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Originally published at Faith Seeking Understanding. You can comment here or there.

Conga-rats to the Palestinians on earning this recognition. It’s not statehood in the sense of a two-state solution. Basically, the main legal change is that the Palestinians can bring charges in international court. NBC has a decent roundtable about the political and legal challenges, and the woman discussing the Palestinian perspective here made some good points about the political side. I sincerely hope these changes show Palestinians that there is hope for diplomatic progress that sidesteps the U.S. if possible.

It seems odd for an American to want her country out of the loop, especially when we don’t have any troops in Palestine/Israel. (So this isn’t a “bring the troops home” position.) But the way I see it, the US position on this conflict is essentially corrupted. There are good reasons to condemn the Gaza Strip’s military attack, or to question whether any politician politician can adequately prevent this kind of thing. I also understand Israel’s concern about working with a political party (Hamas, in the Gaza Strip) that doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to existence. It’s a bit ludicrous to think that the weaponry the Palestinians possess is anywhere near a match for Israel, but let’s set that aside. My real point is that the Palestinians aren’t angels here. Neither side is.

Here’s the problem, though: there’s a small but vocal minority in the US who objects to Palestinian statehood for a very unrelated, and much less reasonable, reason. Some Christians believe that the blessing in Genesis, that God will bless whomever blesses Abraham, means giving preferential treatment to Israel. Some even think that gathering the Jews to Israel is a precondition for Armageddon, so we have some sort of religious obligation to oppose any peace process that will split Eretz Yisrael (the Promised Land of the Bible) into a Jewish and non-Jewish state. I don’t agree with their understanding of what it means to bless Abraham, since even in the Bible God’s “blessing” of Israel involved rebuking prophets and invading armies when Israel fell off the straight and narrow.

But even more to the point, theology has no place in the foreign relations of a secular state like ours. It’s wrong to use any group of people as a pawn in your end-times hopes, and it’s simply cruel to allow the Israelis to blockade Palestine the way they have. I get why the Palestinians are frustrated, and I’m glad they’ve just received a message from the world community that the US isn’t the only game in town anymore. I don’t know what long-term impact, if any, this will have on things. But it’s definitely some of the mos encouraging news I’ve heard in a long time.


Nov. 30th, 2012 12:11 pm (UTC)
I was pleased with the news as well. You are quite right--neither side is exactly the Good GuysTM.

The thing that has bothered me a great deal about Israel as a modern state and the actions that have been taken by its government for many years is an ironic and disturbing set of factors.

First of all, a state made up of people who suffered terribly from an oppressive regime is meting out many of the same sorts of oppressions to another people. This is related to my second concern.

You see, I have no problem with the idea that perhaps Israel remains God's chosen people--but to me that means He quite likely would hold them to a higher standard than those He has not chosen. I cannot see God as being terribly pleased with the behavior of His people, and it surprises me that they cannot seem to understand the irony of their actions.

As for our own government's position re: Israel, I think it is convoluted and contradictory, quite likely for many of the reasons you have stated. And you are right--theology should not be the guiding principal of the US. It is, as you point out, a secular state.

But to me, the idea of "not ticking off Israel" because of the "blessing" smacks more to me of superstition or of pop theology than of actual theology.

Nov. 30th, 2012 02:29 pm (UTC)
I think there are two questions that need to be asked: what do individual people actually think, how does this actually affect our international policy here? Regarding the first, I've been discussing things pretty much with anyone who posted something that was pro-Israel in an unnuanced way (which is a lot of people), and with pretty much all of them it was inconceivable that Israel had contributed to the situation or that her actions could be change to help things.

That's just your man on the street, but it poisons politics. Look at the debates, where the one thing Romney + Obama agreed on was that we had Israel's back if she came under attack (though at the time, it was attack from Iran. It's one of the few international policy position that a lot of people have an opinion on, and many of those people are a large voting bloc in a swing state (Florida), meaning calling someone a friend of Israel or anti-Israel is a powerful soundbite. And that has to impact the climate, especially when it looked like the US could shut down anything through the UN. Arab Christians I know in the Gaza Strip tell me how betrayed the people around them feel by America - there is a sense that you cannot negotiate where the referee is constantly going off by what awesome people the other guy is.

That's my $.02 at least.

Edited at 2012-11-30 03:29 pm (UTC)
Nov. 30th, 2012 03:30 pm (UTC)
Israel is our ally, so we should "have her back"--but that doesn't mean we have to condone all her actions! If Israel is our friend, we should be able to tell her a few hard truths for her own good.

But politicians don't think that way.
Nov. 30th, 2012 02:31 pm (UTC)
Btw, I didn't mean to come across as hopelessly anti-Israel. I'm not. Tel Aviv is one of the three most beautiful cities I've ever been to (after Munich and Florence) and I have a great deal of love for many Israelis. It just irks me a bit the way Americans (including American politicians) talk like they can do no wrong. That's not love - that's using them as a political tool.
Nov. 30th, 2012 03:27 pm (UTC)
You didn't sound anti-Israel to me; you sounded more like a logical and reasonable person who thinks that as a nation we should hold our allies up to a better standard of behavior (as we should ourselves) than our non-allies.

And I think a nation that claims to be Chosen by God should also hold itself to a higher standard of behavior as well or risk God's wrath. But maybe that's a little Old Testament of me. ;-)

Of course, to many of my neighbors, both you and I would sound anti-Israel just for the mere fact that we don't think Israel is perfect.
Nov. 30th, 2012 03:28 pm (UTC)
Heh. Well, I guess we heathens will have to stick together. Group hug? ;-)
Nov. 30th, 2012 03:30 pm (UTC)



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