Tuesday, June 06, 2006

““If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem …”” - theTrumpet.com

This article gives us an interesting view of the State of Israel, and the attitude of it people, in its ongoing struggle for existence. It reminds us that Muslim aspirations to eradicate Israel are real.

Is this any business of the United States? Are calls to pull out of Iraq related in any way? What for, to hasten Israel's demise? Or to push us closer to Armageddon?

Or is God waiting for us all to show Him more deference, so that His way can prevail?

7 comments:

  1. This article gives us an interesting view of the State of Israel, and the attitude of it people, in its ongoing struggle for existence. It reminds us that Muslim aspirations to eradicate Israel are real.

    Is this any business of the United States? Are calls to pull out of Iraq related in any way? What for, to hasten Israel's demise? Or to push us closer to Armageddon?

    Or is God waiting for us all to show Him more deference, so that His way can prevail?

    __________________________
    There are several questions to be answered here. One is, "Is it any of America's business". The answer is yes. Israel is America's friend. Strategists like to think of themselves as cold-blooded computers manipulating the balance of power on the basis of pure logic. But the American people don't think like that and the American Government has to take account of public opinion. Even cold-blooded strategists don't really think like that as I have very good reason to know(try and figure out the riddle in that last sentance).
    It is however, a misconception that the American government's policy to date has been to support Israel. America's policy has been to support what it called "Moderate States", which roughly means states that aren't regarded as doing irritating things. Israel was one of the Moderate States, and because of sentiment and self interest was regarded as one of the most trustworthy. However Turkey, Egypt, and the few dynastic states left were also courted. Israel certainly did use America. But America also used Israel.
    This strategy was overcriticized-it was at the least, a virtuoso of diplomatic technique. It also partly succeeded in it's objective-it removed the Russians from the region, and by the link to Afghanistan, helped trigger the fall of the Soviet Empire. In the Strangeloveian economics of power politics, one might say that it wasn't a bad trade and Germany and Poland at least have reason to be grateful(Poland is, Germany isn't).
    Also a good reply to, "is it any of America's business" is simply that that comes with being a Great Power. Either we are going to be a great power or we are going to be a gigantic Switzerland. While the second alternative is really more attractive, there is no one left to replace us, and we will have started another "warring states" period that will ultimatly touch us. In any case our enemies will never let us off easy if we try to "Switzerize" ourselves, so we would lose both ways.
    As for the Israelis I have several things to say. First Zionism, isn't just a "Balkan" style nationalist movement(regain lands, avenge wrongs). That element exists. The Jews are not free from the barbarous practice of tribal grudges-some mistake that for the soul of Judaism. However one thing that makes the Jews different is they don't act on those grudges. Zionism's chief doctrine is survival. Israel regards itself largely as a refuge from persecution and an advocate for Jews. One of the most humiliating things about the Holocaust to Zionists was the fact that there were so few "united 93" mutinys, and they believe "never again" means "it won't be so easy next time". In fact a considerable number of Orthodox Jews believe that thinking human effort can restore Israel to it's land is impudant.
    Israel doesn't think of war and statecraft in religious terms. She thinks in rather pragmatic terms. In a way they resemble early Romans. Withdrawing is not necessarily a sign of fear. It is to a large degree simply setting up on the most defensible line.
    Israelis also resemble Americans a lot. They are fiercer and more warlike-because they have been continueally at war through all their history. But they have the same traits of waffleing between extremes of idealism and pragmetism. They find fighting Palestinians rather embarrassing. In effect their enemies weakness makes them stronger by planting guilt. The guilt is overplayed-ones' enemies weakness doesn't necessarily make his cause more or less virtuous. Nontheless the chivalry of the IDF, "Purity of Arms" is part of their national myth. And in fact Israel's record is better then both America's and Britain's, with more trying circumstances. Unfortunatly Purity of Arms is less easy in such cases as the Intifada. As to the Israeli people losing their will, that would take quite a while, and is unpredictable. One author,David Horowitz, said that it might actually be that the withdraws helped the Israeli morale-by satisfying the people of Israel that they had conceeded all they could reasonably be expected to.
    Also it might be noted that the withdraw was very painful for Israel. I have read many Jews and sympathisers on the website includeing some from Israel, and they are very uptight about it. Only so much can be made of it. Israel has a tradition of "loud" politics. In America "moderate" means "sensible fellow". In Israel it means "sellout". However the different factions had to learn to get along during the Mandate, when civil war was impractical because of the British presense(the Mandate is overcriticized-it was the only solution available and there wouldn't be any civilization anywhere in the Middle East without it). The pressure of war continued to force the Israeli factions to get along.
    As for whether the calls to leave Iraq are related the answer is yes-but only because so many associate the Middle East and the Arab-Israeli. In fact this is only one conflict and not the worst. More then one writer I read said that Arab rulers use it to prevent disorder among themselves. In other words when a dictator makes an idiotic speech he may be mad but he may know exactly what he is doing. The trouble is that when he sows the wind the next generation is likly to reap the whirlwind.
    Israelis are in fact of two minds about Iraq. There is some belief that a friendly Arab state is impossible but a decent Arab army just might be created. Iraqi troops have generally made a poor showing. They were generally sent to the Arab-Israeli wars only out of "comradeship", made a nuisance of themselves to the other Arabs and ended up getting run over by the Israelis. So saying Iraq is for the Israelis is false.
    One final point is that to many Evangelicals say that the State of Israel is a sign of the end times. No one should be hasty about such things. The Maccabean state wasn't, although I am sure a lot of Jews thougt it was. The Jews are God's chosen people. It doesn't follow that the State of Israel is God's chosen State. Israel is a human state with good qualities and bad. There are at least an equal number of Jews in America-who are also God's chosen people. Eschatology is a uncertain study, and so many mistakes have been made that one must always leave oneself an out. After all they thought Napolean was the antichrist, and they thought the same of Mussolini(actually Napolean made a pretty convincing antichrist-but Musolini?).
    We cannot mold our actions to speculations about the end-times. We must mold our actions to what was actually commanded; do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before your God.
    This has no affect on our opinion of Israel-the interests of America and Israel do not clash. But suppose they do in the future? Who do we support? Suppose Israel does become the devouring "Jewish Mordor" that propaganda paints it to be? History has done strange things. Do we continue to support Israel then. Or do we regretfully say, "no more"? Obviously we should do the second. If nothing else we can say it has become like King Ahab's Israel, and therefore the real Chosen People are still in America. We would be cursing Ahab, not Abraham. But what if we feel ourselves bound by eschatology to support it unquestionably. This is theoretical at the momment-whatever Israel has done, it is not a "Jewish Mordor" at this time. But it is a warning that the definite command from scripture comes before the vague.

