‘MONEY JEWS’: SOCIALISM’S ANTI-SEMITISM PROBLEM

download

By Richard Mather

Poverty is bad. Workers require decent wages to survive. Women and men are equal. I ascribe to these views. Many people do. But these were also the ideals of a French socialist philosopher from the early nineteenth century. His name was Francois Fourier and he hated Jews.

According to Fourier, capitalism and the Jews were partners in crime. Commerce was the “source of all evil” and Jews were the “incarnation of commerce.” One of Fourier’s most unpleasant followers was Alphonse Toussenel who, in 1845, produced a book called Les Juifs: rois de l’epoque, in which he attacked Jews as capitalist conspirators.

In 1847, another French socialist, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, wrote: “Abolish the synagogues; do not admit them [the Jews] to any kind of employment, pursue finally the abolition of this cult [… ] The Jew is the enemy of the human race. One must send this race back to Asia or exterminate it.”

In 1843, Karl Marx (ancestrally Jewish but embarrassed of his heritage) authored an essay titled “On the Jewish Question,” wherein he asserted that commercialism was the triumph of Judaism and that usury was the “object of the Jew’s worship.” Historian Bernard Lewis has described the essay as “one of the classics of anti-Semitic propaganda.”

Despite affection for his Jewish friends, Friedrich Engels claimed in 1892 that he understood French anti-Semitism, “when I see how many Jews of Polish origin and with German names intrude themselves everywhere, arrogate everything to themselves and push themselves forward to the point of creating public opinion.”

J. A. Hobson, a left-wing polemicist for the Manchester Guardian newspaper, blamed the Boer War on the South African Jews, referring to them as “a small group international financiers” who were “devoid of social morality.”

In the 1920s, Adolf Hitler transformed a small socialist group called the German Workers’ Party into the National Socialist Workers Party. In a speech on May 1 1927, Hitler announced: “We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system.” Hitler blamed Jews for Germany’s economic woes.

Ulrike Meinhof, a left-wing German terrorist of the 1970s, described the six million victims of the Holocaust as “money-Jews.” She opined: “Finance capital and the banks, the hard core of the system of imperialism and capitalism had turned the hatred of men against money and exploitation, and against the Jews.”

In 2014, George Galloway, the ultra-leftist MP for Bradford West in England, declared the city “an Israel-free zone.” He stated: “We don’t want any Israeli goods. We don’t want any Israeli services. We don’t want any Israeli academics, coming to the university or the college. We don’t even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford.”

The point of all this is to show how deeply ingrained and how widespread anti-Jewish bigotry is in some strands of socialism’s critique of capitalism. One of the great subterfuges of Marxist ideology is to ascribe anti-Semitism solely to the Far Right – but the truth is much more damning.

Left-wing anti-Semitism in Britain almost scuppered Israel. Labour’s Ernest Bevin (the foreign secretary in the UK’s post-WWII government) was so convinced that he was the victim of a Jewish conspiracy that he embargoed arms shipments at a time when the new Jewish state was fighting for its life. He also refused to lift restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine. In 1948, he negotiated the Portsmouth Treaty (never to be implemented), in which Britain agreed to provide the Iraqis with weapons to destroy the Jewish national home. The post-war Labour government in Britain also sided with the Egyptians in the Arab-Israeli war. The British sent five reconnaissance aircraft to scout for Israeli positions but were shot down by the Jewish air force.

Stalin and his socialist allies in Europe favoured the partitioning of Palestine in 1947 because they believed Israel would be a socialist outpost in the Middle East. But Stalin’s paranoid anti-Semitism meant that he spent the last years of his life trying to extract Jewishness from Soviet society. He even considered deporting two million Jews to Siberia, but he died before the plan could be enacted.

From the 1950s, the USSR effortlessly conflated Zionism, capitalism, Jews and Judaism. In the words of Paul Johnson, the Soviets “assembled materials from virtually every archaeological layer of anti-Semitic history, from classical antiquity to Hitlerism.” One Soviet author defined Zionism as the politics of “the wealthy Jewish bourgeoisie which has closely allied itself with monopoly circles in the USA and other imperialist countries.”

