Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Things That You're Liable to Read in the Bible

Gaza and Genesis
We Americans decided by ourselves that we were the world’s leader and that the other 96 percent of humanity had better obey if they didn’t want visits from the CIA or the 82nd Airborne. Over the last two centuries we used force on hundreds of occasions in every part of the world to get our way. One can only imagine how many more wars we would have fought if we actually had a contract from God, inscribed in the Bible, that sanctified our conquests.
One quite aggressive country does. If you want to know what Israel is all about open your good book to Genesis 15:18 and you'll find a reason for a lot of the bloodshed in the Middle East. If you don’t have one handy, it says that “the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.” It means that all or parts of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq belong to the Jews, according to the ultimate authority.
If you’ve been to their country, you’ll know that the Israelis are a tough bunch and not so much frightened by pinprick rocket attacks from Gaza as ticked at the countries that God meant them to rule. Their mien can be likened to that of a landlord anxious to drive out his tenants so that he can move in his relatives.
In furtherance of its grace from Genesis, Israel has taken land from all four of its neighbors and has organized its military to dominate the region well beyond its biblical bequest. Every few years, the Israelis kill great numbers of nearby residents and blow up their civil infrastructure to encourage their docility or departure. That's what happened in the summer of 2006 in Lebanon and today in Gaza. But like a cat with eyes bigger than its belly, Israel has been obliged at times to spit up some of its conquests either because of persistent resistance or because too few colonists could be found to inhabit the lands taken.
But no matter how violent the Israelis get, the neighbors don’t go away. They bury their dead, remain refractory, and make babies at double the rate of the Israelis. The Arabs believe that down the road, incha’allah, their numbers and their presence will prevail and that Israel will go the way of its erstwhile model, the late, unlamented Union of South Africa. In other words, Israel will become a multinational state rather than an apartheid one.
That will make some Jews miserable, particularly the observant kind who take the real estate deed in the Bible seriously. But it might intrigue secular Jews willing to chance living in a land in which they are only influential but not dominant. I say might because nothing is sure in that part of the world, whether it’s gospel or not.

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