At War With “God”: The Saga Of The Palestinian People
By Hesham Tillawi,PhD
When the voice announced on the car radio “Palestinian terrorist killed eight school children in Jerusalem”, I thought to myself ‘How horrible.’ As I was programmed to do by the wording of the news story, I imagined little children playing in a schoolyard when it all had taken place, killed in cold blood. On another broadcast the announcer had more details and mentioned the attack had been on ‘Seminary’ students, adding to the depravity of it all. I imagined these humble, little, monk-looking creatures praying for peace, harmony, and all that ‘love thy neighbor’ business that is supposed to be part of the Kingdom of God. ‘What an awful thing to do,’ I thought, ‘Simply horrible’.
Like all things these tightly-controlled-information age, I suspected there was more to it than what they were saying. I got home and started reading. Then more reading, and then even more reading and then a little more, and sure enough, there it was–the ‘devil’ in the details as they always say. As it turns out there was another side to the coin we were not being told about, a side just as horrible as the initial story of the shooting itself, and in an instant, I came to the realization that this school shooting held the key to resolving, or at least understanding, the Palestinian-Israeli “conflict”, as most Western Media like to call it.
As it turned out, the school in question (or rather, the ‘seminary’ as they were referring to it) turned out to be a training camp for Jewish terrorists, not much different than the video footage we all see on mainstream news featuring Islamic militants running through obstacle courses with Kalashnikovs shouting ‘Alahu Akbar’! Like most things these days, it was cleverly disguised under the very religious-sounding name ‘Merkaz Harav,’ or the Rabbi Center. The Merkaz was established back in 1924 by Rabbi Abraham Yitzhak Kook, chief Rabbi of Palestine, a fact I found rather interesting, since Israel was established in 1948. I am not sure who ‘appointed’ him to that post, but that is another story for another time. As it turns out, the ‘good Rabbi’ was rabid not only in his support of Zionism but as well in the new ideology he himself concocted in the early 1900’s. Kook saw the Merkaz as the ultimate center for raising Jewish leaders who would build the “true” Jewish society in the land God had given ‘His people’ as a gift, the result of which would lead to universal and religious redemption. In short, the thin line separating heaven on earth from hell on earth was the Jewish people ‘redeeming’ the land of Palestine by whatever means were necessary.
Over the years the Merkaz grew to become the number one extremist Zionist religious training camp in Palestine, where trainees are nursed on the ideology that Palestine was a gift from God and that it is their religious duty to drive away the inhabitants of the land in the manner “God” demanded. According to the Rabbi, this was the ONLY road to salvation and redemption. The Merkaz was seen by many as ‘God’s gift’ to the Zionist Movement because (after years of being shunned by Jewish religious sectors) finally came someone who interpreted Zionism to be the long-awaited messiah. Kook taught that the messiah is an entity that doesn’t necessary have to come in a human shape, meaning that it could be an idea.
This goes a long way towards explaining much of the brutality perpetrated against the civilian population of Palestine by many of Israel’s leaders throughout recent history. One such ‘graduate’ of the Merkaz was David Raziel, the first commander of the terrorist group Irgun whose members have committed the despicable massacre of the village of Deir Yassin, where 250 men, women, children and elderly were butchered to death. The killings were done with machine guns, grenades, and knives. Some of the victims were decapitated. 52 children were killed and mutilated in front of their mothers. 25 pregnant women were cut open at the wombs and their babies were cut to pieces in front of their dying mothers. Those who survived were loaded up on trucks like cattle and taken to Jerusalem were they were paraded in the middle of a Jewish mob who lined up both sides of the streets spitting at them, throwing garbage, rocks, animal manure, shoes (and anything else they could get their hands on) at the frightened, shocked and awed Palestinians, and all of this in the name of ‘redemption’. Menachem Begin, who later became Prime Minister of Israel, and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize was the infamous father and planner of the Deir Yassin Massacre, issued a statement following the massacre congratulating the Jewish murderers for their holy handiwork–
“Accept my congratulations on this splendid act of conquest. Convey my regards to all the commanders and soldiers. We shake your hands. We are all proud of the excellent leadership and the fighting spirit in this great attack…Tell the soldiers: you have made history in Israel with your attack and your conquest. Continue this until victory. As in Deir Yassin, so everywhere, we will attack and smite the enemy. God, God, Thou has chosen us for conquest.”
