For many decades, evangelical support for Israel seemed rock solid. Today, however, many younger Christians in Western churches are hesitant to give Israel the same unconditional support their parents did. Stories of Palestinian suffering, rather than the struggles and triumphs of Israel, have attracted the sympathy of young evangelicals.
They appear to be motivated more by the cause of social justice for the “oppressed” Palestinians than the prophecy-driven backing of the restored Jewish state. Many Christian youngsters have sided with the Palestinians as the perceived underdog. And in any case, Jesus in the Gospels seems to have very little to say about the current situation.
So for a generation known to read far less in the Old Testament than previous generations, this supposed New Testament “silence” makes a big difference in how they view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Today, they simply ask: What would Jesus do?
That is, would Jesus affirm the national calling of Israel according to the promises made to the Hebrew patriarchs and prophets? Would He affirm Israel’s right to live in the land? Or would He rather side with the Palestinians as a weak and suppressed minority?
A strong guide for answering these questions is to look at how Jesus dealt with the most prominent indigenous minority living in Israel during his time. As we shall see, there are many striking parallels between the Samaritan people in the days of Jesus and the Palestinians of today. So, who were the Samaritans, and how did Jesus treat them?