This televangelist’s interview with Benjamin Netanyahu exposed his millions of followers to false and misleading information about Israel and Palestine.
Among other things, Pastor Osteen does not seem aware that many Palestinians are Christians, and that Israel is often extremely unfriendly to them.
by Kathryn Shihadah, reposted from Grace-Colored Glasses
Megavangelist and ageless prosperity preacher Joel Osteen recently interviewed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. Their conversation demonstrated Osteen’s lack of understanding about the man and the issue. His audience’s response to the interview indicated that they too are ignorant of the facts. The source of their information has effectively kept them in the dark.
This phenomenon is fairly typical of conservative Christianity (Osteen is far from alone in his blind affection for Israel) – and it is killing people. (Thankfully, some Christians do know the truth about Israel and Palestine.)
What to know about PM Netanyahu
The International Criminal Court is currently examining evidence that under Netanyahu’s watch, Israel has committed war crimes against the Palestinian people – including willful killing, torture, willfully causing great suffering, extensive destruction and appropriation of property, willfully depriving civilians of the right to a fair and regular trial, and more.
In 2014, for example, Netanyahu oversaw an assault on Gaza that killed over 2,100 Palestinians (500 of them children) and wounded 10,000 more. During the attack, 72 Israelis were also killed.
Netanyahu presides over a system of control that has been labelled “apartheid” by multiple highly respected human rights organizations (Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, to name just two). Apartheid is a crime against humanity.
He has enabled Israeli Jews to illegally appropriate Palestinian land by taking away Palestinians’ homes, means of subsistence, and human rights; his government oversees the imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians each year – many of them minors – where they are often tortured.
And Netanyahu has been indicted on corruption charges.
Pastor Joel Osteen’s interview with Netanyahu made no mention of these highly problematic actions. On the contrary, Osteen treated Netanyahu like a holy celebrity.
“Modern Day David”
At the 16-minute mark on the video, Joel tells the prime minister, “You are a modern-day David…You’re doing what he did.” It was meant as a compliment, but at least one website calls David “the Bible’s biggest individual assassin,” adding that “God’s favorite monarch…smote, slew and slaughtered 81,050 people on the Lord’s behalf” (I have not independently confirmed this number).
To be fair, Netanyahu may not be guilty of this many Palestinian deaths yet, but he has the blood of many thousands on his hands – and he has just begun a new term in office, so potentially, he has years of killing ahead of him.
David was an ancient king, killing enemies in an era when, every spring, “kings went off to war” (2 Samuel 11:1) to meet enemies on the battlefield. Benjamin Netanyahu rules in the 21st century and has at his disposal one of the most powerful armies in the world. He “wars” against a people whom Israel has rendered essentially unarmed, and who have been oppressed at the hands of Israel for decades.
The fact that Joel Osteen is tickled to be in the presence of a (possible) war criminal with (undeniably) the blood of innocent people on his hands, suggests that Osteen is not getting his news from reliable sources (indeed, mainstream media can not be trusted to present the facts on Israel-Palestine).
Netanyahu, a “Bible character”?
Joel Osteen goes even further off the deep end: “It’s fascinating in my mind that I’m talking in a sense to a Bible character now.” This statement is a textbook example of the common – and dangerous – Christian practice of drawing false parallels between Bible passages and current events.
Osteen adds, “Israel feels like the most peaceful place in the world” – a remark indicating that either he has never been to the Holy Land, or if he has, his tour guide erased Palestinians and their grievances from the narrative.
Most troubling of all, Osteen is leading his millions of followers straight into this distortion.
When Netanyahu talks about fighting “terrorism” (around 3:00), Osteen has a blank expression, and then responds with a chuckle, “I love your persistency (sic) and your love for Israel and your love for people, to help others.”
The televangelist is clearly in the dark about Israel’s daily aggression, assassination, and dispossession – under the guidance of its prime minister. Below is a sampling of everyday life for Palestinians:
Readers who think Netanyahu’s army really is fighting terrorism need to recognize that Israel initiated the violence (see this and this), and what it’s like for Palestinian people living under the Israeli regime with no rights and no ability to effect change. Under the grip of a violent system designed to crush them, a small number of Palestinians are bound to turn to individual or group violence to resist their own demise.
This is the context that Benjamin Netanyahu won’t discuss, and Joel Osteen won’t ask about. Netanyahu knows that mainstream media has effectively kept Israel’s dirty secrets a secret.
What about Osteen’s followers?
A godly leader must practice doctrinal due diligence, above all measuring doctrine against the example of Jesus. Joel Osteen’s prosperity gospel aside, he is practicing and modeling blind hero worship (see Luke 4:8), teaching manmade ideas as precepts of God (see Matthew 15:9), and sanctifying violence and ethnic cleansing (see Proverbs 3:31).
A Christian leader who advocates the shedding of innocent blood is not doing the work of God – and the size of Osteen’s audience only augments the sin.
And let us recognize the inevitable outcome of this sin: the deaths of Palestinians who are loved by God.
What do Pastor Osteen’s followers have to say about his interview with Netanyahu? Are they buying what Osteen (and mainstream media) is selling – that is, are they, too, ignorant of the blood on Netanyahu’s hands?
Based on their comments, they are as uninformed as their leader:
- To Bibi: Your integrity and goodness was spoken into you by God.
- I can understand why God loves us when I see and feel the warmth exhibited by these two men.
- Amazing!! Hallelujah!! A devout Christian leading Israel. Lord Jesus Christ must be so pleased!
- I just love this man in Israel. He’s such a humble and great leader. May the Almighty father Yahweh continue to bless him more abundantly as he leads his great nation.
- Beautiful interview!! Thank you Pastor Joel and PM Netanyahu!! I have just returned from a comprehensive 15 day Israel Tour with “Christians from Israel”. We were 42 New Zealanders who were totally wowed by history, Biblical faith and Israeli tenacity!!
- Congratulations Mr. Prime Minister BiBi. You are a great light that pulsates in my heart whenever I watch you speak.
- Two incredible men of God. Love you both so much.
- Deep and broad education needed for effective leadership. History History History. Bible Bible Bible. God is the same yesterday today & forever. He’s both the God of Israel and the God of the universe. Thank you Mr Prime Minister. God bless Bibi and Joel Osteen. Beautiful interview.
Our mandate as Christians is to love all and care for the oppressed. It is our responsibility to exercise discernment and stop turning a blind eye toward the facts.
Those of us who know the facts must teach the others gently but firmly. Lives depend on it.
FURTHER READING ON ISRAEL AND CHRISTIANITY:
- Introduction: What does the Bible really say about modern Israel?
- What does the Bible really say about modern Israel?
- Netanyahu purveyed a fictional history of Israel to Jordan Peterson
- Easter for us, but Palestinians are still in Gethsemane
- Christian orgs worldwide denounce Israel’s demonization of Palestinian rights groups
- Israel’s years-long recruitment of African American Christians: A case study
- The Scofield Bible: The Book That Made Zionists of America’s Evangelical Christians
- In Israel, religious extremism is pervasive, unchecked
- Hundreds of Israelis disrupt prayers in oldest Christian monastery In Palestine
FURTHER READING ON MAINSTREAM MEDIA’S PRO-ISRAEL BIAS:
- Associated Press Double Standard in Israel-Palestine Reporting
- Study finds 50-year history of anti-Palestinian bias in mainstream news reporting