Category Archives: Christianity

How do Democrats and Republicans Differ on Palestine and Israel? 

The polarized nature of American politics often makes it difficult to address fundamental differences between the country’s two main political rivals, Republicans and Democrats. As each side is intent on discrediting the other at every opportunity, unbiased information regarding the two parties’ actual stances on internal and external issues can be difficult to decipher.

Regarding Palestine and Israel, however, both parties’ establishments are quite clear on offering Israel unlimited and unconditional support. The discrepancies in their positions are, at times, quite negligible, even if Democrats, occasionally, attempt to present themselves as fairer and more even-handed.

Judging by statements made by Democrat presidential candidate, Joe Biden, his running mate, Kamala Harris, and people affiliated with their campaign, a future President Biden does not intend to reverse any of the pro-Israel political measures adopted by the Donald Trump Administration.

Moreover, a Democrat administration, as revealed, will not even consider the possibility of conditioning US financial and military support to Israel on the latter’s respect for Palestinian human rights, let alone international law altogether.

“Joe Biden has made it clear  … he will not tie US security assistance to Israel to political decisions Israel makes, and I couldn’t agree more,” Harris, who is promoted enthusiastically by some as a ‘progressive’ politician, was quoted as saying in a telephone call on August 26. The call was made to what Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, termed as “Jewish supporters.” The Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel referred to this crucial constituency as “Jewish donors.”

Although the view of the party’s rank and file has significantly shifted against Israel in recent years, the Democrat’s upper echelon still caters to the Israel lobby and their rich backers, even if this means continuing to mold US foreign policy in the Middle East so that it serves Israeli interests.

Republicans, on the other hand, have cemented their support for Israel, but no longer around geo-strategic issues pertaining to Israel’s ‘security’ or US interests. The speeches made by Republican leaders at the Republican National Convention (RNC), held in  Charlotte, North Carolina last month, were all aimed at reassuring ‘Christian Zionists’, who represent the most powerful pro-Israel constituency in the US. The once relatively marginal impact of Christian Zionists in directly shaping US foreign policy has morphed, over the years, to define the core values of Republicans.

Regardless of the nature of the discourse through which Republican and Democrat leaders express their love and support for Israel, the two parties are decidedly ‘pro-Israel’. There are many recent examples that corroborate this assertion.

On November 18, 2019, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Washington would no longer consider Jewish settlements illegal or a violation of international law. That position was later cemented in Trump’s so-called ‘Deal of the Century’, published on January 28.

Democrats, however, continue to perceive illegal Jewish settlements as, indeed, illegal. “This decision harms the cause of diplomacy, takes us further away from the hope of a two-state solution, and will only further inflame tensions in the region,” Joe Biden’s campaign said in a statement, in response to Pompeo’s declaration.

Although markedly different, it is hard to imagine a Democrat administration upholding the above position, while simultaneously refraining from reversing previous decisions made by the Trump administration. It can only be one or the other.

One’s cynicism is fully justified, as we recently learned, that the Democrat establishment has refused to even use the word ‘occupation’, with reference to Israel’s occupation of Palestine, in their party platform released on July 15. According to Foreign Policy, the decision “followed heavy last-minute lobbying by pro-Israel advocacy groups.”

On December 6, 2017, the Trump administration made one of the boldest pro-Israel decisions, when he formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. A few months later, on May 14, 2018, the US embassy was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a brazen violation of international law.

The legal foundation of Trump’s decision was the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. This Act was the outcome of bipartisan efforts, bringing together Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Interestingly, leading Democrats, such as Joe Biden and John Kerry, were the main cheerleaders of the embassy move, back then. Only one Democrat senator, the late Robert Byrd, voted against the Bill. In the House of Representatives, only 30 out of 204 Democrats voted ‘no’.

Even though many Democrats rejected the timing of Trump’s implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act, their criticism was largely political, primarily motivated by Democrats’ attempts to discredit Trump. The fact that the Biden campaign, later on, made it clear that the decision will not be reversed should he become president, is a further illustration highlighting the moral bankruptcy of the Democratic establishment, as well.

The truth is, US unconditional backing for Israel is a common cause among all American administrations, whether Democrat or Republican. What they may differ on, however, is their overall motive and primary target audience during election time.

Political polarization and misinformation aside, both Democrats and Republicans head to the November elections with strong pro-Israel sentiments, if not outright support, while completely ignoring the plight of occupied and oppressed Palestinians.

The post How do Democrats and Republicans Differ on Palestine and Israel?  first appeared on Dissident Voice.

It isn’t What It is … and It always Never was

President Trump and his staff of Pro-life Christians walk into a bar.

The bartender says, “Every 24 hours, COVID-19 kills another thousand people.”

“Not on my watch,” says the president, and everyone laughs.

Get it; not on my watch? No wait, that’s not it. You see, they’re all Pro-life Christians; now do you get it? No, not really? Okay, maybe it’s not funny. Maybe it’s an absurd postulation. Why, for Christ’s sake, would Pro-life Christians be hanging out with Trump? Christians are merciful, respondent to the pain and suffering of others, right? Pro-life sentiment reveres the sanctity of life, right? With Trump you can look, but you can’t see any of that morality; it’s just not in his wheelhouse. While he might pay lip service to Pro-life and Christian declarations, he blatantly lives and governs otherwise. So, in what world would Pro-life Christians chum-about with and back-slap one who exemplifies the antithesis of their professed morality?

That would be this world. Trump is surrounded and abetted by Pro-life Christians. It doesn’t seem to make sense, but it’s true. Trump’s cabinet/staff includes Mike Pence, William Barr, Mike Pompeo, Kellyanne Conway, Mark Meadows, Kayleigh McEnany, Paula White and others who have displayed Christian grounding and Pro-life affirmation throughout their lives. Donald Trump is the unique outlier under the White House roof; he’s the only late-bloomer. He became Pro-life in 2012, neatly concurrent with his presidential ambitions. He went full Monty a short time later as a born-again Christian. He did what needed to be done; he put a check mark in the proper boxes and adroitly became one with a large block of voters and a supportive Christian team. So, there they now are; all united in avowals of Christian morality and Pro-life sentiment. And here we now are: an intolerant and fearful nation; backs turned to the huddled masses; offering up human sacrifice to escape the economic discomfort of COVID-19.

It’s a strange picture isn’t it; seeing them work together, seeing Pro-life Christian support for a president whose daily governance is grossly at odds with Christian idealism and concern for human life. His Pro-life pronouncements are heard and recorded, but the words don’t hide what the eyes can see. There’s the inhumane travesty taking place at the nation’s borders (and the administration’s continuous anti-immigrant, anti-DACA fervor). There’re the thousands upon thousands of COVID-19 deaths accepted as reasonable price to pay for supposed political/economic expediency (and for something as trite as anti-mask vanity). The visuals jump out at you; the inhumanity; the suffering; the dying. Alongside it is the support; Pro-life Christian support for a president who cultivates intolerance, misery, and death. It is strange fruit to nurture, isn’t it?

Why are they there? Why are Pro-life Christians giving credence to an amoral and merciless president, a president openly dismissive of human life? It’s not like it just now revealed itself; Trump’s disregard of truth, decency, and humanity was apparent long before it was amplified by COVID-19. It was on display prior to, and throughout his ongoing presidency: the lies, the veiled entreaties to violence, the overtures to racism; the cultural divisiveness; the ridicule of the disabled, the denigration of immigrants, minorities, and women; the callous imprisonment and separation of desperate families at our border. The devaluation of human life is not new, not subtle, and not ending; so why do Pro-life Christians stand with him? Why did they ever? Why do they still? It’s been four years now; four years of witnessing; four years of validating hypocrisy and disregard for human life. Somehow Trump’s Pro-life Christian supporters still talk the talk for him; still walk the walk with him. How can they be what they claim to be and still be there? What do they get from it? What’s the draw?

Is it just a matter of show-case hypocrisy; a pretense of values not truly held? Trump’s timely adoption of Pro-life Christian values can easily be seen in that light, but what of the rest? Are they all just faking it for appearance sake? Or is it something else? Does Pro-life avowal come with a nine-month expiration date? Does the high regard given prenatal life somehow allow for the disregard of postnatal life? Is it really possible that embryonic and fetal life is deemed of higher value than life outside the womb? Is that the fallback to grace? It seems a stretch, but who’s to say it can’t be made? Maybe some cognitive steps to that judgment can be imagined:

Life in the womb, particularly its latter stages, could be perceived and labeled as baby. Preventing its birth could be perceived and labeled as killing. What could possibly be worse than being labeled a baby killer? Conversely, what could possibly be better than being recognized for saving a baby – or just being for the saving of babies? Pro-life avowal grants it; the recognition and self-validation gained of being a baby savior. It has better graphics than regard for human life in general. So, with that kind of thought process, perhaps it’s possible to value embryonic life over its later stages. It might even provide a wild card of sorts; one that can trump or excuse pernicious behavior: “Yeah, but I’m still Pro-life, you can’t forget that.” Maybe Trump’s staff has arrived at such a station: “We’re Pro-life; we’re all about saving babies, future babies – the other stuff, the other lives; they don’t really matter all that much.”

So, maybe one can get there, but it still seems a stretch to struggle down that path; to actually suppose that a conscientious person can justify and facilitate the misery and death of the already born, because they’re supportive of the yet to be born.

