World War III?I have taken a lot of heat in the past for my criticisms of Israel, and specifically U.S. overinvolvement with the Jewish State and general policy of support for Israel at all costs. It is often said that Israel is "an island of stability" in the Middle East and that it is the only stable "democracy" in the region. If by the use of the term "democracy" we mean a nation where its people enjoy basic human rights and have good reason to expect that their human dignity may be respected, it is reasonable to say that we can find Israel to be greatly lacking in that regard.
While I find Israel's policy on gun rights for citizens to be one of the most free in the world and I also support Israel's unique policy on military service for all able-bodied citizens, that country still has miles to go on the human rights front and even the press freedom arena. Many American Christians, particularly those of an evangelical or fundamentalist hue, assume that the Israeli government is friendly to Christians because many ministers are friendly to Israel (this is largely because of a certain view of biblical prophecy that interprets mention of Israel in a prophetic sense to mean the modern state-I may deal with this view in an entry at a later date). If you are a Christian and you live in Israel, however, you are viewed with a great deal of suspicion. If you are a Christian from a Jewish background and you convert to Christianity, you are often treated as though you are dead by your family, friends, and the larger society. If people can get past the "dead" treatment, a Christian is often viewed at least with suspicion, as though their first loyalty is not with Israel.
A great part of the reason for that suspicion is that a majority of Christians in Israel/Palestine are Arabs and/or Palestinians and have been for a very long time. At the time of the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, there were over 500,000 Arab Palestinian Christians. Today, there are fewer than 100,000. Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, was once a majority Christian city, but today Christians comprise around 5% of the population of the town. Not only do the Muslim terrorists harass Christians in the Palestinian territories, but Israel also treats these people as non-entities in terms of having any serious rights. Many Arab Christians have come to America, so many in fact that the majority of Arabs in America identify themselves as Catholic or Orthodox.
When the U.S. takes sides in Arab-Israeli disputes, we further damage our profile in a region where it isn't just terrorists that distrust or dislike the Jewish State, it is the average citizen-the man on the street. That is why the President took the wrong approach when UN ambassador John Bolton was instructed to veto the resolution condemning Israel-the right approach would have been to abstain from the vote. That doesn't excuse the actions of Hezbullah in the least, that organization is a ruthless and merciless terrorist group-but their feud is the result of kidnapping Israeli soldiers, and the United States should not take any action to expand that war to include us-especially when our troop levels are stretched dangerously thin fighting wars on two fronts.
Most importantly, we should hold Israel to the same standards that we hold the other powers of the earth. When we speak of human rights and human dignity, those standards need to apply to Israel as much as the U.S. applies them to many other powers. Failure to do so could inadvertantly drag our country into World War III.
(Cross-posted to Where I Stand)