Saturday, March 5, 2011

Big Mean Israel

Women of the Israeli Defense Forces. Courtesy IDF, Copyright 2008.

In 2008, a staggering number of Catholics and Jews voted for Barack Obama. I don’t feel like looking up the numbers and I’m not getting paid for this, so I won’t. But rest assured it was a lot.

I will tackle Catholics on another day, and since I am a Catholic, I will not go easy on us. Today I address the issue of our spiritual progenitors, the Hebrews.

I can’t speak for Jews, although I can speak to them, as Rudy Giuliani did recently when he visited Israel and, as he related in his interview with Sean Hannity a couple days ago, said to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “You must be the first Israeli prime minister in history who is not absolutely certain he has the support of the president of the United States.” Netanyahu did not reply, Giuliani hypothesized for diplomatic reasons.

I have met many secular pro-Palestinian Jews in the U.S. They freak me out. Fortunately – and obviously – most of their Middle Eastern brethren feel very differently. As military service is compulsory in Israel, every citizen walking the streets of Jerusalem or Caesarea feels a personal sense of responsibility for the safety and continued existence of their country. The woman standing in front of you in a Tel Aviv Starbuck’s knows how to krav maga you to the ground and handle an Uzi. The Israeli Defense Forces, or IDF, is known around the world as a formidable force, second only to the United States military, and even that is arguably more about size than strength.

What Israel has is something we are sorely missing in the United States. I am not advocating for the draft necessarily, although I understand that Israel, a nation that could fit inside North Texas yet is surrounded by countries dedicated passionately to its destruction, may not have much of a choice. No, I am not lamenting the lack of mandatory armed forces training in our country, but I do regret that the people of the United States do not have the same personal sense of responsibility for the integrity of their country felt by the Israelis.

Americans are soft. We sit around in dive bars with our ironic beards, playing with iPhone apps and repeating what we just heard on “The Daily Show” about how Palin is dumb and Bush is evil and war is bad mmkay while we drink our faggy European beer. If there were a draft, I would heartily suggest it be restricted to only those guys, the Stella Artois-swigging Whole Foods shoppers who know nothing of the ancient and rather tired origins of the "progressive" ideologies they espouse, or the bloody, genocidal, and terribly recent history of the Fascist Left.

Not pictured: Christian, Republican, or conservative.

As for Israel, many American Jews engage in the same kind of armchair strategizing about what Israel should and should not be doing about Palestine, Gaza, Hamas, Hezbollah, et. al., as their non-Jewish counterparts. I find it upsetting. Just as I feel we should let the fighting men, not the sociological activists, decide whether or not to allow gays in the military, and the American people, not the courts, decide on abortion law, we should let Israel decide what Israel needs to do, and then we should back them up. If this sounds extreme, well, first of all, I don’t care, and second of all, maybe I can explain.

Whether you personally, reader, are a Christian or not, you are still a product of a culture, a history, and a nation that was born out of what used to be called, with fierce pride and terrible love, Christendom. The United States is based on a document most of us have never read in toto called the Constitution, which is based inarguably on Judeo-Christian morals. Your beliefs, reader, are based in no small part on Judeo-Christian morals, whether you like it or not.  (I’m not gonna get into a debate about the origins of morality. If you want to argue a Darwinian basis, that we condemn killing and raping and condone loving our families for the biological survival of the species, I’ll let you roll around in that mud puddle of lunacy in the comments.)

Christianity, and therefore America, was born out of Judaism. We have an eternal link. They’re not into Jesus being the Messiah, but other than that, we have a helluva lot in common. I remember being told by a Jewish convert to Catholicism that the first time she went to Mass, she was startled to find that it was “just like Temple, but with Jesus.”

Jews and Christians share a strong historical, cultural, and spiritual bond. One half of our Holy Bible is the Jewish Tanakh, or Written Torah. You can almost say we have half our religion in common, which is quite a bit. If it weren’t for the Hebrews, Christianity, Christendom, the West, would not exist. We owe them a great debt.
Since they gave us Jesus, we can forgive them for Bette Midler. Barely.

As a card-carrying member of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, I am undeniably biased towards Israel; my point is, so should you be.
Peter Kreeft makes a strong argument that the Jews’ claim to be the chosen people is in fact a humble one. Were they to claim that their remarkable history were based on their own merits or actions, we could condemn their hubris. But no, they say, God chose us for some reason. That’s the only explanation. Christians of course believe the Hebrews were chosen to bring forth the Son of Man Jesus Christ.
Israel exists, as we know, as a refuge for 20th century Jews who somehow survived the horror of the Socialist-Fascist-atheist genocide of the Nazis. It is also exactly where the Jews belong: the Holy Land. It was Jesus Christ the Jew who carried his cross down the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, which is marked and treated with respect by Jews to this day.

Israel is the keeper of the Holy Land for Jews and Christians alike, in fact for all the West, formerly known as Christendom. Our shared history is there. Were it to fall into the hands of Muslim terrorists, those sacred places where Christ and his Hebrew fathers and brothers walked, dined, and got all miraculous would be desecrated or, at the very least, placed in the hands of those who hold such history in contempt, and all that implies. I am not making this up or hypothesizing. I am not being “mean” in claiming Islam hates Christianity as well as Judaism and wants to destroy it all. This is them talking. Don’t kill the messenger.

There is a fundamental difference between Israel and the Muslim world. That difference is that Israel, one tiny nation, has never threatened to wipe Islam off the face of the earth or declared that all Muslims everywhere should die forever and ever. Meanwhile, Israel is surrounded by extremists who want to turn it into a smoking hole in the ground, which they will then, I’m assuming, fill with the bodies of women who talked to white men or had the gall to get raped.

Let’s say our country were a nation of sovereign states – as they once sort of were, but whatever – and suddenly all those rectangular states in the middle decided to pick on, I don’t know, let’s say Kansas.  If Oklahoma, Utah, Indiana, all those middle states you got mixed up in elementary school geography tests, declared their intention to wipe Kansas off the face of the earth, surrounded it so closely on all sides that it had four or five minutes to rally defense in case of attack, as Israel does, and proceeded to launch rockets at it and send suicide bombers into it and threaten it with nukes, Kansas would be justified in doing whatever they had to do to survive, up to and including nuking the living hell out of all the rectangular states that were trying to kill it. It is the right of a sovereign nation to defend itself.  A nation is made up of people who have the right to fight for their lives if attacked. It’s pretty simple, folks. But, like Chesterton said, moral issues are always very complicated, for those who have no morals.

(By the way, if you want to know if you have morals, go here. If you look at it and think anything other than, "That is wrong and should not be legal," then congratulations, you have no morals.)

Israel is our sister nation for many reasons. We have promised her she is. Reagan called Israel “our friend,” and you don’t treat a friend the way the current administration has treated Israel. I won’t go over the various put-downs of Israel made by Obama, Biden, and Clinton (oh my!) in the past three years. Google it or something. I will only say if our government, whether under Obama or anyone else, chooses to be anything but supportive of Israel, we are not only insulting a friend, but our own history, our own culture, and our own commitment to the sacred, moral right of a nation to use reasonable force to defend itself.

When you google "reasonable force," you get a lot of pepper spray photos.

Perhaps, as my friend who has visited Israel suggests, we should drop every Israel-bashing American, Jew or not, by parachute into Palestine or Libya or Syria or Iran. If they are lucky enough to get out, after their rape shower we can ask them again what they think of big, mean Israel, and all the poor Muslims.

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