    Sir Jason, the Longwinded

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  2. Sir Jason said..."In America "moderate" means "sensible fellow". In Israel it means "sellout"."

    It appears to me that the term 'moderate' in America is coming to mean the same thing as in Israel. While their backers see John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Rudy Giuliani as moderates and sensible fellows, I would guess a larger percentage of folks in their respective political parties do in fact see them as sellouts to any of a number of sensitive causes. The 2008 primary campaigns will certainly shed more light on this...

    Sir C

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  3. Sir Jason put forward this brave salvo:

    "Evangelicals say that the State of Israel is a sign of the end times. No one should be hasty about such things. The Maccabean state wasn't, although I am sure a lot of Jews thougt it was. The Jews are God's chosen people. It doesn't follow that the State of Israel is God's chosen State."

    Methinks ye make a fair point here, Sir Jason. This would appear to be one of the deepest issues Evangelical Christians face in our efforts to interact with the political world. However, it takes our conversation back to literal vs. figurative interpretation of the Bible, a round table topic of contention for many years.

    Could it be, perhaps, that historical references in the Bible should be taken simply as fact; teachings should be taken as literal lessons; and prophecies that refer to future events should be taken as figurative indications of God's time to come? For instance, relative to the last, could prophetical references that center on Jerusalem no longer point to the actual Jerusalem, but the center (wherever that may be, we know not) of Christ's new kingdom on His return?

