Why a hope in the world since Biblical times is officially over

March 11, 2016
Migrants stand next to the Greek-Macedonian border fence, near the Greek village of Idomenii March 1, 2016. Macedonian police fired teargas to disperse hundreds of migrants who stormed the border from Greece on Monday as a deeply divided Europe traded barbs over the biggest humanitarian crisis in decades. As frustrations boiled over at restrictions imposed on people moving through the Balkans, migrants trapped on the Greece-Macedonia border tore down a metal gate in the barbed wire fence. REUTERS/Marko Djurica - RTS8QIB

Migrants stand next to the Greek-Macedonian border fence, near the Greek village of Idomenii March 1, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

A “promised land” has been a constant hope in the world since the Lord promised what became Israel to Abraham, in the Book of Genesis (15:18). Some centuries later, the Lord told Moses (according to Numbers 34) to lead the Israelites out of Egypt to occupy a somewhat smaller space than he had outlined to Abraham — the land east from the Jordan River to the sea.

Zionism was built on these promises, its fulfillment in modern times powered by the Holocaust’s message that defensible land was necessary for the continued existence of the Jews. It’s gone well and badly. In his 2013 book “My Promised Land,” a fine confrontation by an Israeli journalist of the grace and disgrace of his state, Ari Shavit writes: “Israel is the only nation of the West that is occupying another people. On the other hand, Israel is the only nation in the West that is existentially threatened… intimidation and occupation have become the twin pillars of our existence.”

That’s the condition of the “real” promised land. Others were less canonically blessed, but did deliver on some of their promise. The promised land for centuries — since the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, in 1620 — has been North America. The United States promised freedom to the masses yearning to breathe free, or at least make a living. It’s the only country in the world that has, at what was once its main entry point, a statue which promises a welcome to all the huddled masses — a welcome which, in advances and retreats, has remained till now.

Today that spirit of inclusion is waning. Figures from the Pew Research Center show that a majority of Republican voters want a strong barrier along the border with Mexico, and a rising minority doesn’t want automatic U.S. citizenship conferred on the immigrants’ children. Democrats are different: a decade ago, a majority of Democrats and Republicans agreed that illegal immigration should be checked. Today the parties diverge sharply — with less than a third of Democrats holding to that belief, against nearly two-thirds of Republicans. Still, a solid bipartisan majority of 72 percent doesn’t want mass deportation of illegal immigrants if they meet certain requirements: perhaps realizing that to do so would need require the deployment of most of the army, and approach civil war.

Yet popular views shift as elite positions do. When Donald Trump made the Mexican wall and forced repatriation centerpieces of his campaign last autumn, and began winning, his fellow Republican candidates slithered after him. Has Trump’s blunt demand that illegal immigrants be deported and Muslims kept out released popular frustrations and directed them at foreign targets –– so that what had been relatively liberal views are now overturned, including among some Democrats? The New York Times noted that Trump carried both working class and upper middle class areas in his Michigan victory this week. Something is happening, but we don’t know what it is. It is clear, though, that the promise of the land is being sharply reduced.

Europe has never occupied the same place as America, which for centuries welcomed non-conformist English, dispossessed Scots, starving Irish, dirt-poor Italian and Scandinavian peasants, fleeing Jews and many more as they passed through Ellis Island. But Europe is itself a land of promise — of survival for peoples yet more desperate than the Transatlantic voyagers, at first welcomed by some states, Germany and Sweden above all — now spurned, as citizens revolt and stories of attacks, rapes and riots become more common.

Razor wire and fences are up in increasing numbers of states, more are refusing to take the quotas of immigrants proposed by the EU, and far-right, anti-immigrant parties top the opinion polls in Sweden, France and the Netherlands.

The European Union, a much battered, some argue doomed, entity, has tried to strike a deal with Turkey. Under it, every Syrian immigrant who came to Europe without documentation and thus illegally (most) would be returned to Turkey, through which the majority come. For every one returned, a Syrian in a camp in Turkey would be resettled in the EU. The plan — yet to be ratified — is an attempt to impose order. It’s also meant to discourage: to keep people where they are.

The promise of a continent willing to share its space and wealth has gone. Europe — as the anti-immigrant, murdered, Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn used to say of the Netherlands — is full.

