An Open Appeal to the Leaders of Christ at the Checkpoint

By Michael Brown Published on December 2, 2017

My dear brothers, I remain committed to speaking at your Christ at the Checkpoint conference next May in Bethlehem, regardless of how you respond to this appeal. But the spirit of truth, justice and love compels me to write. Do you really seek reconciliation and mutual understanding? Or do you seek to gain sympathy for your cause by delegitimizing and demonizing Israel?

You say on your Facebook page,

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.

That is an admirable goal indeed. And it is a goal that I share. But, as I wrote to you on October 16, virtually every post on your Facebook page is meant to question Israel’s right to the land, to criticize Israel’s treatment of your people, and to underscore the hardships of your life under “the occupation.”

Where is the Courageous Love for Israeli Jews?

There’s not a syllable about Israeli suffering (either terrorist attacks or children living in poverty). Not a syllable to support the idea that God has restored the Jewish people to their ancient homeland — despite our many flaws and failings. Not a syllable that would create any sympathy for the Israelis at all.

Instead, we read quotes like this:

We don’t live a normal life. Our guard is always up; we’re always under pressure. We can’t even eat normally; there is no stability in our lives because of the [Israeli] settlers and the soldiers.

Or this:

Imagine working hard for years and saving money to purchase a piece of land to secure your future and the future of your children, only for an occupying army to arrive in this land and confiscate it by force for the use of the “empire.” In Palestine, this is not imagination. This is reality under occupation.

Or this:

The language of Netanyahu and his cabinet increasingly references a Bible-citing and religious, rather than political, war against the Palestinians. And American evangelicals are his enthusiastic foot-soldiers.

Or links to articles like this: “Banksy throws a street party for Palestinian refugees as an ‘apology’ for 100 years of British support for Israel.”

And this: “As Bethlehem’s mayor, I ask: Why are U.S. Christians celebrating Israeli policies strangling Jesus’ birthplace.”

Then there are quotes from some of your senior leaders claiming that Christian Zionism is antithetical to following Jesus. And on and on it goes.

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So, my appeal to you is simple: Either state clearly the purpose of your conference, which appears to be anything but reconciliation and understanding, or else make a radical change to your Facebook page (and conference schedule) allowing for an equal presentation of both sides of this important debate. At this point, I dare say that if you posted an article like this on your page, it would be quickly overwhelmed with hostile comments.

Why Not Present the Other Side of the Argument?

Many of my Messianic Jewish friends in Israel are actively involved with reconciliation movements with their Arab Christian brothers — in the Land and beyond — yet they do not participate in Christ at the Checkpoint. Why? It is because they see no genuine attempt to reconcile and understand but only to bash and criticize Israel and to reject God’s eternal promises to the Jewish people.

One of your recent Facebook posts reads:

If the creation of the state of Israel is a sign of God’s faithfulness to the Jewish people, then what kind of sign is it to the Palestinian people? When the state of Israel was created, around 700,000 Palestinians became refugees and more than 500 Palestinian towns and villages were completely destroyed. How am I supposed to understand that? Furthermore, this year marks 50 years of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. So am I supposed to believe that the state that is oppressing me and my people is in covenant with God today?

Why not mention that 800,000 Jews were expelled from surrounding Arab and Muslim lands and largely absorbed by the fledgling state of Israel, which was fighting for its very life? (And this, just a few years after the Holocaust.) Why not mention all the Jewish attempts to get the local Arabs not to flee but rather remain as neighbors and co-workers?

Why not mention the refusal of the Arab leadership to accept a two-state solution in the 1930s and then in 1947? Why not mention that, rather than accept the partitioning of the land, the Arab leadership declared that the Jews would be driven into the sea, urging the local Arab populace to flee their homes until the expected victory came?

Why not mention Resolution 1547 of Arab League (in 1959), stating that none of the league nations would allow Palestinians to become citizens? Why not mention the widespread mistreatment of Palestinian refugees to this day in surrounding Arab and Muslim lands? (Why, for that matter, are there sill Palestinian refugee camps in countries like Syria and Lebanon?)

Everything I have seen on your Facebook page consistently paints Israel in a bad light. How, pray tell, does that put Jesus anywhere near the center?

For the Sake of the Truth and the Gospel

You might say, “We categorically reject this narrative. That’s why we hold this conference. We must educate Christians in the West.”

That would be perfectly fine, although, quite obviously, I would differ with you on many points. But at least you would be putting your cards on the table.

Instead, everything I have seen on your Facebook page consistently paints Israel in a bad light, consistently presents an anti-Israel theology, and never points to the Islamic oppression (and attempted genocide) of Christians in the Middle East. Yet you claim your conference is all about reconciliation and keeping Jesus in the center. How, pray tell, does that put Jesus anywhere near the center?

As a friend of Israel and a lover of all Christians worldwide, I will stand with you against oppression and tyranny. And where Israel needs to be corrected or rebuked, I will raise my voice with yours.

But please, for the sake of the truth of the gospel, either balance out your Facebook page and conference schedule, or change your stated intentions. Is that too much to ask?

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  • tz1

    It would help to have at least a small enumeration:
    And where Israel needs to be corrected or rebuked, I will raise my voice with yours.
    I have big problems with Israel’s defacto paid abortion on demand, their fiat currency (deceptive weights), and their gay scenes.
    Modern Israel is a secular, modern (european style) socialist nation. It is also an ethno-state. While we are debating immigration here in the USA, they don’t want anyone but Jews. Doesn’t Jesus want the same multicultaralism (cultural Marxism) for his chosen people he apparently wants for us here in the USA?
    This imaginary, mythic Israel restored bears little resemblence to the one that happens to occupy the territory, but I can be convinced otherwise. And I simply don’t consider dispensationalism as theologically or biblically sound. I’d hope for natural law arguments.
    Nor do I think any discussion is possible – no one accepts a middle between rabid philozionism (Israel can do no wrong, even if they murdered every Palestinian in Gaza with WMDs, some would make excuse) and antizionism (Israel is committing genocide).

    • davidrev17

      It is written:

      “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.

      “I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you.I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.

      “Thus says the Lord God: On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. And the land that was desolate shall be tilled, instead of being the desolation that it was in the sight of all who passed by. And they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I am the Lord; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the Lord ; I have spoken, and I will do it.“ Thus says the Lord God: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock.Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 36:22-38/ESV)

      ▪ ▪ ▪

      Stay tuned…soon coming to a planet near you.

      I’m so thankful that I’m one of those “ignorant and unlearned” (Acts 4:13) followers of Israel’s Messiah, Yeshua/”Jesus” of Nazareth. And I also wholeheartedly thank God – that we’re NOT God! He has a much better, still-unfolding plan, that’s being played-out in time-space-dimension history.

      According to the “Holy One of Israel” himself, this ongoing situation will one day, perhaps in the not-too-distant future, be unambiguously rectified, resolved, and restored, for the glory of Yahweh’s holy name & reputation alone. Either Yahweh is sovereign, or he’s not? This ain’t rocket science!

      When it comes down to it: can, or do his own professing New Covenant people – as well as the Jewish people – ultimately trust him to fulfill those immutable promises contained in his word, no matter how geopolitically convoluted, and hopeless the situation appears to we finite/fallen, pea-brained spirit-creatures of his? (i.e., Psalm 89:22-37; Zechariah 13:1-14:11; Jeremiah 31:31-37…esp. vv. 36 & 37)

      ▪ ▪ ▪

      “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose…” (Isaiah 46:8-10/ESV)

      • tz1

        This was fulfilled in the return under Ezra and Neimiah.
        You can find Jesus in the Gospels predicting the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD but not a later restoration. You can’t find it directly anywhere in the New Testament with the possible exception of Revelation (Transubstantiation is more easily proven).

        That said, every prophecy will be fulfilled, every promise kept. But not necessarily in the way you think. If you have such faith, there are some mountains it would be convenient to move. Oh, you can’t move mountains? But Jesus promised!

        But I noted a country that all but encourages fiat currency, homosexuality, and abortion cannot be a people chosen for anything except destruction. Why shouldn’t Israel be setting the example of righteousness? It would also help if it had a King in the line of David, not Netanyahu.

