Did The Prophet Zechariah Warn Us About Tucker Carlson?

In a prophecy written by Zechariah about 3,000 years ago, we learn, “Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples all around. Now the one in siege against Jerusalem will also be against Judah. But it will be in that day, that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who heave it up will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it (Zechariah 12:2-3.) It is very unfortunate, but it is part of the word of God and it is guaranteed to happen, but how soon?

In a nutshell, at some point in history, the whole world (Yes, that includes the United States) will go against Jerusalem and by proxy, the Jewish people. This is a prophecy that just a few years ago would have appeared to be in the distant future, but today, it very well could be unraveling in front of our very eyes. One Bible teacher succinctly put it this way, "You’ve now reached the point where right-wing isolationists & nationalists have essentially the same anti-Zionist & anti-Semitic beliefs as left-wing neo-Marxists & Hamas supporters. Can you think of any other issue where the polarization between Left & Right has dissolved in such a way and led to a more-or-less unified position?

A perfect example of that is the recent interview that Tucker Carlson conducted with Pastor Munther Isaac of Bethlehem Bible College. Munther Isaac is a Lutheran Pastor in Bethlehem and is the academic Dean of Bethlehem Bible College. He is no friend of Israel and behind a thin veneer of Christian love and reconciliation, he promotes a one-sided agenda, throws Israel under the proverbial bus, and supports Hamas. What was Tucker thinking?

Was Tucker used by Munther Isaac without being prepared? How much does he really know about that man? That interview was a clear endorsement of Munther Isaac and the Palestinian narrative, and it was laced with lies and based on false premises. Frankly, Tucker seemed to be completely out of his lane, unprepared and unresponsive, but it could be worse, maybe he was unashamed and aware of who he was talking with. At the end of the interview, Tucker closed by saying to Munther Isaac, "that was a thoroughly decent and sensible analysis," when in fact, it was a thoroughly biased and deceptive analysis.

Munther Isaac is also the Director of the biennial Conference "Christ at the Checkpoint," which is a gathering of "Christians" claiming that they seek, peace, reconciliation and biblical love. This sounds really commendable at a time when the whole Middle East seems to be sitting on a powder keg with a very short fuse. Biblically speaking, anything done in the name of Yeshua and following His teaching should lead to peace and turning the other cheek. Furthermore, the leadership of CatC claims that, "The conference brings Palestinian and international Evangelical leaders, to study and explore the rise of religious extremism within Christianity, Judaism, and Islam and how this impacts the Israel/Palestine conflict. We will also explore what the Bible has to say about religious extremism in any form. Together, we will seek a Biblical response to religious extremism, and find ways that provide an alternative through living out the kingdom of God. "

On May 21-26, 2024, the seventh "Christ at the Checkpoint (CatC) Conference will take place in Bethlehem. The theme will be, "DO JUSTICE, LOVE MERCY: CHRISTIAN WITNESS IN CONTEXTS OF OPPRESSION." From their own website, they give the world their mission, which is: " The aim of Christ at the Checkpoint is to provide an opportunity for Evangelical Christians to prayerfully seek a proper awareness of issues of peace, justice, and reconciliation. We seek to renew the biblical call for justice and mercy in contexts of oppression and compel a unified mission of the global Church."

Their mission appears to deal with any form of extremism within Christianity, Judaism and Islam. In and of itself, this seems balanced and very informative, but the problem is that CatC conferences build every two years on the work accomplished by the previous conference(s), and as such, CatC has gained a reputation that increasingly lacks ethical stability. The first six conferences were all advertised under the banner of "reconciliation," but at the end of the day, each one resembled more a witch hunt against Israel than a dialogue to find a healthy compromise. Unfortunately, many evangelicals are blinded by Palestinian victimhood rhetoric.

Much could be gleaned from the CatC Manifesto, for which I wrote an analysis. To be honest, as I recognized that it included some truths, half-truths and lies, all mixed, which makes it even harder to decrypt, I had to look at each of the 12 articles carefully. It is well worth reviewing. (in bold are the exact words of the manifesto as published on the CatC website.)

1. The Kingdom of God has come. Evangelicals must reclaim the prophetic role in bringing peace, justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel.
DISAGREED: Kingdom Now Theology claims, among other things, that Yeshua’s Kingdom was inaugurated at His First Coming while Scripture states that He will reign as Messianic King on the throne of David from Jerusalem, in a yet-to-come Millennial Messianic Kingdom (Psalm 72:8, 11, 17; Isaiah 9:7, 11:6-11; Jeremiah 23:6, Zechariah 3:10

2. Reconciliation recognizes God’s image in one another.
AGREED:God created man and woman in His image, regardless of ethnicity (Genesis 1:27; 5:1; 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7; Ephesians 4:24). However, inviting blatant anti-Israel speakers year after year defeats that purpose.

3. Racial ethnicity alone does not guarantee the benefits of the Abrahamic Covenant.
DISAGREED:The benefits of the Abrahamic Covenant are multifaceted. They include God's promises to both the Jewish people and the nations (non-Jews) through Abraham, yet the physical land is ONLY promised to the Jewish people, ethnic descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 12:1-3, 7; 13:15;17:7-8, 19; 25:5-6; 26:3; 28:3-4; 35:9-15).

4. The Church in the land of the Holy One, has born witness to Christ since the days of Pentecost. It must be empowered to continue to be light and salt in the region, if there is to be hope in the midst of conflict.
AGREED:Yeshua’s last command to His disciples was to make disciples of ALL NATIONS (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:47)

5. Any exclusive claim to the land of the Bible in the name of God is not in line with the teaching of Scripture.
DISAGREED: The land of Israel belongs to God Himself (Leviticus 25:23). He chose to make a covenant with Abraham that would include that piece of land (Genesis 15:18-19) as an eternal AND unconditional part of that covenant. Additionally, God’s gifts are irrevocable (Romans 11:29).

6. All forms of violence must be refuted unequivocally.
AGREED: Yeshua always taught peace between His followers and unbelievers as much as possible, making Christianity a unique faith in which disciples of Messiah must EVEN love their enemies (Matthew 5:39-48; Luke 6:27-35, Romans 12:17-21). Munther Isaac's support of Hamas is a slap in the face of article 6.

 7. Palestinian Christians must not lose the capacity to self-criticism if they wish to remain prophetic.
AGREED: In any conflict, ALL parties must be willing to recognize fault and be prepared to adjust accordingly. (Proverbs 18:12; Ephesians 4:2; Philippians 2:3; Colossians 3:1-17.)

8. There are real injustices taking place in the Palestinian territories and the suffering of the Palestinian people can no longer be ignored. Any solution must respect the equity and rights of Israel and Palestinian communities.
PARTIALLY AGREED AND DISAGREED: While mutual respect of human beings as being made in God’s image is at the core of peace and reconciliation, what is meant by “injustices in the Palestinian territories” remains to be defined. (Genesis 1:27; 5:1; 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7; Ephesians 4:24.) The further we advance in history, the more accepted the Palestinian narrative becomes. Unfortunately, it is not founded on historical facts but purely fabricated. Please don't take my word for it, take the time to study the facts!

9. For Palestinian Christians, the occupation is the core issue of the conflict.
PARTIALLY AGREED AND DISAGREED: While nobody enjoys living in a land that they feel is theirs and yet is occupied by a foreign people group, it remains to be proven biblically that Jewish people are the occupiers. All previous Scriptures cited about the land lead to an opposite view (See verses under points 3 and 5). Additionally, anyone claiming occupation of Gaza is ignoring that Palestinians have been given full authority of the strip since 2005, with zero Israeli occupation, and that there was a ceasefire there since 2005, which was broken by Hamas on October 7, 2023.

10. Any challenge of the injustices taking place in the Holy Land must be done in Christian love. Criticism of Israel and the occupation cannot be confused with anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of the State of Israel.
AGREED: While it is possible to disagree with Israeli policies, much of what has been labeled as anti-Israelism or even anti-Zionism has really been antisemitism in disguise. Genuine Christian love is at the core of any reconciliation and is irrespective of color or race. (2 Corinthians 5:14; Ephesians 3:19; Colossians 3:14). CatC continues to invite a plethora of speakers who are very good at pointing the finger at Israel as the “occupier” and “apartheid state”, but rarely do they speak of radical Islam, terrorism and/or antisemitism.

11. Respectful dialogue between Palestinian and Messianic believers must continue. Though we may disagree on secondary matters of theology, the Gospel of Jesus and his ethical teaching take precedence.
PARTIALLY AGREED AND DISAGREED: Respectful dialogue means that both sides must be heard, and both sides must listen. Agreeing on the Gospel of Yeshua doesn’t negate God’s covenants with the Jewish people (Romans 1:16; 9-11.) Even the 2016 "Larnaca Document" signed in Cyprus between Palestinian Christians and Messianic believers sounds more like a trap than a true breakthrough. For instance, in their article 2.2, both parties agree to disagree on what constitutes lethal violence. Seriously? So, Israel's counter-terrorism actions against Hamas should be seen as one version of "lethal violence" on equal footing with Hamas's bloody terrorism?

12. Christians must understand the global context for the rise of extremist Islam. We challenge stereotyping of all faith forms that betray God’s commandment to love our neighbors and enemies.
AGREED: While again I find the statement misleading as it could be taken to mean that there is a justification for radical Islam’s violence, I agree that Christian love is always the foundation of any lasting peace and reconciliation (See verses under points 6).

So, forgive me for not getting too hopeful about the seventh iteration of "Christ at the Checkpoint."  I think that it has progressively gotten worse. How can we possibly speak of Christian love, justice and in the same breath praise Hamas for October 7., 2023. This conference, led by Munther Isaac is based on their manifesto, and this is what Tucker Carlson–knowingly or not–promoted during his interview.

Shame on you Tucker Carlson for promoting a Hamas sympathizer as a Middle East peacemaker! If you wanted to conduct an interview of biblical proportions, you were successful in that you got us all a bit closer to the fulfillment of Zechariah 12.

