An open lecture by visiting Professor Mark Miller of the University of Delaware hosted by Political Studies.  Held in Quad 1 I thought the attendance looked small.  As the lecture got underway it quickly filled out with people arriving at the last moment.

It is the propensity of states to engage in mistaken policies for long and disastrous periods of time

Most Americans don’t care or know about the rest of the world.  (If you are an American reader you may be inclined to disagree.)  The providential nature of America, to be a light on the hill to all the world, assures them of a sense of superiority.

They recognised themselves in the Zionist project.  In the 1890s this was a fanciful idea.  Its history was not manifest.  The Great War of 1914-1918 led to circumstances where Britain gave support to a Jewish homeland (not a state) in Palestine.  A pro-Zionist lobby group was nascent in America.  I would have liked to have heard more about this group and its history.  The Wilson Administration favoured self-determination.  World War II made the Zionist lobby more pronounced in American domestic politics.  Domestic politics has the interest of the nation.  The consequences of the tragic Holocaust led to radical Zionism, adopted by both political parties of American politics.  There was pressure on the British mandate in Palestine to allow more immigration and building of the Jewish state.

Until the beginning of the 1970s America remained evenhanded.  When Britain, France and Israel occupied the Sinai peninsula the Americans ordered them out.  After that time it became good domestic politics to embrace Israel.  Nixon and Kissenger supplied the Israelis with armaments from America.  The Israelis became a major military power in the region.

After that, rinse and repeat.  The hostility between both sides: Arab and Israeli, has become entrenched.  America maintains that it is evenhanded.  Jewish population arrived in America from Eastern Europe at the same time as the Zionist project.  They concentrated in the significant electoral states of America.  Where they are organised voters and campaign supporters.  The political elite are sensitive to this.  Other narrative is silenced. No reference was made to Christian support for Zionism to their own messianic beliefs.  I suspect that this is another important factor for American leaders.

Israel continues in a generation-long trend in its beseiged mentality to radical right-wing politics: xenophobic, anti-alien (including non-Arabs coming from Africa), authoritarian and populist.  The left-wing in Israeli life find it easier to emigrate.

Last year’s Interfaith Peace Lecture in Dunedin was addressed by a progressive rabbi from Wellington who left Israel so his children could grow up without serving in the army.  In the audience was a Palestinian mother who left Palestine for the same reason.  They could acknowledge each other across the room, away from their homeland.

Meanwhile demographics show a trend for a Jewish population governing a non-Jewish majority.

Eventually there will be a re-balancing in the state.  My fear is that the current situation will remain until scarcity at the end of the current age of civilisation causes American patronage to become isolated.  The change will be severe and violent.  It seems to be the only way for it to end.  We can only hope for an optimistic alternative.

The problems created by human beings can eventually be solved by human beings.