Thursday, January 05, 2006

Fear the God of Deed Restrictions

[[H U H ?]] * With Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in critical condition after a massive stroke, and unlikely to return to power, you’d think that televangelist and former GOP presidential candidate Pat Robertson might think twice about damning him to hell. But no, opportunistic Pat doesn’t miss a chance to prove that he knows what lies behind God’s mysterious ways. Speaking today on his TV show, The 700 Club, Robertson informed his followers that Sharon’s illness, together with Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995, were clear signals from the Almighty that He doesn’t approve of efforts to “carve up” Israel:

I have said last year that Israel was entering into the most dangerous period of its entire existence as a nation. That is intensifying this year with the loss of Sharon. Sharon was personally a very likable person. I am sad to see him in this condition. But I think we need to look at the Bible and the Book of Joel. The prophet Joel makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who, quote, “divide my land.” God considers this land to be his. You read the Bible, he says, “This is my land.” And for any prime minister of Israel who decides he going carve it up and give it away, God says, “No. This is mine.” And the same thing--I had a wonderful meeting with Yitzhak Rabin in 1974. He was tragically assassinated, and it was terrible thing that happened, but nevertheless, he was dead. And now Ariel Sharon, who was again a very likable person, a delightful person to be with. I prayed with him personally. But here he is at the point of death. He was dividing God’s land, and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU, the United Nations or United States of America. God said, “This land belongs to me, you better leave it alone.”
It strikes me as strange--and perhaps even dangerous--that anyone takes this guy seriously. Robertson is a self-promoter, not so very different from fellow televangelists Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker, except that the controversies he stirs up tend to be political and perplexing, rather than sexual and scandalous. You’ll remember that it was partisan Pat who, back in August, called for the assassination of Venezuela’s leftist president, Hugo Chávez (only to later contend he’d been “misinterpreted”). Then, in mid-November, Robertson went off on residents of the Dover, Pennsylvania, after they voted decisively to fire all eight of their school board members for supporting “intelligent design.” “If there is a disaster in your area,” he told Doverites, “don’t turn to God, you just rejected him from your city.” That anyone would listen to him now, when he proclaims that a vengeful God has decided to smite a 77-year-old politician with serious prior health problems for trying to end the Israeli-Palestinian standoff, requires at least as much gullibility as it does faith.

READ MORE:Robertson Says Ariel Sharon’s Illness Is Punishment from God,” by Steve Benen (The Carpetbagger Report); “Robertson Links Sharon’s Stroke to Wrath” (CBS News); “Robertson’s Like-Minded Cohorts,” by Steve Benen (The Carpetbagger Report); “Robertson Out of the Club?” by Brian Montopoli (Public Eye); “After Sharon: What Ariel Sharon’s Stroke Means for His Political Party--and for Israel-Palestine Relations,” by Anna Reimann (Der Spiegel).

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