Remember all the fanfares surrounding President Bush’s roadmap to a Palestinian state? Like many earlier hypocritical initiatives, this one, too, is seemingly dead. In all likelihood, we shall read the obituary after the American election is over. Palestinians know it, and Israelis have known it for quite some time. Unlike other initiatives, however, the responsibility for nailing the coffin mostly rested with the Bush Administration. From the very beginning I was one of those independent analysts or observers of the Middle Eastern politics who was a doubting Thomas. My nagging doubt concerning Bush’s sincerity mainly stemmed from my understanding of his ideology - Christian Zionism. I was equally troubled by the entourage that surrounding him. Not only were many of his appointees Christian Zionists, many powerful officials that were responsible for policy-making within the White House and the Pentagon were pro-Israelis hawks, the so-called neoconservatives, a.k.a. Straussian ideologues.

To understand the mind of a Christian Zionist, it is worthwhile quoting from its cheerleading historian Paul Merkley who said, “The Christian Zionist is not knocked off his perch when Israel is denounced for rough treatment of the Palestinians, or when a politician is found to have his hand in the till, or when the Mossad carries off a dirty trick, or when instances of brutality occur in her prisons, etc. The Christian Zionist does not have to rework the ethical arithmetic when bad news appears, in order to reckon whose side he is on. To the Christian Zionist, it is a requirement of faith to prefer the blessing of Israel above all passing things. Doing this, he believes, cannot, by definition, ever be incompatible with the will of God.” [1]

So, how could one have believed in Bush’s sincerity for a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict when he is required by faith to prefer Israel above all things? He announced the roadmap at a time when he needed support within the Muslim world for his Napoleonic incursions in the Middle East. Once those tasks were accomplished, he saw it more prudent to remain a faithful than antagonize his power-base.

As I have maintained through my writings on comparative religion and politics, political Zionism has betrayed Judaism as much as Christian fundamentalism has perverted Christianity. That is why, I am not surprised to find that the union of these two megalomaniacal movements have created this bizarre phenomenon called ‘Christian Zionism’ whose adherents consider it an article of faith to prefer the blessing of the Zionist state of Israel above all things, no matter what gruesome crimes its leaders may have been committing. Nor should you be when you reflect upon the fact that it was Christian Zionism that found its formal expression in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 that would lay the foundation brick for the creation of the Zionist state resulting in one of the worst crimes of our time: the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of natives from their ancestral homes?

For nearly three years, the Likudnik think tanks, the so-called Zionist neocons, aided by their Christian counterparts, have been lecturing America about the wisdom behind unilateralism, hegemony and regime change. In their crazed haughtiness, they disregarded voices of reason and empathy.

Now America is slowly realizing that it is the American Zionists – Christians and Jewish – that actually prefer Israel to America. They conspired to conscript the U.S. government on behalf of a foreign power. They lied, deceived and planned to take America into a spiral war - the Iraqi invasion being the first of that long list of yet-to-take dirty wars - to apparently secure and strengthen the rogue state of Israel. Neither peace nor democracy in the Middle East was their intent. They conned us all. In that process, they killed tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis, destroyed Iraq, devastated its economy, looted its ancient treasures; and worse still, brought about anarchy in Iraq, with no jobs (outside Police and military – working as collaborators for the American invaders) for the local Iraqis but foreign nationals – the mercenaries and the contractors - who are willing to risk their lives; and worst of all, shamed us all through systemic, beastly crimes at Abu Ghraib – crimes that even Hitler’s army dared not to commit. To them: world opinion does not count, only the allegiance to the Israeli state counts - a theme which reverberated again and again in this week’s (8/30/04) Republican National Convention in Manhattan, NY. America is hated today more than anytime in its 228-year old history. No individual is considered a greater threat to humanity than President Bush. What an achievement by these servants of Zionism!

