The State of Israel is celebrating its 66th birthday. For Israelis, Jews around the world and all supporters of Israel, this is a joyous occasion. By and large, even Israelis who are critical of some of their country’s policies nevertheless celebrate its remarkable accomplishments and contributions to the world.
Amid these celebrations, there is a minuscule group of Jewish Israelis who support Palestinian rejectionist ideology and identify with the “Nakba” (Arabic for “catastrophe”) narrative. The importance of this unrepresentative fringe is inflated far beyond its numbers due to support from some powerful Christian institutions, including Catholic frameworks.
For example, Zochrot (Hebrew for “remembrance”) is an Israeli NGO whose activities are made possible in large part through the support of European church aid agencies. It aims to “raise public awareness of the Palestinian Nakba” and to “recogniz[e] and materializ[e] the right of return.” In this way, Zochrot is overtly political, promoting a radical vision for the Middle East that does not include the right of the Jewish people to sovereign equality.
It is startling that so many Christian groups fund an NGO that openly rejects Israel’s existence, the single most important manifestation of Jewish empowerment and self-determination in the world today. Such activities are clearly not conducive to Jewish-Christian reconciliation or to finding a realistic solution to the conflict. Instead, they echo the tortured history of Jewish persecution and marginalization in European Christian societies and the extreme demands of radical groups.