by Roger Garaudy
1 - The Myth of the "Promise" : Promised Land or Conquered Land?
The Fundamentalist interpretation of political Zionism.
* "If one possesses the book of the Bible, if one considers oneself as the people of the Bible, one should possess all the Biblical lands." General Moshe Dayan. "Jerusalem Post". August 30th 1967.
* On February 25th 1994, Doctor Baruch Goldstein massacred Arabs praying at the tomb of the Patriarchs.
* On November 4th 1995, Ygal Amir assassinated Isaac Rabin, "by order of God", and of his group of "warriors of Israel", to execute whoever should yield to the Arabs the "Promised Land" of "Judah and Samaria" (present-day Cis-Jordania).
Albert de Pury, a professor of the Old Testament at the Protestant Faculty of Theology at Geneva, sums up his doctorate thesis in the following words:
lt is admitted today that most of the tribe and clans which, in the 12th or the 11th century B.C., joined up to become the "people of Israel" (perhaps in the form of a confederation) were originally groups of semi-nomads who had become sedentary in central Palestine, Transjordania, Galilee and the Neguev over the course of the previous centuries.
Most of these clans claimed to be descended from an eponymous ancestor about whom they had preserved a body of stories and legends. Thus one of these clans regarded itself as issued from the "patriarch" Abraham ; another was issued from Jacob, while others still were considered to be the descendents of Ruben, Simeon or Joseph.
It was only during the assimilation and unification of these different tribal groups that their "ancestors", who had no links originally between them, became integrated within a single geneological system. It is likely that the "Abraham" and "Isaac" became assimilated to the "proto-Israelite" tribes at a time when Jacob-Israel had already become the common ancestor of the twelve tribes. Thus Isaac had to make do with the status of Jacob's "father", while Abraham was enthroned at the root of the genealogy, thus becoming Isaac's "father".
To sum up, we can see that the Israelite "conquest" was not the "Blitzkrieg" it is made out to be in the book of Joshuah, but rather the outcome of a gradual "Landnahme" by nomadic groups. The few military skirmishes that may have occured only came in the final phase of a long process of infiltration and sedentarization.
Most exegetes have considered and continue to consider the promise of the patriarchs in its classic form (cf for example Genesis 13/14-17 or Genesis 15/18-21) as a post-eventum legitimization of the Israelites' conquest of Palestine under David's reign. In other words, the promise was introduced in the patriarchal tales to turn that "ancestral epic" into a prelude and an announcement of the golden age of David and Solomon.
It was the custom of the heads of the clans to consult the oracle of the god El at the local sanctuary frequented by the tribe at the time of year when they got ready to leave the fertile lands to go to their winter pastures. The priest of the sanctuary would then reveal to them an "oracle of salvation" which gave the clan the assurance of divine protection during the transhumance and of its safe and sound return to the summer pastures at the end of the rainy season. Furthermore, as the patriarchal tales show us, these oracles could carry a promise of sedentarization in fertile regions.
We can now summarily circumscribe the origins of the patriarchal promise :
Thus reinterpreted, the promise was seen as the foreshadowing of the definitive conquest of Palestine, as the announcement and the legitimization of the Davidian empire. None of the promises reported in the book of Genesis have avoided this reinterpretation. The content of the patriarchal promise
Source : All these texts are taken from the conference given on February 10th 1975 at Cret-Berard (Switzerland) during a symposium on the theological interpretations of the Israeli-Arab conflict, published in the magazine : "Theological and religious studies" n° 3, 1976 (Montpellier).
Source : Micah III,1-12.
Source : Rabbi Elmer Berger : "Prophecy, Zionism and the state of Israel." Ed. American Jewish alternatives to Zionism. Conference at Leiden University (Netherlands) on March 20th 1968.
* * *
Ygal Amir, Isaac Rabin's assassin, is neither a delinquent nor a madman, but a pure product of Zionist education. The son of a rabbi, an excellent student at the clerical University of Bar Ilan near Tel Aviv, he has been brought up on the teachings of the Talmudic schools. A first-rate soldier in the Golan, one of his books was the biography of Baruch Goldstein (who murdered 27 Arabs praying at the tomb of the Patriarchs at Hebron a few months ago). Ygal Amir probably saw, on Israeli State television, the long documentary on the "Eyal" group (the Warriors of Israel) swearing on the tomb of Theodore Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, to "execute whoever would yield to the Arabs the 'Promised Land' of Judah and Samaria" (present-day Cis-Jordania).
