Friday, May 28, 2010

Tony Campolo Dissin' Israel Yet Again

Mark Tooley reports on one of the latest anti-Israel escapades involving leftist "evangelicals" Tony Campolo and Lynne Hybels.

Evangelist and activist Tony Campolo, formerly spiritual counselor to Bill Clinton post-Monica, recently sojourned to Bethlehem Bible College in the West Bank for the school’s convocation of “Christ at the Checkpoint: Theology in the Service of Peace and Justice.” This Palestinian evangelical school peddles a form of Palestinian liberationism that much of the evangelical left in the U.S., increasingly anxious to justify hostility to Israel and its U.S. allies, eagerly finds persuasive.

Besides Campolo, other speakers included British anti-Israel Anglican priest Stephen Sizer, author Lynne Hybels (wife of Willow Creek mega-church pastor Bill Hybels), Wheaton College professor Gary Burge, United Methodist missionary Alex Awad, and Naim Ateek of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre...

Campolo, like most of the evangelical and religious left, does not try to answer these questions. Nor does he express a lot of public interest in Palestinian and other Middle East Christians except as a cudgel against Israel and, ultimately, against conservative Christians in the U.S. — Campolo’s favorite bĂȘte noire. “The most serious threats to the well-being of the Palestinians in general, and to the Christian Palestinians in particular, come not from the Jews, but from Christian Zionists here in the United States,” he charged.

Of course, Campolo repeats the usual canard that U.S. evangelicals are uniformly bewitched by “Dispensationalism,” which originated with 19th century English theologian Nelson Darby. In the stereotype that Campolo rehashes, these Darbyite Dispensationalists blindly believe that Jesus Christ will not return “until all of this land is occupied by Jews, and all others are forced to leave.” Trying to sound equitable, Campolo notes that “Jewish lobbies” are not the main villain behind the “30 percent of all U.S. foreign aid” going to Israel which enables the country to have the “fourth most powerful army in the world.” No, it is the Christian Zionists who are the “primary sources of pressure on the U.S. Congress to financially back the Israeli military that has made the injustices I have described possible.”...

For Campolo, the solution is simple: “We should be calling for the demolition of the separation wall that is as offensive as the Berlin Wall was.” And “we should be demanding” a return to the 1967 borders. He says he favors “safe and secure borders for the State of Israel and protection against terrorists.” But evidently, Israel should not be permitted to build walls against suicide bombers or to negotiate defensible borders. Presumably, good will and accommodation will create all the security that Israel needs...

According to a Pew poll, evangelicals, mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics in the U.S. all sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinian cause. But for the angry evangelical left, including Campolo, supposed Israeli oppression is due exclusively to Zionist evangelicals purportedly obsessed with biblical prophecies about the end-times.

Most American Christians sympathize with Israel because it is a pro-American democracy and not owing to 19th century Darbyite theology. But Campolo and the evangelical left prefer not to discuss the merits of democracy versus its Islamist alternatives. Instead, they demonize pro-Israel evangelicals and hope cries of “apartheid” will persuade when sound argument will not.