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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

Jerusalem: The City of God in Biblical Tradition

Posted on February 24, 2012 by Stephen Sizer

Jerusalem is the crucible of three world faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. However, Zionists deny history and the will of entire international community when they insist “Jerusalem is the undivided, eternal and exclusive capital of the Jewish people.”

The annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967 and the aggressive strategy of Palestinian house demolitions, illegal Jews-only settlements and the construction of the apartheid Separation Barrier have all created ‘facts on the ground’.  When challenged, Jewish Zionists and their Christian supporters claim a higher mandate than the United Nations for their exclusive claim to Jerusalem – the Word of God.

This paper will refute this view and demonstrate from the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures that Jerusalem was always intended to be an inclusive city of peace for all who acknowledge the One true God. Practical steps will be offered for ways in which people of faith can work together to resolve the present conflict.

1.  Jerusalem in the Hebrew Scriptures: A Shared City
The story of Jerusalem goes way back to the Book of Genesis. It is possible that Jerusalem was the home of the Melchizedek the priest and king who blessed Abraham in Genesis 14.  He is referred to as the ‘king of Salem’ which later became identified with Jerusalem. Mount Moriah, where Abraham offered his son as a sacrifice, is also identified in 2 Chronicles 3 as the same place where king Solomon built his Temple. While the right of residence in Jerusalem was always conditional of faithful obedience, God’s intention has always been that Jerusalem be shared. In Psalm 87 we have a beautiful picture of an international and inclusive city where residency rights are determined by God on the basis of faith not race.

“Glorious things are said of you, city of God:  “I will record Rahab and Babylon among those who acknowledge me— Philistia too, and Tyre, along with Cush — and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.’ “Indeed, of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High himself will establish her.” The LORD will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion.” (Psalm 87:3-6)

It is a universal norm that where we are born determines our nationality and citizenship. The same applies in God’s kingdom. Spiritual new birth brings with it the entitlement to citizenship of Jerusalem on the basis of faith not race.

This psalm therefore rebukes and challenges the narrowness of nationalistic pride and prejudice. Similarly, in Isaiah 2, we learn that people of many different nations will come to Jerusalem and put their faith in God and walk in his ways. One of the glorious consequences of this is that Jerusalem will become associated with the end of war, and with peace and reconciliation between the nations.

“The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:3-5).

2. Jerusalem in the Christian Scriptures: A Heavenly City

So what place does Jerusalem fulfil within Christian tradition? There is both good and bad news. First, the bad news. Far from promising a prosperous future at the centre of a revived Jewish state or even a millennial kingdom, Jesus lamented the impending destruction of Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.  Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Luke 13:34-35)

Quoting Psalm 118:26, Jesus displays the instincts of a protective mother concerned for the people of Jerusalem as if they were his very children. A little later, on Palm Sunday, Jesus expresses perhaps his strongest emotions toward the city and its fickle people:

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.  They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 19:41-44)

With the total destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, stone by stone, the slaughter of tens of thousands of Jews and the exile of the remnant as slaves of Rome, Jesus’ sad prediction came true, to the letter. The Christian scriptures instead, look increasingly to another Jerusalem.

The focus of the New Testament shifts away from an earthly onto a heavenly Jerusalem which by faith in Jesus, we are already citizens.

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband… I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.  The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.”
(Revelation 21:2, 22-24).

In this one all consuming vision, God’s people now embrace all nations, God’s land encompasses the whole earth, and God’s holy city has become the eternal dwelling place of all who trust in Him.

3. Jerusalem in God’s Purposes: A Reconciling City
To summarize, in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, God reveals that he expects Jerusalem to be a shared, inclusive city of faith, hope and love.  The Scriptures also envisage a glorious future for Jerusalem. One that impacts and benefits the entire world. The vision is of an inclusive and shared Jerusalem in which the nations, including the Jewish people, are blessed.  Perhaps this is why, when Jesus rebuked the religious leaders for exploiting the international visitors to the temple, he quotes from Isaiah, “For my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:7, cf. Matthew 21:13). But today, we have to live with the reality of a Jerusalem that is associated with apartheid and racism, with exclusive claims that can only be sustained by oppression and injustice, by military occupation, the denial of human rights, the disregard for international law, access to religious sites and freedom of expression. Living between Jerusalem past and Jerusalem future, what is our religious responsibility in the present? In June 2009, I helped write the Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism endorsed and signed by the Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem. The Declaration explains the reasons for their rejection of the exclusive Zionist claims to Jerusalem.

