A Diem That Needs Some Carping
The current conflict between Israel and the United States is a really odd one. For the Israelis, the whole thing is a matter of life and death, a serious conflict. On the Obama/Kerry side of things, their behavior more closely resembles a one-sided junior high girls’ slap fight. But before getting into all that, a few disclaimers.
The disclaimers are necessary because the topic of Israel is one which when broached frequently causes a festival of sweet reason to break out. Or one assumed it was supposed to be a festival of sweet reason, said something sensible therefore, and found oneself vituperated soundly with accusations that one was of the Joooooss.
Since the bottom line is that I am pro-Israel, in a way that our president most assuredly is not, I must therefore begin with the disclaimers. Pro-Israel does not mean being in favor of everything Israel might be, say, or do. Since the very first thing that will happen in the comments section here is that someone will require me to defend something I do not wish to defend, I thought it best to get all that out of the way. I think I can do it in one paragraph.
I am a Christian first, and the Lordship of Jesus Christ extends over all nations, including Israel.
They have no less of an obligation to confess that Jesus rose from the dead than any other nation does, and arguably much more of an obligation to do so. Secularism is a bad idea everywhere, and so it is a bad idea in Israel as well.
Second, support for Israel does not mean that you have to think that Zionism was a topping idea. I think it was a really bad idea, but that doesn’t keep Israel from being there now, a reality to be reckoned with. In a similar way, Manifest Destiny was an idea that I reject with all my heart and soul—but that doesn’t keep me from living in Idaho. Where would I move? Everywhere is the result of a bad idea.
Third, the dunderheads who carved up the Middle East over the course of the twentieth century created this mess for us, and all indications are that their heirs and assigns are still pretty much of the same mind, and still thinking in the same kind of blinkered way. But enough about the United Nations. And last, my affection for Israel is personal, in addition to being theological and political. My wife’s great-great-grandfather was Rabbi Cohn, one of my co-grandfathers is a Christian Jew, my kids and grandkids have cousins who are Israeli, and according to AncestryDNA, I myself am 2% European Jewish. Nancy is 11% European Jew, her mother 26%. What all this amounts to is that our family would be much more involved on an active personal level if terrorists overran Israel than we would be if terrorists overran Vermont.
So having established myself as a man of subtlety and nuance, let me make some observations about the slap fight.
The thing that kicked this round of controversy off was America’s act of high, feckless cowardice at the Security Council. Abstain? If you are for it, then vote for it. If you are against it, then use your veto power. But to abstain is to take us back to those halcyon days when Obama would cover himself with glory by voting present on stuff. Obama was angling for some kind of deniability on the treachery involved in this when the whole world could see the treachery, despite the denials. If you are going to do a high-handed thing, then make sure you do it with a high-hand.
Second, until the Left figures out what just happened in the recent election, they really ought to stop doing things, particularly petulant things. This whole fiasco has provided the incoming president with a golden opportunity to defund the UN, or otherwise cripple it, in which case we all ought to celebrate and dance for joy. And under the current circumstances, it wouldn’t be that hard to accomplish. By misjudging the moment, Obama has created a circumstance in which he risked a queen to take a rook—and he will likely not get the rook, and he might lose the queen. This whole scenario could easily become a right-winger lotto binge. When leftie Democrats, conservatives, neo-cons, and other assorted types are all yelling in concert to have the UN building pushed into the East River, this is what a prudent man might call a golden opportunity. We might not pass this way again, friends. And when the stately Charles Krauthammer suggested—not finding fault with the building—that said building would be a great location for some Trump condos, I would only want to maintain that this is a diem that needs some carping.
Third, John Kerry said that Israel had to choose between being Jewish and being democratic. Over one and a half million Israeli citizens are Arab. Most are Muslim, and some are Christian. If Kerry were to get his second state, the Palestinian one, what percentage of the citizenry in that state would be Jewish? Ah, I see. It is all coming clear to me now. The apartheid mentality does not reside where we thought. And while I am on the subject, let us address the obvious fact that the smart set that we call international diplomats already created a Palestinian state called Jordan, and then promptly forgot that they had done so. Now they think they need another one.
If we just gave them another one, say the tiny Gaza, I would then flip Kerry’s words around. We would then have to choose between that state being democratic and that state being just and civilized. If you cling to your democratic superstitions that demand self-determination above every other consideration, then you will get a terrorist-friendly government there, and no prospect for peace. You will have yet another bit of evidence from the Middle East that elections cause wars.
So here’s a great idea, for those who think we have the right to carve up other regions of the world like they were pies. If you are going to do it, then do it in a way that actually furthers peace, not war. Create Gaza as an international duchy, with the duke selected by the board of Shell Oil. The first election will be held a century from now, and the only people who would be qualified to vote in that election would be people who have owned property in Gaza for over twenty years. And in order to own property there, an individual would have to sign a statement that affirmed Israel’s right to exist.
In this duchy of Gaza, there would be no taxes whatsoever on the residents, and there would be no taxes on monies that companies earned by establishing operations there. Foreign aid from governments would be absolutely prohibited, and aid from private philanthropic agencies would only be allowed for the first ten years. In order to have peace, the people need to have a stake in the peace. And in order to have a stake in the peace, they need to have real property, clear title, and the rule of law. And if you want that, you need to have free markets, not free money and free rocket launchers.
So we could do something crazy like this, and have peace, or continue to do the crazy stuff we currently do, and have war. Everybody should think about it. You don’t have to call it a duchy.