Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Quoting Begin on Evangelicals

From a review of
In God’s Shadow: Politics in the Hebrew Bible.
By Michael Walzer
Yale University Press, 256 pages

In the early 1980s, the late Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin was slugged by many American Jews for what some on the American Jewish center-left perceived as an unsavory embrace of Fundamentalist Christians, who had expressed warm support of Israel at a time when Israel was friendless. “Their messianist-apocalyptic theology is unfriendly toward us,” many American Jews asserted in effect. “They are conversionist, and they are bad news for Jews.”

Begin countered, “At the end of time, when the Messiah comes, we will ask him, ‘Have you been here before?’ And he will tell us. Until then, I can live with the evangelicals.”

American public intellectuals have been chewing on this story for decades, in their varied efforts aimed at understanding the tangled relationships between politics, power, history, religion, Scripture, community and — lest we forget — God.

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