The assassination of President Rabin, (like the killings of Goldstein) are inscribed in the strict logic of the mythology of the Zionist Fundamentalists : the order to kill, says Ygal Amir, "comes from God", as in the days of Joshua.
Source : "Le Monde" (AFP) November 8th 1995.
Ygal Amir was not an isolated case within Israeli society : on the day of Isaac Rabin's murder, the Kiryat Arba and Hebron settlers danced for joy, reciting the psalms of David, round the mausoleum erected to the glory of Baruch Goldstein.
Source : "El Pais" (Spain), November 7th 1995. p. 4.
Isaac Rabin was a symbolic target, not because he supposedly "fought for Peace all his life". as Bill Clinton claimed at Rahin's funeral. In fact, Rabin was at the head of the occupying forces at the begining of the "Intifada", and it was he who gave the order to "break the bones" of the children of the Palestinian soil, whose only weapon was the ancient stones of their land with which to defend their ancestral soil.
But Isaac Rabin was a realist who had understood (like the Americans in Vietnam and the French in Algeria) that there could be no definitive military solution when an Army clashes not just with another army but with an entire people. He had therefore agreed on a compromise solution with Yasser Arafat: a portion of the territories, whose occupation had been condemned by the United Nations, would be granted administrative autonomy. But the Israeli army would continue to protect the "colonies" stolen from the natives and which had turned into seminars of hate such as Hebron.
This was already going too far for the Fundamentalists who had benefited from this colonialism: they created round Rabin - whom they presented as a "traitor" - the climate of hatred which led up to his infamous assassination. After thousands of Palestinians, Isaac Rabin was a victim of the myth of the "Promised Land", ancient pretext for bloody colonialism.
This assassination by a fanatic shows once more that a genuine peace between a State of Israel, secure within the frontiers established by the 1947 partition, and a wholly independent Palestinian State, must involve the radical elimination of the present-day colonialism, in other words of all the colonies which are from within the future Palestinian State, unending sources of provocation and so many detonators for future wars.
2 - The myth of the "chosen people"
"Thus speaketh the Lord : my firstborn son is Israel." - Exodus IV, 22
An Fundamentalist interpretation of political Zionism.
"The inhabitants of the world can be disseminated between Israel and the other nations taken as a whole. Israel is the chosen people: chief dogma."
Source : Rabbin Cohen: "The Talmud" Ed.Payot, Paris 1986.p.104.
This myth is the belief, without any historical foundation whatsoever, according to which monetheism was born with the Old Testament. It would appear, on the contrary, from the Bible itself that its two principal transcribers, the Yahvist and the Elohist, were not monotheists, either of them; they only proclaimed the superiority of the Hebrew god over the other gods, and his "jealousy" regarding them (Exodus XX, 2-5). Kamosh, the god of Moab, is acknowledged (Judges XI, 24 and Kings II, 27) as "the other gods" (Samuel I, XXVII,19) (Kings I, 27).
It was only after the exile, and especially with the Prophets, that monotheism asserted itself, in other words when formulas such as : "Thou shalt have no god than I." (XX,4) turned into ones that were not content with demanding obedience to Yahveh and to no other gods (as is repeated in Deuteronomy) : "You shall not follow other gods." (VI,14), but which proclaimed : "I am God, there are none others." (Essau XLV,22). This indisputable assertion of monotheism dates from the second half of the VIth century B.C. (between 550 and 539 B.C.).
For monotheism was the fruit of a long ripening process of the great cultures of the Middle East, those of Mesopotamia and Egypt. As early as the XIIIth century B.C. the pharaoh Akhenaton had the plural of the word "god" erased from all the temples. His "hymn to the sun" is paraphrased almost word for word in Psalm 104. The Babylonian religion was heading towards monotheism; when he evoked the god Marduk, the historian Albright delineated the stages in that transformation : "When it is recognized that the numerous different divinities are only manifestations of a single god.. it is only one step away from reaching a certain monotheism."
Source : Albright. "Les religions dans le Moyen Orient." p. 159
The "Babylonian Poem of Creation" (which dates from the XIth century B.C.) bears witness to these "final steps" : "If humans are divided as to the gods, we by all the names we shall have named him by, let him be He, our God." This religion reached a high degree of interiority, in which the image of the suffering Upright man appears :
Source : Op. cit. p. 329 to 341.
If it were not for an ethnocentric prejudice in our path, why should we not reflect on all these sacred texts, which were an "Ancient Testament" for each of their people, and study the moment of the discovery of the meaning of life ?
