the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel (NCLCI), and author of It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine). He writes online for WorldNetDaily; Beliefnet; American Family Association; the Jerusalem Post; and Rapture Ready. He can be reached at [email protected] prophecymatters.com
By Jim Fletcher