Tuesday, July 08, 2008


I guess it was two years ago now, that Israel bombed the hell out of Lebanon to retaliate for the deaths of three Israeli soldiers. Our PM called the Israeli response, "measured".

That statement disgusted me then, and it disgusts me now. Incidentally, according to Wikipedia, about 500 UN personnel were killed in the ensuing conflict, in addtion to thousands of Lebanese, and hundreds of Israelis. One UN official was a high profile Canadian seconded to the UN, and there were thousands of Canadian refugees. In fact, this conflict is the origin of the term "Canadians of convenience".

The conflict itself got me thinking at the time, about Israel, its right to exist (or not), and it's response to the unending hostility of its neighbours. I don't really want to get into it. The whole fucking thing is a mess, and I don't have the answers. If there ever was any moral high ground in the region, it was long ago bombed flat.

But the idea of Israel is tricky, too. Carved out of the most contentious and volatile region in the world, obviously it was the first choice of Zionists, and as Hagee has reminded us, Hitler had just been defeated, and he was an powerful reminder that the Jews had no homeland (along with several other populations, but we'll leave them aside for now), and also thanks to Hitler, sympathy for the Zionist cause was great.

Plus, if the Jews had a homeland, then other countries might be able to get rid of some. Even racists had a silver lining.

Palestinians were essentially told to go fuck themselves, but to be fair, if the Jews were getting a country, then somebody was going to get screwed. The fact that the US and UK already had the whole region by the short hair because of oil put the UN in a good position vis a vis pushing around the locals. Furthermore, it's more or less the place where "Israel" had been before, if we can trust the Holy Books. And we all know how accurate they are. But Israel hadn't existed for thousands of years, so the borders were probably blurred, and I don't know how they redrew the map, but it's made virtually no one happy since.

In fact, the Israelis have actually taken more land on a couple of occasions, once because they were invaded.

See? I told you it was tricky. And I haven't even gotten to the religion yet.

I'll bet a decent history text could walk you through the whole sordid mess.

What really troubles me about Israel is not its existence. I have sympathy for the Zionist cause. That does not, however, excuse the fact that the locals got screwed, and have not had the best deal since then. Furthermore, I have sympathy for Israel's extremely precarious position: since its inception, it's fought a half a dozen wars (or more, there are dozens of skirmishes that may or may not qualify), most of them defensive. And I understand, to some degree, the stance of Israel's neighbours. Israel gets a lot of aid from the US, and most of it is for military spending. Having a (understandably) paranoid and well-armed nation right next door would make me nervous, too, and while there are many reasons for it, seeing that Israelis do relatively well while me and mine starve is bound to create resentment.

No, what really troubles me about Israel is how seriously religion complicates the issue.

First of all, while a (largely) secular state, Israel is a Jewish state. People of all faiths are welcome, but the country is Jewish. Not that there's anything wrong with that, except that religious states are just inherently icky.

Second, all the neighbouring nations are Muslim. Some of those are secular as well, though others are unabashedly Islamic, and the secular ones are still dangerous. About the only exception is Egypt, and while it's not that "Muslim", it still gave us Qutb, who was not a nice man.

And finally, the US's unwavering and fanatic support of the nation is religous in nature, partially due to a powerful Jewish lobby, but more frighteningly, a Christian one.

Evangelical Christians are scary for a whole bunch of reasons, but their support of Israel gives me the willies. Again, not because they support Israel, but the reasons they do. According to Revelation (and a bunch of other bits of the Bible), the Jews must return to Israel (one step of many) before Jesus can come back. Other signs include war, famine, disease, the EU, a seven headed serpent, and apparently a red fucking cow. I am not making this shit up:
Numbers 19:2-7 "This is the statute of the law which the Lord has commanded, saying, "Speak to the sons of Israel that they bring you an unblemished red heifer in which is no defect and on which a yoke has never been placed. "You shall give it to Eleazar the priest, and it shall be brought outside the camp and be slaughtered in his presence. Next Eleazar the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger and sprinkle some of its blood toward the front of the tent of meeting seven times. "Then the heifer shall be burned in his sight; its hide and its flesh and its blood, with its refuse, shall be burned. "The priest shall then wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward come into the camp, but the priest shall be unclean until evening."
I don't see it either. But I don't buy the whole package, so I'm not the guy to ask.

If your support of Israel is based on the fact that you believe the Jews ought to have a safe place, I can get behind that. That's a good reason. You want the world to end? Bad reason.

If this were just a few crackpots, we'd be okay. But the POTUS is one of these guys. So's my PM. These men want Jesus to come back. They are horny for it. They are actively taking steps to make it happen: I've said it before, but climate change looks a lot like the book of Revelation. They get behind Israel whenever she does something stupid. The US will likely help them invade Iran this summer or fall because Israel hasn't fought a war in two years, and must be amassing quite a stockpile of US weapons. I'll bet those guns are just burning a hole in their pocket.

It's all a rich tapestry of madness, you see. And these are the reasons I get angry, and get scared, and ultimately go off on religious people.

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