Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Israel Studies: What You Get

A ripping good yarn:

"[Israelis] know for a certainty that a Jewish nation has been in existence since Moses received the tablets of the law on Mount Sinai, and that they are its direct and exclusive descendants (except for the 10 tribes, who are yet to be located). They are convinced that this nation 'came out' of Egypt, conquered and settled 'the Land of Israel', which had been famously promised it by the deity; created the magnificent kingdom of David and Solomon, which then split into the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. They are also convinced that this nation was exiled, not once but twice, after its periods of glory - after the fall of the First Temple in the 6th century BCE, and again after the fall of the Second Temple, in 70 CE. Yet even before that second exile, this unique nation had created the Hebrew Hasmonean kingdom, which revolted against the wicked influence of Hellenization.

"They believe that these people - their 'nation', which must be the most ancient - wandered in exile for nearly 2,000 years and yet, despite this prolonged stay among the gentiles, managed to avoid integration with, or assimilation into, them. The nation scattered widely, its bitter wanderings taking it to Yemen, Morocco, Spain, Germany, Poland, and distant Russia, but it always managed to maintain close blood relations among the far-flung communities and to preserve its distinctiveness.

"Then, at the end of the 19th century, they contend, rare circumstances combined to wake the ancient people from its long slumber and to prepare it for rejuvenation and for the return to its ancient homeland. And so the nation began to return, joyfully, in vast numbers. Many Israelis still believe that, but for Hitler's horrible massacre, 'Eretz Israel' would soon have been filled with millions of Jews making 'aliyah' by their own free will, because they had dreamed of it for thousands of years.

"And while the wandering people needed a territory of its own, the empty, virgin land longed for a nation to come and make it bloom. Some uninvited guests had, it is true, settled in this homeland, but since 'the people kept faith with it throughout their 'Dispersion' for two millenia, the land belonged only to that people, and not to that handful without history who had merely stumbled upon it. Therefore the wars waged by the wandering nation in its conquest of the country were justified; the violent resistance of the local population was criminal; and it was only the (highly unbiblical) charity of the Jews that permitted these strangers to remain and dwell among and beside the nation, which had returned to its biblical language and its wondrous land." (The Invention of the Jewish People, Shlomo Sand, 2009,pp 16-17)

No comments: