Palestinianism: When people of all faiths (and none) conspire against Israel

People who call for Jews to be exiled from the Land of Israel are evangelists for a new quasi-religion called Palestinianism, which has positioned itself as the most contemporary of interfaith ideologies.

For Christians, Muslims, atheists and even radical left-wing Jews, Palestinianism offers a new kind of replacement theology in which Palestine is the True Israel and Israeli Jews are cast out of the family of nations because they remain loyal to their historic homeland.

By Richard Mather  

Replacement theology or supersessionism is the Christian teaching that the Church has replaced Israel regarding the plan, purpose and promises of God. It has been a core tenet of the Christian faith for the best part of 2,000 years and it holds that the Church replaced the Israelites/Jews as the Chosen People and that the New Covenant replaced God’s covenant with Moses.

From very early on, the Church Fathers taught that the Mosaic Covenant had been fulfilled and replaced by Christ. Tertullian, for example, taught that the “old law” and “carnal circumcision” had been “obliterated” by the “new law.” One of the implications of this theological standpoint is that the Jews are seen as an accursed people stubbornly clinging to an outmoded set of rituals that serve no divine purpose.

In fact, so the argument goes, just by continuing to exist, the Jews are recalcitrant sinners. Worse, their refusal to embrace Christ is an obstacle to God’s salvational plan for the world.

After the Shoah, some Christian theologians started to de-emphasise supersessionism. But replacement theology has never gone away. Far from it. In fact, it has re-emerged in a new guise, with all the evangelical fervor of a brand new religion. That religion is Palestinianism. I don’t just mean Christian Palestinianism which ludicrously seeks to “de-Zionize” the Tanakh and “Palestinianize” Jesus. Nor do I merely mean the Islamic tendency to use the Palestinian issue as a recruiting sergeant in the mosques.

Rather, I am talking about Palestinianism in its fullest sense: a wide-ranging quasi-religious ideology that appeals to all faiths and none. It appeals to Christians, Muslims, and even some Jews. It appeals to hardcore communist atheists and religious fanatics alike. It is the belief system of anti-Semitic movements like BDS and the International Solidarity Movement. It is a unifying belief system that blames all the world’s problems on the Jews and promises salvation by promising to eradicate Zionism and establish a State of Palestine between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

This new religion can be traced back to one man – Yasser Arafat, Palestinianism’s anti-apostle to the nations. Arafat toured the world, converting people to his cause, acquiring recognition and financial backing until his movement was a global phenomenon. As with Christianity, Palestinianism has become an almost-universal faith that appeals to gentiles and even some Jews, who are usually the most fanatical converts. It is because of Arafat (with the help of the Soviet Union) that contemporary Zionism is portrayed in much the same way that the Mosaic Covenant was/is depicted by some Christians – as corrupt, outdated, superstitious, carnal, evil.

II

Following Emperor Constantine’s declaration of Christianity as the religion of the Roman Empire, theologians began to teach that Jews were solely responsible for the crime of murdering God, of deicide. John Chrysostrom (354-407), Archbishop of Constantinople, stated that Jews were murderers and destroyers, a people “possessed by the devil.”

If hostility to the Torah motivated early anti-Semitism, it was the Talmud that soon became an object of anti-Jewish hate. Full-scale attacks on the Talmud began in France during the thirteenth century. The Talmud was said to make Jews stubborn and superstitious. If only the Jews would relinquish their superstitious rituals, argued their opponents, then they’d convert to Christianity and conform to societal norms.

In the midst of all this anti-Talmud hysteria, Christian anti-Semites were accusing Jews of using the blood of Christian children for ritual purposes. It began in England in 1144 when the Jews of Norwich were accused of ritual murder after a boy was found dead with stab wounds. Thomas of Monmouth erroneously claimed that there was a Jewish prophecy that stated the killing of a Christian child each year would ensure Jewish restoration in Eretz Yisrael. This must be one of the earliest instances of a Jew-hater using the blood libel to smear the Jews for their dream of national restoration. In fact, the blood libel, or variations thereof, continue to this day.

After Israel committed the cardinal sin of winning the 1967 Six Day War, Jews have been routinely described in the language of medieval Christian theologians: Jews as satanic murderers, baby-killers, well-poisoners, harvesters of organs and stealers of land. The charge of deicide has been resurrected in modified form and is now presented as the charge of genocide against Palestinians. Of course, such claims made against the Jewish people are scandalous nonsense, propaganda designed to demonise and then to kill. But in the minds of Palestinianists, any justification to kill Jews or force them into permanent exile will suffice.

So: First the Torah and the polemical arguments against the Mosaic covenant; then the Talmud and the blood libel as justifications for persecuting Jews. Now, the object of hate is Zionism and the State of Israel. Under the banner of the new Palestinianist theology, Palestine is portrayed as the True Israel, just like the Church was described as the True Israel.

While Christian covenant theologians claim that Jews have been cast off and are no longer pre-eminent in the plans of God because they continue to abide by their Mosaic traditions, so the State of Israel is to be cast out of the family of nations because it stubbornly clings to the “carnal covenant” of Zionism. There is an eschatological aspect at play that demands the passing away of the old heaven and earth (Zionism) and the arrival of the new heaven and earth (the State of Palestine).

The sooner Zionism and the Israeli state pass into history, say the Palestinianists, the sooner there will be peace in the Middle East. Despite the obvious drawbacks to this scenario, such as the oppression of women and minorities in a Palestinian state, the imprisonment of journalists and dissidents, and the political legitimisation of far right Islamist groups like Hamas, Palestinianists remain zealous in their commitment to the creation of a twenty-third Arab state.

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And then there are the Jewish apostates. Once upon a time we had to endure people like Titus Flavius Josephus, the writer-historian who defected to the Romans in 69 CE during the First Roman-Jewish War; and Nicholas Donin, a Jewish convert to Christianity, who pressed thirty-five charges against the Talmud to Pope Gregory IX; and Abner of Burgos, the fourteenth-century Jewish philosopher who converted to Christianity and wrote Mostrador de Justicia, one of the longest polemics against Judaism ever written.

Now we have people like Ilan Pappe, Paul Eisen, Shlomo Sand, and Noam Chomsky, who spend their days writing anti-Zionist and/or anti-Jewish polemics in order to ingratiate themselves to the non-Jewish world. It seems that some Jews, both then and now, are unable to resist the lure of either Christianity or Palestinianism.

(To complicate matters, there are some very religious Jews who believe that continued exile is part of God’s plan. The Christian view that the destruction of the Second Temple was a punishment for killing Christ has been absorbed in a modified way by some ultra-Orthodox Jews such as Neturei Karta who believe that because of their sins, the Jewish people went into exile and that human recapture of the Land of Israel is a violation of divine will. If Christians believe in replacement theology, it seems some Jews, both religious and secular, subscribe to what might be called displacement theology – the displacement of themselves.)

Because it appeals to many Christians, most Muslims and a minority of Jews, Palestinianism is the latest example of the postmodern exercise in interbelief cooperation, which can be defined as the (de)constructive interaction between people of different religious traditions and/or spiritual or humanistic beliefs. In a sense, Palestinianism is the most democratic and egalitarian of faiths. It doesn’t matter where you come from or which god you may (or may not) worship; all that is required is that you express genocidal disdain for Jewish political autonomy.

Indeed, Palestinianism is now a substitute faith for post-Christian European liberals. It offers all the benefits of mainstream religion, such as community and social action, but without any of theological baggage such as the Trinity or Islam’s Pillars of Faith. Even the quasi-religion of Marxism can be included within the framework of this new interfaith ideology because it, too, turns a finite, limited ideal (a world without Zionism/the classless society/the end of capitalism) into an object of absolute and murderous godlike devotion.

Given that Palestinianism draws on Christianity and Islam, it is perhaps no surprise that it borrows heavily from Abrahamic salvation history. This helps explain the Palestinianist preoccupation with the status and fate of the Jews, with ownership and boundaries of the land of Israel, with the importance of Jerusalem, with the identity of Jesus, and with the messianic goal of peace in the Middle East. Even the concept of “original sin” is employed to describe the creation of the State of Israel, as if pre-Zionist Palestine was the Garden of Eden!

In other words, Palestinianism offers the world a set of religious symbols that are reassuringly infused with the comfort of Bible imagery (“new wine in old skins”). Hence the myth of a Palestinian lineage that goes all the way back to the Canaanites; the “Satanic” intrusion of Zionism; the “crucifixion” of Palestine and the arrival of “Isra-hell”; and the awaited return of Palestine as a land of milk and honey. All these concepts and word-ideas are used in Palestinianist discourse.

In this salvation story, the Jews may have a role to play, but only as a people who are about to be expunged from history as the prelude to the arrival of a new world. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “Salvation is of the Jews.” But for many people – Christian, Muslim or atheist – it seems that salvation is not of the Jews, but of the Palestinians. It is a terrifying thought.

Britain’s Jews must urge UK government to uphold its commitment to Israel

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By Richard Mather

Following discussions with government ministers and Jewish leaders in the UK, the British government endorsed the establishment of a Jewish home in Palestine. The decision, dated November 2 1917, was made public in a letter from British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild. It became known as the Balfour Declaration and was incorporated into the Sevres peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire, and the Mandate for Palestine, which was ratified by the League of Nations on July 24 1922.

Fast forward ninety-nine years and we have witnessed the shameful spectacle of an anti-Israel/anti-Balfour event hosted by the House of Lords and chaired by the notorious anti-Semite Baroness Jenny Tonge, during which Israel was compared to Islamic State, and Jews were blamed for pushing Hitler over the edge and thereby bringing the Holocaust on themselves.

