I was listening to the radio yesterday and the topic of Israel was being discussed. President Obama made a speech the other day to the United Nations defending Israel and warning against the official recognition of a Palestinian State prior to the negotiation of a real peace between the two peoples.
President Obama eloquently stated that the Jews were subject to persecution and violence by its neighbors for many years and was entitled to defend itself. Particularly pointed was this:
“Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them.” (National Journal)
Obama has supported the creation of a Palestinian State. He stated that he wanted Israel to go back to the 1967 borders. But, he has always maintained that Israel must be fully recognized, and fully safe from the war, the terror and the hatred that has come its way for more than 60 years.
But, Republicans have been nothing but hyper critical of the President. They say, As Mitt Romney put it, the President threw Israel under the bus.” (CBS News) They have done this because the President has suggested, as all prior Presidents have as well, that Israel must come to the table prepared to give to get. The constant building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank area is antagonistic to the peace process, which I agree. As I observed last year on my trip to Israel, it was very strange to see high walls and barbed wire among a people who suffered so much during WWII at the hands of the Nazis. I understand why they do it, but still, it seems ironic to me to see that. I do not understand the building on the West Bank either, except that Israel has 8 million people crowded into a very small area.
This leads me to Rick Perry. He was in New York at the same time as Obama, meeting, coincidently, with Jewish leaders. As the foreign policy expert that he is, Perry stated, “that Obama’s Middle East policy was “naive, arrogant, misguided and dangerous.” (Reuters) but what is more interesting is that Perry also stated, “”As a Christian, I have a clear directive to support Israel. Both as an American and as a Christian, I am going to stand with Israel,”
I found this to be a very interesting statement and part of the gist of the radio show I heard. The Christian host was making the same argument while the Jewish host was questioning why Christians are compelled to support Israel. And while we know that the majority of the Arab world dislike or even hate Jews and Israel, we must also remember that the Christian world does not have a much better track record on the Jews.
In fact, one can make the case, that more Jews have been killed or displaced by Christians and Christian dogma than by all the Arab-Jewish conflicts over many years. Many Christian organizations turned a blind eye, including the Catholic Church, to the slaughter of Jews during WWII.
And I can personally attest to being called a “dirty Jew” as a kid by other children, who clearly learned that at home.
So it may seem a bit disingenuous for an Evangelical Christian, like Rick Perry to say he is pro-Israel as a Christian. Especially, because, as many Christians believe, the State of Israel’s creation is part of the end times chronology prior to the Second Coming.
Mormons also believe in the “Literal Gathering of Israel: prior to the Second Coming as well, but have a slightly better track record related to the Jews. Granted the Church is quite young historically compared to the rest of the Christian world, but Joseph Smith looked upon Jews as brothers and sisters and the restoration as the beginning of the gathering of the House of Israel, Judah and Joseph. There was never any suggestion that the Jews were “Christ Killers” or the Church possessed the same negative feeling toward Jews that Christians adopted. Also, the Church does not teach that the creation of the State of Israel is a direct fulfillment of Prophesy regarding the gathering of Israel. (Encyclopedia of Mormonism) While recognizing the importance of the creation of the State of Israel, the gathering of a few million Jews to Israel barely begins to address the spiritual and literal gathering of the House of Israel in its fullest sense.
So, are the Republicans right to criticize the president so strongly for his position on Israel? Is President Obama not a stanch ally of the Israel in spite of some of his own criticism of Israel’s leaders? Does being a Christian make you supporter of Israel for the right reasons? Can there ever be peace in the Middle East?
What do you think?