Yes, there really are people in the world who believe Zionists are behind Western cable news, the Internet, Israel, and even the Bible itself.
Or, in the exact words of a Jordanian I recently encountered, the Illuminati.
As commentators across the ideological spectrum shout over each other on the current Gaza conflict, it is easy to forget that we are not merely dealing with political or racial issues. Rather, the chasm separating Israel and her supporters from Hamas is spiritual in its cause and spiritual in its solution.
In my conversation with the aforementioned Jordanian man (whose perspective I share out of soberness and not condescension), I heard firsthand what some of those in the Arab world have really been trained to believe about Jews and Christians. He argued a number of seemingly unrelated points—ranging from the alleged corruption of the Bible to the alleged infiltration of Western media by Jews (they must have missed CNN)—but one root presupposition united them: that Western Christianity is the mere spawn of nationalistic, Zionist infidels, while Islam is the one religion with answers for the whole world.
According to the young man, the result is that I shouldn’t believe the television news coverage of the Israel/Hamas conflict because the American media is controlled by the Israelis. I can’t believe most of what I find on the Internet because the Jews somehow control that as well. And I can’t trust my Bible—even the best, most accurate modern translations—because it’s been changed by the Illuminati (his exact words).
What’s most interesting is that I didn’t broach the topic of Israel; he did. What began as a conversation about the Jesus, the cross, and salvation gave way to a fairly impassioned rant against Israel. And while my Jordanian friend might be on the fringe of Illuminati theories, the rest of what he espoused is mainstream thought in the fundamentalist Islamic world. His views are echoed by none other than Hamas itself.
How does the Gospel address Hamas’ propaganda, the claim that the Western thought is slave Jewish nationalism?
A Worldview of Suspicion
My friend’s worldview basically assumes that the moment you step foot on American soil or turn on cable news, you’re immersed in an elaborate Zionist fantasy world. If your information doesn’t come from Muslim sources, you can’t trust it (unless it happens to agree with your own views, in which case it’s probably okay).
This is not an exaggeration. To see this, begin with the Qur’an, from which my Jordanian friend derives his worldview. In it, we find that the Bible contains light and guidance (Surah 5:46). Muhammad is even encouraged to check the message of the Qur’an against the Bible for confirmation (Surah 10:94). But fast forward a bit into Islamic history and you’ll notice that once early Muslims learned of the Bible’s overt contradictions of basic Islamic doctrine, their conclusion is based on the assumption that Muhammad was true—not that the author of the Qur’an misunderstood Christianity. And so was born the Islamic teaching that the Bible is corrupt, even though the idea is nowhere stated in the Qur’an itself. If a faithful Muslim today reads the Bible and finds something that contradicts the message of Muhammad, he is told to assume corruption has taken place, even though the Qur’an came 600 years after the Bible.
This type of circular, presuppositional thinking seems to extend beyond religious thought in parts of the Islamic world. You can’t trust what you’re being told, and that you can only rely on Muslim sources to interpret the outside data. Once you start thinking that way, even the outlandish Holocaust-denying claims of Hamas sound rational.
Thus, if credible sources show that Israel has been going to great pains to avoid killing Gazan civilians, even while Hamas has been using human shields, discount them. Could Israel’s much lower casualty numbers over the last few weeks be simply due to its Iron Domes’ ability to intercept Hamas rockets? No; that must be Jewish propaganda. Could Israel just want peace while Hamas wants to exterminate the Jewish race? Of course not; Israelis are the “occupiers” and Hamas’ cause is just.
Consider how Hamas itself bears out this faulty reasoning, viewing virtually every Israeli voice as part of a great conspiracy.
Four times the 1988 Hamas founding charter refers to some form of Jewish “Nazism,” evidently ignorant of the Nazis’ relation to the Jewish people. The charter then quotes Surat 3:109-111, which explains how the Jews’ repeated rejection of its prophets has now rendered them the targets of God’s wrath—a type of divine wrath, its seems, inflicted by the hands of human jihadists. “Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors,” the document explains.
Then, in article seven, Hamas advocates genocide: “Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!”
While my Jordanian friend may be unique in attributing Israel’s survival and its Western support to a so-called Illuminati force, the worldview of Hamas is otherwise identical: don’t trust the Jews.
