Press Release: Whose Land? Whose Promise? Marred by Errors, Hostile Theology


September 17, 2007
Boston, Mass.


The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) is cautioning the religious community in the United States about serious factual errors and sourcing problems in Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told about Israel and the Palestinians published in 2003 by The Pilgrim Press and being prepared for re-issue.

“This book is a combustible mixture of misinformation and theologically justified hostility toward modern Israel,” says Dexter Van Zile, Christian Media Analyst for CAMERA.

Written by Wheaton College Professor Gary M. Burge, the book falsely states that Israeli-Arabs are denied membership in Israel’s labor movement, when in fact, Israeli-Arabs have been allowed full membership in Israel’s largest union – the Histadrut – since 1959. It also falsely claims Israeli-Arabs are barred from service in Israel’s military and that they are prohibited from joining Israel’s major political parties.”

“Rev. Dr. Burge equates Israel with apartheid South Africa when in fact there is no rational comparison. Arabs in Israel vote, form political parties, sit in the Supreme Court, serve in the Knesset, serve in the diplomatic corps, own companies, earn advanced degrees and enjoy more freedoms and a higher standard of living than Arabs living in neighboring Arab states,” Van Zile says. “Like any heterogeneous society, there are problems, and in Israel they are compounded by competing national allegiances among the country’s Arab population. Arab members of the Knesset have expressed vocal support for groups that perpetrate attacks against Israeli civilians. The book makes no mention of this.”

More ominously, under Rev. Dr. Burge’s scriptural analysis, Jews who reject Christ have forfeited their land and risk their lives by attempting to live in it. For example, on page 176, Rev. Dr. Burge interprets John 15:6 as follows: “The people of Israel cannot claim to be planted as vines in the land; they cannot be rooted in the vineyard unless first they are grafted into Jesus. Branches that attempt living in the land, the vineyard, which refuse to be attached to Jesus will be cast out and burned.”

“Clearly, under Rev. Dr. Burge’s analysis, Jews living in Israel are transgressing limits set for them by the New Testament,” Van Zile says.

Despite these troubling problems, the book has been embraced by prominent Christian commentators. David Neff, editor of Christianity Today effusively praised the volume at the time of its publication, and the magazine he edited gave it an “award of merit” in 2004.

“The fact that this book with a passage like this was brought to market by a publishing house that bills itself as an ‘ecumenical endeavor’ of the United Church of Christ, a mainline denomination putatively committed to interfaith dialogue and fighting anti-Semitism, calls into question the judgment of the people responsible for its publication,” says Van Zile. “That the book was accepted and recommended as a primer on the Arab-Israeli conflict despite its egregious errors raises similar questions about the people who embraced it.”

Information about CAMERA’s concerns regarding Whose Land? Whose Promise? can be found at _article=1356 and at

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