29 April 2015

Left, right and Christian

I was reading a ToI blog post by Ben Gladstone, who is "a liberal Zionist teenager from Boston, MA and a first-year undergraduate student at Brown University". The post is titled The Zionist movement should never depend on the Christian right. Eloquently written, with its rousing references to Yom HaShoah, to the timeless quote from Pastor Martin Niemöller etc, the article cautions us to be aware of "Christian right, as it creeps insidiously into the Zionist movement."

While eloquent, the article made me a bit dizzy in a sense. The author sometimes goes into amazing resolution level*, only to zoom out suddenly when defining other terms like "Christian right"** or "true Zionism, with its leftist, secularist, socialist history". Not being an expert on the subject of American Christians, I still find it hard to believe that millions and millions of US Christians that support Israel all espouse antisemitic views like those described by Ben. Like I find it quite hard to believe that all of them were members of Ku Klux Klan and/or unrepentant haters of folks with different lifestyle. And I definitely disagree with broad-brushing of "true Zionism": far from all of it was leftist, secularist and socialist, like Ben would like you to believe. The two movements are wrongly presented as some monolithic entities, while Ben himself strongly objects to, for instance, presentation of American Islam as a monolithic entity later on.

This arbitrary zooming in and out could be deceptive, as it is in the case of this article.

Not being a part of a Zionist movement, the movement part being over for me, since I and mine are here (see article 8 of our Charter), I have to look at the warning rather as a citizen of Israel. And I have to say that the view I see differs from the black and white picture drawn by Ben. Being a part of this world, Israel maintains diplomatic relationships with a lot of countries and a lot of different regimes, some (many) of them reprehensible. Israel engages in trade with a lot of them, quite a few reprehensible ones included. Israel shares the UN General Assembly forum with tens of revolting and inhuman dictatorships. In all that Israel behaves like any other country, including the most enlightened democracies out there.

So what do I have to say on the subject of out relationships with American Christians? Yes, a small part of them may be antisemitic (not a big surprise) and a rather larger part of them may believe that the Jews should all gather here for the rather distant purpose of the second coming of Jesus (which expectation doesn't bother me a lot: we are a frisky gang and collecting us all in one place is a tall job). Yes, some of the American Christians were members of KKK and some were persecuting gay folks - but rather a smallish number of them persists in these two pastimes.

If you follow Ben's logic from here on consistently, we (Israel) should not only disconnect from the American Christians, but also abandon many (if not most) of our diplomatic and trade ties, leave the dictators club that calls itself UN etc. Actually, if we base our decisions about international ties on the existence of anti-Semites in a nation, I feel safe to say that we should simply fire all our Foreign Ministry staff and be done with it, not to mention closing down all the foreign trade - related outfits.

I strongly feel that Ben's rather politicized (to the left) worldview (not that I am going to argue with it here) and his youthful appetite for over-simplification had a strong impact on the article, denying it a sufficient measure of logic.

All in all - nope. Doesn't work for me, Ben.

(*) In this sentence, for instance:

I thought about how they have already come for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, intersex, asexual/aromantic, and otherwise non-heterosexual/non-cisgender (LGBTQIA+) community.
Some of the (hardly necessary) terms, like "aromantic" will provide me with some future study for sure.

(**) The definition of which, presented at the end of the article, is also somewhat flimsy. Is, for instance, Presbyterian Church of US, which is largely anti-Israel and quite antisemitic, to be considered left of right? 


Lynne T said...

Now that I am in my early 60s I really love it when we get these sweeping pieces from teenagers and twenty-somethigns.

Akaky said...

I'm 56 and I have socks older than this kid.

Akaky said...

"I thought about how they have already come for members of the
lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, intersex, asexual/aromantic, and
otherwise non-heterosexual/non-cisgender (LGBTQIA+) community."

So...do I want to know what an intersex is....hmmmm? Probably not.

Sennacherib said...

The Left is getting worried about you Jewish guys finding out how much support you have with the so called Christian Right.

Dick Stanley said...

The Presbys are leftists, just like the Methodists, the Unitarians, the Congregationalists and a few others, all of whose leaders champion divestment even when they can't always get their congregations to go along.

Baptists, like the folks who run United With Israel (http://unitedwithisrael.org/), and Church of Christ, etc., tend to be on the right. But Ben's playbook, from the NYTimes and NPR, only mentions the Christian right, as if there were no other kind, and stupidly assumes they are anti-Israel when it's exactly the opposite, i.e. the Christian left.

Are all the kids at Brown as dumb as Ben, I wonder?

Dick Stanley said...

Aromatic really is curious. A group that rejects bathing as wasteful of water? Maybe I'd be better off not knowing.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I wouldn't judge the guy by his age, although age is definitely a factor in the article.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Heh. It means that my socks could belong to his grandparent ;-)

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I have chosen to look up "aromantic", since my first misreading was "aromatic" and I feel some guilt regarding that one. To take up two terms will be too ambitious of me at this stage, I am sure.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Well, the author in question didn't give me any causes to doubt his sincerity. I think he really considers his position being a politically correct one.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Hm... I wouldn't say dumb, but too eager to have a solid point of view on the world and thus making the usual mistake of being too "black and white" in his vision, I suggest.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

So you had the same misreading. Cool. we both need a visit to an optician ;-)

Sennacherib said...

I doubt not his sincerity also, but as of late there have been many pieces like this to hit the public. There has been an undercurrent for several years of people noticing the somewhat "unexpected" support Jews and Israel has enjoyed with the more conservative religious (esp. Protestant) groups in the US. Since the Bibi/Congress Obama flair up and the Israeli elections going so much against Obama's and the Democrat's efforts there has been real concern in the US among Democratic circles that the typical US Jewish support for democrats is waning.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

I see what you mean, thanks.