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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.

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Over the last 4 or 5 years of talking with Christian Zionists I have discovered that they have not the remotest objection to racism, barring anti-Semitism, that is. Of course the very anti-Semitic nature of much of the theology behind Christian Zionism seems to go unscrutinised by the vast majority of those who hold to this novel and unbiblical idea.

In general Christian Zionists are not interested in large scale conversions of Jews in Israel to the Christian faith. This is because by becoming Christian, Jewish people are no-longer Jewish and if this occurred at a magnitude anything close to a national level; it would mean the end of the Jewish State. Christian Zionists abhor this concept. Without a Jewish state their end-times prophecy schedule lies in tatters!

Christian Zionists require that Israel be a non-Christian, Jewish state. This is somewhat ironic since the theologians of history who did predict a literal revival of the nation of Israel held to a belief that Jews must first convert to Christianity before reclaiming the Holy Land. They did this because they recognised (unlike todays Christian Zionists) that Jewish reclamation of Israel was not unconditional and that a rebellious Jewish people could never retake Israel on account of the covenant they made with God as described clearly in the Old Testament. They understood that the Jewish people were in exile because of their sins and I guess, in the minds of those Christian teachers who believed in a revival of literal Israel back then, they thought that mass conversion to Christianity was the necessary act of repentance required for it to be ok for the Jews to retake Israel as a nation.

All of these arguments are ignored by Christian Zionists today. Christian Zionist also believe that when Christ does return, the Jews in Israel will have to decide whether or not they will accept Him as the Messiah. If they do not, they will be cast into the lake of fire, if they do accept Him they will be saved. It is generally assumed that the vast majority of Jews will not accept Christ and hence will be cast into Hell. Somehow the Jews alive at the coming of Christ will at least get a chance to choose, those who have persihed before the final return will not get this privilege. Seems it pays to be born in the right part of history!

Getting back to the racism issue, I believe the position I hold to is ethically far sounder than the Christian Zionist belief system. I consider ALL racism to be equally abhorrent regardless of the circumstances pertaining to who is the victim and who is the perpetrator. A state where Arabs discriminate against Jews is equally repugnant to a state where Jews discriminate against Arabs. The ethnic cleansing of Arabs from Palestine will not be justly dealt with by the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Israel. Such a situation will only inflame conflict in the world.

Martin Luther King’s vision of a world of equality where a man is judged on his character, and not on his ethnic background, is not a vision shared by Christian Zionists. In their way of thinking, if Arabs are displaced and dispossessed in order to make a Jewish state a reality, then bring it on! This twisted ethic is not shared by God and is explicitly condemned in the Old Testament Scriptures in dozens of places.

The ethical bankruptcy of Christian Zionism with regard to its attitude to racism is a major stumbling block for me. The Zionist dream of an Israeli state that is both owned by Jews and democratic for all its inhabitants, is a contradiction in terms. If the fact of Jewish ownership of Israel were not a source of discrimination against non-Jews living in Israel, then why do the Zionists so passionately demand that Israel be a Jewish state? What purpose does it serve for Israel to be a Jewish state if it conveys no advantage to Jews over non-Jews living in Israel? If Israel did not discriminate against non-Jews in Israel in any way at all, then why the determination for Israel to be a Jewish state?

When I visited Israel last year, I spoke to a representative from the Israeli trade union Histadrut. She told me the reason that Israel must be a Zionist state was that Israel was the only way to protect Jewish culture and way of life. How Jews had managed to keep their culture and way of life intact for the last two thousand years (even surviving the Holocaust) and how the 50% of Jews outside of Israel today have managed without a Zionist state, was not explained to me. I doubt that it can be explained.

CRAIG NIELSEN

Stephen Sizer has recently posted an interesting article on his blog contradicting the much loved narrative of the supporters of Zionist Israel that tells us that Iran wishes to wipe Israel off the map. The original article appeared at…

http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2012/04/16/meridor-concedes-irans-leaders-have-never-called-for-israels-destruction/

Israeli Minister Meridor Concedes Iran’s Leaders Have Never Called for Israel’s Destruction

In an Al Jazeera interview, one of the more moderate ministers in the current government, Dan Meridor, conceded that a notorious phrase widely attributed to Iran’s leaders including Pres. Ahmadinejad, that Iran would wipe Israel from the map, is false.  Though Meridor, a senior cabinet member in the Netanyahu ruling coalition, believes that Iranian statements about Israel being a cancer in the region are equally distressing to Israel, he acknowledged that neither of Iran’s current leaders had ever called for destroying Israel.  That of course, didn’t prevent him from lapsing back into precisely the same claim not once, but twice later in the interview.  It seems that some tropes are so engraved in a nation’s consciousness that a politician can intellectually know they are false, publicly admit it, and then contradict himself.

The interview proved interesting as well for exposing some of the underlying assumptions of Israeli attitudes and policy toward Iran.  When asked about the unique dangers that Iran posed to Israel or the Middle East, Meridor claimed that Iran has introduced a dangerous element into the region: religion.  Now, there’s no question that Islam is a critical element of the Iranian regime.  But was Iran the first to introduce such religious nationalism?  What about that notion of Israel being a “Jewish” state?  Seems to me that is a clear expression of it as well.  Of course, Israelis will argue that the character of religious expression in the Iranian state is fanatical, intolerant and homicidal, while the character of religious expression in Israel is moderate and tolerant.  That may be what Israelis would like to believe.  But is it true?

One of the primary elements of Israeli national purpose these days is the settlement enterprise.  The justification for it is purely religious in nature.  God gave us the land and commanded us to settle in it and warned us never to part with it.  That’s more or less the gist of the argument.  So if the Muslims and Arabs of the Middle East see such a fundamental element of Israeli nationhood underpinned by religious theology, what are they to think?

Further, when Bibi Netanyahu lays out his argument for Israel attacking Iran what language does he use?  The Holocaust.  Once again, this is discourse that is fundamentally religious in nature.  A Jew may argue that the prime minister has no choice because the Jews were exterminated during the Holocaust for their religion.  But the plain fact is that Netanyahu has many arguments he could wield in making his case.  The fact that he’s offered this one hundreds of times over the years indicates not only that he finds it a powerful one, but that it resonates deeply inside him as a Jew, and he believes it will affect his domestic and international audience in a similar way.

If I were to have to isolate one of the most important parts of my mission in writing this blog it’s to point out to both sides, but especially to Jews and Israelis, that whatever fanatical notions you seek to attribute to the other side, you better look in the mirror first, because it’s more than likely that your co-religionists and fellow citizens have expressed thoughts equally as fundamentalist in nature.

In yesterday’s Times, Steven Erlanger also reveals a certain western awkwardness about the injection of religious rhetoric into political discourse.  He says that Ayatollah Khamenei’s statements about Iran’s nuclear intentions are shrouded in a “fog” of theological terms:

Ayatollah Khamenei, who is not only the leader of Iran’s government but also the final authority on Islamic law, often uses religious language when he talks about the nuclear issue, which can jar Western analysts trying to gauge the meaning of such strong statements.

