By Lenrod Nzulu Baraka
White Evangelicals in the US, many of whom are hard core Zionists, subscribe to a theology which unapologetically states that the land of Israel, inclusive of Jordan, parts of Lebanon and Syria, and all of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza makes up Eretz Israel. Evangelicals claim that the land was given to Israel by the deity of the Old Testament and that no other ethnic group has any legitimate right to the so-called holy land. The Biblical description of the land of Israel stretching from the Nile River to the Euphrates raises some vexing geopolitical questions that not even the most radical Zionists are willing to pursue.
Dispensationalism, which is the undergirding force that drives the literalism of the futurist system of prophetic interpretation embraced by most Evangelical churches, affirms that the literal nation of Israel needed to make a big come back in the end time scenario. According to this mode of theological thought, the present dispensation of the church ends when the church is raptured away and the literal nation of Israel again assumes center stage in the divine plan.
Central to the reemergence of Israel in the end time scenario as taught by dispensationalists is the rebirth of the nation of Israel in Palestine in 1948. Christian Zionists were besides themselves with joy when the Balfour Declaration evolved into solid support for and acceptance of the state of Israel in 1948. Christian Zionists preceded Israeli Zionists in espousing the notion of a land without a people for a people without a land. Lord Balfour, Theodor Herzl, Winston Churchill and all the other major players in the events leading up to the Nakba of 1948, cared little about the rights of the over 700 000 Palestinians who were forced from their ancestral lands to make room for European Jews.
As far as Christian Zionists were concerned the nation of Israel had to be restored as a precursor for the rebuilding of the third Jewish Temple and the long-anticipated agreement between the state of Israel and the dreaded Antichrist of the Apocalypse. According to Christian Zionists, the Antichrist would enter into a covenant with the state of Israel but break the covenant in the middle of the final prophetic week mentioned in the ninth chapter of the Old Testament book of Daniel.
For the predictions of dispensationalists like Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, John Hagee, Pat Robertson Dave Hunt and a host of others to become a reality, Jews had to be restored to the land of Israel and for many dispensationalists, the third Jewish Temple has to be constructed on the ancient site of the Jewish Temple. Since Palestinians sounded pretty much like Philistinians, dispensationalists openly stated that the new Israeli state should go Old Testament on the Palestinians and drive them out of the land using the state-of-the-art weapons furnished by the Europeans and the Americans.
The Nakba of 1948 and the settlement program that continues today, proved to be a breeze for the state of Israel. It was customary for the United Nations to condemn the land grabs of the state of Israel but the US was always there to save the day for Israel by exercising its veto to ensure that Israel was not punished for stealing land from Palestinians or occupying land which belonged to Israel’s neighbors.
By far the more vexing problem for Christian Zionists is the third Jewish Temple project. Much to the chagrin of Christian and Israeli Zionists, the Muslim Dome of the Rock Mosque was built on the site which many Zionists believe to be the site of the old Jewish Temple. In addition to being an architectural wonder dating back to the seventh century C.E, the Al- Aqsa or Dome of the Rock Mosque also happens to be one of the holiest sites in the Muslim world.
Both Christian and Israeli Zionists advocate for the destruction of the Dome of the Rock Mosque so that the third Jewish Temple can be built on the site that now houses the Dome of the Rock Mosque. It is not difficult to imagine what the response of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims would be if one of their holiest sites was destroyed by Zionists. Such destruction would be on par with the destruction of the Vatican and it is predictable that there would be hell to pay for such destruction.
The US, Israel, Christian Zionists and the European supporters of the Zionist project are playing with fire in the Middle East. The Houthis will not be deterred by this new round of bombing by the US and the UK. Over seven years of bombing by Saudi Arabia backed by the US, the UK, France, and several Gulf States, did little to lessen the Houthis enthusiasm for military aggression. Hezbollah is reticent to go all in like the Houthis against Israel but Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, is on record stating that Hezbollah will not allow Israel to wipe out Gaza and its Palestinian population.
The Iranians have delivered on their promise to retaliate for the terrorist attacks that killed scores of Iranians attending a memorial service for assassinated general Qasem Soleimani and for the recent assassination of Sayyed Razi Mousavi, a top Iranian military adviser in Syria. Iran launched missiles into Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan possibly as a warning to Israel and its allies. It is totally conceivable that Iran will also rachet up military support for both Hezbollah and the Houthis.
The president of Turkiye, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other leaders in the Muslim world are currently engaging in the games of diplomacy designed to help the Palestinians without endangering their own national security. The masses of Muslims in the Middle East and in other Muslim majority countries will eventually lose patience with the games of diplomacy if the blood letting in Gaza and the West Bank is not stopped. Pressure from below will forced Muslim leaders to re-evaluate their stance on the Israeli aggression in Gaza and to a lesser extent in the West Bank.
Christian and Israeli Zionists are laying the foundation for the carnage that Christian Zionists call Armageddon. Convinced that they are following the script found in the Bible, Christian Zionists are cheering Israel on as the bombs continue to drop and rivers of Palestinian blood continue to flow. Israel, notwithstanding its weak denials, is a nuclear power. Pakistan, a Muslim majority country, is also a nuclear power. Should Israel threaten Turkiye, Iran or any other Muslim country with a nuclear strike, it is quite possible that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons could be factored into the Middle Eastern equation.
The unleashing of nuclear weapons or the widespread deployment of state-of-the-art conventional weapons in the Middle East and elsewhere will lead to all the Armageddon the world can stomach. African and Caribbean people should be aware that much of the madness that we are witness in the Middle East finds its genesis in bad religion and in bad theology. African American Christians who are chanting four more years for the Joe Biden administration may also want to re-evaluate their theological foundations. Extricating ourselves from bad religion and bad theology is a necessary prerequisite for people of African ancestry if we want to be found standing on the right side of history.
Lenrod Nzulu Baraka is the founder of Afro-Caribbean Spiritual Teaching Center and the author of The Grand Failure: How Christianity Became a Source of Evil in the World.