Any observer of last week’s American elections would have to conclude that it is the United States that has now taken upon itself the role of being God’s chosen people.
Although they have become the most hated nation on earth for doing so, Americans chose another four years of a faith-based presidency, dedicated to exporting freedom and democracy – by military force if necessary – and were happy to continue with their pariah president, even if that meant being rejected by the international community for their commitment to a moral foreign policy.
If only Israel would follow their close ally’s example and behave more like a chosen nation themselves! Unfortunately, the United States and Israel could not be headed in more different directions.
President Bush’s stunning victory was a mandate from the people for a more moral nation. Pollsters were shocked to discover that the No 1 issue for American voters – more important that security or the economy – was moral values. Even John Kerry went from church to church talking about God and reminding voters that he had been an altar boy. In modern-day America, a man cannot become president unless he shows an authentic commitment to God, and since 80 percent of the morality voters did not discern that in John Kerry, he lost the election.
The contrast with Israel could not be more stark, where an Israeli prime minister speaking about God is the certain kiss of electoral death. Most Americans would find it shocking that the political leaders of the Jewish nation, who gifted the Creator to the world, would never consider mentioning God for fear of alienating a majority secular electorate who are deeply distrustful of faith. In this respect, Israeli leaders are more like European leaders who are about as likely to invoke the name of God as they are the name of Zeus.
Then there is the fact that the majority of Americans don’t care about being cut off from the rest of the world. In this election, the American people made a resounding judgment: If America is right and the world is wrong, we will show them our contempt. John Kerry’s central campaign platform was the need to rebuild frayed alliances with Europe and the United Nations that he said were damaged by Bush administration arrogance.
In the end, Americans decided that their strength lay not in being popular but in being moral. An America that finds Europe and the United Nations arrogant, dishonorable and condescending is content to live in splendid isolation. Kofi Annan can stick up for Saddam, and Jacques Chirac can visit Arafat in the hospital. We’d rather not be invited to those parties.
Yet Israel continues to grovel before the Europeans for acceptance and has always been a supplicant for U.N. approval. I am well aware of the old argument, that America is a superpower that can go it alone, but Israel is a tiny country in need of friends. But that argument is unpersuasive – first, because Israel has a phenomenal friend in the United States and can easily be strong and secure with that friendship alone. And second, because Israelis should have learned by now that no matter how many concessions they make to the Arabs, they will forever be rejected by the international community in favor of the Palestinians. Since that is the case, better to build your walls, protect your people, and proclaim your contempt for the world’s amorality, just as Americans have.
Finally, there is the colossal discrepancy between how the United States and Israel have decided to deal with a terrorist insurgency. American soldiers are being attacked and killed in greater number in Iraq than even Israeli soldiers in Gaza. The pundits were convinced for this reason the American people would choose John Kerry’s “wrong war” philosophy over George Bush’s “no retreat” pledge. In the end, the American people decided they would not be pushed out of Iraq by a bunch of murderous thugs because that would only produce more murderous thugs.
But Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza under fire is sure to vastly increase terrorist pressure on Israel in every corner of its land. Any terrorist leader who sees the shrinking borders of Israel that began with the Camp David accords 25 years ago can only conclude that the once glorious goal of pushing Israel into the sea is slowly becoming a reality. Nobody wants to see Israeli soldiers die in Gaza, just as no one wants to see American soldiers die in Iraq.
But while the Americans understand that withdrawing the troops will lead to more American deaths at home, Sharon mistakenly believes that withdrawing the troops will lead to international acceptance of Israel’s claim to most of the West Bank and partial pacification of the Palestinians. By retreating under fire, Ariel Sharon has proven himself to be the John Kerry of Israeli politics when what Israel really needs is its own George Bush.
From the earliest days of the American republic, the patriots who built this nation – devout Christians all – drew upon the biblical idea of a chosen nation as the inspiration behind the struggle against British tyranny. In the same way that ancient Israel was heralded by the prophets as “a light unto the Nations,” American visionaries spoke in strongly spiritual terms of a country with a “manifest destiny” that was to serve as a refuge for the world’s “teeming masses yearning to be free.”
Yet, since its founding, Israel’s leaders have totally missed the universality of Israel’s chosenness to the rest of the world. Every week, hundreds of American Christians write to me about how much they love Israel and see in its founding the fulfillment of a biblical prophecy for the Jews to bring blessing to the world from their ancient homeland.
How ironic that while 70 million born-again Christians believe that with all their heart, the average secular Israeli would scoff at such a notion.