In the 1970s, the Soviets and their allies backed the ‘Zionism is racism’ resolution at the UN and trained the Palestine Liberation Organisation. The Kremlin flooded Arab countries with copies of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and worked hard to turn the whole Islamic world against Israel and the USA. According  to Major General Ion Mihai Pacepa (the highest ranking Soviet bloc defector), the Kremlin’s vision was “to instill a Nazi-style hatred for the Jews throughout the Islamic world, and to turn this weapon of the emotions into a terrorist bloodbath against Israel and its main supporter, the United States.”

And it was Romanian socialist dictator Ceausescu who persuaded Yasser Arafat (who worked for the KGB) to turn the Arab-Israeli conflict into a human rights struggle. In fact, the term “Palestinian People” appeared for the first time in the introduction to the 1964 PLO Charter – which was drafted in Moscow.

Since the collapse of Communism, left-wing groups such as  Stop the War, BDS and the Palestinian/International Solidarity Movement continue the Marxist legacy of intellectually-acceptable anti-Semitism and thuggish violence. Book, articles and websites about Jewish lobbyists, Zionists and financiers continue to proliferate. And left-wing firebrands such as George Galloway seek to associate Zionism with capitalism, globalisation and imperialism.

Perhaps this explains why anti-Israel activists inside the BDS movement are so keen to disrupt Jewish businesses in Israel but also in the diaspora: Any company that has even the remotest connection with the Jewish state is seen as a permissible target because Jews are never just Jews, they are (in the words of red terrorist Ulrike Meinhof) “money Jews.”

Advertisements

THE ONLY WAY TO STOP SLAUGHTERHOUSE ABUSE IS TO STOP EATING MEAT

61727_7165

By Richard Mather…

In contemporary society, more than ever before, vegetarianism should be an imperative for Jews who seek to live in accordance with Judaism’s most sublime teachings (Rabbi David Rosen)

Israel’s agriculture minister Uri Ariel has declared that  he will show “zero tolerance” towards those who harm animals, and has ordered the closure of the Dabbah slaughterhouse in northern Israel following suspected violations of both the animal welfare act and slaughtering regulations.

Disturbing video footage gathered by an animal rights group shows kosher meat men kicking and hitting cattle, dragging them across the floor by their legs, electrifying them with shockers on their way to be killed, and hanging cattle while they were still conscious.

In 2012, another Israeli abattoir, Adom Adom, was found to have mistreated animals, leading to indictments against several low-ranking employees.

The worst case was in 2004 at a glatt kosher processing  facility in the American state of Iowa. Workers at Agriprocessors were found to have been shocking cows’ faces with electric prods and ripping out their throats with meat hooks. Animal welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin called Agriprocessors an “atrocious abomination” and worse than anything she had ever seen in over thirty kosher abattoirs.

In truth, it doesn’t matter whether slaughter is kosher, halal or conventional. There is no good way to slay an animal, especially when it is done on an industrial, fast-paced and mechanised scale. The mass killing of cattle and poultry in any kind of slaughterhouse (kosher or otherwise) is almost an open invitation for some people to abuse animals.

There are several arguments used by Jewish vegetarians/vegans regarding the ethics of eating meat. One mitzvah is tza’ar ba’alei hayyim – the injunction not to cause “pain to living creatures.” While proponents of shechita say their method of killing animals is a swift, efficient and painless procedure, this does not take into account the fact that cattle can take up to two minutes to bleed to death. Nor does it acknowledge the abuses that inevitably happen when low-paid workers are made to handle and restrain very frightened animals in a highly stressful environment.

It is true that anti-Semites often cite evidence of malpractice when they seek to delegitimise Judaism. Such people have their own nasty agenda and are abhorrent. But many people within the Jewish community find it hard to maintain the view that the kosher food industry is any less cruel than conventional slaughter. Chickens and turkeys killed in kosher slaughterhouses can writhe in agony as they hang upside down and bleed to death; cattle raised for kosher meat are castrated and their horns are torn from their heads without pain relief; and cows bred for their milk are drugged and forced to produce unnatural quantities of milk (and their calves are sent to veal farms). Such practices are also commonplace in conventional slaughterhouses and factory farms.

