The President of Iran announced in late October that he thinks
Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth. A few days
later Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed international condemnation
of his words, saying his controversial remarks were “right
and just” and reflective of the Arabic world.
This is the same Ahmadinejad who recently decided to show
the world that his country will not bend or knuckle under
to foreign pressure on behalf of Iranian gays by stepping
up its legal actions against them, including more executions.
And the same man who is determined to acquire nuclear power.
There is no doubt in my mind that Ahmadinejad is a power-hungry
homophobic, religious zealot bent on complete Islamic domination
of the entire region. But what is this radical reaction to
a non-Islamic presence in the Middle East based on?
I often wonder how the world of today might be different
if NATO had not carved Israel out of the Middle East, offering
it up as a homeland to Jews that had survived the Holocaust.
Of course the country has changed hands multiple times during
its long history. Jews showed up in the region sometime around
the 14th century B.C., although they were not to actually
control the country until 1000 B.C. (give or take a few years).
They lost control a little under four hundred years later
and continued to fight unsuccessfully to regain it against
Assyria, Persia, Rome and many others for the next 700 years.
For a period the region was dominated by the Romans. Then,
in 638 A.D., Arab Muslims invaded and would remain in power
for the next 1300 years.
In 1918 Great Britain captured Palestine and promised the
Jews that the country would be their new “homeland” at
the end of World War One.
After the war ended, large numbers of Jews began to immigrate
to Palestine. For the next 30 years or so there was much
infighting and bloodshed between the Muslim and Jewish occupants
On May 15, 1948, Great Britain relinquished control of Palestine
and the country was once again called Israel. Of the more
than 800,000 Arabs who once lived in Israeli-held territory
before 1948, only about 170,000 remained. The rest became
refugees in the surrounding Arab countries, ending the Arab
majority in the Jewish state.
So who has the right to call the region their own? Looking
back at history it’s clear that Muslims retained control
for a greater length of time — though that doesn’t
change the fact that they are no longer the dominant power
Was it right to take Palestine away from its existant populace
in 1948? In my opinion, no. Would it be right to destroy
Israel and its current population today to replace it with
a Muslim-dominated society? Of course not. Almost an entire
generation of people have come and gone since that time.
It’s time for a new generation of Muslims and Jews
to put aside their philosophocal differences and learn to
live side by side in peace.
So why is an agnostic American gay man talking about all
Because there’s a common theme of oppression in the
Middle Easten conflict and current political developments
in our own country. Just how different is the struggle between
right-wing conservative Christians and … well … the
rest of us? Be it an American Jew or Muslim, a gay or lesbian
agnostic or Christian, a Buddhist Laotian or a Mexican-immigrant
In theory, not too different.
Evangelicals are certain that their belief should be interpreted
literally. They also believe that their form of religion
is right and everyone else is wrong and unless we’re
all converted we’re all going to hell.
Once a relatively apolitical group, Christian conservatives
began organizing on a community precinct level some 30 years
ago and today are perhaps the strongest political power in
this country. They maintain influence over the President,
the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Many of them are today elected officials who want to interpret
the law via the Bible and recreate America as a Theocratic
Under the Bush regime the lines of separation between church
and state continue to blur as religious zealots fight to
force their beliefs upon us.
Is it right for Evangelicals to be deprived of their desire
to worship in the way they wish? No. Is it right for those
who do not share their faith to be forced to live by Evangelical
standards? Of course not. It’s time for ultra-conservative
Christians to relinquish their fear and intolerance of the
rest of us and learn to live side by side in peace.