Watch courtesy of Right Wing Watch (if his shirt bothers you, just close your eyes; if his voice bothers you, just read the transcript below):
The way that you treat the Jews shows the degree of civilization that you have. Any time you go after the Jews, God comes after you. And by the way, the deal that we’re fighting right now with Israel, they need to give up land or this, we’re told in Acts, God says “I’m the one who established the boundaries of nations.” God told us in the Bible exactly what the boundaries of Israel are to be. And whenever a politician gets involved and says “we need to give up this land or that land,” you better get God’s permission first because he’s the one who drew the lines, he’s the one who made the covenant with those boundaries. You start messin’ with that you’re messin’ directly with God. This is not like other nations; this is a covenant nation.
This is David Barton and so overly simplistic. In the Old Testament, God repeatedly punished his covenant nation. How do we know he is not doing so now?
You already know of course, because the American Family Association’s own Bartonian, Bryan Fischer, told you so the other day, that Israel’s borders, like all other borders, have been ordained by God and are therefore sacrosanct. Except, as I have just pointed out, when God decides they are not.
God many not care about Iraq’s borders, or perhaps he accepted the Bush-Cheney get-rich-quick scheme in 2003 as “just war,” but he sure as shootin’ cares about Israel’s borders, except when he doesn’t.
And nobody loves Israel like God, except for America. In fact, it could in fact be argued that the United States has treated Israel better than it’s own God. So far, we haven’t let anyone walk all over Israel. There has been no change in this pro-Israel outlook under the Obama administration.
The Religious Right loves Israel too.
Not because the Jews are his Chosen People in the Religious Right scheme, but because Israel is important because without Israel, folks like Barton don’t get their end-time scenario, the source of so many of their profits. Without a Jewish state, fundamentalists believe, God can’t do his rapture thingie (never mind that the idea of the rapture only dates from the 19th century and isn’t to be found in the actual Bible). As Gary Wills has pointed out, a misreading of Paul of Tarsus has convinced them the Jews have to convert or no rapture.
These profits must be protected, which means Israel must be protected. With pure Texas bombast Barton lays out the consequences of ignoring Israel’s welfare:
And so you look at what’s going on with Israel, if you side [with] Israel, God can bless that; if you don’t side [with] Israel, God’s gonna have trouble with that. And how does he express that? Well, one of the things he often did in the Bible was weather phenomenon. Other things that he did was productivity would go down, or agriculture, crops, or droughts, and suddenly you’re not as prosperous as you were; there are things that have happened.
This is clever. David Barton has proved he possesses a sort of low cunning by taking something he knows is going to happen – the effects of anthropogenic global warming we are already experiencing and which are only going to get worse – and assigned them to God’s agency. He is guaranteed the effect; he needs only a cause.
Enter Israel and divine wrath, literally a match made in heaven: “any time you go after the Jews, God comes after you.”
We’ve heard all this before; Rick Perry said back in 2011, “As a Christian, I have a clear directive to support Israel. So from my perspective, it’s pretty easy. Both as an American, and as a Christian, I am going to stand with Israel.” Israel right or wrong is the mantra of the Religious Right, to the extent they would turn control of America’s foreign policy over to Israel. They don’t even want our own president to have a say in our foreign policy but they’ll let Israel.
But there are real problems with Israel’s borders, problems I have pointed to here before. It’s all well and fine to say God made Israel’s borders but there is a huge difference between these divinely ordained borders and reality, and these differences have always existed. These borders are described in Genesis 15:18-21; Deuteronomy 11:24; Deuteronomy 1:7; Exodus 23:29; Numbers 34:1-15; Ezekiel 47:13-20, and they don’t match up well with the facts on the ground.
Eretz Israel (the Land of Israel), a concept often conflated with Greater Israel, may extend from the Jordan to the sea, but the Mediterranean coast was always Pagan. It was Pagan when, according to the Bible, the Jewish invaders ignored the borders of the Canaanites, and it was Pagan until the Romans gave Herod the Great brief control of a narrow strip of coast (where he promptly built a Pagan city – Caesarea), and it was Pagan after Herod was dead, and continued to be Pagan long after Israel itself was gone.
Ben-Zion Rosenfeld points to the fact that the Jewish historian Josephus “makes it appear that the biblical conception was that he coast of Palestine in its entirety, from Sidon to Gaza, had belonged to the land of the Jews from antiquity,” and that he “appears to have exploited the biblical text to create an ideological geography in accord with his perception of the coast as belonging to the Jews from biblical times.” He was even willing to rearrange geography in the interest of pressing his point, moving an entire mountain range closer to the sea. The Jewish historian would have fit comfortably in the milieu of modern-day fundamentalists in his efforts to infuse “his realistic description with Bible-based ideology.”
David Barton, we are looking at you.
Elsewhere, Josephus attempts to separate the Jews from the coast, which is Phoenician, the Phoenicians being “coastal dwellers” and “sea merchants” while the Jews are agricultural and not interested in coming into contact with foreigners, let alone mixing with them. In Rosenfeld’s opinion, Josephus’s description here is based on cultural perceptions, reflecting “both the reality and an ancient ideological tradition, extending back to biblical times, of keeping a distance from the sea,” and that, in fact, “most of the coast was not in their hands already in the biblical period.”
The Romans mandated Jewish borders from the time they first came into contact with the Hasmonean state in the first century BCE. Barton’s God did nothing to the Romans engaged in this border-adjusting activity. The Roman Empire lasted a long time and Christians came to believe that Rome itself was mandated by God. The Romans ruled over Palestine until the Muslims took it away from them in the 7th century.
But apparently, God is going to do something to us if we don’t stand by Israel, and Barton is in a position to make the threat stick, since there is no escaping the effects of anthropogenic global warming. Fundamentalists can blind themselves to the cause, but they are more than willing to see the effect and blame God. They’ve been doing it successfully for twenty centuries. Why stop now?
Map from Wikimedia Commons
Ben-Zion Rosenfeld, “Flavius Josephus and His Portrayal of the Coast (Paralia) of Contemporary Roman Palestine: Geography and Ideology,” The Jewish Quarterly Review (2000), 144.
Gary Wills, What Paul Meant. Viking, 2006, 125-140.