Tuesday, June 03, 2008

American Zionism

AMERICAN ZIONISM by Steve Newcomb, Indigenous Law Institute

In his May 15 speech before the Israeli Knesset, President George W. Bush invoked the Old Testament story of the chosen people and the Promised Land. Bush said that the establishment of Israel in 1948 ''was the redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham, Moses and David - a homeland for the chosen people in Eretz Yisrael.''

Bush also spoke explicitly of an alliance and a friendship between Israel and the United States rooted in the Bible. The source of the link between the two countries, he said, ''is grounded in the shared spirit of our people, the bonds of the Book, the ties of the soul.'' Then, weaving a bit of American history into the mix, Bush told his audience: ''When William Bradford stepped off the Mayflower in 1620, he quoted the words of [the Hebrew prophet] Jeremiah 51:10: 'Come let us declare in Zion the word of God.'''

According to Bush, ''The founders of my country saw a new promised land and bestowed upon their towns names like Bethlehem and New Canaan. And in time, many Americans became passionate advocates for a Jewish state.'' American Indian lands, in other words, were viewed by the founders of the United States as a new Land of Canaan, a promised inheritance and everlasting possession.

Although there may be those orthodox Jews who would not concur with Bush's characterization of the Old Testament, his speech illustrates the kind of thinking that has played such a prominent role in the historic mistreatment of American Indians by the United States, and in the callous and often brutal mistreatment of Palestinian people by the state of Israel. The mental model of a chosen people and a promised land provides a convenient rationalization whereby one people feels entitled and justified, by divine right, to take over, possess, and profit from the lands of other peoples.
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