According to Randy Neal, Western Regional Coordinator of CUFI, the ideological foundations of the pro-Palestinian Christian movement are grounded in both liberation theology and replacement theology. The first is a politicized doctrine that requires a continual mindset of victimhood, in order to solicit political sympathy and action on behalf of the “oppressed” against the “oppressors.” The latter holds that the church has replaced Jews as God’s chosen and become the real Israel.

“It’s not just that church has replaced Israel,” said Neal, but for many of the Palestinian Christian clergy and their activist sympathizers, “the Palestinian church is the real church. Jesus, on this reading, was an underdog, who came to champion the underdog. He was oppressed by the Romans, so if you are Christ-like, you are also oppressed, like the Palestinians. This increasingly includes the idea that Jesus was a Palestinian. It’s an adopted narrative that is believed to have started with Yasser Arafat, but to some people it’s become a gospel fact.”

In other words, it’s a narrative that denies Jesus’ Jewish identity. “It is a very ugly expression of Christian anti-Semitism,” Neal said.

But Brog, Neal’s colleague, disagrees: “anti-Semitism is not the driving force.” Rather, he said, the impetus comes from a combination of two ideological streams. “There’s the anti-Israel perspective, which comes from the Palestinian Christians, who are using theology to preach a politically anti-Israel message. And then there are the Christians based in North America and Europe who are allowing liberal politics to trump Christian beliefs.”