Saturday, April 20, 2024

Musings on Moral and Political Issues in the Middle East Crisis

By Rudy Barnes, Jr. April 20, 2024

Thomas Friedman is an authority on Middle East politics.  His recent article on how to clean up the Middle East mess is hopeful, even if it seems like wishful thinking; but I have one major disagreement with Friedman’s assessment of the Middle East mess.  He gave President Biden “high marks” for his support of Netanyahu’s policies.  I don’t.

Biden should never have given Netanyahu America’s “ironclad” support for his military strikes that violated international humanitarian law, killing over 33,000 Palestinians.  Friedman acknowledged “the toxic image of Israel in America and other Western capitals” caused by Netanyahu’s Zionist policies, and that it cannot be remedied “as long as Netanyahu is in power.”  

Adversaries in the Middle East are Palestinian Muslims and Israeli Jews, but their conflict is based more on political, moral, and cultural issues rather than religious issues.  It’s similar to racial conflict in the U.S. that’s based on racial, cultural and partisan issues rather than competing religions; but both conflicts reflect a lack of moral standards in religion and politics. 

The MIddle East Crisis reflects a need for Jews, Christians and Muslims to promote universal standards of altruistic morality and reconciliation that promote the common good. Promoting the altruistic common good in diverse democracies is a challenge for all religions,  since most religions subordinate moral standards to exclusivist beliefs.

There is a common word of faith for Jews, Christians and Muslims that emphasizes altruism, reconciliation and promoting the common good.  It’s 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 faith.

There has been a reluctance for Jews, Christians and Muslims to extend the moral standards of their faith to their politics.  Moral standards should be the top priority of religion and politics, with standards of  political legitimacy in democracy its most important context.  The failure of the Abrahamic religions to promote morality in politics is their  greatest failure.

It’s ironic that the lack of morality in politics should be so evident in Israel, the ancient Holy Land that produced so many Jewish prophets, including Jesus, whose teachings are summarized in the greatest commandment, but where Netanyahu is now Israel’s radical Zionist prime minister whose policies promote ethnic hostility and violence; and he’s not alone.

As Thomas Friedman has pointed out--and the world has witnessed--violence has become the world’s political norm despite democracy being the most popular form of government, enabling people to become the masters of their political destiny.  That’s a sad irony, but it should remind us that God is full of surprises in a world of ironic human depravity.


On Thomas Friedman’s article on How to be Pro-Palestinian, Pro-Israeli and Pro-Iranian, see

On The greatest commandment as a common word of faith, see

On Who Is My Neighbor?  See

OnThe Politics of Loving Our Neighbors as Ourselves, see

On Altruism: The Missing Ingredient in American Christianity and Democracy, see

On  Musings on a Common Word of Faith and Politics for Christians and Muslims, see

On The Universal Family of God: Where Inclusivity Trumps Exclusivity, see

On Musings on a Politics of Reconciliation: An Impossible Dream? see

On Musings on Diversity in Democracy: Who Are Our Neighbors?, see

On Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Politics of Christian Zionism, see

On Musings on DEI, Democracy, Demagoguery and Providing for the Common Good, see

On  Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Most Fundamental Value of Democracy, see  

On the diversity of people in America, and how most foreign-born in America live in four states, see

On How Trump fills a void a void in an increasingly secular America, see

On How church attendance has declined in most religious groups, see

Oh Yes, we’re divided. But a new AP poll shows Americans still agree on most core American values, see

On How a nonconforming minority can defeat Christian nationalism, see

On Religious change in America, see

On Democracy as a Christian value, see

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