This is a further indication of how clueless secular western journalists can be to the role of religion in regions like the Middle East.  The unstated implication of such statements is that because Iran’s leaders are religious fanatics their word may not be trusted, nor can we ever know for sure what they really mean.  A further implication is that western secular leaders, when they make political statements, are speaking clearly in a language every reasonable person can understand.

This assumption is riddled with unsupported cultural assumptions.  If this were only a case of cultural misunderstanding, that wouldn’t rise to the level of an issue worth being overly concerned about.  But the fact is that western mis-impressions of the states, cultures and religions of the Middle East has caused round after round of mayhem throughout history.  And we may be walking into yet another one.

James Risen, in an article from yesterday’s Times makes the following racist claim:

…Some analysts say that Ayatollah Khamenei’s denial of Iranian nuclear ambitions has to be seen as part of a Shiite historical concept called taqiyya, or religious dissembling. For centuries an oppressed minority within Islam, Shiites learned to conceal their sectarian identity to survive, and so there is a precedent for lying to protect the Shiite community.

Why is it that some otherwise excellent reporters seem to lose their heads when writing about this subject?  Note Risen refuses to tell us who “some analysts” are so we can judge the credibility of this.  Further, while I’ve seen neo-cons, anti-jihadis and other crackpots make this claim about Shiites, I’ve never heard anyone support it with any proof that any Shiite has ever used taqiyya as justification for lying in a political context.  Just as Jews may annul vows in a purely religious context on Kol Nidre, I’m sure taqiyya is a similarly religious-based precept having nothing whatsoever to do with politics.  This is at best shoddy journalism and at worst outright racism.

Another interesting side issue that arose in the Meridor interview was a reference by the reporter to a statement by Avigdor Lieberman during Cast Lead that Israel should level a crushing blow upon “Hamas” (by which he meant Gaza) that would destroy its will to resist. He likened such a blog to the atom bombs that the U.S. dropped on Japan to end WWII. Meridor claims Lieberman never made the statement, and clearly believes the interviewer is making it up. Unfortunately, he is not and Maariv provides the proof.

In the context of the interview, Lieberman’s statement is important because it shows that Israeli leaders have spoken with bellicosity equal to anything Iran’s leaders have said about Israel. Israel has used homicidal, if not genocidal rhetoric in reference to its Arab neighbors no less than Iran may have. I would actually argue that no matter how troubling or hostile some of Iran’s rhetoric may have been, Iran has repeatedly said that it had no plans to attack Israel pre-emptively. Israel has repeatedly threatened to do precisely that to Iran. So whose rhetoric is worse?

In the interview, Meridor repeats another false claim often made by Israeli leaders and journalists: that the IAEA report released a few months ago says that Iran “has” a military nuclear “plan.” At another point, he says that Iran is “aiming” at building a “nuclear warhead” for its missiles so that they might reach Israel.  At another point in the interview he claims the IAEA has said:

Yes, they [the Iranians] are going for nuclear weapons…They are after nuclear weapons.  They [the IAEA] described the plan very well.

This is at best a wild overstatement of what the report actually said and at worst a tissue of outright lies.  The report said there are indications that Iran may have such a program.  After the interviewer points out to Meridor that all of the U.S. intelligence establishment believes that Iran has not made a decision to get a nuclear bomb, the Israeli minister says:

They said, if I remember correctly, that Iran is going after nuclear weapons…A general understanding between us and American, I think, and Europe–England, France, Germany–is, with no doubts whatsoever, that Iran has made a decision to go there…

Er, well no, they didn’t say that nor do any of the countries named believe that.  Of such errors are wars made.

Then Meridor surprised even me, by tearing a page right out of Robert Spencer and Daniel Pipes and invoking Kulturkampf to explain Iran’s supposed desire to wipe out Israel and the entire western world.  The grandiose conspiratorial nature of his thinking reveals just how delusional is the mindset of some of Israel’s key decision-makers:

I think that the standoff between America and Iran, and the Muslim world is a sort of Kulturkampf, a clash of civilizations.  And some groups that are not nationally based, but religiously based–call them Al Qaeda or Jihad or Taliban and others–who think that this is a way to stop the west and the domination of those ideas, will have a real boost in a victory of Iran over those westerners that are trying to change the course, the historical course…

With thinking like this coming from one of the more moderate and supposedly sophisticated members of the Israeli governing coalition, you might as well have Anders Breivik making Israel’s strategic decisions.  There doesn’t appear that much difference in thinking between Meridor and Breivik regarding the threat posed by the Muslim world.

When the Al Jazeera reporter asked Meridor whether Israel shouldn’t join the NPT protocol and lay its own nuclear program open to the same inspections that Iran allows. The Israeli almost laughably says that Israel’s refusal to join is a “sound and good” policy and “does not bother anyone seriously.”  He also states that the question of whether there will be a war in the Middle East is “in the hands of Iran.”  This reminds me in a number of ways of the thinking of the bullies, child abusers or wife beaters who tell their victims that the question of whether they will beat them up is solely in the victims’ hands.  At the very least, it seems like putting the cart before the horse.

On a related note, the single most comprehensive debunking of the “wipe Israel off the map” claim is this article from the Washington Post.

The Legacy of Oppression in Palestine.

Supporters of the current policies of the Zionist State of Israel point to the situation in Gaza as proof as to why Israel can not afford to allow a Palestinian state of any kind to exist until the Palestinians somehow prove themselves to be worthy of such an honour.

They point to the brutality of Hamas militants and other extremists as justification for the oppressive policies of the Israeli state. “What else can Israel do?” they say. Such people seem to forget that self determination is a right, and a right is something you do not have to earn. What sort of behaviour do they think people will exhibit when their rights are continually denied? What behaviour did the Zionists themselves exhibit such that they earned the right to statehood in Palestine? Zionist terrorism in the British Mandate period (when Jews in Israel suffered the oppression of British policies that amounted to collective punishment against Jews) is well documented.

Was it the Holocaust that gave Zionists the right to self determination in Palestine? Do some people groups need to first become victims of atrocities before they are granted the same rights that we in the west take for granted? I think not.

Arab or Islamic extremists were not the cause of the Israel-Palestine conflict any more than the Black Panthers in the U.S. were responsible for the creation of slavery, discrimination and racism against Negroes in the U.S. or Aboriginal Land rights activists in Australia were responsible for the dispossession of Aboriginals in Australia that occurred at the hands of British colonialism. Nelson Mandela and the ANC were not responsible for the creation of Apartheid in South Africa.

Hamas and other Arab or Islamic extremists are the product of the Israel-Palestine conflict, not the cause of it. Those groups (with their hostility and violence towards Jewish people) simply did not exist before the advent of Zionist colonialism in Palestine. Religious Zionists who call for the extermination of Palestinian men, women and children did not exist then either. Those who do not grasp this fundamental reality will never make sense of the situation in the Middle East and hence will never understand the nature of any real solution.

