Friday, January 2, 2009
Empty history and anti-Semitism: stepping through a radical progressive door
I, just several hours ago, read what is supposedly information about the Palestinian and Israel conflict. It was written by Shanna O'Brien, who worked for Sabeel with Naim Ateek. I am not sure if it is a letter or simply an essay. The only place I found it was at Shuck & Jive. Act for Peace in Gaza Although it is linked to in at least one other spot. I am posting the first part, where she attempts to write about the history of Zionism, Israel and the Middle East conflict. I find it troubling and even at several points anti-Semitic. I will make comment in between her paragraphs.
“The "conflict" (which is in my opinion a very sanitized term for the situation) began at the end of the first World War. The Zionist movement itself started gaining strength at the end of the 19th Century. They set their sights on the historical lands of Israel. You could say the rest is history, but it is a dark history of manipulation, uprising, back-room deals, and false promises made to everyone involved by those in power.”
The caricature above includes so many dark insinuations about Jewish history and the events of those times that I am beginning to think that anti-Semitism is growing unbounded in the hearts of too many people. The statement, “They set their sight on the historical lands of Israel” implies what?
Rather, they were Jewish people connected to that land which had never been devoid of Jews in all of its history. And a fact unknown to so many today is that in 1945 before the 1948 War at least one million Jews lived in all the Arab nations. Today there is only several thousand because Arab leaders and riots sent them into exile. (see the movie, The Forgotten Refugees: a film about the mass exodus of Jews from Arab Countries and Iran in the 20th Century.)
“Basically the British made deals with the Zionists (because they were all European and had $), promising them land in the British Mandate of Palestine for a homeland for Jews. The Zionists took that promise and ran, trying to take over all of the land they could. The Arabs (Palestinians) who were already living there clearly had a problem with this idea. The British promised them that they would have autonomy after the Mandate ended.”
And where is this great serpent head of a statement coming from, “the British made deals with the Zionists (because they were all European and had $)." The history of Zionism is so complex that it took Walter Laqueur 599 pages in small print to write his A History of Zionism. O'Brien doesn’t even mention the great father of Zionism Theodor Herzl. And the idea that the early Zionists wanted “to take over all of the land they could,” is a piece of propaganda pushed by Arabs in leadership at the time.
The fact is the early Zionists were pacifists who did desire to found a state of some sort but they were not seeking to “extend to the Nile and the Euphrates “ as some Arabs were insisting.1 O’Brien is using very old propaganda.
“Unfortunately though, WWII came along and the British couldn't control the conflicts in the Mandate and the war in Europe so they basically handed the Mandate over to the Zionist authorities (European Jews) who began systematically trying to clear the land they wanted of Arabs. Israel was established in 1948 and they have been trying to systematically clear the land they want (all of historic Israel, including Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights--which are part of Syria ) of Arabs ever since.”
What happened to the history of the Jewish disaster during World War II? There is so, so much more to be said about World War II and the Middle East and the Jewish people than this bit of nonsense. The Jews were facing destruction in Europe and at the same time many countries including the United States were limiting the number of Jews who could come to this country.
Laqueur writes, “The United States in 1935 accepted 6,252 Jewish immigrants, Argentine 3,159, Brazil 1, 758, South Africa 1, 078, Canada 624. In the same year the number of legal Jewish immigrants into Palestine was 61, 854." Where else could they go but back to their ancient homeland.
“This ‘conflict’ has been going on for over 100 years. The Occupation had been going on for more than 40 years. The siege of Gaza has been going on for over 13 months. The massacre of Gaza, this time, has been going on for one week today.This is not a "conflict". The Israelis are attempting to annihilate an entire people. This particular attack will end with more Palestinians dead and the entire world buying the justification that their deaths were for Israeli security, and that they were within their rights to kill them.”
The answer to this is simple, after giving an erroneous history because it is an empty history, O’Brien proceeds to use her errors to make the Israelis look totally in the wrong. She writes that the “Israelis are trying to annihilate an entire people”! No, simply put, they are trying to defend themselves against the thousands of rockets being launched against their land.
To make matters worse in the comment section once again the commenter who advocates violence toward Evangelicals, states,
“Sad. Israel has become a monster.PCUSA once had a strong divestment movement. Now, after terrorist threats aimed at the church from Radical Zionism, that voice seems to cower.We should divest from Israel 100% and not let one penny of our tithes and offerings go to support Israeli terrorism.”
To easily radical progressive theology opens the flood gates for anti-Semitism. Karl Barth wrote about how anti-Semitism is the ultimate rejection of Jesus Christ the Jew. That it happens because others cannot accept that God chooses. He writes:
"Why do we so dislike to be told that the Jews are the chosen people? Why does Christendom continually search for fresh proof that this is no longer true? In a word, because we do not enjoy being told that the sun of free grace, by which alone we can live, shines not upon us, but upon the Jews, that it is the Jews who are elect and not the Germans, the French or the Swiss,[or Americans or Arabs] and that in order to be chosen we must for good or ill, either be Jews or else be heart and soul on the side of the Jews.
'Salvation is of the Jews.' It is in their existence that we non-Jews come up against the rock of divine choice, which first passing over us is primarily made by Another, a choice which can concern us only in that it first concerns Him and cannot affect us except in Him and through Him. in the 'lost-ness ' and in the persistence of the Jews that Other One looks down on us; the Jew on the Cross, in whom is salvation for every man." (in Against the Stream I have broken up the paragraph for easier reading)
# Walter Laqueur, A History of Zionism: From the French Revolution to the Establishment of the State of Israel, 233.