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Tom DeLay, House Majority Leader and former bug exterminator from Sugar Land, Texas, wants you to know he stands "shoulder-to-shoulder" with accused war criminal Ariel Sharon and the Israeli occupation forces that killed Mohammed Kabha, 6 years of age, last week near Barta al-Sharqeyah, east of Ramallah. Mr. DeLay also wants you to know he supports Israeli settlers, even though on July 11 a settler ran over and killed Yazan al-Tal, a 13-year-old Palestinian child, south of Nablus.
Naturally, DeLay wouldn’t admit he’s in favor of gunning down or driving over children. No, for DeLay and millions of other Christian Zionists, slaughtered Palestinians are but a fleeting tick on their moral compasses, if that. In fact, for Christian Zionists the Palestinians are all but invisible, except when they strike out in desperation.
"The United States must stand with Israel against Palestinian terror because Israel’s fight is our fight," DeLay told the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee on July 23. "Israel’s liberation from Palestinian terrorism is an essential component of victory in the war on terror. It’s a ‘liberation’ we’re talking about, not a mutually-agreed upon cease-fire."
Unfortunately, Mohammed Kabha and Yazan al-Tal experienced this rapacious Israeli version of "liberation" firsthand. So have thousands of other Palestinians, the vast majority of who have little to do with Hamas or Islamic Jihad or even Yasser Arafat. Israeli liberation from so-called terrorism is so important that it requires the Palestinians to suffer the same rate of malnutrition as the people of Zimbabwe and Congo, according to the World Bank.
So critical is Israel security in response to the above-mentioned militant groups that it requires the shattered Palestinian economy to suffer from a 53% unemployment rate. Israeli occupation soldiers and armed Jewish settlers are so alarmed over the security situation that they routinely attack Palestinian orchards and agricultural farms. In fact, the Israelis are so disturbed by security issues that when they destroy Palestinian vineyards and olive groves they often charge farmers for the use of bulldozers.
For Tom DeLay and the Christian Zionists, the systematic destruction of Palestinian culture by radical right wing Israeli Zionists is part of God’s Master Plan for the Holy Land. "And I will make of thee a great nation," the Lord told Abraham, "And I will bless them that bless thee and curse them that curse thee."
Surely, there’s no shortage of Palestinians who curse Israelis, especially when Israelis shoot their children, steal their land and water, and deny them access to medical care and food.
Obviously, for evangelical Christians of DeLay’s sort, all of this misery and injustice directed at the Palestinians is biblically ordained. The Christian Zionist God, the same God worshipped by so many Jews in Israel, demands untold suffering. It’s all there in the Old Testament.
Crazy as it may seem to many of us, Tom DeLay, one of the most powerful men in the United States, is a follower of an extreme version of Christianity. If the Christian Zionists — pegged at around 20 million Americans — have their way, there will never be peace in the Middle East. And considering George Bush and far too many members of Congress are either Christian Zionists or agree with the Christian Zionists in regard to Israel, chances are slim to none there will be peace in the Middle East anytime soon.
According to the Christian Zionists, if there is peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians — in other words, if there is a Palestinian state — there will never be a new Jewish temple erected on Temple Mount. The way Christian Zionists see things, before Jesus can come back and before the Antichrist can even be revealed, the Israelis must control Temple Mount, destroy the Dome of the Rock — the third holiest place in Islam after the Ka’aba in Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina — and build their temple. As it now stands, the Temple Mount is under the administrative control of Muslims.
It can be argued, however, that the Christian Zionists really don’t have the best wishes of Jews in mind. "The scenario states that before the Second Coming, the Jews will all either die or convert to Christianity," explains Gershom Gorenberg, an Israeli author. "This is not a very Jew-friendly scenario in the long run, so there’s a tremendous irony built in here that this support for hard-line Israeli positions is actually based on a theology which negates Judaism."
"We welcome [Christian Zionist] support as long as it doesn’t come with conditions,” Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, told Malcolm Foster of the Associated Press earlier this year. "We will continue to disagree on various issues, but we can disagree agreeably."
In other words, so long as the money keeps rolling in and Congress supports Israel, Jews like Foxman — who, according to the Christian Zionists, must one day choose between oblivion or converting to Christian Zionism — don’t seem to have a big problem with the more wacky aspects of a religion 26 percent of American voters embrace (according to a 2000 University of Akron survey). For Israelis and American Jews, opportunism is the rule of the day.
Meanwhile, Tom DeLay will tour Israel, Jordan, Iraq, and Italy this week while Bush meets with the Israeli-approved Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "I want to hear what he plans to do to comply with his part and his agreement of the road map," DeLay said of Abbas. "In all these peace processes in the past it’s been more process than peace. And it’s because people say a lot of words and they do very few actions and what we’re looking for is actions."
DeLay, of course, fails to mention what happened the last time the US brokered a "peace plan" between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
"When the Israeli government finally tendered a proposal for an interim peace agreement to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East peace negotiations in Washington D.C. in 1992, the Palestinian Delegation rejected it because it constituted nothing more than an apartheid Bantustan for the Palestinian People," writes Francis A. Boyle. "Akin to the legal chicanery that the Afrikaners had unsuccessfully attempted to impose upon the Black People in the Republic of South Africa. Or the ‘Indian reservations’ that the United States has so far successfully imposed upon its Indigenous Peoples. Not surprisingly, the United States government fully supported Israel in its attempt to impose this apartheid Bantustan upon Palestine and the Palestinians."
But this is exactly what the Christian Zionists and the Likudite Zionists want — to have the Palestinians shuffled off behind ghetto walls surrounding engineered Bantustans, their militant factions rendered ineffectual or killed off by way of "targeted assassination," ruled over by approved "prime ministers," and kept an eye on by CIA trained capos.
"Christian Zionism offers an uncritical endorsement of the Israeli political right and at the same time shows an inexcusable lack of compassion for the Palestinian tragedy," writes Stephen Sizer. "In doing so it has legitimized their oppression in the name of God."
It’s an oppression Tom DeLay and the Christian Zionists refuse to acknowledge.
DeLay admitted as much when he visited the Jewish state: "I didn’t see any occupied territory — what I saw was Israel." Undoubtedly, this will be the principal message the House Majority Leader will deliver to Ariel Sharon and the Likudites in Israel this week.
Finally, recall the remark made by Rafael Eitan, former Israeli general and head of the Tromet Party: "We will harass these Palestinians until they move like drunk cockroaches in a bottle."
No doubt the bug exterminator from Sugar Land, Texas, understands this well.
KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent online gallery Ordinary Vistas. Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s forthcoming volume, The Politics of Anti-Semitism..
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org