Only then would the message of life and the words of Jesus attain their true universality : it would be rooted in all the experiences men have had of the divine, and not restricted - and even stifled by a unilateral tradition. The very life of Jesus, his radically new vision of the Kingdom of God as no longer resting on the power of the mighty but on the hope of the poor, would cease to be eclipsed by a historical schema going only from promises of victory made to one People until their final victory.
We have here evoked in their anteriority only religions of the Middle East, in which dawned monotheism and which exterted an influence on the Hebrews. In other non-Western cultures the move towards monotheism is even more ancient. For example the Vedas of India.
"Wise men give the Sole Being more than one name." (Hymn of the Rig-Veda III,7). Vrihaspati "It is our Father, who contains all the gods." (III,18 ) "He who is our Father has engendered and contains all beings. God alone, he has made the other gods. Everything that exists acknowledges him as Master...You know He who has created all things; it is the same as the one who is within you." (CXI, 11) "His names are many, but He is One."
These sacred texts date from the XVIth to the VIth century B.C., and Father Monchanin (S.J.), in his effort of intuition to place himself within the Vedas, called them : "the absolute liturgical poem."
Source : Jules Monchanin : "Mystique de l'Inde, mystére chrétien". P.231.229.
3. The myth of Joshua: ethnic purification.
"And from Lachish Joshua passed unto Eglon,
and all Israel with him...And they took it on that day,
and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the
souls that were therein he utterly destroyed that
day...And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with
him, unto Hebron." (Book of Joshua X:34)
An Fundamentalist interpretation of political Zionism.
On April 9th 1948, Menahem Beghin and his Irgun troops massacred the 254 inhabitants of the village of Deir Yassin, men, women and children.
We are studying this passage of fossilization of the myth into history and the claims of that "historical touch-up job" to justify a policy, in just one specific case : that of the instrumentalization of the Biblical tales. They have never ceased to play a determinant role in the fate of the West, insofar as they covered its most bloody deeds, from the persecution of the Jews by the Romans, then by the Christians, until the Crusades, the lnquisition, the Holy Alliance, the colonial dominations exerted by the "chosen people",until the exactions of the state of Israel, not only through its policy of expansion in the Middle East, but also through the pressures of its lobbies, the most powerful of which is the American one, that plays a major role in the American policy of world domination and military aggression. This is the reason for our choice : the exploitation of a mythical past is influencing the future towards what might prove to be world suicide.
* * *
The Bible contains some of the most outstanding images of the divine presence in history, from that first and grandiose explosion beyond our petty morals and logic, of the transcendent sacrifice of Abraham, to the eternal symbol of mankind's flight from servitude in the epic of Exodus, along with the great prophecies of Amos and Ezekiel, of Isaiah and Job, all the way to the announcement of a new alliance with David.
This "new alliance" (or "New Testament") heralds the greatest mutation in the history of men and gods with the advent of Jesus, whom, as the Fathers of the Eastern Church put it : "God became man so that man could become God" Then, with Saint Paul, returned the traditional vision of a sovereign, all-powerful God who directs the life of men and communities from above and from without, not through the Jewish "law" any more but through a Christian "grace" which similarly destroys man's responsibility.
"It is through grace that you are saved. You have nothing to do with it. It is the gift of God." (Ephesians. II. 10) We will not deal with the Bible in general, but only with that part of it which is claimed to inspire the theocratic lsraeli regime of today and the Zionist movement : the Torah (which the Christians call the Pentateuch, in other words the five first books : Genesis, Exodus, Levitique, Numbers and Deuteronomy) and its so-called "historical" annexes, the books of Joshua, Judges, Kings and Samuel; it does include the "prophetic" portions of the Torah, which constantly recall that "God's alliance with men" is unconditional and universal, bound to the observance of the divine law and open to all nations and all mankind.
* * *
The Torah (the Pentateuch) and the "historical" books (as has been proved for more than a century by the exegetes) are a compilation of oral traditions, set in writing by the scribes of Solomon in the IXth century B.C. Their chief preoccupation was to legitimize (by amplifying them) the conquests of David and his empire; these are in any case impossible to verify through other historical documents or archeological traces. There are no other sources than the Bible, except for the story of Solomon. of which we find some evidence in the Assyrian archives. Before then,no sources, outside the Biblical tales, can confirm or infirm the historical veracity of the Torah. For example, the archeological vestiges of Ur in Irak give us no more information on Abraham than the excavation of the ruins of Troy have given us on Hector or Priam.
