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STEVENS: The Black Church’s Appalling Silence During Israel’s Time of War

Israel is at war, and the African-American Church finds itself silent again. Why?

Innocent Israelis, including infants and toddlers, have been murdered. Women, children, and the elderly have been violently taken hostage, all at the hands of Hamas, a terrorist organization.

If any organization or group of people should be decrying the atrocities of these brutal killings from Hamas, it should be the African-American church. If any organization or group of people should be standing with unwavering support for Israel during these difficult days, it should be the African-American church. We are compelled to do so.

Unfortunately, many African-Americans pastors and leaders have a mixed level of apathy and resistance toward Israel as well as empathy for the Palestinian struggle, often making a comparison to the civil rights era. To add, some consider the African-American community to be the most antisemitic group in America today. From the historic “Hymietown” comments of Rev. Jesse Jackson to the self-proclaimed “atoned and promised one” of Louis Farrakhan, there is a disdained hatred and mistrust for a people that God Himself commanded the church to love and bless. High profile as they may be, these individuals who express anti-Israel or antisemitic attitudes are not speaking for the entire African-American community.

That may not be clear to the casual observer because many African Americans are unaware of the intricacies of Israel’s struggle for survival.

Why should the African-American church not be silent during Israel’s war with Palestine? Why should the church pray for and support Israel?

Here are three compelling motives.

Biblically, here is God’s promise—”I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1–3)

Morally as Christians, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Jewish people for giving us the patriarchs– Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The prophets–Elijah, Daniel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah… and the Holy Bible.

Theologically as the African-American church, we are often seen and known as the first line and defenders of the faith against the teaching of false doctrine and apostasy (such as the dangers of Replacement Theology and antisemitism) are often associated with the Christian church.

Dr. Martin Luther King saw that, like African Americans, the children of Israel suffered at the hands of hostile neighbors filled with hate and bigotry. He knew that “Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.” Somewhere along the way, too many of our leaders forgot what he preached.

Therefore, may it be resolved and reinforced today:

Israel has a right to its own ancient land that the God of the Bible gave it, and the capital of that God-given land is Jerusalem, the eternal and holy city of the Jews. Like any other country, Israel has a right to defend and protect herself from the ongoing threats and attacks from such enemies as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the dictators of Iran.

Sixty years ago, the Jewish people stood with us during our hour of need, not because they wanted something in return, but because God and human reason compelled them to do so. Now is the Jewish state’s hour of need. Israel is at war. Israel is under assault by terrorists seeking to kill its people, and propagandists seeking to undermine its legitimacy.

For the African-American church, there needs to be a bold and courageous stand for the Jewish state, not because we want anything in return, but because God and human reason compel us to do so.

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