The event, which was organised by Baroness Tonge and the London-based hate group Palestine Return Centre, marked the launch of the so-called Balfour Apology Campaign ahead of the Balfour Declaration centenary, which occurs in November 2017. A couple of months ago, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told the UN General Assembly that Britain should apologise for the Balfour Declaration. We can expect much of the same absurd and offensive rhetoric over the coming year as anti-Zionist campaigners in Britain and abroad continue to urge the UK government to show remorse for so-called “colonial crimes” in the Middle East.

Indeed, next year, 2017, may well be the high water mark of British anti-Semitism. The situation for Jews in Britain has been getting steadily worse over the past ten to fifteen years. It reached an unprecedented level in the summer of 2014 (during Operation Protective Edge) and has been worsening ever since. The centenary of the Balfour Declaration may see the biggest avalanche of hatred on the Anglo-Jewish community since the medieval period, especially if Abbas’ proxies in Britain fill the airwaves and newspapers with vile slanders against the Jews.

To attack Israel’s very existence is appallingly anti-Semitic but don’t expect the mainstream media in the UK to point this out. On the contrary, the majority of media outlets in Britain will very likely take a very strong pro-Arab line and single out Jews for condemnation.  Even so, Jews must continue to affirm and celebrate the role Britain played in the reestablishment of Israel. And Britain’s Jews must urge the UK government to uphold its historic commitment to Israel, without apology or remorse.

 

UK’s despicable liberals owe Israel an apology

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By Richard Mather

We have just witnessed the shameful spectacle of a Jew-hating event hosted by the House of Lords and chaired by the notorious anti-Semite Baroness Jenny Tonge, who co-organised the event with the Palestine Return Centre. During the session, Israel was compared to Islamic State and Jews were blamed for pushing Hitler over the edge and bringing the Holocaust on themselves. Baroness Tonge appeared to enjoy the sessions. Her only concern was that someone might overhear them. There may be “Zionist ears in the room,” she warned her audience.

Baroness Tonge is no stranger to anti-Semitism and anti-Zionist paranoia. A purveyor of the modern-day blood libel, she accused the Israel Defense Forces’ medical team in Haiti in 2010 of harvesting organs. Two years later, she appeared at an Israeli Apartheid Week event and called for an end to the Jewish state, which she described as an “aircraft carrier.” She has also expressed support for Arab suicide bombers and has repeatedly railed against the so-called pro-Israeli lobby, which “has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips.”

Baroness Tonge represents everything that is wrong with left-wing liberalism in Britain. Arrogant, elitist, self-righteous, smugly comfortable, she is completely out of touch with the lower middle and working classes (she is, after all, a Baroness in the House of Lords). She is also one of those ‘anti-racist anti-Semites’ who sees racism everywhere except when it presents itself as Jew-hatred. Baroness Tonge, like many left-wing liberals, believes that history is on their side when it comes to multiculturalism, the demise of national borders and the annihilation of Israel. In a word, she is despicable.

Left liberals like Baroness Tonge would like you to believe there’s a substantial difference between classical anti-Semitism and post-Shoah anti-Zionism. The assertion that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are somehow different is a cynical and deliberate ruse designed to both normalize Jew-hatred in Britain and to delegitimise the State of Israel. It is redolent of the state-sanctioned anti-Semitism prevalent in Russia, as part of the anti-Western campaign of Zhdanovshchina. The Soviet people were told that the Jews had to be excluded from Soviet life because they had a tendency to glorify the West. Now, left-wing liberals are making it clear that Jews must be excluded from British political discourse because they are linked to the State of Israel.

Baroness Tonge and her band of anti-Zionist campaigners in the House of Lords want the British government to apologize for the Balfour Declaration of 1917. What these people fail to understand is that the Balfour Declaration was the outcome of decades of campaigning by Jews whose vision was to secure international legitimacy for the right of the Jewish people to a build a safe homeland. Anti-Semites like Baroness Tonge fail to see that the Balfour Declaration was about building a sanctuary for the world’s most persecuted people. Instead, she appears to derive her definition of Zionism from the notorious anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which purports to describe a plan by Jewish interest groups to accumulate as much power as possible.

The House of Lords event was shameful, but not particularly surprising. There is a long tradition in the West of denouncing Jews, Judaism and the nation of Israel. It is called Adversus Judaeos (so-called because of a series of fourth century anti-Jewish homilies called Ioudaion, “against the Jews”). Early Christian anti-Jewish polemics have become the pattern for twentieth and twenty-first century anti-Jewish tirades, in which Jews/Israelis are falsely accused of murdering Arabs or stealing land. These false accusations, bad enough in themselves, have been grafted onto age-old prejudices about Jews and money, Jews and power, etc. The end goal of all this, of course, is the annihilation or displacement of six million Israeli Jews, plus the discomforting and political marginalization of Diaspora Jews.

Whereas the early anti-Jewish polemicists were convinced they were agents of Christ, people like Baroness Tonge believe themselves to be agents of liberalism (hence the smug self-righteousness that is common on the Left). Jenny Tonge et al claim to act in the name of universalism, to safeguard and respect everyone equally, with Jews being the obvious exception. If liberal universalism has become aligned with the Palestinian Arabs, the Jewish people inevitably emerge as betrayers of that universalism. The existence of a distinct people – the Jews/Israel – produces intense anxiety in the minds of liberals like Baroness Tonge.