This kind of behaviour goes against Judaism’s many injunctions to be kind to animals. Rabbi Solomon Granzfried says that “it is forbidden, according to the law of the Torah, to inflict pain upon any living creature.” Some medieval Jewish scholars such as Joseph Albo and Isaac Arama regarded vegetarianism as a moral ideal, not just out of a concern for animal, but because the slaughter of animals might cause the person who performs such acts to develop undesirable character traits, such as meanness and cruelty.

According to Nachmanides, living creatures “possess a moving soul and a certain spiritual superiority which in this respect make them similar to those who possess intellect […]  and they have the power of affecting their welfare and their food and they flee from pain and death.” Maimonides wrote that there is “no difference in this case between the pain of people and the pain of other living beings.”

According to the Torah, G-d asked human beings to be vegetarians (Genesis 1:29) after he gave Adam “dominion” over the animals. This means that “dominion” does not include killing animals for food. Some authorities say that G-d only later gave permission to eat meat (Genesis 9:1–17) as a temporary concession to mankind’s weakness.

Many Jews and Christians say that eating meat must be OK because it says so in Genesis 9:3 (“Every creature that lives shall be yours to eat”). But context is important. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel, pointed out that because people had sunk to an extremely low level of spirituality, the permission to slaughter animals for food was “transitional” until a “brighter era” was reached when people return to vegetarianism. That time is now.

Moreover, in Numbers 11, G-d considered the Hebrews unfit  to receive the Torah until they stopped asking for meat. And Proverbs 12:10 says that “a righteous man regardeth the life of his beast.”

Many Jews in Israel and America are giving up meat in favour of a vegetarian or vegan diet. Organisations such as The Jewish Vegetarian Society, Jewish Vegetarians of North America, The Concern for Helping Animals in Israel and The Shamayim V’Aretz Institute are all engaged in important outreach work. In the Galilee there is a moshav called Amirim, which was established by vegetarians and vegans in the late 1950s.The moshav runs guesthouses and restaurants serving vegetarian and vegan food.

In Israel, around one million people have rejected meat-based diets. According to a recent survey, 13 per cent of Israelis are either vegetarian or vegan, with another 40 per cent saying they have a friend or relative who had recently embraced veganism or vegetarianism. One of Israel’s biggest restaurant chains, Cafe Greg, has noted a significant rise in demand for vegan dishes in its restaurants.

And in February this year it was reported that Israeli army kitchens have started serving food that is suitable for the IDF’s 500 vegan soldiers.

One of the advantages of veganism is that it makes it easier  to observe the laws of kashrut. As Richard H. Schwartz (president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America) points out, a vegan doesn’t need to be concerned with using separate dishes for meat and dairy foods. Neither is a vegan in danger of eating the blood or flesh of a non-kosher animal. He says there are several examples in Jewish history when a change to vegetarianism or veganism enabled Jews to maintain the dietary laws. Daniel became a vegan to avoid non-kosher food while he was held captive in the court of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1: 8-16). And Jewish priests on trial in Rome ate only figs and nuts in order to avoid eating non-kosher meat.

Some Jews feel that they are required to eat meat to celebrate Jewish holidays. However, according to Pesachim 109a, Jews need not eat meat but can rejoice with wine. Many vegetarian Jews use a beet on their Seder plate in place of a zeroa (lamb shank bone). Those who use a beet sometimes rely on Pesachim 114b as their proof text. Others say it is because the beet’s blood-red colour reminds them of the Paschal sacrifice. Or perhaps it is because of a moving incident that happened in 1945 when one of the women slave labourers in Buchenwald concentration camp picked up a  slice of sugar beet and said, “This is the bread of our suffering…. And then we made a vow that if we survived, a beet was going to be on our Seder table.”

If you’re still not convinced about the ethics of eating meat, then consider the wise words of David Rosen, who was the Chief Rabbi of Ireland from 1979 to 1985. He said the “current treatment of animals in the livestock trade definitely renders the consumption of meat as halachically unacceptable as the product of illegitimate means.”

“We must clearly advocate dietary practices that are truly in consonance with the sublimest values of the Torah,” he added.

SHOULD JEWS RECLAIM THE WORDS ‘PALESTINE’ AND ‘PALESTINIAN’?

MAGIC_1_PPPABy Richard Mather…

In a pair of recent articles for the Jewish Media Agency I explored the nature of Arab immigration in historic Palestine (i.e. before 1948) and also the way in which the names ‘Palestinian’ and ‘Palestine’ have been appropriated by Israel’s enemies for ideological purposes. I’m glad to say that both articles struck a chord with many readers and I was subsequently asked to write something that would combine both pieces of writing.

According to the most reliable statistics, most non-Jewish immigration to Palestine occurred in the 1800s and early 1900s (which explains why in the late 17th century not a single settlement had a name that was of Arabic origin). Demographer Roberto Bachi believes there were around 151,000 non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine in 1540. By 1800, the Muslim and Christian populations had risen to 268,000, rising to 489,000 by 1890, 589,000 in 1922, and swelling to just over 1.3 million in 1948.

Many of the non-Jewish migrants to Palestine came for several reasons. The Ottoman authorities, for instance, transferred a great many people to Palestine to put them to work on infrastructure projects and to outflank Jewish immigration. Furthermore, the  Zionist project was very attractive to Arabs who were drawn to Palestine by the good wages and healthcare offered by the Jews.  Indeed, the Arab population of Palestine increased the most in cities where there were large numbers of Jews. Between 1922 and 1947, the Arab population grew by 290 per cent in Haifa, 158 per cent in Jaffa and 131 per cent in Jerusalem. By contrast, the growth in Arab-majority towns was less dramatic: 37 per cent in Bethlehem, 42 per cent in Nablus and 78 per cent in Jenin.

During the British civil administration in Palestine (1920 to 1948), restrictions were placed on Jewish immigration in order to appease Arab troublemakers. However, there was significant illegal Arab immigration from Egypt, Transjordan and the Hauran region of Syria. The Peel Commission reported in 1937 that a “shortfall of land” was “due less to the amount of land acquired by Jews than to the increase in the Arab population.”

Arab immigration continued at a pace until the Jews declared independence in 1948. By the time the Jews declared autonomy,  the Muslim and Christian population had risen substantially. The fact that non-Jewish immigration continued right up until Israeli independence is borne out by the United Nations stipulation that any Arab refugee who had lived in Palestine for a mere two years prior to Jewish independence was entitled to refugee status.

So while it would be silly to argue that there were few Arabs living in Palestine in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries, the figures do show that the Arab population of Palestine largely comprised recent migrants from the Arab world and/or the Ottoman empire. This is important because it tells us that the postmodern notion of a deep-rooted Arab Palestinian culture is a sham. All the evidence points to the conspicuous absence of Arab culture. This explains why, historically, Arabs never talked about Palestinian identity – because there wasn’t one. They were Egyptian, Syrian, Moroccan, Iraqi, Yemeni, Balkan, Sudanese and Ottoman Arabs, and many of them expressed allegiance to a Greater Syria or a supranational caliphate. (Many others, to their credit, became steadfast citizens of Israel.)

So the erroneous (but commonly-held) belief that colonialist Jews invaded a country called Palestine and displaced its native inhabitants is completely false. For a start, the people of Palestine who have the deepest roots in the land are the Jews whose relatives and ancestors have lived there  (to varying degrees) for several thousand years. Secondly, most of the Arabs who fled Palestine between 1947-49 did so because they were sure their Arab compatriots from Egypt, Iraqet al would be victorious in making Palestine Judenrein.

It wasn’t until the mid-1960s that a semi-coherent Arab Palestinian identity came into being. Until then, the Arabs had refused to call themselves the Palestinian people because it was a epithet reserved for the Jews. When people talk of a Arabic Palestinian culture or history, they are being disingenuous: the only Palestinian culture or history of any note is Jewish. Arabic-speaking Palestinianism started in the 1960s and even this was couched in fervently anti-Zionist and Judeophobic terms – hardly a stable platform on which to build a nation.

