Megavangelist and ageless prosperity preacher Joel Osteen recently interviewed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. Their conversation demonstrated Osteen’s absolute dissociation with reality. It also illustrated his audience’s total failure to acknowledge the real world.
This phenomenon is fairly typical of conservative Christianity (Osteen is far from alone in his blind affection for Israel) – and it is killing people.
The International Criminal Court is currently examining evidence that under Netanyahu’s watch, Israel has committed war crimes against the Palestinian people – including willful killing, torture, willfully causing great suffering, extensive destruction and appropriation of property, willfully depriving civilians of the right to a fair and regular trial, and more.
In 2014, for example, Netanyahu oversaw an assault on Gaza that killed over 2,100 Palestinians (500 of them children) and wounded 10,000 more. During the attack, 72 Israelis were also killed.
Netanyahu presides over a system of control that has been labelled “apartheid” by multiple highly respected human rights organizations (Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, to name just two). Apartheid is a crime against humanity.
He has enabled Israeli Jews to illegally appropriate Palestinian land by taking away Palestinians’ homes, means of subsistence, and human rights; his government oversees the imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians each year – many of them minors – where they are often tortured.
And Netanyahu has been indicted on corruption charges.
Pastor Joel Osteen gleefully interviewed Netanyahu with zero mention of these highly problematic actions. On the contrary, Joel Osteen treated Netanyahu like a holy celebrity.
“Modern Day David”
At the 16-minute mark on the video, Joel tells the prime minister, “You are a modern-day David…You’re doing what he did.” It was meant as a compliment, but at least one website calls David “the Bible’s biggest individual assassin,” adding that “God’s favorite monarch…smote, slew and slaughtered 81,050 people on the Lord’s behalf” (I have not independently confirmed this number).
To be fair, Netanyahu may not be guilty of this many Palestinian deaths yet, but he has the blood of many thousands on his hands – and he has just begun a new term in office, so potentially, he has years of killing ahead of him.
David was an ancient king, killing enemies in an era when, every spring, “kings went off to war” (2 Samuel 11:1) to meet enemies on the battlefield. Benjamin Netanyahu rules in the 21st century and has at his disposal one of the most powerful armies in the world. He “wars” against a people whom Israel has rendered essentially unarmed, and who have been oppressed at the hands of Israel for decades.
The fact that Joel Osteen is tickled to be in the presence of a (possible) war criminal with (undeniably) the blood of innocent people on his hands, suggests that Osteen may not be mentally balanced. And there’s more.
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Netanyahu, a “Bible character”?
Joel Osteen goes even further off the deep end: “It’s fascinating in my mind that I’m talking in a sense to a Bible character now.” Is this the thinking of a man in full control of his intellect?
He adds, “Israel feels like the most peaceful place in the world” – a statement that could only come from someone living in a fantasy world (or a bubble of total ignorance).
Most troubling of all, Osteen is leading his millions of followers straight into this delusion.
When Netanyahu talks about fighting “terrorism” (around 3:00), Osteen has a blank expression (or rather, more blank than usual), and then responds with a chuckle, “I love your persistency (sic) and your love for Israel and your love for people, to help others.”
The televangelist is clearly in the dark about Israel’s daily aggression, assassination, and dispossession – under the guidance of its prime minister.
Readers who think Netanyahu’s army really is fighting terrorism need to recognize the desperation of the Palestinian people living under the Israeli regime with no rights and no ability to effect change. Under the grip of a violent system designed to crush them, a small number of Palestinians are bound to turn to individual or group violence to resist their own demise.
This is the context that Benjamin Netanyahu won’t discuss, and Joel Osteen won’t ask about.
What about Osteen’s followers?
A godly leader must practice doctrinal due diligence, above all measuring doctrine against the example of Jesus. Joel Osteen’s prosperity gospel aside, he is practicing and modeling blind hero worship (see Luke 4:8), teaching manmade ideas as precepts of God (see Matthew 15:9), and sanctifying violence and ethnic cleansing (see Proverbs 3:31).
A Christian leader who advocates the shedding of innocent blood is not doing the work of God – and the size of Osteen’s audience only augments the sin.
And let us recognize the inevitable outcome of this sin: the deaths of Palestinians who are loved by God.
What do Pastor Osteen’s followers have to say about his interview with Netanyahu? Are they buying what Osteen is selling – that is, are they too complicit in the deaths of innocent people?
Based on their comments, they are as uninformed as their leader:
- To Bibi: Your integrity and goodness was spoken into you by God.
- I can understand why God loves us when I see and feel the warmth exhibited by these two men.
- Amazing!! Hallelujah!! A devout Christian leading Israel. Lord Jesus Christ must be so pleased!
- I just love this man in Israel. He’s such a humble and great leader. May the Almighty father Yahweh continue to bless him more abundantly as he leads his great nation.
- Beautiful interview!! Thank you Pastor Joel and PM Netanyahu!! I have just returned from a comprehensive 15 day Israel Tour with “Christians from Israel”. We were 42 New Zealanders who were totally wowed by history, Biblical faith and Israeli tenacity!!
- Congratulations Mr. Prime Minister BiBi. You are a great light that pulsates in my heart whenever I watch you speak.
- Two incredible men of God. Love you both so much.
- Deep and broad education needed for effective leadership. History History History. Bible Bible Bible. God is the same yesterday today & forever. He’s both the God of Israel and the God of the universe. Thank you Mr Prime Minister. God bless Bibi and Joel Osteen. Beautiful interview.
If anything, Christians have a greater responsibility toward the truth than others because our mandate is to love all and care for the oppressed. We must exercise discernment and stop turning a blind eye toward the facts.
Those of us who know better must teach the others gently but firmly. Lives depend on it.
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OTHER POSTS ABOUT ISRAEL AND PALESTINE:
- Dear Jewish Americans, can we talk…about apartheid?
- Why every Christian (yes, you) should pray for Gaza
- Christian orgs worldwide denounce Israel’s demonization of Palestinian rights groups
- UCC leads the Christian march to justice for Palestinians
- Palestinians don’t just need peace – they need Just Peace
- Regarding Gaza: don’t say “both sides need to stop”
- Israel, Palestine, and Covid 19: a travesty
Links to other articles do not imply endorsement of their contents.
FEATURED IMAGE: “Pastors Joel & Victoria Osteen @ Sunset Hills Building Dedication” by yourfaithchurch is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.