Recently one of the Christian Zionists – a mid-level operative working as an analyst for the Pentagon – is investigated on an espionage charge. The FBI has evidence that Larry Franklin [2] passed classified presidential directives on Iran to the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee - the most influential advocate group for Israel in America), which then passed it to the Israelis. Interestingly, Franklin is a religious Catholic in his late 50s, who has never hidden his unequivocal support of or preference for Israel.2 The case is puzzling in that there is already such a high degree of bilateral cooperation between the two states that Israel need not spy against America - a theme that was recently echoed by Sharon himself. I guess: Franklin took it to heart what it really means to be a Christian Zionist! Colleagues from the Near East and South Asia (NESA) desk at the Defense Department said that his sympathy for Israel was overt and public - he didn't refrain from praising Israel and he held aggressive views about several Arab governments, primarily the regimes in Iran and Iraq. He was the "go-to" person on Iran for Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and for undersecretary of defense Doug Feith.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that Franklin's political opinions are similar to those of his bosses - Feith, and William Luti, the deputy undersecretary of defense responsible for NESA affairs. (It is worth noting here that Luti, a key player in planning the Iraq war, is an impassioned protégé of former House speaker Newt Gingrich. Feith, before becoming the Pentagon’s No. 3, was sometime consultant for the Likud party, Ariel Sharon’s party. His former law partner Marc Zell has served as a spokesman in Israel for the Jewish settler movement on the occupied West Bank. [3]) Like them, Franklin supports the policy of acting to bring democracy to Arab regimes and build up pro-American allies in the Middle East. [4] As to the office of NESA, it was not too long ago that journalist Jim Lobe wrote: “Along with Feith, all of the political appointees have in common a close identification with the views of the right-wing Likud Party in Israel.” [5]

It is no secret that AIPAC leverages its power by an alliance with the Christian Right, which has adopted the bizarre ideology of "Christian Zionism." The latter holds that the sooner the Palestinians are ethnically cleansed, the sooner Christ will return to rule the world. Without millions of these Christian Zionist allies, AIPAC would be much less influential and effective.

Christian Zionists, as pointed out by one of its vociferous cheerleaders, are “increasingly the bedrock of Israel’s support in the United States, more solidly pro-Israel and more robustly Zionist than many in the Jewish community.” [6] They are truly the ‘best assets’ that the Zionist state has outside Israel. That is why as soon as the so-called (now dead) “road map” for Palestine was announced its greatest opponents were Christian leaders like Gary Bauer, Richard Land, Cal Thomas and Jerry Falwell. Opposition came from President’s own advisers and party leaders (see below). This was quite evident from the statements made at the last year’s Jerusalem Summit by Sen. Brownback (one of the keynote speakers at the RNC, Aug. 31, ’04), Alan Keyes (a Republican senatorial candidate in Illinois), advisers Richard Perle and Daniel Pipes. Following Rabbi Benny Elon’s neo-fascist Moledat (Homeland) party’s ethnic cleansing formula, the participants parroted the hymn “Jordan is Palestine.” They declared that the land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River (including the Occupied Territories) belonged exclusively to the Jewish people because of biblical entitlement and was, therefore, not negotiable. The Summit presenters were unanimous in their agreement that the existence of a "Palestinian" state on the west bank of the Jordan River would be suicidal for Israel They also condemned UNRWA for what they called ‘perpetuating the Arab refugee problem.’ [7]

It is worth pointing out here that in May ’03, Sharon’s Minister of Tourism Benny Elon was on a tour of the U.S. promoting his program of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians as the only viable solution. [8] Joining Elon’s plan were Martin Peretz, publisher of the New Republic, and officials of the Christian Coalition and the Christian Broadcasting Network, as well as Garry Bauer and Christian talk show host Janet Parshall. (Interestingly, Ronn Torossian, Elon’s spokesman, is also the media director of the Christian Coalition. Revs. Falwell and Robertson were Elon’s hosts.)

Emboldened by the quick U.S. military victory in Iraq, the ‘Amen corner’ (friends of Israel) within the Congress cried foul to the Palestinian ‘road map.’ The House Majority Leader Tom DeLay called it “a confluence of deluded thinking between European elites, elements within the State Department bureaucracy, and a significant segment of the American intellectual community.’ [9] In a March 12, ‘03 speech at the Union of Jewish Congregations of America, DeLay, referring to the road map, had said: “The Israelis don’t need to change course. They don’t need to travel the path of weakness as defined by the neo-appeasers.” [10] On July 23, 2003, he told the influential AIPAC, “The United States must stand with Israel against Palestinian terror because Israel’s fight is our fight.” [11] During his trip to the Holy Land the next week, he told a thronged hall in the Israeli Parliament building, “Standing up for good against evil is very hard work – it costs money and blood. But we’re willing to pay.” [12] This, in spite of the fact that on July 11 a settler ran over and killed Yazan al-Tal, a 13-year old Palestinian child, south of Nablus and another 6-year old boy Mohammad Kabha was killed near Barta al-Sharqeyah by IDF within few days. What do you expect from fanatics like him?

