By: Rev Anthony Abma - CEO and Founder of Return O’ Israel
Nashville TN was the location of this year’s annual Christian National Religious Broadcast Convention. The NRB is the largest international gathering of TV, radio and internet Ministries and stations including a broad spectrum of accompanying Christian support businesses.
*Picture: Rev Anthony Abma; Ken Barun - Executive Vice President at Billy Graham Evangelistic Association & Sheikh Tamimi)
I was privileged to host a unique guest at this year’s Convention - Sheikh Nasr Abu Khalil Al-Tamimi, a Palestinian Arab from Hebron. As one guest stated; “I’ve been coming to the NRB for over 8 years and have never seen a Muslim Sheikh here before.”
While Israel and the Jewish people’s restoration factors as an important theological consideration in Evangelical Christianity, for most, it’s either a largely misunderstood – or neglected subject. Endeavors are most often directed to Muslim “conversion” or a one-sided portrayal of Islamophobia. While the radical, terrorist elements within Islam certainly cannot be ignored, fixating on the “bogeyman” provides absolutely no solution to the Arab / Jewish impasse and actually serves to perpetuate the problem.
Israel’s restoration demands that the issue of Arab residents residing within her borders be addressed amicably. An important truth in the Koran that has been lost in the rhetoric of PLO propaganda, racism and terrorism, offers an unparalleled solution. The truth that Sheikh Tamimi and countless others like him recognize and embrace, is the indivisible and unequivocal rights of the “people of the Book” (Jews) to their ancestral homeland.
*Picture: Sheikh Tamimi with Gary L. Bauer President of American Values for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom)
He unashamedly declares that Muslim Arabs actually have a mandate to honour their prophet and Koran by living peaceably together with Jews who have a right to a future sovereign State. “We represent the position that there are two populations destined by Allah to live together.” Doing so he believes; “Prepares the way for the promised Messiah.”Acknowledging this truth leads to the only viable solution for peace between Jews and Arabs as the Oslo accords are “dead”. This message that Sheikh Tamimi bravely addresses – is done so at great personal risk to himself, his family and colleagues.
Sheikh Tamimi is certainly no newcomer to the Israeli or International political scene. He is an ardent, local activist who has not moved abroad. By choosing to live in Hebron, he maintains an important connection with family, friends and fellow Arab residents of Judea and Samaria. For more than a decade he and his colleagues have been working hard on behalf of his people to bridge the gaps and to overcome challenges facing Israelis and Arabs. He believes the future has never been brighter with the prospects of peaceful coexistence and a more prosperous future for both.
He has been a frequent guest of Rabbis, Knesset members, even Israeli President Rivlin in 2014 along with US Ambassadors to Israel. During a marathon week of meetings at the White House in March 2019 in which he accompanied the Mayor of Samaria, Yossi Dagan, Sheikh Tamimi addressed US dignitaries in two consecutive events on Capitol Hill. Additionally, he met with more than 70 members of Congress and had separate meetings with Senators. The Sheikh has also addressed the European Parliaments of Brussels, France and Spain.
While the Sheikh’s message and the fact that Jews and Arabs are working together in peaceful resolve is being heard in the various Government Halls, this important message has barely penetrated the bulwark of Christian Evangelicalism. Our attending the NRB was an effort to address - and change this narrative since Evangelicals are also serious contenders and biblical lobbyists on behalf of Israel.
Recognizing how “blessed are the peacemakers…”[Matt 5:9], the International Christian community could do much to help raise the profile and message of Sheikh Tamimi. Supporting the peaceful elements he represents within the Muslim community of Judea and Samaria, would help eclipse the reign of violence and bloodshed that has gone on far too long in Israel. Helping to establish a peaceful coexistence among the three mono-theistic faiths is a precursor to ushering in the long-awaited era of peace with the coming Messiah.
Rev Anthony Abma
CEO / Founder of Return O’ Israel