Distortion and/or Omission of Facts – In the Name of Peacemaking
An Appeal to Christian Leaders
Tricia Miller, Ph.D.
Today’s church is immersed in a culture that is increasingly antisemitic, anti-Jewish and anti-Israel. To further complicate matters, there are movements – some of which are Christian – that end up strengthening antisemitism and anti-Zionism through the propagation of narratives that are strong in emotional appeal but rooted in the distortion and/or omission of facts. Unfortunately, this method of operation is sometimes employed by Christian organizations in the name of peacemaking.
When relevant facts and context are left out or distorted in an effort to create an appealing narrative in the quest for peace, uninformed Christians can easily become confused about critical realities in relation to the Jewish people and Israel’s existence as a Jewish State. As a result, they are then unequipped and unprepared to recognize or counter the growing evil of antisemitism which, all too often, now manifests as anti-Zionism. Furthermore, they are rendered impotent in the cause of peacemaking, because a foundation of truth is the only real path towards peace.
This state of affairs presents Christian leaders with urgent questions that must not be ignored.
Will we as leaders take responsibility to counter the delegitimization, demonization and dehumanization of the Jewish people that inevitably results from incomplete - and therefore, false - narratives created to promote a particular agenda, no matter how worthy that agenda might seem?
Will we as leaders allow those we are responsible for remain uninformed, or will we do all within our power to make sure that people within our realm of influence are equipped with the facts and thereby empowered to take an active stand against antisemitism, anti-Judaism, and anti-Zionism?
Antisemitism can be defined as opposition to Jews on the basis of ethnicity, while being anti-Jewish can be defined as opposition to, and persecution of Jews based on their religion. This includes denying Jews the right to exist in terms of their own self-understanding.
Antisemitism and anti-Judaism become anti-Zionism when the right of Jews to have a Jewish State in their ancient homeland is denied them. Anti-Zionism is antisemitic because by opposing the existence of one Jewish State – when there are twenty-two Arab states – Jews are opposed on the basis of ethnicity. Anti-Zionism is synonymous with anti-Judaism because opposition to the existence of a Jewish State is opposition to one of the essential identifying features of Judaism – the centrality of the land of Israel.
Unfortunately, in the last few decades, substantial parts of the organized church have succumbed to this unbiblical union of antisemitism, anti-Judaism and anti-Zionism. For the recipients of this newsletter, it is even more alarming that in recent years, those who identify as Evangelicals have been targeted with false narratives designed to turn traditional supporters of Israel away from that support in favor of the Palestinian political narrative.
Through this effort, parts of the church have actually become involved in influencing and encouraging antisemitism, anti-Judaism and anti-Zionism, either knowingly or unknowingly.
In many cases, this unbiblical union is strengthened through the promotion of confusion concerning the facts - both historic and facts on the ground – in relation to Israel’s existence as a Jewish State.
Confusion rules when facts concerning the history of the peoples of the land that is now the State of Israel are distorted, and narratives that omit history and context are presented as authoritative.
This distortion and omission of historical facts and context plays right into the Palestinian political agenda that is based on rewritten history and, in the case of Palestinian Christians, on the unbiblical assertion that Jesus was Palestinian.
Unfortunately, the failure to acknowledge historic realities and facts on the ground has become part of the talking points and education provided by some organizations that claim to be Christian, claim to be pro-Israel, and claim to want to be a force for peacemaking in the Middle East.
In their effort to play a role in achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians, they present what is going on in the Arab-Israeli conflict as an equal struggle between two equal national movements, each with its own valid narrative. In the process of trying to present the two narratives as equally valid, actual historical realities and facts on the ground are omitted or distorted. And what is happening between Jews and Palestinians is presented as a tragic conflict between two peoples who unfortunately, both lay claim to one land.
As part of the attempt to make it sound like the ongoing conflict is an equal struggle between two equally valid national movements, nothing is said about how many times Israel had made tremendous concessions in the quest for peace.
Nothing is said about how the Palestinians – and before them, the Arab world – continue to refuse to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.
Nothing is said about the repeated refusal on the part of the Arab world, and since the 1960’s, the Palestinian leadership, to accept any offer of peace – no matter how much Israel offers.
Nothing is said about what Hamas and the Palestinian Authority say in their charters, which clearly state their intent to totally destroy the Jewish State.
Nothing is said about the ongoing incitement on the part of the Palestinian Authority to murder Jews – and how the PA pays people to murder Jews.
Instead, in the attempt to present the conflict as an equal struggle between two equally valid national movements, there is an insidious narrative created that ignores or reinterprets history and facts on the ground.
The end result is that Palestinians are presented as innocent victims and Israelis as illegal oppressors who have no right to take action to protect their citizens against terrorism and murder.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
Omission and distortion of facts and context for the purpose of promoting a false account is egregious, and results in confusion. When this is done by Christian leaders who claim to be pro-Israel and claim to want to be a force for peacemaking in the Middle East, it is even more egregious.
Furthermore, co-called peacemaking that employs this technique is actually counterproductive in terms of arriving at the goals these Christian peacemakers claim they want to achieve. This is because the apparent acceptance of the distortion and omission of facts in the Palestinian narrative demonstrates a tolerant attitude towards the Palestinian Authority’s demonization of Jews and the Jewish State.
This apparent acceptance of their narrative gives the Palestinian Authority hope that they will succeed in their agenda to gain possession of all the land of Israel without having to recognize Israel’s right to exist and without having to accept any compromise for the sake of peace.
And this results in the complete unwillingness to negotiate that we have witnessed among the Palestinian leadership in relation to any attempt to broker peace.
Through these misguided efforts, so-called Christian peacemakers are actually doing more harm than good as they in effect, advance the Palestinian cause, which is rooted in antisemitism, anti-Judaism and anti-Zionism.
As Christian leaders, we need to be sure that we are not doing anything to aid and abet the church in influencing or encouraging this unbiblical union that validates the delegitimization, demonization and dehumanization of the Jewish people.
Instead, let us stand firmly on the facts and counter the confusion that results from distorted and biased narratives by remaining grounded in the truth, which is the only real path towards peace.