For Christian Zionists like DeLay the systematic destruction of Palestinian culture by radical right wing Israeli Zionists is part of God’s Master Plan for the Holy Land. They believe that the Holy Land must be cleansed of Palestinians before the second coming of Jesus (and the appearance of anti-Christ); Israelis must control the Haram al-Sharif (the so-called Temple Mount), destroy Masjid al-Aqsa, and build their Jewish temple there. [13] They offer, therefore, an uncritical endorsement of Israeli political right and a criminal lack of compassion for the Palestinian tragedy. In so doing, they have legitimized the oppression of the Palestinian people, Muslims and Christian, in the name of Jesus.

The Support for Israel is so strong within the two Houses that few dared to appear unsympathetic to the Jewish cause. Within weeks of the official announcement for the ‘roadmap’, 315 Congressman and 88 Senators signed an open letter, asking the President to stop pressuring Israel.

The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations, which generally lobbies the Executive Branch while AIPAC takes care of Congress, came out against the road map, but supposedly did not want to appear to be disagreeing with the president. Yet its own chair, Mortimer Zuckerman, owner of the NY Daily News and the US News & World Report, blasted the ‘roadmap’ in an editorial in the magazine on March 17, 2003 headlining it as "The Road Map to nowhere."

Zuckerman, soon to step down from his chairmanship, was keeping up the attack. In an editorial in the June 2 edition of US News, he wrote, "Washington... having gone to war to eliminate a rogue terrorist regime, can hardly now support the creation of a new Palestinian terrorist state, with its history of contacts with terrorist networks from all over the world."

Morton Klein, the Zionist Association of America's bulldog of a chair, speaking in Berkeley in the first week of May ‘03, repeated what has become his mantra on the issue. "This road map is a disaster," he said. "It cannot and will not work. It's further appeasing terrorism." (Jewish Bulletin of Northern California, May 15, 2003)

Then there were the Jewish gurus of this administration, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, William Kristol and others along with Vice President Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld (who not long ago referred to the West Bank as 'so-called occupied territories') opposed this ‘roadmap’ and presumably any reasonable alternative road map.

It was quite clear from the very beginning that Israeli government and the American Likudniks, Christian and Jewish Zionists would not allow the ‘roadmap’ to succeed. Last year, Sharon was quoted as saying, “I am here to preserve the land of Israel, not divide it…. After all, nothing will come out of this Road Map planning anyway.” [14] And he was right. With Christian Zionists like President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and advisors like Karl Rove, it is simply foolish to expect anything that would be fair and just to the Palestinian people.

So, it was only a question of time when officially Bush would dump the roadmap. With recent Bush administration’s endorsement of Sharon’s plan for further settlement activities in the Occupied Territories seemingly the final nail on ‘road map’ coffin has been struck.

Notes:

[1]. http://christianactionforisrael.org/attitudes.html. Merkely is the author of two published books on historical aspects of Christian attitudes towards Zionism: The Politics of Christian Zionism, 1891-1948 (Frank Cass, 1998) and Christian Attitudes Towards the State of Israel (McGill-Queen's U.P., 2001).

[2]. Franklin was an attaché at the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv at one point.

[3]. Spy Probe Scans Neocon-Israel Ties by Jim Lobe, Antiwar.com, Sept. 1, 2004.

[4]. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/470856.html

[5]. http://www.antiwar.com/cole/?articleid=3467

[6]. Christian Zionism: Israel’s Best Weapon? By Daniel Pipes, July 15, 2003 (http://christianactionforisrael.org/weapon.html)

[7] See the press release from Helen Freedman, Executive Director of Americans For a Safe Israel, Oct. 16, 2003 (http://www.afsi.org/pressrel/summit1/summit1.htm )

[8]. Elon says Jordan is Palestine (see http://www.moledet.org/jordanpalestine.html) For other programs of his fascist party: see http://www.moledet.org/peace.html

[9]. Reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer, April 24, ’03, pg. A7 (Conservatives attack Mideast plan).

[10]. Ibid.

[11]. Kurt Nimmo, The Bug Exterminator Goes to Jerusalem, CounterPunch.org, July 29, 2003.

[12]. House’s DeLay Bonds with Israeli Hawks, by Megan K. Stack, Los Angeles Times, July 31, 2003.

[13]. http://www.virginiawater.co.uk/christchurch/articles/temple.htm

[14]. Haggai Segal in B’sheva, an Israeli weekly newspaper, cited the statement.