Friday, December 14, 2007

Palestine Park

A Good Article
By J. A. Miller
Special to

"....So while the great-great-grandparents today’s Palestinians were tending their fields and orchards and plying their crafts all unawares, Americans in Arab drag acted out their ownership fantasies in a Palestine theme park. Mind you, Palestine Park and the American tradition of biblical re-creation is only a small part of what is a long dense tradition of mainstream Protestant Zionism which includes such 19th century political milestones as: London Society for the Promotion of Christianity Among the Jews (1809); London Memorandum on the Restoration of the Jews (1839); Gawler’s Association for Promoting Jewish Settlement in Palestine (1852); and the Blackstone Memorial Petition presented to President Harrison entitled “Palestine for the Jews” (1891) [6]

All of these proto-Zionist constructs (which by the way contained elements of anti-Semitism) were created to realize Biblical prophecy for political ends. An even more pervasive and influential strain of this Protestant desire is scattered profusely through British and American literature, culture and nomenclature. All of these political and religious desires constitute what the late Israel Shahak identified so eloquently as the “weight of history”. It is important to understand that to this day this historic desire weighs on the Christian West on all levels – from right wing dispensationalists to the liberal clergy to the ranks of the anti-war progressives. That the West “wants a Jewish state” – whether consciously or not – is what enables the continuing bloodshed and injustice in Palestine and even Iraq. It is crucial that these desires be “dragged into the light” using Shahak’s example:

.....politics is an interaction between realistic considerations…and ideological influences. The latter tend to be more influential the less they are discussed and 'dragged into the light'. Any form of racism, discrimination and xenophobia becomes more potent and politically influential if it is taken for granted by the society which indulges in it. This is especially so if its discussion is prohibited, either formally or by tacit agreement. When racism, discrimination and xenophobia [is] being fueled by religious motivations it is like its opposite case, that of antisemitism and its religious motivations. [7]

The unexamined historical weight before us is the Protestant theology of real estate -- the long Protestant theological desire for a Zionist project. Self-examination is particularly difficult when religion is involved. Former President Jimmy Carter writes candidly of his life-long “infatuation” with Israel and describes the giddiness he felt the first time he visited Israel, a giddiness experienced by the thousands of British and American travelers who flooded “their” Palestine in the 19th century and then published equally giddy accounts of their travels which enormous body of work constitutes a literary phenomenon unprecedented at any other time or place. Nevertheless Carter – like Halper -- is unable to violate the “biblical” borders of Israel: Apartheid is to be found only in the occupied territories and Palestine Park itself is a “democracy”. Progressives, smugly thinking themselves liberated from such baggage, are particularly loath to examine the personal impact of this historical religious weight and instead seek refuge from the effort by hiding behind the issue’s “complexity” and other ruses. No doubt they are all held back by a certain reluctance to relinquish their G-d given right to frolic in Palestine Park ."

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