Monday, May 19, 2003

Foreign Policy: Zionism and Racism

Yesterday in Washington, a group of self-proclaimed Jewish and Christian Zionists held a "leadership summit" to discuss the state of the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Several speakers commented on the source of Israel's legitimacy:

Gary Bauer, president of American Values and a Republican presidential contender in 2000, declared, "The land of Israel was originally owned by God. Since He was the owner, only He could give it away. And He gave it to the Jewish people."

And the last thing God wants is Muslims on His chosen people's land:

Calling the peace proposal "a Satanic road map," Earl Cox, executive producer and host of Front Page Jerusalem, a radio program, asked, "Do any of you believe [Palestinian leader] Yasser Arafat will embrace traditional family values? There will be a mosque on all the holy sites. How can anyone who's a Jew or a Christian support such a proposal?"

The sad thing about this is Israel doesn't need to resort to mysticism to defend its right to exist. It certainly can do without the overt bigotry. The Israelis have done a remarkable job over the sixty-plus years taking a barren wasteland and converting it into a modern state that lives according to quasi-Western values (there is still that slight problem separating synagogue and state.) Folks like Bauer do an enormous disservice by, in effect, dismissing Israel's right to exist as nothing more than shifty prophecy. The Bible is certainly a great and important cultural work of mankind, but it is not a land deed. And if mainstream Israeli society chooses to defends its right to exist on grounds of "God says it's ours," then the Palestinians will have been given an opening, however unearned, to seize the moral high ground.

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