An Ambidextrous Israel
The Twain Meets
Only in poetry is it written that never the twain shall meet. But in reality, the world is not so neatly divided into separate compartments. Recently, in Le Monde, an article deals with the fascination for as well as fanaticism about Israel by Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition. Perhaps east and west does not quite explain the phenomenon. Right meets right is likely more apt, if the definition entails political attachment. The affiliation in question certainly expresses, or blatantly asserts, that Fundamental Christianity is not only Right but right! It seems like only yesterday when President Clinton's Camp David meeting took place. Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat put on a Chaplinesque performance, each courteously insisting the other walk first through a door. It was old-fashioned burlesque at its finest. Now, it is all best forgotten, except that despite ultimate failure, it is fast becoming an absolute, in a time when violence begets violence, that talks, be they profound or silly, are preferable to endless military conflict. President Obama would not let himself get suckered into eternal warfare, mostly to his credit. He took a great deal of flak, as though he were an accomplice to terrorism. Policies can and will change, however, so that our standoffishness is only temporary. Heinous crimes, it must be said, against humanity, went on unpunished. Why did Israel not intervene? It is right there. A funny question, I know, since it is not only dangerous to interfere, but in a nation's interest to allow its enemies to slaughter one another. Survival is the desired end. To accomplish the feat, it might be better to seek new allies eastward, rather than rely upon old, decaying ones westward, especially those within the United States, which is, at the moment, confused.
Jews from Kaifeng, China
The Multiple Party Thing
I keep my distance from the fray. People have emotionally charged opinions. But I only want to entertain the notion of an acknowledgement of the Left, which, to be brief, helped form the unique nation during its initial wars. Arms shipments from Communist Czechoslovakia then are enough to make a case now for the formation of an alliance with Red China -- if an unconstructive, American-Israeli stalemate occurs further down the line. What does Israel have to do with China? Well, to begin with, histories of both Israel and China include a mutual condemnation by Stalin. The Chinese, like Jews, went through utter hell to win autonomous nationhood. Both peoples are ancient as well as modern. There is, I am told, biological evidence of intergenerational continuity. My suggestion, by the way, is only a fantastical concoction, in the event of a futuristic emergency. China is a colossus, and probably cannot be successfully challenged in its part of the world. Its emergence from an embattled nation, ruled by warlords and outsiders, victimized by Imperial Japan, and weakened by civil war, is also something miraculous. If it is enslaved to Middle Eastern oil, then all bets are off. The greater point is that the mere fact of the existence of Israel is a significant sign for Christians of the imminence of a second coming. Were Israelis to somehow lose Israel, surrounded as they are by diabolical terrorists, then evangelical disappointment would be substantial. This is unlikely. But televised talk of subduing anti-Israel/American forces has also turned into an impotent quagmire of meaningless verbiage.
Well, Israel will not waver in its determination to remain a sovereign state, no matter what anybody thinks or feels. Nonetheless, people age, and when they do, others move into the vacuum. Things change. The inexperienced take over. Why the elderly are unceremoniously swept aside is another issue. So is perception. Israelis are adamant in their disapproval of certain Christian beliefs. As a result, they oppose a religion too large to fail. In a vastly over-populated world, the Jewish religion is relatively minor, if persistent and strong. Still, Christians take umbrage, and more so in Europe. Christian America, however, is so overwhelmed by conflicting denominations that there is no general consensus of opinion. All the more reason, I would think, to check out China, which has no official religion. More importantly, Israel has multiple parties, many of which are not in the power zone. That woosh we occasionally hear as yet another political player rushes to the Right in order to present an artificial image of conservatism, modesty, cleanliness, and championship decency is noticeably rusting. The Left has religion, too, and is more apt to be tolerant of a theological difference of opinion. Yes, it also has traditional marriages. It serves in the military. It showers, shaves, and dresses appropriately.
America and Israel
Time to Get Real?
Menahem Begin Plays Chess
Can Israel Trust America?
Not long ago, America was the only country Israel placed trust in. Its trust has been eroded by a number of unfortunate misunderstandings, but mainly talks with Iran. Given the fact that the U.S. once enjoyed more cordial relations with Saddam Hussein, I would, if I could, try to assuage genuine concerns. When the time comes, if it comes, we switch from talk to greater persuasion. We never sponsor terrorism, which (employing guilt by association), is one of the chief objections to having forged a deal with Iran. Still, to cover all contingencies, should the next administration, or the one after, shift the balance of the fragile power structure in the Middle East toward anti-Israeli nations, then Israel might explore its options, and my thesis prove less ludicrous. It is also fair to ask, why would China want to defend Israel? The answer is obvious; it makes America look bad to renege on so many, rhetorical promises, including still more pledged in a meeting this year by Hillary Clinton at AIPAC.