Just as my Jordanian friend has been raised to treat the Bible with suspicion because of its alleged corruption, in like manner any objective facts about the current Israel situation are ignored by pro-Palestinians on the basis of presupposition.
This is not to say, of course, that Israel is morally perfect or that there are no peace-loving Gazans. Certainly we can remain objective. But how do you explain the Gospel to members of a culture trained to mistrust anything that smacks of support for the Jews?
The battle is in the heart and the mind. The source of the conflict is ideological, presuppositional, and entirely spiritual.
Good News for All People
Remember the Jordanian’s central claim: that my Christian belief are myths spun by Zionists. To him, Jesus Christ was the Messiah to the nation of Israel only, while Muhammad was the true “prophet to the world” (my friend’s words).
He thought he had the world’s answers in Islam, and that I didn’t because my worldview was inherently Jewish. (By the way, I’m a Gentile, in case you didn’t know.) Islam is, after all, about achieving a world of universal submission to and peace with (salam) God. Did my Jordanian friend have a point?
Lest he, or anyone else, conclude that the preaching of the Gospel is somehow an act of Zionist indoctrination, we must stress one critical point: the message of Jesus Christ is universal, not nationalistic.
Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God born was born an Israelite in the flesh, and was indeed sent to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). He loves Israel. He desired to gather Jerusalem to Himself as a mother hen gathers her young under her pinions (Matthew 23:37). Yet when He left this earth, He also sent His followers out so that “forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). His ultimate commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19a). His promise to his disciples: “[Y]ou will be my witnesses… to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8b).
Even when in the Old Testament God’s plan was, by most accounts, entirely centered on the physical nation of Israel, His plan was always to spread His glory to all peoples. It’s hard to read the Hebrew Scriptures without getting a sense of God’s desire to know and be known by all peoples:
- It started when God promised one man, Abraham, whom Muslims also revere, that through his offspring he would be a blessing to all nations (Genesis 12:3).
- The very next step in that plan was the birth of Isaac, whose birth is contrasted with that of Ishmael because Ishmael’s conception was a result of Abraham’s anxiety over the lack of an heir. By contrast, Isaac was miraculously born to Abraham’s long-infertile wife Sarah to show that God’s children are those who place faith in him, not just those of a certain bloodline (Romans 9:8).
- About 400 years later, God rescues Israel from slavery in Egypt after numerous successive miracles meant to demonstrate that the God of Israel was the God of all nations. In contrast, the gods of the Egyptians had no power, just like the other cultural deities whose domain was contained to national borders.
- Much later, through Israel’s exile in Babylon and briefly under Persia, God consistently works miracles among the Jewish people to show non-Jews that God is the true God of all nations. It was the Gentile king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, who testified: “His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing” (Daniel 4:34b-35a).
Eventually, God’s plan was culminated in the work of Christ in dying for all nations, of whom the prophet Isaiah wrote: “The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” Today, we preach a racially inclusive Gospel of a Savior in whom “there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Colossians 3:11)!
It is to Jesus we will sing forever: “Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and You have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).
Lest our Muslim coworkers, neighbors, and friends fall into the ancient Near Eastern error of thinking that the God of Israel is the God of Israel only and that only their god is the god of all nations, let us unite on this fact: Christians, no matter where they fall on the Israel/Palestine issue, worship the one true God of all of heaven and earth.
I reminded my friend—it was because Jesus commanded His followers to make disciples from all nations that I, a white European descendent and not a Jew, was able to stand there that day proclaiming the good news!
I am not entirely sure how my friend received this claim, which was no doubt radical to his ears. It seems to resound on some level. I pray it did.
No, Christianity is not a Zionist conspiracy. In our political dialogue, we must be on guard against the anti-Semitic propaganda that has its foothold in the Arab world. The ideological chasm between Hamas and Israel and her Western supporters could not be wider.
But Israel-supporting Christians must let no accusation of purely nationalistic zeal stick to them. Let the Church stand together in boldly, lovingly, passionately telling the Muslim world: the message of Jesus Christ is the only real message the world has that can overcome barriers of race, social class, and nationality.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.