Should The Churches of God Support The State of Israel?
Copyright © 2012 by Gun Lap
Herbert Armstrong taught his followers that Christians are not to become involved in the politics of this world. He did not even allow his church members to vote.
The COGs say that when they write about political events and wars, they are writing about events fulfilling prophecy. Writing about these events is one thing, but losing balance and objectivity is another matter. So is taking sides in politics, as some churches are doing. That is not being a good Christian in the COG tradition, and it’s not even good journalism.
Yes some churches of God openly take sides on the Israeli-Palestinian land issue. Vastly out-gunned Palestinians are portrayed as land-poachers while Jews in tanks are portrayed as heroes defending their God-given land.
Not only are some supposedly inspired church leaders taking sides, but they seem to have forgotten who owns that land!
According to British-Israelism, God gave the land of Palestine to the tribe of Joseph, not to the Jews. The Jews therefore, have no right to that land at all. This is something that some Church of God leaders do not seem to understand, even though their founder, Herbert W. Armstrong, at least at one time, made it very clear.
Here is what Armstrong wrote about who rightfully owns Palestine, in his 1955 Plain Truth article Palestine Sputters all over United Nations.
The Jews think they are birthright Israel, and believe this land belongs by God’s birthright to them. And “silly dove” Ephraim (Hos 7:11), not realizing that she is really the birthright tribe of the House of Israel–the nation that God decreed should obtain Palestine December 9, 1917–blindly tried to build a national home for the Jews in this land, and at the same time blundered into a contradictory pledge to establish it as a home for the Arabs! (The Plain Truth, Nov-Dec 1955, page 5, here).
Later in the same article, he reiterates his point:
What a muddle! The Arabs believe Palestine should be theirs because they are descended from Ishmael. The Turks want it because they come from Esau. The Jews want it because they come from Jacob, but through Judah. Yet it belongs to none of them by divine right! It belongs to Great Britain and America, into whose hands God placed it, but who have been so valiantly trying to maintain it for Jew and Arab. (The Plain Truth, Nov-Dec 1955, page 7, here).
In other words, the Jews have no more right to the land than the Arabs! According to Armstrong, the land “belongs to none of them [Arab, Turk or Jew] by divine right!”
That Warm And Fuzzy Feeling (Mostly One-Sided)
Some COG writers, those from the PCG in particular, seem to be losing their composure on this issue, getting indignant and almost hysterical in their condemnation of Palestinians, while getting “warm and fuzzy” in their support for Israel.
Instead of supporting Israel, perhaps the COGs should be outraged that Judah has occupied (in a sense, stolen) Joseph’s land. If the Arabs were taking land from the U.K. or the U.S.A., invading Oklahoma for example, probably all these churches would condemn them as land-poachers. So why do some churches think it is a light thing for the Jews to do it? If anything, stealing land from a brother could be even worse.
Some “ministers of God” think the Jews really should have the land. Herbert Armstrong, at least in 1955, was thinking more logically on this issue than some of his followers do today. They seem to have forgotten what he said and seem to have become swept up in the emotions and political discourse coming from the news media.
Thou Shalt Not Kill
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is politics. Churches and their members are not supposed to be involved in politics. But it’s not just politics. Let’s not forget that it is a WAR. There are tanks, guns, and rocket launchers involved. Planes are dropping bombs. People are dying. Civilians are dying. Children are dying.
Much of what goes on in “Journalism” today is politics, as “Journalists” attempt to influence public opinion, rather than merely report events. It is clear that some COGs often write and report in the same spirit, trying to persuade their readers that the players on one side in a conflict are, to a large extent, the good guys, and those on the other side are pretty much the bad guys.
In the PCG’s booklet, A Warm Friend of Israel (subtitled, “Herbert W. Armstrong, The Ambassador Without Portfolio”) we read that “Though he met with the greats of the world from Asia to Africa to Europe and beyond, Herbert W. Armstrong’s greatest affection was for one tiny, new country at the heart of the world. He loved Israel, and Israel loved him back. (p. 7, here)
If such statements are true, it seems that Armstrong also lost his political neutrality somewhere along the way.
