Right-wing fundamentalists on all sides need to stop using the holy land and religion as a reason for war
The right-wing in Israel often justify the occupation of Palestinian land and the recent operation in Gaza by the virtue of the ancient biblical ideal that Israel is God’s Holy Land. Both the right-wing in Israel and the United States tend to view Israel and Palestine not as merely a geopolitical issue, but also a religious one. This just happens to be the aspect of the issue that the media tends to avoid.
Since as long as I can remember, I was told by my elders of the “Holy Land.” This place is said to be the modern day state of Israel, and that this entire region (and beyond) is said to be land granted by God to his “chosen people”, the Hebrews. I’ve often heard the phrase that Israel is the “apple of God’s eye”, and that this land was given specifically for the Jews, therefore all other political claims are void.
This is a belief that goes back many generations, of course. Honestly, the phenomenon of religious connection to the Palestine issue is strange. The original founders of the state of Israel were secular Jews, and were not deeply connected to the idea of a Jewish state in Israel being strictly tied to religious value. However, the connected always lingered subtly around in Israel, where today it is blossoming out.
While the government of Israel does not, overtly, use religion as a means to justify the occupation of the West Bank and brutality in Gaza, it does pander to these crowds who then are able to tie Israeli nationalist and patriotic sentiment into a religious issue as well. This issue is complex, and I in no way pretend to be an expert on the Jewish faith. However, the religious influence on Israeli Jews when it comes to the issue of Palestine cannot be ignored.
When it comes to Israel refusing to forgo its settlements (often expanding them instead) in the West Bank, many Israeli Jews tend to cling to the religious belief that God gave them the land. This is not an isolated belief among Israeli Jews, especially settlers. This is also not isolated among the right-wing in Israel, who are more than happy to use the biblical stories to justify continued oppression of a Palestinian state.
The continued war against Hamas in Gaza is subtly justified by Israel’s right to defend its “God given” land. The language used by many (real and possible) Israelis to describe Palestinians on the internet is getting more and more disturbing. Anti-Jewish sentiment is also rising, showing that the hatred cycle is getting too far gone to repair at this point. According to the Jewish and Christian right, this is all Gods Will.
Now, yes, it is true that the religious lunacy runs several ways on the issues in Israel/Palestine. The Islamic fundamentalists also believe that God gives them entitlement to the land, and Christians too have their own strange ideas. All of them together breed only further division and conflict. All agree that destruction will be the only outcome.
There is no Holy Land. I’m sorry if this offends religious sensibilities, but God did not give any one a “Holy Land” or a “chosen people.” This is all a concoction by ancient Hebrews writing under the auspices of a tribal religion. It’s pretty convenient that Hebrew scribes and priests just so happened to write a revealed religion in which their specifically molded idea of “God” created them as a holy chosen people. Just a pure coincidence.
I understand the sensibilities, but we cannot allow the right to get away with resorting to religion as a tool to justify war, otherwise it will never end. Religion is not exactly like politics. You cannot argue away a religious argument the way you can argue away a political dispute. If you sincerely believe that the divine is on your side, then no matter of rational debate will sway you.