America and Israel Must Stand Strong – American Christians, Thanks for Having Our Back

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Just spoke with a Christian friend from Florida. While discussing current news, the conversation turned to Israel, and my friend said something to the effect that, “If the U.S. turns its back on Israel, this country’s best days are behind it.”

He espoused a perspective I’ve heard numerous times from believing Christian Americans, including John Hagee, the Antonio, Texas-based pastor whose “Night to Honor Israel” has become a national craze (for decades, he has organized joyful rallies of Christians in cities across the U.S. in support of Israel).  The perspective is: when you examine history, the regimes and civilizations that attacked the Jews have fallen into history’s garbage heap (ancient Egypt, Greek Empire, Roman Empire, the Babylonians, the Nazis) and those that have respected and even defended the Jews (I can’t think of any at the moment), have prospered. (Actually, I do recall there was a golden age in Spain during which Jews, Christians, and Muslims all lived together in relative harmony for several hundred years. The fact that this period was known as the Golden Age suggests it was indeed a prosperous and peaceful time.)

I’m not sure if the Support the Jews/Live Long and Prosper theory holds 100 percent, but the point is, Christian-Americans support Israel. And Israelis and Diaspora Jews need their support as we face a challenging time. For the record, this Jewish-American patriot and Zionist has deep gratitude to my fellow Americans who support Israel’s right to self-defense, among whom Christians number heavily. My deepest thanks. I’ve got your back, too, which is why I am trying to do my small part in writing on this subject.

Sad to observe, some Jews remain mistrustful of Christian support for Israel. I understand that some of the reasons for this distrust are rooted in tragic abuses that took place in the past. But at this point, such distrust seems to me unfair, and frankly, a little weird, given that no other bloc of people in the world seem to “get it” that Israel has the right to self-defense. It’s sort of like a kid getting bullied by the entire class making excuses for the bullies and even trying to appease them but being most suspicious of the one kid who is decent and brave enough to stand by him and not go along with the crowd, because in the past, when that kid was less mature, he had also shown some hostility. I guess when you think of it that way, it is understandable, if sad: it’s like, towards people who make no mistake of their enmity, we Jews keep entertaining illusions–that they don’t really hate us, they will leave us alone if we just keep giving them our lunch money [read: land] and maybe they deserve it because they are poor and from an abusive family, etc., as if giving them our lunch money [land] would ever, in and of itself without changes on their part, solve their problems, anyway (it won’t).

But it is the kid who is nice to us and even shows courage in our defense for whom we reserve our disdain, perhaps because his decency gives us hope, and prompts us to realize something painful. It is like, his decency highlights the indecency of the others, and reminds us that we do not need to accept prejudice and scapegoating as our lot if we show courage and stand up for ourselves on the world stage. Yet doing that would require that we change our historical pattern, from noble victims to people who can defend themselves. This transition is extremely daunting; though Israelis have begun the process courageously, it is as if there remains embedded in the Jewish psyche this old pattern in which we would rather be–I hate to write it–victims, because perhaps painful as that role is, it is familiar. Also, if we fail to take action in our own defense, whether militarily, legally, or intellectually, we can’t be as easily condemned or judged. And perhaps most of all, if we don’t fight for our survival, then perhaps we somehow don’t risk as painful and devastating a defeat. Similarly, if we try to stay quiet, under the radar, and are not vocal in standing up for ourselves and for Israel, maybe we won’t be lumped in with those troublesome Israelis, maybe we won’t be targeted this time (or so the subconscious thinking goes).

Maybe I am oversimplifying. But another factor in this mistrust of Christian support for Israel may be honest skepticism about it. Again because of the victim/outsider pattern, we don’t trust this support because we fear it will be withdrawn when the going gets tough. It may be easier to deal with the enemy who has revealed himself and made no bones about his enmity than to risk the greater shock and pain of betrayal by a friend. It’s true enough that such betrayal can be devastating, because one is vulnerable to one’s friends in a way one is not vulnerable to one’s enemies.

I once heard the pundit and columnist Dennis Prager address such concern, when someone postulated to him that Christian supporters of Israel were not supportive of the real, contemporary Israel, full of secular as well as religious people, but in love with a Biblical ideal and following a religious script that had little to do with the reality of Israel today. This person argued that as such, Christian support for Israel could easily evaporate or even turn to enmity one day. Prager responded that (here I am paraphrasing), “Whose support would you rather have? The person who supports you because, given the current events, and his mood, and current inclination, he feels positive about Israel, or the person whose fundamental, core religious beliefs tell him that his support for Israel must remain solid? Whose support is likely to be more constant, the person who supports you because his present judgment, which could easily change, leads him to do so, or the person whose worldview honors commitment, and dictates that supporting Israel is a core belief?”

Just some thoughts.

This entry was written by and posted on June 16, 2010 at 1:16 am and filed under Blog.