america israel prophets and profit

The American Dream was built on the high ideals of democracy and the idea that church and state should be kept separate. It has been hard for the American Dream to live up to its own ideals. In the same way, Israel’s dream of a “Return to the Holy Land” and democracy in the Middle East is also struggling to live up to its own high standards. Religion, international politics, and the economy continue to have a big impact on democracy, so we need to be willing to talk about prophets and money. Few people are willing to sit down and really talk about what’s going on in the world right now. We can’t do this any longer…

No one can be forced to believe in the great dream of democracy with guns, bombs, and missiles, just like no one can be forced to believe in God. It has to come from the person himself or herself, and it has to grow in a society where people are educated. But there is a lot to gain from using guns, bombs, and missiles to move religiously-based goals forward. It’s too easy to get profits and prophets mixed up.
One of America’s biggest exports is weapons, and politicians who are paid by the military industrial complex are often focused on serving the interests of their donors while hiding colonialism and imperialism (see U.S. Companies Get Piece of Iraq’s Oil Pie) behind high-minded goals like “spreading democracy.” Is there a real desire for peace and religious freedom in the Middle East, and does it show up anywhere in our current political scene?

Religion, economics, and politics set the stage for Israel to be well-armed to the tune of $3.1 billion per year from American tax dollars, which they use to buy most of their weapons from American companies. For many people in both the United States and Israel, nationalism and national interests have become the religion of the day, even though they are presented as the dream of democracy. The “bait and switch” trick. There is a difference between criticising how the government runs and being religiously bigoted or anti-Semitic, but that line is often hard to see. How do we sort them out?

Ben Irwin, an Episcopal scholar, has pointed out the contradiction that many evangelicals, Americans, and Israeli leaders miss:

“If Israel has the right to the covenant blessings that the Old Testament talks about, what about their covenant duties?”

The Bible has never talked about Israel’s covenant blessings without also talking about what they had to do. You can’t have one thing without the other. At least one of these responsibilities is a bit hard for the modern state of Israel to fulfil, if it is the same country as the one in the Bible.

Israel in the past wasn’t supposed to have an army that was always there. They weren’t supposed to stockpile weapons. There were no taxes to pay for an always-on army. Deuteronomy 17:16–17 says that Israel’s leaders couldn’t get a lot of horses, which was about as close as the ancient Near East could get to an arms race. The king of Israel wasn’t supposed to make military deals with other countries. God said that Israel’s army should stay weak so that the people would learn to trust him to protect them.

Israel wasn’t allowed to force anyone to serve in the military. Those who did not want to fight did not have to. (Deuteronomy 20)

If modern Israel is the same covenant nation that was written about in the Old Testament, then they have the same covenant obligations. And that covenant says that armies can’t be made. It says that militarization is a form of worshipping idols.”

If Israel stoops to the level of the Hamas terrorists it fears, it could hurt its moral standing, which is backed by religion. Killing innocent Palestinian children and civilians while giving a lot of historical reasons for doing so is not a good idea. Nor can their actions be explained by religious texts.

“To be a Jew, after all, means first and foremost to recognise and follow the basic rules of humanity that are set out in the Bible. Without these rules, no group of people can be healthy and happy.”


Still, many Americans still say that America is a Christian country, even though they turn away hungry refugee children at their border and support wars in the Middle East. This is a clear violation of what Christians believe, showing that these people put nationalism above what their own prophet, Jesus, said.

15″Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16″You’ll know them by the things they do. Grapes don’t grow on thorn bushes, and figs don’t grow on thistles, right? 17″So every good tree bears good fruit, but every bad tree bears bad fruit…”
-Matthew’s Gospel

Is it fair to throw the baby out with the bath water? Can we assume that a dream of democracy, a hope for peace, and a holy land where people don’t have to worry about being persecuted because of their religion are impossible to reach? In no way. As always, the answer is education and putting things right with the stories that shape our view of the world.

The prophets’ advice isn’t taken into account, but real money is being made by using religious and democratic ideas to sell weapons and further geopolitical goals. This will keep going on until the people stop being fooled and take back their rightful place in history. We can’t avoid talking about peace because there are nuclear weapons all over the world.

Peace, forgiveness, respect, and making things right are at the heart of all major spiritual and religious traditions. As we look back on the 100 years since the end of the first World War, let’s work together to build a culture of peace around the world. Democracy isn’t spread with guns, bombs, and missiles; it’s spread with goodwill, and it grows best in a climate of peace, understanding, and diplomacy.

Ignorance sings with hate and violence, so it’s time to change the tune. Be the peace you want to see in the world by looking inside yourself. Then tell those in power the truth and do what you know is right. Let love guide the conversation, and may respect win out. This is a complicated and nuanced topic.

On September 21, which is the International Day of Peace, please look into a worldwide event that would be coordinated by We can end ignorance if we work together. This article was put together with help from Rebecca Tobias of the United Religions Initiative. Please check out their website to learn more about how they are working to bring people together around the world.

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