By any other name

By any other name

Let me preface what I’m about to say that this is not intended as an attack on Israel. I think I’ve shown in recent days that I think Israel is a good ally for the US in the Middle East and the best hope for democracy there. I won’t say that Israel has done no wrong, but what country could claim that honestly?

Anyway, I’ve been thinking lately on the subject of the nearly universal and unwavering support for Israel under all circumstances from elected officials on both sides of the aisle and, even more staunchly, from Christians. In fact, the Christian support for Israel is at times even more strong than that of Jewish groups, if that’s possible.

The thought popped in my head the other day: What if the modern state of Israel had been called something else? What if in 1948 the kept the name “Palestine” or chose something else, something distinctly unrelated to Scripture? Not Israel or Judea or Zion or anything like it. Would Christians, especially Evangelicals, be such staunch supporters?

In other words how much of the support for Israel is based on nothing more than an identification with the Israel of the Old and New Testaments? After all, we read those Psalms over and over again with their invocations of Israel and her oppression at the hands of others. This came to the fore when that ancient Book of Psalms was found in an Irish bog and the initial (erroneous) reports said it was opened to a psalm describing Israel under siege. So many were quick to identify it as some kind of prophecy regarding the current conflict with Hezbollah.

But that Israel of the psalm bears little connection to the modern-day Israel except for location and the religion of the people. Even modern-day Italy could make a better argument for a connection with the ancient Roman empire. Yet, can we say that reading about Israel over and over again in the Scriptures has not affected our attitudes about the Israel of today?

Again, this has nothing to do with Israel’s right to exist or even the fighting with Hezbollah. This is entirely about our attitudes and how they may be subconsciously affected by certain religious beliefs. Something to think about.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli