Sheldon Adelson Finds in Newt Gingrich…

…the best foreign policy money can buy. Get ready for more rhetoric encouraging the deathless neoconservative faith in the Immaculate Conception of the State of Israel and its preservation from all sin, both original and actual.

Meanwhile, in the reality-based community, Israel is just another secular nation-state, not a royal priesthood or a holy nation somehow immune from the corrupting forces that afflict all other secular nation states. To believe otherwise is a particularly dangerous human tradition.

  • Confederate Papist

    I was a big advocate of Israel. However, I have learned that the shrinking Christian , especially Catholic, population is at an alarming rate. In Bethlehem alone, the birth place of our Lord, the population is now 1.5%. I am praying for that area and for those folks….I just wish I can do more for them. They can’t even publicly display their faith without some sort of persecution from Israelis and Muslims…

    • Franciscan

      Just a couple of notes: 1) Bethlehem is under Palestinian control. 2) I’ve read the claim about the precipitous decline of the Christian population in Israel, but I haven’t seen the documented statistics to back that up. I’m not saying it isn’t true. But I would like to see it verified and see exactly where the population decreases are occurring (if they are at all).

      For instance, this statistical treatment doesn’t support the idea that the Christian population is decreasing in Israel:

      http://israelipalestinian.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000636

      The Vatican Insider (La Stampa) also writes, “The reality for Christians in the Jewish State is in stark contrast to that in the neighbouring Arab countries. Although their presence is small and in decline in terms of its percentage within the Country’s population, their numbers are on the increase and unlike in Arab states, Christians come from a number of different countries.” (Jan. 2012)

      http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/homepage/world-news/detail/articolo/cristiani-christians-cristianos-israele-israel-11964/

      • Allie

        Are you sure that Bethlehem is under Palestinian control? If so, then how can this happen: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1105093.htm (I linked to this article below as well in other comments)

        Also, I thought that after the Six Day War in 1967, Israel took control from the Jordanians. Has something changed?

        • Franciscan

          “Are you sure that Bethlehem is under Palestinian control?”

          Yes. I’ve been there. Coming from Jerusalem, I’ve passed through the fence/checkpoint. Bethlehem is under direct Palestinian internal rule.

          You can read some more about it, here:

          http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vie/Bethlehem.html

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bethlehem

          As regards your link, it appears that the olive groves in question were outside the the fence near Bethlehem. But the city proper is behind the fence and under direct Palestinian internal rule.

        • Franciscan

          “Are you sure that Bethlehem is under Palestinian control?”

          Yes. I’ve been there. Coming from Jerusalem, I’ve passed through the fence/checkpoint. Bethlehem is under direct Palestinian internal rule.

          You can read some more about it, here:

          http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vie/Bethlehem.html

          (more below – automatic moderation wouldn’t allow both links)

          • Franciscan

            (cont’d):

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bethlehem

            As regards your link, it appears that the olive groves in question were outside the the fence near Bethlehem. But the city proper is behind the fence and under direct Palestinian internal rule.

    • Franciscan

      Just a couple of notes: 1) Bethlehem is under Palestinian control. 2) I’ve read the claim about the precipitous decline of the Christian population in Israel, but I haven’t seen the documented statistics to back that up. I’m not saying it isn’t true. But I would like to see it verified and see exactly where the population decreases are occurring (if they are at all).

      For instance, this statistical treatment doesn’t support the idea that the Christian population is decreasing in Israel:

      http://israelipalestinian.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000636

      • Franciscan

        (continuing…)

        The Vatican Insider (La Stampa) also writes, “The reality for Christians in the Jewish State is in stark contrast to that in the neighbouring Arab countries. Although their presence is small and in decline in terms of its percentage within the Country’s population, their numbers are on the increase and unlike in Arab states, Christians come from a number of different countries.” (Jan. 2012)

        http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/homepage/world-news/detail/articolo/cristiani-christians-cristianos-israele-israel-11964/

        • Franciscan

          {Apologies for the reposting of material – I split up the original into two posts because the first, longer post was caught in the spam filter}

          • Confederate Papist

            Thanks for the info.

            I was unaware of who controlled B’hem.

            Regardless, outside of this and a few other blogs, no one seems to worry too much about Arab Christians and Christians in the Holy Land and I wonder why that is?

            • Franciscan

              You’re welcome.

              Also, I’ve seen concern expressed about this. I just did a few searches on related topics and there seems to be a fair amount on the Internet about it. But I wonder if perhaps there isn’t more because the conditions for Christians are so much more severe in many other places around the world, like Iraq (or most any Muslim majority country, for that matter) or China?

  • John C

    Great post! This guy Potemra is obviously in somebody’s ideological pocket. Nickles and dimes, no doubt. This is why, whenever I see the question posted “Why do Evangelicals love Israel?”, I always respond: “They don’t, they love their own bogus eschatologies”.

    • Tom Connelly

      This guy Potemra is obviously in somebody’s ideological pocket. Nickles and dimes, no doubt.

      It’s not obvious to me, John. Whose pocket would that be?

    • Rosemarie

      +J.M.J+

      Part of it is bogus eschatology, but there’s also their interpretation of God’s promise to father Abraham in Genesis 12:3: “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee….” Many Evangelicals believe that this blessing extends to all Abraham’s physical descendents; God will bless those who bless the Jews and curse those who curse the Jews. “Just look at Hitler,” they say, “he cursed the Jews and God cursed him!”

      They then extend this passage to the modern nation of Israel. It’s an ethnically Jewish nation, therefore criticizing it becomes tantamount to “cursing the Jews.” A leap of logic, of course, but that may be one reason why they are reluctant to breathe a negative word about Israel.

