Questioning the Covenant

The steeple of a Franciscan convent in the Aida refugee camp, near the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler)
Voices in the American evangelical community are seeing the reality of occupation and offering alternative theologies of the land and preaching Christian solidarity over Christian Zionism.

By Arianna Skibell | Jewish Currents | June 17, 2020

‘I literally thought Palestine was just a map in the back of the Bible…I knew nothing about the contemporary geopolitics.’
—Reverend Mae Elise Cannon

In 2009, Reverend Mae Elise Cannon, on her first trip to the Holy Land, stood on the Allenby Bridge waiting to cross into Jericho from Jordan, where she and her church group had just explored Petra. The evangelical pastor approached the Israeli border patrol agent, who asked if she intended to travel into the West Bank. Cannon was flummoxed. She knew she was headed to Bethlehem, where Jesus lived and ministered. But the West Bank?

“I said ‘no,’ because I didn’t even know what it was,” Cannon recalled.

Cannon was raised in a politically conservative Christian home, where she was taught to love Israel and the Jewish people. After all, in Genesis 12:3, God tells Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.” She read Jewish books like Chaim Potok’s The Chosen, and watched Zionist films like Exodus with Paul Newman. When she got the chance to make a pilgrimage to Israel with members of her church, she was thrilled.

“Not only is Israel the land of Jesus, but it’s the land of the Jewish people, who have a special place in God’s heart,” she said. “Going to Israel had been a dream for my entire life.”

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