A Preliminary Response to David Crump’s Book on Christian Zionism
Note: Wipf and Stock, a publishing house that recently re-published Stephen Sizer’s Zion’s Christian Soldiers? after InterVarsity Press dropped the text from its catalogue because of the author’s egregious hostility toward Israel, has recently published another book by another author who is equally hostile to the Jewish state. The text is titled, Like Birds in a Cage: Christian Zionism’s Collusion in Israel’s Oppression of the Palestinian People by David M. Crump.
This text, which describes modern Israel as imitating Nazi Germany, has predictably been endorsed by Gary Burge, Bruce Fisk, Don Wagner and of course, Stephen Sizer himself, the four horsemen of Evangelical anti-Zionism. I wrote briefly about the animus toward the Jewish state exhibited by some of these authors in an article published by The Algemeiner here. In this article I stated the following about Crump’s text:
In this 2021 book, Crump argues explicitly that political Zionism is the modern-day equivalent of Nazism. “American Evangelism,” Crump writes, “is helping to finance political Zionism’s flagrant imitation of Nazi Germany.”
Crump isn’t talking about the Holocaust specifically, but Israeli “land theft” in the West Bank, as if a territorial dispute with the Palestinians that the Israelis have tried to end with numerous peace offers is the equivalent of the Nazi invasion of and mass murders in Czechoslovakia, Poland, the Soviet Union, France, the Balkans, and Belgium during World War II.
It’s an outrageous comparison, made worse by falsehoods and omissions that downplay the hostility that Arab and Muslim countries in the Middle East have directed toward the Jewish state over the years.
For example, Crump invokes the controversy over a mistranslation of a 2005 speech by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to chide Israeli leaders for their “repeated claim that Iranian leaders have publicly declared Iran’s desire to wipe Israel off the map.”
Ahmadinejad did not say Israel should be wiped off the map, but that it “must vanish from the pages of time.” Not much of a difference. And in fact, declarations that Israel must be wiped off the map are a staple of anti-Israel propaganda in Iran. Ahmadinejad has spoken of “a black and filthy microbe called the Zionist regime.” No person truly interested in promoting peace would downplay Iranian hostility toward Israel. Only an unreasonable bigot would do so.
I am currently working on a longer article about Crump’s text. After reading the text I concluded that it was necessary to post a review on Amazon to warn readers of the text’s animus toward the Jewish state. I posted a few paragraphs under a one-star review and the title, “Crump Doesn’t Like Israel, That’s for Sure.” After a couple of days, I received an email from Amazon thanking me for my review. The email provided this link to my review, which is now “dead.”
It disappeared, just like that!
Here in the interest of informing readers about Crump’s text, is a slightly edited version of the deleted Amazon review:
David M. Crump has a huge problem with Christian support for Israel. Crump, a former pastor and retired professor at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, thinks Israel is evil and should not be supported by Evangelical Christians in the United States.
In the narrative on display in Crump’s book Like Birds in a Cage: Christian Zionism’s Collusion in Israel’s Oppression of the Palestinian People (Wipf and Stock, 2021), the modern state of Israel is run by political Zionists who imitate the Nazis. Crump describes Israeli leaders and soldiers as merciless killers intent on driving out Palestinians — who are simply trying to live quiet in the land — from their homes. Tellingly, Crump omits numerous attempts on the part of Israelis to achieve peace with the Palestinians and downplays hostility toward Israel and Jews on the part of Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East. In his book, Crump only has eyes for things the Israelis do wrong.
The way Crump tells the story, pro-Israel Christians are supporting an expansionist and violent political movement that steals the land from their neighbors, just like the Nazis did in the 1940s. Therefore, Evangelical Protestants in the United States who support Israel — which is governed by these Nazi imitators — are leading their flocks astray and bringing shame onto the Christian faith.
Without saying so explicitly, Crump is putting Christians who support Israel in the same category as pro-Nazi pastors in Germany who supported Hitler in the 1930s and 40s.
Crump might, however, want to look in the mirror. The story Crump tells about the modern Jewish state serves to justify Palestinian violence against Jews and encourages his fellow Christians to serve as blind and indifferent bystanders to such violence in the name of the Christian faith.
That’s the type of behavior we saw from pastors like German theologian Gerhard Kittel, who depicted Jews as enemies of all that is good in the world and legitimate targets of the violence directed at them.
In his defense, Crump asserts that he is not talking about Jews per se, but Israel. The problem is that most Jews support what he calls political Zionism as the method Jews have chosen to ensure their survival in the modern world. Crump argues that the Jews should have chosen another method to achieve their survival, cultural Zionism, for example.
Would Crump make the same suggestion to other people groups facing destruction in the Middle East, like the Armenians or the Kurds, for example? Probably not. The irony is that Crump affirms Palestinian nationalism at the same moment he denigrates the Jewish pursuit and achievement of statehood.
Maybe, on one level, Crump is not talking about the Jews per se, but Jewish power and agency. In the story he tells, the Jewish exercise of power and agency from about the 1920s on has been one long career of error, horror, and violence. Nothing Jews have done to achieve their survival, independence and wellbeing in the past 100 years is acceptable or tolerable to Crump and very little done by others to deprive the Jews of these goods over the same timeframe is worthy of condemnation or even lamentation.
With his narrative, Crump comes very close to suggesting that the world would be better off if Jews remained powerless and if their prospects for survival remained as tenuous as they were in the middle of the 20th century.
No, Crump doesn’t fall into the category of people who “love dead Jews” so brilliantly described by Dara Horn in her text, “People Love Dead Jews: Tales from a Haunted Present.” He just likes his Jews powerless, beleaguered, and apparently, reliant on non-Jews like him for their survival. The irony is by telling the distorted narrative he does about Israel and Christian support for the Jewish state, Crump reminds Jews of the dangers of powerlessness and why statehood is essential for their survival and wellbeing.
It’s enough to cause people to ask exactly who is bringing shame on the Christian faith — Christian Zionists — or Crump himself?
Three more observations and questions:
First, in Crump’s writings, we see a Privileged American Pacifist (PAP), living on land taken from Native Americans, sitting in judgement of Jews trying to protect their lives in their ancestral homeland. Crump accuses political Zionists, his moniker for Jews who insist on their right to self-determination, of stealing land. If they are guilty of stealing land, what is Crump guilty of?
The fact is, Crump can rely on others to provide for his safety and wellbeing in ways that Jews simply can’t. On this score, Crump is taking a cue from privileged Mennonite peacemakers from the U.S. who demonize Israel for defending its citizens. Is Crump trying to promote peace, or rehabilitate a pacifist ideology that Jewish and Israeli history disconfirm?
Second, we see someone ostensibly committed to peacemaking affirming a one-sided narrative used by the Palestinians to justify violence against Israel. What’s up with that? Does Crump have to punish Israelis living in harm’s way for Evangelical support for Israel? Is this some messed-up form of substitutionary atonement?
Third, in his text, Crump chides fundamentalists for their “allergic reaction” to the social gospel movement, which he describes as “a movement concerned with linking the gospel to solving real-world problems.” These days, the Christian Zionists Crump excoriates have worked to solve real-world problems by promoting the Abraham Accords, and more recently, help bring Arab countries into the world economy.
Is Crump’s view of Christian Zionists, whom he portrays as the inheritors of the fundamentalist allergy to the social gospel, a bit blinkered, just like his view of Israelis?
Again, more to follow. This is just a preliminary response to an egregiously hostile and dishonest text.