Statement by the Patriarch and Local Heads of Churches In Jerusalem[1]

‘Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.’
(Matthew 5:9)

“We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation…

We affirm that all people are created in the image of God. In turn they are called to honour the dignity of every human being and to respect their inalienable rights.

We affirm that Israelis and Palestinians are capable of living together within peace, justice and security.

We affirm that Palestinians are one people, both Muslim and Christian. We reject all attempts to subvert and fragment their unity.

We call upon all people to reject the narrow world view of Christian Zionism and other ideologies that privilege one people at the expense of others.

We are committed to non-violent resistance as the most effective means to end the illegal occupation in order to attain a just and lasting peace.

With urgency we warn that Christian Zionism and its alliances are justifying colonisation, apartheid and empire-building.

God demands that justice be done. No enduring peace, security or reconciliation is possible without the foundation of justice. The demands of justice will not disappear. The struggle for justice must be pursued diligently and persistently but non-violently.

‘What does the Lord require of you, to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.’ (Micah 6:8)

By standing on the side of justice, we open ourselves to the work of peace – and working for peace makes us children of God. ”

On Palm Sunday, the Apostle Luke tells us,

“As he [Jesus] approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:41-42).

I believe Jesus continues to weep not only over Jerusalem, but also for all his children in the Middle East. I believe he weeps , for those who promote a theology of war and conquest that contradicts the model Jesus has given us in Himself.

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).

May God give us the courage and strength to fulfil this role.

 

Our western society seems to take it for granted that Arabs in general, and Palestinians in particular, are anti-Semites. How else can we explain Arab violence towards the state of Israel? Israeli lobbyist, Alex Joffe, has recently said that Arabs only understand ‘somebody smacking them on the head,’ http://mondoweiss.net/2011/08/arabs-only-understand-somebody-smacking-them-on-the-head-explains-israel-lobbyistarchaeologist-who-lives-in-new-rochelle.html.

We are advised that, to depict Arabs, particularly Muslim Arabs, as barbarians, is not racist, it is simply an observation, an historical reality of life in the Middle East. When it comes to Hamas, we are in anti-Arab heaven. Hamas are the very minions of hell. Westerners are free to vent their racist attitudes towards these people. They drink to the very dregs with no sense of shame at their hateful indulgence. We are told that Hamas deserves all our hatred and vilification. Goldstien looks loved in comparison. When Christ said that we should love our enemies, we all know that He wasn’t referring to Hamas any more than He was referring to Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Ted Bundy or Genghis Khan. We should not love all people as equals regardless of whether they are Jew or gentile…

Israels supporters very often demand that Europeans are clearly superior to the Arabs and hence the civilised world must not cave in to liberal demands for Palestinian rights. To do so would mean losing the battle for civilization. Israel is the front line of US versus THEM.

The following article and video appeared on the Electronic Intifada website. It gives us a bit more balanced idea of racism in the Middle East.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nb_vXaVKaMM&

Video survey: Racism rampant among Israeli youth

Eli Ungar-Sargon

The Electronic Intifada

18 August 2011

Over the past three years, my wife Pennie and I have been working on a documentary film about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During our second production trip to the region, one of the many remarkable people we encountered was Uri Davis. He is one of a handful of Israelis who has built a life for himself among the Palestinians of the West Bank. This made him a very interesting subject for our film, which examines the practical and moral failings of the two-state solution.

During our interview with Davis, one of the questions we asked was whether he had encountered any anti-Semitism in the West Bank. The question was motivated by a desire on our part to address a narrative — prevalent among American and Israeli Jews — which claims that anti-Semitism is an obvious feature of Palestinian culture.

As these two groups are an important part of our target audience, we felt that it was our responsibility to address this perception. Who better to ask about the veracity of this narrative than a Jew living among Palestinians? Davis answered by saying that although Palestinian anti-Semitism does exist, it is a marginal phenomenon, while anti-Arab sentiment among Israelis is a mainstream phenomenon. Shortly after the interview, it occurred to us that we could either substantiate or disprove Davis’s provocative statement with our cameras.

