(Photo: Screen Grab via MSNBC)
MSNBC television host Rachel Maddow concluded on a segment of her show last Friday that the administration of former President George W. Bush was trying to bring about the end of the world.
Maddow's conclusion comes from criticism of a recent announcement in a report in Mother Jones last week highlighting that the former president is expected to be the keynote speaker at a fundraiser for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute.
The report describes the organization as: "a group that trains people in the United States, Israel, and around the world to convince Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah. The organization's goal: to 'restore' Israel and the Jews and bring about the second coming of Christ."
Citing a 2004 Village Voice article by Rick Perlstein, Maddow pointed out that the Jews for Jesus group was one of two Christian groups that consulted with the Bush administration's Near East and North African Affairs director Elliott Abrams about foreign policy in the Middle East using the Bible as a guide to discuss matters concerning Israel.
It reads in part:
Claiming to be "the Christian Voice in the Nation's Capital," the members vociferously oppose the idea of a Palestinian state. They fear an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza might enable just that, and they object on the grounds that all of Old Testament Israel belongs to the Jews. Until Israel is intact and Solomon's temple rebuilt, they believe, Christ won't come back to earth.
Abrams attempted to assuage their concerns by stating that "the Gaza Strip had no significant biblical influence such as Joseph's tomb or Rachel's tomb and therefore is a piece of land that can be sacrificed for the cause of peace."
Three weeks after the confab, President George W. Bush reversed long-standing U.S. policy, endorsing Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank in exchange for Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip.
"It was more than just news, it was actually kind of scary that the George W. Bush administration, when we learned how policy toward that part of the world was being made inside the Bush White House," said Maddow.
"These groups wanted the Bush administration to make sure that the borders of Israel lined up exactly with what they thought the Bible said it needed to be in order to bring about the apocalypse," she explained.
In light of the history of the group with the Bush administration, Maddow said it was not surprising that he would be speaking at the group's fundraising event.
"It's an amazing thing," Maddow said. "I mean, everybody's religious beliefs are their own, and by definition in this country, nobody's religious beliefs are better than anyone else's."
On those grounds of personal freedom, Maddow argued that it is perfectly OK for anyone to subscribe to the Jews for Jesus theology. It becomes problematic, she said, when those views are imposed in national foreign policy.
"It does, however, become a news story and conceivably a matter of some debate when your belief that that's what you're supposed to do is driving U.S. foreign policy toward that theological aim," said Maddow.
"And when the people who make foreign policy in this country are consulting with you about what the United States ought to do abroad, then yes, yes, yes, that is news," she explained.
She noted that she couldn't wait for the national archives to take control of the Bush Presidential Library.
"We'll finally get an actual exhibit or a diorama or something about that part of the Bush foreign policy, where it wasn't just an accident that we were almost bringing about the end of the world, it was the point!" she said.