The Merkaz Harav became one of the most influential religious centers in Israel to effect policy regarding the illegal Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands. The notorious Israeli terrorist group Gush Emunim was founded within this Merkaz and called for settling the Jews on Palestinian land, again, a ‘gift from God’ to the Jews. In 1974 Shimon Peres (current Israeli president and the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize) was Defense Minister of Israel at the time, which meant that the Occupied Palestinian Territories were under his watch. Under his command this terrorist movement was helped in acquiring land in the West bank through terror and harassment of the legitimate Palestinian owners to build illegal Jewish settlements throughout the West bank and Gaza. Peres called this policy “functional compromise” in order to receive the political support of the Gush Emunim and settler movements. It must be remembered that the influence of the settler movements in Israeli politics is by no means inconsequential. Rather, it is widespread through the many thousands of students who graduate from this Merkaz and others end up holding positions in government, military, academic, and many other facets of Israeli society. No Israeli government has been spared the wrath of this extremist movement whose influence is increasing day by day since 1974 up to the present and whose is one of “the State of Israel is the foundation upon which rests the Throne of God in this world”.
As controversial as it may sound, the fact is that over the ages Judaism has seen many transformations in its theology to the point where one would be safe describing it as a totally different religion throughout its history. The followers of Judaism throughout the ages have depended mainly on the Rabbis for their understanding of the doctrine. The different schools of thought have seen their highs and lows depending on the power and strength of the Rabbis at the time.
Today in Israel, the dominating theology is the teaching of a lone American Rabbi (known as ‘the Rebbe’ to his followers) Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, whose students consider him to be the Messiah. It was (is) believed he is the one who will lead the Jews to redemption, although he died in 1994. After his death Congressmen Chuck Schumer, John Lewis, Newt Gingrich, and Jerry Lewis along with 220 other Congressmen bestowed the Congressional Gold Medal on the Rebbe, and the Senate followed suit and president Clinton even spoke at the Medal-awarding ceremony saying: ‘The late Rebbe’s eminence as a moral leader for our country was recognized by every president since Richard Nixon.’
I looked up the Congressional Gold Medal and I found the following: “A Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award which may be bestowed by the United States Congress, the legislative branch of the United States government. The decoration is awarded to an individual who performs an outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity, and national interest of the United States” and then I looked at the Rebbe’s deepest thoughts and I found this:
“The difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish person stems from the common expression: ‘Let us differentiate.’ Thus, we do not have a case of profound change in which a person is merely on a superior level. Rather, we have a case of ‘let us differentiate’ between totally different species. This is what needs to be said about the body: the body of a Jewish person is of a totally different quality from the body of all nations of the world … A non-Jew’s entire reality is only vanity. The entire creation exists only for the sake of the Jews…”
I believe the reader would agree that with a such statements this man could easily be described as a racist, Jewish supremacist whose thoughts and expressions went against the freedom and equality that the institution known as Congress was built upon. But yet, incredibly, we find the men and women who swore to uphold the constitution of the United States sold out their conscience and the American principles of “freedom and justice for all” for 30 pieces of silver.