The COGs place great emphasis on obedience to man’s law, but do the Jews respect man’s law? Not according to Amnesty International which says the Israelis are bulldozing Palestinian homes in defiance of international law:
For years, the Israeli authorities have pursued a policy of discriminatory house demolition, on the one hand allowing scores of Israeli settlements to be built on occupied Palestinian land, in breach of international law, while simultaneously confiscating Palestinian lands, refusing building permits for Palestinians and destroying their homes. The land vacated has often been used to build illegal Israeli settlements. International law forbids occupying powers from settling their own citizens in the territories they occupy. (March 11, 2008, Palestinian Homes Demolished Without Warning, www.amnesty.org, here).
Is the PCG just as critical of Israel every time a Palestinian house is bulldozed (as shown in the photo) as they would be if a Palestinian suicide bomber blew up a house owned by Jewish settlers? All I can remember from my days in the PCG is that we were very pro-Israel, and that the Palestinians were always the bad guys for whom we had little sympathy. I hope other COGs are better, and, to some degree they probably are, since Gerald and Stephen Flurry seem to be going off the deep-end. But I would still be surprised if any COG exists which is not at least somewhat biased in favour of Israel. They have all inherited a lot of Armstrong’s views. Despite what he wrote in 1955, later in his life Armstrong seems to have been pretty cozy with the politicians in the state of Israel.
Despite the source, let’s see what the PCG says about Armstrong’s (alleged?) special friendship with the Jewish state.
Mr. Armstrong believed in the glorious future of Jerusalem. He flew to the new nation of Israel more frequently than anywhere else; during one four-year period, he returned about 50 times. (A Warm Friend of Israel, page 5, here).
From that description, we might think Armstrong cared more about the biblically illegitimate (according to British-Israelism) nation of Israel than he did about biblically legitimate nations such as Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, or other “nations of Israel.” How many times did he visit those nations?
The PCG booklet continues:
The first official to welcome Mr. Armstrong into “a partnership with Israel” was a signer of the 1948 Declaration of Independence, Tourism Minister Moshe Kol. From that initial partnership at the Knesset in 1968 to his death in 1986, Mr. Armstrong met with President Zalman Shazar, Prime Minister Golda Meir, President Ephraim Katzir, Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin, Prime Minister Menachem Begin, President Yitzhak Navon, President Chaim Herzog and Prime Minister Shimon Peres. (page 5).
Consider the list of names of Jewish leaders that we just read. How many of them have presided over the illegal destruction of Palestinian homes in the Israeli occupied territories?
The PCG booklet states that “… following his first meeting in the Knesset in 1968, Mr. Armstrong was welcomed by every prime minister and president of Israel for the rest of his life.” (p. 17).
So it sounds like, from 1968 on, HWA was cosy with all the Jewish leaders (criminals?) who were breaking international law by settling Jews in Arab lands (Jacob’s land from the BI perspective). The settlers began moving in soon after the 1967 war.
Note that, according to the PCG, Herbert Armstrong had a “partnership” (p. 5) with a nation of this world–Israel. The bible tells us not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers or to get involved in the politics of this world. Yet, for some reason, the PCG has no problem with Armstrong’s very warm and friendly “partnership” with Israel.
And, if the PCG booklet is accurate, neither did Armstrong.
“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (New American Standard Bible, 2 Corinthians 6:14).
Instead of kissing up to Jewish leaders, Armstrong should have been blasting them. Jesus called the Jewish religious leaders of his time snakes (Matthew 3:7; 23:33). Are today’s political leaders much better?
“Cry loudly, do not hold back; raise your voice like a trumpet, And declare to my people their transgression and to the house of Jacob their sins.” (New American Standard Bible, Isaiah 58:1). Though it says “Jacob” here, would God want his messenger to cry aloud against the sins of Jacob and at the same time, partner up with Judah, as if Judah is so much better than Jacob?
Note that Menachem Begin is on the PCG’s list of Armstrong’s Israeli friends. Begin was head of the Zionist terrorist group that carried out the attack at the British headquarters in Jerusalem which killed 91 people. That is what our “brother” the Jew who was a big friend of Armstrong did to us.
