By Rudy Barnes, Jr., December 16, 2023
I was surprised when America vetoed the UN resolution for a ceasefire in Israel and when Israel continued its indiscriminate bombing in Gaza, but I didn’t expect Biden to support Netanyahu’s militant Zionism that has killed thousands of Palestinians in Gaza. To defeat Hamas Israel should take a page from the more surgical U.S. operation against al qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
Militant Zionism is deeply embedded in Israel’s history, and Israel’s indiscriminate bombing in Gaza should be challenged as a violation of international law. Over 500 years before the coming of Jesus, King Cyrus of Babylon freed Jews from exile, and when they returned to Israel they expelled all non-Jews. Jesus was a Jew who taught just the opposite.
When Cyrus liberated the Jews from their Babylonian exile, the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah in the Hebrew Bible describe the Israelites ethnic cleansing of non-Jews in Israel as they rebuilt their temple. It reflects a history of Jewish ethnic cleansing in the Holy Land that began with Joshua’s genocide at Jericho.
Jesus was a maverick Jew who opposed the exclusivist policies of Ezra and Nehemiah and emphasized reconciliation of a universal family of God. While Jesus taught the greatest commandment to love God and our neighbors of other races and religions as we love ourselves, the church promoted exclusivist doctrines that limited salvation to those with Christian beliefs.
That misplaced emphasis allowed Christianity to become the world’s most popular and powerful religion, and the history of Christianity is replete with stories of religious exclusivity and violence from the Crusades through the Inquisitions. Christians may have outdone their Jewish forebears in promoting the evils of religious nationalism, despite the teachings of Jesus.
Most Americans consider themselves Christians, and many are nationalists whose faith is based on distorted priorities of patriotism. Zionism is a form of Jewish nationalism and reverence for Israel as a Jewish homeland. President Biden told Netanyahu that he is a Zionist, raising issues about Biden’s political priorities. Criticizing Zionism is not antisemitic.
At the end of America’s Civil War, Abraham Lincoln challenged people of faith to build bridges of political reconciliation and peace, not walls of hate and violence: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us…let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
Jews, Christians and Muslims should follow Lincoln’s inspiring words as God’s will. It’s how we live by the greatest commandment to love God and our neighbors of other races and religions as we love ourselves. It was taken from the Hebrew Bible, taught by Jesus and accepted by Islamic scholars as a common word of the three Abrahamic faiths.
On hate and violence in the Holy Land, beginning with Joshua at Jericho, see https://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2023/11/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on-hate.html.
On how many Palestinians are in Israel and Gaza, see Wikipedia: “Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one half of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the territory of former Mandatory Palestine, now encompassing Israel and the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In Israel proper, Palestinians constitute almost 21 percent of the population as part of its Arab citizens. Many are Palestinian refugees or internally displaced Palestinians, including more than a million in the Gaza Strip, around 750,000 in the West Bank, and around 250,000 in Israel proper.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinians#:~:text=In%20Israel%20proper%2C%20Palestinians%20constitute,around%20250%2C000%20in%20Israel%20proper.
On Zionism, and What It Means to Netanyahu and Biden, see
On Israel facing growing isolation and Biden criticism as Gaza deaths mount, see https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/un-demands-ceasefire-gaza-israel-us-show-increasing-divisions-2023-12-13/; see also Rifts between Biden and Netanyahu spill into public view at
Proportionality is a concept important for determining the legality of an act of war, and is about weighing civilian harm against military objectives. See https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/13/world/middleeast/israel-gaza-proportionality-law-of-war.html.
Heavy fighting has raged across Gaza, as Israel moves ahead with renewed U.S. Support. Israel has faced rising international outrage and calls for a permanent cease-fire after the killing of thousands of Palestinian civilians. About 90% of Gaza's 2.3 million people have been displaced within the besieged territory, where U.N. agencies say there is no safe place to flee. The United States has lent vital support to the offensive once again in recent days, by vetoing United Nations Security Council efforts to end the fighting that enjoyed wide international support, and by pushing through an emergency sale of over $100 million worth of tank ammunition to Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked U.S. President Joe Biden for the “important ammunition for the continuation of the war." The U.S. has pledged unwavering support for Israel's goal of crushing Hamas' military and its governing abilities. See https://time.com/6344541/gaza-fighting-rages-israel-renewed-us-support/.
Christian nationalism, like Zionism, is an unholy mix of religion and nationalism. See http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2023/09/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on_23.html.
On the greatest commandment as a common word of faith, see