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The following article was written by Philip Jarman. In it he discusses some of the theological short comings of Christian Zionism. Philip is a regular follower of this blog and this article is his personal reflection on this issue.

CRAIG NIELSEN

A Personal Introduction :
This paper is my summary challenge to Christians who argue that there is a supportable interpretation of the Bible regarding Israel’s activities in the land of Palestine. I contend there is No such support. Christians in our generation need to know that there is historical scholarship for a valid Biblical point of view which dissolves the arguments that support Christian Zionism. Christian Zionism is defined loosely as unreserved support for the actions of the present nation of Israel justified by a misguided belief that Jews must be re-gathered to their ancient lands prior to the Lord’s return.

Of itself, this paper does not claim to be a work of theological scholarship, but it does lean heavily on the work of three well qualified theologians for its Biblical accuracy and continuity. The study of theology depends on both the sincerity and the humility of a scholar in order to permit the Scriptures themselves to interpret Scripture. To this exercise we truly bring …….no new thing. Faithfully using this method avoids the human pitfalls of presuming the meaning with only partial information or bringing preconceived human notions to the Bible in order to justify them.

After some years of casual study, I conclude that the sources I have used are faithful to the whole counsel of God and that this paper is worthy of your consideration.. I contend that a great many Christians are supporting a Zionist regime because they assume that Dispensationalism, the popular eschatology of our time, is the only option.
If this is your position, you will for certain have come under pressure to support Zionism which lays aside all the Christian principles you have learned in the Sermon on the Mount for policies that are nothing short of “Apartheid” toward the Palestinians. I urge you therefore to carefully re-consider the matter so that your support is properly placed in the cause of justice and mercy.
Sincerely, Philip Jarman voyageur@voyageur.co.cr 8 February 2014

References
1- Abraham’s Four Seeds – John G. Reisinger http://www.amazon.com/Abrahams-Four-Seeds-John-Reisinger/dp/0966084543/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1390963079&sr=1-1&keywords=abraham%27s+four+seeds
2. The Momentous Event – W.J. Grier
http://www.amazon.com/Momentous-Event-W-J-Grier/dp/0851510205/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1390963244&sr=1-1&keywords=W.J+grier+The+momentous+event
3. Sermons on Romans 11 – Martyn Lloyd Jones
http://www.mljtrust.org/search/?q=romans+11

Without doubt, the present nation of Israel, reconstituted in Palestine, by a unilateral United Nations decree dated at sundown 14 May 1948, has been responsible for disturbing years of peaceful coexistence between Jew and Muslim in the land . Wherever there is controversy, books and articles follow passionately written from differing points of view each seeking to explain or justify one side or the other. This is doubly so in this case because the arbitrary decision to insert a nation called Israel into an already settled Palestine was pre-loaded with religious implications for three of the world’s major religions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

The purpose then of this paper is to republish the historical Biblical interpretation of God’s promises to Abraham, which if graciously received, will bring a correct perspective to Christians who want to do the right thing by the Jewish people and to also promote peace in a troubled area of the world.

Contrary to the world’s historical record, the Christian worldview itself is not antagonistic toward the Jews. However, confused persons through the centuries, who have claimed association with Christianity have been intensely anti-semitic to the extremes of tragic persecution and death.

But Christian doctrine, rightly held, rejects the evil they have perpetrated on the Jewish people. Christianity recognizes that Abraham’s Natural Seed (the Jews ) were the family first, and then the nation that was chosen to bring the Lord Jesus Christ into the world. He arrived in time, to live perfectly under the Mosaic Law, and then to become the Acceptable Sacrifice for all who would believe that his death would pay for their sin. Ironically, the Jews were also the people that brought about his death on a Roman cross. But Christianity also believes that God the Father sovereignly planned that Sacrifice in eternity past, and that God the Son was obedient unto death in order to save Abraham’s Spiritual Seed. These are people, from all ages, both Jew and Gentile, who would believe experimentally that His death covers their sin and that they are delivered from the curse of the Law. *(…the soul that sinneth, it shall die. Ezekiiel 18:4 )

The Bible tells the story of Abraham and the promises made to the natural and the spiritual seed. If we understand and embrace this interpretation as the Divine plan, we will not become pawns in support of the present day Israel’s irrational drive for racial mastery in the land of Palestine.

To begin, if God in three persons, planned before the foundation of the world to rescue a people for His Name, (the Church), then that plan must emerge in Genesis and conclude in Revelation and the whole counsel of God on the matter be complete in Holy Writ.
God called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees (1) to be the human instrument for this plan. But , Abraham and Sarah had problems conceiving, so Abraham fathered

(1) Genesis 12:1-3

Ishmael by an Egyptian servant girl Hagar. Ishmael under God’s promise of Abraham’s natural seed, became the father of 10 nations known as the Arabs. (2) But then God permitted Abraham through a deliberate preplanned miracle, to father Isaac when he and his wife Rachel were humanly – too old to have children. Isaac, unlike Ishmael, was identified by God as Abraham’s Spiritual Seed. (3) Isaac in turn, married Rebekah and fathered twin sons Esau and Jacob. Again, it was God himself who chose Jacob as the spiritual seed and left Esau as he was – a natural seed.(4)
As difficult as it may seem to our sense of fairness, God chose some from Abraham’s family to be the Spiritual Seed who would believe the Gospel of a coming deliverance through a Messiah, and he left the rest in their unbelief.
So two peoples were at one and the same time–inside Abraham’s family – The Spiritual Seed, those who believed in the promise of the Messiah (5) and those who,
¬¬¬¬although natural sons of Abraham, did not believe. Further, Abraham , Isaac and Jacob were all in their turn, the spiritual Fathers of the Spiritual Seed for the Gentiles of all the ages. (6)

The Old Testament then, is the Jews earthly story and the beginnings of a heavenly story for all peoples. Through the Hebrews, and the resulting nation of Israel, God produced a type or an illustration of the Church. The nation of Israel itself, was brought into existence from Jacob’s enslaved descendants in Egypt on the night the death angel passed over the Hebrew homes that had the blood of a lamb daubed on the lintel and door posts . In the Egyptian homes all the first born died. In the Hebrew homes marked by blood, everyone lived. (7)

This is a type of the Lord’s crucifixion. As the Hebrews were protected by the blood daubed about the door, all who are covered by Christ’s blood sacrifice will look to Him and be justified (made righteous) and live forever. (8) Those that do not, though they live for a time on earth, are under an eternal sentence of death.

The Exodus from Egypt is the saga of God’s patient work with an earthly people to whom he gave the Law and the Oracles . Yet despite the Red Sea crossing , the firey pillar, the manna and quail, the rock in the desert that spewed a river of water, the people built an idol at the foot of the mountain while God was writing the 10 commandments on Moses’ tablets of stone (9). The majority in the nation were rebellious unbelievers and because of their failure to believe Joshua and Caleb concerning the promised land, God made them wander in the desert for 40 years until all the adults who had left Egypt had died.

You can read the rest of the story for yourself as the pattern remains the same . In every generation through to the birth of the Messiah, God called only a remnant from the nation of Israel to believe the Gospel of the Messiah’s future saving work on a the Roman cross . These were the Spiritual Seed of Abraham and the remainder of the nation were left in their superstition , idolatry and unbelief.

(2) Genesis 21:13 (3) Genesis 21:12 (4) Romans 9: 11-13 (5) Galations 3:26 (6) Galations 3 24-29
(7) Exodus 12:13 (8)Isaiah 45:2 (9) Exodus 32:1
As to the land, when God promised Abraham the land of Palestine,(10) it was also a type of things to come . It’s true that following the Exodus from Egypt, Joshua more or less conquered the land. But Israel, because of disobedience, had only partial success through the time of the Judges and the Kings. Rebellion and unbelief eventually caused them to be judged for their idolatry and taken into captivity in Babylon.

When Abraham received the land promise he knew that he was not looking for the ultimate fulfillment of the promise on earth (11) . Abraham knew that if Israel as a nation was to bring forth the Messiah, an earthly territory would indeed be necessary, but he also knew that the land was a type of a heavenly kingdom which he would one day see in glory.

God’s promises for an eternal kingdom and eternal rights to the land of Palestine were also made Conditional. (12) If then the condition of obedience was broken what of the promise ? We know from the Biblical record in the prophets , that the majority of the people of Israel rebelled against God, burned their children in the fire to Moloch, worshipped many false Gods and forsook the Gospel. In fact, the prophets were ruthlessly killed because their message was damning to the majority conscience.(13) So God stopped sending prophets 400 years before the Messiah although there was always the Gospel by which a remnant in every generation were saved.

When Jesus did come, the scribes and Pharisees had so modified the Law of Moses and the Gospel, that a whole set of human traditions had been overlaid on top of the Sinai Law perverting its meaning. When you read the Sermon on the Mount, (14) look for all the corrections Jesus made to their errors. They hated him for it, for they had what they wanted ,- respect from men. As far as they were concerned, any and all excuses to reject Jesus’ authority over them were valid.

The crucifixion without doubt is the pivotal point in history. The Old Testament and New Testament are on different sides of the crucifixion, yet they both proclaim that the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is the same and Jew and Gentile from Abraham to the last trumpet are now members of the Bride of Christ – the Church.

When Jesus died the veil of the temple, the heavy curtain through which only one priest per year passed to offer sacrificial blood for atonement, was ripped by God the Father from the top to the bottom because a Holy of Holies was no longer needed. The Priesthood of the Believer had been established .