We began our survey in February 2011 and completed it in early March. On the Israeli side, we interviewed a total of 250 Jewish Israelis in Haifa, Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Jerusalem and Beersheba. For this part of the survey I conducted the interviews myself from behind the camera in Hebrew. On the Palestinian side, we interviewed a total of 250 Palestinians in Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron. (Despite multiple attempts, we were unable to procure permission to enter the Gaza Strip.) Here, we collaborated with local journalist Mohammad Jaradat who, using my questions, conducted the interviews in Arabic.

The questions we asked pertained to a number of sensitive political topics and the idea was to get people to talk long enough to detect if there was any racism at play in their answers. In sociological terms, we were engaged in qualitative analysis, but unlike typical qualitative interviews, we spent minutes, not hours with our subjects. Our survey is not exhaustive and our method was very simple. We went to public places and asked people to talk to us on camera. In designing the questions, I set out to distinguish actual racism from conflict-based animosity. That is, to allow for the possibility that Israelis might exhibit animosity towards Palestinians without being racist and to allow the same on the Palestinian side in reverse.

The very first question we asked of Jewish Israelis was the extremely broad “What do you think about Arabs?” It is only reasonable to expect that people who harbor anti-Arab sentiment would mask their feelings when answering such a direct question on camera. Most people responded to this question with some variation of “They are people,” although we were surprised that a sizable minority used the opportunity to launch into anti-Arab diatribes.

One of the most disturbing trends that we noticed was the strong correlation between age and anti-Arab sentiment. The majority of Israeli teenagers that we spoke to expressed unabashed and open racism towards Arabs. Statements like “I hate them,” or “they should all be killed” were common in this age group.

When looking over the data, we divided the respondents into three groups: those who were neutral about Arabs; those who were positive about them; and those who expressed negative attitudes. Amongst the responses, 60 percent were neutral, 25 percent negative and 15 percent positive.

Rights misunderstood

Interestingly, some of the same people who answered the first question by saying that Arabs are people, went on to say that they wouldn’t be willing to live next door to them. Internal inconsistencies of this nature cropped up in many of the interviews and it is for this reason that we reserved our overall judgment on the prevalence of anti-Arab sentiment until all of the answers were tabulated. Our results show that 71 percent were willing to live next door to Arab neighbors, while 24 percent were unwilling. Five percent failed to answer this question with either a “yes” or a “no.”

It should be noted that the Israel Democracy Institute received dramatically different numbers in response to the above question. In its 2010 survey, it found that 46 percent of Jewish Israelis were unwilling to live next door to an Arab. The implication of this discrepancy is that our survey sample was much less anti-Arab than the population at large.

When it came to equal rights, a clear majority of our respondents answered that they felt it was important for Arab citizens of the state of Israel to enjoy equal rights. Upon review of the data, one of the significant trends that emerged in these answers was the recurrent use of the phrase “rights and responsibilities.” Many people openly resented the fact that most Arab citizens of the state don’t perform military service and argued that Arabs should only have equal rights if they are held to the same responsibilities as Jews. This response demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the very concept of rights, but it was prevalent enough that we felt it justified its own category. We called this category “conditional.” Of these responses, 64 percent were in favor of equal rights, 16 percent were opposed and 20 percent were in favor of conditional rights.

Once again, we saw a clear discrepancy from the Israel Democracy Institute numbers, which showed that 46 percent of Israelis were opposed to full and equal rights for Arab citizens of the state.

Democracy for Jews only?

Israel defines itself as a “Jewish democracy” but we were interested in discovering which part of that definition is more important to Jewish Israelis. We went about doing this by asking: “What’s more important: that Israel be a Jewish state or a democratic state?” What we discovered was that a clear majority of the people we spoke to felt that the Jewish character of the state was at least equally if not more important than the democratic character. There was, however, an impressive minority who were clear about the fact that it was more important to them that Israel be a democratic state. This last category represents, by a slim margin, the single largest group of our respondents: 37 percent felt that a democratic character was more important, 36 percent felt that a Jewish character was more important and 27 percent felt that both were equally important.