This will not be reversed. Even those countries where the birth rate is falling and more working-age immigrants are needed will prefer to offer subsidies to larger families — as France has done, successfully — and strictly control immigration. The masses must huddle at home.

Can some good come of that? It can, but it won’t be cheap. It will need a change of view: a commitment to assist poor countries, to build support  for policies which will encourage people to stay where they are born and improve their societies — as the Oxford economist Paul Collier has recently argued.

For Collier, the problem of mass immigration is twofold. First, it leaves most of the poor where they are: it’s generally the better off who can afford to travel. And because of that, it impoverishes the society by leeching away its more economically active and educated — those who could make a difference.

Making a difference, though, is beyond the reach of poor societies with little to invest and a narrow educated class. That is where the rich countries of the world must intervene: by partnering with states working to improve their economies, helping to educate their people and giving them sufficient freedom to display and be rewarded for their talents.

The United States is pioneering a move in that direction. The $750 million aid package to the Northern Triangle of states in Central America — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — was prompted by the flood of immigrants from these states: and by the same conclusion as Collier’s. As Vice President Joe Biden put it — investment can assist in making these countries “middle class, democratic and secure.”

Nothing in that is easy: it will cost many billions, last for decades, hit many barriers. But the future of the poor world — perhaps of the world — will depend on such a movement. For if the wretched do not have a promised land, and their own remains a zone of war and fear, they will try to take what is not given, and provide ever more support to terrorist groups whose attraction is their hatred of the Western world.

39 comments

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Excellent article, profound point-of-view–those who seek “The Promised Land”.

Posted by Johnnyw | Report as abusive

Complex issues cannot be evaluated and solved by those who believe in magic beings in the sky. Then again, humans act mostly as animals in that what they typically do is often a genetic evolution decision (sometimes subconscious). Civilization is simply a work camp where the poor take care of the needs of the wealthy. The Israelis are no different. They are not brighter or better or different, they are also not worse. I have no expectation that they will ever stop warring nor do they want to. This is typical animal/human behavior. They fight for their silly religion like every other believer in silly religions.

Posted by brotherkenny4 | Report as abusive

The author does not understand cause and effect. If you want people stop fleeing from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, stop bombing them. Even better Mr Bush, Mr Obama, Mrs Clinton, don’t start bombing them in the first place. Also, Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton, don’t support military coups like the one in Honduras.

Posted by nossnevs | Report as abusive

when one argues with an idiot one is a bigger idiot.

Posted by Nietzschele | Report as abusive

Trends are toward worse problems for most humans. Fisheries as a protein source are going due to overfishing and pollution, forest are almost gone in most of the world causing more erosion and flooding of fertile land, sea levels and storm surges are rising and flooding farm land and homes with salt, megacities such as Lagos have populations of >20 million which are more than major European nations 100 years ago, the population increases faster the poorer and more ignorant the parents, …
As other species overpopulate and exhaust food supply, many individuals spread out wider looking for better territory and some survive, while disease and violent competition increase in the “homeland”.
Evolution will have its way, with “human characteristics”.

Posted by Neurochuck | Report as abusive

Global warming will soon massively increase the tide of humanity wanting to flee their homeland. Clearly, tens and hundreds of millions yet alone the eventual billions will not be allowed to do so. Emissions may stop increasing and some of the destructiveness diminished in size, but even the best case scenario will result and the starvation of huge numbers of humans and animals this century. Of course, Republicans don’t give a damn.

Posted by LoveYourEnemy | Report as abusive

Not one word about the third world’s population explosion and its impact on their societies and the subsequent demand to immigrate. Its as if John Lloyd has never heard of the youth bulge.

John, look at the rate of population growth in countries like Syria, Libya, Egypt, etc and tell me that is the prime culprit. Guilt tripping the europeans for not accepting limitless immigration is indefensible.

Posted by GetReel | Report as abusive

The author has ignored the occupation of America, the genocide of American Indians by the newcomers to the land of liberty. What does that say about our morals, when a decimated people do not deserve even a slight comment by a well educated author.

Posted by ofilha | Report as abusive

Jesus is the hope of the world

Posted by stoneon | Report as abusive

Can we please get something striaght?

God NEVER promised ANYTHING to ANYONE. This is the 21st Century, folks … get a grip …

Posted by rebelgroove | Report as abusive

Amazing that we are still influenced by the rantings of primitive semetic tribesmen who spoke with their version of god, were impregnated by angels, had a long and violent history of slavery and slave trading, married their own children, stoned people to death for their religious beliefs (or lack thereof) and seldom bathed and generally conducted themselves in a manner that would land them in prison today labeled as violent offenders or sexual predators.

Posted by dublin13 | Report as abusive

Instead of dropping bombs they should drop condoms.

Posted by Calvin2k | Report as abusive

Does a nation state have the right to limit immigration–especially if such immigration degrades that nation socially, culturally, and economically?

The Western media would like us believe that all immigrants have a ‘human right’ to come to our nations, regardless of the deleterious consequences.

The author of this article conveniently sidesteps the fact that Muslim immigration is rightly seen by many Western nationals as much different and more dangerous than immigration of other groups.

The bottom line is that Western nations cannot accept all those who wish to immigrate to their states, so the question becomes: How many immigrants can we reasonably accept and safely assimilate into our societies.

All over the globe, right-wing groups are gaining popularity for the simple reason that Western media and elites are ignoring the urgent pleas of the populations they have a duty to serve.

Western social justice warriors are manufacturing discontent and instability by creating and feeding the very monstrous views they claim to oppose.

Posted by MaskOfZero | Report as abusive

Consider the Biblical view of hope reflected in the book of Romans:
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Posted by Thorgood3 | Report as abusive

Unfortunately, the author isn’t aware of what Christians hope for as written in Romans 5.

Posted by Thorgood3 | Report as abusive

Overpopulation, coupled with Global Warming, changes the world in fundamental ways that the writers of this article seem to be dimly aware of, if at all.

Posted by Jim1648 | Report as abusive

So, when is the United States going to make a real commitment ($$$) to rebuilding its own Middle Class? Increasing income inequality has all but guaranteed the decimation of the Middle Class within a few years, once considered the bulwark of our democratic (republican) way of life, welcoming everyone who commits to becoming a responsible citizen.

Or, are we becoming the Idiocracy?

Posted by ptiffany | Report as abusive

Pim Fortuyn: “I will not say that the Netherlands is full, but pretty crowded. In my eyes even a little too crowded”.

The world is pretty crowded too, 7.4 billion people and counting. With the current growth rate of 1.13% a year, population doubles every 62 years.
If we continue that way in 9000 years all matter in the physical universe will be turned into human flesh, which is impossible. Strange to think that speed of light puts an absolute limit to human growth.
A more mundane comparison would be to have a mass of humans as big as the earth itself. We will get there within 27 centuries, exactly in the year 4694 AD, at the current population growth.

Posted by freezotic | Report as abusive

Gods don’t kill people, people with gods kill people.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive

The contrast between the article and the comments are more interesting than the article.

Posted by otalP | Report as abusive

“Israel is the only country in the West…” Israel is not in the “West” by any standards. It is in one of the worst neighborhoods of the “East”, and by local standards, is behaving admirably. Members of Tel Aviv cafe society often forget where they are and who they are.

Posted by DDL | Report as abusive

There is no historical record of a Jesus, or an execution of anyone matching the description. It was a made-up story to empower certain people of the “cloth.”

Never believe a “first-hand account” written 300 years later.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

Borders are getting tighter in some places, and looser in others, while there are poor people in some areas. Also, the Bible.

This article is all over the place and makes no sense.

Posted by HansBrickface | Report as abusive

The contrast between the article and the comments provides more context for what is happening than the article.

Posted by otalP | Report as abusive

The inability to distinguish legal vs illegal immigration is epidemic. Have a five minute conversation with someone trying to legally immigrate.

Syria reminds me of Iraq before we removed the despot, set up a democratic government, spent $60 Billion on reconstruction efforts, and $26 Billion rebuilding, training, and equipping a new military and police force.

Posted by HighNoon777 | Report as abusive

According to the Bible, the worst is yet to come. Allot of dire predictions are coming out of the Bible about what is going to happen and the worlds suffering is starting right now.