By singling out Jews for political condemnation, and by infecting public discourse with anti-Semitic poison, Baroness Tonge and her despicable left-liberal friends are trying their hardest to destroy the post-war consensus that Anglo-Jews form an integral part of British society. Thanks to people like Baroness Tonge, anti-Semitism is once again an immutable factor in Britain. British Jews deserve better than this. And Israel deserves an apology from the UK Parliament for the shameful episode at the House of Lords.

 

Whose land is it anyway? A survey of immigration into pre-state Israel

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By Richard Mather

There is an old and rare book called Palestina ex monumentis veteribus illustrata, written by Hadriani Relandi (a mapmaker and scholar from Utrecht) and published in 1714. It documents Relandi’s trip to Eretz Israel/Palestine in 1695-96. On his travels he surveyed around 2,500 places that were mentioned in the Tanakh and/or Mishnah, and he carried out a census of the people who resided in such places. He made some very interesting discoveries. For a start, he discovered that not a single settlement in Palestine had a name that was of Arabic origin. Instead the names derived from Hebrew, Roman and Greek languages.

Another interesting discovery was the conspicuous absence of a sizeable Muslim population. Instead, he found that most of the inhabitants of Palestine were Jews, along with some Christians and a few Bedouins. Nazareth was home to less than a thousand Christians, while Jerusalem held 5,000 people, mostly Jews. Gaza was home to around 250 Jews and about the same number of Christians.  The only exception was Nablus where around 120 Muslims lived, along with a handful of Samaritans, whose ancestors belonged to the northern tribes of Israel.

Intrigued by the findings in Relandi’s book, I looked at other first-hand sources, such as travelogs, governmental reports and censuses. I wasn’t sure I would find anything. But there is a surprising quantity of data and anecdotal evidence. And all the evidence suggests that the majority of non-Jewish (i.e. Arab Muslim and Christian) immigration to Palestine began in the mid or late 1800s.

Drawing on work by statistician and demographer Roberto Bachi, it is estimated that there were 151,000 non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine in 1540. (Some sources indicate that many of these were descendants of Jews who had remained in Palestine following the failed Bar Kokhba revolt in 136 CE but had been forced to convert to Islam). By 1800, the non-Jewish population had grown to around 268,000, rising to 489,000 by 1890, 589,000 in 1922 and just over 1.3 million in 1948. The vast majority of these non-Jewish migrants were Muslims. All of which suggests that most of the Muslim (and Christian) inhabitants of Palestine were recent immigrants and had not been living there for generations as is sometimes suggested. Moreover, the figures show that Arab immigration was a fast-growing trend, propelled by external circumstances. But what?

Firstly, several thousand peasant farmers had come to Palestine in the first half of the 19th century to escape Egypt’s military draft, forced labor and taxes. Secondly, the Ottoman authorities transferred a great many people from Morocco, Algeria and Egypt to Palestine in the early part of the 20th century, partly in an effort to outflank Jewish immigration. Thirdly, the Zionist project was very attractive to Arabs who were drawn to Palestine by the good wages, healthcare and sanitation offered by the Jews.  Indeed, the Muslim infant mortality rate in Palestine fell from 201 per 1,000 in 1925 to 94 per 1,000 in 1945. Meanwhile, life expectancy rose from 37 to 49 years.

Furthermore, the Arab population of Palestine increased the most in cities where there were large numbers of Jews, which is a strong indication that Arabs were drawn to Palestine because of the Zionists. 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. Tellingly, the growth in Arab-majority towns was far 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, the situation regarding Arab settlement was much more lax. Historian and author Freddy Liebreich claims there was significant Arab immigration from the Hauran region of Syria during the Mandate era – and that the British authorities turned a blind eye.

However, some people were taking notice. The Hope Simpson Enquiry (1930) observed  there was significant illegal Arab immigration from Egypt, Transjordan and Syria, which was negatively affecting prospective Jewish immigrants and contributing to Arab violence against Jews. The British Governor of the Sinai between 1922 and 1936 substantiated the view that unchecked Arab immigration was taking place, with most of the immigrants coming from the Sinai, Transjordan and Syria. And 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.”

Immigration continued at a pace until the Jews declared independence in 1948. The fact that Arab (largely Muslim) 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. According to the UN Relief and Works Agency, Palestine refugees are defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.”

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If there were very few non-Jewish inhabitants in Palestine in the 16th and 17th centuries, what happened to the Arab invaders who arrived in 629 CE? Well, for a start, very few of the invaders actually stayed in Palestine. Many became absentee landlords who used native tenants to cultivate their estates and to pay the dhimmi tax. This is why Palestine, along with Egypt and Syria, remained overwhelmingly Christian for several more centuries. It is possible, however, that following the Muslim reconquest in 1187, many Jewish and Christian inhabitants of Palestine were forced to convert to Islam, thereby pushing up the number of Muslim inhabitants. However, Palestine’s population went into decline from the mid-14th century – in large part due to the Black Death, which swept in from eastern Europe and north Africa, travelling to Gaza, and making its way to Palestine, Lebanon and Syria. With no one to care for the land, many areas became malarial, especially in northern Palestine, which became largely uninhabitable. Depopulation continued as a consequence of the invasion of Palestine in 1831 by Muhammad Ali of Egypt and the ensuing Peasants’ Revolt of 1834, which reduced the male population of Palestine by about twenty per cent, with large numbers of peasants either deported to Egypt or drafted into Egypt’s military. Many others abandoned their farms and villages to join the Bedouin.

Clearly it would be futile to argue that there were few Arabs living in Palestine in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries, but the figures do show that the Arab population of Palestine had been in state of flux for centuries and that the overwhelming majority were migrants from the rest of the Arab world and/or the Ottoman empire. This is important because it tells us that the postmodern notion of a deep-rooted Palestinian Arab history/culture is bogus. All the evidence points to the conspicuous absence of Arab culture in late 17th century Palestine; and even in the 18th and 19th centuries the Arab inhabitants of Palestine were not indigenous but were latecomers. This explains why, historically, Arabs never talked about Palestinian identity – because there wasn’t one. They were Egyptian, Syrian, Moroccan, Iraqi and Ottoman Arabs, and many of them expressed allegiance to the concept of a Greater Syria.

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It wasn’t until the mid-1960s – nearly two decades after Israel declared independence – that a semi-coherent (and very violent) Palestinian Arab identity came into being. Until then, the Arabs had refused to call themselves Palestinians because it was a name 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 as late as the 1960s and was couched in fervently anti-Zionist and Judeophobic terms. 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.”

Even as late as the 1970s, the notion of a Palestinian people was still nothing more than a terrorist construct designed to undermine Jewish claims to the land of Israel. In a conversation with Dutch newspaper Trouw 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 of the Jews.

Many of the problems experienced by the State of 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 (New 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 the Arabs. So we are now in a perverse situation where the indigenous Semites of Palestine call themselves Israelis and the people who flocked from the Ottoman and Arab regions 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 (which has always been a sucker for conspiracy theories) believes it.

It is surely time to remind the Arabs and the international community that 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 philosopher Immanuel Kant refer to Jews in Europe as “the Palestinians among us”? Why did Jewish campaigners in the early 20th century produce posters calling for Jews of America to register as members of the Zionist Organisation of America “for the freedom of Palestine”? Why does the 1939 flag of Palestine have a Star of David on it?

Now some critics might say, “Well, all this may be true,  but the people who claim to be Palestinians are indeed Palestinians because they say  they are and they deserve our sympathy.” The trouble is, the so-called Palestinians make no attempt to explain who they really are but continue to perpetuate the antisemitic conspiracy theory that they are the primitive and indigenous people of Palestine who were/are cruelly oppressed by the wicked Zionists. The world believes this because they are told the lie often enough and because the Israeli state has done a poor job of communicating the truth.

And because of the big Palestinian lie, Jew-hatred is now at its highest level since the end of the Second World War. Given that the Palestinians themselves are unlikely to admit to themselves and to the world that Palestinianism is an antisemitic hoax,  it is down to us to do it for them.

The Noahide Laws: A universal code for peace and unity

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Noah and His Ark’ by Charles Willson Peale, 1819, oil on canvas

The Noahide Laws: A universal code for peace and unity 

And God spoke unto Noah, and to Noah’s children with him, saying, And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you, and with your seed after you.’

By Richard Mather  

Judaism is not a religion that seeks converts. Although conversion is not prohibited (far from it), Maimonides and other authorities teach that the Seven Noahide Laws, or Sheva Mitzvot B’nai Noach, are the sacred inheritance of all humanity. Those gentiles who observe the Seven Noahide Laws in accordance with the Torah will merit a share in the World to Come.

What are the Seven Noahide Laws? As enumerated in Sanhedrin 56a of the Babylonian Talmud, they comprise one positive commandment and six negative commandments given to Noah and his offspring after the Flood, and are as follows: to establish courts of justice; to refrain from blasphemy, idolatry, adultery, bloodshed and robbery; and to never eat flesh cut from a living animal. This last commandment is usually interpreted as behaving compassionately towards animals.

All descendants of Noah, which means all of humanity, are required to follow these laws. Gentiles who actively follow the Seven Laws of Noah are called B’nai Noach or Noahides. Sometimes they are referred to as “righteous gentiles” or “the pious among the nations.” Historically, the term B’nai Noach applied to all gentiles as descendants of Noah. These days, however, it is used to refer specifically to gentiles who observe the Seven Noahide Laws.

The Noahide Laws were give to Moses and also preserved by the sages of the Talmud. It is important to note that B’nai Noach observe the Seven Laws because they were reaffirmed at Mount Sinai and not because the sons of Noah received them previously. As a priestly nation, the Jewish people are to safeguard these universal principles and to teach them to the nations. According to Maimonides, “Moses was commanded by the Almighty to compel all the inhabitants of the world to accept the commandments given to Noah’s descendants.”

(Also worth noting is that a Noahide is only considered righteous if he or she accepts the Seven Noahide Laws as coming from G-d. A person who derives the laws from his or her own intellect is not considered righteous.)

Interestingly, the Seven Noahide Laws are more than just seven commandments. They are actually seven category headings or headlines under which a number of other commandants are compiled. For instance, the injunction against theft includes the prohibition against defrauding your neighbour. The commandment to establish laws and courts of justice includes the injunction not to kill a suspected murderer before he stands trial. Depending on the rabbinical authority, there are not just seven laws, but thirty or even sixty-six commandments.

Gentiles who acknowledge and observe the Seven Noahide Laws are not in the business of creating another religion, which is forbidden by the Torah. Rather it is about acknowledging Hashem as the One G-d of both Jews and gentiles, and recognising that He is a righteous and loving G-d, Who is intimately concerned with His creation.

Some Noahides attend synagogues and most study under a rabbi. B’nai Noach reject pagan holidays such as Christmas and Easter. But they are not supposed to create new religious festivals; nor are they allowed to observe Jewish religious holidays in the manner of their Jewish brethren.

However, there are a number of prayers and blessings that have been especially written for Noahides. Rabbi Moshe Weiner, the overseeing rabbi of Ask Noah International, has published a number of suitable prayers. These prayers do not encroach on the spiritual heritage of the Jewish people, and no attempt is made to establish additional obligations for gentiles beyond the Noahide Code.

The Noahide Way is gaining in popularity in the West, especially among former Christians who wish to have a relationship with Hashem without the baggage of Christian dogma (such as the trinity) and two thousand years of Church-sanctioned anti-Semitism. In fact, not since the days of the Second Temple when G-d-fearing gentiles regularly attended synagogues throughout the Diaspora, has the Torah played such an important part in the lives of non-Jews.

It is probably fair to say that Chabad Lubavitch has done the most in recent years to reach out to gentiles. In my home city of Manchester, England, for example, Hasidic Jews have been known to hand out Noahide literature to members of the public. In Manchester, London and other English cities, there are small Noahide study groups, which discuss the Torah and Halachic matters.

There are also Noahide groups and communities in Australia, Europe and North America. Significantly, in 1991, President George H. W. Bush signed into law an historic Joint Resolution of both Houses of Congress recognising the Seven Noahide Laws as the “bedrock of society from the dawn of civilization.”

And in 2006, the spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel met with a representative of Chabad to sign a declaration calling on all non-Jews in Israel to observe the Noahide Laws. A year later, Chabad brought together ambassadors from Poland, Japan, Ghana, Latvia, Mexico and Panama, who all championed the Noahide Laws.

The late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who launched the global Noahide Campaign, commented that a particular task of Chabad (and of religious Jews in general) is to educate and to encourage the observance of the Seven Laws among all people. “The religious tolerance of today and the trend towards greater freedom gives us the unique opportunity to enhance widespread observance of these laws,” he said.

The Seven Noahide Laws – given to the sons of Noah after the Flood and reaffirmed to Moses at Mount Sinai – are not only an expression of G-d’s divine goodness, they also help to ensure that human beings are united and bound by a common moral responsibility to G-d, and to each other. As it says in Midrash Tanchuma, “God gave the Torah to the Jewish people so that all nations might benefit from it.”

 

 

 

Labour’s view of Jews is an antisemitic caricature worthy of the USSR

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Anti-Zionist caricature from the Soviet magazine “Krokodil”, № 15, 1972 | Source: Mikhail Sychyov

Labour’s view of Jews is an antisemitic caricature worthy of the USSR

By Richard Mather 

The UK Labour Party is no longer in the business of winning elections. The party’s reticence stems from a more radical political desire, which is to “address the Jewish question” (to quote one of its activists) and to deZionize the party.

Even something as innocuous as a Jewish holiday message is subject to Labour’s obsessive scrutiny, with claims circulating that Labour’s communications director Seamus Milne apparently tried to ban the use of Hebrew in a Passover message because he felt it implied support for Zionism.

Under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is the British political party that is most hostile to Jews. Given that most Jews in Britain are Zionists and that most Zionists are Jews, Labour’s disdain for the vast majority of Anglo-Jewry is incontestable. To paraphrase British PM Theresa May, Labour is the “nasty party” par excellence.

This nastiness is deliberate. Like the Soviets, Labour antizionism is a crafted propaganda doctrine that aims to rob Jewry of their security and to oust them from political discourse. The main thrust of Labour’s antizionist message is this: Zionism is a form of racism, Zionists are similar to Nazis, and Israel is a tool used by Jews to foment imperialism and militant chauvinism. This is the politics of anti-Jewish contempt.