On the subject of the settlers, we asked a more leading question: “What do you think about the settlers? Are they an impediment to peace?” We broke the responses down into three groups: those who were neutral about the settlers; those who were positive about them; and those who expressed negativity. In this instance, answering “yes” was taken as evidence of negative feelings towards the settlers, answering “no” without qualification was taken as a neutral stance and answering “no” followed by something like “they are the heroes of the Jewish people” — a phrase that we heard a number of times — was taken as evidence of positive feelings. What we discovered was that more than 70 percent of the people we spoke to were either neutral or positive towards the settlers. Of the responses, 45 percent were neutral, 28 percent were positive and 27 percent were negative about the settlers.

Many of the people we spoke to exhibited a deep suspicion and mistrust of the Palestinian people. When asked whether it was possible to make peace with the Palestinians, less than half of our respondents answered “yes.” This is a sobering statistic for anyone invested in the peace process. It would seem that most of the people we spoke to have given up on the prospect of peace. Even among the Israelis who believed that peace is possible, a recurrent theme was “not in this generation.” Another important trend in this part of the survey was blaming the Palestinian leadership for the lack of progress in the peace process. Many of the people who answered “yes” stated that peace was possible with the Palestinian people but not with their leaders. Of the responses, 48 percent believed that peace with the Palestinians is possible, while 40 percent felt that peace is not possible. Thirteen percent failed to answer this question with either a “yes” or a “no.”

Little knowledge of one-state solution

Given the subject of our film, we were very interested in exploring people’s preferences for potential solutions to the conflict. What we noticed almost immediately was that it was very important to clarify to our respondents exactly what we meant by one state or two states. For the purposes of our survey, we defined the one-state solution as a secular democracy with equal rights on all of historic Palestine, while we defined the two-state solution as two states more or less along the lines of the 1967 boundaries, with East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state. It was important that we were able to explain exactly what we meant, because many Israelis answered one way but meant something entirely different.

For example, when asked whether they preferred the one-state solution or the two-state solution, many respondents answered that they preferred the two-state solution. But when we followed up and asked what territorial concessions they would be willing to make, these same people said that they wouldn’t agree to any concessions.

Furthermore, almost no one that we spoke to was familiar with the concept of the one-state solution. Many people even took this to mean one state for Jews only, until we clarified our meaning. When we reviewed the data from this section of the survey, we decided to break down the responses into seven different categories: one state; one state (i.e. a state for Jews only); two states; two states (i.e. without territorial concessions); either one or two states; neither one nor two states; and other. What is really fascinating about our results is that over two thirds of the people we spoke to were actively opposed to the classic two-state solution on the 1967 borders. Furthermore, there were almost as many true one-state solution supporters as there were classic two-state supporters. Amongst those we surveyed, 27 percent were true two-state supporters, 23 percent were true one state supporters, 22 percent supported neither, 16 percent were in favor of two states without territorial concessions, 6 percent were okay with either one or two states, 4 percent were in favor of one state for Jews only, and 2 percent didn’t fit into any of these categories.

Racism highest in Jerusalem

In trying to answer the question of whether anti-Arab sentiment is a mainstream phenomenon among Israelis, we looked at all of the answers and divided the data into three categories: not anti-Arab; mildly anti-Arab; and strongly anti-Arab. Once again, we allowed for the possibility that a person might exhibit animosity towards Palestinians without being anti-Arab and we did not put people into one of the anti-Arab columns simply because he or she expressed right-wing political views. So, for example, if the only evidence in an interview of anti-Arab sentiment was that the respondent said that equal rights for Arabs are conditional upon equal responsibilities, we did not put them in an anti-Arab column. However, if a respondent stated that they wouldn’t live next door to an Arab, this was sufficient to push him or her into the mildly anti-Arab column. To qualify for the strongly anti-Arab category, a respondent needed to exhibit anti-Arab sentiment in two or more answers.

Our results showed that 46 percent of our respondents were either mildly or strongly anti-Arab. When we broke these numbers down according to city, there were obvious regional differences. Jerusalem was by far the most anti-Arab of the five cities we visited, with 58 percent exhibiting some level of anti-Arab sentiment, while Haifa was the least with 32 percent. Interestingly, after Jerusalem, Tel Aviv was the city with the most anti-Arab sentiment (49 percent).

