Israeli female soldiers of the 33rd Caracal Battalion take part in a graduation march in the northern part of the Negev desert. The Caracal unit is an infantry combat battalion of the army, composed of both male and female soldiers mostly serving along the Israeli southern desert borders. Female warriors are an important symbol in the clash of civlilizations. The IDF is the one army that ISIS truly fears. Menahem Kahana. Getty Images.
In fact the Israeli-Palestinian conflict claims a far larger share of the world’s attention than it deserves. Geopolitically it’s not that important; “a 20th century problem surrounded by 21st century chaos,” in the words of one diplomat. Indeed, the fate of Israel and the Palestinians is far less important to the geostrategic interests of the United States than events elsewhere in the Middle East, East Asia, and beyond. Former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer is right when he asks “can it be proven that it would make a substantive – vice emotional – difference to U.S. security if . . . every Palestinian killed every Israeli, or vice versa . . . ?” The “brutal but correct” answer says Scheuer is that it doesn’t. Ethno-religious communal conflicts, like that between Israel and the Palestinians, “evoke sympathy and stir emotion,” but none of them, “regardless of who wins, endanger U.S. interests.”
Ever since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, Americans have seen themselves as the “New Israel.” “Come, let us declare in Zion the work of the Lord our God,” proclaimed the Pilgrim leader William Bradford, quoting the prophet Jeremiah. Adherents of the Calvinist faith, and this includes Puritans and Jacksonians, gave their children Hebrew names (Abraham, Samuel, David, Jeremiah, Abigail, Rachel, Esther, Sarah, etc., etc.,) and bestowed upon the New World such biblical place names as Shiloh, Bethel, Bethlehem, Jericho, and New Canaan. Preachers and pamphleteers portrayed the American Revolution as a reenactment of the biblical Exodus: the Continental Army became the “army of Israel” under the command of the providentially chosen George Washington, the Moses who led the thirteen colonies out of bondage to “Pharaoh” George III, through the wilderness of war, to the promised land of independence. The Reverend Abiel Abbot announced in a 1799 sermon: “It has often been remarked that the people of the United States come nearer to a parallel with Ancient Israel, than any other nation upon the globe. Hence Our American Israel is a term frequently used; and common consent allows it apt and proper.”
Early Americans were among the first Zionists. In 1819 John Adams wrote to the Jewish American writer and politician Mordecai Manuel Noah: “Farther I could find it in my heart to wish that you had been at the head of a hundred thousand Israelites . . . & marching with them into Judea & making a conquest of that country & restoring your nation to the dominion of it. For I really wish the Jews again in Judea an independent nation.”
Jacksonians tend to identify with Israel, ancient and modern. Nineteenth-century Jacksonians saw themselves as Israelites engaged in the holy work of winning the land from the Native American Canaanites. While fighting the Seminoles in Florida in 1818, Andrew Jackson declared that his soldiers were “like the Iseralites of old in the wilderness.” Jackson believed his army acted as “the hand of heaven . . . pointed against the exciters of this war,” on a mission to scatter the enemy “over the whole face of the Earth.” Present-day Jacksonians admire Israeli strength and resolve and view the Jewish state as a valuable ally in the war against radical Islam. They also see Israel as a valiant David that shares American values, surrounded by a sea of Arab Muslim Goliaths whose social, cultural, and political mores leave Jacksonians baffled, whose states and societies are in meltdown, and whose embrace of jihadist terrorism places them beyond the pale of civilization and renders them enemies of the United States.
Israel is the source of the Abrahamic faiths that claim the loyalty of at least half of mankind. Though small in number as a people the contributions of the Jews to world civilization is immense. And so the historical and emotional importance of Israel and the Jews to America and the world guarantee that Israel’s actions and destiny will remain at the center of the world’s stage. (See, for example the current issue of Foreign Affairs, cover shown below.)