How can you be a Somali-loving Minnesotan WASP pastor and embrace Israel?

A Jewish friend writes: Did the world screw up in recognizing a Jewish homeland – Israel – in 1948, or was it wise to do so, creating a place for 6,000,000 Jews to be who otherwise might be causing all kinds of problems in America and Europe?

The establishment of this racial/tribal/religious ethnostate was the last gasp of the European impulse to spread its dominion over the world, which is why real cultural liberals have to hate it.

A Jewish friend says:

I wanted to weigh in on whether having a fractured Arab world benefits Israel.

Before that, I think it is important to distinguish between what constitutes Jewish interests in the United States and Canada from Jewish interests in Western Europe, from Jewish interests in Eastern Europe and Jewish interests in Israel. I am not sure that they are at all the same.

If you study the history of the modern state of Israel as a dispassionate observer, it is pretty clear that it is a colonial state. It was founded and originally populated by Jews primarily from Eastern Europe, later with a large influx from Arab countries. The Jews displaced a native Arab population, that now calls itself Palestinian, but that simply designates the area they are from.

If you believe that God promised the land to the Jews, then none of this makes any difference, but that is not the sort of argument that one makes to people who are not so religiously inclined or sympathetic to that religious view (that is to say Christian Zionists.)

Because Israel has always been in a situation where it has a large restive internal population and until it signed a peace treaty with Egypt, at war not only with its neighbors but with its neighbor’s neighbors, its policies have always been expedient and the country has exploited Arab weakness with superior tactics, but without much of a strategic vision and certainly without attempting to implement any long term strategy for the country’s survival.

Israel benefits from having stability in neighboring countries, if those countries have a government that wants peace with Israel. Egypt is the perfect example of this. It served Israel to have the country have an authoritarian government, be it led by Sadat, Mubarak or no Al-Sissi. Egypt is desperately poor, and unlike Sadat’s predecessor Nasser, these men have not been demagogues seeking to divert frustration over lack of jobs and food into antagonism toward Israel. To go to Egypt’s neighbor, Libya, I don’t think Israel wanted its stability affected. If what happened to Libya happened to Egypt it would be a disaster for Israel. Israel could launch punitive raids on the Islamic fundamentalists, but much better to have the government reign them in and to be held responsible than to have unaccountable militias launch small scale attacks.

Syria and Iraq actually pose different threats to Israel. Both were relatively secular Baathist regimes. In both cases a member of a minority held power, Assad as an Alawite in Syria, Hussein as a Sunni in a Shia majority Iraq. (In fact, only a minority can effectively govern. A majority would snuff out the rights of the minorities, something that those who supported deposing Assad seem to forget.) Israel would much rather have antagonistic regimes be strictly Islamist than be ones that protect the minority. The strict Muslim governments would have less support in the West. Even Obama recognizes this in his willingness to deal with Iran which still has a large population of Christians, and smaller populations of BaHai’s and Jews.

I don’t think Israel thinks it makes any difference in a military senses whether Hussein or Assad are in power. Neither was in a position to militarily threaten Israel. Syria did fight Israel in 1967 and 1973 but its two allies in the 67 war and its one ally in 73 both made peace with Israel. Assad is a realist and knows that by attacking Israel he is signing his own death warrant.

There has been a strain in the Israeli government since at least 1967 that believes that Jordan, which has a majority Palestinian population, should depose its monarchy and become a Palestinian state, but pretty much most Israelis have been happy with the status quo first under King Hussein and now under his son King Abdullah.

I don’t think that if the Arabs weren’t involved in infighting that they would devote their resources to building war machines to challenge Israel or to fight Israel out of solidarity with their Palestinian brothers, but many Israelis would disagree with me.

Israelis have exploited and will continue to exploit factions within the Palestinians when they see if giving them a short term tactical advantage. It has been widely reported and I think accepted that Israel provided material support to Hamas when it first was organized because they wanted to split the Palestinians. Of course, they are not happy with Hamas which has proven to be a pretty intractable and resilient opponent of Israel. But you might want to imagine what it would be like for Israel if the Palestinians both in the West Bank and Gaza and those who are refugees all accepted the PLO as their legitimate government and representative. So in that sense, at least as regards the Palestinians, it serves Israel’s interest to keep them fractious.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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