The Proper Way to Support BLACK LIVES, and Why it MATTERS!

Growing up  as a Jew in France in the 60s and 70s wasn't without its challenges. My own mother who had lost her dad in the Holocaust at age 15, had developed a fear about telling people that we were Jewish. So much so that she even forced me to learn German in school as a second foreign language, just in case the Germans would invade France again, so that I could get by. It was not until she was in her early forties before she was comfortable telling others that we were Jewish. But all this never stopped me from making friends of different backgrounds at school. Two of my earliest buddies were Vietnamese and African. Every time I told my mother about a new friend, this fearful question always arose, "Do they know we are Jewish?" to which I always answered that they didn't care and neither did I. Racism never had a foothold in my life. It never made sense to me to hate somebody based on color, race or creed. It didn't when I was a teenager and it doesn't today as a middle age adult.

When I moved to the United States in 1985, it quickly became evident that there were racial tensions between blacks and whites on many levels. Economically, culturally, politically to name just a few. Blacks and whites were clashing. Inter racial relations have not improved, they have actually gotten worse, to the point of injustice and wrongful deaths that we have witnessed in 2020. There is a serious problem affecting America today that cannot be ignored, and that is a reason why the movement known as Black Lives Matter–founded in 2013– has gathered so much momentum and picked the interest of so many. Such a movement appears to be giving the African American community the voice and momentum that they need to push reform forward. Philosophically, this is a good thing, but practically, the BLM ideology sends a very different message–if you know where to look. To be sure, I am not saying that black lives do not matter. Of course they do, as all lives matter. I am simply saying that before we blindly join and support the BLM movement based on somewhat of a knee-jerk reaction, from a mix of compassion, rightful indignation and misplaced guilt, we should investigate who the BLM supports and promotes. It is not always the easiest thing to do as a lot of the connections are no longer evident from their website. But let's consider the following:

To put it simply; Black Lives Matter supports BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions). I have tried my best to expose the false narrative used by BDS proponents for several years. The BDS movement (officially co-founded in 2005 by Mahmoud Abbas and Omar Barghouti), has been pushing for a total boycott (academic, cultural and economic) of Israel and those who support Israel and Israeli products and companies. It has made great strides towards convincing people across the globe that Israel was the perpetrator of crimes against humanity, oppression, invasion and persecution. The BDS movement is not interested in social justice in general or they would also call for the boycott of many other countries that truly commit crimes against humanity such as Venezuela, China, Iran, Sudan and many others, but they don't. Their only agenda is Israel and the Jewish people worldwide. They are not even hiding it as California University Professor Asad Abu Khalil said, “The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel….That should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.” Likewise, BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti stated"A Jewish state in Palestine, in any shape or form, cannot but contravene the basic rights of the land's indigenous Palestinian population...definitely, most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian – rational Palestinian, not a sellout Palestinian—will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine."

While it is challenging to find the connection between BLM and BDS, it is not impossible. BLM is part of a larger network known as M4BL (The Movement for Black Lives). Dots become a lot easier to connect once we realize that M4BL is an umbrella organization under which you can find other groups such as Black Lives Matter. Once this is established, it takes no time to find out that M4BL supports BDS. They claim that "3 billion dollars in US aid is allocated to Israel, a state that practices systematic discrimination and has maintained a military occupation of Palestine for decades." or "The US justifies and advances the global war on terror via its alliance with Israel and is complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people." They even propose some actions to be taken against Israel as they encourage people to "Fight the expanding number of Anti­BDS bills being passed in states around the country. This type of legislation not only harms the movement to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine, but is a threat to the constitutional right to free speech and protest."

Additionally the Movement for Black Lives cites as resources: www.BDSmovement.net and www.blackpalestiniansolidarity.com. Both these websites are clear supporters of the BDS ideology and the flawed Palestinian narrative. So, the connection between BLM and M4BL is undeniably clear, and their antisemitic slant is also very obvious. I do not want you to miss the irony here: A movement that claims to fight racism of all sorts and promotes social justice, is also promoting the destruction of Israel and the hatred of Jewish people. So before we support BLM and donate to the cause, we must examine our hearts. Is it OK to fight for justice and equality for African Americans while supporting the oppression and destruction of Israel? Whichever way you look a it, it is hypocrisy. Not to mention the global support for BLM including anti-racism gatherings in Paris where some people were shouting dirty Jews to the crowd. Again, where is the connection? So, where do we go from here?

Inequality can only be remedied by true reconciliation and true reconciliation only comes from God. The problem that seems to arise out of the BLM movement is that reconciliation is spoken of, but submission is what is meant. There are some strong similarities between the "reconciliation" promoted by BLM and the one promoted by groups like "Christ at the Checkpoint (CaTC.) claiming to seek reconciliation between Israel and Palestinians in the name of Christ. When reconciliation is simply a word spoken to force the other side to submit unilaterally, then we have a problem. Reconciliation is a two-way street that includes compromise and humility. I have seen very little of that coming from BDS promoters as well as those who defend the BLM movement. What I am even starting to see, is more and more parallels drawn between the tragic murder of George Floyd and the deaths of Palestinians. Some people are even borrowing visual elements such as the Middle East head scarf worn by Arafat and the Palestinian flag, to incorporate them into images of George Floyd. There is absolutely no foundation for this connection, but that doesn't stop people from drawing it.

