Christian and American Zionism is not new, and it remains a strong root for the nearly unshakable pro-Israeli policy adopted by the US. Despite a half-century of violence, the bombing of a US spy ship in 1967, ongoing crimes against humanity in Gaza and the West Bank, and sometimes conflicting interests, the US has been a steadfast ally of Israel. The AIPAC and pro-Israel lobby works hard to demonize anti-Zionists as anti-semites, and for the establishment, criticism of the state of Israel and Knesset is nearly synonymous with hatred for Jews, thanks to their efforts. This creates a polite, cordial, even cloying swarm of US leaders who continually reaffirm their support for the state as “the only democracy in the Mideast.”
Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the house and frequent target of the reactionary right, is actually firmly in line with the establishment policy of supporting Israel regardless of it’s actions;
There are hundreds of college students here today. Allow me to speak directly to the students. Thankfully, you are too young to have witnessed the darkest chapters of the last century – the Naziism, communism, and authoritarianism. But in your eyes I see the glow of one of the brightest stars of the past century- the founding of the State of Israel… On behalf of all who cherish freedom, thank you for your commitment to the ideal sand values that define our two democracies- the United states and Israel. My grandchildren tell me that this week begins the month of Nisan, the month of miracles, the month of deliverance. And over the coming weeks, Israelis and Jews everywhere will mark the miracles that have brought us to this day: The survivors who endured the darkness of the Shoah and who braved their way to the light of Israel; The heroes of Israeli independence who prevailed against overwhelming odds, And all those who have defended Israel through decades of struggle and sacrifice – including a fallen hero Americans and Israelis mourned together – Space Shuttle ah Columbia astronaut Colonel Ilan Ramon, who literally took the Torah to the stars. This is the spirit that defines the American-Israeli partnership. America stands with Israel now. America will stand with Israel forever. We will never abandon Israel. We will never abandon Israel.God bless you. God bless our men and women serving on the front-lines today. And God bless our special relationship between the United states of American and the State of Israel.- Nancy Pelosi, AIPAC speech, 2003″
“As Israel continues to take risks for peace, she will have no friend more steadfast than the United States. In the words of Isaiah, we will make ourselves to Israel “as hiding places from the winds and shelters from the tempests; as rivers of water in dry places; as shadows of a great rock in a weary land.” The United States will stand with Israel now and forever. Now and forever. -N. Pelosi, AIPAC speech, May 2005
In the first speech, Ms. Pelosi draws a contrast between light and darkness – the oldest dichotomy of good and evil. The creation of Israel is directly contrasted with Nazism, a reflection of the Western powers guilt and sympathy after the atrocities of Germany were revealed at the end of World War 2. Israel’s status as a fellow democracy is re-affirmed, drawing into mind the joys of minds like Francis Fukuyama at the prospect of international globalization and secular free-market democracies triumph over all other types of government, effectively “ending history.” Because democracies never attack democracies, there is a subtle suggestion that everyone else is fair game. When speaking about Nisan, Pelosi implies the religious belief in miracles, literally from Moses’s exodus to astronauts with sacred texts in space. The heroes of independence she references were responsible for the murder of nearly 800 civilians and prisoners of war, the emptying of nearly 400 Arab villages and towns, and the exile of 650,000-750,000 Palestinains who either fled the country or were expelled from their homes by Yishuv forces.
The strong affirmation of US-GOI relations is linked to the “heroic spirit” of citizen-soldiers both Israeli and American, linking that bond to the powerful image of the warrior in mythology, a strong figure to cultures and states going back to ancient Greek epics, and still significant to nationalistic patriotism (a central theme of recruiting efforts). Finally, she invokes the Judeo-Christian God which Jews and Christians, lapsed and otherwise, can recognize as the same.
In the second excerpt, Pelosi directly cites a biblical theme where each man’s nobility is recognized in a kingdom of righteousness, and guarded from the elements of chaos, but she applies that as parallel to America’s special protectionism of Israel, an interesting twist of scripture. As Boer points out in Political Myth, the United States has stepped into this text, and the implication of “now and forever” indicates the enduring presence of America into the past as well as the future, The US is the protector of not just modern Israel, but biblical Judea and Israel, and would have surely battled for them against the Romans, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, repeat ad infinitum.
Pelosi is obviously not the only mythmaker for the US, Boer cites Condaleezza Rice as another distortionist for the cause. I’ll cite at greater length than Boer:
“In 1776, cynics and skeptics could not see an independent America, so they doubted that it could be so. They saw only 13 colonies that could never hang together and would surely hang separately. But there were others who had a vision, a vision of the United States as a free and great nation, a democracy, and one day, a complete multiethnic society. With perseverance, the American people made that vision a reality. In 1948, cynics and skeptics could not see the promise of Israel, so they doubted it, said it could never be fulfilled. They saw only a wounded and wandering people beset on all sides by hostile armies.
But there were those who had another vision, a vision of a Jewish state that would shelter its children, defend its sacred homeland, turn its desert soil green and reaffirm the principles of freedom and democracy. With courage, the Israeli people made that vision a reality.
Today, cynics and skeptics cannot see a democratic Middle East, so they doubt that it is a realistic goal. They focus only on the despotism that has shaped the region’s past and still defines much of its present. But ladies and gentlemen, make no mistake, freedom is on the march in Afghanistan and Iraq and in Lebanon and in Georgia and Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan and in the Palestinian territories.
Yes, it is hard and progress is uneven. There are violent men who will stop at nothing to prevent democracy’s rise. Yet people all across the Middle East today are talking and demonstrating and sharing their vision for a democratic future. Many have given their very lives to this noble purpose.
The United States and Israel must defend the aspirations of all people who long to be free. And with our unwavering support, we can help to make the promise of democracy a reality for the entire region.” – Condoleeza Rice, May 23, 2005
Wow. First, by referring to the “promise” of Israel, Boer points out the way this echoes the “dual promise to Abraham and Jacob of a great people and a great land.” “Wounded and wandering” obviously refers to not just the disposia but the 40 years spent in the wilderness while the Hebrews got their act in order and stopped worshiping golden calfs (but started worshiping golden snakes). Sacred homeland is the promised la
nd, which the Canaanites had been wiped out of once, and suggestably must be removed again (incidentally, I remember hearing something awhile back about how settlers call Palestinians “Canaanites” or some slur a variation-therof, but I can’t confirm it). “Turn its desert soil green“ both suggests a biblical theme of a harvest for those with God’s vision, and that the land was not put to use effectively before the foundation of Israel. The truth is the Palestinians are/were an agrarian society that depended on farming, especially olive and pomegranate trees. The IDF has a healthy policy of destroying such orchids or separating farmers from their lands with “the wall” (formally known as the Israeli West Bank barrier).
“Freedom is on the march” sounds eerily like that statist nationalism that loves goosestepping and spit-polish uniforms. It raises the question, who is being marched over? The rest of the excerpt contains the same sort of suggestive overtones that excuse civilian casualties, blames everything on single, insane despots, and justifies, legitimizes, and sanctifies the actions of Israel and the United States in the Middle East to “defend the aspirations of all people who long to be free.” As I’ve wrote before, the United States is less concerned with the human rights of those people than the economic liberties they have and the potential for new markets; or else their concerns would extend to Saudi women who are treated as inferior and frequently murdered in honor-killings by their own family members, Israeli liberal groups who are targeted by their own administration, much less native Palestinians who are likened to Africans under apartheid, due to “a system of control including separate roads, inequities in infrastructure, legal rights, and access to land and resources between Palestinians and Israeli residents in the Israeli-occupied territories.”