There are many reasons to be wary of politicians who cite religious reasons for their policies and indeed, the Constitution warns against religion imposing its will on the government or the people. Ever since Ronald Reagan gave legitimacy to the religious right, they have sought to impose their alleged superior moral standards on the people. Now, many Republicans have tied foreign policy decisions to Christian beliefs that say America is required to protect Israel as a mandate from god and are assailing President Obama for betraying Israel in hopes to win the Jewish vote in the 2012 general election. The frontrunner for the Republican nomination, Rick Perry, has ratcheted up his attacks on President Obama over the Palestinian request for statehood at the United Nations. President Obama has threatened that the United States will veto approval for Palestinian statehood in the Security Council if recognition comes up for a vote. It is not good enough for Rick Perry.
Perry accused the president of betraying Israel and appeasing terrorists, and blamed Obama for bringing on the crisis by siding with the Palestinians over the expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, and by saying the US would act as a neutral broker in talks. President Obama’s suggestion of using pre-1967 borders as a starting point for peace negotiations brought attacks back in May regardless that George W. Bush and Bill Clinton both endorsed the pre-1967 borders. Although Israel’s prime minister reprimanded Obama in May for continuing America’s policy that the 1967 borders be a part of the peace process in the region, a month later (June 23) Netanyahu said Israel would return to the peace talks based on Israel’s 1967 borders and Palestine’s recognition of Israel.
Last week, Rick Perry claimed that it was America’s Christian duty to support Israel. It is curious, but if history is any indication, America has supported Israel unconditionally since its creation and there is no reason to believe that support has diminished or will change anytime soon; especially with a general election scheduled for next year. When Rick Perry was asked if supporting Israel was a theological question, he said, “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.” It is a staple among evangelical Christians to defend Israel at any cost and Perry’s attack is part of a growing Republican assault on Obama’s Israel policy as evidence he is weak. Mitt Romney also assailed Obama because he said the Palestinian approach to the UN “is another testament of the president’s failure of leadership.”
Very few political observers are surprised Republicans are attacking the president for seeking a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, but to blame the president for abandoning, betraying, and showing hostility towards Israel is a stretch even for Republicans. America has not armed Palestine or launched an attack on Israel, but to hear Republicans tell it, that is precisely what the president is doing. America’s support for Israel has shifted in recent years from economic to military aid and according to the Congressional Research Service’s “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,” the Obama Administration requested $3 billion in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) for Israel for fiscal year 2011. Also, the report says that by fiscal year 2012, America will send Israel $3.09 billion a year (or an average of $8.5 million a day) and will continue to provide that level of military aid through 2018. At that rate, it means American taxpayers are subsidizing one of the most powerful foreign militaries, and the grants to Israel represent 18.2% of the overall Israeli defense budget. Rick Perry says the president is not supporting Israel?
Is it not curious that Republicans cannot find money for Americans’ safety nets, environmental programs, or job creation because they claim the country is broke, but they support sending $8.5 million a day to Israel in military aid. It is one thing to support an ally if they are threatened by another country, but to subsidize their military at the expense of the American people is on par with subsidizing corporations, the wealthy, and the oil industry. There is no reason for America to borrow money to give Israel over $3 billion a year when our decrepit infrastructure is failing and over 15% of the population is living in poverty. If Israel wants to be a part of the United States, there are procedures to follow to be admitted as the 51st state and frankly, they are no better than the 37 states that followed the Constitution’s requirements for applying for statehood since the founding of our country.
America should support Israel, but it should not have anything to do with religious dogmata or pandering for the Jewish vote. For the record, there is nothing in the Christian bible that informs anyone America is required to support Israel regardless what Rick Perry says. There is also nothing in the U.S. Constitution that says America has a duty to support any foreign government; especially for religious reasons. The Christian and Jewish community have no right to impose their will on the government in foreign policy decisions and withholding votes or pressuring legislators to pursue certain policies based on a religion is unconstitutional. However, Republicans have abandoned the Constitution when it serves their agenda by acquiescing to religious leaders and it is further proof that the separation of church and state is being eroded with nearly every Republican policy decision.
Rick Perry is pandering to his Christian fundamentalist supporters as well as the Jewish community by attacking the president on his pro-Israel stance. What does Perry, Romney, Bachmann, and the rest of the Republican Christian movement expect the president to do, attack Palestine? Is it not enough that President Obama requested $3.09 billion a year in entitlements for Israel’s military? Apparently, there is nothing the president can do to satisfy Republicans where Israel is concerned. It is apropos to ask; what has Israel given in return to America? The relationship between America and Israel is a one-way street and it is costing Americans dearly.
If America is broke as Republicans contend, then we cannot continue handing entitlements to Israel any more than giving taxpayer dollars to the wealthy, corporations, or the oil industry in subsidies or tax breaks. If Israel is to continue being handed Americans’ tax dollars, then they need to offer some kind of recompense; the first place to start is to return to peace talks with some concessions. This country is giving Israel aid we can hardly afford and Israel cannot even sit down and negotiate a peaceful resolution to the Palestinian homeland issue. It is hypocritical that Israel gets to have a homeland but Palestine does not and represents the hypocrisy Republicans are known for. There are few Republicans who support a Palestinian homeland and yet most have demanded unconditional support for Israel’s right to build settlements on Palestinian land.
America will always support Israel and Rick Perry knows it. His religious reasons are not scripturally supported and if he is hearing the voice of god tell him it is his Christian and American duty to give his support, he is certifiably insane. It is generally accepted by psychologists that if a person hears the voice of god telling them to do something, they are crazy. Perry is a religious nut-job, but he is also pandering for votes based on lies and misinformation. The President does support Israel and has threatened to veto Palestine’s request for state recognition with the United Nations and still Perry claims the president is hostile to Israel and guilty of betraying them. If giving $3.09 billion a year in military aid and vetoing Palestinian President Abbas’s request for statehood is betrayal or hostility towards Israel, then Rick Perry is insane beyond belief.
This author challenges Rick Perry or a theologian of his choice to show where in the Christian bible it says the United States of America has a duty to support Israel. While he’s at it, Perry can point out exactly where in the United States Constitution it says it is America’s duty to support Israel with $3 billion a year. If he cannot, he needs to shut his god-anointed mouth, drop out of the Republican presidential race immediately, move to Israel to live out his remaining days, and roam the wilderness like Moses. Please accept this challenge Governor Perry and do America a favor.