At the resurrection, the Hebrew nation and all the ceremonial law depicting Jesus’ sacrifice were also finished . The nation through sovereign Providence had fulfilled its role all the way from Abraham to the cross. In 70 AD the Roman General Titus

(10) Psalm 105: 6-11 (11) Hebrews 11: 8-10 (12) Deuteronomy 30: 15-20 (13) Hebrews 11: 36-40
destroyed the last vestiges of the nation and its religion by slaughtering the inhabitants of Jerusalem and destroying the temple completely .

The Lord predicted this would happen for with His ascension to his Heavenly throne and the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the “Israel of God” was now proclaimed a spiritual kingdom. There was no further need of earthly types. The Nation of Israel had fulfilled the purpose for which God had brought it into existence in the land of Palestine and it is now gone forever. The Bible needs no other support, but it is significant, that some important sects who are current followers of Judaism agree that God has never recalled Israel, to the land.

At Pentecost , as Jesus promised, the followers of Christ were visited by the Holy Spirit and empowered . In one day 3000 souls from many nations and tongues were converted to begin spreading the message out across the world .

The apostles, those that had been chosen by the Lord, and Paul who had been under the Lord’s instruction in the third heaven, are our best authority on just how to view these events. They interpret the Old Testament in many passages of the New Testament. The literal depictions of the Old Testament then, should never be imposed on the New Testament . The prophets knew and accepted the Gospel of the coming Messiah, but when they did prophesy the future, they saw only shadows and types. The New Testament apostles therefore interpret with authority the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and their interpretation declares that the Lord now reigns in His Kingdom in heaven (15) and that the time that has elapsed since his ascension are the days prophesied by the prophet Joel. (16) The next and final event we can anticipate is the Last Trumpet – His Second Coming, where ALL the dead of ALL ages will be raised to stand before him.(17)

So what of the Jews ? Is God finished with them?
Following the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus the Jews were dispersed throughout the nations . They clung to the memory of their Old Testament privilege and based on portions of Old Testament scripture called the Talmud, they founded the religion of Judaism . Over the centuries their have been many conversions to Judaism among non-Semite peoples . So who among the Jews today, are Abraham’s natural seed? I am sure there are many, but not one of them is able to trace his lineage with any certainty to the Jews of Jesus time. Therefore any self-proclaimed racial identity is a voluntary willingness to be associated with either the religion of Judaism, the present Jewish culture or the political movement Zionism.

Nevertheless, Paul the apostle in Romans 11 says that God still has plans for the descendants from Abraham’s natural seed. But do not make the mistake of equating Jews with the former nation of Israel or any present counterfeit. Paul prophesies in the book of Romans that one day the Jews will recognize their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, and will turn en masse to Him in repentance and faith .(18)

(14) Matthew 5 (15) Acts 2: 29-35 (16) Acts 2:14-21 (17) 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17 (18) Romans 11:26
He also says that this event will strengthen and encourage the Church world wide and that this will all come to pass during this present Kingdom Age . (19)

This knowledge does not define the day or the hour of the second Coming but the Holy Spirit through Paul does promise that God will save his people the Jews before Jesus returns. As in every age, there has been a remnant of believing Jews and so there will be again. The Jews as individual persons will be converted wherever they are on the earth and their conversion grafts them into the Church, the Bride of Christ and the Heavenly Kingdom.

The land of Palestine or the current nation of Israel is irrelevant to the fulfillment of this prophecy. None of the New Testament writers make any reference to a re-gathered Jewry in the land of Palestine. The apostles agree with Abraham that they look for a heavenly Kingdom which is far better than an earthly one.(20) Admittedly this is an argument from their silence, but the New Testament writers were all Jews and they were under pressure from the Jews who were certain that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was bent on destroying their religion. Surely, under the circumstances, if national Israel was to be a factor in the future, the apostles would have mentioned it.

So how should this impact your view of the present tragedy in Palestine ?
Using the Nazi Holocaust for all its worth and more, the Zionist movement has persuaded much of the western world to hold their peace while they carry out “ethnic cleansing” on the Palestinians, wholesale expulsions from their historic lands, and acts of aggression against neigboring Arab nations — all in the name of a resurgent nation of Israel.

If the historical perspective in this paper is correct, many Christians are in real danger of being complicit in quietly accepting the Zionist Program for reasons that are not Biblical. The Zionists are not Joshua cleansing the land under God’s specific instructions; Orthodox Jews who have lived peacefully for centuries in the land of Palestine, oppose Israel because they have no confidence that God has ended the Diaspora ; …and finally, the Lord Jesus Christ has given us the Sermon on the Mount to guide us in our behavior and all Christians should therefore be compelled by conscience to advocate a peaceful compromise that foundationally, establishes true democracy and human rights for all ?

(19) Romans 11: 32-33 (20) Hebrews 11: 8-10

PHILIP JARMAN

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The follwoing article was written by the Rabbis of Neturei Karta. They challenge the Zionist understanding of the meaning of the Holocaust and reject the Zionists efforts to use the Holocaust as a means to further Israel’s political goals and oppression of the Arabs of Palestine.

Tragic Irony: 60 Israeli Knesset Members Coming to Auschwitz to Push Their Agenda

On January 27, 2014, the largest ever delegation of Knesset members will convene on the grounds of Auschwitz together with Holocaust survivors, for a gathering on combating anti-Semitism. The Israeli delegation will include senior representatives of the IDF and the Chief Rabbis of the State of Israel. They will be joined by a large number of elected officials from around the world, including Europe and a senior bi-partisan group of leaders from the U.S. Congress.

Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein said, “Anti-Semitism, especially in Europe, has reached a level unprecedented since the end of the Holocaust.” Noting the “importance and urgency” of combatting global anti-Semitism, he warns “we must not wait until the trains start going to Auschwitz-Birkenau once again.”

Once again, the Zionists are using the Holocaust to justify and gain support for their state. The blood of the six million cries out to us from the earth, and we are outraged. Who gave the Zionists the right to use our grandparents’ blood for their political purposes?

The irony deepens when we look back at history and see that while the Holocaust was happening, it was the Zionists who refused to lift a finger to rescue Jews. With the infamous slogan “Only through blood will the land be ours,” they passed up rescue opportunities in the hopes that if the Jewish people suffered enough, the post-war world would grant them the state they so desired.

Today’s Zionists are no better. Publicly they bemoan rising anti-Semitism in Europe, but privately they rub their hands and think of all the new immigrants to the State of Israel this will produce.

Furthermore, it is they who are most responsible for causing today’s European anti-Semitism. The false stereotypes of the Jew propagated by the Nazis are long gone, but new hatred has been aroused by the Israelis’ stealing the Palestinian people’s land and not allowing them to return to their homes or enjoy basic rights. This might well have remained only anti-Zionism, not anti-Semitism, had the Zionists not insisted on claiming to be the representatives of the Jewish people. Nowhere is this more glaring than in the current memorial ceremony at Auschwitz, where the Jewish people – who suffered in the Holocaust – is represented by the Knesset and the Israeli army.

This is not to mention the new anti-Semitism in the Middle East, which is completely a product of Zionism. Prior to Zionism, Jews lived for centuries alongside Muslims and Arabs throughout the Middle East, including Palestine, in complete harmony.

The Torah teaches that Jews are in exile and must respect the nations among whom they live. The Torah forbids Jews to have their own state. It goes without saying that Jews are forbidden by the Torah to steal land, kill or expel anyone. And precisely because we the experienced of the Holocaust, our tolerance and respect for others should be enhanced – not use our suffering as an excuse to oppress others as the Zionists do. We firmly believe that following the path of the Torah is the only and best way to prevent future anti-Semitism.

With all of the above in mind, the current Zionist ceremony is nothing less than a brutal affront to the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust.
May the Almighty protect His creations from any future genocide.
May G-d bring about a speedy and peaceful end to the Zionist state, and may Jews and non-Jews live peacefully together everywhere in the world.

The following article was written by one of the Rabbis at Neturei Karta. Neturei Karta is an Orthodox Jewish movement that rejects Zionism and does not recognise the Zionist State of Israel as a legitimate heir to the promises of G-d to the Jewish people. While they are a fairly small group at the moment, their views on the subject corespond to what was until recently the majority mainstream Orthodox position. I beleive their ideas concerning Zionism and Judaism are correctly reflective of the true teachings of the Old Testament. Their testimony desperately needs to be heard by the Western World.

Why do Orthodox Jews refuse to serve in the Israeli army?
Dec. 20, 2013

Opposition to Zionism and the State of Israel is not just our position; it’s the position of all traditionally Orthodox Jews today. Nowhere is this fact more prominent than in the battle going on right now in the State of Israel over the military draft.

For hundreds of years before the Zionists created their state, there existed an Orthodox Jewish community in Palestine. These Jews had no political aspirations; their only goal was to live out their days on the holy soil, studying the Torah and worshipping the Almighty. When the ideology of Zionism was born, they wanted no part in the new movement, because the Torah teaches that the Holy Land was given to the Jews by G-d and was taken away from them 2000 years ago by G-d. Since G-d sent the Jews into exile, only He can redeem them from exile. The Torah forbids us to fight wars or to have our own state.

Needless to say, this small but longstanding Orthodox community in Palestine lived on the best of terms with its Palestinian neighbors. This peaceful coexistence was typical of Jews living throughout the Middle East in Muslim countries prior to Zionism.

When the state was founded in 1948 through massive land theft, murder and expulsion of the Palestinian people, the Orthodox community was repulsed by the Zionists’ immoral conduct and refused to serve in their lawless army, the deceptively named “Israel Defense Force.”

