Zionism and the covenant.

Author:Barnett, Robert
Position:Correspondence - Letter to the Editor

As a Jew who has converted to Catholicism and traveled extensively in the Middle East, I read Gary A. Anderson's "How to Think About Zionism" (April) with great interest but was left troubled by what was not mentioned in it.

I believe that whatever plans and promises God has for the Jewish people and the Land of Israel are matters that He will fulfill in his own way and time. Nobody has the right to engage in unjust conduct to force God's hand. Yet while Anderson is astonished at the dearth of theological consideration regarding the founding of modern Israel, I was astonished at his lack of moral reasoning on the subject.

Nowhere does Anderson explain what right a European colonial power and international organizations had to assign an Arab territory to the control of European Jews. Nowhere does he explain how the territory's ethnic minority had a right to assert claims of sovereign control against the wishes and sentiments of others in the territory who constituted a decisive majority. Nowhere does he defend the Zionist movement's trafficking in ideas of population transfer in the late 1930s while it was preparing to accept a partition proposal that it had no intention of obeying. And nowhere does he demonstrate what right the Zionists had to uproot and dispossess a half million innocent noncombatants and wipe scores of villages off the map.

If Anderson believes such conduct is acceptable in light of his theology, then he should make that case as part of his theological evaluation of Zionism. If he does not, then I would suggest that it is a questionable exercise to indulge in interpretive Christian eschatology on the subject.

Robert Barnett

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Gary Anderson's conclusion that the Old Testament affirms the right of return to Zion as part of God's providential design, warranting Christian support of Zionism on theological grounds, conflicts with the fundamental natural law precept of the right to liberty. According to General John Bagot Glubb's Peace in the Holy Land, at the time the League of Nations adopted the Palestine Mandate in 1922, 93 percent of Palestinians were Arabs. When Palestine was partitioned in 1947, two-thirds of the population was Arab. Six percent of the land of Palestine belonged to Jews, but the partition plan gave fifty-four percent of the land to the new State of Israel. No plebiscite was ever held, and native Palestinians were not represented in the 1947 United Nations debate on partition.

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