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A handful of politically active Christian Zionists are protesting Israel's withdrawal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip, due to start in August. Protestors may even enter Gaza itself to stand literally shoulder to shoulder with those settlers willing to defy the pullout.

But Malcolm Hedding won't be with them. Hedding, executive director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, a leading Christian Zionist group, remains neutral on "political" issues such as the Gaza withdrawal.

Hedding told CT that his organization's position is that the nation of Israel will inherit all the land God promised the Jews "when the Messiah comes [again]. Not before."

"It would be chutzpah for evangelical Christians—as we are—to tell where, or how, or when [Israel] should designate her borders. It's a matter of the timing of the kingdom."

Israel's withdrawal of Jewish settlers reveals a fault line running through Christian Zionism. Hedding, a South African, says ICEJ supports "biblical Zionism," which does not take sides on partisan political issues in modern-day Israel as other groups do.

"We can't be more interested in land recovery than in spiritual restoration," Hedding says. "That would put you in a position of a political Christian Zionist, and there are enough of those around."

Some Zionists, both Jewish and Christian, deeply oppose Israel ceding any land to the Palestinian Authority. Gershom Gorenberg, Jerusalem-based journalist, author, and Orthodox Jew, told CT that "99.9 percent" of Israeli Jews identify themselves as Zionists, and yet the Gaza pullout still has widespread public support.

"If a thousand [Christian Zionist protestors] were to show up," Gorenberg said, "the reaction in the Israeli public would be intensely ...

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Christian Zionists Split Over Gaza Pullout
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In the Magazine

July 2005

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