The Zionists, in order to uphold the facade of full control over the Holy Land and representing the whole of Jewry, decided that rather than confront the Orthodox Jewish community, they would simply exempt them under the pretext that they were students in school. And so a deal was worked out in 1948 under which Orthodox Jews, who all studied in Torah academies, would be granted a students’ exemption. Although this was far from ideal, since it effectively made it impossible for an Orthodox man to leave school and support his family, the community has managed to survive until now.
By 2012, the number of students receiving exemptions had grown to almost 50,000.

Of course, there are untold numbers of others who due to the fact that they do not want to give any recognition to the State of Israel, therefore they simply do not obtain any government papers and are not registered. Again, for the most part, the Zionists have turned a blind eye, fearing that the world would become aware of the ugly truth, that they are not the “Jewish” state they claim to be – that the Jews true to Judaism totally reject their states existence.

Last year, after the Israeli Supreme Court struck down the law granting students exemption, the Orthodox community was left without a legal means of avoiding service. The government is now giving them the choice of army service or prison. And for the highly principled Orthodox community, the choice is clear. Orthodox young men have already begun going to prison.

As one member of the Jerusalem Jewish community commented: “For all these years we have suffered indescribably under Israeli rule, yet persevered by insulating our communities and preserving our way of life. Now they want to take us away and force us to fight in their army. They want us to rebel against the Almighty, oppress and massacre another people, help them make enemies in the world and portray us as partners in their military campaigns.”

Clearly, the Zionists are embarrassed by the Orthodox Jews’ refusal to join them, and that is why they are trying to force them into the army. The Zionist goal is clearly to oppress or be rid of all who stand in their way, whether non-Jewish or Jewish. It should be clear to the world that they don’t represent Jews or Judaism.

The Orthodox Jews of the Holy Land, with the help of the Almighty, will continue to go to jail and submit to whatever punishments the state can devise, but they will not succumb to this decree of forced conscription. And we, their brethren in America and throughout the world, support them all the way.

We pray to the Almighty for a speedy, peaceful and total dismantlement of the Zionist State of Israel.

OrthodoxJews1

Thousands of Anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews protesting outside the Israeli military Prison Six, where Jews are held for their refusal to serve in the IDF, December 9, 2013

Banner reads: We are all ready to go to prison!

orthodoxJews2
Banner reads: Right – The entire history of the Zionists is one long chain of bloodshed, may G-d spare us. Zionism is the source of all suffering in the world, whether spiritual or physical. Left – We will fill up all the prisons, both military and civilian, but we will never betray our true ideals.

Some of the most prominent anti-Zionist religious Jewish leaders of Jerusalem
OrthodoxJews3

Anyone reading the articles posted on this blog will be able to see for themselves the reasons why I am not a believer in the very popular heresy known as Christian Zionism, but for the sake of those who don’t have the time to look through all the articles on this site, I thought I would briefly lay out my basic complaints with this so called Biblical doctine.

My first issue is with the Christian Zionist claim that (according to the Bible) God has unconditionally given the land of Israel-Palestine (call it IP in the rest of this post) to the Jewish people such that they own the land and therefore have the right to take it and do anything they wish with it. Christian Zionists claim that God has given the Jewish people “the title deed” to the land and hence since they own the land, they have the right to dispossess any non-Jews from the land regardless of how long or how many of them have lived there in the past or present.

This claim is so patently wrong that it amazes me that any serious reader of the Bible could hold to it. For the last two thousand years, no Orthodox Jew has ever believed that Jews have an unconditional right to IP.  The Orthodox Jewish understanding of thier relationship to IP is grounded in their concept of exile and redemption. According to this view, based on what Christians call the Old Testament of the Bible,  Jewish enterance and habitation of the land is absolutely conditional upon their adherance to the teachings of the Torah. Teachings that (apart from many other requirements) demand that non-Jews living in IP must be treated as equals with Jews living with them. Orthodox Jews all over the world still beleive that the Jewish exile is not over. Orthodox prayers seeking the end of exile are still regulalry prayed by Orthodox Jews all over the world. Exile is a spiritual problem and can only be solved by spiritual means. Military or political power are impotent to end Israel’s exile.

The understanding of the Christian Church is much the same as the above as it is based in the Old Testament, just as the Orhtodox Jewish view is. It seems that only Christian Zionsits ignore this point. How a secular Zionist state like modern Israel lives up to the covenental conditions of possession of IP is beyond the understanding of any serious student of scripture. This is no side issue. Anyone reading the curses given by God to a disobedient Jewish people inhabititng or, even trying to take IP,  by force or diplomacy (actions forbidden to Jews according to the famous Three Oaths of the Talmud) realise that it is the Israeli nation that is in a precarious position and rather than encourage them in their Zionist colonialist project (illegal as it is under International Law) we should be crying out to them to reform themselves and bring peace and justice to the land.

Secondly, Christian Zionists believe that the existence of the current Zionist state of Israel is an unambiguous portent of the imminent return of Christ. The most obvious problem I have (amongst others) is that scripture nowhere teaches that any such sign even exists. The Church has long believed that Christ can return at any time and hence the faithful should always be ready for His return in that they should be “about the Father’s business”, that is, living a life that exemplifies the Gospel of Reconcilliation that Jesus preaches in the New Testament. A life of righteousness, a life that seeks peace and justice for all God’s people and a special desire to standup for the poor and marginalised in our world.

Put another way, my problem is that if the Chrisitan Zionist understanding is correct, then believers in Christ, before May 1948, could have rightfully said to themselves that, ” He is not going to return today!” A proclamation quite logical according to the Christian Zionist view, but at odds with the plain teachings of the New Testament.

The prophets of scripture speak more like social critics, than Judaised pre-cursors to Nostradamus! The fatalism and indifference to the troubles of our world that is inevitable from the Christian Zionist viewpoint is nowhere to be found in the writings of either Testaments, or of Orthodox Jewish Rabbis for that matter.

Lastly, for this post, is the Christian Zionist view that unless we unconditionally support the Zionist state of Israel, God will bring punishment on us at both a national and personal level. According to this doctrine, since the Jewish people are a special chosen people of God, they have a sort of “get out of Jail free card” in that they must be supported in a manner that no loving parent would support even their own children. Unconditional love and unconditional support are two very different things as the scriptures so clearly teach.  A more Biblcial approach would be that God does not unconditionally support the nation of Israel because He unconditionally loves them.The prophet Amos clearly reveals that at times God’s wrath is upon Israel because of their priveliged status, not despite it. God has always lent his ear to the real complaints against the nation of Israel regardless of where those complaints come from and warned israel about not listening to the cry of the non-Jew and the vulnerable living with them in IP. To criticise the secular Zionist state of Israel is not remotely at odds with God’s attidue to the ancient nation of Israel. If Israel deseves criticism, then God is ready to hear it. In fact, as is plainly seen from scripture, it is God who ends up having to send prophets, critical of Israel, because noone is Israel is listening to the cries of the poor and the alien in the land.

Much more could be said than this and I encourage readers of this blog to look deeper into this matterr. Professor Yakov Rabkin’s book, “A Threat from Within – A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism” would be a good start.

CRAIG NIELSEN

Due to illness and work committments I have been unable to post on my blog for some months. My apologies for this. Hopefully I will, from now on, be able to post more regularly, particularly concernng my recent trip to the West Bank.

Quite possibly the most surreal experience of my life came during my recent stay in Jerusalem when I decided to go and visit one of the Rabbis from the staunchly anti-Zionist Orthodox Jewish organization known as Neturei Karta. While I am convinced that the anti-Zionist position taken by Neturei Karta is virtually identical to the mainstream Orthodox position on Zionism some 50 to 100 years ago, I am equally convinced that nowadays their viewpoints are very much in the minority.

What is extremely disturbing, is the virulent hatred for these Rabbis that is both harboured and promoted by Zionist Jews. I would be hard pressed to remember a case where such dreadful words of hatred and violence are spoken towards a people who basically want to be left alone to live in peace with all men…, Jew, Muslim, Arab and Chrisitian.

I visited the home of Rabbi Hirsch, a Neturei Karta Rabbi, who lives in the Orthodox suburb of Jerusalem known as Mea Shearim. Walking down the main street of this suburb is something that I will never forget. Every person, except myself, was wearing the traditional black clothing that is the standard ‘unifrom’ of the Orthodox. It was like walking into a time machine, into an age and a place more foreign to me than anything I could have ever imagined. Yet at the same time I felt perfectly safe, just as safe as I felt walking through any Arab part of Jerusalem at any time of the day or night. I spoke to a number of Orthodox Jews, all of them very friendly and helpful, some even willing to talk about Zionism and Israel and a few even reminding me gently that the views held by Neturei Karta represent a tiny minority!

While I was dressed appropriatley for the occassion and obvioulsy not a western looking female, or a tourist running around taking photos, I felt that my presence in Mea Shearim was quite easily tolerated. Wandering through the tiny, dimmly light neighbourhoods trying to find Rabbi Hirsch’s home was daunting and yet fascinating.

Having finally found the Rabbis house at about 11:00pm at night, the Rabbi warmly invited me in and I sat down with him and his family and started to talk about the issue that burns in the both of us, be it for probably different reasons.

After spending about two hours talking with this Rabbi and his family, I could not help but see a man, very passionate about his convictions, but mostly concerned with finding a way to live in peace with his fellow men and women. He believes a key to this is telling the world that Zionism is not Judaism. That the current problems in the region are not the cause of relgious conflict or bigotry, be it from Christians, Jews or Muslims. As Orthodox Jews who have lived throughout the world, they are used to being surrounded by peoples of other faiths and cultures.

No, the problem, in the Rabbis opinion, and in my opinion, lay fundamentally at the feet of a type of European colonialist ideology that is known as Zionism. This is obviously not to say that no fault can be found with Palestinian Arabs in their handling of the conflict. That would be ridiculous. But the roots of the conflict and the ongoing oppression of Palestinian Arabs can be found in the Zionists states unwillingness to give up on it’s colonialist project which the Rabbi and I find to be unjust and immoral.