        • davidrev17

          I must say, that was a very interesting “spin” on God’s prophetic word. But you couldn’t possibly read the entire body of historically unfolding literature – say from Ezekiel chapter 34-to-48 – and reasonably conclude that these prophetic scenarios have ever been fulfilled in the land of Israel, in general, nor in-and-around Jerusalem. There’s so many examples from which to cite, but for example, just consider the text in Ezekiel 37:15-28?? Tell me when this took place, or is the “Ruach haKodesh” in error?

          Also, as for your statement re: Israel having a “King in the line of David,” I humbly implore you to meditate upon Jesus’ somewhat cryptic teaching on this very subject in the following passage; whereby you might just “see” if your current view re: the identity of Israel’s Mashiach, is perhaps consistent with that of Israel’s ancient perspective, held by their religious leaders (Pharisees) of his day:

          “Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question,saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him [Messiah) Lord, saying, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? If then David calls him [Mashiach] Lord, how is he [the Christ] his [David’s] son?” And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions” (Matthew 22:41-46/ESV).

          And remember: Yeshua framed this enigmatic rabbinical brain-teaser – so that NO one can remain neutral in the process of formulating an answer for themselves, of logical straitjacket proportions at that. So how about your answer?? Do tell, please.

  • Colin Austin Barnes

    Dear Michael, I have many times commented on their Facebook page concerning this. My most recent read; “You believe in loving your enemies and also in non-violence. You must therefore support the Separation Wall. It non-violently stops Palestinian terrorists from murdering Israeli civilians. Have you offered to help build it? Clearly, it is not a perfect solution, and yes, it does inconvenience some Palestinians, but unless Palestinian inconvenience is a higher priority for you than Israeli lives (and you just said you love your enemies), then the wall must be supported, even as we continue to hope and work for a better solution.” The purpose of these conferences is to attack Evangelical support for Israel. It is how some Palestinian Christians hope to make themselves useful to their Muslim leaders. Much of the Palestinian church has abandoned its baptism and retreated into its ethnicity. It is easy for liberal Christians to hate Israel, because Israel proves that the Word of God is true. It therefore proves that abortion, homosexuality etc are wrong. For evangelicals, the issue is harder. They believe the Word of God. How to make them hate the restored nation of Israel? By trying to drive a wedge between theology and ethics. “Modern Israel cannot be from God because it is wicked!! Gaza, the Wall, checkpoints! See, it is evil!” Malcom Hay once wrote of the medieval pilgrimages to “Child Martyrs” that; “Every pilgrim returned to his home to be welcomed, not as a witness to a holy example of sanctity, but as an expert on the inconceivable wickedness of the Jews. Every pilgrim was an apostle of hate.” So too, those Western Christians who go to this conference. They are eye-witnesses of Israeli wickedness, they have been there, they have seen it, and they want to tell their churches about it – they return as ‘apostles of hate.’ That is, Christ at the Checkpoint have a vested interest in Israeli wickedness! It is their only argument against the re-established State of Israel. Israeli compromise, Israeli acceptance of peace plans, Israeli suffering, all are ignored. You are right, this is not about Jesus, it is about apostasy.

    • Michael L Brown

      Thanks for your comment and your posts, and I truly hope that the speakers and leaders at the conference will unite around Jesus. And may hatred be exposed — wherever it is found!

  • xxpat

    Actually, Mr. Brown, you are not standing against oppression and tyranny if you choose to propagate Israeli propaganda about the forced deportation of Palestinians during the 48 war which is well documented by Iraeli historians. You, too, choose to be selective in your review of the historical record, failing to note that over 400 Palestinian villages were razed to the ground after their inhabitants were forced out by Israeli terrorists to ensure that their inhabitants would never be able to return.

    Certainly the retaliatory move on the part of Arab nations leading to the deplacement of Jews to the new state was tragic, as well – but it was a response to what Israel had done. It is also rarely acknowledged by Israeli propaganda related to this that the fledgling state sent out urgent pleas for Jews to leave Arab lands in their desire to repopulate their new state to ensure that they would be able to keep the land they had taken. Jewish friends from Bahrain, whose families had been there for generations, told me that they were under great pressure from Israelis to leave Bahrain saying that their lives were endangered if they stayed. They stayed because they knew it wasn’t true.

    The imbalance in this case is as much on your side as the side you are accusing.

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