  • http://www.churchyear.net David Bennett

    This is a great point. I think when dealing with bad politics stemming from bad eschatology, two points are helpful to remember:

    1. The modern state of Israel is secular, and is not the ancient theocratic kingdom, nor does it claim to be. To conflate the two is a mistake.

    2. Even if #1 were true, in my reading of the OT, Israel does not get a free pass to do what it pleases, as they seem to get from modern evangelicals. The prophets called Israel out on unjust behavior a LOT, and it was only the “yes men” prophets that allowed Israel a free pass, and the Bible clearly condemns these fakers.

  • Chris

    This is the rotten fruit of dispensationalist (is that a word?) theology. If we can fit the pieces of current events into the colorful language of apocalyptic literature, then it must be speaking to OUR GENERATION. And not only that, it must be speaking of THE UNITED STATES. And of course, it must be LITERAL.

    So instead of the New Jerusalem/New Israel – i.e., the Catholic Church – we have the neo-cons trying to cram God back into the Temple, which, by itself, is a demonic sentiment.

    Worse, this group would not only like to see the “abomination” arise, but they would like to facilitate it. You know – as if we just complete a Biblical treasure hunt of necessary events, the electronic lock holding Jesus in his heavenly prison cell will suddenly fly open and he’ll descend from heaven toute de suite.

    The State of Israel is a geopolitical reality, not an eschatological sign. Anyone assigning special protection to Israel “just because”, must thereby, in the first place, also have a beef with God for letting the Romans destroy the Temple He had already abandoned at the tearing of the veil. The Temple is Christ, and Christ is present in the universal Church, not (just) the city limits of Jerusalem.

    • Franciscan

      “The State of Israel is a geopolitical reality, not an eschatological sign. ”

      It can be both.

      The 1936 Catholic Encyclopedia states that some of the Fathers of the Church taught that “Antichrist will be of Jewish extraction, of the tribe of Dan, will be circumcised, will rebuild Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple, in which he will set himself up as God. Likewise, he is to begin his work of seduction among the Jews who will accept him as the Messiah.”

      If these Fathers are right, then this also pre-supposes the re-establishment of the Jewish state. The Jews were without a country for almost 2,000 year, and it has recently come back into existence. One might consider that fact eschatologically significant.

      But even if that re-establishment is eschatologically significant, it does not mean that the Jewish nation therefore has God’s blessing for everything that it does.

      • Chris

        True. I guess it would be better stated, “not NECESSARILY an eschatological sign”. I agree that Bellarmine and others were very insistent that the temple would be rebuilt. Could it be THIS time? Maybe, maybe not. But the anti-Christ would have to show up first and fool the public before they plunk down the kind of money needed to rebuild the Temple in a mostly secular state.

        My problem is conducting foreign policy through the lens of fortune tellers who think they’ve got the only correct interpretation of Revelation (Hal Linsey, etc.). As Mark stated, this is where it gets dangerous.

        • Franciscan

          Agreed. I think, ironically, those who support everything Israel does could unwittingly end up enabling the scenario mentioned by a few of the Fathers. They could also end up being a prime catalyst of “Armageddon”. The two polar extremes (haters of everything Israel/lovers of everything Israel) could end up causing conflagration.

          That’s why it’s so important for the Catholic Church to be the buffer, the balance between the extremes.

  • Mark S (not for Shea)

    All good thoughts. But it’s a moot point.

    Guy Smiley is going to be the GOP nomineee, and Obama is going to beat him in the election.

  • Franciscan

    It’s interesting how tiny Israel still elicits such powerful, visceral reactions, both pro and con. There’s no doubt that some have an irrational hatred of all things Jewish or Israeli. But some seem to over-react to that hatred and want to bless everything that Israel does. It then becomes a vicious cycle of sorts, each side pushing the other to further and further extremes.

  • Allie

    The following article was pretty enlightening to me about what is happening in the Holy Land to Christian Palestinians (and I don’t see why this wouldn’t be occurring to Muslim Palestinians as well). http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1105093.htm It is entitled “Absentee landowners? West Bank landowners can’t get to their land”.

    As a side note, I happened to be flipping channels last night and Hal Lindsay was on a protestant channel talking about how we (the US) MUST protect and support Israel (basically at any costs) or we will not be blessed by God and in fact we will be cursed by God.

    Then he went into a biblical exegesis on various scripture passages about how, and I am paraphrasing, there are some “heretical” viewpoints on Israel such as “the preterists”(ie Catholics) who think that “Israel”in Scripture is now the Church…but they are wrong because Israel was only a type of the Church up until the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD…and then God gave his covenant back to the Jews again, it was a cycle started anew….
    (?scratches head?)
    And how does Christianity fit into all of this again??? (or am I an anti-semite for asking that question…uh-oh)

    Let me end by saying that I pray for peace between Israel and Palestine and all of the Middle East. I think there are errors on both sides -Palestinians and Israelis. But at the end of the day the saddest thing is that in reality I would bet that most people over there would and could get along, but their governments (including ours) create the majority of problems and then the people suffer the consequences for it.

    In the meantime, I will be praying for all of their conversions to the King of Peace and his Catholic Church.

    • Rosemarie

      +J.M.J+

      >>>As a side note, I happened to be flipping channels last night and Hal Lindsay was on a protestant channel talking about how we (the US) MUST protect and support Israel (basically at any costs) or we will not be blessed by God and in fact we will be cursed by God.

      This is exactly what I mentioned above. The idea that God’s blessing on Abraham, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee” extends to the modern nation of Israel, so making a negative statement about anything the country does is “cursing” the Jews and provokes the wrath of God.


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