On Ariel Sharon:
“Hopefully, the news that the criminal of Sabra and Chatila has joined his ancestors is final…Hopefully, others (criminals like him) will join him too”
–Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

“He was dividing God’s land, and I would say, ‘Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the [European Union], the United Nations or the United States of America,'”
Pat Robertson

So, while they ostensibly oppose each other, perhaps the extremist religious right in both countries has more in common than they thought. Both men seem to oppose any sort of rational movement towards peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict (indeed, some members of both the Christian and Islamic religious right, as represented by Ahmadinejad and Robertson, choose to pursue dangerously nonsensical nationalism in relation to Israel and Palestine respectively).

Granted, I have come to expect no less from either. Ahmadinejad, after all, has already ridiculously denied the Holocaust and called for the elimination of Israel. But it is Robertson who is more disconcerting, because far too many Americans (true, any more than 1 is too many), for whatever inexplicable reason, treat his outlandish political statements as valued pronunciations. So, my thoughts on Robertson’s pronouncement.

“God’s land?” Should a fundamentalist not strongly hold that the whole planet was created by God and, thus, is God’s land? Clearly Robertson means to indicate that the geographic territory of Israel/Palestine has some divine significance. But his poorly stated logic would lead to the conclusion that any political boundaries are invalid since they, after all, divide God’s land (presumably) without His consent.

And what Robertson has against the EU, the UN, and United States is anyone’s guess. “Blessed are the peacemakers?” Robertson’s version of Christian theology must include a special definition of peace. And also grant him the ability to justify the deaths of those whom he disagrees with: in 1995 he made similar statements (to those made about Sharon) referring to assassinated Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin, and called recently for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Somehow he can make such violent, unforgiving, unprincipled statements and not laugh while using the honorific “Reverend” in front of his name.

What would Robertson’s vision of the future be? One of bloodshed? Of massacre? One of total war driven by religious extremism? It seems quite arrogant for Robertson, who is certainly neither Jewish religiously, or Israeli in terms of nationality, to presume to have an expert opinion on the proper political and ideological conduct of Israeli politics (it should be noted that Sharon and his newly-formed, pro-peace centrist Kadima party were widely favored to win parliamentary elections in March). Robertson’s (and Ahmadinejad’s) vision of the future of the Middle East is a far more violent, more frightening one than Ariel Sharon ever dreamt up, even in his hard-line days, and certainly not in his gratifying and honorable later years of statesmanship. I can only have hope that Robertson’s views are viewed by the public as critically as Ahmadinejad’s are.

It makes intellectual and reasonable moderates and conservatives look foolish when extremists like Robertson spout off such poorly considered, poorly grounded ideas while purporting to be rationally thinking people.

And, needless to say, our hopes in the event of Sharon’s incapacitation should be for future Israeli leadership which values peace, diplomacy, and compromise as did his government. It is a much better vision of the future for Israelis, for Palestinians, and for the peace-desiring international community criticized by Robertson.

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