Critical DisBelief

When certainty becomes uncertain…

Israel and the US: A Damaging Partnership?

After the 2nd World War the allied powers, led by Britain effectively handed a small movement a small strip of land in the Middle East known until then as Palestine. This movement had lobbied for decades to find a homeland for Jews who were experiencing persecution in Europe and around the world. When the ugly truth of the Holocaust emerged and the war was won, the allies decided it was the least they could do and the nation of Israel was formed and officially recognised in the 1940’s.

Mass migration of Jewish people from all over the world resulted in a rapid imbalance of ethnicity in the new state of Israel which, for thousands of years, had been almost exclusively Arab. A small collection of primitive people, historically ruled by the Ottoman empire and with no self-government, suddenly found foreigners with money streaming in, buying up land, building, organising and forming a new society with Western aid and western ideals. Today the modern state of Israel is arguably the best, if not the only, working democracy in the region. Living standards are high, health is good, the economy is as stable as can be expected. Israel has everything. Everything except Peace.

Although Israel enjoys unconditional support of the US and many European governments, none of it’s neighbours seem to like it. Aside from periods in history when Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and even Iraq attacked it (and got beaten), it’s own inhabitants, the Palestinians, are against it’s agenda. Particularly in Gaza an ongoing, sporadic war including missile attacks is waged against Israel which is basically a civil war since Gaza is technically part of Israel.

Israel, mainly because of western support and cleverness, is a strong military force and can defend itself against all its neighbours and even against terrorist/liberationist attacks from its own people. But Israel is losing the sympathy of the world. Basic rights affirmed by the UDHC and enjoyed by Israel during its own formation (protection, self-government, free movement) are denied to the Palestinians by Israel’s government. Any UN resolutions in support of Palestine and not favoured by Israel are systematically, even predictably, vetoed by the US.

The following debate proposes that the cosy relationship between the US and Israel is detrimental not only to the Palestinians but to the US and to Israel itself. This not least because the Israeli-US partnership is disendearing them both to the rest of the world and blocking the peace process. The question is, how much popular support of the Palestinian plight is necessary before it reaches political ranks? It seems to me at the moment that American politics in particular favours the rich, not the majority. America is less of a democracy and more of a plutocracy and Obama doesn’t seem to be able to steer the ship on a different course (though he promised he would).

It is this observation, that money rules the US and not people, that should remind us that the following argument, made by the pro-Israel side in the above debate, is flawed: Jews make up only 2% of America and therefore have not the power to unduly influence political decisions. The question in America which decides issues is not number of people, nor (any more) the number of votes, but lobby power. The Israel lobby is very powerful and includes, as key proponents, nearly most conservative evangelical Christians. Christian Zionism is alive and kicking in America and about 30% Americans go to Evangelical Churches and hear that “God will bless those who bless Israel” (misquoting Genesis 12 and missing the point[1]).

I’m going to adapt the type of inclusive language Brian McClaren pioneered and say: let’s be pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian. Let’s be for both these people’s needs. Let’s be neither pro-Hamas nor pro-Zionism nor any other -ism but for the people on the ground who nearly all want peace not conquest. As usual, it is the rulers, who seek power and strategic military footholds, who are working against peace and for conquest. Against Love and for Violence.

____________________________________

[1] In the Genesis tale, God speaks the following promise:

I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.

Note, this is spoken to the shepherd Abraham and not to modern-day Israel or it’s government nor to Zionism. The intent of this passage is that the descendants of Abraham and his grandson Israel (and the resulting nation) would bring blessing to all people on Earth!

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