Saturday, May 18, 2024

More Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Religion, Legitimacy and Politics in Israel

By Rudy Barnes, Jr., May 18, 2024

Religion is the primary source of the moral standards of legitimacy in a nation, and in a democracy the standards of political legitimacy are based on national values.  Values vary in different cultures, and the altruistic values in America’s libertarian democracy contrast with more authoritarian values in other nations, like Israel and Russia.

Conflicts of legitimacy are obvious in Islamic cultures like Afghanistan and Iraq, and also in Israel with its nationalist Zionism.  President Biden assured Netanyahu that he’s a Zionist, and has continued to provide Israel with armaments that have killed Palestinians in Gaza.  As a violation of international humanitarian law that’s a problem of military legitimacy.

America needs to obey laws restraining the use of military force that have been ignored by Israel in its war with Hamas.  As a retired Army JAGC officer, I taught the Law of War and international humanitarian law during my military career, and have written extensively on military legitimacy, and I was awarded the Legion of Merit for my military service.

After retiring from the Army I became a Methodist pastor and opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq.  My church was small and conservative, and few challenged my opinion, even  though I was in the minority.  Israel is not a sacred nation; and as described by Thomas L. Friedman, Netanyahu is a right-wing demagogue who doesn’t deserve U.S. support.

Biden is the only alternative to Trump as America’s next President, and Trump’s record on issues of legitimacy is even worse than that of Biden.  But there is still hope that voters might have a legitimate choice in the November elections.  Party conventions this summer could change their nominees for President; or Biden could recant his support of Netanyahu.

Protecting non-combatant Palestinians from the ravages of war is based on the Christian doctrine of Just War.  The Lieber Code of 1863 was America’s first law protecting civilians in wartime.  General Sherman ignored the law and destroyed civilian property on his march through the South, while General Lee complied with its principles on his march to Gettysburg.

Netanyahu has ignored international law in the Israeli-Hamas war.  His policies resemble ancient Hebrew warfare similar to that of Joshua at Jericho and violate current international laws that prohibit ethnic cleansing and the killing of non-combatant civilians.  America must exemplify compliance with international humanitarian law to promote military legitimacy in modern warfare.

A Pentagon intelligence officer resigned from the Army last week to protest the unlawful U.S. policy of aiding and abetting Israeli violations of international law.  Military legitimacy is an extension of political legitimacy intended to ensure that U. S. might is right.  This commentary repeats last week’s topic to emphasize the interrelationship of religion, legitimacy and politics.


In August 2020 Democrats headed to their convention united against Trump, but they expected conflict once the election was over.  See  This year Democrats should take additional precautions at their convention, such as those recommended by Ezra Klein.  See Democrats Have a Better Option than Biden (from “The Ezra Klein Show”, NYTimes, February 16, 2024 ).

On Thomas Friedman’s criticism of Netanyahu, see how Netanyahu is making Israel radioactive at

Thomas Friedman has said “Israel today is in grave danger. With enemies like Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and Iran, Israel should be enjoying the sympathy of much of the world. But it is not. Because of the way Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his extremist coalition have been conducting the war in Gaza and the occupation of the West Bank, Israel is becoming radioactive and diaspora Jewish communities everywhere increasingly insecure.”  And Friedman fears it’s about to get worse.  Netanyahu has broken Israel with his destructive policies but is not seeking to fix the problems he has caused.” Cited in

Musings on Whether Biden Will Allow Netanyahu to Doom His Reelection Bid at


On The Failure of the Law of War to Protect Civilians in Wartime, see

On Military Legitimacy, and Why Military Might Must be Right, see

On Preventing Crimes Against Humanity in Israel, Gaza and Ukraine, see

A Pentagon intelligence officer has quit in protest of Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, see

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