If the U.S.A. prevaricates, an ambidextrous Israel has two extra choices. It can play both ends against the middle, East and West (as did Egypt in the 1950s), or it can choose one or the other. If it is determined to stay the course with America, no matter what, then fine. If, however, America wavers, it can choose China, if China is willing. It has the extra bonus of obtaining support from a nation that can ward off both a waffling U.S.A. and stern Russia. The U.S.A. bellyaches about Russia, but studiously avoids direct confrontations. Realpolitik is the key. Most Middle Eastern nations assume it is only a matter of time before Israel disappears. It is only a case, too, they think, of taking the long view -- forward to an all-Islamic region, back to crusaders sent home. They are not in a state of panic -- if momentarily discomforted. Russia has been reasonably helpful to its client states, whereas, at least at the moment, the U.S.A. does not appear as unified on any topic, let alone Israel, as it once was. Or, never was -- how can one argue? In any event, this is only a think-piece. I doubt very much if the kitchen is so much as a degree hotter.
There is actually an historical precedent with which I am only mildly familiar. It has to do with the Babylonian Exile and Jerusalem, together with a couple more hold-outs at the time. The story is told how Jeremiah told Jehoiakim, seated on the throne of Jerusalem, not to back Egypt in its bid to overthrow Babylon under Nebudchadnezzar. Instead, Jehoiakim listened to Egyptian prophets, who predicted the downfall of Egypt's foe. This is an interesting story. It deals somewhat with how the Middle East functions in our present day and age. Which nation should America get behind? Which people? When and how? Which region? What city or town? Also, it is not a rare occasion when a true prophet is both disregarded and mistreated. The main conclusion is only that Israel should not try to go it alone, but rely upon the U.S.A. as much as possible. Its relationship with Russia is far too complicated. But there is some virgin ground between Israel and China, a new nation, no longer an endless list of despotic dynasties.
Langley Field, Virginia
Looking at the Crystal Ball
Let me ask the reader what he or she thinks. Right now . . . no problem. But years hence? It is indeed merciful that we have been allotted time to entertain a plethora of eventualities, running the entire gamut from the worst to the best. Here, not Realpolitik, but intelligence, is the key. In order to keep maniacs with atomic power at bay, they must be monitored. How it can be done, I have no idea. They have their ways, too. The United States stands at the beck and call of any situation that requires intervention. It has tremendous military might. But a recent movie about fighting terrorism piecemeal (Eye in the Sky), keeping collatoral damage to a minimum, shows how thankless a task it can be. Wham! There goes number four on the list! Doesn't number five move up? Hundreds are saved -- yes, that much is true. Not much consolation to the innocent dead. Still, it is important to remain positive. The world has to approach the problem of terrorism realistically.
At the moment, there is nothing much more to do than wait. President Obama has given us an interval in which to mull over the problem and develop a newer, more practical solution. An Iraqi insurgency -- then setbacks! Troops stationed in Afghanistan forever! However much it infuriates us, whatever we come up with, in concert with fellow anti-terrorists, is how it must be. It has to be done somehow despite feelings that it is an impossible task. Terrorists do not think of themselves as such. They believe they are freedom fighters. Whatever.... The more important point is that our lives are at stake. Let us not be fooled by distances. They work too much for those who want to destroy us. We require round-the-clock vigilance. Admittedly, many Chinese would like to destroy the US, something else to ponder. Already, much of the world is certain it can do without Israel. It does not have qualms about our destruction either. Let me go one step further: complacency is not the answer.
Ethiopian Jews Arrive in Israel
The Eurocentric Objection
Well, it has been nearly seventy years since Israel moved into a rather high-strung neighborhood. If only it were less complicated. One of the arguments against its being there is that it is, basically, a European intrusion. It was Theodor Herzl (1860-2004), from Budapest, Hungary, who claims one of the largest names in the development of an idea that predates both world wars of the 20th century. As of the present, Europe has all but washed its hands of a state of war that has long outgrown and outlived itself. The Middle East is the Middle East, after all. It has never changed. Substract Israel and there will still be armed conflict. Incredible as it seems, it can continue the way it is for an unknown number of years, IEDs and all, except for the fact that it is slowly entering the nuclear age. With few exceptions, the three largest nuclear nations -- the U.S.A., Russia, and China -- have demonstrated an ability to maintain self-control. There are additional nuclear nations, too, which do not seem as stable. But no one in their wildest imagination thinks that nuclear bombs and the Middle East can co-exist. Perhaps it is condescending to state as much so bluntly, but to wait until proven wrong is quite a gamble.