    Or do figurative interpreters risk turning their back on real end times events even as they occur?

    Sir C

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  4. Sir Chuck made a good point about American politics. I have noticed it to. And the Zionists at least had the excuses of coming from a persecuted people with no political tradition. Not to mention having so many Eastern European intellectuals. Americans are getting less polite and charitable in politics. However Israel has always been like that. At one time for instance Ben-gurion ordered the Irgunists forcibly suppressed. This was necessary-not only were they a dishonor to his cause, they were a sure cause of future difficulty. But Ben-gurion also gloated over the fact that he had been obliged to do violence to fellow Jews. Neither Lincoln or Lee acted like that, at least not often.
    Yet somehow the Zionist movement did learn to work together, so there is hope that Americans will remember how to.
    As to the figurative vs literal, I would say that the model to follow, is still, "don't be hasty". Never make an interpretation about prophecy that you can't back out of, if you can avoid it. Don't think you know more then you do: sound advice for many, including myself.
    In point of fact I think Revelation is part figurative and part literal just like much of the Bible-or indeed part of any work of literature. We are not really a city set on a hill, and we don't become the salt of the earth until we die and our bodies decay(a little macabre humor). Those are commonsense distinctions and don't need theological degrees to figure out. Indeed some of the prophecies in Revelation may have already come to pass, or have double meanings.
    In any case there is little danger of a true Christian, misinterpreting the signs. God will make sure we are safe. And sometimes eschatology becomes one of those "matters too high for me" talked of in one of the Psalms.
    I admit I have a constitutional suspicion of eschatology. It does seem to lead to superstition, and conspiracy theory. It can also be uncharitable(there was one rumor that the King of Spain-one of the most ridiculously benign choices-was the antichrist, because somehow his name added up to 666). On the other hand any part of the Bible can be misused. For instance it is possible to commit a violent crime by hitting someone with a Bible. So I must allow that eschatology has a purpose. But thinking you know more then you do is wrong. One must remember, "Don't be hasty".

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  5. One reason for the proliferation of extremism may be that America has overdone populism. In classical political theory the ideal government was an oligarchy glued to a democracy.
    "Senate and People of Rome". The oligarchy was for weeding out extremism so that the will of the people would not be just the whim of the people. Three states I admire-Rome, Hellenistic Rhodes, and Medieval Venice managed to do just that. Athens, which I do admire to some degree(though I am annoyed by the fact that I am supposed to admire it)failed and was considerably volitile.
    Different rules could be changed. I think it was a mistake to make the Senate a popular election-the state governments should have a voice. However perhaps the main thing that needs to change is our attitude. We always talk about our right to vote. There is no such thing. No one has a right to exercise power over others as voting ultimatly is. Power is a responsibility not a right. We should say we have a responsibility to vote-and are complimented by being considered worthy of such a trust.
    However attitudes don't change overnight. So all we can do is grumble. Or better, pray.

    Sir Jason the Long-winded

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  6. Sir Jason apoligizes for the repeats. In these dark ages it is almost impossible for a knight to get a decent scribe.
    Sir Chuck asked if the prophecies about Israel are literal or figurative. That is an interesting question. I would say they are literal-but it is not clear that they apply to the present Israel. And assuming they do clouds our judgement.
    To give an anology, Czar Alexander actually seems to have concluded that Napolean was the antichrist. In that case it did no great harm, for the results would have been the same either way. But it could easily have interfered with his responsibility as Czar.
    Obviously the potential damage in our case is smaller. However it is there. For instance it is widely believed that Evangelicals who support Israel, do so not out of sympathy but out of a desire to "hurry up the end-times". In affect we are being accussed not only of heresy(thinking we can manipulate God), but of uncharity(regarding others primarily as tools). This accuseation is false except in the case of a small minority. But do we wish it to become plausible? That is what I am objecting to.

    Sir Jason the Long-winded

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  7. Quite easy to double or triple post comments, as I've found myself. You can delete the duplicates (or any other comments you make, I think) by clicking on the trashcan at the bottom of the comment, which should appear on your comments only. As administrator I can "can" any unknightly (or duplicate) comments :-)

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