The struggle for legitimacy defines all nations and ideological groups
Israel is a point of contention for one reason or another in most social circles. Certainly there are many different viewpoints which basically necessitate some radically opposed opinions. What is clear, however, is that a large portion of American evangelicals support Israel and have a soft spot deep down for the small, Mediterranean state.
The legitimacy of all nations is ultimately derived from those who give power to each particular state entity. To that end, the United States has as much legitimacy as it can enforce. This is given to it by people around the world who recognize US power. Israel follows the same pattern. At the same time the legitimacy of a Palestinian “nation” seems to go unrecognized. This is not by mistake. Israel is accorded the “right to defend itself” and Palestinians are generally not. Power is the root of all legitimacy.
Due to this imposition of geopolitical will, Israel has taken a good amount of public backlash. There are most likely very valid criticisms, like those regarding the means utilized by the Israeli Air Force in its most recent air campaign in Gaza, which warrant significant discussion. The Israeli Defense Forces are a viciously efficient military force. One of the primary reasons for this is Israel’s longstanding relationship with the United States (in other words, we helped build them into what they are) has moulded its foreign policy as well.
Radical fundamentalists in the Israeli government, and especially in the military, have taken to reacting to provocation by Hamas with, in practice, a “zero-tolerance” approach (provocation as “unacceptable”). Under the surface this most likely amounts to the assertion of legitimacy on the political level. To manage an ease into a peaceful situation in the Levant it will be necessary to take a look at all the historical and ideological undercurrents which define every struggle around the globe.
It is a simple fact that the state of Israel exists. The generation now coming to be and many of the previous two generations have grown up in a world which is, in a way, relatively “post-Zionist” (in that the Zionist ideal of a Jewish state has been affirmed). Because of this perception has changed, as most do over time.
Jewish roots go back thousands of years in the Syrian region. One possible similarity between modern Israel and that of the past could indeed be the connection with legitimacy. Being a fairly new polity, Israel must constantly prove that it is able to protect itself. This is a textbook case of geopolitical Darwinism. Israel has also proven itself to be a useful ally of the United States, although many may choose to make it seem as if the relationship were the reverse.
The history of Judaism, especially in Europe, consists largely in an interesting dichotomy between the themes of “domination” and diaspora. In a sense much of the Jewish population remained isolated from those cultures in which it lived. It makes complete sense that any Jewish state which had not existed for so long would create a large amount of friction, this is somewhat more so with the situation in the middle east.
The current geopolitics of the middle east region derive primarily from the latter years of the First World War, where the Ottoman Empire had been significantly weakened by a guerilla program of Arabian tribes under the command of Lawrence of Arabia. For centuries the Ottomans had controlled the region, and had likewise suppressed the entire population. There were undoubtedly ethnic and religious tensions, however these held less weight over time than the common enemy that existed in the Ottomans.
Jerusalem was taken by British forces during the Palestine Campaign in 1917. This amounted to, “a Christmas present for the British people,” according to Prime Minister David Lloyd George. What followed was a dismantling of former Ottoman possessions, directed primarily by the British and the French. The current map of the middle east can be seen to represent the origin of the map that we see today, the question is: will the struggle for legitimacy always draw in other nations?
II. The Evangelical Perspective
Now, this discussion must be prefaced by a short distinction between types of evangelicals. There are no doubt those who happen to be part of an evangelical group or congregation who are a-political or who are even extremely liberal. A large portion of evangelicals, however, subscribe to a very conservative, biblical interpretation of everything under the sun.
Jesus was a Jew. Now at first glance this may seem obvious, but underneath this statement lies centuries of misplaced hatred against the Jews generated largely through the use of Christian ideology. To a great extent the Christian system owes quite a bit to Judaism. This has been brushed away, however, in favor of a more Protestant, American deity.
The complete fulfillment of the Christian cosmology consists in the prophecies of the book of Revelation. These describe, in lofty imagery, the “end” of the civilized world. In the larger scheme of things this amounts to an annihilation of evil (Satan, also in a different way the figure of Lucifer) with the necessary victory of “good” symbolized by the return of Jesus Christ.
Revelation 3:12: “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.”
If Israel exerts its will on the world and legitimizes itself, then evangelicals will be affirmed. This is the simple truth. Through supporting Israel at any cost, often to the detriment of those standing in the way of the IDF, they put everything in its rightful place politically (so as to match perfectly with the metaphysical universe of scripture).
Evangelicals “tend to” support Israel because of their ideology. They are given “justification” however by real world facts about the state. As long as Israel remains as a net benefit to the foreign policy of the United States the official narrative will change little. If, for whatever reason, this relationship were to change in a significant way towards the negative end the question arises: will the evangelicals stay steadfast with the Israelis?
An accurate answer to this question may, indeed, require information that is not yet at hand. What is clear, however, is that the respective struggles for legitimacy of both the United States and Israel, for better or worse, are inextricably linked. Evangelicals, in essence, are by extension, using the Palestinian people as pawns in their ideological-geopolitical game of dominance.
III. What are the Solutions?
This topic is also hotly contested. Many solutions have been suggested, however there are three addressed in most social circles:
2) A one state solution within which two politically intertwined “mini-states” regulate themselves yet converge as one entity in matters of national defense etc.
3) A one state solution which would entail full assimilation by Israel.
The struggle for legitimacy is something that is by no means new. Every polity on earth has had to, in one way or another, mark itself on civilization. The American ideal, that which many evangelicals have a penchant for adopting with fervor, is somewhat also given legitimacy in this way.
Through the affirmation and appropriation of power so as to make the state of Israel exist, the United states has, in a way, acted to affirm itself in the geopolitical cosmology. Israel would not exist if it had not been for the systematic efforts of the United States and other western countries like Great Britain and France.
Necessarily the job is not complete. The people in Gaza do not yet live in an environment of freedom. The only solution to this is some type of representation, whether under the umbrella of a larger state or under an autonomous, political entity which must be given its due “legitimacy” by those in power.
The vast majority of Israelis do not hold delusions of world domination, they are just like every other citizen in the civilized world. While the ideology of evangelicals borders on cognitive dissonance, when one looks at the conflicting roles of the Jews in scripture and their actual treatment in the world througout history, it is clear that they will always seek to obtain legitimacy for themselves, often times at the expense of other groups. Whatever factor acts to give highly vocal evangelicals said power and legitimacy will be subsumed by the ideological mechanism and thoroughly digested as the continued survival of ideology depends on it.