When Benjamin Netanyahu served as Israel's Prime Minister during the late 1990s, I can distinctly recall the physical revulsion I would read into Israeli faces when they would hear of the ties that Bibi had been cultivating with Evangelist Pat Robertson. Told that American Christians were quickly becoming Israel's most devoted Diaspora supporters, I still remember how disappointed even my most politically conservative, Likud-voting friends were to hear about this. Of all people, why them?, everyone seemed to respond. It was as though, in our struggle for recognition and support, even conservatives bemoaned the fact that the only foreigners we could reach out to were people who sincerely hated us.
Granted, there are Israelis who value this 'affection', and see it as a sign of character. But, more often than not, one will find that Israelis of nearly every conceivable conviction, on one level or another, take issue with Americans. Some, for what is perceived to be a provincial approach to Middle Eastern politics, others because they suspect that Israel is a tool for American interests in the region. Though it's hard to imagine Israel's existence without the support of the US, it is equally difficult to stomach the idea that Israelis will learn to indefinitely live with this situation. If we have such ambivalent feelings about our closest ally, what will we think of ourselves if we continue to rely so heavily upon them?
My vinyl copy of Johnny Cash's now out of print 1969 account of his visit to the West Bank's holy sites. Briefly reissued by Harmony records in the late nineties, right after Cash died in 2003, I investigated licensing it on behalf of my former label. From what I recall, the cost would have been far too prohibitive.
Needless to say, this thirty-eight year old half-spoken word, half-sung recording of Johnny & June getting off in places like the Garden of Gethsemane is at its peak of cultural relevance. Christian, Zionist, basking in the significance of Israel's June '67 victory, The Holy Land is in serious need of a critical revival.