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Thursday, May 26, 2011

"Israel is an American Value"

This is an explanation from Walter Russell Mead of why Benjamin Netanyahu received such a warm reception.  I think it's a little heavy on the religion side, but I think it's essentially correct (emphasis mine):
As the stunning and overwhelming response to Prime Minister Netanyahu in Congress showed, Israel matters in American politics like almost no other country on earth. Well beyond the American Jewish and the Protestant fundamentalist communities, the people and the story of Israel stir some of the deepest and most mysterious reaches of the American soul. The idea of Jewish and Israeli exceptionalism is profoundly tied to the idea of American exceptionalism. The belief that God favors and protects Israel is connected to the idea that God favors and protects America.
It means more. The existence of Israel means that the God of the Bible is still watching out for the well-being of the human race. For many American Christians who are nothing like fundamentalists, the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land and their creation of a successful, democratic state after two thousand years of oppression and exile is a clear sign that the religion of the Bible can be trusted.

Being pro-Israel matters in American mass politics because the public mind believes at a deep level that to be pro-Israel is to be pro-America and pro-faith. Substantial numbers of voters believe that politicians who don’t ‘get’ Israel also don’t ‘get’ America and don’t ‘get’ God. Obama’s political isolation on this issue, and the haste with which liberal Democrats like Nancy Pelosi left the embattled President to take the heat alone, testify to the pervasive sense in American politics that Israel is an American value.
Read the whole thing.

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  1. I think it's a bit anti-American....especially when a political leader expresses to the leader of a foreign nation, that they will serve as a check on the Administration [for policies not favored by that foreign nation].

    We're exceptional when we act exceptional. We're not that way by some divine default.

  2. This ended up being a lot longer than I intended, but hey, I was on a roll...

    Personally, I think America's continued support of Israel and its historic support of Jews in general is almost entirely based upon religion, more specifically, the very large swath that fundamentalist/evangelical Christianity present in this nation. I think of Judah P. Benjamin and can't imagine another religious ultra-minority ever being given such positions of power trust anywhere outside our nation. I've yet to meet a Baptist who if you asked him something about Israel or the Jews didn't use the phrase "God's chosen people" very early in the conversation. (Well, of the southern stripe, I don't know that I've ever met a northern one). Same goes for Pentecostals and the like. They drilled that into us on day one of Sunday school. To them, Israel is pretty much right even when they're wrong. Arguments about the rightness or wrongness of what land Israel possesses are downright beside the point. They might be good for intellectual exercise, but it seems to always come back to our belief that God gave them that land, said He would scatter them to the winds, and that one day He would bring them back. Whatever the Palestinians grievances are, it doesn't matter- God tied the Jews to that land and its not even theirs to give away. What happened to Rabin and Sharon has only reinforced that feeling for most. Well, people I've been around, anyway. A relative used to say that we don't have to let Israel have its way with everything, but we had better not ever do them wrong. God seems to get even with them that do. More than once I've heard it expressed that the miracle of the United States occurred in part so Israel might have a protector. The older I get, the more I think there might be something to it.

    Honestly, I've never really bought into the whole notion that Israel is just a miniature reflection of us. They think a lot more of socialism than we do, and if the threat of destruction disappeared tomorrow, I tend to think they'd become a lot more like Europe in their outlook and behavior. Which is to say, they're probably buddies with us more out of necessity than personal preference. I also don't really care. If they are what the Bible tells us they are, then its my duty to support them.

    A corollary to that is, it certainly doesn't hurt Israel's case that their primary opponents are a psychotic death-cult that celebrates suicide bombers that slaughter innocents in the street. Israel doesn't need propaganda in the US, the Palestinians write all of it for them. When a party is pulling that kind of crap, Americans find it hard not to side with the other guys.

  3. Cowboy Curtis- very true indeed!

  4. Being pro-Israel ought to be reflexive throughout the world, especially in Christendom, the community of those grafted into the Vine. From the Jews we have the idea of the God who is, was, and shall be; the God who condescends to come down down in the midst of man and dwell with them; the God of khesed, which is at the core of Christianity. If there's no Israel, there's no Christianity which is but the profoundly messianic branch of Judaism.

    When we argue Israel's case, we also argue ours. If Israel did not exist, if the Jews had never been given the land, if there was no Jesus (a Jew and not the Puerto Rican dude), then there is no salvation and eternal life.

    In standing with Israel we stand with and for the God who makes promises that are ever faithful and ever sure.

    What Jews ought to start doing is claiming Christendom, and they'd be right to. After all, we were not called Christians until Antioch, which was some many years after Jesus' death and resurrection. Without Antioch, we'd be called Jews. So, if the Jews claimed Christians, suddenly, instead of a few million Jews in Israel and throughout the Diaspora, there'd be about 3 billion or so and climbing.

    Let's hear the Muslims top that.

  5. @Cowboy Curtis and Juba Doobai!

    Great posts both of you, I think you both really nailed my beliefs on the matter. What really scares me is the growing 'social justice' movement in today's church. A little over a year ago I went to an event put on by Youth With a Mission (YWAM), showing a video about why Christians should be supporting Palestine instead of Israel. I was absolutely shocked. The video was more of a case for why Christians should pay more attention to the moral relativism of the United Nations and International Law than they should the word of God. Glad to see there are still some out there who still get it.

  6. VHF, fight the social justice movement in the church with all your might. It strips Christ from Christianity, removes Judaism as our foundation until we are a faith without salvation, no different from the Muslims. With SJM, you get the nonsense that Obama dishes out that the salvation of one depends on the salvation of all, or some such drivel. The SJM is essentially the Islamicization of the church, and that takes us back to the Nazis. Christians should be taught always to ask for mercy and never for justice. Why? When we ask for mercy, God gives us what we don't deserve. When we ask for justice, we should pray that God doesn't give us what we deserve.