Palestinian leaders are infuriated by the United Arab Emirates’ decision last month to make peace with Israel.

A senior advisor to President Mahmoud Abbas called the deal a betrayal of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian cause.”

Another senior advisor to Abbas said, “we were blindsided” by the announcement of the agreement, and called Emirati leaders “a complete sellout.”

A Hamas spokesman called the move towards normalization “a stab in the back of the Palestinian cause, and it serves only the Israeli occupation.”

Other Palestinians called the U.A.E. crown prince a “traitor.”

Leaders in Ramallah and throughout the disputed territories were similarly enraged by President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

They have also long been angered by what they perceive as an anti-Palestinian theology held by Evangelical Christians generally, and specifically by Evangelicals close to Trump, including Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

I wrote about this subject in a column for The Jerusalem Post back in February of 2018. But as my Palestinian and other Arab Evangelical colleagues and I launch this new website, ALL ARAB NEWS, it is a topic worth looking at again.

Abbas pointedly refused to meet with Pence during his January 2018 visit to Israel, and gave a blistering speech denying that the Jewish people have any biblical or historical claim to the Land.

“Israel is a colonial project that has nothing to do with Judaism, but rather used the Jews as a tool under the slogan of the ‘Promised Land,’” said Abbas.

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, blasted Pence’s “messianic discourse” in the Knesset as a “gift to the extremists.”

Hanan Ashrawi, the Palestinian legislator, also excoriated Pence, saying that in his Knesset speech he “brought to bear his ideological, fundamentalist, literalist interpretation of the Bible in order to punish the Palestinians and reward the aggressors, the Israeli occupiers.”

As an Evangelical who lives in Jerusalem, and an author of fiction and non-fiction books about the Middle East who has spent the past three decades building friendships with Muslims and Christians in North Africa and the Middle East – from Morocco to Afghanistan, and certainly in Israel and the Palestinian Authority – I would like to respectfully correct some misconceptions.

Evangelical journalists run ALL ARAB NEWS. Khalil Sayegh (left), a Palestinian born and raised in Gaza, is the site’s Senior Correspondent. Joel C. Rosenberg (right), an Israeli who lives in Jerusalem, is the editor-in-chief. (photo credit: All Arab News staff)


First, Evangelicals who take the Bible literally are required to believe that God loves both Israelis and Palestinians, and that we, too, are commanded to love both.

“Love your neighbor as yourself,” the Torah instructs. “When a stranger [non-Jewish person] resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:18, 33-34)

Jesus of Nazareth not only commanded his disciples to love their neighbors (Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:25-37), but to love their enemies (Matthew 5:43-48 and Luke 6:27-36). His call to love left no one out.

Second, Evangelicals who take the Bible literally are required to be peacemakers.

In Psalm 122:6, we are told to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” In Psalm 34:14, we are admonished to “seek peace and pursue it.”

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9). The Apostle Paul added, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)

These are not suggestions. These are commands, and to disobey is to sin against the holy and perfect God.

Third, a literal interpretation of the Bible requires Evangelicals to fight against injustice and to demonstrate care and compassion for those who are suffering.

Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown thee, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of thee but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Proverbs 31:8-9 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…Defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Jesus inaugurated his public ministry by citing the prophet Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Matthew 4:18-19)

Then Jesus practiced what he preached – feeding the hungry, healing the sick, honoring women, denouncing religious extremism, exposing hypocrisy, and preaching a message of love and forgiveness and eternal hope not only to those in the Land of Israel but to the people in countries that today we call Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt, and to those who live in the areas that today we call the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Is every Evangelical who loves Israel faithfully loving Palestinians and countering injustices committed against them? Sadly, no.

Nor are all Evangelicals who have a special compassion for Palestinians faithfully loving Israel and fighting injustices done against the Jewish state and the Jewish people.

Too many take an “either/or” approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict. But the scriptures teach us to love “both/and,” because God does.

Far more Evangelicals need to speak with compassion about — and demonstrate Christ’s love towards — the Palestinian people who suffer economic hardship, government corruption, political suffocation, a lack of truly protected civil rights, limited religious freedom, international isolation and more.

Thankfully, as I crisscross the region, I do see many Evangelicals endeavoring to be ambassadors of peace, reconciliation and unity. But it’s not nearly enough, so may their tribe increase.

I commend to Palestinians leaders a 2017 poll conducted by LifeWay Research. It was commissioned by the Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem, an organization that I helped launch several years ago with a group of respected theologians, seminary professors, pastors, businessmen and authors.

The survey confirmed Evangelicals’ deep identification with Israel.

  • Eight in 10 believe the Abrahamic Covenant was an unconditional promise God made to the Jewish people for all time. Only 5 percent disagree.
  • Eight in 10 believe the rebirth of the State of Israel was the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Only 20 percent think it was merely an interesting geopolitical event.
  • Nearly eight in 10 (76 percent) believe Christians should support the Jewish people’s right to live in the sovereign State of Israel.
The Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem commissioned a poll in 2017 to better understand American Evangelical attitudes towards Israelis and Palestinians.


At the same time, the survey also revealed far more compassion for Palestinians by American Evangelicals than may have been previously understood.

  • 59 percent believe Christians should do more to love and care for the Palestinian people (66 percent of younger Evangelicals believe this).
  • 73 percent expressed concern for the safety of Christians in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
  • 41 percent agreed with the statement: “Jewish people have a biblical right to the land of Israel, but also have a responsibility to share the land with Palestinian Arabs.” Only 28 percent disagreed, while 31 percent said they weren’t sure.

Evangelicals – of which there are an estimated 60 million in the U.S. and 600 million worldwide – are not monolithic. We have a range of views and interpretations on various theological matters, including how to properly interpret the scriptures regarding God’s plan for Israel.

Yet one thing is certain: the vast majority of Evangelicals don’t want to “punish” Palestinians. To the contrary, we want them to be able to raise their children in peace and security, side by side with Israelis – free from violence and corruption, free to travel, free tospeak their minds and worship as they please, free to build a booming economy and world class universities and the technologies of the future, free to trade with anyone they wish, and free to welcome tourists and pilgrims to the Holy Land from all over the world. Just to name a few.

It is difficult to see how much more of this can happen until a fair and final peace treaty is signed. Many of us pray, therefore, that Palestinian leaders will soon return to the negotiating table – and that Israeli leaders engage in negotiations in good faith – lest the needless suffering of their people extend any longer and, God forbid, for yet another generation.

For now, I call on Evangelicals around the world – especially those who openly proclaim their love for Israel – to openly voice their love for the Palestinian people, as well. Pray for Palestinians. Get to know Palestinians. Listen to their perspective. Work to understand their heart and their plight. Find ways to demonstrate compassion. Evangelicals could start by showing special care and concern for Palestinian Evangelicals who love Jesus deeply and love their people and their history. My wife and I have had the honor and joy of getting to know many in the Palestinian Evangelical community. As a result, we have learned so much that we once didn’t know about their hopes and dreams and concerns for their own futures, and that of their children and grandchildren.

One of my goals for ALL ARAB NEWS is that we will provide Christians – and those of other faiths – around the world the opportunity to better understand the lives of the Palestinian people, including the Palestinian Christians, to better understand how to pray for them, and how to bless them.


Because God loves the Palestinian people.

And so must we.

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