Samuel Johnson once said: “when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” Apparently, nothing concentrates Pat Robertson’s mind more than a $50-million investment opportunity rapidly going south. Otherwise, how else to explain Pat’s “sort of” apology sent via a letter to Omri Sharon and announced simultaneously at PatRoberson.com and via the media.
For a brief recap, Robertson made one of his famous “the Lord struck him down because he sinned” pontifications (I realize that’s an inapt word choice for an anti-papist like Pat) regarding Ariel Sharon’s stroke. Misusing the Book of Joel, he tried to make the point that God supposedly smites those who “divide His land” (referring to Sharon’s Gaza disengagement plan). I’d half expected to see the proverbial Robertson apology by now (“I didn’t really say what I said, it was all a conspiracy by the left-wing media to set the world agin’ me”).
But Pat uncharacteristically stuck to his guns and said nothing. Until, that is the Israeli government threw him out of the evangelical consortium developing the ridiculously named Jesusland project in the Galilee. Then it was like a donkey kicked Pat in the ribs and he finally realized he’d gone too far.
I’ve called the Reverend’s statement an apology. But that doesn’t do it justice. It’s a weird combination of explaining away the offense, contrition and obtuseness. Not your typical apology by a long shot. He continues to fraudulently rewrite the Book of Joel in order to bolster his alleged argument. For more on Pat’s distortion of the Good Book, see my post. HamptonRoads.com carries the story of Robertson’s apology. Here are a few passages from his letter to Sharon:
I expressed on television my sadness for his condition and my warm regard for him as a person…
Regrettably few if any of these heartfelt sentiments were carried by the news media here in America or by the news media in Israel. However, I ask your forgiveness and the forgiveness of the people of Israel for remarks I made at the time concerning the writings of the holy prophet Joel and his view of the inviolate nature of the land of Israel.
I personally feel very passionate about the…divine claim of the Jewish people to Eretz Israel what has been called Judea and Samaria. My zeal…led me to make remarks which I can now view in retrospect as in appropriate and insensitive in light of a national grief experienced because of your father’s illness. I ask your forgiveness and the forgiveness of the people of Israel for saying what was clearly insensitive at the time…
Please be assured of my prayers and best wishes in this time of your grief. With warm personal regards I remain…
A few notes on Robertson’s comments. First, Joel does not embrace the view that the land of Israel is “inviolate.” Nowhere, does it use that term or anything remotely like it. Joel DOES say that Israel was divided up by conquerors and the Jews sent into exile because they fell away from God’s law. But division of the land was caused by sin. Dividing the land was NOT one of those sins.
Next, you’ll notice how tone deaf Robertson is in raising his arm in salute of the Greater Land of Israel movement (hence his usage of the terms Judea and Samaria and reference to the “divine claim of the Jewish people to Eretz Israel”). Apparently, no one’s told him that Sharon has abandoned the settler movement and many of its bedrock principles. You will not hear Ariel Sharon today (if you could hear him) talking about divine claims. Thankfully, he’s become enough of a pragmatist to realize that such rhetoric is no longer useful in the current political context. So get with it Pat. You’re supporting a rump movement in Israel on its way out.
Now let’s compare what Robertson’s “apology” above to the original statement he made on the 700 Club. All those allegedly “heartfelt sentiments” are fully quoted below. But tell me whether these are the remarks of a person who could rightfully claim that when he speaks of Israel “I always speak as a friend:”
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.”