Mitchell Plitnick got a Republican National Committee spokeswoman to confirm that the body passed a resolution “recognizing that Israel is neither an attacking force nor an occupier of the lands of others; and that peace can be afforded the region only through a united Israel governed under one law for all people.” Whatever else one might say about this language, Plitnick persuasively demonstrates that it is de facto endorsement of a one-state solution (Greater Israel variety) in Israel-Palestine.

For anyone following the rise of the evangelical Christian right in the GOP over the last three decades, and the steady convergence of American blood-and-soil nationalism and its Israeli counterpart in the worldview of the American right, this news falls in the shocking, but not surprising category.

RNC resolutions are not presidential candidate platforms are not White House policy predilections are not actual US policy shifts. But all the same…yikes.

And ponder this intriguing clause:

WHEREAS, the roots of Israel and the roots of the United States of America are so intertwined that it is difficult to separate one from the other under the word and protection of almighty God

What comes to mind here is the influence of the Christian right, naturally, but also the “chosen people ideology” that historian Peter Gran identifies as central to the political cultures of bourgeois democracies, in which category he includes the US, Great Britain and (though it receives only light treatment) Israel. Gran’s schema is a quirky, but thought-provoking way of cutting through the tangled, never-ending polemics about whether Israel is a democracy. His answer: Yes, it is, and democracy is rule by race.

In Gran’s Gramscian-Foucauldian approach, race is the tool the elites rely upon to divert attention from class inequality and “chosen people ideology” is the hegemonic set of ideas that justifies the system. His analysis is not that simple; his book Beyond Eurocentrism is a bit old now, but worth perusing in its entirety.

It follows from Gran’s logic, though he does not say much about international relations, that countries that have settled (ha ha) upon the historical road of democracy to navigate capitalism would feel a mutual affinity. The bond is “chosen people ideology,” an intellectual-emotional apparatus that infuses a political culture with a strong belief in its own superiority, most importantly (for the country’s initial survival) over the native population whose dispossession might otherwise constitute a problem for a regime nominally based on notions of rights and popular sovereignty. Canada, Australia, New Zealand and apartheid-era South Africa (though Gran does not dwell on these countries’ histories, either) would also seem to fit the bill to one degree or another. Is it just the English language that explains why these countries so often wind up in “coalitions” to fight foreign wars?

The RNC resolution is a data point in favor of Gran’s thesis, which also suggests that the roots of backing for Israel in American political culture sink deeper than either evangelical Christianity or the machinations of various lobbies. See also: McAlister, Melani.

How to cite this article:

Chris Toensing "Chosen People Ideology," Middle East Report Online, January 20, 2012.

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