For many people, Israel is a place under constant siege and its people, although plucky, are long-suffering and downtrodden. The trope becomes myth; the myth becomes a universalism and if you repeat the lie ad infinitum, it is thought that everyone will believe it. At least that is what Edward Bernays thought. Only this time the lie has been repeated too many times and the ears of the world have become hardened to the sound of Israel’s constant bleating about its ‘defence’. The black and white position of Israel is embraced by those who have been seduced by the myths, but who have also bought into the entire Rapture thesis that the state of Israel is necessary for fulfilment of the ‘Second Coming’.
Indeed there are many Israelis and Zionists who have bought into this lie. How little do they realise that the so-called Christians who support them are also eager to see their destruction according to misinterpreted passages in their Bible. Not many, I’d wager.
There is a large section of ‘Christians’ in the US who see the Israel-Palestine problem as a simple Manichaean issue: Jews versus Muslims – it is that simple. None of these people seem aware that Palestinians are a broad group of people whose cultures range from Jewish to Christian to Muslim. How many of them realise that the PFLP was formed by ethnic Christians who embrace Marxism? The PPP is a secular socialist party. Even Fatah is a secularist, left-leaning party. No, it is too easy to see this as a conflict between the ‘west’ and the ‘east’. However I would like to point out to those Manichaeans reading this that Christianity is actually an eastern religion (the last time I checked Nazareth was in Asia) that was allegedly started by a Jew. You can’t get more eastern than that.
The State of Israel keeps a close eye on the media; in fact, it has banned certain foreign journalists from its shores for fear that its lies might be exposed. If Israel has nothing to hide, then why ban certain foreign journalists? This disregard for what the world thinks of its actions was most evident during Operation Cast Lead when no foreign journalists were allowed anywhere near Gaza. Foreign news teams were inducted by the Information Ministry and provided with sets of glossy press packs explaining Israel’s position.The news that came from Gaza was doctored and manicured to the point of absurdity: there were frequent and glaring contradictions which Regev explained away as the ‘confusion of battle’. But as time went on, the lies snowballed in size so much that Regev’s defences looked increasingly absurd.
Israel is often labelled by its critics as an ‘apartheid state’. This is something that Israel denies. But any student of apartheid era South Africa can not help but notice the way in which the West Bank has been parcelled up like Bantustans with the settlers (most of them from the US) getting the lion’s share of the land. Ha’aretz, an Israeli daily that is described as left-leaning paper, ran an article last year that claimed Israel was worse than South Africa for its racial policies.
The Israeli public’s choice is a different matter. The spokesmen of the dovish camp tell us horror stories about a future binational state. But the binational state is already here. It has a rigid apartheid legal system, as the High Court of Justice fades away.
The system preserving this apartheid is more ruthless than that seen in South Africa, where the black were a labor force and could therefore also make a living. It is equipped with the lie of being “temporary.” Occasionally, Israel’s indifference comes up with allegations against the Palestinians.
Abba Eban captured the allegation by coining a phrase repeated by the doves of all parties, who never really went to battle over Israel’s future and allowed the “settlement project” to spread. After all, occupation makes Israelis richer. Why oppose it?
I would ask the Rapturists this – are the publishers of Ha’aretz ‘self-hating Israelis’ for openly criticising the state of Israel? This blog in Time Magazine from 2008 reminds us why the Rapture and this form of ‘charitable’ Zionism itself is anti-Semitic. Why is Christian Zionism so anti-Semitic? The early supporters of the project were overwhelmingly evangelical types who were schooled in the hell-fire and brimstone message imparted to them by the Church, who believed that the ‘end was nigh’: Kitchener, Gordon, Allenby, Balfour and Lloyd-George all believed and understood the message; the Ottoman Empire’s weakness provided the ideal opportunity. Orde Wingate was probably the most zealous of the lot, actively assisting the Haganah in its purging of the land of those deemed ‘undesirable’. All of them we quite keen to have the Jews emigrate and few Jews at this time were interested in Zionism; it seemed to be an idea concocted by the wealthy and the powerful. Chaim Weizmann constantly lobbied the British government to create a homeland in Palestine. This made sense to the British for strategical reasons, mainly because Palestine could form part of a chain of British possessions that would stretch from India to Egypt. At the end of WWI, Britain carved up the Middle East, taking all the profitable bits for itself, leaving France with the rest. Most Jews saw themselves as citizens of whatever country they happened to be living in and saw Zionism as playing into the hands of the anti-Semites. How right they were.
Israel’s problems are largely of its own making. It was created as a European idea of a Jewish homeland and it was chosen because of Jerusalem: the ‘holy’ site of all Abrahamic faiths. Its place in Rapturist ideology was assured – providing the al-Aqsa Mosque and other buildings are demolished first. The Jews who already lived there, were treated as second-class citizens by the European settlers and the Muslims and Christians who were peaceful neighbours of the Mizrahi, were marginalised and eventually demonised by the British and the State of Israel. No wonder Israel did a lot of business with apartheid-era South Africa in the 70’s and 80’s: they shared a great deal in common.