As I pause in the discussion of the Bible as the Word of Man, I am still tethered to Israel, the story of the wandering Jewish tribes, their captivity and finally their return to their ancestral home. We Americans cannot escape the ramifications of this story either religiously or politically. This small, nomadic Semitic tribe that wandered the semi-arid lands of the Middle East some 3000 years ago still greatly affects our lives here in the 21st century.
Christianity was based on Judaism and Christians still accept the Torah and the subsequent writings of Jewish authors as an integral part of their Holy Scriptures. Further, certain Christians believe that some of the material in the old Jewish scriptures will determine their fate after death. Others view the harsh laws set forth in Deuteronomy and Leviticus trump the famous line attributed to Jesus, ‘Love one another.’
Politically, our nation is wedded to the idea that the land of Israel must always be guarded against a possible ‘take-over’ by its Muslim neighbors- that Israel has a right to exist. Of course, I was actually born before the state of Israel existed. I was already in the 3rd grade when the new nation of Israel was declared to exist by the United Nations. From 70 CE when Roman Emperor Titus order the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jews have wandered, hoping someday to return. The U.S. and our allies have propped up and financially supported the State of Israel, often referring to Israel as ‘our friend.’
The Muslim community is the perceived enemy of the State of Israel, Iran in particular. Now that the U.S. Military has decimated the Muslim states of Iraq and Afghanistan, Israel keeps a close eye on Iran, especially its nuclear capability. Naturally, as Israel’s Big Brother, we do too.
There are many who speculate that our close relationship with Israel has placed our nation in jeopardy. The enemies of our friend become our enemies as well. There are some who say that the 9-11 attack on the Twin Towers was precipitated by our ‘blind’ friendship to Israel.
It is interesting to chronicle the vagary of the Jewish people as noted in their sacred writings. Not only their geographic wanderings are interesting, but also the DNA of those who called themselves, ‘God’s chosen people.’ They were clearly not a singular homogenous group of people. Rather, they are comprised of many tribes, 12 officially, who were loosely connected by their earliest sacred writing, the Torah. Yet, after the Babylonian Captivity, as they wandered back to their ‘homeland,’ some 3 to 4 generations later, they found other people occupying their land. Who? Other Semite people whose DNA no doubt nearly matched theirs perfectly. However, because of the newly formulated purity rules while in Babylonia, these occupiers were seen as unholy, unclean. For one thing, the males had not butchered their penis! For another, these people ate non-kosher food. And third, their sacred books were not as up-to-date as those returning for captivity. These occupiers had been, in fact, part of the ‘chosen people’ before the captivity. But, no longer. They even worshiped Baal- how utterly terrible!
The ever-crafty GOP presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich, using intentionally pejorative terms, two weeks ago called the non-Jews living in Palestine, invented people. Yesterday in Florida, he was questioned about that term; he replied, “Palestinians were, in fact, invented in the 1970s. Before that they were simply identified as Arabs.” Interesting statement with loads of political inference.
Invented people. We could dwell on that for some time, thinking about the post-Babylonian period of Jewish history, but I move forward.
Enter Sheldon Adelson, multi-billionare and casino magnate. And Jew. And owner of a free newspaper in Israel, daily newspaper called Israel Hayom. And close friend of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Do I need to add that Adelson has a strong, pro-Israel agenda?
Ten million dollars. Given to a pro-Gingrich super PAC, Winning Our Future. Helped Gingrich win South Carolina. Is helping him sway the voters of Florida. Money, money, money- influencing the outcome of the American elections, given by a pro-Israeli billionaire.
The ‘word’ of Adelson becomes the word of Gingrich. And the SCOTUS deigned it appropriate.
Democracy- don’t you love it?