Paul Pillar

God Speaks to the Republican National Committee

At its winter meeting in New Orleans two weeks ago, the Republican National Committee unanimously adopted a resolution that is extraordinary for its content and, given that content, for not having received attention from mainstream media. It was discovered by Mitchell Plitnick of The Third Way, who evidently was so taken aback by the resolution that he sought confirmation from its sponsor that the RNC had in fact formally adopted it. Yes it did, said the sponsor, a committeewoman from South Carolina named Cindy Costa. The measure is titled “An RNC Resolution to Commend the Nation of Israel for its Relations with the United States of America.” I won't take the space to reproduce the full text, which you can get at Plitnick's site, but here are the first few preambular clauses:

Whereas, Israel has been granted her lands under and through the oldest recorded deed as reported in the Old Testament, a tome of scripture held sacred and reverenced by Jew and Christian, alike, as the acts and words of God; and

Whereas, as the Grantor of said lands, God stated to the Jewish people in the Old Testament; in Leviticus, Chapter 20, Verse 24:  “Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey”; and

Whereas, God has never rescinded his grant of said lands; and

Whereas, along with the grant of said lands to the Jewish people, God provided for the non-Jewish residents of the land in commanding that governance must be in one law for all without drawing distinction between Jewish and non-Jewish citizens, as contained in Leviticus 24:22, and...

Well, you get the flavor—certainly regarding where the resolution fits on the religious-vs.-secular dimension of discourse. The resolution goes on to state that

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;

and whereas there are other respects in which according to the resolution Israel and the United States are two peas in a pod, the main operative clause of the resolution resolves

that the members of this body support Israel in their natural and God-given right of self-governance and self-defense upon their own lands, 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.

Although Plitnick probably is right that the RNC didn't really understand the implications of what it was adopting (which was very similar to a resolution that the South Carolina Republican Party passed last year), it is hard to read this as anything other than endorsement of an Israeli annexation of the entire West Bank and rejection of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That is how most of those who have commented on this resolution in the blogosphere read it, including those who were flummoxed or outraged by it and those in the rapture crowd, who were delighted by it.

If this resolution is taken at all seriously, there is of course plenty to be outraged about. For starters, there is the throwing of the separation of church and state, as embodied in the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution, down the toilet. That would certainly be the case if the final clause of the resolution, which calls on state legislatures and the U.S. Congress to adopt similar resolutions, were ever acted upon. There also is the revising of reality by resolution (“...is neither an attacking force nor an occupier of the lands of others...”) and the pretending that there isn't some other populace that lives on the lands in question. And of course there is the complete subjugation of any U.S. interests to the interests of Israel—and more specifically to the most hard-line, nationalist, religiously based interpretation of those interests.

Let me ask instead, though, why most news media did not pick up on this remarkable action by the RNC. Perhaps it was not taken seriously because the committee is accustomed to humoring individual members and their pet causes by passing lots of ridiculous resolutions. I don't know; I haven't researched the RNC's record in that regard. And for all I know, the Democratic National Committee may indulge in its own form of inanity when it passes resolutions. But surely the fact that the national governing body of one of the two major U.S. political parties would make such a statement warrants attention.

I suggest the moderators of the next GOP candidates' debate raise this topic. After asking the candidates whether they renounce this resolution by the RNC, several follow-on questions come to mind for anyone who says no, such as: Do you still believe in the separation of church and state? Do you believe that texts of a revealed religion should guide U.S. foreign policy? Do you reject national self-determination for the Palestinian people? What do you believe will be the consequences for U.S. interests of such rejection? Surely such questions deserve as much attention as Mitt Romney's taxes. Or Newt Gingrich's serial adultery. (I wonder what God has said to the RNC about that.)

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