Despite their successful efforts in deceiving the world, many Arab Palestinian leaders know the truth about the origins of their people. Egyptian-born Yasser Arafat made this very clear when he said, “The Palestinian people have no national identity. I, Yasser Arafat, man of destiny, will give them that identity through conflict with Israel.” And in a conversation with Dutch newspaperTrouw in March 1977, the leader of the pro-Syria as-Sa’iqa faction of the PLO, Zuheir Mohsen, remarked: “It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity […] yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel.”

Why else do the people who claim to be Palestinians regularly turn down the possibility of an independent state alongside Israel? It’s because the Arabs themselves don’t really believe in a State of Palestine. Their only interest is abolishing the ample Jewish presence between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Jewish self-determination is anathema to many Muslims who, since the time of Muhammed, have tried to keep the Jews in a state of subjugation and dhimmitude. When Arab and/or BDS protestors call for Palestine to be free “from the river to the sea,” what they are really calling for is the genocide (or at best the suppression) of the Jews.

Many of the problems experienced by Israel stem from something very simple but profound –  the change of name. While it is totally understandable that the leaders of the Yishuv chose the name Israel for their state (Judea was another option), it has had unfortunate consequences. By rejecting the labels Palestine and Palestinian, the Jews circumvented their own local history and identity, and bequeathed both the name and heritage of Palestine to modern-day Arabs who have only a tenuous connection to the land. So we are now in a perverse situation where Palestinian Jews call themselves Israelis and the Ottoman/Arab peoples call themselves Palestinians. What’s worse is the fact that the latter now claim to have been the indigenous people of Palestine all along (since before the dinosaurs?) – and the world (which has always been a sucker for conspiracy theories) believes it.

Isn’t it time to remind the Arabs and the international community that the Jews are the true Palestinians? Why else would there be a Palestinian Talmud or a Jewish newspaper called The Palestine Post. Why, until the creation of Israel, were the Jews known as Palestinians? Why did Immanuel Kant refer to Jews in Europe as “the Palestinians among us”? Why does the 1939 flag of Palestine have a Star of David on it? Why was the journal of the Zionist Organisation of America called New Palestine? Why was the Israel Electric Company’s originally called the Palestine Electric Company? Why was the major funding arm of the World Zionist Organization called the Palestine Foundation Fund?

The answer: Because the word Palestine is a descriptive for the land that, for thousands of years, was the incubator for Judean identity.

(I am not proposing for a minute that Israel changes its name back to Palestine. After all, Palestine was a name foisted upon the Jews by Roman imperial aggressors. But I am saying that Jews should not let the Arabs and their Israelophobic supporters hijack the names ‘Palestine’ and ‘Palestinian’ as part of their delegitimisation campaign. Palestine was Jewish; it was never Arab. Language is everything. By relinquishing the proper use of words and removing them from their historical context, the truth of the matter is either degraded or lost altogether.)

All things considered, the Arabs since the 1960s claim to be Palestinians have done rather well. Having been on the losing side in various wars and skirmishes, and having sided with the Nazis during the 1930s and 1940s, the Arabic-speaking people of Palestine have managed to appropriate centuries of Judeo-Palestinian heritage, have turned their dirty terror war into a bogus human rights struggle, have received billions of dollars in aid, are able to make huge demands on foreign policymakers, have been offered a state of their own on several occasions, and are a cause celebre on the Left and in the liberal media.

A critic of mine recently said, “Well, all this may be true,  but the people who claim to be Palestinians are Palestinians because they say  they are and, as such, they deserve our sympathy.” The trouble is, how can I trust these self-proclaimed Palestinians who lie about their history and who are engaged in a long culture war against the Jewish people? By perpetuating the ridiculous myth that they are the indigenous people of Palestine who were kicked out by the wicked  Zionists, they do themselves a great disservice. (Historians will no doubt look back on this period and wonder how on earth the world was so deceived by the Arabs.) If the Palestinians do want a viable state (and there is little evidence that they do) then they must start acting like grown-ups.

