20 May 2011

Discerning Discernment Ministries Part 4- An Addendum: Obama, Israel, Christian Media and Strauss-Kahn

Anyone reading this series may think that Obama's speech on 19 May has negated what I've said here regarding Israel. Howse argues that Obama has betrayed Israel and some would argue Obama’s speech vindicates this argument. Certainly this morning (20 May), this is the language being used by the Right. A couple of points.

1. The theological issues don't change. The Christian Right will be making a lot of noise about Obama's challenge to Israel to revert to the pre-1967 borders. They'll view it as a betrayal, and theologically speaking....a heresy.

I continue to argue Dispensationalism is itself a grave error and so any historical or contemporary interpretations based on that theology are in doubt.

2. It must be remembered that George Mitchell just resigned. This man was an esteemed diplomat who brokered the peace in Northern Ireland, which was pretty amazing. I remember scoffing at the time. I didn’t believe it to be possible.

After two years working with the Israeli-Palestinian issue, he's given up....why? The situation is impossible. Both sides are at fault but the Netanyahu administration plainly does not want peace. Likud is committed to expansionism. Ironically their rhetoric reminds me of the Lebensraum argument we heard in the 1930's. Israel’s settlement movement and the issue of Jerusalem are preventing peace.

3. Obama is announcing a reality which I’m sure is keeping folks up at night in Tel Aviv. The paradigm has changed, and at this point no one knows where it’s going to. Bush destabilized the Middle East, but Obama is left with the mess.

Mubarak is gone, the Camp David model has come to an end. America has a long history of supporting dictators and militaristic regimes to support their foreign policy. Sometimes it backfires. Right now I am confident the United States is busy attempting to co-opt the situation in Egypt. They have many allies in the Egyptian military (I remember seeing them on American bases) and when all is said and done, Cairo may once again be positioned on the American side of things, but the new regime’s situation will be precarious. The Camp David paradigm threw the Palestinians ‘under the bus,’ and has always been unpopular and viewed as immoral. A new regime in Cairo will not be able to return to this model or they too will be overthrown.

4. Netanyahu has refused to acknowledge the changing situation and to be honest he’s a bit scary. He’s the type to do something radical and further de-stabilize the situation. No one knows what’s going to happen in Syria. The Turkish-Israeli d├ętente has broken down and the friendship ended. The United States has continued and will continue to stand with Israel but at this point time Washington doesn’t want to further destabilize the Middle East. American allies in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have brutally suppressed their protestors and the United States and most of its media looked the other way. If Saudi Arabia falls, the United States is in trouble. The Empire will come crashing down.

The United States won’t abandon Israel, but Obama has clearly and quite boldly challenged the unbelievable Netanyahu administration. This may bring Netanyahu down. The Israeli public will either rally to him or view him as a failure. Time will tell. If they’re smart, they’ll remove him with a no confidence vote. His government has failed. The George Mitchell departure sent this signal to the international community.

5. The American Empire is in trouble. It’s like a gambling addict with a bunch of a credit cards. All the power-players are trying to leverage it to the max without falling off the cliff. And the problem is, it’s not one gambler but hundreds or thousands of big players, powerful industries who are entrenched in the American system and push America’s government and foreign policy. As individual entities, they want everyone else to throttle back while they maximize profits.

The military is due for re-structuring which costs money. The debt, a large portion of it tied to the ultra-powerful military-industrial complex, is out of control. The Middle Eastern paradigm has changed and neither the CIA, State Department bribes, nor the military can change it at the moment. The United States is broke. Its domestic economic paradigm is in trouble.

6. Israel won’t acknowledge this. The Obama regime wants peace now and quickly. Thus far, until just a few days ago, the Palestinians have amazingly not taken to the streets. They have not participated in the Arab Spring. If they do, ……with a fanatic like Netanyahu at the helm and the rest of the Middle East in turmoil…who knows what could happen? Fatah’s sudden peace with Hamas signals a change on the Palestinian street. Fatah, long an American and Israeli asset has become democratically insolvent. It either must collapse or for the first time actually represent the interests of the people. This move shows it has chosen the latter…at least for the moment.

Obama is moving quickly to assuage the Palestinians, slap down Netanyahu before he acts, and face the realities of the new situation. A peace deal in Israel may in fact calm down the Middle East and allow the United States to being focusing on some other issues. The situation is both dangerous and desperate and it may backfire.

7.What will Hamas do? Will they, like the IRA lay down their arms for peace?

What will Netanyahu do? Will he lash out at street protests? Will his administration be brought down? Ehud Barak or someone like him might be able to sign a deal. Or will he do something crazy?

What will Dispensationalists in America do if some of the Israeli Settlements (which they help fund) are forced to dismantle? Will a lone nut do something desperate to stop Obama? To destroy an attempt at peace?

Is it Sarajevo in 1914? I hope not.

Is Obama changing things? Yes and no. He’s not changing things because he hates Israel. He’s a pragmatist and the situation on the ground has changed.

8. One thing we can guarantee……the Christian and Right Wing media are not going to cover this fairly. Over-simplification and emotion will rule. The agenda will drive the analysis. You can bet on it.

I was thinking about this yesterday as I listened to Christian coverage of the Strauss-Kahn affair. Why are the French so upset and offended at his treatment?

