Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Remembering Grace by Debunking Christian Zionism
By Eileen Fleming
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, August 14, 2012
The New York Times obituary for Journalist Grace Halsell, notes
her curiosity about ''a wider world” led her to experience life on society's
fringes by disguising herself as women of different races.
She wrote official statements for President Lyndon B. Johnson, but after
the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ms. Halsell
left the White House to ''embrace the Other. I wanted to strip myself to see
who I was, to see if there was anything there.”
In her 1969 book, “Soul
Sister” she described the anonymity and degradation of being a black
domestic in a world of white employers. In 1973 she wrote ''Bessie
Yellowhair,'' based on her life on a Navajo reservation and as an American
Indian nanny for a Los Angeles family. In 1978 in ''The Illegals,'' she
wrote of crossing the border with a group of Mexican immigrants. In the
1980's she lived undercover with a group of Christian fundamentalists.
In 1981 she published "Journey to Jerusalem" which took a close look at
Israeli torture, Israel’s illegal settlements and the oppressed lives
Palestinians were forced to lead under occupation. She was dropped by
mainstream publishers and her lectures were sabotaged.
"despite obstacles to prevent it, the presses had started rolling. After its
publication in 1980, I was invited to speak in a number of churches.
Christians generally reacted with disbelief. Back then, there was little or
no coverage of Israeli land confiscation, demolition of Palestinian homes,
wanton arrests and torture of Palestinian civilians."
Halsell died on
August 16, 2000, but her work continues to inspire and Grace was an
inspiration for the character Terese in my first book, from which I excerpt:
A CONFRONTATIONAL CONVERSATION
“Father Paul, you cannot possibly
be telling me that an Episcopal priest has been taken in by fundamentalist
theology?” Terese incredulously asked the new assistant to the rector at St.
Joan of Arc Episcopal Church in Orlando, who also served at the noon mass
Father Paul Hendricks was a passionate evangelist
on a mission to convert every Jew he encountered to become a Christian.
Terese had kept her silence for the first six months she had been listening
to his Wednesday noon sermons, but finally broke her silence after the rest
of the parishioners had departed.
Paul sighed and shook his head.
“Look, Mrs. Hunter, I read your op/ed in the newspaper about Israel and
Palestine, and we both agree we want peace; we just go about it
“Father, let me say that the fastest growing cult in
the U.S.A. is the cult of Christian Zionism. Approximately 25 million U.S.
Christians believe as you do, and I am most depressed to see that the simple
answers of fundamentalism have reached their tentacles into the thinking
man’s church. You just preached for thirteen minutes on Genesis 12:3--‘I
will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse: and
in you all the families of the world are blessed’--as if God meant blessings
to be political power and military might!
“Father, surely you
understand that the belief of the ancient Israelites, who held that they
were chosen, as if they were somehow special from others, as if God esteemed
them above others, is just basic primitive nationalism. Come on, Father,
looking down on one’s enemies to foster one’s own tribal interest and
praying to God to smite one’s enemies is what the ancients did. Isn’t it
about time we moved beyond that limited thinking?”
Father Paul clenched his fists and held them behind his back, as he
suppressed a simmering rage. He stood nine inches above Terese’s upturned
head, and with a slick smile and condescending tone told her, “Mrs. Hunter,
you are very misled. The text is understood to mean a blessing to Abraham’s
Terese cut in. “Agreed! And Genesis 12:3 was promised
even before Ishmael, the father of the Arab nation, and Isaac, the Jew, were
born! And what about the very first mention of Israel? Jacob was renamed
Israel for having wrestled and struggled with God. That is how I understand
Israel; everyone who struggles and wrestles with God is Israel, too. Israel
means more than a geographical location, Father Paul.”
the modern state of Israel is the fulfillment of the prophetic scriptures,
and God’s covenant with Israel is eternal, exclusive, and will not be
abrogated. I refer you to Genesis 12:1-7, 15:4-7, 17:1-8; Leviticus
26:44-45; and Deuteronomy 7:7:8.”
“And Father, I refer you to
Matthew 5:43-45, which does not only critique Genesis 12:3; it blows it
apart, for Christ commanded, ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you,
do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despite-fully use you,
that you maybe children of your Father.’”
The two had reached Paul’s
SUV and he silently prayed he could make a swift escape, but Terese had
positioned herself at the driver’s door, and if he were to open it swiftly,
she could be easily moved aside. Father Paul entertained the thought for
more than a moment, but remained mute and still, as the tiny woman exploded
with a torrent of words.
"Look, blind allegiance to the Israeli
government has allowed them to become a big bully, and isn’t God always on
the side of the oppressed? My sense is that you Zionists see the political
state of Israel as a replacement for Christ, at the center of the Christian
faith, and that certainly is not Christianity!
"How do you take
Genesis 12:3 to literally mean that blessings equal land and political
power, yet ignore God’s promise in Genesis 21:17-20 to ‘make a great nation
out of Ishmael’s descendants and that ‘God was with the boy.’ Yet your way
of thinking allows the growing apartheid wall to continue, and supports
occupation and oppression of people that God also made promises too.”
“Mrs. Hunter, why don’t you make an appointment and we can discuss this
further? I really have to go.”
“Okay, I can take a hint, but let me
leave you with this: when religion and politics are in bed together,
everybody gets screwed! The Israeli government is using you Zionists as
apologists in support of their agenda of illegal occupation and settlements
in the West bank, Golan, and Gaza, on literal biblical grounds taken out of
context. Your blind allegiance to every act of Israel, understood as being
orchestrated by God and which should therefore be condoned, supported, and
even praised, makes me want to puke! And I wonder about the true motives of
Christians who actually relish the idea of Armageddon and love to speculate
on who gets ‘left behind.’ Christ was very clear that there will be a lot of
wailing and gnashing of teeth by those who were so sure they were in, but
get left out. God has always been on the side of the oppressed, and your
uncritical endorsement and justification for Israel’s racist and apartheid
policies are an abomination.”
The stunned and silent priest watched in relief as Terese turned, flipped
her braid, and walked away.
PS-Dear Reader: This chapter is based on
an actual email conversation I had with an Episcopal priest. He gave up
talking to me after my third email to him. I have been informed that he is
now in Jerusalem connected with the Holocaust Memorial.
John Hagee CUFI
conference in Miami
I am Eileen Fleming for US
HOUSE and I approve of all of my messages.