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How should Christians view the pro-Palestinian movement?

pro-Palestinian movement

First, when assessing the pro-Palestinian movement or any other organized protest, we Christians should consider our own limitations. It’s hard to know what another person is thinking or feeling (1 Samuel 16:7). People have different motives for identifying with a phrase or position. They may have vastly different levels of understanding. And what we know about their view usually comes through third- or fourth-hand accounts. Using good judgment (John 7:24) includes realizing those factors and being careful about our response (Proverbs 18:17; Philippians 4:5). Few major social issues can be distilled into one or two words; any judgment based solely on a slogan or sound bite is dangerously shallow.

The pro-Palestinian movement swelled after the October 2023 terrorist attacks against Israel. The most infamous expression of the movement in the United States has been the organizing of protests and encampments on college campuses. Both Christians and non-Christians have reasons to be concerned about such things. Many protesters act in unreasonable and ungodly ways. Yet we should be careful not to assume an entire philosophy when someone says, “I am pro-Palestine.” Not everyone who might call himself “pro-Palestine” condones improper or illegal actions.

Broadly speaking, believers ought to “support” Israel; this doesn’t mean holding the nation blameless or ignoring legitimate criticism. In a similarly broad sense, Christians should “support” Palestinians in the sense of seeking safety, peace, and freedom for all people. Believers should be grieved at the impact of war (Proverbs 21:3). Advocating for peace in a peaceful way and with peaceful intent can be compatible with a biblical view of this complex situation (see Matthew 5:9).

Many people have been using slogans, symbols, chants, and arguments that are vapidly racist and aligned with the terrorists who attacked Israel. The pro-Palestinian position in many cases drifts into an anti-Jew position. We can assume many pro-Palestinian protesters are involved due to being poorly informed, naïve, gullible, or a combination of those things. Among the protesters are some who engage in disruption and non-peaceful protesting. A few are showing themselves to be overtly malicious. Almost all are relatively young and have little knowledge of the history behind the current crisis.

The fundamental errors of the extreme “pro-Palestine” or “anti-Israel” movement mirror those of other political sects and social movements of the recent past. Participants in many movements, conservative and liberal, have been known to parrot ideas they don’t understand and appeal to crass prejudices instead of reason. Similar tactics have been used by both sides, and neither side has an exclusive claim to irrationality.

Young and naïve people are especially vulnerable to manipulation. This weakness is magnified by a thirst for empowerment, agitation by authority figures, and reliance on slogans instead of reason. Because of this, Christians should probably look at the individual persons involved in the more extreme “pro-Palestine” and “anti-Israel” events with a measure of pity. Of course, the history of nations such as Russia and China shows what can happen when social unrest occurs on a large scale; so, there are both secular and religious reasons to be concerned.

In all, Christians should respond to the negative expressions of the pro-Palestinian movement with a sense of dismay tempered by pity. But biblical believers should also speak out against the errors and abuses of the movement (Proverbs 24:24–25). They should work against those who agitate, incite, and manipulate (Proverbs 16:27–30). Rather than falling into a worldly, reductionist trap (Proverbs 14:15), followers of Christ should strive to separate truthful concepts from bad actions and bad actors who twist the truth.

There is nothing Christian about dismissing the suffering of Palestinian people. Nor is it unbiblical to passionately call for peace. At the same time, anti-Semitism, rioting, intimidation, disruption, and chaos are contrary to the biblical worldview. Waving flags and chanting slogans without a clear understanding of their meaning is foolish and harmful (Ephesians 4:14). Believers should be measured and clear when discussing these issues and avoid adding to the chaos.

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How should Christians view the pro-Palestinian movement?
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This page last updated: May 20, 2024