It’s true that antisemitism in Labour is not new. It was evident in the foreign policy decisions of the post-WW2 Labour government. But there has always been (at least until now) a significant and sizeable pro-Israel, pro-Jewish contingent within the party: advocacy groups such as Labour Friends of Israel, and important individuals such as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown who stood alongside the Jewish state and spoke out against antisemitic prejudice and bigotry.

Corbyn’s rise to power has done more than just embolden the minority of antisemitic cranks already within the party; he has enthused a new generation of antisemites who have joined Labour in droves. Labour Zionists are now marginalised, and Jewish Labour MPs are routinely abused and bullied by militant Corbynistas. As a result, financial donations from Jewish donors have all but dried up and Jews are abandoning the party.

But anti-Jewish hostility is not just a problem for Jewish members inside Labour. It is an issue of concern for Jews in the UK more generally.

The ascendancy of Corbyn and the militancy of Labour’s recently-formed Momentum group are reminders that left-wing extremism did not die out in the 1980s but remains an ongoing threat to the well-being and security of Anglo-Jewry. The rise in antisemitic attacks in the UK suggests that Labour and the rest of the British Left, in allegiance with Islamist radicals, now pose an existential threat to British Jews.

The ‘idea’ of the Jew

Corbynistas are a lot like the antizionist Soviet propagandists who studied Zionism in order to uncover its secrets. In Soviet lore, Zionism was/is the politics of the wealthy Jewish bourgeoisie which had closely allied itself with monopoly elites in the USA and the UK.

Like the Soviets before them, the Corbynistas are convinced that Israel is home to several million racists, and that Zionists around the world serve as “the front squad of colonialism and neo-colonialism,” to quote the third edition of the thirty-volume Great Soviet Encyclopedia.

Even when there isn’t a flesh-and-blood Jew in sight, Labour antizionists are still tormented by the idea of ‘the Jew.’ Lacking political depth and therefore unable to distinguish between the real and the imaginary, it is the idea of the Zionist Jew– albeit a false idea – that keeps their hatred alive.

It was the same with the Brownshirts and the Stalinists, the Lutherans and the medieval Catholic Church. The thought or image of the nefarious Jew is enough to engender a pogrom, a Stalinist show trial, an inquisition, a boycott.

It is no wonder that the Corbynistas are irrational and abusive. They imagine themselves living in a world controlled by Jew-Zionists. And this is why Labour’s focus is not on winning seats at the next general election but on cleansing the party (and the country) of undesirable Zionist Jews.

More than that, party members are well aware that they do not need to be in government in order to do this.

They already have the power and the resources to perpetuate their dirty war against Jews, not only through the media, but also by means of organized protests, marches and demonstrations, by the boycotting of Jewish businesses and individuals, and by aiding and abetting Islamist extremists.

Labour and the Far Right

Another recurring theme in Soviet antisemitism was the allegation that the Zionists and the Nazis collaborated against the Jewish people because Zionist leaders viewed ‘Palestine’ as the only legitimate place for Jewish immigration.

This view formed the basis of Mahmoud Abbas’ PhD dissertation. It is also the view of Labour’s Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, nicknamed Red Ken.

If the Soviets learned a great deal from the Nazis about how to slander Jews, so the contemporary Far Right is taking lessons from the Labour Party. Earlier this year, Nick Griffin, former leader of the extreme right-wing racist British National Party, took to Twitter to defend Ken Livingstone’s repugnant suggestion that Adolf Hitler was a Zionist:

“Hitler started war wanting to send all Jews to own homeland outside Europe & armed Zionist terrorists to fight Brits in Palestine. #RedKen,” wrote Nick Griffin, who then tweeted a message reading, “One day the world will know that #RedKen was right.”

Consider, too, the Far Right website deLiberation, which recently hailed Corbyn as the “antidote to the Blairite virus and Zionist snake-bite”:

“Many certainly can see Corbyn as Prime Minister – a very different and totally new style of PM, to be sure […] he’s a man to look up to and identify with […] a man who is not tempted by the Israeli shekel. If any of his opponents lands the leadership Labour will remain under the yoke of Zionist ambitions and enslave by the gangster regime in Tel Aviv.”

The end?

The Far Right’s fascination with the Labour Party is what happens when a once-major political party is taken over by lunatics who transform their irrational fixation with Jews into party policy.

The trouble is, even if Corbyn and his cronies are overthrown by sensible Labourites on September 24 (the date of the leadership conference), there’s not much evidence that the party is in a fit state to govern, even at a local or regional level. The rot may be too wide and too deep.

So is the Labour Party finished? The party is, on average, eleven points behind the Conservative Party. As things stand, there is no chance of Labour doing well in the next general election because the anticipation of election victory in 2020 is absent.

The only thing that matters to the Corbynistas is the cleansing of the party of Zionists and other political foes.

Yes, the Labour Party exists – but only just. Under its current leader, it has been reduced to a social media/student union protest body that proffers a seemingly endless proliferation of callow opinion from the naïve, foolish, the extreme and the dangerous.

