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Should Christians support Israel no matter what it does to the Palestinians?

Only God deserves our unconditional support. Nothing in creation, whether a person or a nation, can command our allegiance or loyalty no matter what they do. Even God did not support Old Testament Israel when it disobeyed God’s laws and acted unjustly. God even exiled Israel. Some Christians with a specific end-times theology might view this differently, but Reformed theology does not support that perspective.

We must avoid two extremes. On one hand, we cannot discriminate against Israel, ignore antisemitism, and blame Israel for everything. We cannot justify Hamas’ atrocities. On the other hand, we cannot pretend that Israel can do no wrong and defend everything they do. We need to understand the long history of this conflict and separate true information from false.

We must also distinguish between civilians, both Israelis and Palestinians, from their governments and leaders. All people, including Palestinians and Israelis, are in the image of God and deserve our compassion. Their sufferings and deaths are cause for lament and action. Remember that also caught in the crossfires are Palestinian Christians, whom Christians in the West have often ignored or forgotten.

When it comes to the Israel-Hamas war—or any war—Christian just war theory can be a helpful framework. For a war to be just, it does not only require just causes for going to war, but also just means of conducting war. These rules include that the response must be proportional to the offense and that innocent bystanders must not be intentionally harmed (“Just-War Theory,” New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology, p. 521). These rules apply to all parties.

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, encouraged us to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9) rather than taking sides in any conflict. As naive or even impossible as that might seem, it should be a Christian’s fundamental posture.

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