A Christian perspective over the furor in South Africa following the Chief Justice expressing understanding and advocating a balance approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict
By Rev Reuben Chapasuka
Following the participation of the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Warren Goldstein and the Chief Justice of South Africa, Mogoeng Mogoeng in a webinar on June 23, moderated by Israel’s English daily, Jerusalem Post’s Editor-in-Chief, Yaakov Katz, I was asked in my capacity as a pastor and Executive President of the Cape to Cairo Israel Mission to answer a number of written questions submitted to me by Cape Town’s daily, the Cape Argus for an article. I answered them fully. Clearly the paper was not happy with my answers as it declined to publish.
My concern is that South Africa’s ruling ANC government may move to remove the Chief Justice from his office over his expression of his personal and Christian views of support for both Israel and the Palestinians. I feel that it is important that my voice as a Christian be heard. Believing that all sides should be heard, Lay of the Land has agreed to my request to publish the Cape Argus questions and my answers, appearing hereunder.
Why do you feel Chief Justice Mogoeng was justified in his remarks and why have you have chosen to support it?
“I fully endorse his views because he spoke not from the bench but as a devout South African Christian. There is nothing controversial in what the Chief Justice said. He expressed that South Africa would have greater influence if it adopted a more balanced approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That is a fair comment. I too believe that South Africa can play a meaningful and possibly unique role in bringing the Israelis and Palestinians closer to the table. Some members of the judiciary have also spoken out about their personal convictions concerning the same issue, but they were not subjected to this same condemnation. The problem centers on who is advising the ANC on its diplomatic relations with Israel which by the way, our country still maintains, albeit at a recently downgraded level.
It is ironic that the Chief Justice would have received tremendous praise from these very same vocal critics had he instead chosen to denounce Israel. Clearly his ‘offense’ was not that he was expressing on issues areas outside his legal purview; but that his views upset the #Africa4Palestine crowd and their following in the ANC.
The Chief Justice is not denying Palestinian rights. I am a Christian, a pastor, a husband, a father, a marriage counsellor and also a leader of an organization whose mandate in the continent and beyond the borders of Africa is to proclaim Africa’s biblical connection to the Holy Land. I am familiar with the suffering of people not only in Africa but in countries beyond African borders that have rejected the biblical mandate about the land of Israel in their respective countries. As it is written in Genesis 12:3, and which the Chief Justice espoused: “I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you.” Therefore, I fully endorse the views of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng because he spoke not from his Judicial bench but as a South African Christian, a pastor, a father figure who is passionate to see God blessing this country. Today, some of our children who were born in 1994 did not finish high school. Some of those who finished cannot even read and write. Is that not a curse? And some of those who finished their studies from Universities are not employed to date. Is that not a curse?
Here is a man praying for South Africa, to see South African youth walking with God and enjoying the fruit of the land of their forefathers. What they must do is simple; pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122). Hardly a week after the president called for a NationalDay of Prayer for May 31, what where they expecting? Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem and South Africa will prosper.
Thus, from my perspective as a clergyman, bound by the biblical mandate, the Chief Justice is entitled to have expressed what he did as a Christian of conscience and in a country that today proudly proclaims the freedom of speech.
As a practicing Christian, Judge Mogoeng’s praying for peace in the Holy Land was not a political statement. It does not mean that he is choosing one side over the other. It means that he hopes for peace in the region. As he said in the past: “I can only love. I love Israel. I love the Jews. I love the Palestinians. I love everybody. I don’t hate anybody… How can you condemn me for asking God for peace?”
What is your response to #Africa4Palestine calling the Chief Justice’s remarks an indictment and disservice to the many Christians in South Africa?
“Firstly let us note on some of the statements of Africa4Palestine on the issue:
- “The Chief Justice conflates the modern political entity, the racist State of Israel that was created in 1948 with the Biblical Land of Israel. In the process he does a disservice to the Palestinian Christians who are descendants of the first followers of Jesus Christ.
