Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Israel's Taliban: Let's Get Biblical

Let's get Biblical, Biblical,
We wanna get Biblical, let's get into Biblical
Let us see their bodies bleed
Their bodies bleed, let us see their bodies bleed.

To the tune of Olivia Newton John's Let's Get Physical

"A delegation of the Rabbinical Congress for Peace (RCP) met with the US Ambassador to Israel, Mr James Cunningham, today (30/12/09) and called for a reassessment of the entire US policy vis-a-vis the Israelis and Palestinians. The rabbis told Ambassador Cunningham that it was time to try the Biblical approach to the dispute over the Land of Israel. 'The past 17 years have proven without a shadow of a doubt that every square inch ceded by Israel to the Palestinians was transformed into a platform of hatred and terrorism', RCP Director Rabbi Avrohom Shmuel Lewin told the ambassador. 'In other words, the 'land for peace' formula in the Israeli-Palestinian context, besides being a formula that goes against the Divine will, is ineffective, obsolete, and an exercise in futility. Most of all it is a dangerous policy that only leads to bloodshed and instability in the region and harms vital American interests in the region as well', Lewin said... Rabbi Joseph Gerlitzky, chairman of the RCP... presented the ambassador with the Halachic (Jewish legal) ruling signed by over 350 prominent rabbis in Israel that it is forbidden to give up even one inch of territory controlled by Israel today... The ambassador was visibly moved by Rabbi Sholom Gold, a leading rabbi in Jerusalem... who described the suffering that the Jewish people have endured ever since the implementation of the Oslo Accords... Rabbi Dov Lior, the Rabbi of Kiryat Arba-Hevron, said: 'G-d gave the US the power and influence to affect the rest of the world and supporting Israel is the key to America's success'. Ambassador Cunningham told the rabbis that he does not see how the problem can be solved 'without taking into consideration the Palestinians', to which Rabbi Gold remarked: 'Ever since we started taking the Palestinians into consideration the situation only worsened'. The ambassador asked the rabbis, 'So what is your solution to the problem?' Rabbi Gerlitzky replied: 'You must switch the entire approach to the situation. We all believe in the Holy Bible and up until now we tried every formula except for that which is delineated in the Bible. Let's try it and who knows, Mr Ambassador, maybe this is your defining moment, that G-d Almighty has placed you in this capacity in order to precipitate a new course which will bring a true peace to the entire region'." (Rabbis tell US Ambassador 'Time to 'Go Biblical' with Arabs', Gil Ronen, Arutz Sheva - Israel National News, 30/12/09)

So what exactly does 'going Biblical' with the natives mean in practice?

Let's start with the Book of Exodus. You might recall little more than the reference to a land 'flowing with milk and honey' but forget that it was peopled by Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. As the Israelites were fleeing Egypt, Yahweh promises Moses and the people: 'When my angel goes in front of you, and brings you to the Canaanites etc etc, and I blot them out, you shall not bow down to their gods, or worship them, or follow their practices, but you shall utterly demolish them and break their pillars in pieces'.

Then there's the racism, xenophobia and militarism of of the Book of Deuteronomy: after the King of Heshbon refused passage to the Israelites, Yahweh gave him over to the Israelites who captured and utterly destroyed all the cities, killing all the men, women and children. As Yahweh says: 'When Yahweh your God brings you into the land that you are about to enter and occupy, and he clears away many nations before you - the Canaanites etc, etc... and when Yahweh your God gives them over to you... you must utterly destroy them... Show them no mercy... For you are a people holy to Yahweh your God; Yahweh your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession'. Deuteronomy tells the Israelites that when they approach towns along the way, they are to offer terms of peace to the inhabitants. If the people accept the peace terms, they are to be reduced to serving Israelites as forced labour; if they refuse, all the adult males are to be killed and the women, children, and animals are to be taken as spoils of war. When however, the Israelites reach the lands where they are to dwell, they are to annihilate the inhabitants entirely so that they cannot tempt the Israelites to worship their gods. 'But as for the towns of these peoples that Yahweh your God is giving you as an inheritance, you must not let anything that breathes remain alive. You shall annihilate them - the Hittites etc etc - just as Yahweh your God has commanded, so that they may not teach you to do all the abhorrent things that they do for their gods, and you thus sin against Yahweh your God'.

The Book of Joshua describes the conquest of key cities, and their fate in accordance with the laws of the Holy War. Even when the Gibeonites were to be spared, the Israelite elders complained at the lapse in fidelity to the mandate to destroy all the inhabitants of the land. Joshua took Makkedah, utterly destroying every person in it. A similar fate befell other cities: everything that breathed was destroyed, as Yahweh commanded. Joshua utterly destroyed the inhabitants of the cities of the north as well. Yahweh gave to Israel all the land that he swore to their ancestors he would give them. The legendary achievements of Yahweh through the agencies of Moses, Aaron, and Joshua are kept before the Israelites even in their prayers: 'You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it'. (Abridged from The Bible & Zionism: Invented Traditions, Archaeology & Post-Colonialism in Israel-Palestine, Nur Masalha, 2007, pp 271-273)

Got the picture? That these narratives of Israelite ethnic cleansing and genocide are largely fictional is immaterial. Unfortunately, even Israelis who reject the likes of Lewin, Gerlitsky and Gold are fed them as fact: "Most Israelis today [1992], as a result of Israeli education, regard the Bible as a source of reliable historical information of a secular, political kind. The Zionist version of Jewish history accepts most Biblical legends about the beginnings of Jewish history, minus divine intervention. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are treated as historical figures. The descent into Egypt and the Exodus are phases in the secular history of a developing people, as is the conquest of Canaan by Joshua. The Biblical order of events is accepted, but the interpretation is nationalist and secular. The historicization of the Bible is a national enterprise in Israel, carried out by hundreds of scholars at all universities. The starting point is Biblical chronology; then evidence (limited) and speculation (plentiful) are arranged accordingly. The Israeli Defence Ministry has even published a complete chronology of Biblical events, giving exact dates for the creation of the world... Claiming this ancient mythology as history is an essential part of Zionist secular nationalism, in its attempt to present a coherent account of the genesis of the Jewish people in ancient West Asia. It provides a focus of identification to counter the rabbinical, Diaspora traditions. Teaching the Bible as history to Israeli children creates the notion of continuity. It is Abraham ('the first Zionist', migrating to Palestine), Joshua and the conquest of Palestine (wiping out the Canaanites, just like today), King David's conquest of Jerusalem (just like 1967). (Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, quoted in Nur Masalha's The Bible & Zionism, pp 21-22)

The fact of the matter is that Israel went Biblical with the indigenous population of Palestine in 1948, and has continued to do so, one way or another, ever since.

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