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The US needs Israel

by on June 2, 2011

Last week I was asked an unusually difficult question.  ‘Please break down the Israel vs. Palestine conflict for someone not very knowledgeable about the subject.’  While I am adequate and answering questions and have a decent ability to teach, or educate, people, this question was just a bit broad for me.  Where  do I begin?  I had to ask for a prompt; I had to know what was known before I could expand on the unknown.

The knowledge of the person asking this difficult question sounds pretty generic.

“I know that Israel is one of our strongest allies. I know we provide a lot of money. I know it’s about land that both sides claim to be theirs dating back as long as anyone can remember. I know the peace process has been on going but hasn’t really seemed to have accomplished much since it’s still an issue. Christians seem to not care for the Jewish people but are committed to supporting Israel. I sense that support of the Palestine view is not popular.”

As is my wont, I took time and thought to respond. There are thousands of ways to approach the question of The Conflict, and many different ways to approach why we provide money, whether land claims are accurate, what’s going on in the interminable peace process, and how Christians view the matter. I responded:

“Netanyahu said last week ‘the US needs Israel.’ He didn’t say that Israel needs the US, but that the US needs Israel. The Israeli right, including the American Zionists who develop policy for Israel, believe that the US can’t do without Israel.
They could mean one of two things, and I think they mean both. They mean that we need Israel as an ally in the Middle East (as if anything else has been suggested!); they also mean that Israel must exist as a state. They cannot fathom, and do not want to fathom, a map of the Middle East that is not essentially the Balfour Declaration + drawing lines in the sand + independence of Israel + 1967. They want the world to be immutable and cannot fathom change. The change they cannot imagine would be another declaration and another line in the sand, and the revocation of 1967. And by they, I mean the Israeli right and the American right.
The peace process is still going on. It is the great misfortune of those who seek peace that a liberal, peace-seeking, Israeli-government dissolved into a conservative, defensive, government just at the time that America elected a leader who had plans to work out the differences in the Middle East. Personally, the strength of the Israeli right (including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) discourages me. I would suggest reading “Our Last Best Chance,” by King Abdullah II of Jordan. He’s been a go-between for the peace process for about twelve years, and his father was for fifty years before that.
I can’t speak for the Christian perception of the peace process and for Israeli support. I can’t even speak much about whether they care for Jews; I am mostly with liberal and/or educated people, who do not judge first by religion. I would hazard a guess, though, that support (or lack of support) for Palestine, is based on news coverage. We hear often about rockets hitting Israel. Rockets don’t often hit Palestine, but the oppression there is constant and quiet. We don’t hear about constant, quiet, suffering in the news. Support for Palestine is often based on news, which includes out own interest in multiple sources and awareness of the situation of others.”

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One Comment
  1. Sheryl permalink

    Sometimes inspiration for writing comes from unexpected places

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