I discovered no words of hatred from the mouth of the Rabbi who sees that, as an Orthodox Jew living in a Zionist state, he is a Jew in exile, living within an exile. He mourns the death of every Jew and Arab in the conflict and seeks to be reconciled with all his fellow men and women. No curses were reserved for his detractors nor does he somehow wish to see a return to the days of oppression of Jews in Europe.

As the night wore on, the more I could see how much I had in common with this man’s family. The more our common humanity, desire for peace, justice and reconciliation became obvious, the more pain I felt for these people who are treated in such a vile way by other Jews. How is it that those like myself can be labelled an anti-Semite even when I have plainly stated that I firmly believe in the rights of Jews to live every and anywhere in the world they wish in peace, justice and freedom, while those who cry out for the death of Neturei Karta Rabbis claiming that Neturei Karta do all they can to ensure another Holocaust, can do so without the slightest accusation of anti-Semitism, is unfathomable to me.

My visit to Mea Shearim, and the world of the Orthodox anti-Zionist Jewish people will stay with me for ever. Their warmth and hospitality was matched only by their passion for peace and justice in the Middle East. Though as a western Chrisitan I will always have disagreements with them from a theological perspective, and I realise that many people’s visit to Mea Shearim was not so enjoyable as mine, I will always consider the Rabbis of Neturei Karta to be basically a people on a mission of peace and reconcilliation, and as such, I call them brothers and sisters in the faith.

CRAIG NIELSEN

After an unfortunately long absence from posting on my blog, I am back. To all the followers of my blog I apologize for the lack of posts! This is soon to change dramatically as I am leaving Australia on Sunday January 6th to visit Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza as part of a 14 day study tour with Union Aid Abroad. I imagine a long and healthy amount of blogging will ensue!

I will endeavor to meet up with some Rabbis from Neturei Karta in Jerusalem and will be reporting on the situation as I see it on a regular basis. I will be back in South Australia on Jan 23rd and back to my role as Maths and Science teacher at Waikerie High School the following week. Wish me luck and/or keep me in your prayers.

Regards,

Craig Nielsen

Professor Yakov Rabkin concludes his article on the Roots of Zionism.

Conclusion

The Zionist project in the Holy Land has passed the centenary mark. This initially socialist-oriented secular settlement has undergone sacralisation, becoming a focal point for right-wing Christian nationalists in many countries of Europe and beyond. Unlike Jews and Muslims in the Holy Land, who actually live with the conflict and know its practical consequences, Christian Zionists relate to the conflict from afar. For them the Holy Land remains a purely spiritual entity. This is why Christian Zionism, together with some adepts of National Judaism, may be the only truly religious obstacle to peace in Israel-Palestine, or, to be more precise, a mighty political obstacle rooted in religious discourse. While Jews constitute an indispensable instrument in the realization of the Restoration, their role remains subordinated to the theological desiderata of the Second Coming of Christ.

If there was a religion that inspired political Zionism, it was Protestantism, rather than Judaism. Jews were introduced to Zionism centuries after the idea was born in Protestant circles in Europe, and the current number of Christian Zionists is estimated at four to five times the total number of Jews in the world. These Christian and European contributions to the emergence of Zionism and the Zionist state must be taken into account in any analysis of the State of Israel and its position in the Middle East.

Christian Protestant Zionism, a precursor to Herzlian Zionism, is a crucial linchpin of unconditional support for Israel. For the evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell, the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 has been the most crucial event in history since the ascension of Jesus to heaven, and “proof that the second coming of Jesus Christ is nigh…. Without a State of Israel in the Holy Land, there cannot be the second coming of Jesus Christ, nor can there be a Last Judgement, nor the End of the World” (Tremblay 2003: 118). This theological position ensures that the identification of the Zionist state with Christian Evangelicals in the United States is complete. In a televised address to the annual meeting of Christians United for Israel in July 2011, Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “When you support Israel, you don’t have to choose between your interests and your values; you get both. … Our enemies think that we are you, and that you are us. And you know something? They are (96 | MEDITERRANEAN REVIEW | Vol. 5, No. 1 [June 2012]) absolutely right. (Mozgovaya 2011)”

 About Yakov M. Rabkin

 Professor Rabkin has taught Jewish and Russian history, and the history of science at the University of Montreal since 1973. He is the author of Science between the Superpowers, a study of Soviet-American relations in science and technology (Priority Press, 1988), co-editor of The Interaction of Scientific and Jewish Cultures in Modern Times (The Edwin Mellen Press, 1995) and editor of Diffusion of New Technologies in Post-Communist Europe (Kluwer, 1997). His book A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism (Fernwood/Zedbooks) has been translated into twelve languages. It was nominated for Canada’s Governor-General Award and for the Hecht Prize for studies in Zionism in Israel. The Asahi Shimbun in Japan listed it among three Best Non-Fiction Books of the Year in 2010. His most recent book is What is Israel? published in Tokyo (Heibonsha) in June 2012. His list of professional publications consists of over two hundred titles. It includes studies of science in Russian and Soviet cultures, studies of non-western research cultures, of relations between science, cultures and traditions as well as contemporary Jewish history and relations between Zionism and religion. He received over twenty research awards, scholarships and fellowships.

His comments on the Middle East and international relations frequently appear on major TV and radio networks, including BBC, NHK, Radio-Canada and Radio-France as well as in printed media, including International Herald Tribune, Baltimore Sun, El Milenio, Newsweek, La Presse, and Jerusalem Post. He has been an expert witness for the Standing Committee on External Affairs and International Trade of the Parliament of Canada and has consulted for various international organizations, including the World Bank and NATO. He has also served as expert witness at legal proceedings in Britain, Canada and Israel.

The fourth post on the Roots of Zionism by Professor Yakov Rabkin

Jewish Detractors of Zionism

 Most people almost automatically associate Judaism and Zionism. The press routinely calls Israel “the Jewish State.” Israeli politicians often speak “in the name of the Jewish people.” What could be more normal than to see  Jewish religion as the foundation of the birth, some would say rebirth, of the State of Israel? Are not the Jews of the Diaspora often seen as aliens, outsiders or perhaps even Israeli citizens taking a long holiday far from “home”?

Comparisons of Jewish Zionists’ attitudes to Israel with the way other diasporas relate to their former countries miss important differences. Unlike Italians in North America whose immediate ancestors came from Italy (or who came from Italy themselves), most American and Canadian Jews came from Europe, not Israel/Palestine. Unlike these Italians who speak or spoke Italian, these Jews and their ancestors spoke Yiddish, not Hebrew, for the simple reason that Hebrew had not been spoken for many centuries. These Jewish immigrants’ eating habits developed in Eastern Europe had nothing to do with Middle Eastern fare, such as falafel, nowadays considered the quintessential Israeli food. Many Jews’ perception of themselves as being somehow a diaspora of today’s Israel is a particularly interesting case of “imagined communities. (Anderson)” Of course the way the nearly one million Israeli expatriates relate to their home country does resemble the attitude of Italian and other diasporas around the world. Ever since the creation of their political movement more than a century ago, Zionists have claimed to be the vanguard of the entire Jewish people. Some of them even assert that any threat to the survival of the State of Israel is a threat to the survival of Jews throughout the world. For them, Israel has become not only the guarantor of Jewish survival but also the standard-bearer of Judaism. Reality, in the event, is far more complex. (90 | MEDITERRANEAN REVIEW | Vol. 5, No. 1 [June 2012])

From the beginning, Zionism, widely understood as a point of rupture in Jewish history, provoked rejection on the part of most Jews. Critics of Zionism among them represent the entire gamut of contemporary Jewish experience. The Zionist movement and the creation of the State of Israel have caused one of the greatest schisms in Jewish continuity. An overwhelming majority of those who defended and interpreted the traditions of Judaism had opposed what was to become a vision for a new society, a new concept of being Jewish, a program of massive immigration to the Holy Land and the use of force to establish political hegemony there. Today, while overt rejection of Zionism has clearly abated among Jews, younger cohorts continue to desert the ranks of Israel’s Jewish supporters (Goldstein 2011). The number of active religious opponents to Zionism has remained relatively small, perhaps no more than a few hundred thousand (Ravitzky 1996: 60). But, argue Ravitzky and other Israeli experts, their influence has spread among the pious to an extent far exceeding their numbers. At the funeral service for Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum (c. 1887-1979), the author of Va-Yoel Moshe, the fundamental text of Judaic anti-Zionism (Teitelbaum 1985), several prominent rabbis, even those who opposed him during his lifetime, declared that the path of the departed was the only true one, and that it was only their weakness that prevented them from following him. This explains the Zionist leaders’ determination to undermine and marginalize religious opposition to Zionism. Important in this sense is the political assassination of Jacob Israel De Haan (1881-1924) by the Zionist militia Haganah. He was the spokesman of the anti-Zionist Agudath Israel, and the Zionists feared that De Haan would be able to set up a rival organization made up of anti-Zionist rabbinical leaders that would develop cooperation with Arab leaders. Such an eventuality struck fear into the Zionists because, in demographic terms, they were then still in the minority in Palestine (Danziger 1983: 443-4). Historically, the antagonism between Zionism and traditional Judaism should be seen in the context of the interplay of different tendencies that characterized the evolution of the Judaic belief.

