By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired
I was talking to a man a while back and in the course of the conversation he mentioned he had visited Israel recently.
“Oh, are you Jewish?” I asked
“No I’m Christian.” He replied.
I asked him if he visited Gaza or the Occupied Territories while he was there. He was somewhat stunned about Gaza and I don’t think he was quite sure where it was other than it was a place run by a terrorist group. As for the Occupied Territories he wasn’t really interested in that either. I tried to engage him a little about the Palestinians, the destruction of their homes, theft of their land and what amounts to ethnic cleansing but it was clear he knew next to nothing about them except they were out to destroy Israel and wasn’t interested in finding out more.
“As a Christian I am born again and I went there on a pilgrimage” he told me.
I was thinking about this more after reading Glenn Greenwald’s piece on religious fanaticism, not Muslim Fundamentalists like the Taliban or theocratic states like Iran, Saudi Arabia or Pakistan but religious fanaticism in the US.
Greenwald refers to a Bloomberg poll’s findings that “Almost half of all Americans want to support Israel even if its interests diverge from the interests of their own country.” As Jews are a tiny minority in US society, 1.4% in Greenwald’s piece or 1.7% according to the CIA World Factbook, it’s obviously not US Jews that are the major part of the 50% of Americans whose first loyalty lies with another country, in this case Israel. One could only imagine the furor if the country were Iran or Libya, one could end up in Guantanamo.
The real power behind the fanatical support for Israel is Evangelicals like the man above. They believe that a supernatural being gave this land to Jews and that the Christian god will return there after the conflict that they see there now. When this god does return, the Jews that don't convert to Christianity are doomed or something like that, rot in hell, burn somewhere or other such nasty punishment. This doesn't bother the Jewish Zionists too much as they don't believe it anyway. Jews have received their share of Christian nastiness for rejecting Jesus as the Messiah. In this instance, as inhabitants of a European colonial settler state, they will use the Christian Zionists and particularly the American ones for monetary, political and military support that the US government provides. As we know, Congress is full of rich people most of them never having earned a living through wage labor. Alongside these are a number of wealthy right wing Christian religious fanatics, the US version of the Taliban or Iranian Mullahs.
US Imperialism’s support of Israel has nothing to do with a love of Jews or Democracy, just the opposite, Jewish capitalists are the Gentile US bourgeois’ competitors. The US ruling class’ support for Israel has to do with politics and economics. It was the first British governor of Jerusalem that referred to the creation of a Jewish state as “Our loyal little Ulster in the Middle East” after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Western imperialism needed a foothold in the region and the Zionists are the most reliable force for US domination and plunder of the region’s resources, namely oil. The sheer numbers and revolutionary potential of the Arab masses ensure the instability of the despotic regimes throughout the Arab world as the Arab Spring showed and, in the last analysis, even the heavily US armed Saudi royal family cannot be relied upon to defend US capitalism’s interests.
The Bloomberg poll is quite staggering when one thinks about it. Imagine such a huge section of the US population openly stating this about any other country. Many Jewish and other intellectuals and leftists were persecuted for their support of the Russian Revolution, questioned about their loyalty Evangelicals are much more dangerous as they are Christians and they have political representatives, in some ways it could be said they are a major wing of one of the two leading US political parties. It’s a disturbing thought.
This also stresses the extremely reactionary nature of religious views. Despite talk of cooperation and tolerance, organized religion is inherently divisive and harmful to human progress. Every believer accepts their god as “divine” and all others as man made. The idea that all nations were created by humans except for Israel which was created by god is a concept that cannot be debated in a rational way. How can a mere mortal compete with the creator of the universe and every living thing in it? If they believe this nonsense they believe it and that’s a psychological problem.
Both Jews and Christians believe this mind you as both religions believe in ancient Judeo/ Christian mythology and the tale that Jews are the chosen people, chosen to defend the Holy Land until, for Christians, Jesus returns. After that, Jews are sort of up the creek without paddle, but there’s no point trying to make sense of it. Jewish Zionists as I say have different motives than the Christian ones.
The other thing about basing one’s actions and understanding of events on a belief in Christian or any other mythology is that it is totally irresponsible. It frees the individual from responsibility is what it does. It allows murder, mayhem, racism and human misery to continue unabated; it is disgusting that someone can go to Israel and not attempt to see the plight of Palestinians. It gives the oppressor free rein. Most importantly, it throws a blanket over the truth, obscures the causes of events and how the world around us works. Its great attraction is its appeal to the selfish, individualistic personality.
I understand that a personal spiritual belief in a supreme being can give a person the strength to act, to involve themselves in the world around them, encourage them to understand it and the courage to fight to change it. But that’s different. For “blind faith” and there is much of that, it is also irresponsible in that it denies our children a future; it contributes to the slide in to global catastrophe as capitalism destroys our environment threatening life as we know it. It’s a disgustingly selfish way of looking at the world.
As far as the Christian Zionist view that Jews of any nationality have the right to settle there and ethnically cleanse the area of the indigenous Palestinians through land theft and destruction of their farms and homes, all based on the word of some supernatural force, I am sure that argument would go down too well here in the US if the Native Americans were applying it; and it seems to me using their logic that the Native people would be justified.