The GOP cites Leviticus as just cause for a one-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians.
Paul Mutter: Mitchell Plitnick reports that in a closed meeting in January, the Republican National Committee (RNC) adopted an official resolution supporting “united Israel governed under one law for all people.” What?
Yes, according to the resolution, “the members of this body support Israel in their natural and God-given right of self-governance and self-defense upon their own lands, recognizing that Israel is neither an attacking force nor an occupier of the lands of others; and that peace can be afforded the region only through a united Israel governed under one law for all people.” The justification for this position begins with the words, “Israel has been granted her lands under and through the oldest recorded deed as reported in the Old Testament.”
It seems that the bible–as Barbara Lerner expressed in the National Review,”restore what God gave Abraham’s people”–is the basis for Congressional Republican policy. So too is Rick Santorum’s telling gaffe. Christian Zionism is riding high as the 2012 elections approach. Brothers all are we?
For those not intimately familiar with the Bible, Leviticus 24:22, cited as the basis for the “one law” policy, reads “You are to have the same law for the alien and the native-born. I am the LORD your God.”
Sounds nice, yes? But what is this law? I had a bad feeling when I saw the words “Israel,” “Leviticus” and “GOP” together (“Leviticus” especially). The “law,” in fact, is cited in the bible regarding a dispute over blasphemy committed by the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father. The law that is applied to him is the God-given law of the Israelites, and he is stoned to death for his crime/sin.
Israelis (and Americans) are not stoning blasphemers today, of course. But the Biblical references are still very troubling because the point of the law is to enforce a standard defined by “God” on all people equally, rather than one arrived at through jurisprudence (or an untrustworthy earth-bound authority like the UN – a point Lerner makes clear). Will the new law be one that makes no distinctions regarding creed and ethnicity as “binational state” supporters advocate, or the sort of law that Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman is trying to foist on the Israeli judiciary, a law that many Israeli Jews, including those among the conservative Orthodox community, object to?
I’m thinking it’s the latter, based on this commentary from Bible.cc regarding the blasphemy law in Leviticus:
for I am the Lord your God; whose name is holy and reverend, and ought not to be blasphemed; and who is the Maker and preserver of man and beast, and made these laws respecting them, and expected they should be obeyed, especially by the children of Israel, whose covenant God and Father he was, and they under the greatest obligation to serve and obey him
The RNC has, according to Ben Smith, distanced itself from the resolution and reiterated its support for a two-state solution. But, Smith notes, the symbolism matters: it shows “the extent to which the party’s grassroots will back Israel” no matter what. This grandstanding in fact is defining the 2012 presidential contest when it comes to Israel.
I read into this so much because the proposal comes straight from the mouth of the South Carolina GOP, recently caught up in the big tent revival that was the 2012 Republican primary. Conservatives are falling over themselves to display their deep and abiding friendship with Israel – and vehemently denouncing anyone who dares challenge this relationship.
Evangelist Gary Bauer, for instance, is a Christian Zionist, who has worn the hats of both the neoconservative Emergency Committee for Israel and Christians United for Israel, an organization that’s part of Pastor John Hagee’s evangelical media network. And he stumped for Rick Santorum’s religiously-loaded ad campaign in South Carolina.
These fundamental(ist) forces at work are why some Israeli politicians, such as Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein, can say of J Street – which possesses one of the largest and best-funded pro-Israel political action committees in the US – that “They’re not pro-Israel, they’re not liberally Jewish. They’re anti-Israel.” This contempt is also why the Israeli Prime Minister has said that he regards the New York Times as a bigger existential threat than Hamas and, through an aide, told the Times he would not submit an op-ed to them unless they stopped being so “negative” about Israel.
J Street, the Center for American Progress, the New Israel Fund and Media Matters for America – all left-leaning, non-religious organizations that touch on the Israel-Palestinian conflict – have been measured, weighed and found wanting by both evangelicals and the Israeli Prime Minister evangelicals stand by).
Jewish Zionists, both secular and religious, know that the support they and Israeli right-wingers curry from evangelicals is in part based on a reading of the bible which requires that Israel have its capital in Jerusalem, and have brought the disputed West Bank (“Judea and Samaria”) under their total control. It hardly matters.The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) – which, as of late, has been playing host to Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann and Ilena Ros-Lehtinen, Republican Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee- issued this statement on Pastor John Hagee in 2008:
Rabbi [Eric] Yoffie [President of the Union of Reform Judaism] wonders if Evangelicals like Rev. Hagee seek to bolster the Jewish state and oppose concessions – in order to achieve an Armageddon and bring about a second coming. Even if this were true, this is irrelevant. What is relevant is that Evangelicals are clearly fighting now for Israel’s survival and security. If we are firm in our faith, we should gladly accept their help and worry about the realization of their views if and when they come to pass.
Spencer Ackerman and Matthew Yglesias’s have discussed the concept of “post-Jewish Zionism” – which asks whether one day American evangelicals, who far outnumber Jewish-Americans, will become the most politically potent “pro-Israel” community in the US. While I think Ackerman may underestimate the continued importance of slatwart Zionists among Jewish-Americans, both he and Yglesias are right to argue that Christian Zionists are gaining ground, and that it could bring big changes to Israel and the West Bank. As Ackerman notes, “as long as American politicians make the – frankly correct – democratic political calculation that there are more votes in Post-Jewish Zionism than there are in liberal Zionism, Israel won’t face American pressure.” This RNC resolution is more of the same: more loving till it hurts.