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Monday, October 07, 2002

Prelude To Halloween

Did you catch the piece on “60 Minutes” last night about the Fundamentalist Christian Right’s maniacal support for Israel? On its face, that sounds like a good thing. Isn’t it nice that this group, usually stamped as closed-minded, has opened its hearts—and its pocket books—to its Jewish brethren?

You would be correct if you find yourself having the reaction that it couldn’t be that simple. Seems that, according to the Fundamentalist interpretation of Prophecy, the Jews need to be in control of all of Israel/Palestine—from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River—as a prelude to the battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming.

And what happens to the Jews after that, you might be impertinent enough to ask? Turns out that most of them are slaughtered in the battle, and the ones that remain are converted to Christ. Well, isn’t that just peachy? A tip of the hat to all you great Jewish guys for holding off those pesky Muslims so that you can be killed in the name of The Messiah that you never accepted in the first place. Or if you’re lucky enough to survive, you can renounce the faith of your fathers and be granted entry to the fold of the True Chosen Ones.

Is there anything scarier than those—I don’t care what the faith is-- that absolutely KNOW the word and will of The Almighty? How about those Freddy Krueger clergy (Jerry Falwell included) interviewed by Bob Simon in his excellent piece? Some samples of their inspired Word of God opinions: Mohammed was a terrorist; Rabin’s assassination was the will of God; the Palestinians should all be sent packing into Jordan;
there should be more, not less West Bank settlements; the Oslo Accords are the work of the Devil, and so on.

The scariest part is that this Right-believing group is now a significant portion of our electorate—40 to 70 million by various estimates. They are now the core constituency of one of our major political parties. You have to be almost as old as I am to remember when the Republican Party was primarily a business-class, internationalist, civil-rights supporting group with a healthy internal liberal-conservative debate. When was the last time you heard of a “Rockefeller Republican?”

George W has learned the lesson well—whatever you do; don’t alienate the new core constituency. And doesn’t that tell us a lot about the context of Middle East policy being forged in his administration? As the “60 Minutes” piece showed, there’s a backdrop for the belligerency.

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