This kind of religious opposition refuses to vanish in spite of the impressive achievements of Zionism and of the state that embodies it. One of the reasons for this persistence is something both Zionist intellectuals and the rabbis who oppose Religious Roots of a Political Ideology: | Yakov M. Rabkin | Judaism and Christianity at the Cradle of Zionism | 91them often agree on: Zionism is a negation of Jewish heritage and tradition (Rabkin 2006). Yosef Salmon, an Israeli authority on the history of Zionism, writes about the reactions to the emergence of the new political movement: It was the Zionist threat that offered the gravest danger, for it sought to rob the traditional community of its very birthright, both in the Diaspora and in Eretz Israel [the Land of Israel], the object of its messianic hopes. Zionism challenged all the aspects of traditional Judaism: in its proposal of a modern, national Jewish identity; in the subordination of traditional society to new life-styles; and in its attitude to the religious concepts of Diaspora and redemption. The Zionist threat reached every Jewish community. It was unrelenting and comprehensive, and therefore it met with uncompromising opposition. (Salmon 1998: 25)

Virulent opposition to Zionism and to the State of Israel has been the hallmark of several Orthodox Jewish movements. They consider Zionism to be a heresy, a denial of fundamental messianic beliefs and a violation of the promise made to God not to acquire the Holy Land by human effort. At the core of their opposition lies the centrality of exile, a universalist religious concept indifferent to geographic location. The alliance of anti-Zionist forces produced, within a few years of the first Zionist congress, several anthologies drawn from a broad range of rabbinical authorities in Eastern Europe (Landau 1900; Steinberg 1902). Among other things, they objected to the evacuation of all normative content from the Jewish identity, and its reduction to a replica of the secular European identity.

Orthodox Jews in Germany were no less determined to reject Zionism than their brethren in Eastern Europe whom they used to call Ostjuden and often treated with condescension. Indeed, German Jews pressured their government not to allow the first Zionist congress to be held in their country and it was therefore finally transferred to Basel, Switzerland. Rejection of Jewish nationalism drew its inspiration from influential Judaic authorities. German Rabbi Isaac Breuer (1883-1946), fulminated in the wake of World War I: “Zionism is the most terrible enemy that has ever arisen to the Jewish Nation. The anti-nationalistic Reform engages [the Jewish nation] at least in (92 | MEDITERRANEAN REVIEW | Vol. 5, No. 1 [June 2012]) an open fight, but Zionism kills the nation and then elevates the corpse to the throne” (Zur 1998: 111). Reform Jews have also formulated Judaic critiques of Zionism, drawing on their own interpretation of the Torah. Like virtually all the currents of Judaism in the early twentieth century, the Reform movement was firmly opposed to Zionism, which strove to create a new national identity. Prior to the rise of political Zionism in Europe, the program of Reform Judaism adopted in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1885, rejected all forms of Jewish nationalism (Mezvinsky 1989: 315). Reform Jews were thus prepared to refute Herzl’s Zionist theory, which postulated the absolute existence of anti-Semitism that would justify a state for the Jews. An early critic of Zionism, the Reform Jewish scholar Morris Jastrow (1861-1921) affirmed that “Judaism and Zionism are mutually exclusive”, emphasising that political Zionism was inspired by the anachronistic return to the tribal stage of Judaism (Jastrow 1919: 33). “Reform Judaism is spiritual, Zionism is political. The outlook of Reform Judaism is the world. The outlook of Zionism is a corner of western Asia,” declared Rabbi David Philipson in 1942 (Brownfeld 1997: 9). Not only did the vast majority of Jews initially reject Zionism, but the founder of the movement felt quite uneasy about his own Jewishness: “the moment which is considered the beginning of Herzl’s “conversion” to Zionism is also the moment in which he most strongly wanted to occlude the fact that he was Jewish” (Piterberg 2008: 2). This unease of several Zionist leaders could also be seen in the belief of Arthur Ruppin, the father of the Zionist settlement in Palestine, who believed that “the Ashkenazi Jew was closer to the Indo-Germanic races than the Semitic ones” (Piterberg 2008: 84).

Ben-Gurion saw Judaism as “the historical misfortune of the Jewish people” (Leibowitz 1995: 144). Hatred of religious Jews, particularly of the haredim, the so-called “ultra-Orthodox”, in Israeli society has reached levels unimaginable elsewhere in the world, and it has been suggested that anti-Semitic prejudice is alive and well in the only state that calls itself Jewish (Efron 1991: 15-22; 88-90). As the battles for territory were being waged in Palestine in 1948, the prominent German Jewish scholar Martin Buber (1878-1965), who settled in Palestine in the late 1930s, was bitterly disappointed with the path Zionism had taken before his eyes. On this occasion he wrote: “This sort of Zionism (Religious Roots of a Political Ideology: | Yakov M. Rabkin | Judaism and Christianity at the Cradle of Zionism | 93) blasphemes the name of Zion; it is nothing more than one of the crude forms of nationalism” (Buber 1948). Jewish intellectuals remain divided in their attitudes to Israel’s policies and practices as well as to its founding ideology, Zionism.

While the Jewish tradition repeatedly cautions Jews against personal or collective pride, it was precisely in these traits that the Zionists sought the kind of respect that they defined in terms of the classic Western criteria for success. Heroic romanticism, in a clean break with Rabbinic Judaism, put down roots in these new Jewish circles in the 1920s-30s, exhibiting traits of the then widely admired fascism. This is why Jewish socialists and communists have denounced Zionism as a betrayal of internationalism and a crass attempt to camouflage ethnic nationalism and promote fascist attitudes. The socialist founders of the State of Israel have come under criticism for using socialist forms of social organization as a temporary expedient to reach their nationalist goals (Sternhell 1998). This would explain the attraction Israel currently exercises on ethnic nationalists, often with a recent anti-Semitic past, in Europe. Now that old socialist forms have been largely abandoned, this admiration keeps growing, involving a broad range of anti-Islam and anti-immigrant groups. It would be wrong to view Zionism as only a vestige of nineteenth century nationalism and colonialism: Israel appears as a trendsetter for a number of European politicians espousing ethnic nationalism and convinced of the imminent “clash of civilizations”.

For many Jews, and for most Jewish organizations, loyalty to Israel has replaced allegiance to Judaism. A veteran of Jewish organisations who has taken a critical distance from his institutional past and from “Jewish community McCarthyism” has stated that for many Jewish organisations, “if you do not support the government of Israel, then your Jewishness, and not your political judgment, will be called into question” (Hedges 2002). The veteran Israeli statesman Abba Eban (1915-2002) used to point out that the main task of Israeli propaganda (he would call it hasbara, or explanation/public diplomacy) is to make it clear to the world that there is no difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Consequently, prosecution of critics of Israel as anti-Semites has been attempted in France and other countries. These measures to silence opponents of Zionism seem to bear fruit at the time of writing, as pro-Israel groups propose to outlaw boycotting and (94 | MEDITERRANEAN REVIEW | Vol. 5, No. 1 [June 2012]) other non-violent forms of protest against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians (Keefer 2010).

Most non-Arab Israelis are reluctant to admit the injustices done to the indigenous population of Palestine in the course of Zionist colonization of Palestine; they would not attribute the enduring enmity of the displaced Palestinians to grievances about their deportation and dispossession. In spite of consistent efforts by Israeli dissidents (http://zochrot.org/en) to inform their compatriots of the expulsions and dispossessions of Palestinians, legislative initiatives threatened to outlaw commemoration of the Nakba and therefore further obliterate this tragedy from the Israelis’ collective memory. Rather, “the Arabs” and “the Muslims” are portrayed as irrational haters, religious fanatics or even modern-day Nazis. The current centre among Zionist parties in Israel has moved significantly to the right of the Revisionist movement, which used to be condemned as militarist and fascist. Soon after the unilateral declaration of the State of Israel in May 1948, prominent secular Jewish intellectuals, including Hannah Arendt and Albert Einstein, qualified the party currently representing Israel’s mainstream (Likud, the heir to Herut) as a fascist party practicing terrorism (New Palestine Party … 1948). Since then, Likud has shifted to a more exclusive and uncompromising nationalism than that espoused by its founders Vladimir Jabotinsky (1880-1940) and Menahem Begin (1913-1992).

The disappearance of meaningful distinctions between left and right and a shift from a socialist egalitarian economic ethos to a neo-liberal one has been facilitated in Israel by a steady growth of what Israeli observers term as exclusive nationalism (Okon 2010; Burston 2007). “The Arab threat”, which has taken the rhetorical shape of “the Muslim threat” in the last two decades, has helped successive Israeli governments to apply these neo-liberal reforms with relative ease. The mass demonstrations in Israel in the summer of 2011 only proved this point by focusing on issues of social justice to the exclusion of “the Arab question”. Western reactions to the events of September 11, 2001 embraced Israel’s official narrative about the Muslims’ irrational hatred of progress and freedom and hostility to “Judeo-Christian” values. In the meantime, Israel had become a privileged source of expertise and equipment in “the war on terror” conducted by Western nations. Religious Roots of a Political Ideology: | Yakov M. Rabkin | Judaism and Christianity at the Cradle of Zionism | 95

About Professor Rabkin

Professor Rabkin has taught Jewish and Russian history, and the history of science at the University of Montreal since 1973. He is the author of Science between the Superpowers, a study of Soviet-American relations in science and technology (Priority Press, 1988), co-editor of The Interaction of Scientific and Jewish Cultures in Modern Times (The Edwin Mellen Press, 1995) and editor of Diffusion of New Technologies in Post-Communist Europe (Kluwer, 1997). His book A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism (Fernwood/Zedbooks) has been translated into twelve languages. It was nominated for Canada’s Governor-General Award and for the Hecht Prize for studies in Zionism in Israel. The Asahi Shimbun in Japan listed it among three Best Non-Fiction Books of the Year in 2010. His most recent book is What is Israel? published in Tokyo (Heibonsha) in June 2012. His list of professional publications consists of over two hundred titles. It includes studies of science in Russian and Soviet cultures, studies of non-western research cultures, of relations between science, cultures and traditions as well as contemporary Jewish history and relations between Zionism and religion. He received over twenty research awards, scholarships and fellowships.

