Is America Really Supporting Israel?
Among the positions herein expressed that cut against the grain of mainstream conservatism, and of the religious right in particular, is an unapologetic ambivalence regarding Israel.
The right of Israel to exist is respected here, as is its authority to defend its borders either through military force or diplomacy. Beyond that there is no particular support for America investing any resources – especially the lives of its soldiers – to the defense of Israel, unless, of course, doing so is pursuant to the defense of American borders.
Let it be so noted, however, that it is hard to imagine a scenario in which defending a country at the Eastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea would become important to securing American borders.
So, too, is respect given to Christians who consider events affecting Israel to signal the world’s end – but respect is not agreement. Although their view is supported with Biblical documentation, there are contradictory positions that are equally so supported. This eschatological debate has spanned generations – even centuries – and has inspired authors of many books. This column is not going to resolve the conflict between learned Christians or identify God’s plan for the end of time. It is only intended to offer the perspective of the author that guides these written commentaries regarding this country’s policy initiatives in a very dangerous part of the world.
On the other hand, one verse that is consistently offered by Christians to encourage support for Israel is Genesis 12:3 in which God is reported to tell Abram, later named Abraham, the patriarch of the Jewish race, “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.” This verse actually helps to call the sacred to evaluate the secular, because it inspires the question whether or not American policy initiatives in the Middle East are intended to, “bless Israel.”
The American government’s involvement in the Middle East is as recent as the end of WWII. It should be considered as something greater than coincidence that America’s interest in the region has grown proportionately with global industrialization and the demand that has placed on global oil supplies. Kevin Phillips in his book, American Dynasty, reports that included in America’s involvement in the region has been delivery of arms supplies to various combatants and propping up a wide range of regimes including the Shah of Iran and the Ayatollahs who replaced him, the Saudi Royal family and Saddam Hussein. Phillips suggests, with copious documentation, that much of the materiel that is making the Middle East dangerous for everyone – including Israelis – has been to the exclusive benefit of various arms manufacturers and petroleum companies that also provide generous funds for American political campaigns.
His evidence seems to suggest those directing America’s foreign policy are motivated by desires that are less than holy. Moreover, basing a decision to give power to people based upon speculations of the future or their claims to serve the interests of people many of us will never meet living in a land many of us will never visit does not seem wise. Before we pass to the government the authority, for the sake of security, to determine where we live, what we do, if we fight wars and the causes for doing so, all voters would do well to hold their public figures to verifiable and concrete standards.
Simply put, the care of Israel should be left to the Israelis and American citizens need to learn to evaluate their public servants against the limits on power defined in the various constitutions of the federal and state governments. Perhaps the two actions applied together will bring peace to the Middle East. This suggestion couldn’t result in consequences much worse than the world, or this country, faces today.
August 23, 2004
Since 1993 Bob Strodtbeck has been writing commentaries for The Apopka Chief, a news weekly circulated in a community ten miles north of Orlando. His analyses investigate a wide range of topics from what he calls a “Christian pragmatic” view – that is to say, he considers that human interactions are largely driven by the human instinct toward self-service, which is traditionally known as sin. This perspective has given Bob great liberty to criticize governmental officials from both parties upon the standards of constitutional laws they swear to uphold and review cultural and economic phenomena from moral standards defined in the Bible. Bob currently lives in Orlando with his bride Pam and children Charlotte and Richard. He may be reached for comment here.