07 November 2009

Reality vs. Fantasy in the Land of Israel

The very mention of the Land of Israel can evoke radically different feelings and images in people. After very extensive research into the world of American web sites and forums, backed up by newspaper accounts and other reading, I summarize below the sentiments or feelings towards Israel (and let it go without further mention that I am generalizing, ok?).

I - Those who love Israel, which can be divided between A)Jews, and B) Christians of a less denominational and more directly Biblical approach. Both groups can accept failings and imperfections in Israel, without their faith in Israel being shaken. They idealize the idea of Israel, accept Israel as legitimate, but know that Israel is a real place with traffic jams and politicians.

II - Those who have strong, distinctly negative feelings towards Israel A) based on their own religious convictions, or B) who hate Israel for ideological reasons, most typically various neo-Nazi affiliates, and various Muslim groups.

Not all of the II-A group here are anti-Semitic at a personal level. They may abhore terrorism, or prejudice, but sincerely believe that the Nation of Israel died 1900 years ago, and that the current state is unrelated to any ancient Israel. Sometimes they believe that Israel is populated by some kind of counterfeit Jew, Edomite, Essauites, Khazari/Ashkenazis.

Group II-B folks are personal and inyofacist haters.

I was shocked to find that highly denominational and mainstream Protestants were frequently part of religious organizations which did not look upon Israel favourably, primarily because their theology says that they have replaced Israel in the eyes of God. Thus Israel as I know it is, to them, illegitimate. Catholic theology is also replacement oriented, and whatever the rapproachment of diplomats and high priests on either side, relations between the Catholic world and the Jewish world are not friendly and warm. Any warmth or friendship is at the level of personal friendships, which I would never belittle, but is not part of my point here. After all, many Jews and Muslim Arabs are friends, too.

III - Those who are indifferent to Israel, who know almost nothing about Israel, and never thought enough about Israel to have an opinion.

I don't worry much about them for now, but many of them can be led like sheep against Israel if future winds blow ill in such a way that impinges on their indifference, and blame can be laid upon Israel.

Why so much opinion about Israel at all on the Net? Why so much hatred of Israel, attempts to delegitimize Israel, cast Jews in a negative role historically? It is difficult to assess the degree of Israel-hatred in America, but all evidence points to a significant and lively base of enmity for Israel that cuts across the grain of society.

What historical events have lead to two groups, both self-identifying as Christian, one which has no good word for Israel, and the other which expresses a profound love for Israel?

Israel sets one man's heart to flutter, and another man's heart to ire. And for good reason, too. But I'm not telling. Not just yet . . .


Carolyn said...

You are generalizing, yet there is much truth here. I am in group I-B. The Bible clearly states that Israel is God's chosen people. His promise to Abraham stands to eternity; God changes not. Christians have not, cannot, replace Israel in God's eyes...or heart.

דוד נתנאל סיגל said...

That's why I I mentioned that I was generalizing. More detailed research would show lots of variations, and lots of anomolies. However, this preliminary research makes for a good jumping-off point to further investigations of the matter of views popular and reasoned, traditonal and contemporary. What is interesting to me is how many variations on the theme there are. As a Jew of Israel studying how we are perceived, I have actually developed a very positive definition of "Christian," which is based on those who follow the teachings of their faith as expressed in the Bible, and those who do not. I don't mean "follow perfectly," but I do mean that I do NOT blame Christianity for behaviour or belief that demonstrates a blatantly anti-Christian basis. It wouldn't be fair to blame Christians for what Catholic Crusaders did, nor what neo-pagan Nazis did, or Russian Orthodox, etc. We Jews grow up accepting that anyone who says that they are Christians, must therefore be. And thinking that those bejeweled flowing-robed Catholic and Greek/Russian Orthodox priests are especially Christian. Is our view a little jaundiced? In a way, but yet living, raw experience for us. I am more than happy now to make the distinction between Biblical Christian faith, and cultural pseudo-Christianity. Wouldn't be fair otherwise: A Jew is forbidden by God to bear false witness against anyone, Jew or Gentile, friend or enemy.