What do we expect as a reasonable outcome of the conditions now experienced by the citizens of Gaza? A society under siege and cut off from the rest of the world. Do we really believe that such a situation is conducive to the creation of pacifism or democracy? Have such conditions anywhere else in the world been able to create such things? Conditions of despair and hopelessness make fertile soil for the voices of revenge and violence. Is anyone surprised that Gaza does not produce 1.5 million Zionists? Did Operation Cast Lead endear the citizens of Gaza to the state of Israel? Apparently not, yet the Zionist state is once again gearing up for another round of destruction in Gaza. Why do they think another episode of murdering Palestinian civilians will solve anything this time when it has clearly only strengthened the resolve of both moderates and extremists to continue to resist the Zionist state in the present?

If we do not approach the Israel-Palestine conflict with a sincere desire to listen to the basic, historic grievance of the Palestinian people, we can be assured that violence and horror will continue in this part of the world. What can Israel do? They can acknowledge the pain of the Palestinian people when they suffered the terrible dispossession of 1948. They can acknowledge the wrongs they have committed against the indigenous Arab population. They can stop perpetuating the odious lie that Israel was a land with no people for a people with no land. They can reciprocate the acknowledgment of the Palestinian people in 1993 that Israel has the right to exist with safe and secure borders. They can acknowledge the legitimacy of International Law that deems the occupation of the West Bank with its Jewish only settlements, Israeli only highways, checkpoints and separation barrier as being illegal. This would be a brilliant start and would not require Israel giving up once square metre of land that was not given to it by international law. I am certain such acknowledgments would bring a lasting peace within a very short period of time.

But Israel is drunk with power. Power that has been inflated by the continued empowerment of the U.S. and the west. And the powerful never just hand over their power; that would require a type of wisdom never seen by politicians. Anyone who empowers anyone else to commit crimes against humanity is no true friend, but is exploiting the other party just as surely as night follows day. The U.S. in reality is no friend of Israel.

The open-air prison that is Gaza will continue to fill the need for justification felt by the supporters of the Zionist state of Israel. The continued oppression of the Gazans will undoubtedly provoke some to violence and this violence will be used by the self righteous amongst us to say yes to yet more oppression of the 1.5 million inhabitants of that tiny piece of real estate. Sanity and humility must prevail. Put yourself in the shoes of the powerful, the ones who have the power to make real steps towards reconciliation and justice. What would you do? If you are a Christian…what would Jesus do?

Craig Nielsen
ACTION FOR PALESTINE

An Invisible People

Christian Zionists are very fond of telling me that there is no such thing as a Palestinian and no such country as Palestine. The memorials to fallen diggers who died in a place (inscribed on the monuments) known as Palestine, seems to speak otherwise. These religious Zionists maintain that the ancestors of the Arabs who lay claim to rights of self determination in Israel-Palestine today, had no interest in the region until the Zionists came and drained the swamps and made the desert bloom. They demand that the vast majority of the so called “Palestinians” are recent immigrants and hence have no claim to the land in any sense. This argument somehow enables Christian Zionists to close their eyes and ears to the plight of Palestinians, denying them rights that any other people in the western world would take for granted.

Official census data inform us that the Arab population in Palestine in 1893 was 466,200. This would have made Palestine three times more densely populated with Arabs than the state of Tasmania is today with peoples of any type. The population of Jews in Palestine in 1893 was close to 30,000 and the vast majority of them were anti-Zionist in orientation. They required no “Separation Barrier” to protect them from suicide attackers and while they welcomed Jewish migration to Palestine, they did not want a Zionist State to come and ruin the centuries long peace they had enjoyed with the Arabs they lived with.

Christian Zionists tell us that even these 466,200 Arabs in 1893 were drawn to Palestine by the Zionist colonies that existed in Palestine at that time. The fact that the first Zionist colonies in Palestine (impoverished as they were) did not occur until around 1880 and were not to become a “going concern” until the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, doesn’t bother the advocates of this notion. An authoritative study done on this period by Neville Mandel reveals that only a tiny minority of Arabs and Bedouin would have felt any direct presence of the Zionists before 1908. The reality is that these hundreds of thousands of Arabs chose to live in Palestine of their own free will, completely independent from the influence of Zionism in Palestine. Large numbers of them could trace their family lines in Palestine back for centuries. I personally know a Palestinian living in Adelaide who can trace his family line back some 600 years in the land of Palestine.

British census data in 1922 state that the population in Palestine was 757,182 with 11% being Jewish. In 1930 the British counted 1,035,154 inhabitants of Palestine with 16.9% of them Jewish. By the time of the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan, some 1.3 million Arabs lived in Palestine with just over 500,000 Jews. Christian Zionists also charge that the increase in Arab population in the inter-war period was due to migration from Jordan and Syria despite the fact that this argument has been shown to be based on fabricated and unreliable evidence by numerous scholars all over the world, including Israel.

Defenders of the Zionists state’s sense of entitlement to the land of Palestine, over and above any consideration of the Arab population, are forced to admit that the only thing that everyone agrees with, is that it was the Jewish population that was (in the vast majority) the actual newcomers to Palestine. How can it be that recent Arab arrivals to Palestine somehow prove that Arabs have no claim to the land of Palestine while even more recent Jewish arrivals to Palestine never call Zionist sovereignty into question? A Zionist once insisted to me that some Arabs in 1947 had only been in Palestine for 8 years. I countered that a greater number of Jews had only been in Palestine for 8 months! The Bible tells us that the Jews were never indigenous to Palestine. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb (all the founding fathers of Israel) were not born in Israel. Other people groups lived in Palestine well before the Jewish people. Shall we trace their descendants and give them greater rights to anyone else who currently lives in the Holy land?

The point is that no matter how long a person has been living in the place that they choose to call home, they have the right to be treated as equals with all those who share the land with them regardless of race, colour or creed. We all have the right to live in the land we choose to live in, in a manner such that our identity does not place us in a position of disadvantage when compared to those that the state considers to be preferred.

The first Palestinian National Congress occurred in 1919, some 48 years before 1967, the date that some declare to be the time Arabs became interested in the concept of a Palestinian state for the first time. Prior to 1919, Palestine had been part of the Ottoman Turkish empire and Arab nationalist movements would have (not surprisingly) been frowned upon to say the least. Arab Palestinians contributed far more to the defeat of the Turks in Palestine in the First World War, to make a Jewish or Palestinian state even possible, than did the Zionists. Some Zionist leaders even considered supporting the Turks, the allies of Germany, in the Great War.

The Palestinian people might be invisible to Christian Zionists, but not to the God of the Bible. Not to Jesus. Jesus legendary desire to advocate for those considered invisible in Israel in His time, should ring alarm bells for followers of Jesus when we hear the Christian supporters of Zionist Israel demonise and disregard the Palestinian Arab population.

