The chosen nation Danger

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 11:30 AM

If you are still scratching your head, wondering why the U.S. invaded Iraq, the article below in yesterday's USA Today is a good place to start looking for an answer. My view is that Washington invaded Iraq so that the situation recounted below could continue undisturbed in Palestine. How so? Iraq and now Iran serve as gigantic diversion and distraction from the crux of the problem in the Middle East, which is Palestine. This is a long-standing issue.

It is impossible for Washington to address the crux of the problem, because politicians of both political parties are dependent upon the culprits who created the problem in the first place and who now perpetuate it. The occupant of the White House and members of Congress are dependent upon the Zionist nomenklatura in America for campaign funding and good PR. As a result, ExAmerica is now the client-state of Israel. Washington's politicians are suborned. This marks the endstation of the Republic of 1789.

The outrages in Ramallah, which amazed the writer, have been happening for decades. News of the injustice has been suppressed and ignored. Congress and the White House continue to support the status quo, send more foreign aid to Tel Aviv, and take its cue on Mideast policy. Why would they do that? Do you think the political leaders in Washington are so stupid, or so ignorant that they do not understand what is happening? Why invade Iraq, after it had been pauperized by a decade of U.S.-imposed economic sanctions? Why concoct a story about "weapons of mass destruction" when Iraq had disarmed years ago? These actions were authorized by those in authority seeking to gain something for their execution.
The danger of a 'chosen' nation

Israel holds a sacred place in the words of the Old Testament. But does Christian doctrine give that country a free pass at the expense of peace in the Middle East?

Oliver "Buzz" Thomas / USA Today / February 12th, 2007

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was nobody's fool. Born before Darwin and the age of modern science, Wesley was prescient enough to temper church tradition and the teachings of Scripture with reason and experience. Twenty-first century Christians would be wise to do the same.

I say that because some of our religious doctrines may be getting us into trouble. Evangelical Christian Jimmy Carter reminds us of one such doctrine with the publication of his controversial new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. It is the persistent notion (particularly among evangelicals) that because Israel was God's chosen nation in the Old Testament, America should turn a blind eye to her shortcomings today.

Many Americans fear that to be on the wrong side of Israel is to be on the wrong side of God, and nobody wants to do that. Especially if Armageddon is looming. (Some Christians derive this deep-seated, though unwarranted, fear from the Book of Revelation, in which Christ and his heavenly army defeat the Anti-christ and his Satanic forces on the Plain of Megiddo in northern Israel. Israel appears in the book symbolically as the home of God's people in the same way that Babylon appears as the representative of Rome and the enemies of God. Neither reference was meant to be taken literally.)

Christians, of course, lay claim to a new covenant with God. We believe it is one that supplants the old covenant and offers love and forgiveness to all people regardless of politics or national origin. In New Testament theology, the church is the new Israel. It is God's primary vehicle for mediating grace to the world. More important, it is the poor and downtrodden (the "least of these," as Jesus called them) who lay claim to the title of God's chosen people. See the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25.

Carter, arguably America's finest example of Christian citizenship and our only president to enjoy major success in the Middle East, is nudging us away from our obsession with the Iraq war to a more global perspective on the conflict that threatens the entire region. At the heart of the problem, of course, lies the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians who were displaced in the 1940s to make room for the new Jewish state. Although some land was reserved for the Palestinians,  Israel seized most of that during the Six-Day War of 1967. Although most of Gaza has been returned, the majority of the West Bank is still under Israeli administration.

Carter suggests that until we resolve this land dispute, we stand little chance of creating a lasting peace. Even then, we will have a long and difficult struggle against the jihadists of radical Islam, but only then will we have a chance of attracting the moderate Arab support so critical to winning the war on terror.

What must occur

So, how do we do it? First, by pressing Israel to withdraw from most of the West Bank. President Clinton nearly accomplished that by working with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. For reasons that will never be entirely clear, Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat blinked and failed to seize upon the best Israeli offer in years. The question for Americans is: How do we now reapply pressure to both sides?

I visited the West Bank City of Ramallah shortly after Israel began building its so-called security fence separating Israel from the Palestinian territories. I had been invited by a group of prominent Israeli and Palestinian women (including several members of the Israeli legislature) who are part of the Global Peace Initiative of Women. Although I had ministered in the roughest parts of New Orleans, what I saw in Ramallah shocked me. It looked like Berlin after World War II. As I listened to the stories of the Palestinian women gathered at our hotel, the pro-Israel lens through which I had always viewed the Middle East grew clouded. There were stories of the houses and olive orchards that had been bulldozed to make room for the new wall and of the hundreds of checkpoints that kept law-abiding Palestinians from getting to their jobs or to and from school. I watched as a young Israeli soldier harassed an elderly man who was trying to get his donkey cart through one checkpoint. I wanted to throw up.

One story in particular stood out, probably because the young woman who told it reminded me of my own daughters. The woman, in her early 20s, had recently graduated from Birzeit University and moved to Ramallah to pursue a career in accounting. Days before my arrival, she had come home to find Israeli soldiers occupying her apartment building. They told her that a suspected terrorist lived in the building and she would not be allowed back inside. Despite her protestations and pleas (finally just to retrieve her personal effects and pictures of her dead father), the four-story building was destroyed. Her furniture, clothing, even her accounting license, were gone.

"I am young," she said, "and I will recover. But for my landlord and his eight children, this building was the only thing they had. Now, they have no choice but to go to the camps." As I lay in my bed that night, I thought of those eight children and their parents now living in a tent. Even if the Israelis had caught the suspect, someday there very well may be eight young recruits to take his place. Like our ill-fated war in Iraq, Israeli policy seems to create more terrorists than it destroys. We turned our former Nazi enemies into friends by helping rebuild their war-ravaged nation. Palestinian roads, hospitals and schools have been destroyed. Would we not be wise to try the same strategy with them?

Hopes for a moderate Mideast

The degradation of Palestinian territory is not the biggest challenge facing us. Neither is Israeli intransigence. Even such a fierce advocate for Israel's security as Ariel Sharon saw the folly of permanent occupation of Palestinian lands. Palestinian society itself is in shambles. It has no statesmen. No Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela. Steeped in a legacy of kickbacks and corruption, Arafat's Fatah Party is locked in a death struggle with Hamas over who will lead the Palestinian people. Hamas claims to have avoided the stain of corruption but is infected with the cancer of radical Islam — an ideology as hate-filled and anti-Semitic as any on earth. The struggle between these two may be entirely beyond our control, but Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the institution of a mini-Marshall Plan in its wake are not. Both would strengthen the hand of more moderate elements in the Arab world and bolster our standing in the war on terror.

If God is on anyone's side in this mess, he's on everyone's side. Yes, he is moved to compassion for the jittery Israeli soldier who fears the next person through his checkpoint may be wearing a bomb. But if the New Testament is correct, he is even more heartbroken by the callous treatment of the Palestinians. "In so much as you did it to the least of these," Jesus said, "you did it to me." The wretched poor, squatting in the rocks and refugee camps, are God's chosen people, too. It's time we follow John Wesley's advice and start viewing them as such.

Oliver "Buzz" Thomas is a minister, lawyer and author of an upcoming book, 10 Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You (But Can't Because He Needs the Job).