Nelson Mandela Foundation

Christian Zionism NMF

“In the absence of all hope, we cry out our cry of hope. We believe in God, good and just. We believe that God’s goodness will finally triumph over the evil of hate and of death that persist in our land.  We will see here ‘a new land’ and ‘a new human being’, capable of rising up in the spirit to love each one of his or her brothers and sisters” - Palestine Kairos Document 10: A moment of truth – A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian Sufferin

In recent months, and in the context of wanting to promote a lasting peaceful solution, the Nelson Mandela Foundation hosted a series of engagements on Palestine. Through these engagements, a common thread which emerged is that of Christian Zionism and the ways in which Christian Zionism plays a significant role in advancing and protecting Israel to the detriment of Palestinians.

Christian Zionism is articulated as the belief among some Christians that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land, and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, is in accordance with Biblical prophecy, and is necessary for Jesus to return in the Second Coming. Genesis 12:1-3 and 15:18, along with Deuteronomy chapters 6 and 7, play a significant role in this understanding. Genesis includes promises made to Abraham personally and to his descendants, who were meant to become a mighty nation and inherit the land of Canaan forever. Deuteronomy, specifically chapters 6 and 7, underscores God's command to the Israelites, after their release from Egyptian slavery, to conquer the Canaanites, claim their territory, and decimate their people.

This position is actively contested within the Christian community by numerous Churches and theologians. While some do affirm the passages outlining the return of God’s people to the Holy land, they contend that this does not exclusively refer to the Jewish people but rather all nations of the world. Apart from theologians, many ‘ordinary’ Christians themselves – seeing the devastation that is unfolding in Gaza and the oppression in other parts of Palestine – are questioning the use of religion as a justification for the carnage they are witnessing. This is especially true for Christian South Africans who lived through Apartheid and who experienced firsthand the ways in which Christianity was misused to advance Apartheid in South Africa and the subjugation of Black people.

Although international and local support for Christian Zionism has played a role in enabling, sustaining and justifying the Zionist project in Israel, this subject matter remains largely unaddressed in public discourse.

The aim of this dialogue is to foster a reconciliation between faith and justice, by providing a space to explore Christian Zionism as we aspire to cultivate a collective recognition of our shared humanity. 


Welcome: Samantha Mashapa, Dialogue & Advocacy Analyst at the Foundation
Scene setter: Stiaan van der Merwe, Kairos Palestine SA Working Group
Keynote speaker on "Mapping Christian Zionism": Reverend Munther Isaac, Palestinian priest and theologian
Facilitated discussion:
- Facilitator: Sumaya Hendricks, Head of Dialogue at the Foundation
– Reverend Frank Chikane, South African Council of Churches
– Ncamisile Ngubane, The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa
– Dalia Qumsieh, Palestinian human rights lawyer
– Professor Faried Esack, Africa for Palestine
Audience engagement

Date: 9 May 2024
Time: 3.30pm to 5.30pm
Venue: Nelson Mandela Foundation Auditorium, 107 Central St, Houghton Estate, Johannesburg