The right to equality for both Jews and Arabs in Israel-Palestine is not conferred by migration statistics, Zionist ideology, the Holocaust, misguided conceptions of God’s promise to Abraham advanced by Christian Zionists but by the simple fact that we ARE ALREADY EQUAL IN GOD’S SIGHT. God loves Palestinian Arabs just as much as He does Jewish people. That should be the beginning and end of the story for all Christians.

Craig Nielsen
ACTION FOR PALESTINE

Zionist Apartheid and the Unconditional Embrace of God

Recently I asked a (Christian) man in his later years, who believes in the idea of unconditional support for Israel, whether or not Christians should have openly opposed and protested against Apartheid in South Africa. To my initial surprise, he answered that Christians should not have bothered, it was irrelevant, “just preach the Gospel”. Quickly I remembered that the Pentecostal Church in South Africa, staunchly Christian Zionist in its doctrines, had very little to say about Apartheid in that country that was negative. My attitude of surprise started to drift towards one of frustration and then resignation over the state of the understanding of social justice issues amongst many conservative Christians. A month or two ago, Glen Beck, a well known media personality and Religious Right advocate in the U.S., advised Christians in America to abandon their church congregation if it was even starting to display an interest in social justice issues.

With regard to the issue of Apartheid and Israel, I was deeply affected when I found out that both Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, men who have had extensive experience living under a system of Apartheid in their homeland, have declared, upon visiting Israel and the Occupied Territories, that the policies of the Zionist State of Israel towards the Palestinian Arab population are examples of Apartheid. Documentation of the discrimination experienced by Arabs in Israel and the Occupied Territories is vast to say the least. For anyone wishing to read a very accessible guide to this issue, I recommend Ben White’s Israeli Apartheid: A Beginners Guide.

The most obvious symbol of this Apartheid regime is the “Separation Barrier” in the West Bank. Supporters of Israel are quick to demand that the decision to build the wall was forced upon Israel by the behaviour of the Palestinians, the suicide bombers in particular. They point to the fact that the suicide bombings have stopped since the wall’s construction as justification for the wall’s existence. The wall is fundamentally a security issue for Israelis. The lack of security felt by most Israelis that persists to this day is also evidence that the wall has also not brought any feelings of reconciliation between Arab and Jew in Israel either.

The claim that the wall is for security reasons requires deeper analysis. While regrettable, it is perfectly reasonable for someone to erect a barrier between themselves and a second party with whom they simply can not get along with to the point of violent confrontation. Everyone has a right to protect themselves. This is not the issue. We can easily imagine a scenario whereby two neighbours involved in a bitter dispute, that has led to violence,agree to erect a wall along the boundary line that divides the property of both parties. But when that wall, erected by the most powerful party in the dispute, is created in such a way that it invades into the very territory of the other neighbour, thereby including members of the family of this alleged foe on the side of the fence containing the property of the party that built the wall, we have to wonder about whether the wall has been erected as a pretense for something else.

Further to this, if the neighbour who built the fence also pays members of his own family to go and live on the other side of the fence on the property of those whom he say he feels unsafe from, then our confidence that the wall was made for security reasons crumbles. This scenario in fact mirrors that situation in Israel-Palestine today. Over 200,000 Palestinians in the West Bank live on the “Israel side” of the Wall and Israel offers lucrative incentives for Jewish people to live on the other side of the barrier. The barrier separates Arab from Arab, puts allegedly “dangerous Arabs” on the Israel side of the wall and the government of Israel actively encourages Jews to live amongst these “hateful Palestinians”. I simply do not believe the justification given for the barrier by the supporters of Zionism in Israel. I think many Israelis find it equally hard to justify but somehow the insecurity they generally feel outweighs common sense. Ilan Baruch, the Israeli diplomat who recently resigned because he could no longer justify the policies of the current Israeli government regarding the occupation of the West Bank, is very much in the minority.

It is also well known that since the separation barrier is only 58% complete, it is relatively easy for Palestinians in the West Bank to travel to Israel illegally. The use of suicide bombers was thankfully repudiated by Hamas in 2006. This was far more due to a change in strategy than the existence of the wall. It seems that Hamas has seen that is far more profitable to Islamisize the citizens of Gaza than involve them in suicide bombing. The separation barrier is part of a strategy which includes the illegal settlements, checkpoints and Israeli only highways (all of which violate international law) which seek to further marginalise and oppress the Palestinian people, provoking them to further frustration and unfortunately even to the point of violence in a minority of instances.

Israel is a Zionist State, a state owned by Jews for Jews, as defined by the State of Israel. Whereas most governments are chosen by the people, in the case of Israel, the people are chosen by the government. Israel is a state for Jewish people in a way that it can never be for non-Jews. Israel may be able to afford a measure of human rights for Arabs but it can never afford equal rights between Arab and Jew in Israel. In the Occupied Territories, the situation has been described as “Apartheid on steroids”.

In 1989, The Israeli Supreme Court made a ruling about candidates and parties running for election in Israel. It ruled that the Central Elections Committee may prevent a candidates’ list from participating in elections if its objectives or actions, expressly or by implication endorse the negation of the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people. What this means is that for anyone to participate in Israel’s “democracy” one must renounce the idea that Israel should be a democracy, that is, a state for all its people. The notion that any state that is a democracy should of necessity be a state for all its people, is commonly accepted as the minimal requirement for a state to be declared democratic. If an Islamic state is deemed intrinsically to be undemocratic, then so must a Jewish State.

The state sanctioned inequality of rights between Jew and Arab in Palestine inevitable leads to oppression of the less privileged.

I can not help but be reminded of the demands of the Torah.

Ex 22:21 “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.

Eze 47:21 “You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel.
Eze 47:22 You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.
Eze 47:23 In whatever tribe the alien settles, there you are to give him his inheritance,” declares the Sovereign LORD.

God’s intention in the land of Israel was for equality between Jew and non-Jew in accordance with the truth that God’s love and concern is for all people’s of the world. Whereas the Holocaust of Pharaoh was used as a means ( in scripture) to encourage Jews to specifically ensure that non-Jews in Israel were not oppressed, the Holocaust of the Nazis is used by the Zionists as a means to ensure that Jews do not suffer a similar fate in the future (a noble goal) but in a manner that ignores the oppression of non-Jews that is an inevitable consequence of the Zionist answer to the Jewish question.

In the end, the Torah’s authority will outlast the dogmas of Zionism however well intentioned they may seem at the moment to the supporters of Israel.

Craig Nielsen
ACTION FOR PALESTINE

Israel or Genocide?

Many Zionists and supporters of Israel tell us that the State of Israel is the only real guarantee for the survival of the Jewish people. I remember once hearing how Jewish people who did not support the Zionist State were referred to as “Jews for Genocide” by some Zionists. A Jewish friend of mine, having renounced her Israeli citizenship, told me that as a child growing up in Israel she was constantly taught that another Holocaust was just around the corner. It was not a matter of if, but when. Zionism teaches that assimilation or integration for Jews outside of Israel is a dangerous day dream since anti-Semitism is like an incurable illness in all gentiles, even the nice ones.

