This is a follow-up to something I discussed yesterday, namely the reason for the deep-rooted support of Israel in the United States, particularly among Christians, which leads to a rather one-sided approach to the Middle East conflict. In this, it is at odds with the more prudent approach taken by the Vatican.
Yesterday, I noted that aspects of predestination play a role. But, among many, it goes deeper than that, and reflects the influence of dispensationalism in protestant theology. This arises from John Nelson Darby, founder of the Plymouth Brethren, and includes such bizarre beliefs as the rapture (all "believing" Christians will one day disappear into thin air and go to heaven!) prior to the second coming of Christ. Following the rapture, there is the period of tribulation and Armageddon, and which point Christ returns an establishes a 1000 year reign. Or something along those lines. Dispensationalists are also fond of looking to current events to predict these end times. If you think this is a quirky minority view, think again, and look to the 50 million copies of the "Left Behind" series sold. A poll from 2002 suggests that 59 percent of Americans believe these events will take place. It is noteworthy that the followers of Darby gained great influence in the US, but not elsewhere. This has immense implications for middle eastern policy, as one of the signs of Jesus's return is supposed to be when the Jews return to Israel. Hence fundamentalists are the leading supporters of Israel, especially those on the expansionist, Likud, wing. I think this, above all, explains the widespread tilt toward Israel in the United States.
This is bad theology. Good theology, on the other hand, would recognize that the Jewish people were the chosen people, the first to hear the word of God, and denounce all anti-semitism. The Catechism (#839) notes that "the Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God's revelation in the Old Covenant." They are our "elder brothers" as Pope John Paul II noted. But this does not mean we must support Israel, the state, for theological reasons. Nobody has a divine right to a piece of real estate, especially when others must be displaced from that land. But again, this kind of thinking is not alien to American protestants: John Withrop's famous (infamous?) "city on a hill" speech in 1630 laid claim to the territory of New England for the puritans, and claimed a covenant with God. The problem with divine mandates to land is that the existing inhabitants tend to suffer-- just look at what happened to the native Americans.
So, yes, defend the security and welfare of the Israeli people, but do not assume they have the mandate of heaven to live where they do.