Thanks to Corbyn and his communist apparatchiks, Labour is limping through a catastrophic collapse of meaning and intellectual malaise, propped up only by its Sovietesque obsession with Jews and Zionism.

 

Adam by Barnett Newman

Barnett Newman and the art of not making graven images

Barnett Newman and the art of not making graven images

By Richard Mather 

Barnett Newman was born in 1905 to Abraham and Anna Newman, Jewish immigrants from Poland who came to New York City in 1900. Although not religious, Barnett’s father was a passionate Zionist and a supporter of the National Hebrew School of the Bronx. As well as attending Hebrew school, Barnett and his brothers and sisters were educated at home by Jewish scholars from Europe. He went on to study philosophy at the City College of New York and later made a living as an art teacher, writer and critic.

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Barnett Newman

In the 1930s he made a number of paintings but eventually destroyed all these works. Newman started painting again in 1944 and he made a number of chalk drawings but it wasn’t until 1948 that he produced his artistic breakthrough: Onement 1 was a major achievement and it was this artwork that earned him the reputation as a pioneer of color field paintings.

It was around this time that Newman became preoccupied with Judaic creation stories. Art critic and friend Thomas B. Hess has described how Newman immersed himself in the Torah and Kabbalistic writings in the mid-1940s. Newman began to evolve a distinctive pictorial image: a vertical band, zip, or what Newman called a “streak of light” running from the very top to the very bottom of the canvas. The vertical strips of light (usually created by the ripping away of masking tape from the canvas) are thought to relate to the Kabbalistic notion of a ray of infinite light (kav) used to create the world. The form of the divine produced by this first ray of light is known as Adam Kadmon, literally, “Primordial Adam.” Perhaps this is why some critics regard the zip to be a representation of man, indeed, of the first man, Adam, who walks upright.

Thomas B. Hess regards the vertical bands of colour as “an act of division, a gesture of separation, as God separated light from darkness, with a line drawn in the void.” Newman himself claimed that the artist begins with the void. As Newman remarks in his essay “The Plasmic Image,” “It can be said that the artist like a true creator is delving into chaos. It is precisely this that makes him an artist for the Creator in creating the world began with the same material, for the artist tries to wrest truth from the void.”

adam

‘Adam’ (1951-2) by Barnett Newman

In 1951 Newman created Adam, an abstract expressionist colour field painting, complete with multiple zips or “streaks of light.” Adam is dominated by two colours: red and brown, blood and earth. The name Adam derives from the Hebrew word adamah (ground), but also adom, (red) and dam (blood). As it says in the Torah, “the Lord God formed man [ha-adam] of dust from the ground [adamah].” Newman makes no attempt to depict Adam in any natural or literal sense. As with many of his paintings, there is a conspicuous lack of literal representation. Art critic Arthur Danto suggests that Newman was moved by the Judaic injunction against the making of graven images. The Shulkhan Arukh (a codification of Jewish law) states that “it is forbidden to make complete solid or raised images of people or angels, or any images of heavenly bodies except for purposes of study.” The Shulkhan Arukh takes the literal meaning of פסל pesel as “graven image” (from the root פסל P-S-L, “to engrave”). The prohibition is seen as applying especially to some forms of sculpture and depictions of the human face.

Newman’s Adam is a “body-without-organs” (to borrow a curious phrase from philosopher Gilles Deleuze). It is pure surface, a plane of immanence, or what Newman calls the “the picture plane.” Newman’s streaks of light or zips do not destroy or collapse the painting; they unite it into a totality, into a plane of consistency. And yet there is just enough movement, just enough God-given possibility, to ensure that Adam isn’t congealed into a lumpen artwork devoid of energy.

Adam has a companion piece, Eve, painted at the same time. In a letter to the Tate Gallery (dated April 6, 1983), Newman’s widow Analee writes: “I think he thought of them as a pair because he worked on the first painting and then on the second continuously until they were finished and then named them ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’.”

Eve 1950 by Barnett Newman 1905-1970

‘Eve’ (1950) by Barnett Newman

Like Adam, Eve is a color field painting, with one of Newman’s vertical bands or zips at the right side. Adam is slightly larger than Eve. It is different in colour. Whereas Adam is predominantly brown with red zips, Eve has a vast expanse of red, interrupted by a single, narrow band of purplish-brown running the length of the canvas’ right edge. The two paintings were the last Newman completed before his second one-man exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery in April–May 1951. At that time, Adam featured two stripes, but Newman added a third one down the left centre a year later, which is why it’s now inscribed with the double date of 1951-1952.

Both Adam and Eve are in the possession of the UK-based Tate art institution, but neither artworks are currently on display.

 

richard-mather2Richard Mather is a writer and journalist. He writes for Israel News Online and Arutz Sheva, and occasionally blogs for JPost. He has also written for the Jewish Media Agency, Poetica Magazine, Drash Pit, Voices Israel, The Best of the Manchester Poets, The Holiday Times Magazine (Chabad Lubavitch) and Triggerfish Critical Review.