Hey! Gunna talk about Jews! And Fundamentalism! And I even mention the KKK! Maybe wanna jump out if you’re not into hearing me talk about that.
During 2016 we got to watch a lot of people who were quite obviously Not Cool With Jews, because, y’know, KKK ties, being defended with ‘but how can they possibly be antisemitic – they’re a friend of Israel.’
Look, I have no intention to get into a discussion of what Israel means to Jews and all that, because if nothing else, I’m an ignorant ass and I have no interest in trying to tell people directly impacted by a thing what they are or aren’t. But. What I do know is fundamentalism, and I know why ‘friend to Israel’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘respects Jewish culture or autonomy.’
In Christian Fundamentalist teachings, there are prophecies. They are prophecies that are taken seriously, and often you can find people literally selling you interpretations of these prophecies in terms of trying to divine how close or how far terrible events are in the world. These prophecies are, to say the least, arch, but there’s usually some accepted conventions about what the prophecies refer to, and one of the things the prophecies require is the presence of a Temple, in Jerusalem, rebuilt to the glory of God, in which some specific things ‘will’ happen.
What this means is that to this particular segment of the population, Israel needs total control over Jersualem so they can build the Temple, so Jesus can come back. And that sounds totally fucking crackers and surely nobody really thinks that but.
It has two important implications.
First of all, this reframes Islamic presence in Palestinian territory, in particular the Dome of the Rock, as like someone putting a ‘seal’ on the return of Christ. Like, you can interpret this – especially when you assume that Islamic faith is really just derived from Christian faith, as a corruption – as an explicit effort to hold back the will of God. When you think in these terms, boy howdy does the actions of the representatives of Islam in the area (aka ‘Palestinians’) suddenly take on a much more menacing tone. It’s very hard to hold onto the idea that this known information isn’t part of some sort of anti-Jesus conspiracy.
I know this sounds like nothing an adult would believe but bear with me.
The other thing is, this perspective and its connected tissue is so much more widespread than you think it should be. It’s widespread amongst people who don’t consider themselves fundamentalist christians. Because the idea of Biblical prophecy is in part, connected to the idea of Biblical infallibility, which, in turn, tends to be connected to ‘cultural’ feelings of Christianity and distrust of the community of people who keep track of what actually happens.
If you’re a politician who personally believes in Evolution, but chooses to not say that publically, because you know your constituents won’t like it, that means a meaningful percentage of your constituents don’t believe evolution happened, which means they believe something else happened, which overwhelmingly means they believe the Biblical account or some variation thereof. And in the United States, that population is about 42%.
Everything you see these days is connected to this: The large group of the population who do not care about what is actually, provably true, and make decisions and policy moves based on that. And in the hardline fundamentalist group, what happens to the Jews when the prophecy is fulfilled?
I kid you not. The less-harsh view of it is ‘we don’t know what happens to the Jewish people during the apocalypse.’ But the harder line, the line that I’ve heard spoken of?
Their line ends in fire.
“Friend of Israel” is not the same thing as “Not Anti-Semite” and I’d expect them to in fact, be oppositely correlated.