Posted by Volcilord | Report as abusive

The bible predicts nothing that basic biology and reality does not already predict. Too many people on one planet, fighting for limited resources, fouling the very place where they eat. The bible is make-believe. Human vanity is real. The only salvation is birth control and abortion.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

The Bible, the Koran and all the other “holy” books all seem to say that there is only one “right”way to think and everybody should think that way. May I respectfully ask what has this gotten us over the centuries? Has religion done more to bring the world together or separate us into hate-filled factions, resulted in millions of deaths and used precious resources to destroy and kill instead of heal?

I believe that ALL beliefs are completely correct as long as they are not forced upon others. Protestant, Catholic, Sunni and Shi’ite are all right as each lives in a universe that cannot be disproven.

Posted by Boguseconomist | Report as abusive

The Bible, the Koran and all the other “holy” books all seem to say that there is only one “right”way to think and everybody should think that way. May I respectfully ask what has this gotten us over the centuries? Has religion done more to bring the world together or separate us into hate-filled factions, resulted in millions of deaths and used precious resources to destroy and kill instead of heal?

I believe that ALL beliefs are completely correct as long as they are not forced upon others. Protestant, Catholic, Sunni and Shi’ite are all right as each lives in a universe that cannot be disproven.

Posted by Boguseconomist | Report as abusive

FACT (not opinion): For years Europe “conquered” other people and destroyed
other civilizations. There is this Old Saying which applies to people as well
as to countries: “What goes around, comes around.” MEANING: If YOU believe
that what you do (or not do) has no future consecuences, you are very mistaken.

Posted by From2049 | Report as abusive

People need to stop comparing immigration of today with the immigration that built this country. The US is a different place now and quite populated, as opposed to the wide open spaces. Centuries ago, all were invited to come and build “a new land”. We are now America. So obviously, immigration is different as well. More people aren’t needed but the “invitation” remains for those who want to be PART OF AMERICA. It sounds very uneducated, and a bit deceitful, to have politicians (trying to score points) tell Americans to remember that immigration built this country as they berate us for questioning the illegals and foreigners.

Posted by MCH7s | Report as abusive

Hmmm………………………..HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Posted by FlashTX1 | Report as abusive

Have not heard from God in 2 or 5 thousand years.

Posted by Anads | Report as abusive

I always thought you were biased towards Democrats. Now I know.

Posted by Volnick | Report as abusive

What a left hand spin, that is full of CRAP!

“Figures from the Pew Research Center show that a majority of Republican voters want a strong barrier along the border with Mexico, and a rising minority doesn’t want automatic U.S. citizenship conferred on the immigrants’ children. ”

What does illegal immigration have to do with LEGAL IMMIGRATION?

Posted by Hogbender | Report as abusive

Newsflash Morons: America is an occupied country. Yes; for many, America was the so-called promised land of the bible. As a Native American I can tell you we are definitely OCCUPIED by foreigners of every country on Earth.
There were 500+ Native American tribes and cultures with different laguages and traditions. By the way; how many lands and countrys around the world are an indigenous population destroyed by an invading people from another nation? Do your homework, there are many. This article is garbage propaganda.

Posted by Ogitchidaa | Report as abusive

On the contrary, every nation on earth is occupying another’s ground. You just haven’t gone back far enough in history.

Unfettered immigration is fine when there is no welfare state. Unfortunately, every nation – even the United States – is a welfare state.

Posted by beofaction | Report as abusive

This is a misguided program which the US government is not prepared nor competent to make this work. It also ignores major obstacles like cultures of corruption, no history of effective government, and cultures which are not supportive of the lower economic segment of their citizens.

Posted by GeorgeStoll | Report as abusive

This is all illusion. There is no such thing as governments, or nations, or ownership,or rights, or humans beings. These are all arbitrary “concepts”. Lies that we are brainwashed with basically for crowd control. If you actually worry about these fictional conditions, then your brain is well and truly scrubbed. You are an organelle of the single organism native to the surface of this planet. And you cannot survive without the entire organism of DNA forms to support you. Everything that has been projected at you with language and literature is no more real than the giant, invisible, magic, being in the sky that supposedly created you simply to worship itself. Wake up and realize you are the universe. Go out side and seek harmony with reality while you can. Leave the matrix.

Posted by PalmerGranite | Report as abusive