Saturday, June 5, 2010
Two videos on the Gaza Flotilla, one funny, the other sobering.
My thanks to Yenta for bringing these videos to my attention.
Religion and nationalism is a dangerous patch of ground, but here are a few clarifying comments about where I stand.
I am a Christian. While I am not a literalist when it comes to the Bible (various translations and edits over the millennia all being done by fallible men) I believe that the Jews were and are God's Chosen people. I believe that they have an integral part in God's plan for us all.
I am an amateur historian. Over the years I've read probably hundreds of books on the Diaspora, Zionism, the Holocaust, Palestine, the 1947 Partition (another great example of what the UN can do for world peace -- eyes rolling) and the subsequent wars.
I'd like to think that I'm no fool, either. Many of those who participated in the founding of Israel embraced a socialist ideology. Atrocities have been committed in the name of the defense of Israel -- Deir Yassin and the attack on the USS Liberty are two stellar examples.
And yet . . . Israel never rejected capitalism and free enterprise. Israel is a western democracy that (largely) recognizes and protects the rights of minorities within its borders. Does it have its religious extremists and bigots? Yes. Do they insist that you convert or they will cut off your head? No.
Neither we nor the Jews chose where the Jews made their Homeland, God did. After centuries of pogroms and Holocaust at the hands of Western and Eastern Europe -- democracies, monarchies and dictatorships -- I cannot blame them for wanting a country of their own where they control their own destiny, for good or ill. It is a tough neighborhood filled with armed people who wish them and all their lineage driven into the Mediterranean. As they look around the world from that small sliver of land with its back to the sea, they see few allies and no reliable ones.
Every now and then, people drop missiles into their civilian neighborhoods, blow up their markets with suicide bombs and massacre their children in their elementary schools. Do the Palestinians have grievances? Absolutely. Should the Palestinians have a place of their own? Certainly.
But here is the terrible consequence, the bitter cup of defeat -- the Muslim Palestinians and the surrounding Arab powers tried to expunge the Jewish state in 1947 and several times since and failed. They bid on throwing the Jews into the sea and killing and expelling them and they lost. Deir Yassin had its Arab counterparts. The Israelis, fresh from the bitter lessons of Holocaust, knew it was fight or die. They fought, and won. Everything since then flows from that fact.
Should they then have lost? Would that be morally acceptable to Israel's critics in this country? Helen Thomas, the "grand dame" of the White House press corps, apparently thinks so.
But the present situation, like every other crisis since 1947, is not really about the Palestinians who are and have been just pawns on a greater chessboard. First the Soviets then in turn the Eqyptians, the Syrians, the Iraqis, the Saudis and now the Iranians -- each have used the Palestinian cause to further their own agenda. And in the case of the Shia Milleniallists in Iran, the massive military support they give to Hezbollah and Hamas has but one aim -- the ignition of the final conflict that they believe will herald the return of the Twelfth Imam. They have but to stack up enough bodies to do so, much as the Hitlerian pagans believed that the Holocaust would open up the gates of Valhalla and Odin, Thor and all the other Norse biker gods would come roaring out.
Watching the second video, it is evident that the sons and daughters of Shem, Ham and Japheth may never be able to live peacefully together.
Messianic Islam is the Borg of present day religions -- join or die. The Christian church certainly went through its Borg period -- "Kill them all my son. God will know his own." -- where fallible men and grasping nation states used religion for their own aggrandizement. We have ceased doing so centuries ago. The auto de fe' is no longer practiced. The Spanish Inquisition is the subject of classic British comedy. Any Danish cartoonist can tell you that Muslim religionists have not yet discovered the ability to be so secure in their faith that they can suffer comedy without violence.
The fact is that we live in the here and now and Islam has not, perhaps cannot, discard its cannibal army business model. The fact is that Israel exists and its enemies wish it expunged. Can this ever be reconciled short of Christ coming again?
I doubt it.
But until that time, I for one will not reject Israel's right to exist, as flawed as that existence might be when viewed from the safe distance of thousands of miles away.
And consider this, ye moral equivalency advocates. Israel has had the Bomb for what, 40 or so years now, right? They have never used it, though they are now estimated to own hundreds. Does anyone think that the Millennialists who run Iran will not use theirs shortly after they get it? On Israel or us, "the Great Satan?"