In the Book of Numbers (XXXI, 7-18) we are told of the exploits of the "sons of Israel" who, when they vanquished the Madianites, "killed all the men as the Lord had ordered Moses to do", "took all the women into bondage", "burned all the cities." When they returned to Moses, "Moses was wrathful. What ! he told them, you have suffered all the women to live...! Now, go forth and slay all youths, and slay all the women who have known a man in wedlock... But all the virgins...keep them for yourselves." (14-18).
During the conquest of Canaan, the successor of Moses, Joshua, carried on with this systematic policy of "ethnic purification" dictated by the God of the armies.
Source : The book of Joshua. X, 34 , X 36.
a - Regarding the first point :
Here, we come into conflict with archeology. Excavations have apparently revealed that the Israelites arriving at the end of the XIIIth century B.C. could not have taken Jericho because the city was already deserted. The mid-Bronze Age city was destroyed towards 1550 B.C. and subsequently abandoned. It was sparsely resettled in the XIVth century B.C. : pottery dating from this period has been found in Mid-Bronze Age tombs that were re-utilized, and a house containing a small pitcher dating from the mid-XIVth century B.C. Nothing can be attributed to the XIIIth century. There are no traces of New Bronze Age fortifications. The conclusion of Miss K.M. Kenyon is that it is impossible to associate a destruction of Jericho with an entrance of the Israelites at the end of the XIIIth century B.C.
Source : Cf. K.M. Kenyon, "Digging up Jericho", London 1957, pp. 256-265;
"Jericho", in "Archeology and Old Testament Study", D.Winton, Oxford, 1967, spec. pp. 272-274 ; H.J. Franken, "Tell es-Sultan and Old Testament Jericho", in OTS, 14 (1965), pp. 189-200. M.Weippert, "Die Landnahme der isrealitischen Stamme, pp.54-55.
The same holds true of the "taking of Ay".
Source : Père de Vaux (O.P.) : "Histoire ancienne d'Israel". Ed. Lecoffre et Gabalda. Paris 1971 TI, p.565.
b - Regarding the second point.
Why, therefore, if a Jew is pious and an Fundamentalist (in other words a literal reader of the Bible) should he not follow the example of such highly prestigious figures as Moses and Joshua ?
Is it not said in Numbers, of the conquest of Palestine (Canaan) : "And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities" (Numbers XXI,3), and regarding the Amorites and their king : "So they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left alive : and they possessed his land." (Numbers XXI, 35)
Deuteronomy does not demand only spoliation of the land and the expulsion of its inhabitants, but massacre, as it repeats : "And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee, thou shalt smite them and utterly destroy them;thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them." (Deuteronomy VII, 2)
From Sharon to Rabbi Meier Kahane, it is the prefiguration of the way the Zionists behave towards the Palestinians. Was not Joshua's voice that of Menahem Begin, when, on April 9th 1948, the 254 inhabitants of Deir Yassin, men, women and children, were massacred by his "Irgun" troops,to force the unarmed Arabs to flee out of terror?
Source : Menahem Begin : "La révolte : Histoire de l'Irgoun" (p.200). Editions Albatros. 1978.
Source : "Jerusalem Post", August 10th 1977.
As to the means of that dispossession of the lands, they were set by Rabin when he was general-in-chief of the occupied territories : to break the bones of the Intifada stone-throwers. What was the reaction of the Israeli Talmudist schools? To help to power one of the people most directly responsible for the Sabra and Chatila massacres : General Rafael Eytan, who asked for the "reinforcement" of the existing Jewish colonies.
As we have seen, Moses and Joshua applied to the letter these prescriptions of their God in the Torah. Literalism leads to the same massacres.
Animated by the same convictions, Doctor Baruch Goldstein, a colonist of American descent from Kiryat Arba (Cisjordania) killed over fifty Palestinians with a machine-gun as they were praying at the Tomb of the Patriarchs. He was a member of an Fundamentalist group founded under the patronage of Ariel Sharon (under whose protection were perpetrated the massacres of Sabra and Shatila, and who was rewarded for his crime by a promotion : Minister of Housing, in charge of developing the "colonies" in the occupied territories). Baruch Goldstein is now the object of a genuine cult on the part of the Fundamentalists, who come to put flowers on his grave and to kiss it, for he was strictly faithful to the tradition of Joshua, having received the order to exterminate all the people of Canaan in order to seize their lands.