The King David Hotel bombing was an attack carried out on 22 July 1946 by the militant terrorist right-wing Zionist underground organization the Irgun on the British administrative headquarters for Palestine, which was housed in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. 91 people of various nationalities were killed and 46 were injured. (Wikipedia article King David Hotel Bombing, taken from Wikipedia on Nov 14, 2012).
Page 7 of the PCG booklet shows a picture of Herbert Armstrong and Menachem Begin in a big hug. The photo caption reads “Prime Minister Menachem Begin warmly welcomes Mr. Armstrong in 1980 during one of his many trips to Israel.”
The Wikipedia article elaborates on the Jewish terrorist attack:
The hotel was the site of the central offices of the British Mandatory authorities of Palestine, principally the Secretariat of the Government of Palestine and the Headquarters of the British Forces in Palestine and Transjordan. The attack, which initially had the approval of the Haganah (the principal Jewish paramilitary group in Palestine) and was conceived of as a response to Operation Agatha (in which widespread raids, including one on the Jewish Agency, had been carried out), was the deadliest directed at the British during the Mandate era (1920 to 1948). The explosion caused more casualties than any subsequent bombing carried out in the Arab-Israeli conflict. (Wikipedia article King David Hotel Bombing, Nov 14, 2012).
The article on Menachem Begin, says:
Menachem Begin … was an Israeli politician, founder of Likud and the sixth Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Before independence, he was the leader of the Zionist militant group Irgun, the Revisionist breakaway from the larger Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah. He proclaimed a revolt, on 1 February 1944, against the British mandatory government, which was opposed by the Jewish Agency. As head of the Irgun, he targeted the British in Palestine. (Wikipedia article Menachem Begin, Nov 14, 2012).
So, Herbert Armstrong’s good friend was the head of a terrorist group. I don’t remember hearing any COG ever mention that, yet some COGs rail against Arab terrorism today. Arab terrorists today are merely using the same tactics of warfare that the Jews used before the Jews were the official government in Palestine. But are the Jews really the official government? Not according to British-Israelism! So, does that mean they are still terrorists? They have nuclear weapons. Does that make them nuclear-armed terrorists?
Should Herbert Armstrong really have been such a good friend to Israel? What about the Churches of God today? Should they support Israel? Should their members really support those churches if they do?
Why did the PCG write this booklet in the first place? Are they hoping to snuggle up to Jewish leaders?
The WCG used to say our mission was to “tell MY people [Jacob and the Jews, not the Arabs] their sins” (Isa 58:1). If these churches are who they claim they are, they have a special mandate to expose the Jews (and the other tribes), rather than turn a blind eye to killing or to get cosy with politicians who order those killings.
If a church is hysterically, or even marginally, taking sides in a war, does that church have blood on its hands?
And if a church member financially supports church publications which adamantly or even marginally favor one side in a war, does that member have blood on his hands?
I guess that would include me because I used to think the same way. I was a victim of biased propaganda and often one-sided reporting from the media and the PCG. The reality is that Israeli treatment of Palestinians has often been positively brutal. Only a person filled with pro-Jewish bias, such as that arising from religious zeal, could support such brutal oppression and repeated defiance of international law.
In the U.S.A. the campaign finance laws are such that politicians on both sides are bought and paid for by special interest groups. Because of the wealth and political power of pro-Israel lobby groups in the U.S.A., both parties in the U.S.A. have turned a blind eye to Israeli crimes. These lobby groups are a big reason the US has been Israel’s biggest supporter. To a large degree the news media let the parties and the lobby groups get away with it. One reason they do that is because the media all support the two-party system and both parties are guilty. To expose one party would be to expose both parties. The media, both left and right (and they all seem to have a favorite party) will not so severely discredit their favorite party or the undemocratic two-party system. The news pundits and their employers are among the well-off elites that benefit from the current system.
Probably the most influential lobby group in the U.S.A. is the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Some COGs have lost sight of their own ideals. They are getting involved in politics (writing to influence public opinion), writing slanted articles on wars, and forgetting what they are supposed to believe about who has a right to the land. If the bible is true, God will hold those church leaders and the members accountable, and anyone else who supports Israel, or any other warring nation or people.
Note on AIPAC.
