Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
Most people who regularly visit this blog know that I am Jewish. While I am not what one would call a pious Jew, being a Deist in outlook, I have always been very proud of my ethnicity and of the religion, which plays a central part in it. From their infancy, my children were immersed in Judaism both through education and by our family regularly taking part in Jewish Rituals, including regular Synagogue attendance. Where I part personally from normative Judaism is that I view the Torah, The Five Books of Moses, as primarily allegory with some real history thrown in. To me it is a work of some wise and some not so wise men, not the writings of God. I believe and have seen demonstrated in many families though, that the Torah and its 613 Commandments can serve as blueprint for living a fulfilling life.
The issue becomes complicated when it comes to my feelings about Israel. To me the existence ofI srael is a necessity for Jews to have a future in this world and if it comes to it, a final haven to make our last stand. I am an American first, so I would not willingly emigrate away from the country of my birth, unless those who hate Jews come to power. Contrary to the opinion of many, Jews are far from being a homogeneous ethnicity/religion. One cannot for instance refer to being an Orthodox Jew with any precision of description since that movement is in itself splintered on many details of interpretation. This is true of the other main branches of Judaism: Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionism. Perhaps it is because there is no central Jewish religious authority speaking for all Jews, as much as organizations like ADL, AIPAC, et. al. would claim to, that the range of Jewish opinion is so wide on so many subjects.
This brings me to an article I read at the PublicEye.org titled: “The New Christian Zionism and the Jews”. Its’ thesis is that many Jewish supporters of Israel and the current Israeli government have allied themselves with Christian Fundamentalists whose “love” for Israel and Jews come from the wish to fulfill the prophecies of The Book of Revelations, where in fact Jews not willing to accept Jesus, will die in a horrid holocaust. This trend has been one disturbing me for a long time. I have watched Jews and Israeli’s embrace Fundamentalist Christian support, in what to me is a shortsighted and irrational policy. This could be justified by saying that a country takes its allies where one can get them. Sometimes what seems an example of realpolitik is merely an instance of dangerously narrow opportunism, as I will elaborate.
“In late October, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel spoke at a Christians United for Israel (CUFI) event hosted by the controversial Christian Zionist John Hagee at hisCornerstoneChurchinSan Antonio,Texas. Internationally broadcast on GodTV, Hagee presented $9 million in donations to 29 Israeli andU.S.Jewish organizations. Hagee is one of the world’s most successful televangelists and a prolific author who prophesizes that apocalyptic wars and the migration of Jews to the holy land will help trigger the return of Jesus and his thousand-year reign on earth.
Wiesel joins a long list of Jews and Israelis who show no discomfort at being in the center of someone else’s apocalyptic religious vision. Making common cause with Christian Zionists are the lobby group American Israel Political Action Committee, which hosted Hagee as a conference keynote speaker in 2007, and Israeli ambassador Michael Oren, who attended a CUFI summit last July.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, a very different kind of “pro-Israel” gathering was taking place.J Street, the “pro-peace, pro-Israel” lobby group, was holding its first national conference with panels featuring American, Israeli and Palestinian speakers. Hundreds gathered in the ballroom of the Washington D.C. Grand e wayHyatt for the conference, whose program explicitly stated thatJ Streetaims to challenge “right-wing Christian Zionists” – the very people Wiesel was addressing.”
The above was the opening of the article I linked below it and it is the centerpiece of this post. My assumption is that you would read it, so I am writing this as if the full discussion has been laid out, in the interests of brevity. The current Israeli Government headed by Bibi Netanyahu is I believe wrong in its approach to the settlement of the ongoing conflict. Their power base is an amalgam of Orthodox Jews and settlers on the West Bank, which is pretty much the same thing. The aims of this government date back to the founding of the Likud Party and Menachem Begin. This party skewed Israel away from its original heritage and moved it towards a more nationalistic stance, which also was one embracing a philosophy that was economically/politically conservative. They actively sought and received the support of the more extreme elements of Jewish Orthodoxy, that except for the crucial issue of Jesus, are philosophically akin to Christian Fundamentalists. In my opinion, Likud’s rise to power reflects the same kind of public attitude that also brings Republican’s to power in the U.S.. That is a false perception of strength through militancy and an economic system favoring Corporate interests disguised as freedom.
Begin, in the 70’s began building settlements in the West Bank as a means of justifying the perpetual occupation of these areas. Through the years this policy has continued, despite the fact that world opinion sees the only viable solution being a “two state” result. Two discrete states represent to me the only viable answer to this ongoing conflict and the only one that really coincides with I believe to be Jewish values. I further feel that it is the only way to ensure Israel’s future viability, since no characteristically Jewish State can exist with apartheid.
The agenda of the fundamentalist Christians, however, is to encourage no viable solution, but to encourage the ongoing violent struggle. This is of course to bring on the “Glorious End Times” and Jesus return. They are for the existence of Israel only up until Armageddon and then God help those Jews who don’t see the light and convert. As an outsider to Christianity, The Book of Revelations has always seemed to me to be the demented vision of a Christian persecuted by the Romans. Written perhaps 150 years after Jesus it is notable for its’ bloody and turgid style, which is at odds with both the Gospels and other writings of the Christian Canon. It was included in the Canon though at the council of Nicaea, 320 CE, because it serves as a bogeyman tale to keep the faithful in line. It presents a wholly different Jesus than the being presented in the Gospels.
Given the ends these Fundamentalists seek, it is actually suicidal for Jews and Israeli’s to share the same bed with them. It is in the best interests of the Israeli’s, Palestinians, U.S., and world peace to resolve this conflict in a viable fashion. Given the views of these Christian Fundamentalists, a peaceful solution would be a terrible idea and in their minds delay God’s Plan. The inconsistency of believing in an all-powerful God whose “plans” and schedules are affected by Humankind is not apparent to them in their delighted rush to bring on the Rapture and thus bring the “faithful believers” into Heaven.
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger