23 FEBRUARY 2002, Page 34

Christians v. Jews

From Mr Piers Paul Read Sir: As a lifelong Christian, I was interested to read Melanie Phillips's account of 'replacement theology' (Christians who hate the Jews', 16 February): I have never come across the term before. Certainly, Christians believe that God replaced the Old Covenant with the people of Israel with a New Covenant with baptised Christians; and early Christian churchmen such as Eusebius thought that the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by Titus's soldiers was part of God's plan. However, I have never before seen this presented as a Christian claim to the land of Israel', as she suggests. Christ's kingdom is not of this world.

The Christian's dilemma on the question of Israel is this: if the Old Covenant has been replaced by the New, then the Jewish people cannot justify displacing the Palestinian Arabs as the will of God — a justification which, given that many Israelis are atheists or agnostics, and given the secular consensus of the modern world, would in any case be hard to sustain. The Christian thus falls back on a notion of simple justice — namely, the right of a people to selfdetermination. If this right was conferred on all the inhabitants of the former British protectorate of Palestine — including those displaced after the establishment of the state of Israel — it seems unlikely that they would choose to be governed by Aridl Sharon.

I cannot see how such a stance implies 'a dislike of the Jews'.

Piers Paul Read

London W11