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Israel

Wishes

It’s increasingly popular among non-evangelical Christians to say that Zionism equals racism and is therefore just another form of organized evil.  On that basis, they would categorize Israel as an apartheid state to be punished into conformity with the pluralistic West.  If I were to judge Israel on Gospel principles alone, I could almost see that.  I wish everybody were born again, washed in the blood, Bible taught, and Spirit-led.  And I wish everyone could cheerfully hop aboard the Gospel train where there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female, Israeli or Arab.  That’s how I wish things were.

Facts

Fact is, the Israeli-Arab conflict affects us.  Harry Truman immediately extended formal recognition to Israel upon their founding as a nation, putting the USA front and center in this conflict.  America has financially supported Israel and defended her militarily and diplomatically for the last six decades.  That represents a considerable investment of American prestige.  It not only weights our history but strongly guides our trajectory going forward.  The anti-Israel doctrine being peddled by Pat Buchanan and other self-described American nationalists is blind on this point.  The doctrine borrows heavily from Ayn Rand’s acrid philosophy of self-interest which doesn’t work for nations any better than it works for individuals.  Israel, despite problems, errors, setbacks and (some may argue) even crimes, is an ally in whose fortunes we share.  Anger can’t change that.

Domestic American Politics

Why America continues to side with Israel is a matter of dispute.  There is much paranoia out there about a Jewish lobby pulling strings in Washington and making America do things against her own interests.  Personally, I think that’s ridiculous.  Every country lobbies foreign governments on its own behalf.  Of course Israel does this too, so denouncing this as the plot of a sinister Jewish cabal is to mix malice with ignorance of how nations conduct affairs with each other.

Besides, from my little window that faces the American South, conservative, evangelical Christianity looks like the bigger political influence. These folks point to the promises in Genesis 12 of God’s blessing on America if we bless Israel, and a curse if we don’t.  Their reading of world events tends to confirm that in their minds.  So they support Israel strongly, and they vote that way.  It’d be hard to find a successful politician in the American South who is vociferous in his rejection of Israel.

Beyond the evangelical South, there are huge numbers of Americans with a purely secular outlook who also tend to favor Israel.  They do so because Israel is a democracy reflecting, however faintly, our sort of society.  Israelis elect their governments and even allow Moslem citizens to participate in elections.  Secular Americans see Islam damning and warring with all of Western civilization including Europe, Israel, and the United States.  Thus they see Israel as our natural ally and fellow soldier resisting Islam’s long war against the West.  They may not know jack about biblical end time stuff, but they know that if Moslems destroy Israel as they have sworn to do, it’ll be a victory for an enemy that is coming after us too.

Yet there remains this small but growing sect of people who view our involvement with Israel as inimical to American interests.  These folks have their reasons, not all of them bad, for thinking that America would be better off with an isolationist stance, especially when it comes to Israel.    The danger for Christians in this category is that they have to operate in close political proximity to people who just hate Jews.  No, I’m not saying post-millennial folks are anti-Semitic, just that they’re standing in the same political queue with people who are.  It’s an ugly fact of life that you’ll get known for the company you keep.  And standing that queue also puts them in the company of people who would like to destroy America for the same reasons they’d like to destroy Israel.  I should not be necessary to say that this does not make them anti-American.  I should also not have to add that anti-Americans will not pause to absorb the nuances.  They’ll just look at proponents of replacement theology, shout Allahu Akhbar, and that will be that.

Finally, make no mistake: There’s an anti-Israel lobby in Washington, too.  No word yet on whether that is an anti-cabal cabal.

And then there are the Palestinians

Who could fail to feel sorry for the Palestinians?  In 1948 their leaders persuaded them to flee Israel under the false promise of a successful re-invasion and conquest.  Successful re-invasion never happened.  Then they were kicked out of Jordan.  They’ve been refused entry into other Moslem states.  The Lebanese have confined them to settlers’ camps.  Gaza itself is not far from the condition of Mogadishu, a squalid failure with a collapsed economy dominated by armed gangs, Islamic fanatics, drug lords, war lords, smugglers, terrorists, and assassins.  Much of the aid sent to Palestine has been stolen by leaders such as Yasser Arafat who socked away billions in secret Swiss bank accounts.  Palestine has had a very long, very raw deal.

But most Americans honestly feel that a lot of that is their own fault and that of their Moslem allies.  There’s a sense that the Palestinians are trying to operate an Al Sharpton style grievance racket in a market where there are no buyers.  If they’d get over it and start building their own fortunes as others have done (think Taiwan, for example), they’d have a chance at building a decent state.  I wish they’d do that.  I’m confident they won’t.  Shifting blame and nursing resentment are just too sweet to sinners.  Besides, it merges with the general sense of wounded pride among Moslem nations.  Islam is more than a religion.  It’s also a political and economic system.  So where is there a Moslem nation that’s keeping up with Asia or the West in terms of liberty, lifestyle, and how the general populace shares in the national prosperity?

Where to Go from Here?

You may wish that America could step into the Middle East and settle it all in a way the Palestinians and Israelis could accept.  But we cannot.  The Jews will not stop existing, and the Palestinians will never stop trying to get them to.  You tell me: where is there a space for compromise in there?  Trying to fix this with words on paper is a fool’s errand for sure.

Getting back to facts rather than wishes, it’s a fact that America has no vital, secular interest in what happens to Gaza or the West Bank area.  If Israel conquered all of it and circumcised every Moslem male, this would have no harmful effect on America’s vital secular interests.  We’re talking about what would happen if the fighting went red hot and Israel won it all, which they would (at least until Iran goes nuclear).  Mostly nothing bad would happen to America.  Pro-Palestinian terror groups would threaten us, but they already do that anyhow.  They would bomb our stuff, but they already do that, too.  OPEC might cut off our oil for a while, but oil company execs are watching their backs and have been reducing their dependence on Middle Eastern oil for a long time.  We get much of our oil from non Middle East suppliers like Canada, Mexico, Nigeria, and so on.  If Middle Eastern countries cut us off entirely, it’d require some belt tightening, and that’d be it, I suspect.

Those whose sentiments run with the Palestinians may wish the United States had a vested interest in helping their side, but we don’t.  Ditto that for the considerable number of people who just hate Jews and wish they’d all drop dead.  But again, we’re talking about how things are versus how people wish they were.  And how they are is like this: The Palestinians have a quasi-nation with hopelessly crooked leadership and holds nothing of vital interest to the USA.  By contrast, Israel is a legitimate nation for the most part representing Western values, has been a reliable American ally, and is invested with considerable US prestige and treasure.

All that leaves us pretty much where we are today.  More than with most allies, Israel’s friendship costs us.  But it’s a cost we should pay because the alternatives – either neutrality or joining the Moslems – are very much worse.  With either one, we abandon an important ally with deep historical connections, and that would leave us with no allies anywhere who would grant us a speck of credibility.  The latter option, siding with the Moslems, compounds dishonor with folly, for there is no arrangement the United States could make short of dhimmitude that would satisfy them.

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