Tag Archives: AIPAC

A Perfect Storm

David Barton  Source Right Wing WatchAbout a week ago pseudo-historian, David Barton, told the hosts of TBN’s “Praise the Lord” show that if the US did not support Israel God would afflict it with “extreme weather, droughts, productivity declines, and agricultural disasters.”  Many have become familiar with these inane decrees.  Storms and droughts are routinely blamed on the gay community or because of women’s reproductive freedom by religious extremists.  But with Israel’s recent murderous assault on Gaza, the specter of Christian Zionism is again asserting itself in American foreign and domestic policy.
Gaza City Photo AFPUnlike the nationalistic, and largely secular, form of Zionism that formed in the late 19th century in Europe, modern Christian Zionism is primarily an American phenomenon.  It gained prominence from the publication of the Scofield Reference Bible, an annotated version of scripture written by Cyrus I. Scofield.  He was an American preacher in the early 20th century, with a checkered past and dubious claims of being a theologian.
Cyrus I. ScofieldScofield’s rather peculiar brand of eschatology, or the fate of humanity, insists that the Jewish people “reclaim” Palestine.  The fact that most Jews have never been to Palestine and have no ancestral links to the land outside of religious texts, and that such a reclamation would displace millions of people already living there, are considered logistical problems, not ethical ones.  And even though Islam’s third holiest site sits on top of the Temple Mount, and has since the 7th century, it proposes the re-building of the Temple of Solomon.  In an attempt to obscure the antisemitism that belies its public face, Christian Zionism generally avoids addressing one part of this interpretation.  According to its doctrine, in the end scores of Jews will ultimately reject Jesus as the messiah when he returns, and be eternally damned as a result.  Unsurprisingly, this is not a talking point at conferences with Israeli heads of state.

The Rapture.  Source: Theological GraffitiIn their lust for Armageddon, Christian Zionists are pouring petrol on the tinderbox of modern geopolitics.  This is evident in their fervor to attack Iran and crush any prospects for peace.  They are galvanized by an unshakeable belief that we are living in the “end times” and that turmoil is unavoidable.  Ironically, due to human caused climate change and the ever persistent menace of nuclear war, humanity may very well be looking at its demise.  But to the Christian Zionist, bringing about an end in fire is not only inevitable, it is necessary to ensure the fulfillment of prophecy.

This is the primary reason Israel is so important.  It is why various evangelical foundations have been set up in the US to fund illegal, Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank.  It is why mission trips are arranged to these settlements to harvest grapes with colonists on the land they have stolen from Palestinians.  It emboldens hardline hawks in Tel Aviv to entrench apartheid and military occupation even more, while marginalizing the earnest efforts of Israeli and Palestinian peace activists.  And it is what has allowed them to dehumanize and ignore the plight of the Palestinians, and justify nearly every crime the Israeli regime has inflicted on them for decades.
John HageeBombastic minister and head of CUFI (Christians United for Israel), John Hagee, and television evangelist and head of  “The 700 Club” Pat Robertson, are emblematic of this movement, and they enjoy huge followings.  But perhaps most troubling is the connection and influence they have on foreign policy.  They have the support of the biggest, pro-Israel lobby in Washington, AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), and virtually every politician is loath to defy them.

Climate change plays an ominous role in all of this.  As it accelerates and worsens it emboldens fear mongering, denial, and scapegoating.   To the Christian Zionist, these events are punishments for the sin of opposing the Israeli regime.  And certain, out of historical context, scriptures, like Numbers 24:9 which says “Whoever blesses Israel will be blessed, and whoever curses Israel will be cursed,” are employed to drive this notion home to the faithful.  Science is simply not recognized in this equation because it does not match their scriptural exegesis. If it does not fit this religious narrative it is dismissed in explaining the erratic weather patterns, persistent droughts and rising sea levels that we are witnessing today.
Christian Zionism  Source Foreign PolicyChristian Zionism is an aggressive form of extremism that broadly effects ideology and policy in the American political establishment. It is certainly not a monolithic group of people and it does not represent all of Christendom; but the power of its leaders is both undeniable and menacing.  Movements like this are often derided and marginalized in times of calm.  But in times of upheaval, which are becoming more frequent, they have an astonishing way of taking center stage and influencing world events.  As the West negotiates with Iran in an attempt to avert a war with a nuclear armed Israel, global weather patterns are simultaneously becoming angrier due to our burning of fossil fuels.  And this is creating a perfect storm that may inadvertently guarantee that its most destructive prophecies are indeed fulfilled.

Kenn Orphan  2014

The United States Has Everything to do with It

Palestinian child Feb 6 2013I have often heard it said in this country that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has “nothing to do with us.” Such statements reveal a troubling ignorance that so many Americans have in regard to this and other foreign policy issues. In fact the United States has everything to do with it.

It is the US which has inserted itself into the conflict as being the only foreign agent that can “broker” a peace deal. It is the US that has shut out or suppressed  the UN from having any effective voice. It is the US that has emboldened hardliners in Israel to run rip shod over any reasonable and fair settlement by continually declaring itself as an unequivocal supporter of Israel regardless of its human rights abuses and incredible intransigence. It is the US which shapes the language used to describe the issues, the problems and any of the solutions. It is the US which has reinforced a decades long system of apartheid, complete with home demolitions, walls and checkpoints that carve up Palestinian land into what amounts to South African style Bantustans.

The US has looked the other way as Israel built a separate system of justice for Israeli citizens and Palestinians, one more fairer than the other.  It has ignored the illegality of the Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank and ignored the increasing racist rhetoric and violence emerging from them. It has whitewashed or downplayed a brutal and oppressive military occupation and the indefinite detention and torture of children. And it has justified the creation of the world’s biggest open air prison in Gaza, where punishment is meted out collectively on a captive population through bombings, the use of white phosphorus, indiscriminate shooting of farmers and fishermen, home demolitions and a draconian economic blockade that limits and restricts food, medicine and construction materials.

John Kerry recently expressed a sentiment that, aside from the circus-like histrionics of the US media and both Democratic and Republican politicians, is shared by many prominent Israelis, Palestinians and one former US president. When he said that Israel was on a course toward apartheid he was only incorrect in making such a claim as a potential future. True to form, Kerry capitulated to the “pro-Israel no matter what” fanatics and apologized. But the facts remain. An institutionalized ethnocracy has been allowed to flourish. As in apartheid South Africa, this kind of system grows like a cancer. And it eventually effects all aspects of civil life in society.

Insidiously, the US has perpetuated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to suit its own foreign policy objectives as a colonial foothold in the Middle-east. It has continued to support an untenable system because doing so is more advantageous to its neoliberal interests in the entire region.  And the recent, momentous failure in the so-called “peace process” should make it clear to everyone, as tensions are at an all time high, that the US has proven itself incapable of being an effective and fair mediator. For the sake of everyone, it is more than past the time for it to remove itself as the sole arbiter of peace.

Kenn Orphan  2014

(Photo: Palestinian child sobbing atop the ruins of his family’s home that was demolished by Israeli bulldozers in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina/AFP )