If it’s not that; if it’s not shallow hypocrisy; if it’s not a convoluted mental process prioritizing the yet to be born over the already born, how else can it be explained? How can Pro-life Christians still abide with him? They have to be getting something from it. What’s the draw?

Christianity will have power,” Donald Trump promised as a candidate — perhaps that’s the real draw. The promise follows up on the “Christianity is under siege,” theme that he and his audience like to repeat. It’s a false and glorified claim. It’s false because in the United States there’s no one waging war against Christianity. While it may have lost some of its long-held popularity; some of its preeminence, Christianity is not under siege. “Under siege” is nothing more than glorified pretext for its slowly waning influence. And it’s only just a little. Despite some fading, Christianity continues to be the dominate religion and a dominant political power in our “secular” nation. Our leaders are still chosen accordingly (Jefferson and Lincoln were the only presidents not formally affiliated with a Christian church). There is no siege on Christianity, but there may be an assault on Washington: it’s a Christian quest for more power; more political and cultural control over the lives of all Americans.

“If I’m there, you’re going to have plenty of power, you don’t need anybody else. You’re going to have somebody representing you very, very well. Remember that,” Trump offered the Evangelicals. His offer, and its acceptance, gives credence to the notion: Christian empowerment is the real objective; “Pro-life” is simply the rebel-yell made towards getting it. Maybe that’s why they’re still there; still supportive of a president who talks “Pro-life,” while his actions trash Christian morality and the sanctity of life. Maybe that’s it, validation and power; a quid pro quo: verbal and ballot box support given in exchange for the promise of executive support. It might still be seen as hypocrisy … but at least it’s not the shallow sort. It’s deep and layered: Trump’s faithful supporters have to pretend they’re not seeing the president’s pretense as he exploits their pretension of upholding pretended Christian morality. Yeah, it gets complicated. Christianity’s dalliance with Trump exposes its Pro-life pretense. It isn’t what it is, or something like that … and it always never was.

If it were more than pretense, if Pro-life was really about the sanctity and full breadth of life, its totality would be recognized and championed – not just its presence inside a womb. It wouldn’t herald the embryonic and fetal beginnings of life, and somehow be silent (or complicit) when the lives of still breathing humans are dismissed or abused. If it were truly about the reverence of life, Trump’s Pro-life Christian staff and his Pro-life Christian supporters would not stand for the abuse of life taking place at the border; would not stand for lives needlessly given over to COVID-19.

All that groveling in a quest for power; and to think they already have it – at least as much as needed. They have the power to worship; to pray; to live a moral Christian life. They have unfettered access to what’s perceived as salvation’s path; freedom to spend their life’s journey upon it. They’re free to proselytize if the wish; to offer access to that path. Christians have the power and freedom to live their faith completely, even ostentatiously if they wish. Yet it’s not enough; it seems more than “freedom of religion” is desired. What’s still lacking; what’s being reached for appears to be this: a bit of authoritarian power to impose Christian values upon others. There’s an absurdity to it; the needless need to control more than themselves. In abiding with, and abetting an amoral president to satisfy that need, they make mockery of the morality they seek power to promote.

“I will never lie to you,” was a promise made by one of Trump’s Pro-life Christian staff members. “I will never lie to myself,” would have been a better utterance. Can it be made by a Pro-life Christian who supports this president? Can anyone with humanistic values support this president and not lie to themselves?

There’s still time to step away.

The post It isn't What It is ... and It always Never was first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Thoughts on the Fall of the Falwells

How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!

– 2 Samuel 1:25

Baptist minister Jerry Falwell Sr., leader of a megachurch in Lynchburg, Va. since the 1960s, founded Liberty University in 1971. In 1979 he founded the Moral Majority as a political movement opposed to abortion, homosexuality, feminism, and liberal, socialist thought; it was dissolved within a decade due to competition, infighting and mounting irrelevance. But the university became maybe the world’s largest Christian academic institution, with tens of thousands of resident and online students.

Falwell died in 2007 and his oldest son Jerry Jr. (then 46) was appointed as his successor as LU president. (The second son is a pastor at a large church attached to the institution.) A University of Virginia-trained lawyer, Falwell was not a minister but active in the Evangelical community and had been selected by his father to maintain his policies. The university retained its strict bans on homosexuality, premarital sex in general, alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, etc.

Fast-forward to 2012 when Jerry Jr. and his wife Becki were vacationing in Miami.

There she met a handsome pool attendant named Giancarlo Granda (20) and invited him to have sex with her. He agreed and met her later at a hotel where she offered him whiskey and introduced him to her husband sprawled out on the other bed. Falwell assured him that he didn’t mind him pleasuring his wife and told him that he should just “go for it.”

Granda states (to CNN’s Anderson Cooper) that the couple seemed accustomed to this type of activity and recruiting young men for this purpose. He did not know at the time who who they were. But this became a regular thing for some years, Granda telling Reuters that the trysts took place “multiple times per year” from 2012 to 2018 at hotels in Miami and New York, and at the Falwells’ home in Bedford County, Virginia. Meanwhile the Falwells made Granda a business partner in a gay-friendly hostel in South Beach now co-owned by Jerry’s son Jerry Falwell III (known as Trey).

Falwell in recent days acknowledges that Becki had relations with Granda but states that he himself was “not involved” whatever that means. Granda for his part says Falwell is now “throwing his wife under the bus.”

These revelations came after embarrassing reports of Falwell’s attendance at rock concerts, evidence of drinking, sharing nude photos of his wife with male confidants, and the unzipped photo on social media. A Liberty University student claimed that when he stayed over at the Falwell home (after a band practice in 2008 when he was 22), Becki “was the aggressor” in joining him in bed and performing oral sex on him. In the wake of such reports the Trustees forced Falwell to step down from his position, exposed as a total hypocrite.

*****

Now, what does this mildly interesting tale have to do with Donald Trump?

In 2016 Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen did some work for the Falwells, trying to “retrieve photos” in the possession of a former friend of Granda’s involving the couple’s relationship to him. This suggests that Trump himself knew that the Falwells, like him, had sexual baggage they needed to conceal. He was perhaps happy to lend his “fixer” Cohen help in return for some kind of “deal.”

Trump was invited to deliver a speech at Liberty University on January 18, 2016. It was a major event in the campaign, a rare semi-prepared talk (as opposed to his typical rambling homily). That’s the address in which Trump famously cited a verse from “Two Corinthians” occasioning a ripple of laughter among the students at the mandatory assembly.

“Two Corinthians 3:17, that’s the whole ballgame. … Is that the one you like? ‘” asked the smirking president, who proceeded to quote it with affected gravity: “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

The pandering reference to the school’s motto, the failure to address the meaning of the Bible verse, and misidentification of the text’s very title (Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians, or for short Second Corinthians) indicated that Trump had minimal understanding of, or sensitivity to, the Christian religion.

But Falwell on Jan. 26 issued a ringing endorsement of Trump. “In my opinion, Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the great commandment,” he declared. “He cannot be bought, he’s not a puppet on a string like many other candidates … who have wealthy donors as their puppet masters And that is a key reason why so many voters are attracted to him.”

I can’t help but wonder what the pool-boy who’d been servicing the Falwells for over three years thought when he heard that about Trump’s life of loving and helping.

This ongoing scandal kind of recalls the affair of the megachurch evangelist Ted Haggard and male prostitutes in 2006, and TV evangelist Jim Swaggart with prostitutes in 1991. Such events can disillusion believers.

Yes of course Christians believe in forgiveness, because God is infinitely forgiving (1 John 1:19). Disgraced evangelists usually bounce back and retain their fan bases and income flow. But exposed hypocrisy has contributed to the sharp statistical decline of Christianity in this country. It has dipped while support for gay marriage (that central target of the religious right) has become generalized.

Liberty University is in my opinion a fundamentally reactionary institution, requiring of its students a course on Bible-based “creationism” and another on evangelism; it is dedicated to the inculcation of an especially backward form of Christianity. I think it wrong to subject young minds to that kind of indoctrination. But those who want to do it should at least observe their own rules. What is the Liberty University student to think now, about the founder’s family?

The Old Testament is pretty clear about adultery (Deuteronomy 22:12) . But Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” As serious Christian students know this story occurs only in John (John 8:7) and not in the synoptic gospels. It has a Gnostic feel to it, in Jesus writing something in the dirt that causes the accusers to slink away. The usual interpretation is that Jesus was rejecting the “old covenant” based on Mosaic Law (that among other things prescribed death for adulterers) and establishing a “new covenant” based on forgiveness and grace at the center of Pauline theology. (See the above-mentioned Second Corinthians, chapter 3).

So sure, the wife can be forgiven for her lustful sins. But the Bible doesn’t really address the cuckold fetish; it doesn’t say, “You must not let your wife have sex with another man while you watch.” There is “the sin of Onan” (Genesis 38:8) and that term has been used historically as a euphemism for masturbation. But the text actually refers to conscious withdrawal to prevent impregnation so it’s not really relevant here.

The Christian student can just accept the fact that we’re all born in sin and the Falwells have paid the price for their sins. At the same time the student might wonder why, if Falwell and his wife could have bi threesomes at a hostel, I can’t do that in my dorm? Or if he can watch and beat off, why can’t I?

That is, this episode both causes the Liberty University community to once again, as Christians always do, forgive sin–but it might also cause it to think more rationally about sexuality and in particular its institutional homophobia.

