For the past 100 days, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has hit forests, residential homes and roads in the border area of Lebanon, but on January 17 an Israeli drone raided the National Evangelical Church in the center of the town of Alma Al-Shaab, causing major damage to the home of the church’s cleric, Pastor Rabie Talib.
Thus while the world assumes that the heaviest action is against Gaza only, IDF has locked their target on Lebanon too.
This brings to the fore an obvious calculus that has always existed in the IDF: even if the Evangelical churches in the United States (US), as represented especially by the Christian United for Israel (CUFI), IDF still has no allegiance whatsoever except to itself.
Just as questionably, John Hagee, the leader of CUFI, has conflated the boundaries of complex geopolitics in the Middle East with the faith-based Christian alliance with which he is leading.
To be sure, John Hagee started off as an Evangelical preacher in San Antonio, Texas.
That was the first church he built in 1962. It was then known as the Trinity Church.
Over the course of the last few decades John Hagee has combined concepts of Christianity with the total defense of Israel by the US.
Not in Our Name
But there are Christians who don’t necessarily believe that US support of Israel must be given blindly.
Moreover, there are also Jews who do not embrace the policies of Israel right from its founding as a political movement in the late 19th century to what it is now.
Even the creation of Israel in 1948 was questioned by many Rabbis, who believe that Jews must oblige themselves to being in the Diaspora to wait for the last Jewish prophet.
Invariably, there are also Jews that are against the war in Gaza or anywhere in the neighborhood now.
Hence their clarion call is “Not In Our Name.” There are also ex-IDF members who have become distraught with the excessive use of force by the IDF especially since 1967.
One of them is the well acclaimed historian Benny Morris who was originally born and raised in Iraq.
Indeed, whether it was 2002, 2004, 2009, 2014 or 2021, the IDF has tried the iron fisted approach against the people in Gaza before.
All of these draconian actions have failed to squash the existence of Hamas.
At any rate, John Hagee has had many opportunities to explain to Israel that their policies have failed countless times. Yet he hasn’t.
Thus, CUFI, which has close to 80 million members in the US have become a potent force in an electoral year. CUFI has decided to back Israel without distinguishing between Jews and Israeli policy.
Absolute support corrupts. The world has always known that. But blind support corrupts absolutely too.
What CUFI does is to go beyond the call of duties to support Israel blindly. That is dangerous. As there are Jews and Christians in various parts of the world who do not support Israel to such an over zealous extent.
CUFI can lay the ground for serious mistrusts and suspicion of Jews and Christians in various parts of the world. Invariably by adding more fuel to a complex triangle of rivalry.
Yet this does not have to come to be. The late Father David Burrell, a distinguished academic, at University of Notre Dame, has pointed to many historical junctures where all three groups can co-exist peacefully.
Even now, it is highly questionable if the IDF is fully in support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu buying time?
Up to 76 percent of Israelis do want him to be immediately removed from the office when the war ends.
Knowing the numbers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has intentionally affirmed that the war will run for more than a year.
Giving him enough time to be potentially supported by a new Republican administration of the US too.
Netanyahu has three charges of criminal corruption against him. The moment the war stops he is removed from office and any shield of immunity is also removed.
The Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir has to answer for the security and intelligence failure on October 7th 2023 too, which would cost him his political career.
This is why the war in Gaza has become the most dysfunctional and destructive war ever. Those prosecuting the war are themselves afraid of being prosecuted and thrown out of office.
IDF, in turn, seems to want an aggressive war to put an end to Netanyahu and his Cabinet supporters’ career.