It seems, from my observation, that Zionism promotes the idea in Jewish people that their abuse (the Holocaust) plays a very large part in their identity as Jews. This is the very opposite of what counselors encourage their clients, who have been abused as children, to believe about themselves. I guess in the end how Jewish people choose to identify themselves with regard to this issue is their choice. It is finally up to the Jewish people themselves to come up with an interpretation of the meaning of the Holocaust that they can live with.

Having said that, I find the notion that the survival of the Jewish people is critically dependent on the existence of the Zionist State of Israel, to be hard to fathom. Zionists are happy to affirm that from 130AD, to the beginning of the Zionist era in Palestine, Jewish people survived without the State of Israel being in existence in any form. Even the survival of the Holocaust itself by the Jews of Europe also occurred without the existence of Israel. Only about 250,000 Jews migrated to Palestine in the years of Nazi Germany. Only after the Holocaust did Jews move in large numbers to Palestine. Historically, one of the main ways that Jews avoided anti-Semitism, was to spread out in communities all over the world. This meant that if anti-Semitism sprung up in one place, that Jews would have multiple escape routes to safety. Bunching up made Jews more vulnerable. One could argue that the current situation in Israel is a testimony to the common sense of this approach for Jews today. The majority of Jews freely choose to live outside of Israel while seeing the Zionist state as a sort of insurance policy against another Holocaust.

From a Christian point of view, I see that the survival of the Jewish people (where ever they live) is due to the merciful hand of the Almighty, as it is for all the peoples of the earth. The nation of Israel, however, was never created by God as a place for Jews to “hide” from anti-Semitism. The Divine mandate for Jews in Israel was far more positive and inspiring than anything Zionist ideology can come up with. The biblical teaching regarding God’s protection of Israel in ancient times is very instructive when compared to today’s Israel. In biblical times, when Israel went to war, God commanded Israel to enter battle with inferior troops so that when the battle was won, it would be unambiguously due to the gracious hand of God and not the military strength of the Israelites. How different to the situation with the current state of Israel!

Israel today is one of the most militarised nations in the world. The armed forces are held in very high regard by the majority of Israelis. Virtually all political leaders in Israel have been military leaders sometime in their careers as well. Israel boasts one of the most well trained and well equipped fighting forces in the world and certainly the best in the region. Thanks to billions of dollars in aid from the U.S. it has access to the most high-tech armaments in the world. Though not officially recognised, its nuclear arsenal gives it regional super-power status. Without doubt the I.D.F. takes full credit for Israels military successes, due to the I.D.F.’s courage and proficiency in the profession of arms rather than telling the world of its own incompetence and giving witness to the hand of the Almighty who protects Israel. For the I.D.F. to proclaim that Israel’s military victories were not due to its own fighting ability but rather due to the hand of God acting despite Israel’s military frailty would be unthinkable.

One might imagine that if the hand of God were protecting Israel today,as He did in ancient times, Israel would hardly be in need of 200 nuclear missiles and the best military hardware money can buy. Remember that in scripture, the protecting hand of God, with regards to the wars that Israel fought, had to be plainly and unambiguously shown to be the real reason for Israel’s victory, so that Israel would know that victory had come about by God’s faithfulness to Israel rather than Israel’s own might. This factor was critical as the Old Testament clearly reveals.

Thanks for Israels continued existence in the Middle East is directed towards the I.D.F. far more that it is to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by Israelis today. If God were protecting Israel, in a fashion as depicted in scripture, to give thanks to the I.D.F. would seem paradoxical in light of the realities of war waged and won by God on Israel’s behalf. When David slew Goliath, he didn’t need the best military equipment and 200 nuclear weapons backing him up to do it. A sling shot in the hands of an untrained boy was enough to do the job. When God was on Israels side in war, He wanted this fact to be testified to by the way in which battle was actually carried out by the Israelites so that Israel could not have even the remotest grounds to boast and glory in their own strength.

The Christian Zionist claim that Israel exists today by God’s protection in a manner analogous to that displayed in Old Testament times lacks any credibility. While God sustains humanity by His providential care, to claim biblical legitimacy for the Zionist State of Israel based on claims that it is God who fights for the Israelis just as He did in ancient times as revealed in scripture, is invalid. Orthodox anti-Zionist Jews remember that it is the Torah that sustains them, the very word of God, not Zionist nationalism.

Craig Nielsen
ACTION FOR PALESTINE

Christian Zionist Ethics

The ethical stance taken by advocates of Christian Zionism, with regard to the Israel-Palestine conflict, although somewhat convoluted and contradictory at best, can be summed up by the following: Unconditional support for the State of Israel is the duty of all Christians.

For Christian Zionists, the Israelis have a license to do as they wish in the land of Israel with possibly the only exception being that they must not give in to the cries of injustice made by the Palestinian people and allow any of Greater Israel to come under non-Jewish rule. Hence Christian Zionists never criticise Israel for any atrocities they commit against Palestinian Arabs, be they Christian, Muslim, secular or even other Jews, but they would, for example, criticise Israeli leaders like Ariel Sharon, for the withdrawal of Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip in 2005. In the eyes of the Christian Zionists, the only mandate for Jews in Israel is to conquer all the land at any cost.

The ethical and religious traditions of Judaism, with regards to the covenant of the land, made by God and the Jewish people at Mount Sinai, are basically irrelevant according to Christian Zionist teaching. The fact that the State of Israel is a Zionist Secular State is of no consequence to them regardless of the fact that scripture plainly teaches that God is intimately concerned with the ethical behaviour of His people while living in the land of Israel. In fact, occupation of the land by the Jews is completely conditional upon their adherence to the ethical and religious traditions of the Torah. As the Chosen people of God, they are unique in that they alone have a specific covenant, recorded in detail in scripture, regarding their occupation of the land.

A secular state ideology that repudiates the Torah clearly stands outside the conditions of the covenant of the land God made with the Hebrews at Sinai. It doesn’t take a prophet sent by God like Jeremiah or Isaiah to see that secular Zionism is a rebellion against the open worship of God. Christian Zionist silence on this matter puts them in a position of complicity with the Zionist rebellion against the Torah and hence against God. God calls all people, not just specially designated prophets, to speak out against injustice and rebellion in the land of Israel. Why? Because God cares about injustice against the vulnerable in the land as mentioned in scripture too many times to enumerate here.

Christian Zionist apathy towards the breaking of the covenant of the land by the Zionist State is achieved by an argument that over-emphasises the concept of the Sovereignty of God in the history of the world and a virtual complete dismissal of the responsibility of Jewish people with regard to their ethical behaviour on a day to day basis in Israel. In Christian Zionist theology, the Sovereignty of God not only trumps the responsibility of Jews in Israel, it annuls it.

