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Meet the Christian group that wants to turn you against Israel

Evangelical Christians are some of Israel’s biggest supporters in the United States. However, there is a movement to turn them against Israel and it’s coming from other Christians.

For the first time in its history, Christ at the Checkpoint (CATC) hosted its bi-annual conference in the United States. The event was created by Palestinian Christian activists in Bethlehem in 2010.

This year, Christian leaders from around the world gathered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to condemn Christian Zionists and fight Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian land.

“From the beginning the target of CATC has been Christian Zionists. This remains the primary target,” stated Luke Moon, deputy director of the Philos Project.

“That being said, many of the speakers at the conference go out of their way to make a distinction between Jews and Zionists. For them criticizing Zionism is not anti-Semitism, but certainly for many Jews there is no distinction between being Jewish and being a Zionist. These speakers don’t see themselves as anti-Semites as much as they see themselves as anti-Zionists. They believe this distinction gives them the protection they seek. It doesn’t though,” he said.

Anti-Semitic Speakers?

While CATC says it rejects “any forms of anti-Semitism,” Jewish and Christian leaders are outraged by the conference’s eagerness to invite speakers known for promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

One of those speakers is Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer, a retired priest from the Church of England who faced backlash after supporting claims that Israel was behind the 9/11 terror attacks.

In 2014, he attended a conference in Iran dedicated to promoting holocaust denial theories, and just this year, he attended a pro-Hezbollah rally in London.

Luke Moon said he was “surprised” to see Sizer on the speaker list.

“I kept asking myself, are the organizers so foolish to cast such a negative shadow over the conference. It became clear that Sizer’s work in fighting Christian Zionism was more important than his anti-Semitism,” he said.

“This shows me two things about CATC. First, it shows that they are not as concerned about anti-Semitism as they claim. Second, they fail to recognize how inviting Sizer undermines their efforts to attract Christians to their cause,” Moon added.

Anti-Zionism: The New Anti-Semitism

The CATC’s manifesto states the “suffering of the Palestinian people can no longer be ignored” and that “Evangelicals must reclaim the prophetic role in bringing peace, justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel.”

Meanwhile, the organization has accused Israel of being an “apartheid” state, participating in ethnic cleansing, and creating a “crucifixion system” against the Palestinians.

While Moon does not believe CATC will turn a significant number of evangelicals against Israel, he believes their attack on Christian Zionism is anti-Semitism in disguise.

“Anti-Zionism seeks to delegitimize the claims of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. It is the connection to that land, the shared memory and hope that one day they would be restored to their land, Zion, that preserved the Jews as a particular people among the nations they lived. Anti-Zionism seeks to strip that away,” he said. “I believe there is sufficient evidence to show that attacking Christian Zionism not only harms Jewish-Christian relations, it leads to an environment where it’s not just the relations that are harmed, it’s the Jews themselves.”

Bringing Biblical Reconciliation

Moon explained that if Christians want to truly bring reconciliation to Israelis and Palestinians, they must love both people.

“To be agents of reconciliation we have to be willing to love both sides, speak truth to both sides, seek justice for both sides, and foster peace to both sides. It’s a lot of work and won’t be boiled down to slogans and bumper stickers,” Moon said.