Tony Deik from Palestine

Dear Friends,

Thank you for interceding with us this week for Anton (Tony) Deik from Palestine.

Tony is pursuing a PhD in New Testament at Trinity College, Bristol through the University of Aberdeen. His dissertation explores biblical and Greco-Roman conceptions of justice. Tony is an online lecturer for Bethlehem Bible College, organizer of the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference, researcher at the Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence, and board member of the International Fellowship for Mission as Transformation.  

A Palestinian Christian from Bethlehem, Tony has lived and ministered in several different contexts over the last 13 years, including in the Philippines, Hong Kong, England, Palestine, and Bolivia. He has contributed to several edited volumes, including Reading Ecclesiastes from Asia and PasifikaThe Religious Other, and Between Politics and Religion. Tony is married to Sara Amestegui-Deik, whose doctoral research Scholar Leaders also supports through Leader Studies. They have a six-year-old daughter, Nour Sofía.
 
Tony shares the following message:

About Palestine
 
The Palestinian people are currently going through another horrific episode of mass killing and ethnic cleansing. Unlike the common perception, the war on Palestine started 76 years ago, not on October 7, 2023. 
 
For many Christians around the world, the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 is a “miracle of God” and “sign of God’s faithfulness.” For Palestinians, 1948 is our Nakba (Catastrophe) and the beginning of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Zionist settlers, who came from faraway places not to live among us, but to replace the indigenous people of Palestine. As part of the establishment of the State of Israel, 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes (80% of the population of what would become the State of Israel), more than 500 Palestinian villages destroyed or depopulated, and no less than 24 massacres committed by Zionist settlers. Since 1948, the Zionist settler-colonial project has continued. Israel is a state in continuous expansion, with no declared borders, rendering it a settler-colonial state par excellence.

Since 1988, Palestinians have succumbed to the so-called two-state solution, letting go of 78% of their historical land and agreeing to establish their state on only 22% of historical Palestine (the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem). However, Israel does not want to let go of these territories. Currently, East Jerusalem is under full Israeli occupation, and no less than 60% of the West Bank has been confiscated for the continuous expansion of Israeli settlements. Further, the West Bank is under a brutal Israeli apartheid regime, which severely discriminates against Palestinians and privileges Zionist settlers. (See reports by Human Rights WatchAmnesty International, and the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem.)
 
As a result of this apartheid system, my family and I were forced to leave Palestine in 2017. Even now, seven years later, we are unable to live together in Bethlehem. You can listen to my story here
 
My Ministry
 
This is the context of our ministry at Bethlehem Bible College and Christ at the Checkpoint. As Palestinian Christians, we face not only a brutal Israeli occupation and settler-colonial apartheid, but also theologies and biblical interpretations, espoused by many Christians around the world, that justify and legitimize our suffering. 
 
As expressed by Palestinian theologian Mitri Raheb, Christian Zionism – theology that sees the State of Israel as a continuation of the Old Testament Yisrael – is the “software” that enables the Israeli war machine. Scholars of Christian Zionism argue that if it weren’t for the theology and activism of western Evangelicals, especially in Britian and the US, the Zionist settler-colonial project would not have succeeded.
 
In late May, we held our seventh Christ at the Checkpoint Conference in Bethlehem. Since its inception in 2010, our international gathering has aimed to challenge Christian Zionism. This year, the current genocidal war on Gaza was central to our discussions. We examined and challenged the responses of many Evangelical leaders and theologians, who have unashamedly supported Israel’s war. We also discussed the way forward: What is a proper Christian response to the atrocities taking place in Gaza? 
 
I have been part of the conference’s organizing committee since 2016. This year, I also gave one of the keynote lectures, focusing on mission in the shadow of Christian Zionism. In the first part of my talk, I demonstrated how Christian Zionism’s distorted conceptualization of God is an obstacle to the Gospel. In the second part, I offered three suggestions for the way forward: proclaiming God’s goodness, calling for repentance, and working toward justice. You can watch my talk here.
 
Prayer Requests
 
1. Please pray for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
 
2. Please pray for the Global Body of Christ, that we would remove Christian Zionism from our midst for the progress of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
 
3. Please pray for the Palestinian Church to continue witnessing to God’s goodness amid ethnic cleansing and apartheid.
 
4. Please pray for the ministries of Bethlehem Bible College and Christ at the Checkpoint, for courage and strength to continue doing what God has called us to.
 
Further Reading
 
Munther Isaac, The Other Side of the Wall: A Palestinian Christian Narrative of Lament and Hope (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2020).
 
Rashid Khalidi, The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017 (New York: Metropolitan, 2022).
 
Ilan Pappé, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oxford: Oneworld, 2007).
 
Ben White, Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide, 2nd ed. (London: Pluto, 2014).
 
Patrick Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native,” Journal of Genocide Research 8.4 (2006): 387–409.
 
Tony Deik

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