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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

The Great Israeli mistake

The interview on Majority Report with Colin Quinn is telling. I don't know if he really knows it or not, but Quinn tends to reveal the justifications that the everyday conservative guy tells himself about his politics. It's obvious that Israel is problem numero uno in the Middle East for us in the long term. Why we support Israel and what it means in the long run probably does more to confuse people than anything else.
The big selling point of our support for Israel to conservatives is to flatter their own sense of themselves as practical-minded cynics. It's felt that we need to support Israel despite all the problems it causes us, because we need a sympathetic foothold in the Middle East. Colin Quinn said this as an aside, and I don't think this is a side issue at all.
My sister and I had a long conversation about this and we both agreed that most Americans, if they were to speak honestly, would feel that the best chance for Middle East peace is to start out by giving Palestine its own state and then using our political and financial pull to keep them from fighting each other. However, conservatives are led to believe that this is an impossibility so we better just support Israel, even if they try to decimate Palestine, because we need an ally in the Middle East.
Well, they're wrong. I sincerely think this. I think our best chance of having good relations with the Middle East is to make a good faith effort to promote peace, and the first step is to convince Israel of the necessity of creating a separate Palestinian state. And, considering the amount of cash we give them, I think we can be very convincing.
So, what's the real reason that we just can't make ourselves ask Israel to back off? This is where the confusion comes in. I think conservatives and liberals alike assume it must be a really good reason. But from what I can tell, it's not really, not at all. In both America and in Israel, small minorities of religious conservatives are dictating political policy, for slightly different reasons that just happen to converge right now.
Fundamentalist Jews believe quite sincerely that God promised them that land, all of it, and letting non-Jews have some of it is breaking a very serious covenant with God. And in this country, a minority of Christians believe not only that Israel must have that land in order for Jesus to return, but that Jesus' return will be in their lifetimes and they surely aren't going to let some political compromise screw that up for them.
You bring this up, and people squirm and say, "No, it's about oil, etc." Yes, but I ask you this: how in the hell would it change the fact that we would have an ally in Israel if they allowed Palestine their own state?
We don't like to admit the obvious--we are allowing freaky religious types to dictate government policy. The first step in ridding ourselves of the terrorist threat is embracing our secularism and refusing to support governments that screw themselves and others in order to confirm their own freaky religious beliefs.


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