IF YOU have a fundamentalist view of scripture, believe that the modern secular State of Israel is the fulfilment of God’s Plan, and that the End Times are imminent, you will enjoy this book.
The narrative purports to be a “biblical” perspective on the Jewish State, but in fact is about the growth of Messianic Judaism within the state and its occupied territories. Most of its argument is based on extended quotations from the Old Testament, which it sometimes clearly misinterprets. Isaiah’s words about a second return, for instance, are used for the establishment of the modern state rather than that of the exiles from Babylon.
Julia Fisher’s understanding of what it means to be Christian is highly exclusive. Surveying Messianic or Zionist Evangelicals in Israel and its occupied territories, the book either ignores the indigenous churches or judges the vast majority of Orthodox and Catholics to be of no interest. There are about 324,000 Christians in Israel and the Occupied Territories, about 15,000 of whom are the focus of this book. It is a very tight focus, indeed.
There are several case studies included. An Ethiopian Jew’s experience of Israeli racism; a Muslim convert to this small sect; a powerful story of a child who escaped the Holocaust and settled in Ariel, one of the first illegal settlements — all have interest. This last brings me to the most glaring omission. Not only does Fisher describe instances of Israeli military terrorism in 1948 as a mistake, but she simply does not take seriously the Hebrew and Christian view of God as a God of justice. She talks of the Separation Barrier as though it were a natural feature, not the iniquitous injustice that it clearly is.
Claiming to “understand Modern Israel from a Biblical Perspective”, this book misses its target by a mile.
The Revd Stephen Griffith is a retired Anglican priest. He specialises in Syria and the Syriac community in Turabdin.
Understanding Modern Israel : A biblical perspective
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