Thursday, February 7, 2008

Allies for Armageddon (Book #11)

Allies for Armageddon: The Rise of Christian Zionism (Victoria Clark, 2007) explores the Religious Right's role in Middle Eastern politics. Half of the book studies the history of the movement from roughly 1600 to 1948, while the other half, IMHO the more interesting one, focuses on the belief common in conservative Christian circles that Israel has absolute, divinely ordained title to a big swath of the Middle East, including Israel, the Occupied Territories, and then some. You'll occasionally see bumper stickers in the Bible Belt that say "My country--right or wrong." You don't see "Israel--God's country, right or wrong," but that belief goes even deeper. Basically, the Palestinians don't matter, and conflict in the Middle East is a good thing, because it brings the apocalypse and Jesus' return that much closer.

It's crazy. And I used to believe it myself, 15 years or so ago. It appealed to me then because, if you accept the worldview behind it, it has a certain internal logic. Also, at that age, I loved the idea that I might be living at the CLIMAX OF HISTORY! Now? I've had enough interesting times. I'd like a few boring, uneventful decades to live my life and raise my kid and write some books. Anyway, Clark's book is a decent summary of the movement, which she seems to understand better than most outsiders.

(For the record, I'm still a Zionist in the sense that I support Israel's right to exist within safe and secure borders and to defend itself on the same terms that any other nation might. It's just that I now believe there should be a Palestinian state as well, that if something is wrong for America, the UK, Japan, etc. to do it's also wrong for Israel, and I no longer believe that 1948 triggered some kind of prophetic countdown to the Second Coming.)

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