And this means being open and honest about their identity and admitting that they are, in fact, an invention of Arafat’s Third World nationalism. There’s nothing necessarily wrong in that, but why can’t they be honest about it? It also means accepting the existence of a Judeo- Palestinian country called Israel; it means apologising for their role in the massacres of Jews in 1920, 1921, 1929, 1936 and 1947; it means apologising for the complicity of their leaders during the Holocaust; it means taking responsibility for the mistakes of the past and saying sorry for the countless deaths of Israeli civilians; and it means putting an end to the abhorrent anti-Zionist/pro-BDS propaganda that is fuelling anti-Semitism across the globe.

Only then will I consider the reality and destiny of an Arab-Palestinian people. Until then, they’ll get no sympathy from me.

ON THE ARAB THEFT OF JUDEO-PALESTINIAN HERITAGE: CHUTZPAH OR HASĀFAH?

10394662_10152866977152543_6581962286929044580_nBy Richard Mather…

The biggest fraud of the 20th century is the commonly-held belief that “colonialist Jews” invaded a country called Palestine and displaced its native inhabitants. This is false for a number of reasons. Firstly, the native inhabitants of the land called Palestine were Jews. Indeed, there has been a continuous Jewish presence in Eretz Israel for several thousand years.

As I explained in a previous article, the situation regarding the Arab inhabitants of Palestine had been in a state of flux for decades, even centuries. The vast majority of Arabs living in Palestine at the time of Israeli independence were migrants from the Ottoman Empire and the Arab region. Look hard enough and you will find that the vast majority of so-called Arab Palestinians are not from Palestine at all but are descended from people who came from Egypt, Algeria, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Syria, the Sinai, the Jordan Rift Valley and the Balkans.

According to the UN, some of the Arabs who claimed refugee status in 1948 had lived in Palestine for a mere two years. This is hardly indicative of an indigenous Arab Palestinian presence.

In fact, it wasn’t until the 1960s that a distinctive (though violent) Palestinian Arab identity came into being. Until then the Arabs had refused to call themselves Palestinians because it was an epithet reserved for the Jews. No, they were Arabic-speaking peoples who claimed allegiance to either a Greater Syria or even a supranational caliphate. There has never been a distinctive Arab Palestinian history or culture. The only evidence of an Arabic-speaking Palestinian culture comes from the 1960s onwards and even this is couched in anti-Zionist and Judeophobic terms – hardly a stable platform on which to build a nation.

Despite their successful efforts in deceiving the world, many Arab Palestinians know the truth about their origins and their destiny. Egyptian-born terrorist extraordinaire Yasser Arafat made this very clear when he said, “The Palestinian people have no national identity. I, Yasser Arafat, man of destiny, will give them that identity through conflict with Israel.” And in a conversation with Dutch newspaper Trouw in March 1977, leader of the pro-Syria as-Sa’iqa faction of the PLO, Zuheir Mohsen remarked: “It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity […] yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel.”

This is why the people who call themselves Palestinians have repeatedly turned down the possibility of an independent state alongside Israel. The Arabs themselves don’t really believe in a State of Palestine. Their only interest is abolishing the sizable Jewish presence between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. Jewish self-determination is anathema to the Arabs who, ever since the time of Muhammed, have kept the Jews in a state of subjugation and dhimmitude. When BDS protestors call for Palestine to be free from the river to the sea, what they are really calling for is the genocide (or at best the subjugation) of the Jews.

What really irks is me the fact that the people who claim to be Palestinians are committing a form of identity fraud. They are not Palestinians in any real sense: They didn’t come from Palestine and they never claimed Palestinian identity until Yasser Arafat arrived on the scene in the 1960s like an anti-Semitic Moses ready to lead the nomadic and identity-less Arabs into the promised land.