His comments on the Middle East and international relations frequently appear on major TV and radio networks, including BBC, NHK, Radio-Canada and Radio-France as well as in printed media, including International Herald Tribune, Baltimore Sun, El Milenio, Newsweek, La Presse, and Jerusalem Post. He has been an expert witness for the Standing Committee on External Affairs and International Trade of the Parliament of Canada and has consulted for various international organizations, including the World Bank and NATO. He has also served as expert witness at legal proceedings in Britain, Canada and Israel.

 

We continue with the article by Prof Yakov Rabkin on the roots of Zionism.

Zionist Uses of Religion

 The core set of values and principles known as Rabbinic Judaism has defined Jewish life for nearly two millennia, even though most Jews today no longer follow its ritual precepts. Rabbinic Judaism is largely based on the Oral Torah, usually considered to consist of Midrash, Mishna, Talmud and Responsa, redacted since the second century CE. The legitimacy of the Oral Torah for pious Jews reflects the belief that it was given on Mount Sinai at the same time as the Written Torah. In jurisprudence the Oral Torah clearly takes precedence, interpreting biblical passages in what may be considered a very broad manner. For example, the biblical prohibition of work on the Sabbath has come to mean 39 types of labor, which are originally mentioned in a rather different context but in adjacent verses. The Oral Torah has invariably interpreted the injunction “eye for an eye” to mean monetary compensation, rather than extracting an eye of the offender. This anti-literalist approach to Scripture distinguishes Rabbinic Judaism from the Karaites, now almost extinct, and from Protestant Zionist denominations gaining momentum nowadays.

The interpretation by the Oral Torah of the annihilation of Jerusalem by the forces of Rome has, ever since, defined the usual normative Jewish attitude toward force, resistance and the Land of Israel within the context of Jewish continuity. Traditional Judaism views the fate of the Jews as contingent on their own actions in the framework of the Covenant between God and His people. The tragedies suffered by the Jews, particularly the exile from the Promised Land, can thus be seen as punishment meant to expiate their sins. To 84 | MEDITERRANEAN REVIEW | Vol. 5, No. 1 [June 2012]bring about relief the Jew must repent, rather than rely on military or political action, which would only defy divine providence.

Rabbinic Judaism, developed over two millennia, abhors wars and specifically forbids fomenting conflict with non-Jews (Rabkin 2006: 93-134). Jewish tradition for the last two millennia has been rather pacifist, interpreting the destruction of the Temple and the exile that followed as divine punishment for transgressions committed by the Jews. Therefore the Oral Torah is laconic on the details of the military activities that accompanied the Roman siege of Jerusalem in the first century. But it clearly emphasizes the principal lesson: the Temple was destroyed because of the sins of the Jews, and primarily because of gratuitous hatred among the Jews themselves (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate “Yoma”, p. 9b). Tradition also condemns the advocates of armed struggle and praises those who set themselves apart from the defenders of the city. The Talmud and several classical exegetes reproached those who favoured armed struggle in particularly severe terms. Bearing in mind the central position of the Temple in Judaism, the accusation is a serious one, and has stood for centuries as a warning against any temptation to use force. At the same time, there remain enough ambiguities to allow variant readings of the tradition in recent years (Eisen 2011).

However, the founding fathers of Zionism, for whom “the authority of history replaced the authority of God” (Piterberg 2008: 96), deemed the tradition, in whatever reading, irrelevant since, in their view, Jewish history in the last two millennia was reduced to a series of persecutions of a weak minority that led to –and justified– the Zionist settlement in Palestine. Judaic ritual is replete with entreaties for God to return Jews to the Land. Yet few would argue that the conflict in the Holy Land was caused by religious imperatives. Shlomo Avineri, the author of an authoritative intellectual history of Zionism remarks: Jews did not relate to the vision of the Return in a more active way than most Christians viewed the Second Coming. As a symbol of belief, integration, and group identity it was a powerful component of the value system; but as an activating element of historical praxis and changing reality through history, it was wholly quietistic. (Avineri 1981: 4) Religious Roots of a Political Ideology: | Yakov M. Rabkin | Judaism and Christianity at the Cradle of Zionism | 85) Avineri acknowledges that it would be, to use his own words, “banal, conformist and apologetic” to link Zionism to the Jewish tradition’s “close ties with the Land of Israel”. As will be explained further on, the proud “return to history” that has enthused many an ideologist of Zionism is at variance with Jewish tradition that sees Jews as impacting history through pious deeds and prayer.

At its birth no attempt was made to clothe Zionism in religious garb. Its activists were almost exclusively atheists and agnostics. Even two rabbis usually enlisted by those intent on rooting their Zionism in Judaism –Zvi Hirsch Kalischer (1795-1874) and Yehuda Salomon Hai Alkalai (1798-1878)– proved to be more inspired by the heady atmosphere of nineteenth-century European nationalism than by the Jewish tradition. They often referred to honor and pride, which makes them remote from the discourse of Jewish tradition: Why do the people of Italy and of other countries sacrifice their lives for the land of their fathers, while we, like men bereft of strength and courage, do nothing? Are we inferior to all other peoples, who have no regard for life and fortune as compared with the love of their land and nation? Let us take to heart the examples of the Italians, Poles, and Hungarians, who laid down their lives and possessions in the struggles for national independence, while we, the children of Israel, who have the most glorious and holiest of lands as our inheritance, are spiritless and silent. Should we not be ashamed of ourselves? (Avineri 1998: 4)

Indeed, the actual hostilities of 1947-1949 (Milhemet ha-shihrur, War of Liberation in the Israeli-Zionist vocabulary, and Nakba, catastrophe, in the Palestinian one) were not waged under religious banners and did not pursue religious goals. For the Zionists, it was a war for territory, where they would constitute a majority and thereby control it. While the expulsions and dispossessions of Christian and Muslim Palestinians in 1948 may appear to have followed religious identity markers (Muslim and Christian Palestinians were targeted while Jewish Palestinians, even the most anti-Zionist among them, were spared), these measures were neither conceived, nor articulated in Judaic terms but, rather, in line with the European-styled ethnic  nationalism of the founding 86 | MEDITERRANEAN REVIEW | Vol. 5, No. 1 [June 2012] fathers of Zionism. Those who object to the application of the word “ethnic” to this conflict argue that the concept of “the Jewish people” was invented by and for the Zionists (Sand 2009). But even accepting Sand’s argument, one would still not define the origins of the Israel/Palestine conflict as “religious,” albeit Judaism has certainly been used to firm up the Zionists’ claim on Palestine. At the same time, Judaism has served as a fallback identity marker and a refuge for a few prominent Zionists disappointed with their ideology and its practical realizations. Nathan Birnbaum, the inventor of the term “Zionism” and an ally of Herzl, and, a century later, Avrum Burg, a former speaker of the Israeli parliament, both chaired the World Zionist Organisation before publicly rejecting Zionism and affirming Jewish values as the basis of their personal identity (Burg 2007; Fishman 1987).

Two concomitant processes have been at work from the very inception of Zionism: sacralisation of the secular and the secularization of the sacred, i.e. “assigning religious meanings to secular ideas, thereby treating them as sacred”, and redefinition of religious terms to “accommodate secular ideas” (Tepe 2008: 55). These processes are embodied in National Judaism (dati leumi), which sprang from the Mizrahi movement established in the early twentieth century in Eastern Europe. It was originally rejected by most Jews, particularly those identifying with Rabbinic Judaism (Rabkin 2006: 66). These initially marginal streams of Judaic interpretation embraced Zionism and the idea of armed struggle. This doctrine draws its inspiration from the mystical thought of Rabbi Kook, seen as “radical and revolutionary” even by Zionist historians (Avineri 1981: 188). The development of this movement has been momentous since the 1967 war when Israel overtly assumed the role of a colonial and imperial state (Penslar 2007: 111).

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935), born in Imperial Russia, was appointed as the Chief Rabbi of the Asheknazi community in Palestine by the British. Fascinated by the idealism and self-sacrifice of the Zionist pioneers, Rabbi Kook looked forward to “an ideal state, upon whose being sublime ideals would be engraved,” a state that would become “the pedestal of God’s throne in this world.” For him, the state would be the earthly expression of a messianic “Kingdom of Israel,” a Jacob’s ladder uniting earth with heaven Religious Roots of a Political Ideology: | Yakov M. Rabkin | Judaism and Christianity at the Cradle of Zionism | 87 (Ravitzky 1996: 131-37). The great majority of rabbis (and, needless to say, secular Israelis) rejected Rabbi Kook’s efforts to portray the Zionists as the “white ass” who will carry the Messiah into Jerusalem. Inspired by the romantic nationalism in Russia, he anticipated that love of the land would have a mystical influence on the intrepid pioneers and bring the new secular Hebrew back to tradition. He believed that the upsurge of secularism was a “passing illness” that the return to the Land of Israel should rapidly cure. This belief became essential to those rabbis who sought a rationale for their collaboration with the Zionists. While a century later such hopes have yet to come true, some adepts of National Judaism continue to believe that “the subjective reality of modern world politics will finally become revealed as an objective halakhic fact” (Berkowitz 1994: 40).

