God, I’ve had it with Pat Robertson. Bless his pointy little head and big mouth. Whenever he opens it there’s sure to be dreck spewing out. People for the American Way carry the transcript and video of the “performance:”
…I said last year that Israel was entering into the most dangerous periods of its entire existence as a nation. That is intensifying this year with the loss of Sharon. Sharon was personally a very likable person and 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 “divide my land.” God considers this land to be His. You read the Bible and He says “this is my land” and for any Prime Minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says “no, this is mine.”
I had a wonderful meeting with Yitzhak Rabin in 1974. He was tragically assassinated, it was a terrible thing that happened but nevertheless he was dead. And now Ariel Sharon who again was a very likable person, a delightful person to be with, I prayed with him personally, but here he’s 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 the United States of America. God says “this land belongs to me. You’d better leave it alone.”
I almost hate to indulge in theological dispute with Pat Robertson because his entire mindset is so repellent to me. But in this case, since his statements about Sharon were so odious, I cannot allow him to hijack the Jewish prophetic tradition to bolster his despicable arguments. After looking through Joel, I can see several passages that would be especially attractive to the End of Days-Hate the Heathen type of guy Pat is:
I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy; your elders shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions…And I will perform signs in the heavens and on the earth: Blood, fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall turn to darkness, and the moon to blood, prior to the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever shall call in the name of the Lord shall be delivered, for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be a deliverance…
For behold, in those days and in that time when I return the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and I will take them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will contend with them there concerning My people and My heritage, Israel, which they scattered among the nations, and My land they divided. And upon My people they cast lots, and they gave a boy for a harlot, and a girl they sold for wine, and they drank. And also, what are you to Me, Tyre and Sidon and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying Me recompense? And if you are recompensing Me, I will swiftly return your recompense upon your head…And the children of Judah and the children of Jerusalem you have sold to the children of the Jevanim, in order to distance them from their border. Behold I arouse them from the place where you sold them, and I will return your recompense upon your head…Announce this among the nations, prepare war, arouse the mighty men; all the men of war shall approach and ascend. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears; the weak one shall say, “I am mighty.” Gather and come, all you nations from around, and they shall gather; there the Lord shall break your mighty men. The nations shall be aroused and shall go up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations from around.
—Book of Joel, chapters 3-4
We can discuss the actual historical context of the events described here, but that doesn’t interest Pat. He’s not interested in understanding the meaning or context of the Biblical text. He’s merely interested in projecting his own twisted theological/political worldview upon it.
The Book of Joel speaks of great tragedies inflicted upon the land of Israel and its people by its enemies. It exhorts the Israelites to return to their God and repent their sins so those who’ve sold their children into slavery will get their due in misery.
The vision of the nations gathering in the valley of Jehosephat (literally “God judges”) is a classic text in the Christian messianic tradition. Further, the passage I italicized might be read by Robertson as alluding to the Arabs (and certainly the Palestinians) who caused suffering to Israel in the course of numerous wars against the Jewish state; which would of course further his bigoted anti-Muslim agenda. And Pat certainly loves the martial imagery of the Israelites beating their plowshares into spears. He must really love it when he sees the IDF attack Palestinians. It must fulfill his prophetic vision of Israel at perpetual war with its enemies. But “you know who” will of course come along in Pat’s prophetic dream, judging all the nasties in the valley of Jehosephat and thereby put an end to all that. And then there won’t be any Jews or Muslims. We’ll all be subsumed under the one great all-encompassing (or should I say “overwhelming”) religion, Christianity. Well, excuse me if I say “hold on a minute.”
And of course the passage has nothing to do with the current political situation in Israel-Palestine. While Joel DOES say that the land belongs to God, nowhere does the text say anything remotely like “You better leave it alone.” While Joel DOES say that God will punish those who “divide My land,” He means to punish foreign nations which conquered Israel and NOT an Israeli political leader chosen by his compatriots as Ariel Sharon was. These are Robertson’s falsifications of the text in order to mold it in his own pro-settlement image. Robertson’s fake foray into prophetic channeling bespeaks the dangers of abusing sacred text for one’s own fraudulent purposes. Robertson’s interpretations are absolutely treif (‘unkosher’ or ‘forbidden’). They offend me as a Jew who cares about my own religious traditions and their interpretation by others.
Robertson’s press spokesperson further stuck her foot in it in trying to defend his lunacy:
Robertson spokeswoman Angell Watts said of people who criticized the comments: “What they’re basically saying is, ‘How dare Pat Robertson quote the Bible?'”
“This is what the word of God says,” Watts told the AP. “This is nothing new to the Christian community.”
First, Pat didn’t quote the Bible. He merely paraphrased it and badly at that. Second, he may be faithfully rendering a Christian messianic interpretation of the text. But it is no interpretation that I or the vast majority of Jews would recognize or accept. Third, while his fantastical view of the text may not be new to “the Christian community” (read “evangelicals” as Pat does NOT represent “the Christian community”) it would be new to many of the rest of us (and there are a few in the world who have not yet “seen the light” and “come over” to the Lord).
Be ready for another Pat Robertson “day after” apology along the lines of what he was forced to do after advocating the assassination of Hugo Chavez. Abe Foxman, after denouncing Robertson, will probably make nice and let bygones be bygones. Me, I don’t have to be so nice. Robertson is a spook, a really bad dude. Bad for Jews, bad for Christians, hell, he’s even bad for evangelicals since he makes them look like such loons. Why his fellow preachers don’t ride him out of town on a rail I don’t know.
In short, Ariel Sharon suffered his stroke for many reasons (age, weight, stress level) but not one of them had anything to do with “Dr.” Robertson’s diagnosis. Israeli politics will go on and the peace process (truncated as it has been under Sharon) will continue. Either Ehud Olmert or Amir Peretz will win the upcoming elections and lead Israel that much closer to a lasting peace. Or Bibi Netanyahu will win and take Israel in the other direction. But even if that dreadful outcome occurs, Netanyahu will eventually go the way of the dodo bird and resign as PM. Then the peace process will resume as it has to because the reality of the Middle East doesn’t allow for wild-eyed prophecies of the type spouted by Rev. Pat. Israel and Palestine have both lost enough blood spilled by their sons and daughters. They need no outsiders to egg them on to further futile violence.
“Will no one rid us of this meddlesome priest?” Pat begone. You’ve already done enough damage. Every time you open your mouth you only do more. Can’t someone shut this guy up?
And since we’re quoting prophetic wisdom here, let’s conclude with a latter-day prophet, Bob Dylan, and his Masters of War:
And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand o’er your grave
‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead
Lord help me I know it’s harsh. But I feel we’ve all been long-suffering from the odious spew of this guy long enough. So maybe I don’t wish his death. But what about the Lord sending Pat a bolt of lightning which would shut him up for the rest of his days. Would that be asking too much, Lord?