As a French/Jewish immigrant to America, I have come to realize that injustice and inequality is very real all around us, and that is a tragedy. I have been speaking and writing against antisemitism for over twenty years, and I know that it is very real, as Satan infuses that hatred daily in the heart of men. Racism will continue to exist everywhere, but it doesn't mean that we have to adhere to it. As God's word tells us that through the blood of Messiah, Jews and Gentiles have been reconciled into one new man, without any separation between them. Racial reconciliation is not something we have to work on, but something we need to grab hold of and believe in, in complete faith, because of what Yeshua did on our behalf; Jews and Gentiles, blacks and whites.

Ephesians 2:11-16 drives the point home better than I ever could," 11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Messiah Yeshua you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Messiah. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity."

So, I support black lives today as much as I have supported them my whole life, but not through a manmade movement that has a shaky foundation at best. I support black lives because of my Messiah who supported all lives, enough to die for them. We all should support black lives and it definitely matters how we do it!

Christ at the Checkpoint: Is the Virus Spreading?

Every two years since 2010, a conference takes place at Bethlehem Bible College (BBC) in the Middle East. That conference is known as Christ at the Checkpoint (CaTC) and focuses on Middle East issues between Israelis and Palestinians, seen from a Christian perspective. It is a conference centered around biblical reconciliation and justice...or so it claims! The organizers of CaTC write that they are " a community of evangelical Christians who believe that following Jesus with integrity means that our lives are formed by our love for God, the teaching of the Bible and a fearless life of discipleship in the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We believe that one of the first hallmarks of discipleship is love for both our own community and for our enemies. We wish to find Jesus at the center of everything we do and to make his life our life. Which means finding courageous love for Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews alike." Even the CaTC Manifesto claims that the Conference and its speakers hold to biblical principles that are critical to the solving of the Arab/Israel conflict. This year, it will take place again in Bethlehem May 28- June 1.

The very first article of their manifesto says " The Kingdom of God has come. Evangelicals must reclaim the prophetic role in bringing peace, justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel." While I would agree on various aspects of the Manifesto, I also have some serious concerns about other parts. "The Kingdom of God has come" assumes that we all agree about a theology known as "Kingdom Now Theology." Kingdom Now Theology claims, among other things, that Yeshua’s Kingdom was inaugurated at His First Coming, while Scripture states that He will reign as Messianic King on the throne of David from Jerusalem in the yet-to-come Millennial Messianic Kingdom (Psalm 72:8, 11, 17; Isaiah 9:7, 11:6-11; Jeremiah 23:6, Zechariah 3:10.)

Furthermore, in article 5, we read "Any exclusive claim to the land of the Bible in the name of God is not in line with the teaching of Scripture." I would have to disagree with that statement as well,  since the Land of Israel belongs to God Himself (Leviticus 25:23), but He chose to make a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3, 15:12-18, 17:7-8, 24:7), reconfirmed through Isaac (Genesis 26:1-3) and then Jacob (Genesis 35:9-12), that would include that piece of land as an eternal AND unconditional part of that covenant. Additionally, God’s gifts are irrevocable (Romans 11:29) AND while many other promises were made by God to Ishmael, the land promise was never one of them (Genesis 17:18-21).

For the honest person who respects the Word of God, the veneer of reconciliation and fight against injustice isn’t very hard to peel. Once that is done, it is easy to see that Christ at the Checkpoint is indeed interested in reconciliation, as long as by it they mean Israel’s unilateral apology for its “crimes” against Palestinians along with Israel relinquishing the “occupied” land of Palestine and further submitting to the regional demands by its Arab neighbors. As a one-way street, this has nothing to do with true reconciliation. A definition for reconciliation goes as follows:" The act of causing two people or groups to become friendly again after an argument or disagreement." or "The process of finding a way to make two different ideas, facts, etc., exist or be true at the same time." Reconciliation should be the act of getting two people or people groups–the Jewish people and the Palestinians–to agree through dialogue and compromise, as they find spiritual common ground in Yeshua and His salvific message. It must include mutual forgiveness, a mutual acceptance, and a shared desire to press on towards a common goal.

When one reviews the list of speakers for CaTC 2018 in Bethlehem, it doesn't take long to find people who have for a while now, promoted a one-sided solution to the Arab/Israeli conflict. I am never interested in character assassination, so I would instead encourage my readers to visit the speaker's page for CaTC 2018 and check out what these people have to say by cross-referencing previous messages that can be found on the Internet.