While it is entirely understandable that the Yishuv chose the name Israel for their state, it has had unfortunate and unforeseen consequences. By rejecting the labels Palestine and Palestinian, the Jews cut themselves off from their own history and identity, and bequeathed both the name and history of Palestine to their Arab enemies. So we are now in a situation where the indigenous people of Palestine call themselves Israelis and the people who flocked from all over the Ottoman and Arab world call themselves Palestinians. What’s worse is the fact that the latter now claim to have been the indigenous people of Palestine all along – and the world believes it.

It is time to remind the world that the Jews are the true Palestinians. Why else would there be a Palestinian Talmud or a newspaper called The Palestine Post (now The Jerusalem Post). Why, until the creation of Israel, were the Jews known as Palestinians? Why did Immanuel Kant refer to Jews in Europe as “the Palestinians living among us”? Why did pro-Yishuv campaigners in the early 20th century produce posters calling for “Jews of America to register as a member of the Zionist Organisation of America” for “the freedom of Palestine”? Why did the 1939 flag of Palestine have a Star of David on it? Why did Frank Sinatra appear at a benefit concert for the Zionist cause at the Hollywood Bowl in 1947 entitled “Action for Palestine”? These are questions that cannot be easily answered by the people posing as today’s Palestinians.

All things considered, the people who fraudulently claim to be Palestinians have done rather well. Having been on the losing side in various wars and having sided with the Nazis during the 1930s and 1940s, the Arabic-speaking Palestinians have managed to appropriate a sizeable chunk of Jewish-Palestinian heritage, have received billions of dollars in aid, are able to make huge demands on Israeli, EU and US policymakers, have been offered a state of their own on several occasions, and are a cause celebre on the Left and in the liberal media.

I’m tempted to use the wonderful Jewish word chutzpah to describe the audacity of the Arab-Palestinians. But the Arabic cognate of the same word (ḥasāfah) does not mean “brazen nerve” but rather “sound judgement.” And I suppose the theft of the name and heritage of Palestine has indeed proved to be very sound judgement for the Arabs who, if nothing else, seem to be winning the propaganda war against the Israelis.

THE WEAKNESS OF GOD

solitude_chagalBy Richard Mather…

Why did God hide his face when six million Jews were slaughtered in Europe? Why does the world pressure the State of Israel into making suicidal concessions? Why did God not come to the aid of Jewish freedom fighters in the first century? Why did He allow the Second Temple to be destroyed? Why, throughout history, have the Jews flung themselves on the wheel of history only to be crushed by it?

So many unanswered questions. Questions that cannot be answered.

Are such questions naive? Perhaps. But then again maybe it is time to rethink the notion of an all-powerful God who will intervene in history and rescue Israel from her oppressors.  We act under the assumption that God is both a Supreme Being and the Ground of Being. But maybe there is no transcendent or fundamental power in the classical sense. The dichotomy of an all-powerful God or the complete absence of God may be misleading. Perhaps  God’s power is self-limiting, which leaves more room for human agency.

Jewish experience is unfortunately one of exile and alienation – a sign that God’s power is not some awesome force. For much of history, God has been less of a presence and more of a simulacrum, the mere suggestion of a presence. God, it seems, does not exert control from on high; rather the power of God apparently works from underneath, through the whole of Israel, which functions as a messianic community in place of a future Messianic person or persons..

If Israel is the agent or manifestation of God’s limited power in the world, we must reframe our language and say that God is not Being but Event. God-as-Event is truly revolutionary because it means something unprecedented – the rebirth of a nation, a people, a language. Israel’s rebirth was (and still is) a protest against the world, a protest against the powers of the world – German power, British power, Arab power. And in standing with Israel rather than with the imperial powers of the world, God stands with a persecuted people. But he does not lift a finger. It is the community of Israel which acts on his behalf.

In 1948 when Palestine’s Jews declared independence, it wasn’t God who made a covenant with Israel; no, it was the people of Israel acting in accord with its own wishes. The declaration was a unique rupture in the history of colonialism and imperialism. But this declaration, this covenant, also ruptured the long-held hope of a messianic king or priest who would gather the Jewish people and end the exile. It wasn’t the messiah who restored the Jewish nation. It was the Jews themselves acting alone – without the assistance of God or his anointed one