PEACE PLAN FOR THE MIDDLE EAST
by Frank Forman
August 15, 2017
1. Christian Evangelicals have become more and more sentimentalized. Out is the stern Jehovah of the Old Testament; in is the kindly, helpful Jesus of the New. Out is sin and punishment; in is sin and forgiveness. Out is Bach; in is soft Christian rock. Out is a focus on Sunday services; in is a round-the-clock smorgasbord of twelve-step recovery programs, grief support ministries,.. “discovering divorce dynamics,” all operating 24/7. No more Hester Prynne. This describes today’s megachurch, whose advent of the megachurch is tremendously important. (See the references at the end.)
2. Tension enters when it comes to Christian Zionism, a doctrine to which most Evangelicals subscribe. This doctrine, based upon the Book of Revelation and certain verses in both Testaments, says that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land foreshadows the start of End Times. Somehow, it does not matter that Jesus explicitly stated Matthew 25:13 “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Nor does it matter that the prophets in the Old Testament all state that the restoration of King David’s United Kingdom requires that the Jews resume obeying God’s laws, including sacrificing bulls. And it matters not that speeding up God’s timetable by supporting the return of the Jews to the Holy Land does not exactly make sense. These anomalies matter little, since religion is as much about rules of conduct, community, and ritual as it is about creedal harmonization.
3. Tension arises because sentimentalized Christians do not take kindly to the treatment of Palestinians by Israelis. Reports, photos, and film have an impact today that _Uncle Tom’s Cabin_ did during the Civil War, which was greater than all the abolitionist tracts combined.
4. If just one prominent Evangelical leader becomes a religious entrepreneur and decides that the canonical account of Christian Zionism is false and that Evangelicals are not bound to support Israel, wavering megachurch believers in the canonical account would drift toward that leader. Other leaders would begin to adjust their interpretation of Christian Zionism, too. Religion is hardly immune from entrepreneurship! This process would be slow but inexorable.
5. Christian Zionist support is necessary for American support of Israel. Jewish Zionists do not have the necessary political clout to maintain American support of Israel on their own, even including the identification of a few remaining stern *Old* Testament Protestants who identify the Hebrew patriarchs with the settlers of the great West. (Thus, I have an Ezekiel Forman, an Aaron Forman, an Aaron B. Forman, a George Washington Forman, and a Samuel Forman (commissioned High Sheriff of Monmouth County in 1695) in my direct ancestral line. “But George Washington was not a Hebrew patriarch!” He might as well have been. I have made my point.)
6. The gradual withdrawal of Christian Zionist support, and the steady demographics of out-marriage and small families among Jews means that the long-run survival of Israel is dire. Unless, unless the Deal-Maker-in-Chief can negotiate a peace treaty between Israel and various Muslim countries, with the United States somehow being part of the agreement.
7. Jerry Falwell, Jr., the Evangelical who best has the President’s ear (so I have read) will meet with Steve Bannon (whose thinking outside the box rivals that of President Trump) and verify what I have said about Christian Zionists. Then the pair will meet with the President.
8. I suggest this deal: Each country shall give security of property to investors from other countries and security of persons from random terrorism. Should Israel decide to expel non-Jews, it must be kind and generous, so as to appeal to both sentimentalized Evangelicals and Palestinians.
9. Opening bid: Remember: a successful deal means that all parties think they have gained and stand little chance of gaining more. No party will get everything it wants. The Palestinians, who supposedly want to drive the Jews into the sea, would have Israel consist of zero territory. On the other hand, “Eretz (Greater) Israel,” promised by God in Genesis 15:18-21, would be forty or so times the current size of Israel.
10. If the opening bid will be for Israel to be confined its 1948 borders, Israel may walk away from the bargaining table, though the various Muslim leaders may agree. What if the opening bid is Israel after the Six Day War? Will the Muslim leaders go along? Remember, they hold to a different account of who was responsible for the war. (It makes no difference who is right, for perception is all.)
11. Should Israel insist that the Muslim countries chuck their tyrannies and restrictions on their economies and replace them with free governments? Would the autocrats themselves rather be loved than feared (which I asked in respect of Kim Jong-un in my North Korean Peace plan)? The hope is that all parties agree that having peace is better for everyone than continued sniping.
12. It will be the job of the Deal-Maker-in-Chief to propose what to do about Jerusalem and other matters. I have no non-obvious thoughts on these matters.
13. The important thing to realize is that it is only President Trump who can effect a deal. There will be no second chances. Otherwise, current trends will continue, with Israel having nuclear weapons and, backed into a corner, might actually use them. Even if the horrible happens, sheer demographic forces will not provide a permanent solution.
Charles Trueheart, “The Next Church,” Atlantic Monthly, August 1966
Colin Campbell, _The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987).
This is a profound treatment of Christianity changing from being judgmental to sentimental that updates Max Weber as the title suggests. Steve Bonner will love it.
Mr. Forman earned his Ph.D. in Public Choice economics under James M. Buchanan at George Mason University in 1985. He was a research and policy economist at the Civil Aeronautics Board from 1969-1984 and at the U.S. Department of Education from 1985 until his retirement in 2011.