In the name of dialogue, CaTC had occasionally invited speakers that are from the Messianic Jewish perspective. This year, Dr. Michael Brown is such a guest. Dr. Brown is a biblical scholar with much integrity. There is no doubt that he can speak up and defend a biblical view of Israel and the Middle East. My doubts lie elsewhere though. I fear that Dr. Brown might have been invited to falsely validate a sense of fairness and authentic dialogue at CaTC. By his very participation, as needed and fruitful as it might be, he brings instant cred. Is it possible that the main reason why he was allowed as a speaker was to give the false impression of true dialogue towards reconciliation? When I see the rest of the speakers, I wonder! Dr. Brown needs our prayers as he will be like a gladiator singlehandedly fighting in a very antagonistic arena.

There should be another concern for genuine Evangelicals in search of real reconciliation in the Middle East. CaTC has expanded their tentacles outside of Bethlehem to have their first International Conference in Oklahoma City. Christ at the Checkpoint USA will be on October 15-18, 2018. Several of the Bethlehem speakers will attend, as well as many others. They claim that "The theme of CATCUSA is "Holy Land Realities and Our Response," and it is the hope of the organizers to hear from our Palestinian and Messianic brothers and sisters about their daily experiences, and how the church worldwide can engage with them in a way that is helpful and productive."

It has been very difficult to change the minds of CaTC speakers and organizers over the years. Is it worth attending such a conference and try to dissuade people from being so one-sided? I suppose there could be value in that, but I think that sticking to God's view of Israel, Jewish people, the Nations, sin and atonement is more valuable. We are better off equipping those who are on the fence with a properly balanced biblical truth. Christ at the Checkpoint might possibly hope to find a solution to the crisis, but they keep inviting speakers, several of which I would consider being antisemitic. The CaTC virus seems to be spreading. Are American Evangelicals properly inoculated to resist it? I am not convinced!

Christ at the Checkpoint or Crisis at the Checkpoint?

I recently reviewed the current Christ at the Checkpoint (CatC) Manifesto point by point from a biblical perspective. As a result, I found myself either agreeing, disagreeing or a bit of both. The whole breakdown was part of a pre-conference review I did. One apparent core value of the CatC Manifesto–rightfully so– is reconciliation:
1. The Kingdom of God has come. Evangelicals must reclaim the prophetic role in bringing peace, justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel.
2. Reconciliation recognizes God’s image in one another.

On one hand, I do not agree on the point that the Kingdom of God has come (Kingdom Now Theology claims among other things, that Yeshua’s Kingdom was inaugurated at His first coming while Scripture states that He will reign as Messianic King on the throne of David from Jerusalem in a yet to come Millennial Messianic Kingdom as validated by Psalm 72:8, 11, 17; Isaiah 9:7, 11:6-11; Jeremiah 23:6, and Zechariah 3:10 among other Scriptures). But on the other hand, as a believer in Yeshua, I see the great need for peace, justice and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. Furthermore, as proposed in Article 2 of their Manifesto, I agree that we are created in God's image and should look at each other from that perspective only (God created man and woman in His image, regardless of ethnicity as seen in Genesis 1:27; 5:1; 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7; and Ephesians 4:24.)

Reconciliation is indeed critical, as long as real reconciliation is sought.Biblical or not, proper reconciliation requires:
1. Identify the issue
2. Identify the protagonists
3. Recognize the need to reconcile
4. Recognize shortcomings
5. Seek forgiveness and unity

These five steps can be used in any context, but when it involves believers, it must be on the firm foundation of God's word, based on a consistent and literal approach to the Bible. Anything less brings man's opinion into the equation and reveals our inability to be unbiased and just. In the context of CatC 2016, it was hardly the case. the scale was tipped in favor of the Palestinian and Palestine from the word go!

It is obvious to Israelis and Arabs, as well as the rest of the world that there is a crisis/conflict in the Middle East. The issue has been identified as a disputed piece of land the size of the state of New Jersey. Some will claim that this sliver of real estate belongs to the Jewish people based on a covenant that God made with them through Abraham, going back to Genesis 12 and further ratified through Isaac and Jacob in Genesis 12:1-3, 7; 13:15;17:7-8, 19; 25:5-6; 26:3; 28:3-4 and 35:9-15. Others will argue that the land belonged to the Palestinians and was stolen, colonized and now suffers from an apartheid policy by Israel. Identifying the issue could be done by saying that opinions differ on whom the land belongs to.

The protagonists–for lack of a better word– are the Arabs and the Jews. The fact that Arabs in the region are now called Palestinians only exacerbates the issue. Before 1967, the word "Palestinian" simply described inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael also known back then as Palestine. It was then inhabited by Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews. So technically, anytime Israelis and Palestinians are described as the two main protagonists, it is a misnomer and it results in setting-up a false premise. It would then be proper to describe the protagonists in the context of an "Arab/Israeli" conflict.

All sides speak of the obvious need to reconcile and bring peace to the region. CatC claims that the model for that reconciliation is Yeshua and His Gospels, yet the vast majority of the conference is spent describing Israel as the occupier and the enemy. There were so many instances where Israel was called the enemy during CatC, yet no mention was made of Palestinian terrorism, stabbings or any other feats of Islamic terror. They actually even invited a Muslim scholar who is linked to Hamas. CatC's definition of reconciliation doesn't seem to include the recognitions of both sides' shortcomings and really seems to emphasize Israel need to apologize and stop the invasion of "Palestine."

