Thursday 4 October, 2012
Israel and Holy Writ
Hameed Abdul Karim
Ms. Maureen Seniviratne is one of the most prolific writers in the local press. She deals with topics of public interest quite extensively and naturally she is widely respected for her contributions.
But, running the risk of being irreverent, I am afraid her views of the ‘Holy Land’ under her article titled ‘Holy War’ appearing in Ceylon Today on Saturday 24 September are a tad bit off the mark. For example, she eulogises the European Christian crusaders when she says ‘those who fought in these holy wars were blessed on earth and after death would enter a place reserved for them in heaven’. Such characterising of slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Muslims, Christian and Jews by the Christian crusaders is to ignore the savagery that went behind the conquest of ancient Palestine. One of the commanders had sent a note to the then pope bragging that they were now walking ankle deep in the blood of the heathens in the holy city of Jerusalem. Pope Urban II must have been delighted with the news because it was he who had directed his soldiers to Palestine to stop the infighting between Catholics that threatened his hold on power.
To wax lyrical on the barbarity of the crusaders is to romanticize slaughter of the innocents and to quote ‘holy writ, by which she means the Bible, demeans faith, and gives divine sanction to the carnage and butchery that was associated with the crusades. Many are the historians that have condemned the crusades that lasted over two hundred years and the popes who ordered the slaughter and who benefited financially from the savagery. The book ‘Crusades Though Arab Eyes’ by Amin Maalouf gives you a clear picture of the events that happened during the crusades. It’s much like reading a book ‘How the West was Lost’ instead of how it was won.
It must be borne in mind that Christopher Columbus was funded by kings and religious heads of Spain to conquer India and ended up ‘detecting’ America, was also given a divine sanction to go in search of the ‘promised land’. In the case of Columbus, as was with Western colonialism of Asian and African lands it was the same ‘divine sanction’ that was cited. The pretext was to civilise the heathens, the motive was to loot and plunder their lands.
As for the conquest of Palestine by the Jews as foretold in ‘holy writ’ it would be appropriate to ask Palestinian Christians what they think of that idea. I had the honour and the privilege to be hosted to lunch by a devout Christian lady of Bethlehem. I posed this question about ‘holy writ’ and the grand old lady dismissed it with a contemptuous wave of the hand. She being a Christian doesn’t believe in such ‘holy writ’. Neither does Sri Lanka’s honorary consular general based in Jerusalem. His name is Michel Soliman and he took an afternoon off to give us a most pleasant guided tour of the Church of Nativity where the blessed Jesus Christ (peace be on him) was born.
UNESCO has placed the Church of Nativity in Israeli Occupied Bethlehem as an endangered World Heritage Site, much to the delight of Hanan Ashrawi a leading Palestinian activist. She also happens to be Christian. The reason why UNESCO made this move was because the Israelis won’t permit Palestinians to carry out urgent repairs to Jesus’ birthplace, running contrary to ‘holy writ’ or is this also according to ‘holy writ’.
The revered Jesus Christ lived in Palestine, not Israel. There was never a nation called Israel ever in history. Period. So to say that the creation of the modern state of Israel (suggesting the existence of mythical Israel in history) is a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy is fraught with inaccuracy, to put it gently. This myth has been propagated by ‘born-again’ Christians, Neo-Cons in the saddle of power in the US and Europe and of course the Jews. All of them are Zionists, which means shameless racists, who believe the Jews are the ‘chosen people’ of God. All of them take ‘divine’ inspiration from the Scofield Reference ‘Bible’, which was altered from the King James Version to include a pro-Zionist subculture within Christianity. The Oxford University Press used Cyrus Scofield to insert pro-Zionist notes in ‘the margins, between verses and chapters and of the bottom of the pages’. Thus was born the Zionist ‘Bible’. It’s used in the US and Britain by born-again Christian fundamentalists to precipitate Armageddon and bring the world to an end, as mentioned by Ms. Maureen Seneviratne.
But let me hasten to add there are Jewish Rabbis, Jewish groups, Jewish individuals, Christians and many Christian organisations who are courageously standing up to the born-again fundamentalists and Israel’s apartheid policies in Occupied Palestine. Just about a week or so ago, the anti-Israel and the anti-Zionist Jews of the Neturei Karta met with Iranian president Ahmedinejad and showered him with praise for standing strong against Israel. There are Christian heads here in Sri Lanka too who are doing just the same. Unfortunately, I do not have approval to mention their names.
To attribute Israel’s conquest of historical Palestine and especially the 1967 war which saw the rest of Palestine come under Israel’s military jackboot to ‘holy writ’, as Ms. Senevirtane would have us believe, is hard to digest for those of us who attribute only goodness to things divine. And for her to ignore the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and hearths in 1948 by the Zionists Jews in collaboration with their fellow Zionists in the US, Canada and Europe massacring thousands upon thousands of Palestinians and looting their land and properties, destroying churches and mosques just to accommodate European Jews is yet another case of colonialism and not ‘holy writ’. To ignore the millions of Palestinian living in refugees and the daily demolishing of Palestinian homes is also not worthy of decent human values.
Indeed Israel is known as an outpost of Western civilisation in the Middle East, just as South Africa was before apartheid was eventually defeated. And according to Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu Israel’s racism is worse than White South Africa’s apartheid. We must take all this into account before we attribute slaughter and land theft to ‘holy writ’. Besides if we were to continue in this vein, what would that do to the image of Jesus Christ (peace be on him), the prophet and servant of God, as the Prince of Peace?
The attribution of the 1967 war to ‘holy writ’ was nullified when Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli army chief of staff during that war later stated ‘I do not believe that Nasser (then Egyptian president) wanted war. Later Menachem Begin responsible for the slaughter of over 250 unarmed women and children in Deir Yassin was to brag ‘The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him’. So where does ‘holy writ’ come in?
I must refute one more thing that Ms. Seniviratne claims. Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel. Not even Israel’s chief patron the US recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. There is only one country in the world that has its embassy in Jerusalem. And that is Sri Lanka. Our ambassador there is known by Jews and Palestinians alike for his Zionist views based on ‘holy writ’. And another thing there was no such thing as the ‘wandering Jew’. This was a myth.