Here is a shocking speech made by Sen. Joe Lieberman last week to the new Israel lobby group: Christians United For Israel. Shocking because it is so filled with religious talk about the Biblical covenant between God and the Jews.
By standing with Israel today, each of you has joined that journey and taken up the torch that was lit in God's promise to Abraham 4,000 years ago, and carrying it forward to spread that light. I believe that Israel's rebirth in 1948 was divinely inspired by God...
When Ronald Reagan talked about God in politics, or when Muslims talk about God's hand in human events, we all get the heeby-jeebys. Why isn't Lieberman's language concerning?
Something else: Lieberman describes the foundation of Israel in 1948 as a "miracle." It is interesting that Lieberman's view is unreconstructed. In March this year, Anita Shapira, an Israeli Zionist speaking at Columbia, conceded (to Saif Ammous) that the foundation of Israel, or the expulsion of Arabs anyway, was a "tragedy." Hillel Halkin, an Israeli Zionist columnist at the Forward, uses similar language in discussing Jews' "unavoidably violent return" to Israel in his 1977 book, Letters to an American Jewish Friend:
Has not modern Zionist settlement in Palestine done all it could from the beginning, if only for the sake of its own morale and conscience, to turn a blind eye to the truly tragic nature of a conflict in which an ancient and hounded people was able...to regain its lost homeland, yet only by displacing another innocent people whose land it was too?
Lately, too, the Israeli Education Ministry has approved textbooks for third-grade Israeli Arabs that describe the Naqba, or Catastrophe of 1948, and say that the foundation of the Jewish state was a tragedy for Arabs.
This is an American tragedy. Israelis can speak openly of the Naqba. A leading American senator dare not entertain the idea. This is, at bottom, the great threat posed by Walt and Mearsheimer's forthcoming book: that it will revise the historical narrative in this country.
[My earlier version of this post gave Anita Shapira's first name as Judith. Apologies!]