Columbus Day And Israel

Columbus Day And Israel October 9, 2023

Israel declares war the day before our Columbus Day. What an interesting time for reflection? The year was 1492 King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain took two world changing actions that year. One is they sent one of the most controversial and enigmatic figures in western history to the orient. The other action is they expelled all the Jews and Muslims from their Most Catholic Kingdom. These actions launched the beginning of the European empires in the New World and the genocide of uncountable millions in the name of Jesus over the next 500 years.

Israel: The Burden Of History

Israel eventually became the guilty conscience of the West. But it did not alleviate anti-Semitism. The Zionist movement assumed it could not be overcome. The idea of a state as a haven for the Jewish people eventually became a reality after the horrifying calamity of the Second World War. Many new states formed from old European colonies. India and Pakistan, for instance, were partitioned in 1948 as were Israel and Palestine.  But Israel was seen as another European colony by its neighbors. The Jewish State has struggled to survive by alternately fighting with and pursuing peace deals with their neighbors. And yet, within the country has been an internal fight about what a Jewish state means.

Israel’s credibility in seeking to fight terrorists was lost in the invasion of Lebanon that resulted in the siege of Beirut in 1982. The Palestinian Liberation Organization moved their headquarters to Tunisia. The United States lost face when 220 US Marines, 18 Sailors, and 3 US soldiers serving as peacekeepers were killed by a suicide truck bomb.

Columbus Day

I see a parallel between Israel’s wars with the Palestinians and the United States’ wars with the various tribes collectively called Native Americans. A mention of “savage Indians” in the Declaration of Independence tells us the wars against these tribes were always a part of our history. The Columbus Day federal holiday is only 11 years older than Israel. It was established in 1937. One wonders why recognition of Christopher Columbus as the Discoverer of America was so important in that time. Fascism was on the rise in Europe at the time. The Spanish Civil War was beginning. The America First movement had the man who flew back to Europe non-stop as its leader.

Columbus never set foot on the territory that became the United States. Why were we as school children told he was so important? Columbus has become a point of reference for how wrong we have gotten things over the years. He should not be ignored or forgotten. I am cautious about both condemning and honoring him.

U.S. and Israel

The United States will support Israel in the latest war. Our government will do so unconditionally. We have invested too much in Israel. However, it is time to reconsider that approach. The US government taxes and borrows money to give to Israel. There should be strings attached. Military aid should be drastically reduced. None of these approaches have been good for the United States or Israel.

Christians in the United States like to think the problem is either very simple (as in Israel is good/Arabs are bad) or pretend the problem is too complex to solve. It is neither of these things. The solution is for us to learn to value the lives of people as people. We should not value lives based on whether someone is friendly or apparently an enemy. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is not a theological crisis. It is a humanitarian one. We are not talking about a religious war. We are talking about choosing war as the primary solution to dealing with neighbors. Until the U.S. chooses the path of peace, we will continue to be mired in these forever wars. Christians need to choose this way.


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