Not Eudora  By Harry Welty
Published May 17, 2002

Eve of Destruction

It's a little disconcerting for a mild mannered Republican like me to realize that leading members of my party support the Jewish State in Israel because of their impatience to see the world come to its apocalyptic end. You see, all the lands of Israel must be in Jewish hands before the prophecies in the book of Revelations can be fulfilled. The Biblical literalists who flooded into the Party in the 1980's call this the "rapture." It is the time when God's faithful will be called to heaven. It is something they eagerly look forward to. When the eve of destruction finally comes about it will be too late for the rest of us.

For those of us who would like to see the world continue a little longer it's ironic that one of the loudest cheerleaders for this Israeli hegemony, is a congressman named "Delay." I wish!

But what has this to do with Duluth you ask? Why everything.

Tip O'Neil famously said that "all politics is local." By this Tip meant that the lowly pothole down the street takes precedence over the abstractions of national or international politics. But with a pothole the size of the World Trade Towers, international events have taken center stage. This new era in local politics impressed itself on my conscience a couple weeks ago as armed guards slipped a metal detector between my legs. Their job was to make sure I wouldn't blow up the plane as I flew to my family reunion in Topeka, Kansas. Suddenly, the abstractions on the other side of the world have Americans looking over their shoulders. Even in Duluth.

I heard a thought provoking speech a couple months ago by Winston Churchill's grandson. Winston Number Three told his audience about Israel's current Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon. Sharon has a troubling history. Ariel marched into Lebanon in 1982 without bothering to tell his civilian superiors exactly what he was up to. He made a pact with Lebanese Phalangists who then slaughtered 800 civilians in Palestinian refugee camps. The resulting deaths of Israeli soldiers were so numerous that the Israeli public was in shock. President Reagan came to the rescue by sending American marines to Lebanon as peace keepers. A truck bomb killed 241 of them shortly afterward while they slept in their barracks.

After this fiasco Sharon became Israel's housing minister where he sowed the seeds for the current bloodshed by turning the West Bank into an Israeli waffle. It is now effectively impossible for Palestine to become a nation because Israel controls all the roads, or about 42% of the land, to and from proliferating Jewish settlements. Palestinian hopes have been left to sink like syrup in the waffle's depressions.

Finally, to bolster his bid to become Prime Minister, as a "peace candidate," Sharon marched onto the grounds of the third holiest Mosque in Islam with a platoon of armed guards. Sharon has single-handedly succeeded in turning ten years of stone throwing Palestinians into a fusillade of suicide bombers.

In recent weeks President Bush seems to have recognized that Sharon is as much an architect of Israel's problems as he is a defender of the Jewish State. What to do? What to do?

Much of what America does may depend on the "solid south" now the heartland of the Republican Party. This is where Israel's most vocal and unabashed supporters live and vote. This is the center of Republicans in Congress. This is the home of Tom Delay. It wasn't always like this.

When I was a kid the South was the exclusive preserve of the Democratic Party. In those days the South was not particularly sympathetic to "Jewish" interests. It was the birthplace of the KKK and Jews were routinely blamed for helping register "uppity Negroes" to vote, communism, and Christ "killin."

What a welcome change has taken place in the last generation. Today Israel can count on near total support from the South. So much so that even our popular President is loathe to challenge it. So how can we defuse the tension in the Middle East? How long must we look over our shoulders for terrorists? The answer may depend on whether the South takes time to remember its own past.

After six generations the South has yet to completely recover from its defeat in the Civil War. Indeed, the chip on its shoulder over civil rights, the Civil War's last battle, is what drove it out of the Democratic Party and into the party of Lincoln.

But Southerners aren't the only ones with long memories. While it has taken a century and a half for the South to get over the Civil War the Arab world is still recovering from the Crusades. That was a thousand years ago. I for one would hate to have the curse of the Middle East visited on my children unto the seventh generation. That's a lot of family reunions into the future. I hope the South feels the same way.

Of course, if the Biblical literalists are right we may not have that much time to look forward to. The apocalypse may be close at hand. Even Osama bin Laden preaches this. I sure hope he's not a Republican too.

Welty is a small time politician who lets it all hang out at: www.snowbizz.com

I met Sonia Zyroff in 1993 when I was campaigning door to door for the School Board. She was only the second holocaust survivor I'd ever met. She was very concerned that American schools weren't teaching about the death camps. Sonia died last week. "Never forget."   If you'd like to straighten me out send an Email to: harrywelty@snowbizz.com