December 26, 2006


Banality And Barefaced Lies (Robert Fisk, 26 December, 2006, The Independent)

I call it the Alice in Wonderland effect. Each time I tour the United States, I stare through the looking glass at the faraway region in which I live and work for The Independent - the Middle East - and see a landscape which I do no recognise, a distant tragedy turned, here in America, into a farce of hypocrisy and banality and barefaced lies. Am I the Cheshire Cat? Or the Mad Hatter?

I picked up Jimmy Carter's new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid at San Francisco airport, and zipped through it in a day. It's a good, strong read by the only American president approaching sainthood.

Way to answer your own question.

A Religious Problem (MICHAEL B. OREN , December 26, 2006, Opinion Journal)

Whether in its secular and/or observant manifestations, Israel clearly discomfits Mr. Carter, a man who, even as president, considered himself in "full-time Christian service." Yet, in revealing his unease with the idea of Jewish statehood, Mr. Carter sets himself apart from many U.S. presidents before and after him, as well as from nearly 400 years of American Christian thought.

Generations of Christians in this country, representing a variety of dominations, laymen and clergy alike, have embraced the concept of renewed Jewish sovereignty in Palestine. The passion was already evident in 1620, when William Bradford alighted on Plymouth Rock and exclaimed, "Come, let us declare the word of God in Zion." Bradford was a leader of the Puritans, dissenting Protestants who, in their search for an unsullied religion and the strength to resist state oppression, turned to the Old Testament. There, they found a God who spoke directly to his people, who promised to deliver them from bondage and return them to their ancestral homeland. Appropriating this narrative, the Puritans fashioned themselves as the New Jews and America as their New Promised Land. They gave their children Hebrew names--David, Benjamin, Sarah, Rebecca--and called over 1,000 of their towns after Biblical places, including Bethlehem, Bethel and, of course, New Canaan.

Identifying with the Jews, a great many colonists endorsed the notion of restoring Palestine to Jewish control. Elias Boudinot, president of the Continental Congress, predicted that the Jews, "however scattered . . . are to be recovered by the mighty power of God, and restored to their beloved . . . Palestine." John Adams imagined "a hundred thousand Israelites" marching triumphantly into Palestine. "I really wish the Jews in Judea an independent nation," he wrote. During the Revolution, the association between America's struggle for independence and the Jews' struggle for repatriation was illustrated by the proposed Great Seal designed by Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, showing Moses leading the Children of Israel toward the Holy Land.

Restorationism became a major theme in antebellum religious thought and a mainstay of the Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian churches. In his 1844 bestseller, "The Valley of the Vision," New York University Bible scholar George Bush--a forebear of two presidents of the same name--called on the U.S. to devote its economic and military might toward re-creating a Jewish polity in Palestine. But merely envisioning such a state was insufficient for some Americans, who, in the decades before the Civil War, left home to build colonies in Palestine. Each of these settlements had the same goal: to teach the Jews, long disenfranchised from the land, to farm and so enable them to establish a modern agrarian society. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln said that "restoring the Jews to their homeland is a noble dream shared by many Americans," and that the U.S. could work to realize that goal once the Union prevailed.

Nineteenth-century restorationism reached its fullest expression in an 1891 petition submitted by Midwestern magnate William Blackstone to President Benjamin Harrison. The Blackstone Memorial, as it was called, urged the president to convene an international conference to discuss ways of reviving Jewish dominion in Palestine. Among the memorial's 400 signatories were some of America's most preeminent figures, including John D. Rockefeller, J. Pierpont Morgan, Charles Scribner and William McKinley. By the century's turn, those advocating restored Jewish sovereignty in Palestine had begun calling themselves Zionists, though the vast majority of the movement's members remained Christian rather than Jewish. "It seems to me that it is entirely proper to start a Zionist State around Jerusalem," wrote Teddy Roosevelt, "and [that] the Jews be given control of Palestine."

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 26, 2006 10:00 AM

Sainthood? Only the Vatican is in the saint-making business these days, so is Fisk a Catholic then?

Posted by: erp at December 26, 2006 10:26 AM

Mrs. Erp, it's a lefty tactic to drain the goodness from words and groups. Liberal used to be a good word, remember?

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at December 26, 2006 1:40 PM

Jimmuh's a Saint alright, in the church which went by the name of CCCP.

Posted by: KRS at December 26, 2006 3:20 PM

Rbt. I was using sarcasm in my previous comment and yes, I remember when liberal was a good thing and being discriminating was a compliment to good taste.

Language has been turned on its head by the masters of semantics.

Posted by: erp at December 26, 2006 3:32 PM

I suspect Jimmy hates the Jews for much the same reason James Baker does. Carter probably nurses some grudge from 1955, and everytime he heard about Israel from his advisors (or from members of Congress), it was always "the Jews".

The notion that he dislikes only secular Jews and wishes Israel were a kingdom with the Temple re-built is nonsense.

And let's face it, Jimmy doesn't like anyone who points out his moral failures. Siding with Arab terrorists and Saudi princes is a pretty big hole, no?

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 26, 2006 11:29 PM