• February 12, 2003
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    Campolo calls evangelicals to 'face facts' about Middle East
Campolo calls evangelicals to 'face facts' about Middle East THE VALUES of Jesus not only call us to respond to the needs of the poor. The values of Jesus call upon us to promote justice. Count them up! You will find that the number of times in the scriptures that justice is mentioned outnumbers the number of times love is mentioned. The word 'righteousness' in the original language is translated best with the word 'justice.'

Right now, we have to face the facts that the Christian church, in its proper zeal to support the state of Israel, has forgotten that there's a group of people called the Palestinians. And unless we stand up and speak for justice on behalf of the Palestinians, we are going to lose the missionary struggle in the next hundred years. It's about time we faced these facts . . .

I know somebody out there is going to come up and lay this on me: "Doesn't it say in the scriptures that whoever blesses Israel will be blessed?" Indeed it does. But you don't bless Israel by equipping them with guns and tanks and planes to suppress the Palestinian people. We need to say that. I know that doesn't go over big -- because we've forgotten that our God is a God of justice, and loves the Palestinians every bit as much as he loves Jews. It's about time we woke up to that fact.

Do you even know how the state of Israel was created? What happened was: the British took over Palestine after World War I, as a mandate from the League of Nations. The Zionists wanted the Brits out of there so that they could make this a homeland for the Jews. So they resorted to terrorism . . . Menachem Begin was a terrorist. [Ariel] Sharon was a terrorist . . . Menachem Begin was one of the men who set the bomb in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, that blew 92 people to smithereens -- innocent men, women and children. The British were so worn out [by] the terrorism over the next 20 years that they wanted out of the mess. So after World War II, they presented to the United Nations meeting, in New York, a proposal: that the land that hitherto had belonged to people who lived in Palestine was going to be partitioned and made into the state of Israel.

Now stop and think about that. If [you were] a Palestinian . . . [and] some people on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean decide that your homeland isn't your homeland any more. Dress it up any way you want, and get mad at me if you want -- that's not right.

We're in an existential situation right now where I want to see the state of Israel survive. I think we must ensure the safety and the security of the state of Israel. I want the state of Israel to survive, I want them to have that homeland. We chased them all over Europe during World War II with our anti-Semitism, and they ended up on the backs of the Palestinians.

We must not only guarantee that the Jews have a homeland of their own; we must be committed to the Palestinians having a homeland of their own. We must be committed to justice for the Palestinians; and if we do not make this commitment, we are going to lose the struggle to win the Muslim world to Jesus Christ -- because Muslims, unlike Christians, have a unity that we don't understand. They are committed to each other in ways we do not understand. And wherever Christianity tries to propagate its truth, they are confronted with the fact -- the missionaries are confronted with the fact -- of what's going on in Israel.

Let me just say that our attitudes towards Israel have hurt the missionary enterprise. Hurt them, hurt them greatly. Do not get me wrong. Do you hear me when I say I believe that the state of Israel must and should by God exist, that it is God's will that it exists? But my Bible says "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice." Justice for all people, justice for the Palestinians.

Evangelicals have a bad name in this respect. We've got Evangelical leaders that are making stupid statements about Islam, that are saying "Oh! Islam is a violent religion, they're out to kill people who don't agree with them. We can show you passages in the Koran in which Muslims are called upon to kill people who aren't Muslim."

Look, don't play that game -- because it can be played back on us. Somebody could pull out the book of Judges and say: "Didn't the nation Israel commit genocide against the Canaanites?" Is that all that's different? That's willed by our God; and the Arabs say: "Guess what? Killing Christians is willed by our God." We don't want to play that game, because our God is a loving God. I don't want Jesus judged by the slaughter in the book of Judges any more than the Islamic people want Islam judged.

Please! There's a lot wrong with Islam. The most important thing that's wrong with Islam is that they deny that Jesus is God and the saviour of humanity. That is the sin of Islam. But when some of our leading, most prominent evangelists and television spokesmen make terrible statements about Muhammad, when they call Islam an evil religion on television, have you any idea how this plays in Muslim countries? And do you have any idea [what] our missionaries, who are in those Muslim countries, have to endure every time an American evangelist makes a statement like that?