On a lighter note, I found it very telling that in the name of reconciliation, the only symbol hanging next to the speakers podium was a Palestinian Kaffiyeh (head covering made popular by Yassir Arafat). It would have gone a long way to hang it next to a tallit (Jewish prayer shawl) as a symbolic picture of reconciliation. Additionally, the worship sessions included songs in English and Arabic. It would have also shown good intentions if they had included some of the lyrics in Hebrew. Even the CatC website only exists in English and Arabic.

To an extent, I can understand that people living in the Middle East and having been brought up in a culture that is vastly antisemitic could have a hard time accepting Israel right to exist and right to the land. I don't share their views but I understand that they can have them. What baffles me is the involvement of evangelical Christians–once supporters of Israel– such as Fuller Seminary Mark Labberton or "Bible Answer Man" Hank Haneggraff. Mr Haneggraff's presentation was a disgrace. His unbiblical approach to the issue at hand and his vitriolic description of Zionism and Christian Zionism was borderline antisemitic and certainly in line with the conference's philosophy. I have yet to find anything in Mr. Haneggraff's message that would encourage anybody towards proper reconciliation. He was joined by a plethora of speakers from all theological perspectives with only one common goal: the demonization of Israel. It was Christian Palestinianism at its scariest best!

For the honest viewer who respects the Word of God, the veneer of reconciliation and fight against extremism wasn't very hard to peel. Once that done, it was easy to see that Christ at the Checkpoint is indeed interested in reconciliation, as long as by it they mean Israel's unilateral apology for its "crimes" against Palestinians, Israel relinquishing the "occupied" land of Palestine and further submitting to the regional demands by its Arabs neighbors. As a one way street, this has nothing of a true reconciliation. So at the end of the day, Christ at the Checkpoint was really more of a "Crisis at the Checkpoint." Evangelicals should have nothing to do with such a farce!

Christ at the Checkpoint 4: How far is too far?

On March 7-10, 2016, the fourth "Christ at the Checkpoint (CatC) Conference will take place in Bethlehem. The 2016 theme will be, "THE GOSPEL IN THE FACE OF RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM." From their own website, they give the world their mission that is: " The mission of “Christ at the Checkpoint” is to challenge Evangelicals to take responsibility to help resolve the conflicts in Israel/Palestine by engaging with the teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of God."

This sounds really commendable at a time when the whole Middle East seems to be sitting on a powder keg with a very short fuse. Biblically speaking, anything done in the name of Yeshua and following His teaching should lead to peace and turning the other cheek. Furthermore, the leadership of CatC claims that, "The conference will bring Palestinian and international Evangelical leaders, to study and explore the rise of religious extremism within Christianity, Judaism, and Islam and how this impacts the Israel/Palestine conflict. We will also explore what the Bible has to say about religious extremism in any form. Together, we will seek a Biblical response to religious extremism, and find ways that provide an alternative through living out the kingdom of God. "

Their mission appears to deal with any form of extremism within Christianity, Judaism and Islam. In and of itself, this year's conference seems balanced and very informative, but the problem is that CatC conferences build every two years on the work accomplished by the previous conference(s), and as such, CatC has gained a reputation that increasingly lacks ethical stability. The first three conferences were all advertised under the banner of "reconciliation" but at the end of the day, each one resembled more a witch hunt against Israel than a dialogue to find a healthy compromise. Unfortunately, many evangelicals are blinded by Palestinian victimhood rhetoric.

Much could be gleaned from the CatC Manifesto, for which I wrote a review in 2012. Back then I recognized that it included some truths, half-truths and lies, all mixed. So I looked at each of the 12 articles carefully. It is well worth reviewing again.

1. The Kingdom of God has come. Evangelicals must reclaim the prophetic role in bringing peace, justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel.
DISAGREED: Kingdom Now Theology claims among other things, that Yeshua’s Kingdom was inaugurated at His first coming while Scripture states that He will reign as Messianic King on the throne of David from Jerusalem in a yet to come Millennial Messianic Kingdom (Psalm 72:8, 11, 17; Isaiah 9:7, 11:6-11; Jeremiah 23:6, Zechariah 3:10).

2. Reconciliation recognizes God’s image in one another.
AGREED: God created man and woman in His image, regardless of ethnicity. (Genesis 1:27; 5:1; 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7; Ephesians 4:24). Although inviting blatant anti-Israel speaker like Stephen Sizer defeated that purpose.

3. Racial ethnicity alone does not guarantee the benefits of the Abrahamic Covenant.
DISAGREED: The benefits of the Abrahamic Covenant are multi-faceted. They include God's promises to both the Jewish people and the nations (non-Jews) through Abraham, yet the physical land is ONLY promised to the Jewish people, ethnic descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 12:1-3, 7; 13:15;17:7-8, 19; 25:5-6; 26:3; 28:3-4; 35:9-15.)