* * *
This "ethnic purification" which has become systematic in the State of Israel, stems from the principle of ethnic purity which must prevent the mixing of Jewish blood with the "impure blood" of any other race.
In the lines that follow God's order to exterminate the population put at their mercy, the Lord advises Moses that his people must not be allowed to marry the girls from these peoples (Exodus, XXXV, 16).
This command of the Torah is confirmed in the same terms in Deuteronomy : the "chosen people" (Deut. VII,6) must not mingle with others : "Thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son." (Deut. VII,3) This "apartheid" is the only way to prevent the soiling of the race chosen by God, the faith that binds it to Him.
This separation from the Other has remained the law : in his book "le Talmud" (Paris, Payot 1986, p.104), Rabbi Cohen wrote : "The inhabitants of the world can be divided between Israel and the other nations taken as a whole. Israel is the chosen people : a capital dogma." On their return from exile,"Ezra and Nehemiah" watched over this the re-establishmentt of this "apartheid." :
Ezra weeps because the "Holy (sic) race has mingled with the peoples of the lands" (Ezra IX, 2)...With the divine blessing, people are punished :
Pinhas impales a mixed-blood couple... and thus wins Jehovah's approbation. Ezra orders racial selection and exclusion : "all those who had taken strange wives, they cast them away, women and children" (Ezra, X, 44). Nehemiah says of the Jews : "Thus cleansed I them from all strangers." (Neh : XIII, 30).
This mixophobia and rejection of others go beyond the racial dimension. To refuse the other's blood through mixed mariage is also to refuse his religion, his culture or his way of being. Thus Jehovah fulminates against those who move away from his truth, the only possible truth, of course : Sophonia struggles against foreign ways of dressing, Nehemiah against foreign languages : "I saw Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon and of Moab. And their children spake half in the speech of Aschdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people. And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them and plucked off their hair... " (Nehemiah, XIII, 2325)
All those who disobey the law are harshly judged. Next to the multiple divine speeches demanding racial purity flourish the comments of those who adhere to these rules, such as Rebekah, wife of Isaac and mother of Jacob, who declares : "I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth ; if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth...what good shall my life do me ?" (Genesis XXVII, 46). Samson's parents, outraged by their son's mariage to a Philistine woman, cry out : "Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines ?" (Judges, XIV, 3)
Haim Cohen, who was a judge at the Supreme Court of Israel, noted "the bitter irony of fate which has led the same biological and racist laws propagated by the Nazis and which inspired the infamous Nuremberg laws, to serve as a basis for the definition of Judaism within the State of Israel." (see Joseph Badi : "Fundamental Laws of the State of Israel". New York 1960, p.156).
And indeed, during the trial of the war criminals at Nuremberg, the question was raised at the interrogation of Julius Streicher, the race "theoretician" :
Source : Trial of the major war criminals before the International Military Court (Nuremberg : November 14th 1945 October 1st 1946). Official French text. 26th April 1946 Debates, Tome XII. D 321).
Hebrew racism, the model for all other racisms, appears as an ideology of the extermination of different peoples.
Source : Thomas Nelson, "The Puritans of Massachussets", Judaism, Vol XVI, no.2 1967
Between mixophobia and Cannanite-style Shoah, we now have an ideology of population "transfer" which is approved of by 77% of the rabbis in Judea-Samaria. This doctrine of exclusion and extermination is partly founded on religion (it is GOD who wills it), but this in no way excuses the political Zionism of the refusal of others. In Leviticus, God enjoins the Jews not to practise the mixture of "species" (Lev.XX.20,25) as He himself has distinguished Israel from the other nations (Lev. 20,24), to practise racial discrimination ("I will make a distinction between my people and your people", (Ex. IIX, 19).
In 1993, Chief Rabbi Sitruk could declare without any fear of being called to order by any authority whatsoever :
This phobia reaches its highest point when Israel is at stake. Thus Israel "which shall be holy" (Lev.XX,26) must not "soil" itself through contact with the other nations that God has taken "in disgust" (Lev. XX, 23). The prohibition is oft repeated. God threatens and storms when it is not respected :
On November 10th 1975, at a plenary session of the United Nations, it was declared that Zionism was a form of racism and racial discrimination. Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, the United States have taken over the U.N. Among many other acts of international banditry, it obtained the repeal of the just 1975 resolution, once more washing away the blood that covers Israel and its leaders. In fact, nothing has changed since 1975; or rather, the repression, the slow massacre of the Palestinian people and colonization have increased tenfold.
|Back to Index||Next Page|