We better be careful about what we say. We better show respect, even to those who disagree with us. And we must call out for justice. Justice. We must be committed to peace . . . Blessed are the peacemakers.

Man alive -- I don't know what's going on in your country; I just know what's going on in my country. Evangelicals have become the biggest supporters of this upcoming war, and the drumbeat for war increases. They support it and see it as something that they should accept without question.

I was asked quite simply, in a debate, "What do you suggest as an alternative? I mean, Saddam Hussein is a crazy man, he is a threat to civilization, how do you stop him?" Has anybody every thought about doing things the way Jesus told us to do them?

We've embargoed Iraq for the last 10 years. A half a million children in Iraq under the age of 12 have died as a direct result of that embargo, either from malnutrition of from lack of medicine. Here's the foreign policy I would suggest: to end the embargo! The Bible says if your enemy hungers -- what? -- feed him. If he's naked, clothe him, if he's sick, care for him.

Nothing would destroy the authority of Saddam Hussein more than if we Christians provided a massive relief program of food and medicine to the people of Iraq. And if we are going to pave the way for missionary enterprise, we have got to do that. We've got to do that. I don't know who's going to do it; but somebody's got to organize the Christian community, and say we're going to load up freighters with food and medicine -- and we're going to send them to Iraq, and we dare the US Navy to stop us.

When we try to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, you say "You can't overcome Saddam Hussein that way" . . . I believe in Jesus, and Jesus says "Overcome evil with [good]."

You see, we always say the just shall live by faith, but people say "Oh that's alright for you idealists, you've got to be realistic!" Realistic? I know that Saddam Hussein has chemical weapons of mass destruction. You know how I know? Because President Clinton told me that he -- and formerly President Bush -- gave Saddam Hussein those chemical weapons.

You see, in those days, we were trying to hold back Iran. We were trying to keep Iran in place, and so we armed Saddam Hussein to hold back Iran. It was realistic politics, it was realism, it was intelligent foreign policy -- and it's stupid. What we should have done was given food to the hungry, clothe the naked . . . We've got to be peacemakers.

Let me lay it on you: You don't get rid of terrorism by killing terrorists, anymore than you get rid of malaria by killing mosquitoes. You get rid of malaria, not by killing mosquitoes, but by getting rid of the swamps that breed those mosquitoes. You don't get rid of terrorists by killing terrorists -- because it only creates more terrorists, does it not? You get rid of terrorists by dealing with the poverty and the humiliation that Arab peoples have had to endure. It's time that we stand up and speak as peacemakers in the world. We are called to a ministry of reconciliation . . .

We are about to engage in a war with Iraq . . . please don't think we're just dealing with [the] Iraqi people. Here's what sociologists know: Rituals create loyalty and solidarity. The higher the level of ritual in a given group, the higher the level of loyalty, the higher the level of commitment. The most ritualistic people in the world today are Muslims.

Five times a day, every Muslim gets down on his knees and bows toward Mecca. Stop to think, just for a moment, of the solidifying effect this has on the Muslim consciousness -- if every Muslim brother and sister around the world, five times a day, gets down and turns to the same point on earth -- the unity of consciousness that generates, the oneness of mind.

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, we were able to get Arabs on our side -- because it's against the Koran for an Arab people to declare war on another. But this time, it's mostly Western nations invading Iraq. And when it happens I am afraid, I've got to tell you -- as a sociologist, and a political scientist -- I will have to tell you this: If this thing happens, the war that we start with the Muslim community will not end with the defeat and exile of Saddam Hussein, it will go on and on and on.

This war has every potentiality of setting back missions 1,000 years.

After the Crusades, it was difficult to communicate to the Muslim community -- because of the war that had gone on between Christians and Muslims. For God's sake, and I mean that in the fullest sense, we must not let that happen again.

We must be seen by the world not as warmongers, but as peacemakers. We must be ready to pay the price to live out the values of Jesus.

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