A Wound Unhealed - Does Christian Zionism contribute to Palestinian Suffering?


The war between Israel and the people of Palestine is one of the great tragedies of our time,’ writes Professor Anthony Balcomb, a Senior Research Associate in the School of Religion, Philosophy, and Classics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Arguably, an even greater tragedy is the inability of many Christians – certainly those who subscribe to the views of Christian Zionism – to see the frequently brutal injustices and human-rights abuses being meted out by ‘God’s chosen people’.

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This scholarly book faces its contentious subject head on, yet soberly, thoroughly, and without prejudice. In these ways it uncovers the terrible irony of a modern-day pogrom that is being perpetuated by a people whose recent history is indelibly scarred by the horrors of the Holocaust.

In his ‘Introductory Theological Reflection’, Professor Balcomb, speaking of Christian Zionism, says plainly that ‘the truth of the crucified Christ needs to be heard’.  ‘To side with Israel in the oppression of Palestine in the 21st century is to side with Rome in the oppression of the Jews in the first century, with the pogroms in Russia in the 19th, and with the Nazis in Germany in the 20th.’


The author’s approach is more circumspect, largely because it is so thorough. Part 1 of the book deals with ‘The rise and growth of Zionism’ and is a history of events in Europe and then in the Middle East that saw the birth of and the full flowering of Zionism as a political response to generations of persecution. Part 2 then homes in on Protestantism and the rise of Christian Zionism. The appendices hold some gems. Try Albert Einstein’s ‘letter of warning’ about ‘Zionist Fascism in Israel’, for example, or a shorter letter penned in 1936 that lays bare some of his thinking on the matter:

 ‘It is indeed good news that we Jews have a home in Palestine,’ Einstein wrote. ‘There are also Jews … who see a Jewish future only in a unification of the Jews within a cohesive stretch of land. I, for my part, do not think so. I believe that the unique durability of the Jewish community is to a large degree based on our geographical dispersion, and the fact that we consequently do not possess instruments of power that will allow us to commit great stupidities out of national fanaticism.’


This is a book, rooted as it is in deep historical and theological research, that needs to be read by all those interested in knowing more about one of the contemporary world’s most enduring hot-spots.

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