4. The Church in the land of the Holy One, has born witness to Christ since the days of Pentecost. It must be empowered to continue to be light and salt in the region, if there is to be hope in the midst of conflict.
AGREED: Yeshua’s last command to His disciples was to make disciples of ALL NATIONS (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:47)

5. Any exclusive claim to land of the Bible in the name of God is not in line with the teaching of Scripture.
DISAGREED: The land of Israel belongs to God Himself (Leviticus 25:23). He chose to make a covenant with Abraham that would include that piece of land as an eternal AND unconditional part of that covenant. Additionally, God’s gifts are irrevocable (Romans 11:29).

6. All forms of violence must be refuted unequivocally.
AGREED: Yeshua always taught peace between His followers and unbelievers as much as possible, making Christianity a most unique faith were disciples of Messiah must EVEN love their enemies (Matthew 5:39-48; Luke 6:27-35, Romans 12:17-21.) The participation of a Hamas sympathizer at the 2016 conference is directly opposed to the statement made in article 6.

 7. Palestinian Christians must not lose the capacity to self-criticism if they wish to remain prophetic.
AGREED: In any conflict, ALL parties must be willing to recognize fault and prepared to adjust accordingly. (Proverbs 18:12; Ephesians 4:2; Philippians 2:3; Colossians 3:1-17.)

8. There are real injustices taking place in the Palestinian territories and the suffering of the Palestinian people can no longer be ignored. Any solution  must respect the equity and rights of Israel and Palestinian communities.
PARTIALLY AGREED AND DISAGREED: While mutual respect of human beings as being made in God’s image is at the core of peace and reconciliation, what is meant by “injustices in the Palestinian territories” remains to be defined. (Genesis 1:27; 5:1; 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7; Ephesians 4:24.) The further we advance in history, the more accepted the Palestinian narrative becomes. Unfortunately, it is not founded on historical facts but purely fabricated. Please don't take my word for it, take the time to study the facts!

9. For Palestinian Christians, the occupation is the core issue of the conflict.
PARTIALLY AGREED AND DISAGREED: While nobody enjoys living in a land that they feel is theirs and yet is occupied by a foreign people group, it remains to be proven biblically that Jewish people are the occupiers. All previous Scriptures cited about the land lead to an opposite view (See verses under points 3 and 5).

10. Any challenge of the injustices taking place in the Holy Land must be done in Christian love. Criticism of Israel and the occupation cannot be confused with anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of the State of Israel.
AGREED: While it is possible to disagree with Israeli policies, much of what has been labeled as anti-Israelism or even anti-Zionism has really been antisemitism in disguise. Genuine Christian love is at the core of any reconciliation and is irrespective of color or race. (2 Corinthians 5:14; Ephesians 3:19; Colossians 3:14). CatC continues to invite a plethora of speakers who are very good at pointing the finger at Israel "the occupier" and "apartheid state", but rarely do they speak of radical Islam, terrorism and/or antisemitism.

11. Respectful dialogue between Palestinian and Messianic believers must continue. Though we may disagree on secondary matters of theology, the Gospel of Jesus and his ethical teaching take precedence.
PARTIALLY AGREED AND DISAGREED: Respectful dialogue means that both sides must be heard and both sides must listen. Agreeing on the Gospel of Yeshua doesn’t negate God’s covenants with the Jewish people (Romans 1:16; 9-11.) Even the recent "Larnaca Document" signed in Cyprus between Palestinian Christians and Messianic believers sounds more like a trap than a true breakthrough. For instance, in their article 2.2, both parties agree to disagree on what constitutes lethal violence. Seriously? So Israel's counter-terrorism actions against Hamas should be seen as one version of "lethal violence" on equal footing with Hamas bloody terrorism?

12. Christians must understand the global context for the rise of extremist Islam. We challenge stereotyping of all faith forms that betray God’s commandment to love our neighbors and enemies.
AGREED: While again I find the statement misleading as it could be taken to mean that there is a justification for radical Islam’s violence, I agree that Christian love is always to be the foundation of any lasting peace and reconciliation (See verses under points 6).

So this year, more evangelicals are joining the CatC ranks. People like "Bible Answer Man" Hank Hanegraaff. I used to listen to Mr. Hanegraaff when I was a young believer, what a disgraceful theological shift. One wonders if he is he still using the same Bible since he is not seeing Israel in the plan of God anymore? But there are so many other people that are taking center stage at CatC 2016 in the name of Christian love and reconciliation and yet, they clearly show bias against Israel and in some cases hatred.

Jack Sara claims that he lives in Jerusalem, Palestine
Jonathan Kuttab recently tweeted that we should no longer consider Hamas a terrorist organization
Salim Munayer claimed that the many tunnels built by Hamas were mostly to carry food and drinks.
• Mustafa Abu Sway has written books used by Hamas and is known as an Islamist.

So forgive me for not getting too hopeful about the fourth iteration of "Christ at the Checkpoint."  I think that it is progressively getting worse. How can we possibly speak of Christian love, justice and reconciliation with such a line-up of hypocrites at best and antisemites at worst?