The Christian Zionist demand that the State of Israel is the “apple of God’s eye” and that the hand of God is upon them means that no criticism of Israel is allowed. God’s overall plan repudiates the need for Israel to be challenged about its rebellious behaviour against the Torah of God. Whereas the prophets of old challenged Israel with great force, no such criticism is allowed today.

The Zionist rebellion against God is of no consequence since we are told that God’s hand is on the land and that He has brought the Jews back to the land as He said He would. Israel has a blank cheque, a license to do as it pleases in the eyes of Christian Zionism. The responsibility of Jews in Israel, as clearly stated in the Torah, is suddenly drowned out by hysterical appeals to the sovereignty of God and claims of fulfilled prophecy. The disappearance of the moral and ethical demands of God regarding the Jewish people in Israel, has been justified in Christian Zionist dogma.

All Christians must endorse the state of Israel and not criticise it, regardless of the fact that it has violated its covenantal responsibilities with regard to the land from the very outset. Anyone reading the curses that Jews must face if they disobey God while in the land, would be forgiven for thinking that God is deadly serious about whether or not Israel obeys Him while occupying the land, but the Christian Zionists inform us that this would be a mistake.

While God was really concerned about this in the past, it matters to Him no more and so it should not matter to us either. God’s plan to restore the nation of Israel can only apply to the Zionist state as it is today and hence all will be put right by God in the near future. No need for crying out about the rebellious Zionists and the atrocities they have committed in the recent past. Since God is going to restore Israel any moment, there is no need to worry about whether or not Israel fulfils its covenantal responsibility. In other words, the end justifies the means! Because God knows (and so would we if we would only listen to the wisdom of the Bible as revealed by Christian Zionists) that He has plans to make all things right in Israel, we should not criticise Israel for the sins that it commits today. Injustices committed today and in the making of the Zionist State should be ignored. God is using all things to bring about His plans for Israel and so nothing should be challenged.

Perhaps Jeremiah should have responded to the word that God gave Him regarding Israel as follows;

Hmmm…Israel is the “apple of God’s eye” and His hand is upon them and He has a wonderful plan for them. He has everything in control! No need to worry about the sins of Israel…God is Sovereign. He is allowing them to do these sinful acts for a reason! I should just shut up and remember that God will curse me if I criticise His people.

The Christians Zionists attitude to the state of Israel verges on idolatry. Israel can do no wrong, it can never be challenged. To criticise or challenge the State of Israel when they break their covenantal responsibilities will invoke a curse from God, while blessing it in its rebellion will ensure a blessing from same. Such interpretations of God’s promises to Abraham are unknown to Judaism. In effect these interpretations are invoked when Christian Zionist interpretations are challenged by students of scripture.

The ethical stand of Christian Zionism towards the state of Israel is contradictory in the extreme. The legitimacy of the state of Israel in the land is not decided on by whether or not is in rebellion against the covenant of the land God made with it at Sinai, but simply by the Christian Zionist pronouncement that the current State of Israel, regardless of its attitude now, will be restored in the future. It’s what happens in the future, according to their reading of scripture, which decides what is acceptable today. This ethical stance is fundamentally repudiated by scripture.

The contradictory nature of Christian Zionist logic is clearly evident when we give it even the smallest amount of scrutiny. Since the creation of the State of Israel, as it is today, is by the Sovereign plan of God and part of His plan to restore the nation of Israel and the return of Christ, we should not be concerned about Israel’s legitimacy in the land because of its breaking of the covenant that it made with God at Sinai. That is irrelevant. God doesn’t care about such things these days. We should endorse anything that brings about the creation of the State of Israel and its project to take control of all of Greater Israel because this is the Sovereign plan of God. God can use any means to bring about His plans, even if they might seem unfair at first.

By this logic, all Christians should endorse the Holocaust. It is universally recognised that the Holocaust was a major factor in the minds of the members of the United Nations when deciding on whether or not to create an Israeli state in Palestine. Jewish migration to Palestine, something applauded by Christian Zionists, took a major move upward during the reign of the Nazis. God clearly used the Holocaust to bring about the state of Israel so we must endorse the destruction of six million Jews! Any other attitude to the Holocaust shows Christian Zionist hypocrisy.

Christian theologians of all descriptions have agreed that God sovereignly allows evil to occur for purposes that may seem obvious sometimes and completely inscrutable at others. Regardless of how we do or do not interpret the reasons that God allows evil, we are called by God to resist that evil ,even if it appears to be facilitating prophetic fulfilment or not. The act of God in allowing evil in no way implies God’s endorsement of that very same evil. What God does not endorse according to His own morality, should not be endorsed by us regardless of the fact that God has chosen to allow it to happen. The end justifies the means is a fatalistic statement not found or endorsed in any way in scripture. The details of God’s plan to fulfil His predestined decrees are His business. Our business is to resist the evil that God allows to occur in this world regardless of whether or not we think we understand why it has occurred according to our own understandings of eschatology. The breaking of the Mosaic covenant of the land by the Zionist State is a breaking of God’s covenant and is not endorsed by God regardless of how in the end God uses that rebellion to fulfil His plan. Since God does not endorse such behaviour then neither should we and silence on such a matter, when the possible consequences are so grave, is not justifiable. The future is for God to decide. The responsibility to our fellow human beings, as outlined by the merciful actions of God who hears the voice of the poor and oppressed and advocates for them, is just that…our responsibility. Our ethics are derived from the Sermon on the Mount and God’s universal concern for all people’s rights as revealed in God’s word.

The ethics of Christianity are Christalogically based. They are not centred on doctrines of eschatology. Ethics based on eschatology are presumptive upon alleged knowledge of future events and inevitably lead to an “end justifies the means” mentality. This type of arrogant use of God’s word betrays itself as bad theology by its outcome. The priority of caring for one’s neighbour regardless of colour or creed is abandoned for an ethic that discriminates against those who are alleged not to be in God’s books according to sectarian doctrines of the end times. Christ calls us to see each other first as human beings rather than those who are on the right track of God’s end times plan and those who are not.

CRAIG NIELSEN

Action for Palestine.

The Three Oaths of the Talmud

The Christian Zionist understanding of the relationship between the Jewish people and the land of Palestine, as revealed in the Old Testament scriptures, is superficial at best and heresy at the worst. The Bible most emphatically does not teach that the Jewish people have an absolute entitlement to the land of Palestine by virtue of their ancestry to Abraham alone. The conditionality of their possession of the land, explicitly referred to in the Pentateuch, tells us that the Jewish people are aliens in the land of Palestine: – tenants of the God whose land it is. Without living up to the ethical conditions of their tenancy, Israel faces expulsion from the land God promised them, until finally, by grace alone, they can return legitimately.

As well as this testimony from the common heritage of the Old Testament, there is the witness of the Talmud. The Talmud is the collection of commentaries of the Mishna, which draws upon its conclusions in the formulation of Jewish law. It is in this Holy Jewish writing (Kesubos 111a) that we find further illumination to the relationship of the Holy land to God’s chosen people.

Professor Yakov M. Rabkin of Montreal University in Canada relates the section of the Talmud in question.

