Nothing says cognitive dissonance more than the reaction of conservative Christians to the Obama administration’s funding of Israel’s vaunted “Iron Dome” defense system.
The administration of Evangelical Christian George W. Bush had refused to fund the project. The Pentagon was against it, said it would not work, and wanted Israel to adapt what it felt was a better (and workable): the American Vulcan Phalanx system. The Pentagon was still against it when Obama took office but Obama pushed for, and got, Iron Dome.
Obama was praised by Washington Jewish Week this spring, a point at which the U.S. had already put $205 million into the project and was about to inject $70 million more. The WJW editorial board correctly understood what this support signified:
But beyond the significant economic assistance which is so essential to the Iron Dome project, there is the very clear message that the U.S. support conveys: A clear message to Iran and its co-conspirators that even while the nuclear issue is being discussed, the United States will not lose focus on the security and well being of Israel and her people. And, it’s not just words. The leader of the Western world has made clear that it is willing to put its money where its counts, under an iron dome.
Conservative Christians have uniformly attacked President Obama as the most anti-Israel president ever, bent on the destruction of Israel, which is not surprising since, in their view that Obama is a Muslim, not a Christian.
The Iron Dome system passed its test with flying colors during the latest battles around Gaza. It held off the barrage of missiles coming from Gaza and, some say, made possible an Israeli response that falls short of outright invasion. Another way of looking at it might be to say that it makes it possible for Israel to sit behind the modern Great Wall Obama made and batter its enemies into the dust without ever having to come out from behind it to do so.
And this poses some problems for conservative Christians. Obama threw a lot of American money at Israel’s Great Wall, according to Human Events, “$275 million in FY11-12 and $680 million pledged under the condition of technology sharing over the next three years.” This reality comes into hard conflict with their belief that Obama is anti-Israel, and not just anti-Israel, remember, but the most anti-Israeli president ever.
Human Events itself, self-identifying as “powerful conservative voices,” also has a difficult time with the conflict between reality and belief, concluding somehow that, “The Israelis prove missile defense works and is critical to protecting against the growing threat. It is past time President Obama acknowledges that threat and works with Congress to realize President Reagan’s validated missile shield vision before it is too late.”
Thus they manage to write about Iron Dome and its success without ever acknowledging that it was the Obama administration which bucked the Pentagon to get the thing built in the first place. Instead, Obama becomes the antagonist and Congress the protagonist and Reagan the shining visionary of the past who can save the future (surely you remember Star Wars – the defense system, not the movie trilogy).
If we look at Haaretz, Israel’s oldest daily newspaper, they can write about Iron Dome and “American” support without ever crediting President Obama. They do manage to mention that Obama used “American” support to prove he was pro-Israel during the election. Wikipedia says that Haaretz is “known for its staunch left-liberal stance on domestic and foreign issues” but that stance is not visible here.
Belief trumps fact again and again, where Israel is concerned.
Religious conservatives tend to have more religion in their cognitive dissonance, of course. Right Wing Watch identified one such the other day, reporting that “Avi Lipkin says Obama aides Israel’s security to bring about its destruction”:
Anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Avi Lipkin returned to VCY America’s Crosstalk to discuss with host Vic Eliason the crisis in Gaza and explain why the Obama administration funded Israel’s Iron Dome when he is actually a Muslim seeking Israel’s destruction.
You see, Lipkin can’t deny the Obama administration made Iron Dome possible, and that means Obama’s direct support for the project comes into conflict with the pre-existent belief that Obama the Muslim wants Israel destroyed:
But since Lipkin also admits that Obama is helping Israel through the Iron Dome defense system, he asserts that the shield funding is actually part of a malicious plot to give Israel a false sense of security and trick it into starting a deadly war with Iran, a war which Lipkin says will lead to both countries’ demise.
People who live in a black/white universe (i.e. conservatives) are comfortable in a religious system which dictates a black/white universe. Moses, after all, created the true/false distinction in religion and millions have lived happily within that paradigm. So Lipkin, and others like him, cannot conceive of a Muslim being anything but bent on the destruction of Israel and of the Jews, or of a Christian president basing his support on something other than religion. In the conservative Christian playbook, Islam is of the devil.
It is that simple. So we find Lipkin concluding that “Islam is not a religion, it is a criminal psychosis. And this criminal psychosis calls for the killing of the Jews on Saturday and the Christians on Sunday… they [Sunnis and Shiiites] all hate Israel, they all want to destroy Israel in the name of destroying each other because their god Allah is the devil, is Satan.” Lipkin is just another Bryan Fischer, for whom Allah is “an extremely powerful demon.”
Former Lt. General William G. “Jerry” Boykin can claim his god is bigger but his god apparently needs a better missile defense system. His god doesn’t have shit otherwise, on the undergunned Allah. Fact-wise, gods and religion really lose out on this debate.
But facts don’t win arguments with conservatives.
Which brings us to another conservative Christian having issues: Harry Jackson, an aberrochristian, anti-gay bigot we have visited here before for other symptoms of recurrent symptoms of cognitive dissonance: namely God putting out of business a gay newspaper that, alas, remains in business despite Jackson’s imprecatory prayers. Now Jackson is trying to deal with Iron Dome and the reality of the Obama administration’s support for Israel’s security.
You see, Jackson has a pre-existent belief that Obama has an “affinity with the Islamic world,” which, given that black/white paradigm we spoke of, means he is a bad guy and opposed to Israel. Jackson says, “Only the providence of God and Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system has miraculously prevented major casualties” and that “On President Obama’s watch, the United States has gone from being a staunch ally to the only democracy in the Middle East to something like a silent peer. But Israel will not wait for our approval to defend itself, nor should it.”
Actually, since any check Israel writes is paid for by America and it’s citizens, Jackson is about as wrong as a bigoted fake Christian can be.
But like Human Events, Jackson prefers to brush over or ignore inconvenient facts, including the one where Obama supported and procured funding for Iron Dome, not God. Pre-existent belief determined that Obama is the enemy, a Muslim and therefore an agent of Satan. All praise must go to God. Obama, despite the evidence, cannot be the recipient of praise.
Reality cannot be allowed to intrude upon belief.
Iron Dome schematic: Army-Technology.com
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.