By Brad Friedman on 5/18/2004, 6:23pm PT  

I hate piling on. Really, I do. It's one of the reasons I haven't had much to say in the last coupla days about Bush, Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Rumsfeld, and all the other collective --- yet seemingly now very obvious --- disasters in this Whitehouse and besetting America.

Then comes a fresh perspective on something I (and probably you) have been pondering for years, yet that has been set aside lately in favor of more pressing and in-your-face catastrophes.

Thanks to Atrios for the tip-off to Rick Perstein's Village Voice article entitled "Bush White House checked with rapture Christians before latest Israel move - The Jesus Landing Pad". It's worth the read.

It reveals one of the (undoubtedly) many direct influences in this Whitehouse from the Fundamentalist Evangelical Right. This one, with Email evidence to boot, is from the nutbags at the Apostolic Congress, "the Christian voice in our Nation's Capital" as their website informs us.

I've long tried to convince my otherwise very intelligent Jewish relatives that this Whitehouse, and in particular those on the Far Right who suggest the Defense of a Israel as the Jewish Homeland at the top of their priorities --- and who have used it to justify just about everything these days --- are in fact, no friends of the Jews. In fact, the only thing they hate more than Jews is Arabs.

Therefore, under the convenient cover of the same "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" justification that the Right often uses to justify any number of outrages, even in comments on this blog ("So what that we gave chemical weapons to Saddam to use against Iran! They were our enemy at the time!")...too many in the Jewish community have fallen for the temptation to assume that those on the Evangelical Right and in the Whitehouse are actually their friends. They are not.:

It was an e-mail we weren't meant to see. Not for our eyes were the notes that showed White House staffers taking two-hour meetings with Christian fundamentalists, where they passed off bogus social science on gay marriage as if it were holy writ and issued fiery warnings that "the Presidents [sic] Administration and current Government is engaged in cultural, economical, and social struggle on every level"this to a group whose representative in Israel believed herself to have been attacked by witchcraft unleashed by proximity to a volume of Harry Potter. Most of all, apparently, we're not supposed to know the National Security Council's top Middle East aide consults with apocalyptic Christians eager to ensure American policy on Israel conforms with their sectarian doomsday scenarios.

But now we know.

"Everything that you're discussing is information you're not supposed to have," barked Pentecostal minister Robert G. Upton when asked about the off-the-record briefing his delegation received on March 25. Details of that meeting appear in a confidential memo signed by Upton and obtained by the Voice.

You can, and should, read the rest of the piece over there.

It also outlines how this Apostolic Congress has "Christian Zionist" missionaries in Israel, in strict defiance of Israeli law, by the way, actively actively working towards converting Jews to Christianity.

Setting that appalling --- though too frequent even in this country --- practice aside, frankly, I don't have any real problem with anybody sharing their views with any Whitehouse --- nutcases or not --- in support of or in opposition to any matters of policy.

I am troubled, however, over the secrecy that surrounds it all, and more importantly the selectivity of it all. Does the Sierra Club get to have private Presidential audiences to discuss the Administration's Energy Policy? (Evidentally we have no legal right to know) Does the NEA get to put their personal two-cents in on "No Child Left Behind"? (It wouldn't seem so, since Education Secretary has described them as "terrorists") Does Colin Powell get to tell the President what he really thinks about Bush's Iraq Policy? (okay, bad example.)

Perhaps it's just the key constituents with the votes and bucks who get the access. Nothing really new there. But it's worth paying attention to who those folks with the influence actually are. The Jews who believe, by supporting Bush, they are supporting a Pro-Israel President should perhaps take a closer look.

Perlstein finishes with this:

Don Wagner, an evangelical, worries that in the Republican Party, people who believe this "are dominating the discourse now, in an election year." He calls the attempt to yoke Scripture to current events "a modern heresy, with cultish proportions.

"I mean, it's appalling," he rails on. "And it also shows how marginalized mainstream Christian thinking, and the majority of evangelical thought, have become."

It demonstrates, he says, "the absolute convergence of the neoconservatives with the Christian Zionists and the pro-Israel lobby, driving U.S. Mideast policy."

The problem is not that George W. Bush is discussing policy with people who press right-wing solutions to achieve peace in the Middle East, or with devout Christians. It is that he is discussing policy with Christians who might not care about peace at allat least until the rapture.

The Jewish pro-Israel lobby, in the interests of peace for those living in the present, might want to consider a disengagement.

I agree. I wonder if anybody in my family will figure that out prior to November.