The Talmud relates the three oaths sworn on the eve of the dispersal of what remained of the people of Israel to the four corners of the earth; not to return en masse and in organized fashion to the Land of Israel; not to rebel against the nations; and that the nations do not subjugate Israel exceedingly (2006, p. 71).

Jewish tradition informs us that God made the Rabbis take these solemn oaths at the dispersal of the Jewish people from Israel in 130 A.D. The people were to not return “as a wall” to the land. It has been interpreted by many Rabbis and Jewish scholars that this return could not be a return to the land either by forceful or peaceful means. The logic behind this stems from the combined meaning of the first and second oaths. A taking of the land by force would by necessity rebel against the nations since those dispossessed by the returning Jewish masses would obviously be driven to wrath for the harm done to them. If the first oath only prohibited a return by force, then the second oath not to rebel against the nations would seem to make the first oath redundant. The first oath would still make sense in light of the second if the prohibition to enter the land was referring to any effort at all to reclaim the land of Israel by the Jewish people.

At the heart of the oaths is the belief that to usher in the final Messianic age of peace is an act of God, by grace alone. Just as Christians have believed for two centuries that salvation is wrought sola gratia, so the vast majority of Jewish rabbis have taught that no human effort is either necessary or permissible in the consummation of the redemption of creation by God. They taught that the Messiah must come first and then the Jews would return to the land in a miraculous fashion, bringing in a world wide age of peace and service to God such that no injustice or dispossession of the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine would occur.

The claim that the State of Israel is responsible for the violence between Jew and Arab in the Middle East is met with counter claims of anti-Semitism by Zionists and their supporters. Yet a simple study of history reveals that Jew and Arab have a long history of cooperation and tolerance between each other in the land of Palestine and the Middle East in general. Anti-Semitism was never the force in the Arab world that it was, and still is, in Europe.

The traditions of Judaism have never portrayed the Jewish people as “eternal victims” of what we call anti-Semitism. The lessons of the enslavement of the Hebrews by the Egyptians and the attempted genocide of the Children of Israel by Pharaoh are echoed in the Torah time and time again. These lessons can be summed up by the simple statement: Do not oppress those different to you for you were once oppressed yourselves. In other words; see to it that oppression of the vulnerable never occurs – to anyone. This lesson of the Torah, put even more succinctly by Rabbi Hillel, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to others.” stands in stark contrast to the lessons that Zionism has taken from the Holocaust: See to it that oppression never happens again – to us. If others need to be oppressed so that we can be free, then so be it. We have an entitlement to do so because we are Jewish and no one else has a right to tell us differently. All criticism of our sense of entitlement is proof of the anti-Semitic nature of the nations.

Jewish tradition recognises that Jewish people have a responsibility not to provoke the nations to wrath and hence bring anti-Semitism upon themselves. This does not imply that all anti-Semitism has been provoked or that even when provoked it is justified, but that the Jewish people are not without responsibility in how the nations deal with them. They are not the hapless, eternal victims of a world that hates them.

Zionists today are not slow to point out that the Arab world is, and always has been, intensely anti-Semitic. One wonders why a secular Zionism would seek refuge from European anti-Semitism by creating a Zionist state in the middle of an anti-Jewish Arab world. Were the early Zionists naive?  Would they not have known that the Arab world would reject their efforts to create a Zionist state in their midst just as fervently as the Germans would have rejected the creation of a Jewish state in the middle of Germany? If Zionists knew that the Arab world would reject the creation of their homeland, would they not have been prepared to take it by force right from the beginning? Would they not have been ready to act with violence to counter this anti-Semitism right from the start? Indeed, would intelligent Zionist leaders (knowing the absolute nature of Arab hatred for Jews) have discerned the need to act in a pre-emptive fashion so as to guarantee the initial success of their venture to form a Zionist state? In 1967 Israeli leaders acted in a pre-emptive manner to destroy the Egyptian Air force, delivering victory to the Zionist State before a single Arab had attacked Israel.

Logic tells us that the Zionists took the land of Palestine by force. How else would they expect to create a homeland for themselves in a land they continually demand has always been inhabited by Arabs who hate Jews for no reason?  Or perhaps Arabs have not always been at odds with the Jewish people and this fact was exploited by the Zionists in order to push their way into Palestine, blaming the hatred that they stirred up in the Arabs by the dispossession they suffered in their homeland not on the injustice of this act but on the same insanity that overtook Germany in the 1930’s and 40’s.

It is difficult to imagine how the Zionists have not trampled on the oaths of the Talmud as much as they have trampled on the rights of the Palestinian people. When you trample on the vulnerable and the powerless, you trample on the Torah. Those secular Jews who stand up for equality and justice for the indigenous people of Palestine show their Jewishness far more than a thousand Jews who say they believe in God yet oppress the alien among them.

Craig Nielsen

ACTION FOR PALESTINE

Lessons from the Exodus

The great redemption event of the Old Testament Scriptures of the Bible is known as the Exodus, the story of which is contained in the book of the same name. To understand the message of this book, as well as the rest of the Pentateuch, is pivotal to a proper understanding of both Judaism and Christianity. The lessons learnt from this book, both theological and political, have far reaching consequences for today’s world. However, the consequences for one particular country, the Zionist State of Israel, are quite probably so dire, that one would assume that the book of Exodus would be required reading for every citizen of that country.

The story of the Exodus is hardly unknown in the western world. From Sunday school to DreamWorks Animation’s, “The Prince of Egypt”, most people have been exposed to the basic story of the Exodus. The Exodus is a physical as well as a symbolic example of Divine redemption. It is a redemption won completely by the hand of the Almighty. An unmerited act of favour bestowed on the descendants of Abraham by virtue of the gracious covenant made by God with the Patriarch some 400 years before.

The land of Canaan, promised to Abraham’s descendants by God, is still inhabited by a people not related to Abraham when the story line is picked up at beginning of the book of Exodus. Abraham is long dead, as is his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob. Jacob’s twelve sons have also perished and most importantly, a Pharaoh has risen in Egypt that knows nothing of the favoured position that Joseph, Jacob’s favourite son, had enjoyed in the courts of Pharaoh when the children of Israel first moved to Egypt to escape the calamity of an oncoming famine.

The Hebrews had been fruitful and had multiplied in number in Egypt up to a point where the Egyptians feared that the Hebrews large population would put in jeopardy the Egyptian’s majority rule. Egypt was wealthy, powerful and a noble civilisation. It was an empire that shone like a beacon in an otherwise dark and brutal world. Its system of justice and fairness to Egyptians left the other nations in a position of envy. But all that would be put at risk if the Hebrews were allowed to get the upper hand. Egypt would be overrun by uncivilised hoards and her glory would turn to ashes. Something had to be done by Pharaoh.