Zionists of almost all streams agree that the Jews had to become strong and return to their biblical pre-exilic history, by overcoming the entire two thousand years experience of exile. Their return to the Promised Land would return them to normalcy, and make them “like all the nations”, a concept clearly disapproved of in the Bible (1 Samuel 8: 20). This Zionist emphasis on return is not only at variance with the Jewish tradition but “can, and should, be located at the intersection of Protestantism and anti-Semitism” (Piterberg 2008: 257). It reflects established Christian conceptions of the Jews, who are seen as excluded from history until and unless they recognize Jesus as the Messiah. The Jews have lost their raison d’être, they can at best survive but not thrive, and their ultimate fate is to disappear from the face of the earth or to embrace Christianity.

This has not deterred Zionist leaders from mobilizing Christian support based on the belief that the restoration of the Jews in the Holy Land is a prelude to the Second Coming (Vereté 1972; Sharif 1976). This reliance on Christian motives in the Zionist project was proved uniquely effective with the issuing of the Balfour Declaration in 1917, whose author not only worked to limit the immigration of Jews to England but also shared these Latter Day prophecies.

This resort to Christian values should not be seen as cynical manipulation but, rather, as a meeting of the minds. Ben-Gurion (1886-1973) exemplifies this affinity in his approach to Scripture. He disdained the rabbinic tradition, affirming the right to interpret the written Torah directly through the 88 | MEDITERRANEAN REVIEW | Vol. 5, No. 1 [June 2012] experience of Zionist settlement (Ben-Gurion 1972: 85-87). At times, he and Israeli politicians make symbolic use of the Bible to gain international, usually Christian, support (Masalha 2007). The overtly agnostic Ben-Gurion would point to a copy of the Pentateuch in order to justify the Zionist claim to the Land in front of a British commission of inquiry. The language of redemption is omnipresent in most versions of Zionist ideology, and Judaic concepts and texts (such as the Book of Joshua) have been harnessed to reach nationalist objectives. The founding fathers of Zionism combined this political use of Judaism with explicit disdain for Judaic practice, continuity and tradition.

Ben-Gurion’s Laborites made a particularly coherent use of redemptive imagery, using, for example, the expression geulat haaretz (redemption of the land), to signify the purchase of Arab land by Jews. This transubstantiation of the language of redemption, of religious values into secular concepts, infused the Zionist pioneers, who saw themselves as the vanguard of the Jewish people, fashioning history with their own hands. Moreover, the use of Judaic terms familiar to the Jewish masses of Eastern Europe facilitated the propagation of Zionist ideology, which, though radical, retained some traditional forms in order to appease widespread apprehension and opposition. The Israeli political scientist Zeev Sternhell calls the Zionist uses of Judaism “a religion without God” which has preserved only its outward symbols (Sternhell 1998: 56). While political applications of Protestant principles can be found in the Constitution of the United States, the Founding Fathers mostly remained practicing Christians. However, according to the Israeli historian Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, the Zionists were atheists who claimed: “God does not exist, and he promised us this land.” Political usage of spiritual terms by otherwise atheist leaders is a contemporary phenomenon. This kind of use was condemned by Pope Pius XI who warned in 1937 in his encyclical Mit brennender Sorge (With burning  anxiety): “You will need to watch carefully, Venerable Brethren, that religious fundamental concepts be not emptied of their content and distorted to profane use” (Vatican 1937). The active political mobilization of Judaic concepts to justify indefinite occupation of the territories conquered in 1967 has provoked bitter criticism in Israel from both religious (Leibowitz 1995) and secular (Rubinstein 1984) intellectuals, who otherwise approve of the Zionist project on political and social grounds. Surprisingly, Jewish detractors of Zionism,( Religious Roots of a Political Ideology: | Yakov M. Rabkin | Judaism and Christianity at the Cradle of Zionism | 89) who insist on the alleged divergence of Judaic and Zionist worldviews, have largely ignored the apparently non-Jewish origins of Jewish nationalism, which would have offered them a potent argument, at least among those Jews who view Christianity with suspicion.

About Professor Yakov M. Rabkin

 Professor Rabkin has taught Jewish and Russian history, and the history of science at the University of Montreal since 1973. He is the author of Science between the Superpowers, a study of Soviet-American relations in science and technology (Priority Press, 1988), co-editor of The Interaction of Scientific and Jewish Cultures in Modern Times (The Edwin Mellen Press, 1995) and editor of Diffusion of New Technologies in Post-Communist Europe (Kluwer, 1997). His book A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism (Fernwood/Zedbooks) has been translated into twelve languages. It was nominated for Canada’s Governor-General Award and for the Hecht Prize for studies in Zionism in Israel. The Asahi Shimbun in Japan listed it among three Best Non-Fiction Books of the Year in 2010. His most recent book is What is Israel? published in Tokyo (Heibonsha) in June 2012. His list of professional publications consists of over two hundred titles. It includes studies of science in Russian and Soviet cultures, studies of non-western research cultures, of relations between science, cultures and traditions as well as contemporary Jewish history and relations between Zionism and religion. He received over twenty research awards, scholarships and fellowships.

His comments on the Middle East and international relations frequently appear on major TV and radio networks, including BBC, NHK, Radio-Canada and Radio-France as well as in printed media, including International Herald Tribune, Baltimore Sun, El Milenio, Newsweek, La Presse, and Jerusalem Post. He has been an expert witness for the Standing Committee on External Affairs and International Trade of the Parliament of Canada and has consulted for various international organizations, including the World Bank and NATO. He has also served as expert witness at legal proceedings in Britain, Canada and Israel.

In this post we continue with Professor Rabkin’s article on the origins of Zionism.

From Theory to Practice

 Zionism was a bold attempt at forced modernization; most of its ideological factions aimed at bringing modernity to a country they considered backward and longing for redemption by European settlers. The State of Israel still stands as the challenge of European-style modernization in the Middle East. In order to grasp the complexity pervading any discussion of Zionism, it is necessary to understand Haskalah, a movement to bring about enlightenment and modernization by means of secularization, that is, by full-scale liberation from the “yoke of the Torah and of its commandments.” Haskalah has affected most Jews in the last two centuries. To speak of the Jews before the nineteenth century is to refer to a normative concept: a Jew is someone whose behavior must by definition embody a certain number of principles and rituals of Judaism, the common denominator for all the Jews. Such a Jew may transgress the Torah but does not reject its validity. “You shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6) remains a commandment, a vocation and an aspiration. In line with the tradition of non-literal (78 | MEDITERRANEAN REVIEW | Vol. 5, No. 1 [June 2012]) interpretation proper to Rabbinic Judaism, this appeal is understood as an obligation to strive for ritual, moral and spiritual self-improvement. Secularization has largely eliminated this sense of obligation and facilitated cultural assimilation of Jews into the ambient society.

A few, mainly assimilated Jews of Central Europe became interested in Jewish nationalism in the last decades of the nineteenth century. In the wake of their formal emancipation, some of them aspired to high society but felt excluded and rejected from such company. They, and often their parents, no longer obeyed the Commandments of the Torah and knew next to nothing of the normative aspects of Judaism. However, their attempts at assimilation had failed to produce the anticipated social and psychological benefits, and to bring them the satisfaction of total acceptance. In other words, “Zionism was an invention of intellectuals and assimilated Jews… who turned their back on the rabbis and aspired to modernity, seeking desperately for a remedy for their existential anxiety” (Barnavi 2000: 218).

Yet, individual frustrations alone, no matter how powerful, were not enough to give birth to a successful political movement. Such a movement could only have gathered sufficient strength where social and political conditions were thoroughly unfavourable to the Jews as a group. The true potential of practical Zionism was not in Central but in Eastern Europe, particularly in the confines of Imperial Russia. The tsarist regime maintained most Jews in the Pale of Settlement, at a distance from the centres of Russian culture and their undeniable attractions. This is why secularization did not bring about the widespread assimilation of Russia’s Jews. While giving up their loyalty to the Torah, these secular Jews developed a “proto-national character and a national outlook” (Leibowitz 1995: 132) that had made many of them particularly susceptible to Zionist ideas. The Jews of Russia possessed at least two of the attributes of a “normal” nation: a common territory (the Pale of Settlement) and a common language (Yiddish).

While several other national movements –e.g. Polish, Lithuanian and Finnish– were gathering momentum, Zionism gained dominance mainly as a reaction to the murderous anti-Semitism that afflicted Europe during the first half of the twentieth century. These circumstances exemplify Isaiah Berlin’s “bent twig” theory of the birth of modern nationalisms (Berlin 1972). Even though only one percent of turn-of-the-century Russian Jewish (Religious Roots of a Political Ideology: | Yakov M. Rabkin | Judaism and Christianity at the Cradle of Zionism | 79) emigrants were eventually to make their way to Palestine (the majority chose North America), Russian nationals formed the hard core of Zionist activism.

Zionism in Russia drew its impetus from among the Maskilim, followers of the Haskalah, Jews educated in the yeshivas who had acquired some notions of European culture, usually without formal education. Zionism rode on the wave of secularization to foster the nationalist sentiments. With respect to Jews in Eastern Europe, Zionists followed in the footsteps of their European predecessors, who also benefited from secularization to “construct nationhoods.” (Hastings 1997). The Zionist idea was something entirely new, a break with millennia of Jewish tradition –which explains the reluctance of most Jews at the time to accept it. Most secular Jews, like most religious Jews, in the world were not Zionists at the turn of the twentieth century. Even in the Russian Empire the acceptance of Zionism was anything but natural. It required a deep shift in the collective consciousness of the Jews. The Zionists had to resort to “mass education,” convinced that they were spreading the truth to bring this shift about.

