News Release

Pastor from Bethlehem Challenges U.S. Churches; Calls out Israeli Lies


Hamas released elderly Israeli Yocheved Lifshitz, who turned around and shook the hand of a Palestinian Qassam Brigades soldier and said “Shalom” as she was transferred to the Red Cross. She told media: “Each person had a guard watching him or her. They took care of all the needs.” CNN reports she said: “The lack of awareness by Shin Bet and the IDF hurt us a lot,” she stressed. “They [Hamas] warned us three weeks beforehand, they burned fields, they sent fire balloons and the IDF did not treat it seriously,” she continued.

Rev. MITRI RAHEB,, @RahebM
Rev. Raheb is a prominent theologian and the founder and president of Dar al-Kalima University in Bethlehem. Raheb served as the pastor of the Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem from 1987 until 2017. His books include I am a Palestinian Christian and Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible through Palestinian Eyes. See his recent commentary on Gaza. He was recently interviewed about Israeli claims regarding the bombing of the St. Porphyrius Church in Gaza and responded: “These are lies that we are used to.”

He helped organize “An Open Letter from Palestinian Christians to Western Church Leaders and Theologians,” which states: “We, at the undersigned Palestinian Christian institutions and grassroots movements, grieve and lament the renewed cycle of violence in our land. As we were about to publish this open letter, some of us lost dear friends and family members in the atrocious Israeli bombardment of innocent civilians on October 19, 2023, Christians included, who were taking refuge in the historical Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza. Words fail to express our shock and horror with regard to the on-going war in our land. We deeply mourn the death and suffering of all people because it is our firm conviction that all humans are made in God’s image. We are also profoundly troubled when the name of God is invoked to promote violence and religious national ideologies.

“Further, we watch with horror the way many western Christians are offering unwavering support to Israel’s war against the people of Palestine. While we recognize the numerous voices that have spoken and continue to speak for the cause of truth and justice in our land, we write to challenge western theologians and church leaders who have voiced uncritical support for Israel and to call them to repent and change. …

“It seems to us that this double standard reflects an entrenched colonial discourse that has weaponized the Bible to justify the ethnic cleansing of indigenous peoples in the Americas, Oceania, and elsewhere, the slavery of Africans and the transatlantic slave trade, and decades of apartheid in South Africa. Colonial theologies are not passé; they continue in wide-ranging Zionist theologies and interpretations that have legitimized the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the vilification and dehumanization of Palestinians — Christians included — living under systemic settler-colonial apartheid.”