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Columnist: Is Unites States support for Israel more “messianic” than strategic?

By Glenn Dowell

Contributing columnist

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In the United States the Christian Right, with millions of followers, who just happen to be a major base of support for the Republican Party, continues to throw its immense media and political clout in support of Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel and the leader of Israel’s Likud political party and other right-wing Israeli leaders.

Based in part on a messianic theology that sees the in-gathering of Jews to the Holy Land as a precursor for the second coming of Christ, the battle between Israel and the countries which threaten its right to exist, in their eyes, is simply a continuation of the battle between the Israelites and the Philistines, with God in the role of a cosmic real estate agent who has deemed that the land belongs to Israel alone. (“Why the U.S. Supports Israel,” Stephen Zunes, May 2, 2002, Foreign Policy In Focus).

Mainstream and conservative Jewish organizations are adept at mobilizing considerable lobbying resources, financial contributions from the Jewish community, and securing citizen pressure on the news media and other forums of public discourse in support of the Israeli government. Although the role of the pro-Israel lobby is often greatly exaggerated–with some even claiming it is the primary factor influencing U.S. policy–its role has been important in certain tight congressional races and in helping to create a climate of intimidation among those who might seek to moderate U.S. policy.

This show of power and influence that Israel has on the United States was evident last year when Netanyahu appeared before the U.S. Congress to denounce an American nuclear deal with Iran being made by President Barack Obama. Even though the Anti-Defamation League — devoted to fighting anti-Semitism — asked Netanyahu to cancel his presentation; he refused, thereby causing consternation by some supporters of Israel in the United States.

It did not appear to harm him, however, in Israel. He scored another victory shortly after his speech, with Likud again, winning national elections to give him a fourth term as prime minister.

In this country it is safe to say without any equivocation that any politician interested in staying in office, especially a nationally elected position, must never criticize support of Israel by this country. The support of Israel stretches beyond the bounds of politics.

In that I was raised next door to a church, I can say that I heard many pastors as a child preach about the Jews being God’s chosen favorites, and that their current home of Israel is his promise to them. This caused me to believe from childhood that anyone criticizing Jews would be guilty of showing irreverence to God.

Since Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948 it has been involved in numerous wars with neighboring states. It’s vulnerable location, bordered by Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, and within missile range of Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, has prompted the United States to maintain a strong commitment, since the Truman administration, to safeguard Israel’s security and well-being. In other words, we help make Israel’s military technology far superior to that of any of its neighbors.

Critics of this country’s billions of dollars of support to Israel over the years believe Zionists have used too many Old Testament texts as justification. They believe that the position of the Zionists and of many Christians create a messianic belief that if God is on Israel’s side, then it becomes virtually impossible to critique her policies and actions. In principle, whatever Israel does must be right since God backs her supremacy in the land.

From A biblical perspective, in the former days God did separate Israel for himself and gave her the land promised to Abraham. Israel was special among all the nations of the earth (Deuteronomy 7: 7-9). But ultimately the blessings upon Abraham was to be given to all the nations (Matthew 28:19 – 20).

With the coming of Christ, God fulfilled all the promises to the fathers (Roman 15:8). In this age, therefore, to some biblical scholars God does not show favoritism, but accepts people from every nation who fear him and do what is right in his sight (Acts 10:34).

What is your opinion?

Glenn Dowell is an author and LaGrange native who currently lives in Jonesboro. He may be reached at glenn.dowell@gmail.com.