The influx of Ethiopian Jews has brought with it much the same racial strife that still obtains in other nations. Nonetheless, the historical roots of this particular immigration is interesting, and probably beyond accurate research, except to peruse Josephus, and wonder how much is fact, how much fiction. The true-life location of the ark is involved. What if it were found? What if the large menorah taken from the last temple by triumphant Romans were returned? How do we know whether these items have been lost, destroyed, or hidden? Does it matter? Does the true cross exist? What if it does? Are these still not mere, material goods? Much history is still being investigated at controversial archeological sites. The past contains invaluable lessons. Few, however, are heeded.
You Be the Judge
How Much Longer?
Opposition against Israel is unstinting. Usually, we hear it the other way around, which is also true. But how much longer can hostilities exist in the ebb and flow of daily, law-abiding, peaceful life? Iranian extremists are not completely wrong. The Diasporan Jews who left two thousand years ago are not the same as those who came back. Further, are there very many Christians anymore, as opposed to Presbyterians, Methodists, Catholics, Baptists, or you-name-it? Nevertheless, Islam cannot be the universal answer. Not outside its disputed realms. It has also been divided and conquered by man's meaner nature. Islam knows no peace. In its hostile midst, Israel needs help, whether it comes from China or the United States. I am very much aware that many religions already think they know in amazing detail what is supposed to happen. I find this the height of egotism and hypocrisy. I would also like to believe. But it is within reason to envision an earth reduced to ashes.
This week, Foreign Affairs published an article dealing with discernible changes, difficult to ascertain, between Israel and the United States. Two books cited deal with how the various administrations leading up to President Obama dealt (not without frustration) with a rather recalcitrant nation. True enough, Israel has not exactly played by the "rules", or UN provisions. It cannot pacify uprooted Palestinians, nor put a halt to settlements, encroaching upon additional land, very much in dispute. To say more is to enter into a mysterious, indefinable political terrain. What was Obama's plan siding with Iran against Israel, while denying the same, simultaneously? It is impossible to blame #44. Keeping an ephemeral, delicate balance has always been a bit of a circus act. America's power structure goes above the presidency; let us not forget the checks and balances we learned about in grammar school. Nevertheless, is it unfair to ask, are Americans tired of supporting Israel? A key argument against Israeli support were the billions of dollars spent on its behalf. Now, after withholding aid, diverting it, and/or funding other projects, we are trillions of dollars more in debt. Where did the money go?
Ten Lost Tribes
Ten Becomes Eleven in the Video Above
Not easy to follow, word by word, the video nonetheless explains the complexity of a rather topical problem. Scholars tend to take over after spending so much time in research. But feel free to take a position anyways, if it is of any interest. Since the creation of Israel, along with its law of return, questions appertaining to who is and who is not a Jew, have become more relevant. Still, it is also a decidedly more detached and intellectual question, presided over by "detectives of history", whose quaint theories and analyses often require a grain of salt. It is also an ongoing topic of gossip, too, not always reliable. But sometimes the matter crosses a line. FDR, for instance, made so many enemies with New Deal legislation involving banks that prominent anti-Semites could not resist calling him not just a socialist but a Jew as well. If I can offer any competent remark at all about the subject in the video above, it is to emphasize not the Phoenicians, and their maritime expertise, so much as the fact that many of the exiled went East, not West. Fear of sailing too far from a coast was an ancient phobia that endured a very long time. However, there has been tantalizing speculation that the Chinese were an exception, having journeyed to the Americas much sooner than almost anyone would believe. The claim is made, nevertheless, in 1491, by Charles C. Mann, that the Chinese stopped their adventurous sailing at a certain point, without explanation, so that it was, for a while, or, continuing till now, completely forgotten.
In conclusion, it is not easy writing a hub about the possibility of a bleak scenario no one wants. But if the 2016 election has driven home any particularly conspicuous point, wholly new but by no means improved, it is that the United States is both changing and being challenged. How it meets fresh changes and challenges will spell out our collective destiny. Without unanimous support, the life of the returned remnant, fulfilling an ancient prophecy, will have only a finite existence. Talk about United States interests! Of course, Israel's destruction is not in its interest, but neither is it in the interests of the world at large. It will, in effect, reverse a key outcome of WWII, and set up a dangerous, backward course. It goes without saying that, with help from President Truman, Jews acquired a country, while Nazis had none.