May 18 2008

Divine Commander in chief crosses the lines

Published by at 8:05 pm under Articles,Palestinian politics

What was more dangerous than the ‘appeasement’ reference

By Daoud Kuttab

While the Barak Obama , Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, the media and others were correct in pouncing on President Bush for his ‘appeasement’ remark during his speech at the Israeli Knesset, an even more dangerous trend was totally ignored.

In his gushing praise for Israel as a Jewish state, the president not only injected domestic politics but he crossed the church state line that is the bedrock of American politics.

While its people are largely church goers and people of faith, the United States has prided itself as a country that separates religion from politics. In addressing the Israeli Knesset, a predominantly secular legislature whose members include a minority of Christian and Moslem Arabs, President George Bush went out of his way to inject terminology that is specifically and exclusively Jewish. By calling Israel “the redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham, Moses and David- a homeland for the chosen people Eretz Yisrael,” the American president clearly crossed a line. How can his administration be publicly trying to bring peace between Palestinians (who include Christians, Moslem and non believers) and Israelis (who also include people of faith and non believers), while he is bestowing divine right to the Jews of Israel?

Is President Bush playing Biblical games by pushing for a particular Christian Zionist interpretation on all the peoples of the region? Are Moslems expected to accept this divine order. What about Christian Palestinians, where are they in this divine order that seems to be transmitted directly from the Almighty to this Texas cowboy George W. Bush.

President Bush mixes the seventeenth century faith of the American founders with the modern day Israeli secular state. He even confuses the concept of promised land by saying that the early Americans felt that their new discovered lands was their “new promised land.” So are we talking here about two promises lands, one in America and one in Israel. Then President Bush tells us the names of American cities bestowed by these early settlers in America. Bush documents the names of Bethlehem and the new Canaan as an example of how fond these pioneers felt that this was their promised land. But why use the name of a Palestinian city which his own administration clearly realizes will be part of the Palestinian state. Is this a hint of US support for some strange expansion of the internationally recognized Israeli state to include hjthu6u6hu6yBethlehem?

In his conclusion, America’s president returns one more to the same divine issues. “You have raised a modern society in the Promise Land, a light unto the nations that preserves the legacy of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” What a sad conclusion in which the president of the United States appoints himself the Divine Commander in Chief and turns the Almighty into a real estate agent.

Daoud Kuttab a Palestinian Christian journalist is the Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University. His email is

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