Thursday, November 16, 2006

God Does Not Have a Foreign Policy

David Kirkpatrick writes in the New York Times about support for Israeli military policy among right-wing evangelical Christians:

As Israeli bombs fell on Lebanon for a second week last July, the Rev. John Hagee of San Antonio arrived in Washington with 3,500 evangelicals for the first annual conference of his newly founded organization, Christians United For Israel.

At a dinner addressed by the Israeli ambassador, a handful of Republican senators and the chairman of the Republican Party, Mr. Hagee read greetings from President Bush and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel and dispatched the crowd with a message for their representatives in Congress. Tell them "to let Israel do their job" of destroying the Lebanese militia, Hezbollah, Mr. Hagee said.

He called the conflict "a battle between good and evil" and said support for Israel was "God's foreign policy."

The next day he took the same message to the White House.

Many conservative Christians say they believe that the president's support for Israel fulfills a biblical injunction to protect the Jewish state, which some of them think will play a pivotal role in the second coming. Many on the left, in turn, fear that such theology may influence decisions the administration makes toward Israel and the Middle East.

Administration officials say that the meeting with Mr. Hagee was a courtesy for a political ally and that evangelical theology has no effect on policy making. But the alliance of Israel, its evangelical Christian supporters and President Bush has never been closer or more potent. In the wake of the summer war in southern Lebanon, reports that Hezbollah's sponsor, Iran, may be pushing for nuclear weapons have galvanized conservative Christian support for Israel into a political force that will be hard to ignore.

For one thing, white evangelicals make up about a quarter of the electorate. Whatever strains may be creeping into the Israeli-American alliance over Iraq, the Palestinians and Iran, a large part of the Republican Party's base remains committed to a fiercely pro-Israel agenda that seems likely to have an effect on policy choices.

Mr. Hagee says his message for the White House was, "Every time there has been a fight like this over the last 50 years, the State Department would send someone over in a jet to call for a cease-fire. The terrorists would rest, rearm and retaliate." He added, "Appeasement has never helped the Jewish people."

Neither have evangelical Christians. Particularly the subset of evangelical Christians who support an aggressively pro-Israel military policy. This is the same subset of evangelical Christians who support right-wing social policies to mandate prayer in public schools and who defend putting the religious symbols of a particular religion in public places. They are the same evangelical Christians who issue calls to the faithful to convert the Jews, and to make a special effort to convert the Jews during the two most sacred holidays in the Jewish religious calendar. As a Jew, I do not trust these people's motives at all, and they ain't no friends of mine.

I am also sick of perverted, twisted religious nuts who use simple-minded literal interpretations of the Bible to justify absolutist and intolerant political ideologies. God does not have a foreign policy. God does not endorse one political party over another, or bless one country or one people over another. God is not a nationalist.

God is not a cheerleader for war. If you want to know what God thinks of war, Isaiah 2:4 is a good place to start. Also see the Torah portion on war, genocide, and other forms of violence written by Simon Jacobson at

No comments: