Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Abram's Domestic Dispute, Three Dozen Centuries Later: Palestine and the U.N.

"Palestinian officials" want the UN to make a Palestinian State, "recognise a Palestinian state within 1967 borders." (BBC News) I'm not entirely clear whether that's the borders as they existed before - or after - the 1967 Six Day War.

The Six Day War is when the Arab world rose up to crush Israel, and establish their preferred status quo in the region. The conflict didn't work out quite as planned: largely, I gather, because the Jews refused to cooperate and lose the battles. Dashed impertinent of them, in a way.

I think it'd be nice if the folks we call Palestinians were better off. I also think it'd be nice if Syria's boss would stop killing Palestinians. I'll get back to that sort of thing in a bit.

Jericho to Dunwoody, Georgia: Getting a Sense of Scale

Americans, I think, tend to think something is "old" when it was made last year (automobiles), or isn't digital (electronics).

Nothing wrong with that: it's just the way we are. I think it has something to do with being a nation that's less than a quarter-millennia old, and gives its government a biannual review to see who goes and who stays. We've got one of those coming a year from November: we call them "elections."

America shows no signs of settling down to a nice, quiet, serene slide down the slopes of entropy. Not that I can see, anyway. We've still got new cities popping up - like Dunwoody, Georgia, that officially incorporated about three years back.

Not all parts of the world are quite like that.

Folks have been living in Jericho, for example, for about 11,000 years. That's 'way before the first Pharaohs, and "old" even by the standards of a region that's seen Assyrian, Babylonian, Chaldean, Aegean, Roman, and assorted other powers come and go.

About 20,000 folks live in Jericho today: and my guess is that someone's going to be raising families there when students get confused about whether the Roman and the British Empires were contemporary with Ancient Egypt.1 The site is a pretty good one for settlement.

Bottom line? The part of the world we call the Middle East is old. Ancient. Folks have been living there for thousands of years. Pretty much the same folks, in some cases.

It's a land where everything since steam locomotives is essentially "current events."

Israel, the Jews, and Vast Conspiracies

I've run into quite a variety of assumptions involving Israel and Jews, some stranger than others:
  • Israel
    • Is a Jewish plot
      • See "Jews," below
    • Is in league with Satan
      • And the United States
        • Which is almost as bad
          • Maybe worse
    • Causes terrorism
      • By existing
        • (Can't argue with that logic)
    • Stands with Christian America
      • Against the forces of evil
        • And other un-American influences
      • And valiantly prepares for Armageddon
        • Which is nigh
          • And has been, since I can remember
  • Jews
    • Control all wealth and power
      • And run the Catholic Church
        • Secretly
    • Worship Satan
    • Aren't really Jews
Some of that list is true, sort of.

Israel is a 'Jewish state,' in the sense that the nation was founded in 1948 to provide a homeland for Jews. Wikipedia and BBC News have pretty good backgrounders on the contemporary nation. I put links to the BBC and Wikipedia pages under "Background," below.

Israel also 'causes terrorism,' simply by existing. The current mess in what we call the Middle East goes back at least as far as a domestic dispute about three dozen centuries ago. (Genesis 16:1-12, Genesis 21:2-14)

Finally, Israel and the United States of America have been fairly strong allies. Partly, I think, because America is one of the few countries west of the Urals that doesn't have anti-Semitism.

America, Anti-Semitism, and Soreheads

I know: We've got the KKK and assorted other white supremacist soreheads; and if you live in America you probably know someone who's convinced that the Jews are to blame for something. But as a nation we haven't had the sort of full-bore, turbo-charged, I'm-bored-let's-have-a-pogrom attitude that made the massacres at London and York possible, and inspired the Hep-Hep riots.

Then there are uplifting works like "On the Jews and Their Lies."

Again: America has its share of sociopaths and religious wackadoos. What we don't have is institutional anti-Semitism, or a serious grassroots streak of Jew-haters.

America: A Christian Country (Sort of)

It's been a while since I've heard someone call America a "Christian" country. Maybe because I make a point of not listening to 'frightfully-faithful radio' these days. I've got hypertension: and more stress I don't need.

Anyway, America is a 'Christian' country, sort of. This was a fair guess at how many folks believed what, here - as of four years ago:
  • Christian 78.5%
    • Protestant 51.3%
    • Roman Catholic 23.9%
    • Mormon 1.7%
    • Other 1.6%
  • Jewish 1.7%
  • Buddhist 0.7%
  • Muslim 0.6%
  • Other or unspecified 2.5%
  • Unaffiliated 12.1%
  • None 4%
    (source: "United States," CIA World Factbook (last updated July 26, 2011))
I think it's reasonable to call America a "Christian" country, at least in the sense that something like three quarters of the population would probably admit to being Christian. Being a "Christian" country, in the sense that Iran has a Muslim government? God be thanked, we're not like that.

The folks who cobbled together the Constitution were on this continent, instead of back home, in part because of state churches - and that's almost another topic.

America, Armageddon, and Getting a Grip

I haven't heard about Armageddon much lately, either - again, possibly because I avoid 'religious rant radio' these days. In a way, though, I'm grateful to the radio preachers who infested the airwaves in my youth. Without their wild accusations against the Whore of Babylon, I might never have converted to Catholicism.

Moving on.

Armageddon is 'Biblical.' So many decisive battles happened there, that by the time John wrote Revelation 16:16, he could use it as a symbol: "the symbol of the final disastrous rout of the forces of evil." (NAB Footnote 8)

It's dramatic imagery, it's 'in the Bible,' and I kept hearing about the coming Armageddon so much that by now 'Armageddon tired of it.'

Interestingly, Mr. Camping's Rapture doesn't seem to have stressed the military confrontation aspect of America's 'End Times' folklore all that much.

Since I'm a Catholic, I have to believe that I will face my Lord in a particular judgment, and will be at the Last Judgment. And that's yet another topic.2

Palestinian Statehood and the End of the World

I'm concerned about the United Nations and one set of wannabe nation-builders who want to set up a Palestinian state. Maybe it's just me, but 'and it is the fault of the Jews' seems to be a recurring theme in too many UN decisions.

Don't get me wrong: I have nothing against folks who live in the territory that Yassar Arafat used, who are trying to make a living and raise a family. I'd like to see them have a stable government - not an assortment of feuding warlords. Make that "activists." It makes the strongmen sound more legitimate, I suppose.

I'm not convinced that whoever those "Palestinian officials" are have what it takes to run a decent government. They'll need political skill, diplomatic connections, and willingness to solve problems without lobbing rockets at Israel, or sending a kid to blow himself up near some Jews.

Maybe if a Palestinian state gets imposed on the area, a nice, stable government will emerge. Maybe.

As I generally say about this sort of thing: Prayer couldn't hurt.

So would an end to the sort of treatment Palestinians are getting in Syria. And that's almost another topic.

Rights, Rules, and Being Catholic

I'm a Catholic, so there are some things I'm simply not allowed to do. Like kill my wife - or myself: even if I feel like it.

I'm also not allowed to hate people. (December 9, 2010) That, and definite instructions against discrimination, should keep Catholics from getting involved with white supremacist groups, 'liberation' movements, and assorted other aberrations.

But, somehow, some of us still get into trouble. More topics.

Here's a little of what the Church has to say about treating each other with dignity and respect:
"Created in the image of the one God and equally endowed with rational souls, all men have the same nature and the same origin. Redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, all are called to participate in the same divine beatitude: all therefore enjoy an equal dignity.

"The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it:
"Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God's design.40"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1934-1935)
Vaguely-related posts:
In the news:

1 Rome grew from a spot on the side of the Tiber to an empire during the last centuries of Ancient Egypt. The British Empire started about a dozen centuries after Rome's empire fell apart - and broke up a few hundred years later. Things happen fast, these days, it seems.

2 The Church has quite a bit to say about last things, including this:

1 comment:

Brigid said...

Is this supposed to sounds crazy? "'Palestinian officials' want the UN to make a Palestinian State, 'recognise a Palestinian state within 1967 borders.'"

Think there's a word missing: "rose up to crush Israel establish their preferred status"

Eh? "in the sense that the nation founded in 1948 to provide a homeland for Jews."

Stutter on the quote: "he could use it as a symbol 'the symbol of the final"

Missing a consonant: "More topis."

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.