According to a Gallup poll from February, seven-in-ten Americans have an overall favorable opinion of Israel. The numbers seem to be influenced by party lines and susceptible to variation due to diplomatic tensions, but the consensus is largely pro-Israel. Obviously, as I fall into that grouping, I think there are some pretty strong arguments to be made for American-Israeli friendship (as well as a peaceful, fair and equitable end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict).
That said, I realize that the issue is not black and white. It’s complex and, unfortunately, increasingly partisan. No matter how persuasive we find our own reasons, well meaning people will disagree, with reasons that seem just as compelling to them.
Wherever you fall on the question, though, I trust your arguments will be more convincing than some of the reasons presented in a resolution that passed in the Arizona Senate last Thursday. The resolution, SCR 1019, lists a number of reasons to thank Israel for the international friendship and affirms the state’s support of that nation.
The highest priority on their list?
Whereas, Israel has been granted her land under and through the oldest recorded deed, as recorded in the Old Testament, scripture that is held sacred and revered by Jews and Christians alike, the acts and words of God; and
Whereas, the claim and presence of the Jewish people in Israel has remained constant throughout the past 4,000 years of history…
While the legislators did think to mention secular law in subsequent points, the religious references continue throughout. Of course, while they and many other Christians and Jews think that God granted Jewish Israelis the land, many on the Palestinian side believe that Allah actually intends that same land for them. Which really seems like a good reason to resolve matters according to secular law, since these equally unproven religious claims directly contradict each other. (At least until the truant deities show up and make their wills known, rather than leaving their various fan clubs to squabble in their absence about what God actually meant.) The Arizona legislature had other ideas, though.
It would be simplistic to think that the political, philosophical, and territorial disputes inherent to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would simply disappear if religion were not a factor. There is a lot more at play there than ideas of gods, but those ideas certainly add fuel to the fires.
So it’s particularly unfortunate that outside parties believe they have to base their opinions not on a moral principle, or a desire to resolve conflict to the satisfaction of everyone, but based on what they believe their God tells them. Especially when those parties are legislators who, in that capacity, are supposed to be acting not as servants of their God but as secular stewards of their state.
As it is, there are already plenty of gods in the Middle East… the God of Arizona Republicans should do us all a favor and keep out of it.
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