The data we gathered substantiates the idea that anti-Arab sentiment is a mainstream phenomenon in Israel. Almost half of all the Jewish Israelis we spoke to exhibited some level of anti-Arab sentiment. The single most disturbing trend that emerged was the correlation between youth and strong anti-Arab sentiment. We also learned that support for the classic two-state solution along the 1967 lines was very low among the people we spoke to. This data point was reinforced by the strong support that we saw for the settlers. Given our leading question, the fact that less than a third of respondents were willing to characterize the settlers as an impediment to peace, is further evidence that the two-state solution, as it is currently being proposed by the international community, is decidedly unpopular in Israel.

Despite the lack of knowledge about the one-state solution idea, some respondents appeared willing to consider it. Once this solution was explained to them, 22 percent preferred it and around 6 percent did not object to it. Finally, when we asked Jewish Israelis to choose between the Jewish character of the state and the democratic character, 36 percent opted for the latter. All of these results must be taken with a grain of salt.

We can report anecdotally that many of the people who refused to be interviewed told us that they wouldn’t participate, because they felt that we were part of the “leftist media.” For these reasons, we feel that it is likely, if anything, that our data underestimates the actual amount of anti-Arab sentiment in Israel.

Eli Ungar-Sargon is a documentary filmmaker based in Los Angeles. He and his wife Pennie are currently looking for translators to facilitate the data analysis on the Palestinian side of this survey. Anyone interested should email withoutaland A T gmail D O T com. To learn more about the film and see a visual representation of the data discussed in this article, please visit www.withoutaland.com

Tags:

Uri Davissettlersone-state solutiontwo-state solution

Unconditional Acceptance or Unconditional Support.

Over the course of  the many discussions that I have had with Christian Zionists about the Zionist state of Israel, I have come to believe that one of the major confusions  they have is the difference between unconditional acceptance and unconditional support. Without doubt the scriptures teach that God unconditionally accepted the Jewish people in Old Testament times. Both in the wanderings of Moses generation in the wilderness and during the exile in 586 BC, God was faithful to His covenant promise with the Children of Israel. Yet the very  wanderings in Moses day and the exile in 586 BC point to the undeniable fact that God did not unconditionally support the Hebrews. Both those episodes were instances of God chastising the Jewish people for not living up to their responsibilities in the Mosaic covenant. God did not unconditionally support the Jewish people in the land of Israel anymore than  loving parents as we know them today would support their child regardless of the ethics of that child’s behaviour.

Would any of us, while proclaiming to love our children, support them in their plans to rob or murder? Would we be loving parents if we did? This point may seem trivially obvious but, has somehow become a major stumbling block to the Christian cheer squad of Zionism. If we are convinced that God did not unconditionally support  Israel, how is it that we think that God expects us to condone every action of the Zionist state today? Does God command us to support things that He does not? I think not!

Christian Zionist discussions of the return of the Jewish people to Palestine rarely, if ever, mention the concept of exile in a Biblical manner. Exile occurs due to the sins of the Jewish people and is a spiritual problem. To return from exile can only occur if God has declared that the purpose of the exile is over. A famous Jewish Rabbi, Joseph Haim Sonnenfeld (1848 – 1932) said:

“God has exiled us on account of our sins, and exile is a hospital for the Jewish people. It is inconceivable that we take control of our land before we are completely cured. We are certain that when we are healed of our sins, God will not hesitate for a moment, and will deliver us Himself. How could we be in such haste to leave hospital in the face of mortal danger, a world wide danger that hangs over our heads, God forbid?”

Christian Zionists pay no heed to the warnings of scripture and Jewish tradition that tell Jews not to try and end the exile themselves. The creation of the Zionist state in 1948 or General Allenby’s entrance to Jerusalem in December of 1917 in no way declare the exile to be over according to the Bible or Orthodox Jewish theological tradition. In Old Testament times, entrance to Israel by the Jewish people was always accompanied by prophets of the caliber of Moses, Ezra and Nehemiah. Only the word of God, spoken with authority by His prophets was good enough to give the Jewish people confidence to come out of exile and re-enter the Promised Land. The question could rightly be asked, “By whose authority can we say that the exile is over?’ The very existence of the Oaths of the Talmud imply t that the Jewish people themselves have the responsibility not to try and re-enter the land without God’s blessing. The partial success of the Zionists in retaking the land of Israel is no more an automatic sign of God’s endorsement of Zionism than the existence of mega churches is a sign of God’s endorsement of the theology of the Pastors of those congregations.

