The word that keeps coming to mind as I attempt to wrap my head around last week’s deadly violence on the Israeli-Gaza border and the formal opening of the American embassy building in Jerusalem is, “played.”
That’s played as in “being played.”
Palestinians were played by Hamas, the radical Sunni Muslim group that runs Gaza with minimal concern for those it rules. Israelis were played by their prime minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, whose political staying power is rooted in Israeli Jewish fears that their Arab and Iranian enemies are circling for a kill.
Then there’s President Donald Trump, who played his right-wing evangelical Christian base — allowing two of its prominent leaders to play Judaism and Jews at the embassy opening by reducing them to props — and disposable ones at that — in their eschatological vision. (I’ll say considerably more on this below.)
In short, it was a devilish display of the worst kind of cynicism imaginable, the sort that gets people killed in support of someone else’s political or religious agendas.
By now, GetReligion readers are surely familiar with the details of what happened -- the deaths of dozens of Palestinians, the presence of the Revs. Robert Jeffress and John C. Hagee at the embassy opening, the opprobrium directed at Israel by its global critics, the arguments by its supporters that Israel acted only in self-defense.
None of it was surprising, and most of it mirroring the usual reactions coming from the usual suspects -- all of it amplified by the Internet echo chamber.
Minds are pretty much made up on who’s at fault for the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict; among members of the news media, among members of the public, among the various NGO’s who view the conflict as their concern, and among the myriad political and religious organizations who claim skin in the game.
Why repeat all those arguments and positions here? Instead, let’s keep to a minimum the usual barrage of links to news and analysis pieces I provide to bolster my points. There’s too many to cite, anyway, and -- the truth is -- picking journalistic winners and losers is largely a function of which side in the conflict you identify with.
I've been scouring the web for pieces that reflect as many viewpoints as I can find, but my conclusions about the coverage merely reflect my own bias.