The answer according to Christian media…they have a loose morality which has no problem with sexual sin. It’s no big deal to them and the leader of the IMF shouldn’t be treated this way. Of course the American Right is also quite pleased the French Socialist candidate has been brought down. Washington likes Sarkozy. He’s proven to be a good American lapdog, unlike many other French presidents.

The real issue in France surrounds their notion of freedom and individual rights. They’ve long been bitter that the United States is viewed as the custodian of freedom and democracy. They view this as their right and America as a giant hypocrite…which it is. Of course the French also need to acknowledge their empire in Southeast Asia and Western Africa was hardly in the spirit of Democratic values. Napoleon wanted to spread the Revolutions ideals by force and the French Empire continued this error and their legacy is nothing to be proud of either.

Nevertheless, they’re not inclined to bow to American leadership on these points. For the French the idea that companies, telemarketers could call you home at any hour is outrageous and a sell-out of individual rights. The idea that someone who is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty could be paraded on television in handcuffs is outrageous and morally offensive to their concepts of justice. It’s not about disregarding sexual behaviour. In fact their attitude on that point reflects not so much their attitudes about sex, but their notions of individual liberty in a civil society. I guarantee you many French find the philandering of French leaders to be shameful, but they also believe the government should not be controlling individual private behaviour and they sure don’t want the government in their bedrooms. The American Right’s moral posturing they view as immoral because of its totalitarian tendency. It’s a civic morality, a broad concept, a social contract for a stable a peaceful society. Americans, especially the Right don’t think in these terms at all.

They also find America’s business practices immoral and the notion that doctors cannot freely practice medicine but have to get approval from an insurance company? This is barbaric to their mind. They view the American medical system and the doctors who participate in it as mercenary and contrary to any concept of decency. It’s not practicing medicine, it’s exploitation of the weak and sick.

The French were happy to have American help in removing the Nazis from their land during the war. And they were happy to acquiesce to America’s leadership during the post-war years. But they were not happy to bow to American dominance of Western Europe by a vast military presence. France had overseas holdings, a democratic legacy they were proud of, and America’s victory did not give it the right to treat the former European powers as fiefdoms.

Though the American public doesn’t remember, the French certainly remember American participation in the attempt to kill de Gaulle who had stood up to the American domination and their then and continued co-opting of Great Britain, America’s greatest subject-state. America didn’t want to defend French interests in Algeria, but were happy to work with those who did in order to meet their goals in Europe.

The French love Americans but in many ways hate our government and its legacy. Was Christian media going to deal with any of this? Hardly. Instead it was cast in terms of American Culture War, the promoting of the Right’s hatred of the French and Right-wing goals regarding American foreign policy.

The same kind of lopsided, uninformed, and agenda driven coverage will be provided in interpreting the present Obama-Israel issue. The public doesn’t have the stomach or intellect for complexity and the Right wing media continues to exploit this fact.

Get ready the onslaught is coming. The Dispensationalists are going to be loud.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

John
I agree that the Dispensationalists will run with this, and heaven forbid that we end up with another Harold Camping type embarrassing scenario.All of this does make for an intriguing read regarding the unique nature of geo politics in the region, but what on earth is Obama doing, does he really need to light another fire, aren't threre enough distractions already in existence in the mid east? . My two cents worth.... if Obama cannot quell the disquiet that is rumbling under his nose , how does he expect to influence " freedoms" else where. My guess is that there is another agenda here, and one that is clearly not of Obama's initiative.

Ray

Protoprotestant said...

I think Netanyahu has blocked any progress...at least that's what folks are saying. I think Washington is pretty desperate to calm the Israel-Palestinian situation before it explodes like the rest of the Middle East. I'm surprised it hasn't yet.

Obama's speech was full of typical hypocrisy...we support the democracy and the overthrow of dictators...yeah, right. They didn't support the overthrow of their allies....until it was prudent to do so. Now, oh yes, we support it.

Except in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

It's all a game.

And I think you're right...Obama and all modern presidents are limited in their power. They wield power at a certain level but on many fronts and in many ways, they are limited by the very potent Power-Complex that runs the country.

Interesting times eh?

Another interesting thing is that his statement regarding the 1967 borders...it's the same paradigm all the talks have been based on for over ten years. When Clinton met with Ehud Barak and Arafat back in 2000...that was the model.

It's the Settlements...some will stay, some will have to go.

It's the Right of Return...which may be resolved if statehood is declared

It's Jerusalem...which has to be divided. The Palestinians may get 1/2, but may have to place their capital elsewhere.

And it's Israel's security...the Palestinians have to de-militarize.

Probably the biggest thing is...the Israeli's have to quit building settlements and abandon some, and the Palestinians have to disarm.

I think what was shocking about Obama's speech was the timing and the fact that he vocalized what was usually reserved from the bargaining table. Since he was meeting with Netanyahu the next day...the timing was a slap to Netanyahu. He deserves it. He's not interested in peace. He's all but made that clear.

I think the Republicans just look for any opportunity to jump on him, especially on this issue. It stirs a big chunk of their base and it offsets the Bin Laden raid which was causing the Republicans great pain...they had to compliment him and it hurt.

Increasingly our presidents look the same, no matter what party they're in. I remember back in '92...the world was going to end because Clinton took over. What happened? Nothing. They got rich, the American empire grew etc...etc...

And they'll get everyone worked up again. 2012 will break all fundraising records to be sure. This may be the billion dollar election. Christians will be the first to sign up I'm afraid.

The big question for today...will Camping go away now?

It's sad, I remember back in the 1980's he was pretty good.