An Open Letter to Rev. Pat Robertson
Copyright © 2004 Jordan White
Dear Rev. Robertson,
I recently received, by someone who regularly accesses Israeli news media, the following quote attributed to you:
“[Israel], please don’t commit national suicide…The slogan ‘land for peace’ is a cruel chimera. The Sinai was given up. Did that bring lasting peace? No, Southern Lebanon was given up. Did that bring lasting peace? No. The world’s Christians ask that you do not give away the treasured symbols of your spiritual patrimony…Those political leaders who…dismiss the spiritual dimension of Israel’s existence will find that they receive the mess of pottage of Esau rather than the inheritance of Jacob.”
Rev. Robertson, I’m not even sure where to start in addressing this statement of yours, since it’s basically so outrageous that it’s difficult to know even where to begin.
Well, let’s start with why Israel’s “giving up” of the Sinai and Southern Lebanon did not bring “lasting peace.” One reason is that these lands were seized illegally in the first place, and were just being returned to their lawful owners.
Another reason is that the Palestinians, who continue to fight for their freedom by resisting the Israeli occupation of their lands, do not care if Southern Lebanon is reunited with the rest of Lebanon. They are not Lebanese. And they do not care if the Sinai was reunited with Egypt, especially since Israel received a very generous oil deal from Egypt as a “consolation prize”. Palestinians are not Egyptians.
The Palestinians are asking for very real justice, not a chance to be players in some silly “morality play” you are casting them in. You refer to lands in the Middle East as “treasured symbols [emphasis mine] of your spiritual patrimony”.
Rev. Robertson, I need to tell you, and tell you most forcefully, that, to the Palestinians, that land is not a “symbol”. It is not a “dimension of their existence”. It is their existence.
It is their livelihood, the source of their identity, and yes, going along with the Jacob and Esau analogy, their birthright. Just as when Ahab attempted to grab Naboth’s vineyard, and the prophet told him that his thievery made him worthy of death, so will Israel’s theft of Palestinian lands bring about judgment. Just as Moses rebuked the Israelites when they attempted to seize the land of Canaan without the blessing of God, Israel’s unlawful appropriation of Palestinian lands is condemned by all those who recognize that Israel is a nation among other nations, a nation created by men, which must act according to the laws and statutes to which all other nations are subject.
Rev. Robertson, peace is the fruit of justice. What you are saying does not invoke justice. It invokes lawlessness and a carelessness about all of the teachings of the Bible, from the Ten Commandments, through the warnings of the Prophets, to the teachings of Christ Himself.
Have you not read the “Sermon on the Mount”? When I read these beautiful words of the gentle Rabbi, I see not a description of the land-grabbing, brutal, law-breaking evildoers who call themselves Israel. I do not see a description of those Americans who, like you, patently support and encourage Israel’s crimes, nor of those who stand by, saying and doing nothing, as their tax money paves the way for that crime.
No, I see a description of those other people who represent the qualities of those who are the “poor in spirit” and in the “mourners” and in the “gentle”. I see those others who represent those who long for righteousness; in those who are “merciful”, “pure in heart” and, indeed, the would-be “peacemakers”. And those “others” I see are the beautiful, gentle people of Palestine.
Rev. Robertson, cease your call for injustice and lawlessness. Join us to work and pray for a lasting peace to this tragically war-torn area.
Let us pray and work for justice and truth.