- He insults the Christians of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, and those who live in Jerusalem, who are currently living under a brutal Israeli occupation – deemed unlawful by South Africa together with most other countries and the UN.”
Africa4Palestine is a radical anti-Israel lobby that throughout its existence has resorted to every possible distortion of fact in order to demonize and defame the Jewish state and incite hatred against it. This is evident in their latest outrageous claims that today’s Palestinians are descendants of the original Jews, and that Jesus himself was a Palestinian. As such, it is just another racist label against the Jewish people by this self-styled “human rights” group, which in its previous incarnation as BDS-SA was guilty of provoking numerous ugly anti-Semitic incidents.
Africa4Palestine’s views on the State of Israel are devoid of truth, biblically, historically, and also with regard to present reality.
The formation of the modern State of Israel came after the passing on 29 November 1947 of the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 with 33 votes in favour and 13 against. Clearly, the nations of the world deemed this action just and there was no hint of racism perceived.
The Chief Justice is absolutely correct as the Biblical Land of Israel and the modern State of Israel are one and the same geographical piece of land, albeit now smaller, parts of which we all know as Judea and Samaria. The name Palestine is fairly new and was only introduced by the Romans when they suppressed the Bar Kokhba revolt, a rebellion of the Jews in the Roman province of Judea. This was a third Jewish-Roman war and occurred around 135 CE, a full century after the death of Christ; and further evidence is that the name Palestine does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Through instruments such as the Balfour Declaration and the UN, the Jewish people have been restored to their ancestral land from which they were expelled during Rome’s conquest and occupation. Why is it so difficult for some people who also lost their land through colonial conquests in Africa to empathize with the restoration of the Jews to their ancestral land? We draw strength from this restoration because it is both morally justified and the fulfilment of biblical prophecies as detailed by our prophets including Isaiah and Ezekiel. The presence of Jews in Israel can never be termed an occupation unless we, as Africans, are willing to concede that our historical struggles for self-determination and reclaiming our ancestral land also amount to an occupation.”
An Inconvenient Truth
In conclusion, while Israel, like all other countries is not perfect, it does not practice institutionalized racism.
The Bible records that the earliest followers of Jesus Christ were His fellow Jews living in Judea and Samaria; and Gentiles who lived predominantly in the Ancient Near East and as far as modern day Greece, Turkey and Ethiopia. An inconvenient truth is the fact that there are very few Christians left in Jericho and Bethlehem – the birthplace of Jesus – as they are an oppressed minority in these areas which are administered by the Palestinian Authority. Their populations are rapidly declining. On the other hand, Christians living in Israel are thriving and growing. This contrast of the experiences and destinies of the Christian communities living in the territories administered by the PA with those living in Israel, should speak volumes!
Anyone who wants to witness true democracy and see the true colours of Africa4Palestine you may come with me to Jerusalem after the lockdown. I will be your tour guide.
For the sake of salvation and the social and spiritual emancipation of the youth in Africa, I must state that any and all Bible believing Christians have a duty to speak out against Replacement Theology and the revision of Jewish history in Israel because it seeks to destroy the very foundations of our Christian faith. Perhaps we should not be surprised as Psalm 83:4 foretold that there would come a day when some people would say:
“Come, let us destroy them as a nation, so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”
With God as our father, we will not allow it.
About the writer
Rev Reuben Chapasuka MA.Th (UP) – Executive President of Cape to Cairo Israel Mission. He is the Rector of Cape to Cairo Christian Academy which is currently in operation in Africa and Madagascar (online Platform) and is a Senior Pastor at Liberty Christian Fellowship Ministries. 291 Louis Trichardt Street Mayville Pretoria 0084
* Title picture: Chief Rabbi of South Africa Warren Goldstein and Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa Mogoeng Mogoeng (photo credit: COURTESY / REUTERS/MIKE HUTCHINGS).
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