Over half the Jewish population choose not to live in Israel despite the financial incentives that the Zionists offer. Hundreds of thousands of strictly observant (haredi) Jews do not believe that the exile is over either. The more land the state of Israel takes from the Palestinians, the more tenuous the hold the Israelis have on their own territory. The occupation of the West Bank is a sickness of the state of Israel. It sucks the spiritual life out of the Jews of Israel, brutalizing everyone touched by it.

Unconditional support is the last thing that Israel needs. Like any rebellious child, the state of Israel needs rigorously enforced boundaries to live in spiritual health and well being.

Craig Nielsen

ACTION FOR PALESTINE

Jerusalem – the eternal city of Zionism?

It is a matter of history that the Zionists accepted the U.N. Partition plan of 1947 while the Arab states did not. It seems that in hindsight it might have been better for the Palestinian people to have accepted the proposed partition plan since it would have given them a greater amount of land than they could ever possibly hope to get in any two state settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict today. But we could also ask the question. “Would it have made any real difference in the long run?”

Today Israel declares that Jerusalem is the eternal capital city of Israel. Jerusalem is off the table with respect to negotiations pertaining to a peaceful settlement with the Palestinian people. Yet the 1947 Partition plan, agreed to by the Zionists, did not include Jerusalem in the newly proposed Israeli state. Jerusalem was to be a corpus separatum, administered internationally with free access to Muslims, Christians and Jews all whom claimed the city was Holy.

Today we are informed by the Zionists and their supporters that to consider an Israeli state without Jerusalem is impossible even though history informs us that the Zionist have already agreed to an Israeli state that did not include Jerusalem within its borders in recent history. Zionists often claim that Israel is not an expansionist, colonialist state, but the city of Jerusalem bears witness to a different reality that leaves us with only a couple of possible interpretations.

The first is that the Zionist state need not make absolute sovereign demands on the city of Jerusalem (as it did not in 1948) and so control of the city is still on the table with regards to peace process negotiations. If Israel was able to bring itself to accept an Israeli state without Jerusalem within its borders in the recent past, then it can do so in the present. This means that the Arab peace initiative gains ground with respect to plausibility since the only remaining issue in that peace initiative would be the dismantling of the settlements in the West Bank which have been deemed illegal by the U.N. and the overwhelming majority of the International community. If this interpretation is not correct then we are left with the only real alternative.

That alternative interpretation is that the Zionist state of Israel accepted the 1947 partition plan disingenuously in the sense that it only accepted the resolution of the U.N. as an interim measure. The intention all along was to somehow obtain the eternal city by other means. Those other means would obviously require the use of force. In other words, the Zionist State of Israel is an expansionist, colonialist state that always intended to use force as a means to acquire territory regardless of the demands of International law. The state of Israel never intended to share Eretz Israel with anyone regardless of the rulings of the U.N. The rights of the Palestinian people to a national homeland were never recognised by the Zionists from the very beginning. The acceptance of the 1947 Partition plan was a deception in that it made the world community think that Israel was ready to share the land of Palestine when in reality it coveted the land from the beginning. Israel has never wanted peace…it has always wanted greater Israel regardless of the rights of others to self determination in the land they were born in.

I favour the latter interpretation as the one that more closely reflects reality. The secular Zionists heart felt longing for a Holy city, which their secular sensibilities told them was so designated by religious documents that were just myth and legend, does not impress. It is land they wanted, not Holiness. The Wisdom of Solomon dictates that the wise would give up what they love rather than see it destroyed and divided. The Wisdom of Solomon has fallen on deaf Zionist ears. The Holy city of Jerusalem will be filled with violence and injustice by Zionist will, rather than see peace and equality between Jew and non-Jew as the ethical traditions of the Torah demand.

Craig Nielsen

ACTION FOR PALESTINE