Instead of watching the conference online and be indoctrinated by a false narrative, you would better spend your time watching a series of videos directed by my dear friend Perry Trotter from New Zealand. The site is Evangelical Zionism and it divides into seven videos for a total of 45 minutes very well spent. I really wish that the speakers and attendees of CatC 2016 would spend that 45 minutes watching these videos, then I would be hopeful that we possibly could have a balanced dialogue. Unfortunately, I think that CatC has now gone too far. Sadly, many evangelicals do not see it that way!

Why Would "Christ at the Checkpoint" Compare Israel to ISIS?

While I was recently traveling throughout Israel, I drove about 600 miles. Looking at the landscape around me, I quickly realized that we were often driving nearby the Palestinian territories and at times even through some Arab neighborhoods.

It was as if someone had ripped pages from the Bible and made street signs and town signs with them, pointing to The Galilee, the Dead Sea, the river Jordan, Ashdod, Jerusalem, Jericho, Ramallah, Gaza, Jaffa, Modi'in etc.

I particularly fell in love with the Old City in Jerusalem. Its extensive color palette mixed with a myriad of scents was a perfect backdrop for Jews, Arabs and Christians to interact. We had dinner in an Armenian restaurant, a Jewish one AND an Arab one. If you asked me to tell you where the food tasted better, the answer would be.... YES!

While the Middle East crisis is indeed a crisis and Israel is far from perfect, it is obvious that Jews, Arabs and Christians share their cultures, heritages and foods on a daily basis. The mix is simply overwhelming…in a good way, of course!

Sadly, while I was in Israel I was also made aware of a video that was released to promote an upcoming conference in July 2015, by and for young adults. The conference promotional piece was advertised as coming from “Christ at the Checkpoint-Young Adults” or CaTC-YA.

While I must admit that I was unable to understand the closing commentaries in Arabic, the video collage that came first was enough to upset any supporter of the truth about the Middle East. The video is rather short and it even repeats some of its footage on a loop.

Yet, what it tries to do will turn your stomach upside-down. It sends the very clear message that Israel is equal to ISIS in violence and human rights violation. You see footage of ISIS thugs getting ready to decapitate rows of “infidels” dressed in the now world “infamous” orange overalls, juxtaposed with Israelis filtering Palestinians though checkpoints. Then, another frame shows the Islamic State brandishing their black flag followed by an Israeli tank brandishing a Jewish flag, making again a "not-so" subliminal connection.

The attempt at drawing a parallel between ISIS and Israel shouldn’t be missed AND shouldn’t be dismissed either. It is a new low in Christian Palestinianism. To be sure, the parallel was already attempted by CaTC superstar Stephen Sizer, when he compared Israel to ISIS and even said that Christian Zionists were Christian Jihadists.

Christ at the Checkpoint (CaTC) is a conference that started in 2010 and continues to take place every two years, sponsored by Bethlehem Bible College (BBC). The next official CaTC conference should take place in March 0f 2016 with the theme: "The Gospel in the face of religious extremism." In the meantime, a group of young adults proponents of the same agenda, is promoting a 2015 date. Their video is posted on their Facebook page and on the CaTC YouTube channel.

This raises some serious concerns about the biblical integrity of Bethlehem Bible College. How could they possibly claim to be Christians and promote such virulent demonization of the Jewish people and Israel. There is always the possibility that the video in question was produced by a group of supporters not necessarily officially affiliated with either CaTC or BBC (although currently posted on the CaTC YouTube channel). Even if it is the case, we need to hear from either or both very soon. I fear a silence that will of course speak tons about their position.

I cannot help but ask CaTC and BBC which “Christ” do they mean in “Christ at the Checkpoint” and which “Bible” do they use to validate him? If CaTC and BBC do not distance themselves from such unbiblical libelous attacks, they will further validate their anti-Semitic stance. This will leave a vast number of uneducated and/or gullible Evangelicals with a choice to make as well. Each choice we make leads to consequences.

Would they continue to support and attend such a conference as it compares Israel to ISIS? I certainly hope not! You can only claim ignorance for so long before you loose your credibility and ruin your reputation, but then again in a world were tolerance and political correctness are measured by one’s level of hatred for Israel and the Jews, I might be asking for the impossible.

In the meantime, if you want to know what’s going on in Israel, start by reading your bible and then consider making a trip yourself and experiencing some of what I just experienced for a few days. Incidentally, I drove by the Israeli towns of Ramallah and Jericho (under Palestinian authority) where Jews ARE NOT WELCOME EVER, and I drove by plenty of Israeli areas where Arabs AND Jews live in relative peace. But of course that is a topic that will never be covered at such conferences!

The theme of next year's Christ at the Checkpoint 4 is "The Gospel in the face of religious extremism." As of right now, I doubt that what is meant by religious extremism pertains to Islamism and/or the Islamic State. Based on the current trend and this new video, Zionism and Israel are in the crosshairs.

It doesn't matter if you follow Yeshua (Jesus) or not, the fact is that He was born a Jew not a Palestinian. He was born in Eretz Yisrael not the Palestinian territories and taught His followers to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them (Matthew 5:44)– something that isn't a characteristic of CatC proponents. So really, which Christ is at their checkpoint?