From the Wikipedia article American Israel Public Affairs Committee
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee … is a lobbying group that advocates pro-Israel policies to the Congress and Executive Branch of the United States. … Describing itself as “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby”, AIPAC is a mass-membership, American organization whose members include Democrats, Republicans, and independents. The New York Times calls it “the most important organization affecting America’s relationship with Israel.” It has been described as one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, DC. Its critics have stated it acts as an agent of the Israeli government with a “stranglehold” on the United States Congress with its power and influence. (Nov 14, 2012).
Due to their wealth, AIPAC enjoys enormous power over U.S. foreign policy, even though they have been found guilty of spying on the U.S..
In 2005, a Pentagon analyst pled guilty to charges of passing US government secrets to two AIPAC staffers in what is known as the AIPAC espionage scandal. (same article)
Disclaimer: Wikipedia is usually accurate on purely technical matters, but must be viewed with suspicion on all other matters. I quote it here because it is an easy source for readers to check and because other sources basically corroborate the above position.
Note on Zionism.
Zionism is defined as “a worldwide Jewish movement that resulted in the establishment and development of the state of Israel” (dictionary.com, emphasis mine). Zionism today is the fight for the preservation of that Jewish state, which is biblically illegitimate in the eyes of British-Israelism. But those who question the “right” of Israel to Palestine are often tarred with the derogatory label “anti-semite”. To question the “right” of Israel to displace Palestinians is to be attacked as a hater and persecutor of Jews. This kind of talk is really just intimidation used to prevent public debate.
Note on the term “condemn”
Some COG members might object to my use of the term “condemn.” On a number of occasions I have heard COG ministers (e.g. Dennis Leap) and members insist that they never “condemn” anyone. They speak as if “condemn” always means to condemn one to eternal damnation, and only God can do that. If you look up “condemn” in a dictionary you see that one definition is simply to criticize harsly. Some COGs do that constantly.
Note on the Party System
I call the two party system undemocratic because politicians (“representatives”) are supposed to represent the people who voted them in, not the party bosses who set policy for the party. All political parties are undemocratic. Anyone who believes in democracy should probably vote for a independent candidate who is not a member of any party.
Note on David Ben-Ariel.
David Hoover, once a member of Gerald Flurry’s Philadelphia Church of God, was a staunch supporter of Israel and Jerusalem (under Jewish control). He changed his last name to Ben-Ariel. Mr. Ben-Ariel, before he passed away, was a fairly prolific COG blogger. He often described himself as a Christian Zionist. Zionism is the term for the supposed “right” of the Jews to a homeland in Palestine.
The “blurb” for his book Beyond Babylon on Amazon.com (Nov 14, 2012) reads as follows:
Mr. Ben-Ariel clearly has a God-given love for the Jews and the nation of Israel. His Israeli lawyer has stated that David’s “future is linked with that of the Jews,” and Gershon Salomon, chairman of the Temple Mount Faithful says, “God has some special task” for him. His sacred bond with the land and people of Israel has been strengthened over the years by his service as a volunteer on eight kibbutzim (collective farms) throughout the Holy Land, including during Operation Desert Storm.
Note that David had a love “for the Jews and the nation of Israel.” I interpret “nation of Israel” here to mean the nation in the Middle East, not “modern Israel.” Why did David love the nation of Israel if Armstrong essentially said that the nation of Israel had no right to exist in the eyes of God? It seems to me that David had forgotten, or never read, what Armstrong said in the 1955 Plain Truth that I quote in this article.
Regarding his change of name, Ben-Ariel wrote,
… Isaiah 29:1 … reveals that Ariel is a nickname for Jerusalem! I now understand why God the Father had chosen Ariel for me. Anyone who knows me knows that Jerusalem is always on my mind (Jer. 51:50), especially after my first visit there to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) in 1980. God has shown me that He’s stirred me up and given me a burning desire for Jerusalem and Israel (Isa. 62:1, 6-7). I finally realized that God was calling me a “son [Ben] of Jerusalem [Ariel].” (Article Source: here)
It seems likely that the eccentric Zionist Mr. Ben-Ariel was suffering from the negative effects of his former close association with the eccentric Zionist Gerald Flurry, and was still partly under Flurry’s spell. Both men thought that God was using them for a special purpose and both were hysterical supporters of Israel.
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