Zionists were very consistent in grafting nationalism onto these secular identities. It has been argued that “the revamped [i.e. Zionist] definition of the Jewish identity was not built upon the secularization of Judaism but on the secularization of Christianity”, i.e. on the recent history of Christians and Christian countries (Piterberg 2008: 247). The national identity of the Jew was not only “invented” (Sand 2009); it was molded to conform to the European Christian prototype. The invention of Jewish nationalism significantly differed from similar initiatives elsewhere in Europe (Anderson 1991), where, e.g. in Poland, Catholicism was the linchpin of the national sentiment. Conversely, Zionism had to overcome almost unanimous resistance from religious authorities ranging from the Orthodox to the Reform (Rabkin 2006).

“Ingathering the Seed of Abraham”

 There exists abundant scholarly and polemical literature on the historical roots of Christian Zionism (Tuchman 1956, Sharif 1983, and Sizer 2007). Christian support for Jewish “Restoration” to Palestine, on biblical, theological or (80 | MEDITERRANEAN REVIEW | Vol. 5, No. 1 [June 2012]) political grounds preceded secular Jewish Zionism by nearly four centuries and paved the way for the latter’s rise in the late nineteenth century” (Masalha 2007: 85). This history explains the immense emotional support that the State of Israel has enjoyed among many Protestant Christians. Similarities between Zionism and Protestantism are rooted in literalism, i.e. non-figurative and non-traditional interpretations of the Bible. One mayrecall that the return to the Old Testament (sola scriptura), which de-emphasizes the role of sacred tradition, is the foundational principle of the Protestant  Reformation. According to the Israeli historian Anita Shapira, “there is a parallel between Protestantism’s approach to sacred texts and the Jewish [i.e. Zionists’] attitude to biblical literalism” (Shapira 2004: 33). In the wake of the European Reformation, the universalist concept of the Church as “the New Israel” was nationalized to identify several, sometimes competing, groups of Christian colonizers bent on bringing the Bible to the heathens around the world, from the Americas to Oceania. At the same time, the Jews in Protestant Europe came to be seen not only as foreigners, but rather as Palestinians who should be in due time brought back to Palestine. The earliest book to propose a Restoration of the Jews to Palestine was published by an Anglican priest in 1585 (Masalha 2007: 89). It posited the centrality of creating a Jewish state as a means of fulfilling biblical prophecies. Christian motives –the ingathering of Jews in the Holy Land as a means to hasten the Second Coming– seem to be more prominent in the Zionist project than Judaic ones. An independent return of “the Jewish nation” to the Holy Land is alien to Rabbinic Judaism but remains essential to Christian theology. As early as the seventeenth century, one can find Protestant references to the “restoration of the national Israel”, “national restitution of Israel” and “the return of Israel to their own land” (Vereté 1972: 17). These references ignore the historical reality, namely the fact that most Jews exiled from Spain in the late fifteenth century, during the Christian Reconquest of the peninsula, dispersed throughout the Ottoman Empire while only a minute number of them settled in the Land of Israel. Yet Palestine was then part of the Ottoman Empire, which welcomed them generously within its borders. Millenarian beliefs spread rapidly in the seventeenth century and gained popularity in spite of persecutions on the part of mainstream churches. A century later, Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), renowned scientist and theologian, Religious Roots of a Political Ideology:| Yakov M. Rabkin | Judaism and Christianity at the Cradle of Zionism | 81 attempted to convince British rabbis to organise a transfer of Jews to Palestine.

The rabbis demurred, citing Jeremiah’s call on the Israelites to work for the welfare of their countries of residence (Sharif 1983: 39). In spite of the total lack of interest on the part of the Jews, Protestant belief in the Restoration of the Seed of Abraham to the Promised Land became firmly implanted in the English-speaking lands on both sides of the Atlantic. At the same time, prominent members of the British and American elites, for example Lloyd George (1863-1945), convinced of the historical veracity of the Bible, admitted that they knew biblical history and the geography of Palestine better than they knew the history and geography of their own countries.

Colonial interests reinforced biblical sensitivities. The idea of a Jewish state under a British protectorate began circulating in Europe well before this idea attracted any significant group of Jews. The first British Consulate was inaugurated in Jerusalem in 1838. Two years later, the influential Lord Shaftsbury (1801-1885) published a memorandum to the Protestant monarchs of Europe, which transformed a theological project into a political one. Lord Palmerston (1784-1865) personally approached Queen Victoria with a plan to colonize the Holy Land with Jews while deporting the locals to create living space for Jewish settlers. Restoration of the Jews had also inflamed literary creativity, and novels such as Daniel Deronda by George Eliot (1819-1880) and The Land of Gilead by Laurence Oliphant (1829-1888) made the idea popular among the reading public in the British Empire and the United States.

The anti-Semitic belief that Jews do not belong to Europe but, rather, to Palestine was not limited to the English-speaking realm. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) referred to the Jews as “Palestinians living among us” while Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814) suggested conquering the Holy Land in order to send all the Jews there (Sharif 1983: 56-9). During the Egyptian campaign, Napoleon called on the Jews to settle in Palestine under the protection of French troops. It was William Hechler, the Anglican chaplain of the British Embassy in Vienna, who greatly inspired Theodor Herzl, more conversant with Christian than Judaic concepts, to embark on the ingathering of Jews in Palestine (Duvernoy 1996). (There seems to be little substance to the oft-repeated claim that Herzl’s Zionism was aroused by the Dreyfus trial. (Kornberg 1980)) Hechler’s Christian influence apparently played a significant role in the (82 | MEDITERRANEAN REVIEW | Vol. 5, No. 1 [June 2012]) Zionist awakening of the rather de-Judaized Herzl. A book published in Israel analyzes this role in great detail. In his preface to the book, André Chouraqui, former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem and a life-long Zionist activist, recalls that Herzl initially wanted to convert the Jews of Vienna to Catholicism and only later sought the ingathering of the Jews, firmly guided by Hechler, who urged him not to abandon his mission (Duvernoy 1996: 3-4). Pleas for the Restoration of the Jews were often accompanied with expressions of anti-Jewish sentiments. In the nineteenth century, when anti-Semitism was established as a popular movement, its adepts could be found among the most enthusiastic supporters of the Zionist project. Herzl, who finally spread the gospel of Restoration to the Jews, considered anti-Semites his movement’s best “friends and allies” (Segev 2000: 47), and  throughout his short diplomatic career he consistently sought to attract to his cause prominent anti-Semites (such as Konstantin Pobedonostsev (1827-1907), a close adviser to tsars Alexander III and Nicolas II). Significantly, Lord Balfour (1848-1930), the author of the Balfour Declaration, had imposed limitations on immigration of Jews to Britain a few years before declaring his country’s support for the Zionist project. In fact, Balfour’s support for Zionism was bitterly criticized by prominent Jews in Britain, who plainly called it anti-Semitic (Montagu 1917). Anti-Semitism and Zionism, far from being mutually exclusive, actually reinforce one another. This is certainly the case of the adepts of Dispensationalism, an Evangelical group that took root in Britain in the late nineteenth century, and constitutes the most active Christian Zionist movement nowadays, claiming to have over 50 million supporters in the United States. Founded by the disgruntled Anglican clergyman John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), this movement proclaimed that the Church, which he considered irredeemably corrupt, would be replaced by a reinvigorated nation of Israel, the initial recipient of Divine revelation. This theology emphasizes bloody apocalyptic battles to take place in Israel, resulting in the ultimate victory of Good over Evil. As part of this scenario, a few thousand Jews would bow down before Jesus and be saved while the rest of the Jews, whose ingathering in the Promised Land would be indispensable for the Second Coming to occur, would simply perish.

Christian advocates of Israel argue that radical Islam, rather than the “facts (Religious Roots of a Political Ideology: | Yakov M. Rabkin | Judaism and Christianity at the Cradle of Zionism | 83) on the ground” created by the Zionist movement and, later, by the Israeli government, is at the core of the conflict in the Middle East. This has become the main message of the Israel lobbies around the world who rely more and more on Christian evangelical groups for political support of Israel (Gorenberg 2002; Sizer 2004). However, just as in the case of other religious denominations, including Jews, Christians are deeply divided on the issue of Israel and Palestine, with leaders such as Bishop Desmond Tutu taking a critical view of Israel’s behaviour.

Yakov M. Rabkin

 Professor Rabkin has taught Jewish and Russian history, and the history of science at the University of Montreal since 1973. He is the author of Science between the Superpowers, a study of Soviet-American relations in science and technology (Priority Press, 1988), co-editor of The Interaction of Scientific and Jewish Cultures in Modern Times (The Edwin Mellen Press, 1995) and editor of Diffusion of New Technologies in Post-Communist Europe (Kluwer, 1997). His book A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism (Fernwood/Zedbooks) has been translated into twelve languages. It was nominated for Canada’s Governor-General Award and for the Hecht Prize for studies in Zionism in Israel. The Asahi Shimbun in Japan listed it among three Best Non-Fiction Books of the Year in 2010. His most recent book is What is Israel? published in Tokyo (Heibonsha) in June 2012. His list of professional publications consists of over two hundred titles. It includes studies of science in Russian and Soviet cultures, studies of non-western research cultures, of relations between science, cultures and traditions as well as contemporary Jewish history and relations between Zionism and religion. He received over twenty research awards, scholarships and fellowships.

His comments on the Middle East and international relations frequently appear on major TV and radio networks, including BBC, NHK, Radio-Canada and Radio-France as well as in printed media, including International Herald Tribune, Baltimore Sun, El Milenio, Newsweek, La Presse, and Jerusalem Post. He has been an expert witness for the Standing Committee on External Affairs and International Trade of the Parliament of Canada and has consulted for various international organizations, including the World Bank and NATO. He has also served as expert witness at legal proceedings in Britain, Canada and Israel.

 

Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict

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