But sex issues aside, what do the Falwell’s business dealings tell you about capitalism? Christian students, can you really serve God and Money at the same time? (See Matthew 6:24). Why is Falwell retiring with a severance package of $ 11 million? And what does Falwell’s relationship to Donald Trump tell you about Christian evangelism and politics?

May all Liberty University students be asking these questions!

“How are the mighty fallen!” grieved David, soon to be king, after the death of his beloved Jonathan at the battle of Mt. Gilboa against the Philistines (1 Samuel 28). One doubts many will mourn the fall of a power-couple unmasked as hypocritical hedonists. But it’s an occasion to reflect on that fact that the Trump era has both elevated the Christian right to unprecedented heights and seen its most spectacular humiliation.

Liberty University gave Trump credibility among evangelicals. Now it itself is tainted by scandal. Falwell was among Trump’s most powerful Evangelical supporters. Now he is disgraced. Just as other major figures associated with Trump (like former campaign manager Stephen Bannon) are charged with serious crimes, Jerry Falwell, Jr. bites the dust. Meanwhile Trump’s older sister and a niece reveal Trump’s religiosity as a sham.

For those who fear that Trump relying on “Christian fascist” support will win the election, all this should be good news.

Why “Go Home Yanqui” Country is that Shit-Hole USA it Has Always Been

Los Dias de los Muertos are highly stylized rituals grounded in Aztec mythology when those who had passed on during the year migrate to the darkness of Mictlan in the north – the 1st is reserved for the innocents, the children, and the 2nd for the rest of us poor sinners. Traditional altars, garnished with cempaxeutl (a kind of marigold), photographs of the “difuntos” (deceased ones), jugs of tequila and mezcal, the favorite cigarettes of the dead, steaming bowls of turkey mole, and spun sugar “cranios” (skulls) blanket the land from border to border. Thanks to Calderon and the drug war that he launched to please his handlers in Washington which has triggered the cartels’ murder spree, the newly dead are dying faster than such altars can even be assembled.

Unlike the persona of Santa Muerte, the macabre cult around which the drug cartels have consolidated and who purportedly protects the true believers from the Grim Reaper, los Dias de los Muertos are designed to accept and mock Death, rendering it less terrifying for those of us who teeter on the brink. This year, I will wander the allies of our make-believe Mictlan disguised as my own cancer-ridden liver. We shall soon see who gets to laugh last.

“A Ding-Dong Year for Death in Mexico,” John Ross

**Part I of a Thousand**

They say in America that everyone wants to be American. Everyone wants to come to the United States of America. The world – especially third world or partially-developed peoples – envies this Anglo colony of mutt-infested Englanders.

But the lot of them – in academia, media, politics, business, the average Joe and Jan, as well as the governmental trolls – thinks Mexicans, Indians, et al have not only a hankering to leave behind their homelands and families and cultures. But to assimilate, and strip all history and the fingerprints of their terra, or land, from their very being.

They are wrong.

I’m in Cuernavaca now, after being with a young woman – 52 – and her 30-something sister and my spouse. This is the place of the rich, the tourists, the indulgent, the traffic, even the Walmart’s and Costco’s and IHOP’s.

Writing about Mexico has been an avocation for me over the years having lived and worked here, and having lived and worked on the border, in El Paso, the world’s largest border city in the world adjoining Juarez.

Over the years — from the first overlay of my being age 16 going to the Sea of Cortez as a recreational diver, to my work as a faculty member in El Paso’s University of Texas campus, to my own back and forth relationship with Mexico and Central America — I have had to confront the racists of the world spewing their hate against everything Mexico, anyone from down south of the border.

In this country I call my birthplace but not my aligned place, USA, I have confronted the most vile, ignorant and hateful “people” surrounding what they consider their legitimate prejudice and judgment against Mexico. But this legacy of Trump-brand racism was there under the Carters, Nixons, Reagans, Bushes, Clintons, Obamas. Way before, even.

Some facts:

In 1925, Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote that “Japanese immigrants are not capable of assimilation into the American population…Anyone who has traveled in the Far East knows that the mingling of Asiatic blood with European and American blood produces, in nine cases out of ten, the most unfortunate results.”

Woodrow Wilson, a southerner, opposed postwar Reconstruction because “the dominance of an ignorant and inferior race was justly dreaded.” He opposed giving blacks the right to vote, claiming “it was a menace to society,” and as president he oversaw the re-segregation of the federal government. He lived in the White House a century ago.

Calvin Coolidge signed an immigration bill aimed at keeping out “the yellow peril” — i.e. Asians, along with Africans and Arabs. “America must be kept American,” he said in 1923.

Donald Trump said once Nigerians have seen the United States, they would never “go back to their huts.

“Laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control,” Trump said in a 1997 Playboy interview.

Over and over and over, I have had to confront family, friends, students, strangers with their idiocy and racism, both soft and hard, prejudice and bigotry, over and over and over. Ruben Navarrette Jr. of USA Today wrote after the El Paso murders:

Only in the past decade has there been a surge in books that expose this hidden history, including “Forgotten Dead: Mob Violence against Mexicans in the United States, 1848-1928” by William D. Carrigan and Clive Webb. In the 19th century, Mexican Americans were beaten and run off their property; in Texas and elsewhere, thousands were lynched. The World War II generation put up with segregated schools and being barred from public swimming pools, restaurants, barber shops and other establishments.

And within the country’s color scheme, Mexican Americans are in between black and white. In the 1960s, the saying was: If you’re white, you’re all right. If you’re black, stay back. And if you’re brown, stick around. The idea was that the country would accept Latinos as full participants in society, if we would just wait for our moment.

Well, we never got our moment. What we got instead, at a Walmart in West Texas, was mayhem and bloodshed and heartache.

Mexican Americans have been defined by ambivalence. But after what happened in El Paso, that is a luxury we can’t afford.

It is both a strange time and a point in this country’s disgusting history that is easily understood by and through history:

El Paso shooting: ‘Open season’ on Hispanics in America thanks to ‘racist in chief’ Trump/Trump has utterly failed in the president’s traditional role of uniting the country. His legacy will be stained by his deadly xenophobia and racism.

Two weeks in Mexico is never enough, but part of the purpose of my trip was to assimilate my partner (with Mexican family roots but no deep  Mexico experience) to Mexico. She went back in her life to visit a friend who she worked with (together 11 years ago), or in some sense, who she managed as an employee in Oregon.

In either case, we introduced ourselves to Claudia’s 30th high school reunion in a town called Axochiapan (look at this story on the brain-drain/people/labor/ cultural-drain of this small place surrounded by cane (sugar), cattle, corn, and hard working people stripped of agency by USA NAFTA, corrupt banks, corrupt presidents, all on the line of the financial theft of a developing country going back way before the United Fruit Company, Exxon, and the other Fortune 1000 corrupting felonious corporations making a dime on the gallons of blood and sweat of the people they deem as disposable, purposeless (push them off the land where the gems and metals are) and below that white DNA mutating set of genes that has for centuries put the world on fire.

Way North of the Border by Eduardo Porter and Elisabeth Malkin

Mexican mecca in Twin Cities by Eduardo Porter and Elisabeth Malkin. This was written 15 years ago, 2005:

They call Minneapolis the new Axochiapan, said Ramiro Hernandez, a successful businessman who arrived in the United States illegally 20 years ago from Axochiapan, a small town in the central Mexican state of Morelos.”Ninety percent of the population there has people over here. Kids come here as soon as they come of age.

There are so many men from Axochiapan in the area that the village priest came to visit.

“Father Miguel came to look for the husbands and take them back, but he didn’t manage to get any,” Enrmquez Navarro said.

Migration is leaving a deep mark on Axochiapan, a county seat at the center of a cluster of villages with a population of some 30,000.

In Quebrantadero, one of the villages, people talk of closing the primary school because there are so few young children left.

Municipal officials in Axochiapan estimate that at least a third of the population has moved.

The places we went to (some) were not on the gringo trail, in the expat’s travel log, or mapped on the tourist trap itinerary. We stayed in homes where the water is iffy, where the toilets have to be swamped with buckets of water to flush, where the chickens and cocks and dogs all hang out while we eat peanuts and drink mescal under the brilliant stars and swooping bats and sounds of a small dying town still spasming to life at night.

It just so happened we were in Mexico during the days of saints, the days leading up to Christmas. Young and old people making the pilgrimage to genuflect to the Virgin of Guadalupe, which were long hikes along roads and highways. Days of walking to show tribute to the religion of the conquerors, the religion of biting repression, misogyny, and endless Byzantine corruption all the way from Rome to a two-bit Mexican village of peasants.

In the true character of a writer, artist, photographer, teacher, radical, and systems thinker, I didn’t view this as contradictory or destabilizing for me since I have grown up in the Azores, lived overseas in poor towns in the UK, France, and then many of backpacking venture to Mexico, Central America, Vietnam, elsewhere.

The closer I got to Claudia’s 87-year-old father, who rides his horse, Muneca (doll) through the town into the milpas to tend to watering his 25 cows, the more I went into the cellular level of wanting nothing more than the entire western project, ramshackle as it is, razed, burned and vanished.

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MAGA freaks I have met daily and who troll me on my websites, on my Linked In, in my life, well, they are the mutants I dream about — German, English, French, Slavic, et al. The pathogens who send their criminals (like Canadian mining outfits) into the high sierra or forested mountains or hardscrabble deserts of this land I call a second home.

The compassion, loyalty, love of life, connection to family, no matter how disheveled or fractured it may be, in these people’s pinkies is a thousand times more than the attempts at solidarity or cohesion I have experienced in many many a time with countless families in this country — United Snakes of America.

People daily ask me why I am still here, in the US of Israel. Why I am so discontented and so critical of this land of loafers, charlatans, cheats, racists, delusionals, arrogant fools AND still I live here? I get Stockholm syndrome and battered spouse syndrome and unnecessary attachment phobia.

As Andre Vltchek says sometimes — I believe it too — that Westerners going to live as expats Haiti, Vietnam, Mexico, all those South American countries, what the hell do they bring, give, contribute to? Here, a great piece I reference a lot of the time — “What Cannot Be Written in the USA” June 19, 2015, DV.

I was shocked by the state in which I found the United States.

I left many years ago. I left New York, which was, for more than a decade, my home. I never returned, except to launch my books and films, and to see my friends. I never stayed for long time. Two weeks, this time, was the longest in years.

This visit broke me. It exhausted me. It thoroughly depressed me.

I saw clearly how grotesque pseudo-morality, disgusting religious concepts and hypocrisy influenced and ruined entire nations, client states, worldwide, especially in Asia and Africa.

Yes, I believe in collective guilt. Holding US citizenship, I share the guilt. And therefore, I work non-stop, not to wash my hands, but to stop the madness.

I am convinced that the West, the white race and its lackeys abroad, have no right to rule over this Planet. I saw enough to back my conviction.

The West is finished, its culture dead. What is left is unattractive, even horrifying. There is no heart, no compassion, and no creativity. And those billions of people beyond the Western realm should not be dying, while forced to support the aggressive individualism of the post-Christian, post-Crusade colonialism and fascism of Europe and the United States.

He gives us more of the context of his despair, again, at DV:

The citizens of the Empire were eager to describe themselves as “victims”. Did the same spectacle appear in Nazi Germany in the 1930’s? Most likely yes! “Defeated Germany was hit by hyper-inflation, reparations, therefore it was a victim!” It felt it became a victim of the Bolsheviks and the Jews and the French, and the Roma… The United States was not defeated externally, only internally. The two settings are different. Yet there are many similarities, especially in how two empires have treated “un-people”.

“Do you believe in collective guilt, in collective responsibility?” Someone challenged me from the public.

“Definitely!” I shouted back. “The responsibility and the guilt of the West, of the white race, of Christianity, of the Empire! Collective responsibility and guilt for hundreds of millions of victims defined as un-people. Victims gassed, bomber, starved, mutilated… Collective guilt and responsibility for raping the free will of billions in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and Oceania. Collective guilt and responsibility for the ongoing global apartheid!”

I can leave anytime, and I have on many occasions, but I am needed here, for a bit more time. I teach, I write, I work on an anti-poverty program, I live, I suffer, I engage. Now on the Oregon Coast. But, of course, there is more to this world than tap water, dish washers, lighted streets, order, lawless law, hegemony, reckless capitalism, penury, the lies of the empire, the rot of the professional class, the lies of the academic class, the tricks of the financial barons, the putrid propaganda of Hollywood-DoD-CIA.

Definitely, suffering and supplication and oppression are in the eye of the beholder. What more can life be than the relationships we hold dear, the simplicity of breathing in and out, the reality of one chopped-up coconut and one finely browned tortilla and endless laughter and guacamole and bits of cheese and papayas and mescal?

I didn’t have Trump or Sanders or Warren or FOX News or Holly-dirt or NYT or Bezos or Forbes or Economist or Military Industrial Complex on my mind while hoofing it to the field where 87-year-old Rodolfo went daily to water his cattle.

Horse and old man and two unmarried daughters taking care of the father whose wife died of cancer years ago.  Adrian, his brother, laughed at my horsemanship, and in the end I didn’t give a shit about macho-macho man (I know horses fairly well). He laughed and cajoled and razzed me, and it was all in good fun.

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That night, after taking shots (photos) of the church and the band and the youth doing the toritos (paper mache bulls rigged with Roman candles and crazy fireworks) thing, Adrian was on his motorcycle, in his cups beyond anything an American might approve of, and he held me in his grip and just went on and on about being brothers with this crazy American with the Einstein hair. He laughed, we chugged tequila, and he drove off with the cycle’s light turned off.

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So this friend (now family) in Mexico who wanted so much to impress my partner with the value of her own friendship with a gringa but also to show us a good side of her country. Claudia knew I was already deep into Mexico from an early age. What Claudia wanted was for my partner to enjoy the deep sense of her gratitude as her former boss in the USA and a sense of renewed and energized friendship.

What Claudia and her sister Alejandra and her father Rodolfo and the entire clan did was they introduced us to people of their clan, their tribe, and they wanted to impress upon us a sense of belonging in their country.

Hands down, the country is saddened about and steeled against the Donald Trump School of Racism spewed out against their country. Saddened still by the huge number of MAGA followers who despise Mexico and Mexicans and Mexican-Americans and anything Chicano or Latino.

Mexico’s at crossroads, too, again and again. Many in the state department and parasites of the bumbling media tell/report to people not to come to Mexico, or warn of wandering at night as a ticket to the grave Ross talks about in the epigraph above.

You can’t count the times in one or two blocks of driving here where neoliberalism and consumerism haven’t taken over the people. If you think the chains and Home Depots have colonized every pathetic place in the USA, we are seeing it at every turn in Mexico.

Yet this land of eagle and snake, blood and fire, church and conquistador, virgin mother and narco-trafficker, child and historian, baby and hunched over old man, pyramids and basilicas, pottery and plastic has something deep ingrained in most of the gente, the people of the land, pueblos, cities and villages.

In a span of a few days, I have returned to my other mother country, to the place where I learned how to think and write and feel and love and dispel all the chains of my mother and father countries.

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Why Revolutionaries Should be Atheists

Orientation

As one of the co-founders of Planning Beyond Capitalism, you might ask why we would publish an article about atheism? Shouldn’t we just stick to political economy and leave people’s beliefs about the origin of the universe and our place in it for future generations to figure out?  We have many reasons for thinking that an atheist stance is crucial for revolutionaries to take. Politically, I trust atheists more than anyone else, because I trust that their political commitment is to this world since we do not have a back-door escape of some God looking after us in the next life in case the revolution doesn’t work out.

Most people believe in the existence of invisible spiritual beings. But most of them have not thought out clearly why they believe in them and how their lives would be different if they didn’t believe in them. On the surface, it seems to me a major reason why people believe in spiritual beings is because their parents believed in them, along with other authority figures in their lives.  Belief in spiritual beings might be practiced out of love and respect for those who have cared for them. Belief in God helps us to overcome a fear of death by the promise of not only a life in the hereafter, but an eternal life in the hereafter. These beliefs, combined with the propaganda of the churches, not just in books but in the liturgy, rituals, architecture, and statues that have been created, are bought and paid for by gullible parishioners.

For atheists it’s a different story. My guess is that most people who are atheists have thought long and hard about the existence of spiritual beings. Like most people who are in a minority, we know far more about the beliefs of the majority than the majority knows about our beliefs. If theists understood us, we would not be accused of being hedonists, or evil people with no morality.

The purpose of this article is to flesh out some of my own reasons for rejecting the existence of spiritual beings in the hopes of strengthening the commitments of other atheists who came to it more intuitively.

Qualifications

My references to monotheism will be limited to Christianity, which I know best. I’m confident there will be overlap with Judaism and Islam, at least in part. Secondly, I am only focused on the existence of God, not the subset of issues that come with it. So, there will be no discussion of where we came from or the existence of life after death.

Anthropological and historical reasons

In my opinion, atheists begin their contention with those who believe in God by mistakenly accepting that the monotheists move to dismiss animism and polytheism from the debate. Instead, I think atheists should make the monotheistic religion face that:

  1. For most of human history from 100,000 years ago until 5,000 years ago tribal societies did not believe in gods or a single god. They believed in earth spirits, ancestors’ spirits or totems.
  2. Once people began to believe in high gods (with the rise of agricultural states) they were polytheistic gods and goddesses for another 2,500 years before monotheism became a contender.

We should dispute this monotheistic assumption by making them face that people have not always believed in God and that their belief in monotheism is:

  1. historically recent, and;
  2. only appeared in certain parts of the world.

We must also challenge their assumption that monothetic belief is somehow naturally arrived at through the use of reason. We must make them face their blood-stained history of the subjugation of pagan earth-spirits, ancestor spirits, gods and goddesses on their way to a maniacal rule. We should not let monotheists smuggle in their claim to solely represent the forces of spirituality. A real discussion about atheism should be between atheists, believers in earth spirits, ancestor spirits, goddesses, gods and God. Monotheists should have to debate, not just atheists, but animists and polytheists. This will weaken the force of monotheism because in this light they are outnumbered, both historically and cross-culturally by animists and polytheists.

Geological reasons

Belief in gods or a single God was due in part to the results of large-scale natural disasters—earthquakes, volcanoes and floods or comet debris. These events filled people with terror and triggered their imagination with the belief that the god(s) must be angry. When people lack an explanation for natural events that threaten them, they imagine the disaster comes from a God who controls nature.

Notice how God is in control. There is no monotheistic deity who is out of control. In other words, nothing happens by chance. Monotheists prefer accepting even the devil to chance. At least the devil has a focus, a will and is predictably evil. The most important thing for monotheists to believe is that someone had better be driving. This hoped-for control makes it possible to influence God through propitiation, casting spells or praying.

Sociological reasons

As Marx pointed out, religion is the opium of the people. For the lower classes, it is opium because it teaches people to wait patiently through a miserable life in the hopes of a future “pie-in the sky”. Religion is also an expression of humanity’s alienated creativity. God is the doer of all things humanity wishes it could do but it cannot. Humanity then disowns its own creativity and projects it onto a god who then tells humanity what to do. Therefore, the utilitarian achievements in irrigation, agriculture and the calendar are attributed to the workings of God, not of humanity’s own creation. Others say that gods were once great human beings on earth who were reified by future generations that did not experience the new inventions directly.

If people wanted to be objective about the characteristics of God, those characteristics would have little or nothing to do with our own comfort level. But what do we find with the monotheistic deity? We have either a tempestuous father figure of the Old Testament or a loving father of the New Testament who, one way or another, is looking out for us just like the parents we wish for.

Furthermore, when life gets confusing or difficult, we are consoled by the prospect that God has a “plan” for each of us. But how does the plan work? How can it possibly be coordinated with God’s plan for everyone else? In answer to this we might be told “God works in mysterious ways”. In other words, secondary rationalizations.

A good objection to Marx’s theory that religion is the opium of the people is that if God is just a consolation prize for the lower classes, then that should mean that people in the middle and upper classes who have good material lives would be able to see through the subterfuge of theism and become atheists. But, as we know, there are plenty of people in the higher classes who have a good life, yet still believe in God. How can that be explained?

It is true that most middle and upper middle-class people continue to believe in God in spite of their comfortable conditions. However, it also is true that a higher percentage of atheists will be found in these classes. Yet this doesn’t explain the rationale of the rest of them. Another factor to consider is whether the economy or ecology of a society is stable or unstable. My prediction is that the more stable the political economy of a society, the percentage of people who are atheists will rise. But when the ecology or political economy becomes unstable, it’s a different story for the upper classes. For example, in contemporary capitalist society, the upper classes live very well, yet capitalism is very unstable and might give capitalists reason to consider believing in God because they don’t know how long they can count on their wealth.

Political reasons

The favorite explanation for the Radical Enlightenment is that religion is the tool of elites to keep people ignorant and distracted by the promise of a world to come after death.  This enables these elites to hold onto their power and property in this world. It is important for elites to ensure that people believe they are tainted with original sin because that weakens people’s self-confidence and resilience to navigate in the world with neither God nor the elites. It is also important that God be seen as a father, for that is a model for the habit of submission in the family.

Psychological reasons

I think Freud hit the nail on the head with this one. He said belief in religion was infantile. It was a wish to climb back into the womb where there is no conflict, pain or uncertainty. Everything is taken care of by the father.  People believe in God as a substitute parent who loves them unconditionally.

Wilhelm Reich thought that religion requires that sexuality must be repressed. Sexuality is a way for humans to give each other pleasure without the need of elites or deities. If people can be taught that sex is a bad thing, they will be more dependent on religious authorities to give life meaning. Or in the case of sour grapes, you can repress the desire for sex while pretending to be above it all, as Nietzsche might point out. Belief in God helps us to overcome a fear of death by the promise of not only a life in the hereafter, but an eternal life in the hereafter.

Where does this repressed sexuality lead? There is nothing sicker than the fantasy life and deeds of religious authorities whose sexual life is repressed. One only has to look at the torture techniques of the religious authorities against midwives in Early Modern Europe and the Catholic priests’ contemporary continuing molestation of little boys.

Ontological reasons

How can God be all loving and all powerful while there is great suffering in the world? How to account for the hundreds of thousands of innocent children and adults who are bombed, starved and inhumanely treated in the name of nationalism? Either God is not all-powerful because there is great suffering which he is powerless to do anything about, or he is all-powerful and not all-loving because he permits suffering to continue.

“Divine Intervention” by God into human history is a big thing. But what does it say about God’s engineering prowess if he constantly has to butt into his creation process? Human beings design things that can last a very long time without any intervention. What kind of engineer is a god who has to intervene in his creation from time to time because he botched things the first time? If God were all powerful it seems the world would not be in the mess that it is in. “Thoughts and prayers?” Why is prayer necessary if God has a plan? Why are we begging for mercy from a lousy engineer? Divine intervention reveals God to be a bad engineer.

Atheism and politics

The relationship between atheism and politics is tricky. Broadly speaking, those who are atheists are divided into liberals and socialists. Many liberal atheists are still supportive of capitalism. So too, many socialists are monotheists when they believe in some kind of liberation theology like those of the Catholics who consider Christ to be a revolutionary. Yet for all the reasons addressed above, those who are the most trustworthy for carrying through revolutionary socialism are atheists. As socialist atheists, we gain immortality through building heaven on earth, either in our own generation or in generations to come.

• First published in Planning Beyond Capitalism

Extinction Promotion

After years of teaching school and university, observing with dismay — to put it mildly — the institutional promotion of illiteracy and communicative incompetence, under the pretext that the soft prisons which are maintained for the incarceration and indoctrination of children are there to promote their personalities and get them through examinations so that they can replace their automaton parents, it took enormous digestive discipline to withstand the barrage of the past few days.

Maybe at my age — which we need not discuss — I can relax about personal extinction. However, it is nauseating to witness in the midst of some of the most extreme violence maintained since 1989, how well-fed, expensively clothed white children have now become another popular product to market through the mass media.

After the officially unexplained death of an official pedophile while in New York “Schutzhaft” awaiting trial, it is easy to see that only embarrassing individual pedophiles and child abusers risk disgrace or suicide. However, child abuse is a highly diversified industry. At the lower end of the market– the volume business– we find slavery and prostitution. At the high end we find overdressed functionally illiterate white children who no longer have to complain to get toys, so they complain to get attention from their parents (in a permanently infantalised society) to get erotic attention — either in the wake of their parents’ gender disruption or inability to guarantee a summer residence on some tropical island.

It would be nice if one could find a positive side of this apparent mobilisation. When I was their age, there were young people worried about being sent to the “cripple and mass murderer plantations” of Southeast Asia. They were conservative but their experience confronting the vicious slaughter in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia taught them to organise if only not to hang separately.

In none of the speeches I have heard has the Congo been mentioned. It is fine to have a spasm over the fate of the Amazon or the polar bear, but what about the millions who have died to sustain Facebook and other social media which would only be viable with the stolen wealth of Congo’s coltan and other minerals.

In none of the speeches have I heard a call for US disarmament. The US has the largest military in the world by any measure and the US military has the largest carbon footprint of any single institution on the planet.

In none of the speeches do I hear anything about two-thirds of the world’s population that has been systematically robbed and denied clean water, clean air, edible food, and safe homes– all in order that the “global” strike for the climate or planet can be conducted by children who do not have to work in sweatshops or on plantations — so that the striking can comfortably toss balloons about their crowd.

I mention Vietnam quite deliberately. Most of those protesting for the climate will hardly know where it is unless their parents took them or spent some of the middle-class income to send them there on vacation. Many parents of Vietnam protestors said these youth were just protesting because of boredom or because they were spoiled. However, after the fascist and quasi-fascist discipline to which their parents had been subjected from 1932 until 1968 (plus or minus depending on whether you count the US and/ or Europe) demonstrations were, in fact, radical. They were threatening. Above all they were unexpected and unplanned. The youth then did not have “adults” guiding them. They had to learn on their own. Those were the days of “never trust anyone over 30” (or was it 40?)

Many young people actually learned to organise themselves. They learned to read what was and see what was to see — not what they were told to read and see. They saw their friends who had failed return without eyes, arms, legs, or sanity. What will these children learn from a dead polar bear or fish? They can scarely learn from the humans around them who have actually suffered the price of the system — capitalism and its underlying ideology white supremacy.

European culture — that is Christendom, the form which survives today — is remarkable in its belligerence. If one considers the indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa and Asia (yes, also the Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese and others) it is also remarkable that all of these peoples have elaborate, deep traditions of respect for nature and ancestors. Europe and the “white” peoples of the Americas do not. It is certainly no accident that the most destructive forces unleashed by humans were implemented by Europeans on both sides of the Atlantic. It is tempting to say that the great sacrilege – the great threat to humanity is not the climate but the European-American empire, driven by psychopaths.

Christendom — the reign of the religious cults combined as Christianity — was first and foremost an empire. That empire was ruled by a class whose formal pinnacle was the pope in Rome. Every time that pope or the curia (the extended papal bureaucracy) saw its power or income streams endangered, it summoned a crusade. The conditions of a crusade varied. However, the usual format was people were summoned to send armies and their baggage trains against some enemy proclaimed by the Pope. In return for supplying a crusade, the pope granted credits in the form of pardons for sins (real or imagined). In some cases (for the powerful) he shared the profits. The ordinary person could be sent by his master or go on his own. The master could pay money in lieu of sending an army and the wealthy could pay money for surrogates. The most important point was that money flowed into the papal treasury and the pope’s enemies were destroyed.

We are not permitted to discuss who proclaims a crusade. However, the machinery functions the same as it did in the days of papal supremacy. We have surrogates on the streets. We have armies launched against the enemies of the elite that rule us. We have the faithful and the blind. We have saints and miracles. There are those who tell us it is science but, in fact, it is theology.

These are not strikes or crusades to save the planet — the planet does not need to be saved, and certainly not by the nut and berry eaters of the European peninsula with the descendants in “Vineland”. What we really have is neo-Mathusian hysteria propagated by children whose education has been systematically neglected by vain and greedy bureaucrats in the service of those whose wealth has always depended upon fear and destroying that part of the planet upon which truly civilised people have lived before a Euro-American ever set foot there.

If there is an extinction immanent, than hopefully it will take the right ones with it. Against such attrition we need not rebel.

Strong Men in Europe: Tony Abbott Visits Hungary

“I extend a special welcome to Australia’s former prime minister.  It is in part due to his tough policy that we regard Australia as a model country.  We especially respect it for the brave, direct and Anglo-Saxon consistency which it has shown on migration and defence of the Australian nation”.

These words of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to Tony Abbott at the Third Budapest Demographic Summit uttered on September 5 would have made the former Australian premier gooey and weak at the knees.  Abbott, it must be remembered, had been the proud architect of the “turn back the boats” refugee policy, insistent that naval matters dealing with such arrivals be given a military flourish of secrecy.  It was not for the Australian public to know how many vessels might actually be making their way to Australia.

Orbán’s welcome pressed all the reactionary points of strongman mythology: inherent toughness, obsessive border security, and the singing praise for appropriate racial stock – the indomitable, pragmatic character that would not bow down to other “ethnic” elements in the populace.  (The irony, of course, is that Australia’s ruthless anti-refugee policy has the support of a good many nationalities keen to ensure that yesterday’s immigrants prevent today’s boat arrivals.)

Abbott, for his part, wrote gushingly of the Hungarian leader a few days after his Budapest meeting, seeing him as the prominent personality behind the Visegrád group (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) who had valiantly rallied, along with the Brexiteers, against the European Union and its more intrusive expectations.  Orbán “has not only transformed the economy but was the first European leader to cry ‘stop’ to the peaceful invasion of 2015 and is now trying to boost Hungary’s flagging birth rate.”

The account tallies with the wet-dreamers who find the Magyar crypto-despot admirably pugilistic and capable in prosecuting his goals, especially when it comes to Christianity and cultural identity.  Like Abbott, Rod Dreher, senior editor at The American Conservative, was impressed in a meeting with Orbán, one that had not been anticipated.  He spoke of Hungary, and Central Europe, having been victims of colonisation at the hands of Islam and the Middle East.  Orbán, it was noted, was won over by Christian leaders in the Middle East warning about their treatment at the hands of Islam’s followers.  “What did they say [about Muslim refugees]?  Don’t let them in.  Stop them.’”

The admiration for Orbán is the praise afforded an ambitious and successful authoritarian running under the banner of threatened civilisations, keen to do battle with demons.  Along with his ruling party Fidesz, the Hungarian leader has, as Timothy Garton Ash accurately conveys, “so completely penetrated the state administration that Hungary is again a one-party state.”  An independent judiciary has been eliminated.  Cronyism is encouraged; family members are favoured with government contracts; dissenters and opponents are the target of harassing tax investigations.

Since losing his federal seat in the May elections, Abbott has had little time for the antics of a fractious, scrutinising Parliament, and believes that Britain’s premier political institution is simply disrupting those who wished for Brexit.  It was only before a gathering at the UK Policy Exchange where he finally felt he could give a “full throttle, double-barrel roar”, one “turbo-charged by the Parliament’s consistent attempt to sabotage the people’s vote.” (The inner despot in Abbott fails to appreciate that Parliament is the voice of the British people, however muddled it might be.  Arguments on civilisation can cut both ways.)

Abbott was also keen to move away from anything approaching environmental calamity and cultural accommodation.  Being in Europe, and more specifically in such amenable company, had intoxicated him.  This was the frontline against unwanted Muslim immigration and environmental doomsday preaching.  “I mean,” he told summit delegates, “you get a million angry military-age males swarming into a single country in a year.  There are not there to be grateful, but they are there with a grievance.”  Nor was there a population bomb with a fuse waiting to go off, or carbon footprints worthy of concern, or an emissions problem in an increasingly heating world.  Instead, his idea of the “extinction rebellion” was demographic rather than climate related; people, certainly the right people, were not breeding enough.

The demographic problems of various countries, with declining birth rates, had necessitated dramatic action.  “Hungary, whose population is predicted to shrink by a quarter over the next half century, is waiving household debt for larger families and not taxing four-time mothers, among other measures worth careful study.”

Orbán, as with some of his European colleagues, is terrified by a demographic vanishing.  “It’s not hard to imagine that there would be one single last man who has to turn the lights out.”  At the third demographic summit, he noted “the spiritual foundations of Hungary’s family policy.”  Demography, in being destiny, was unavoidable: “human life is finite; and that just as we enter life, so we must leave it.”  With certain resignation, he noted the need to have more demographic conferences, in part to return his country to a state of model, diligent procreation.  Woodpeckers, he surmised, had to be taught how to peck wood again.  Christianity had to “regain its strength in Europe.”  Abbott, himself a religious zealot, could only agree: Christian Europe had get back to some fecund, dedicated shagging.

Strong Men in Europe: Tony Abbott Visits Hungary

“I extend a special welcome to Australia’s former prime minister.  It is in part due to his tough policy that we regard Australia as a model country.  We especially respect it for the brave, direct and Anglo-Saxon consistency which it has shown on migration and defence of the Australian nation”.

These words of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to Tony Abbott at the Third Budapest Demographic Summit uttered on September 5 would have made the former Australian premier gooey and weak at the knees.  Abbott, it must be remembered, had been the proud architect of the “turn back the boats” refugee policy, insistent that naval matters dealing with such arrivals be given a military flourish of secrecy.  It was not for the Australian public to know how many vessels might actually be making their way to Australia.

Orbán’s welcome pressed all the reactionary points of strongman mythology: inherent toughness, obsessive border security, and the singing praise for appropriate racial stock – the indomitable, pragmatic character that would not bow down to other “ethnic” elements in the populace.  (The irony, of course, is that Australia’s ruthless anti-refugee policy has the support of a good many nationalities keen to ensure that yesterday’s immigrants prevent today’s boat arrivals.)

Abbott, for his part, wrote gushingly of the Hungarian leader a few days after his Budapest meeting, seeing him as the prominent personality behind the Visegrád group (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) who had valiantly rallied, along with the Brexiteers, against the European Union and its more intrusive expectations.  Orbán “has not only transformed the economy but was the first European leader to cry ‘stop’ to the peaceful invasion of 2015 and is now trying to boost Hungary’s flagging birth rate.”

The account tallies with the wet-dreamers who find the Magyar crypto-despot admirably pugilistic and capable in prosecuting his goals, especially when it comes to Christianity and cultural identity.  Like Abbott, Rod Dreher, senior editor at The American Conservative, was impressed in a meeting with Orbán, one that had not been anticipated.  He spoke of Hungary, and Central Europe, having been victims of colonisation at the hands of Islam and the Middle East.  Orbán, it was noted, was won over by Christian leaders in the Middle East warning about their treatment at the hands of Islam’s followers.  “What did they say [about Muslim refugees]?  Don’t let them in.  Stop them.’”

The admiration for Orbán is the praise afforded an ambitious and successful authoritarian running under the banner of threatened civilisations, keen to do battle with demons.  Along with his ruling party Fidesz, the Hungarian leader has, as Timothy Garton Ash accurately conveys, “so completely penetrated the state administration that Hungary is again a one-party state.”  An independent judiciary has been eliminated.  Cronyism is encouraged; family members are favoured with government contracts; dissenters and opponents are the target of harassing tax investigations.

Since losing his federal seat in the May elections, Abbott has had little time for the antics of a fractious, scrutinising Parliament, and believes that Britain’s premier political institution is simply disrupting those who wished for Brexit.  It was only before a gathering at the UK Policy Exchange where he finally felt he could give a “full throttle, double-barrel roar”, one “turbo-charged by the Parliament’s consistent attempt to sabotage the people’s vote.” (The inner despot in Abbott fails to appreciate that Parliament is the voice of the British people, however muddled it might be.  Arguments on civilisation can cut both ways.)

Abbott was also keen to move away from anything approaching environmental calamity and cultural accommodation.  Being in Europe, and more specifically in such amenable company, had intoxicated him.  This was the frontline against unwanted Muslim immigration and environmental doomsday preaching.  “I mean,” he told summit delegates, “you get a million angry military-age males swarming into a single country in a year.  There are not there to be grateful, but they are there with a grievance.”  Nor was there a population bomb with a fuse waiting to go off, or carbon footprints worthy of concern, or an emissions problem in an increasingly heating world.  Instead, his idea of the “extinction rebellion” was demographic rather than climate related; people, certainly the right people, were not breeding enough.

The demographic problems of various countries, with declining birth rates, had necessitated dramatic action.  “Hungary, whose population is predicted to shrink by a quarter over the next half century, is waiving household debt for larger families and not taxing four-time mothers, among other measures worth careful study.”

Orbán, as with some of his European colleagues, is terrified by a demographic vanishing.  “It’s not hard to imagine that there would be one single last man who has to turn the lights out.”  At the third demographic summit, he noted “the spiritual foundations of Hungary’s family policy.”  Demography, in being destiny, was unavoidable: “human life is finite; and that just as we enter life, so we must leave it.”  With certain resignation, he noted the need to have more demographic conferences, in part to return his country to a state of model, diligent procreation.  Woodpeckers, he surmised, had to be taught how to peck wood again.  Christianity had to “regain its strength in Europe.”  Abbott, himself a religious zealot, could only agree: Christian Europe had get back to some fecund, dedicated shagging.

The Metaphysics of Revolution

Socrates was the first revolutionary. He opened up with a legendary oracular search of the inner space from which the individual, as we understand him today, would eventually emerge. His “daemon” was that which spoke the necessary freedom and autonomy to become what we are. His was the first lesson.

His student, Plato, brought on the second movement. He postulated the availability of an ideal world accessible and open to a properly trained, disciplined mind. Truth was intelligible and its sighting in a flash of insight or through life-long questioning could and should change both the individual and his society. There were no limits to human malleability according to what was both universally natural and thus comprehensively reasonable. Both the revolutionary chance for a radical human transformation and its totalitarian inversion as ideology in the hands of power was born.

The third movement, as first noted by Hegel, was the advent of Christianity. Here the ideal world of the Greek was equipped with stern Hebraic commandments. The ideal world not only is; it is hierarchical, patriarchal, jealous and unforgiving. All are equal under its apocalyptic sky. Burn with sincere belief and entry into the kingdom of heaven is guaranteed. The seed of the revolutionary equality of all people was here first lain to forever explode the exclusivity of the polis and all other artificial divisions between men; ethnic, national, sexual or otherwise. Thus, the first drops of blood of the French Revolution were shed on the Cross.

The fourth movement, after more than a thousand years of veneration of pagan-christian icons known as saints, was the inner revolution within Christianity itself; the privatization of the relationship between man and God. The destruction of spiritual hierarchy. The loud inner silence of the conscience sacralized and weaponized within the sincere prayers of the heart. Protest-antism against the de facto reigning powers of the earth in the name of the freedom of pure individual thought and feeling. The representatives of the ideal/God were impostors robbing the natural patrimony of the weak and of the powerless for an exemplary, righteous exodus to a New Jerusalem. The modern revolutionary springs forth from burning cathedrals, shattered stain glass, and the gauged out eyes of the saints. God is for all and He is everywhere where I think and breath.

All this was the preliminary metaphysical scaffolding for the revolutionary mind over two thousand years. The fuse burned slowly, but it burned. Philosophy and religion were its handmaidens.

Enter science.

Science brings the revolutionary development of the mind/spirit into material practice. It affords the tools for both material and spiritual transformation. It is the glowing hammer which actively molds our world and if in the 500 years since Bacon and Galileo we have only achieved power after power, the hammer itself cannot be called wise, the hand that moves it cannot be called self-directed, for it is still up to the whole man to enter the blinding parlors and dim antechambers of physics to declare their discoveries for a Nietzschean transvaluation of all values. The scientist cannot do this, only the revolutionary can.

Through the twin legacies of both spirit and machine, the Western World breathed into the rest of humanity the spirit of restless change and desire for maximum freedom.  History declared itself, formally, for global humanity in the revolutions of 1776 and 1789. Here, History if it did not all together stop, declared a significant pause in the long history of revolutionary consciousness.

Representative democracy aged, putrefied, mutated, and exotically luxuriated into new forms of unfreedom, deception and control.

Was this the fault of a historically necessary capitalist class eventually doomed to sow the seeds of its own destruction?

The proletariat, that great Hegelian-Marxist capitalist antithesis, historically dissolved itself into a great sea of the middle class. Success! And the necessary historical end to all revolutionary experiment! The deranged and the disgruntled are to be put to eternal sleep! The great Neo-Aristotelian compromise of the dialectic was born; the middle will hold and stop the resolution of the Marxian dialectic from ever being born.

But it was always and ever to be a still birth.

For the history of society is not a class struggle.

Rather, it is the struggle of the individual to be most utterly himself in a world of hierarchy, in a world where control is in the hands of others. It is not capital and capitalists who structure this world although they surely do have influence. The black stain of unfreedom is much older than that. Indeed, it goes back millions of years as the readers of Frans de Waal may already be familiar. The animal in man, the desire for domination and power in all its forms over other men is the true as yet unbreakable conundrum of history. The Machiavellian Prince and his natural political appetites and not an objectively historical ruling class is the true nefarious and unchanging figure in the affairs of men. Hunter-gatherer, ancient city-state, feudal lord, factory owner, Global CEO, it is not a self-conscious class that determines the action of domination, but the eternal will to power itself that precedes classes, nations, parties, and organizations of all kinds. It is Robert Michels’ iron law of oligarchy and not Marxian economics that keeps us still firmly in our chains.

In this Thirtieth year since the publication of Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History, there are those, like Aaron Bastani, Bhaskar Sunkara, and Peter Frase (young men all) who dare to question the situation of today and dream of another world. If not exactly professional revolutionaries like Lenin, they struggle to keep the revolutionary idea alive. And this is all to the good. Yet the question for today is, I think, are the by now classical concerns and concepts of both socialism and Marxism adequate to the particular historical moment that confronts us today? Does protest, opposition, and, even, yes, political violence have to necessarily emerge from the acute revolutionary observations of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in order to activate a critical mass of activists and revolutionaries today?

Is capitalism still the enemy, truly? Or is hierarchy, in all spheres of life, the true oppressor? The division between ruled and ruling, not as a class phenomenon but as an existential way of being of man in the world since time immemorial.

There are bosses everywhere. In schools, in jobs, in political parties, in cities, in nations, in your home even. How can hierarchy be eroded, tamed, reformulated? How can individuals be empowered to live in an eventual Kingdom of Ends, where no one is treated as a means? What can be done to uncover and stop surreptitious power in all its forms? Does the revolutionary spirit of today cry out for a Kantian turn towards a practical unity of knowledge, freedom, respect, love, and individuality? Must we reach back before Marx and Hegel to go forward? We are the heirs of millennia of revolutionary metaphysical and material development. We can make the tomorrow of our own choosing.

How Evangelical Christians Risk Setting the Middle East on Fire

The recent arrival of Africa’s most popular televangelist preacher, TB Joshua, to address thousands of foreign pilgrims in Nazareth produced a mix of consternation and anger in the city of Jesus’s childhood.

There was widespread opposition from Nazareth’s political movements, as well as from community groups and church leaders, who called for a boycott of his two rallies. They were joined by the council of muftis, which described the events as “a red line for faith in religious values”.

Joshua’s gatherings, which included public exorcisms, took place in an open-air amphitheatre on a hill above Nazareth that was originally built for papal masses. The site was used by Pope Benedict in 2009.

The Nigerian pastor, who has millions of followers worldwide and calls himself a prophet, aroused local hostility not only because his brand of Christianity strays far from the more traditional doctrines of Middle Eastern churches. He also represents a trend of foreign Christians, driven by apocalyptic readings of the Bible, interfering ever more explicitly in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories – and in ways that directly aid the policies of Israel’s far-right government.

Much-needed tourism boost

Nazareth is the largest of the Palestinian communities in Israel that survived the Nakba, or catastrophe, of 1948, which forced most of the native population out of the bulk of their homeland and replaced it with a Jewish state. Today, one in five Israeli citizens are Palestinian.

The city and its immediate environs include the highest concentration of Palestinian Christians in the region. But it has long suffered from the hostility of Israeli officials, who have starved Nazareth of resources to prevent it from becoming a political, economic or cultural capital for the Palestinian minority.

The city has almost no land for growth or industrial areas to expand its income base, and Israel has tightly constrained its ability to develop a proper tourism industry. Most pilgrims pass through briefly to visit its Basilica of the Annunciation, the site where the angel Gabriel reputedly told Mary she was carrying Jesus.

Nazareth’s municipal officials leapt at the chance to exploit the publicity, and income, provided by Joshua’s visit. The municipality’s longer-term hope is that, if the city can attract even a small proportion of the more than 60 million Christian evangelicals in the US and millions more in Africa and Europe, it will provide an enormous boost to the city’s economy.

Recent figures show evangelical tourism to Israel has been steadily rising, now accounting for about one in seven of all overseas visitors.

Playing with fire

But as the fallout over Joshua’s visit indicates, Nazareth may be playing with fire by encouraging these types of pilgrims to take a greater interest in the region. Most local Christians understand that Joshua’s teachings are not directed at them – and, in fact, are likely to harm them.

The Nigerian pastor chose Nazareth to spread his gospel, but faced vocal opposition from those who believe he is using the city simply as the backdrop to his bigger mission – one that appears entirely indifferent to the plight of Palestinians, whether those living inside Israel in places such as Nazareth, or those under occupation.

Political factions in Nazareth noted Joshua’s “ties to far-right and settlers circles in Israel”. He is reported to have had meetings about opening operations in the Jordan Valley, the reputed site of Jesus’ baptism but also the agricultural backbone of the West Bank. The area is being targeted by the far-right government of Benjamin Netanyahu for settlement expansion and possible annexation, thereby dooming efforts to create a Palestinian state.

A view of Armageddon

During his visits to Israel, Joshua has also enjoyed access to key government figures such as Yariv Levin, a close ally of Netanyahu’s, who has been in charge of two portfolios viewed as critical by the evangelical community: tourism, and the absorption into Israel of new Jewish immigrants from the US and Europe.

Many in the evangelical community, including Joshua, believe it is their duty to encourage Jews to move from their home countries to the Promised Land to bring forward an end-times supposedly prophesied in the Bible.

This is the Rapture, when Jesus returns to build his kingdom on earth and righteous Christians take their place alongside him. Everyone else, including unrepentant Jews, it is implied, will burn in Hell’s eternal fires.

The cliff above the Jezreel Valley where Joshua and his disciples congregated offers views over Tel Megiddo, the modern name of the biblical site of Armageddon, where many evangelicals believe the end of the world will soon happen.

Speeding up the second coming

These Christians are not simply observers of an unfolding divine plan; they are active participants trying to bring the end-times closer.

In fact, the traumas of the Israel-Palestine conflict – the decades of bloodshed, violent colonisation and expulsions of Palestinians – cannot be understood separately from the interference of Western Christian leaders in the Middle East over the past century. In many ways, they engineered the Israel we know today.

The first Zionists, after all, were not Jews, but Christians. A vigorous Christian Zionist movement – known then as “restorationism” – emerged in the early 19th century, predating and heavily influencing its subsequent Jewish counterpart.

The restorationists’ peculiar reading of the Bible meant that they believed the Messiah’s second coming could be accelerated if God’s chosen people, the Jews, returned to the Promised Land after 2,000 years of a supposed exile.

Charles Taze Russell, a US pastor from Pennsylvania, travelled the world from the 1870s onwards imploring Jews to establish a national home for themselves in what was then Palestine. He even produced a plan for how a Jewish state might be created there.

He did so nearly 20 years before the Jewish Viennese journalist Theodor Herzl published his famous book outlining a Jewish state.

The secular Herzl didn’t much care where such a Jewish state was built. But his later followers – deeply aware of the hold of Christian Zionism in western capitals – focused their attention on Palestine, the biblical Promised Land, in the hope of winning powerful allies in Europe and the US.

Rallying cry for Herzl’s followers

Imperial Britain’s support was especially prized. In 1840, Lord Shaftesbury, who was connected through marriage to Lord Palmerston, a later prime minister, published an advert in the London Times urging the return of Jews to Palestine.

Christian Zionism was an important factor influencing the British government in 1917 to issue the Balfour Declaration – effectively a promissory note from Britain that became the blueprint for creating a Jewish state on the ruins of the native population’s homeland.

Writing of the declaration, Israeli historian Tom Segev has observed: “The men who sired it were Christian and Zionist and, in many cases, anti-Semitic.” That was because Christian Zionism took as its premise that Jews should not integrate into their own countries. Rather, they should serve as instruments of God’s will, moving to the Middle East so that Christians could achieve redemption.

Edwin Montagu was the only British cabinet minister to oppose the Balfour Declaration, and he was also its sole Jewish member. He warned – for good reason – that the document would “prove a rallying ground for anti-Semites in every country in the world”.

‘Struggle until the Rapture’

While Jewish Zionists looked to the imperial powerhouse of Britain for sponsorship a century ago, today, their chief patron is the US. The standard-bearers of Christian Zionism have been enjoying growing influence in Washington since the Six-Day War of 1967.

That process has reached its apotheosis under President Donald Trump. He has surrounded himself with a mix of extreme Jewish and Christian Zionists. His ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, and Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, are fervent Jewish supporters of the illegal settlements. But so too, it seems, are key Christians in the White House, such as Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Before he entered government, Pompeo was clear about his evangelical beliefs. Back in 2015, he told a congregation: “It is a never-ending struggle … until the Rapture. Be part of it. Be in the fight.”

This past March, he backed the idea that Trump might have been sent by God to save Israel from threats such as Iran. “I am confident that the Lord is at work here,” he told the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Pence, meanwhile, has said: “My passion for Israel springs from my Christian faith … It’s really the greatest privilege of my life to serve as vice-president to a president who cares so deeply for our most cherished ally.”

Sleeping giant awakens

Trump’s relocation last year of the US embassy to Jerusalem, pre-empting any negotiated settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict, was designed to pander to his Christian Zionist base. Some 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for him in 2016, and he will need their support again in 2020 if he hopes to be re-elected.

Not surprisingly, the new US embassy in Jerusalem was consecrated by two prominent televangelist pastors, John Hagee and Robert Jeffress, known for their fanatical support for Israel – as well as occasional antisemitic outbursts.

More than a decade ago, Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel, told delegates at a conference organised by AIPAC, Israel’s main political lobby in Washington: “The sleeping giant of Christian Zionism has awakened. There are 50 million Christians standing up and applauding the state of Israel.”

The Hagee group’s activities include lobbying in Congress for hardline pro-Israel legislation, such as the recent Taylor Force Act that slashes US funding to the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinians’ government-in-waiting. The group is also active in helping to push through legislation at the state and federal levels, penalising anyone who boycotts Israel.

For US evangelicals, and those elsewhere, Israel is increasingly a key issue. A 2015 poll showed some three-quarters believe that developments in Israel were prophesied in the Bible’s Book of Revelation.

Many expect Trump to complete a chain of events set in motion by British officials a century ago – and more and more of them are getting directly involved, in hopes of speeding along that process.

Closer ties to settlers

Israel’s vision of an “ingathering of the exiles” – encouraging Jews from around the world to move to the region under the Law of Return – fits neatly with Christian Zionism’s beliefs in a divine plan for the Middle East.

The efforts of extremist Jewish settlers to colonise the West Bank, the bulk of any future Palestinian state, also chimes with Christian Zionists’ understanding of the West Bank as the “biblical heartland”, an area Jews must possess before Jesus returns.

For these reasons, evangelicals are developing ever-closer ties with Israeli Jewish religious extremists, especially in the settlements. Recent initiatives have included online and face-to-face Bible studies programmes run by Orthodox Jews, often settlers, targeted specifically at evangelical Christians. The tutorials are designed to bolster the settlers’ narrative, as well as demonising Muslims and, by extension, Palestinians.

The most popular course offered by Root Source, one such venture, is titled “Islam – Insights and Deceptions”. It uses the Old and New Testaments to make the case that Islam “is extremely dangerous”.

A few months ago, Haaretz, Israel’s leading liberal newspaper, published an investigation into the growing flow of evangelical volunteers and money into the West Bank’s illegal settlements – the chief obstacle to achieving a two-state solution.

One US organisation alone, Hayovel, has brought more than 1,700 Christian volunteers over the past 10 years to help in a settlement close to Nablus, in the heart of the West Bank.

Evangelical money pours in

An increasing number of similar initiatives have been aided by new rules introduced last year by the Israeli government to pay Christian Zionist groups such as Hayovel to advocate abroad for the settlements.

It is much harder to know exactly how much evangelical money is pouring into the settlements, because of a lack of transparency regarding US donations made by churches and charities. But the Haaretz investigation estimates that over the past decade, as much as $65m has flowed in.

Ariel, a settler town sitting in the very centre of the West Bank, received $8m for a sports centre from John Hagee Ministries a decade ago. Another evangelical outfit, J H Israel, has spent $2m there on a national leadership centre.

Other Christian charities that have historically funded projects inside Israel are reported to be increasingly considering assisting the settlements too.

Should a Trump peace plan – touted for publication later this year – back annexation of parts of the West Bank, as is widely expected, it would likely unleash a new and even greater wave of evangelical money into the settlements.

Immune to reason

This is precisely the problem for Palestinians, and the wider Middle East. Christian Zionists are meddling yet again, whether they be government officials, church leaders or their congregations. Evangelical influence is to be found from the US and Brazil to Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Western governments typically have more practical and pressing concerns than realising biblical prophecy to justify divide-and-rule policies in the Middle East. Chiefly, they want control over the region’s oil resources, and can secure it only by projecting military power there to prevent rival nations from gaining a foothold.

But the uncritical support of tens of millions of Christians around the world, whose passion for Israel is immune to reason, makes the job of these governments selling wars and resource grabs all the easier.

Both Israel and the West have benefited from cultivating an image of a plucky Jewish state surrounded by barbaric Arabs and Muslims determined to destroy it. As a result, Israel has enjoyed ever greater integration into a Western power bloc, while Western governments have been offered easy pretexts either to interfere in the region directly or delegate such interference to Israel.

The payoff for Israel has been unstinting support from the US and Europe, as it oppresses and drives the Palestinians off their lands.

With an evangelical base behind him, Trump has no need to offer plausible arguments before he acts. He can move the US embassy to Jerusalem, or approve the annexation of the West Bank, or attack Iran.

Standing against Israel’s enemies

Seen this way, any enemy Israel claims to have – whether the Palestinians or Iran – automatically becomes the sworn enemy of tens of millions of evangelical Christians.

Netanyahu understands the growing importance of this uncritical overseas lobby as his and Israel’s standing drops precipitously among liberal US Jews, appalled by the rightward lurch of successive governments.

In 2017, Netanyahu told a crowd of evangelicals in Washington: “When I say we have no greater friends than Christian supporters of Israel, I know you’ve always stood with us.”

For Palestinians, this is bad news. Most of these evangelicals, such as T B Joshua, are largely indifferent or hostile to the fate of the Palestinians – even Palestinian Christians, such as those in Nazareth.

A recent editorial in Haaretz noted that Netanyahu and his officials were now “endeavoring to make evangelicals – who support Israel’s hawkish rejectionism regarding the Palestinians – the sole foundation of American support for Israel.”

The truth is that these Christian Zionists view the region through a single, exclusive prism: whatever aids the imminent arrival of the Messiah is welcomed. The only issue is how soon God’s “chosen people” will congregate in the Promised Land.

If the Palestinians stand in Israel’s way, these tens of millions of foreign Christians will be quite happy to see the native population driven out once again – as they were in 1948 and 1967.

• Previously published in Middle East Eye