His answer was a combination of slavery and genocide. The children of Israel were put under the bonds of slavery to work for the Egyptian empire that feared them. But the more oppressed the Hebrews were, the more they multiplied in number and the more the fear of them increased in the hearts of the Egyptians. The more the fear of them increased the more the hatred of them increased. The descendants of Abraham cried out from under the bonds of the pitiless oppression they suffered. They cried out in anguish and God, remembering His promise to Abraham, came to their rescue. He came to their rescue not because they were a righteous people, deserving of mercy by their own virtue, but because of the unmerited compassion and love of the Almighty.

According to the plan of God, Moses was saved from the Pharaoh ordained policy of infanticide against God’s chosen people. But years later Moses, upon seeing the suffering of his people, reacted in anger and killed an Egyptian for abusing one of the Hebrew slave workers. He covered up the murder and fled into the wilderness trying to escape the consequences of his crime.

Years later God called Moses once again and after visiting the famous ten plagues on the Egyptians, the children of Israel were finally driven from their place of torment in Egypt by the edge of the swords of the Egyptians themselves. The Exodus narrative clearly demonstrates that the salvation of God came by grace alone, despite the faithlessness of the Hebrews. The Jewish people complained, “Were there not enough graves in Egypt that we had to be brought into the desert to die?” .At no stage did they display a trust or faith in the God who was saving them from the oppression they cried out from. Yet God in His grace never faltered in His mercy to them. His plan to save them was His choice, not theirs. He desired to take them as a people for Himself; to be a royal priesthood and a Holy nation and through them God would bless all families of the earth in His gracious plan to redeem all of creation.

At Sinai, God gave His people the Law. In numerous places in that Law God reminded His people of the plight He had rescued them from so graciously. He reminded them that all they had was due to the graciousness of God and not won by their own hand or by their own virtue. They were to be a people not like any of the nations of the world; the royal priesthood of the gracious God of Abraham. They were to be the people of grace, justice and mercy: A people who craved the grace and justice of God rather than the power, wealth and status desired by the nations. They were to have no King, God would be their King. Israel was not to be a meritocracy for it was never created by human means. It was to be a kingdom of grace.

God reminded the Hebrews of His mercy to them in Egypt whenever He commanded His people about how to treat non-Jews living amongst them. The entire story was to be a lesson in how to treat others different from themselves who shared the land of Canaan with them. Israel was never to behave like Egypt.

Fast forward to the time of Jesus. When asked why He ate and drank with sinners, Jesus told a story that has become one of the most beloved of all the New Testament parables: The Parable of the Prodigal Son. This parable of the father who spoiled his lost, undeserving, sinful, prodigal son when he found him once again was meant to sound strangely familiar to the Jewish religious teachers of the day. Not only was it a story of God’s love for the lost of Jesus day, it mirrored the story of the Exodus. Israel was and always has been the prodigal son of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God had always been redeeming and unconditionally accepting prodigals and Jesus was doing exactly the same as His Father.

Now fast forward to the present day. Has the Zionist state of Israel remembered the commandments of its prodigal son loving God?

In 1948 the Zionist State of Israel was created following the mandate of the United Nations in 1947. In previous generations Jews and Palestinian Arabs had been on good terms. Islam and Judaism had co-existed in the region for 13 centuries. But all that was about to change. In 1948, fifty five percent of the land of Palestine was given to the Zionists when Jews comprised barely a third of the population and officially owned only 6% of the land. But a huge problem remained. The numbers of Arabs in Israel put fear in the hearts of the Zionists. At the time of the creation of the Zionist State, the population of Israel was roughly 499,000 Jews to 510,000 Arabs. The Zionist State desired to be a democracy, a land of freedom that would be a shining example of civilisation in the otherwise barbaric Middle East. But all these Arabs would destroy the glory that was to be the New Zionist Israel. Something had to be done by Ben Gurion and his compatriots.

What they came up with was known as Plan Dalet. The ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The Arab world rejected the partition of Palestine because of the injustice it did to the indigenous Palestinians. Even before one Arab soldier came into Palestine to defend its native people, some 300,000 Palestinians had been dispossessed by Zionist forces. After six months of ethnic cleansing operations, nearly 800,000 Palestinians had been removed from their homes. Now the Zionists had a majority in Israel. The Zionists promptly demolished the houses of the dispossessed Palestinians so they could not return and within 2 years they enacted the Law of Return so that Jews and their spouses from anywhere in the world could come to Israel and gain full citizenship while the indigenous Palestinians, made refugees in 1948, could only watch in dismay. Now Israel could be a true democracy!

No move on to 1967. While stateless Palestinians sheltered in what was now only 22% of their original homeland, Arab nations sought ways to undo the damage done in 1948. In June of 1967, in response to Egyptian troops building up in the Sinai, Israel launched a pre-emptive attack on its enemies and in six days it defeated its foes and occupied the remaining 22% of Palestine. Now the Zionists had all of Palestine under their control! But there was a huge problem. The same one they and the Egyptians had faced previously. There were still too many Arabs. Israel wanted to be a shining light of democracy to the world and be a nation of power and wealth and military strength. But these Arabs were a bunch of barbarians and they would tare down the Zionist State and turn it into a sewer of Islamist demagoguery. Something had to be done.

This time they decided not to ethnically cleanse the remaining Palestinians in the occupied territories. No country would take any more refugees and the world was watching this time anyway. This time they would come up with another plan. They would keep the Palestinians in huge open air prisons with Palestinians running the prisons on the inside but Zionists holding all the keys and minding all the exits and standing on all the walls. If the inmates co-operated with their keepers they would be given privileges; they could go out and work in Israel for Israelis (so long as they had a permit). If they rebelled against their jailers, the riot squad would be sent in to deal with the trouble makers. If they did not stop misbehaving, the Zionists would lay siege to the prison until the will of the Palestinians was broken.

Now at last Israel can be a democracy! A shining light of freedom in an otherwise dark world of tyranny and hopelessness. Israel can now be like Egypt! Who better to be the jailers of Palestinian barbarians than the Zionists? Who else could deal with such a dreadful situation in such a civilised manner?

History has been utterly reversed. Now the Zionists sit in the seat of Pharaoh and proceed to strangle the life out of the Palestinians with the same sense of entitlement that motivated the Egyptian Monarch. The Zionist State of Israel has violated all the ethical principals that exist as conditions for the Jewish people’s occupation of Palestine. As Egypt was destroyed and Israel was later twice to be forced into exile by the hand of God, so the current State of Israel moves ever closer to the edge of oblivion as it rebels against its God given mandate to love the alien as one of their own native born. The lessons of the Exodus have been ignored by the Zionists. In reality, its message has been buried under a mountain of secular nationalistic idolatry and justified by the continual bombardment of Zionist interpretations of the meaning of the Shoah. This is no surprise to anyone who knows of the origins of Zionism. A secular nationalistic movement that sought to redefine Jewishness in a way that centred on nationalism rather than Torah values. As the Israeli intellectual, Boaz Evron once said, “Zionism is indeed the negation of Judaism”.

Craig Nielsen

ACTION FOR PALESTINE

Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict

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