At a February meeting of the World Council of Churches (wcc) near Berlin, weary Israel was delivered yet another blow. The influential international group, comprised of 342 Protestant and Orthodox churches representing some 500 million people, revealed where their real sympathies lie. The wcc called on its member churches to support an Israeli withdrawal from the “occupied territories” in the Middle East. It criticized Israel’s “disproportionate use of military force,” and resolved that injustice and discrimination against the Palestinians must be condemned in stronger terms.
The council also supported the stance of Jerusalem-based church bishops who have announced their “abidance by their oppressed people’s right to resist till they attain independence” (www.arabicnews.com, Feb. 8).
So Israel has encountered a new antagonist in the religious world. The historically left-wing wcc has now publicly declared its powerful supportive hand to the Palestinian cause and to its leader Yasser Arafat’s declared intifada.
Is there anywhere left for Israel to turn to find a sympathetic ear? Although the Roman Catholic Church is not a member of the wcc, this most powerful religious institution on Earth may now seem to offer Israel a more palatable solution to its interminable conflict. Pope John Paul ii has made clear that he favors international oversight of controversial areas in Jerusalem. In this he has the powerful support of the European Union. It is most likely that Israel will soon be pressured to accept the pope’s seemingly more moderate stance (speaking as he does on behalf of over a billion adherents, and loaded with political clout), especially as it is increasingly faced with hostile alternatives.
Yet the pope’s bait is but the cheese in a snare that, as prophecy declares, will snap shut, trapping their own people in a Jerusalem which will soon be surrounded by hostile armies (Luke 21:20).