Jewish religious leaders have always compared the Palestinians to the ancient Canaanites whose extermination and/or expulsion are predestined by divine design according to scriptures. This again explains the attitude of the people of Israel in their sympathy towards the demands of the religious parties of Israel in expelling Palestinians from their land. Jewish law does permit some non-Jews to reside in the land of Israel under certain conditions, which can be summed up thus–“must pay taxes and accept suffering, humiliation and servitude” as expressed by Mordechai Nisan of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem who relied upon the law of Maimonides. For those not acquainted with the law of ‘great’ doctor of Jewish law Maimonides, the law demands the following–that a non-Jew be held down, that he not raise his head against Jews, that no non-Jews may be appointed to any office or position of power over Jews, and if such non-Jews refuse to live under these conditions then this is a signal of disobedience which necessitates Jewish warfare against them in cleansing the land of Israel of their presence.
In 1990 a book published by Shlomo Aviner of the Merkaz Harav gives answers to some of the questions that arose during the First Palestinian Intifada. One question was: “is there a difference between punishing an Arab child and an Arab adult for disturbance of our peace?’ The answer began by cautioning Jews ‘not to compare Jews and non Jews’ in applying Jewish laws, and particularly when it comes to punishing a Jewish boy under the age of thirteen and Jewish girls under the age of twelve. The point was clear–the laws of Maimonides were written for Jews alone. The Rabbi summed it up by saying that any non-Jew must pay for any crime committed, but not necessarily so for the Jews themselves. This explains in part why there is such a huge number of children either killed by the Jewish army and their settler thugs or held in Israeli prisons.
A militant speech by Rabbi Ya’acov Shapira, head of the Merkaz following the recent attack in Jerusalem read: “This monstrous attack must bring about a major and substantial change. We call upon and demand from the Government of Israel to wake up and to fight to the end, without mercy, against the enemies of Israel. This is a terrible crisis! It is one of private mourning and of national mourning. But the Yeshiva will continue its path of study, teaching, growing and disseminating the Torah of Israel in our complete and holy Land of Israel.” Instead of realizing that the attack was in response to the mass murder of non Jews (Muslim and Christian Arabs) the Yeshiva continues with its kill-all policy by asking the government to “fight to the end” against the Palestinian people and to do so without mercy. The school vowed to continue its path of disseminating its hate and its murderous teachings of cleansing completely their “holy Land of Israel” in the hope that this will lead to “Universal Redemption.” Many of the “students” at the Merkaz have completed their army service and many are still IDF officers. This is clear from the report in Haaretz published March 8, 2008 where a “student” by the name of Yitzhak Danon told Israeli Channel 2 that he “fired two shots into the attacker’s head.” One question that comes to mind is this–When was it the last time you have heard of students carrying a high-powered automatic machine gun to school? And remember, this is no ‘ordinary’ school; we were told it’s a seminary. Something is not adding up here, these students at the Yeshiva are armed and dangerous.
In the words of Rabbi Shapira, the “Yeshiva served as training base for Rabbis and students who went out to settle all parts of the Land of Israel”, and in the words of Rabbi Kook on the eve of the 1967 war: “Yes, where is our Hebron? Have we forgotten it? Where is our chechem (Nablus)? And Jericho? Will we forget them? And the far side of the Jordan, it’s ours, every clod of soil, every region and bit of earth belonging to the Lord.”
Well, the problem is the land has been inhabited for the last few thousands of years by the people of the land, the original people of the land, not the Judaic Europeans who think “God” had given it to them as a gift. Rabbi Kook also declared a religious prohibition–meaning God’s orders–against ceding any part of the Land of Israel to non-Jews. In other words he told his people that “God” says in effect ‘Don’t leave any non-Jews on the land, they all must be killed.’ This declaration–in the word’s of the Yeshiva spokesman, Yehoshua Mor-Yousef is as follows–“This is the basis of all that we believe in.” This is a clear call for a genocidal war against the Palestinian people by the largest religious “school” in Israel.
Over the years this Merkaz has issued extreme religious decrees giving license to Israeli soldiers to kill Palestinian civilians, including if it can be believed, children. Rabbi Lior, an associate of the Merkaz and a former student of the Yeshiva who is also the Rabbi of the illegal Jewish settlement Kiryat Arba told Israeli soldiers and Jewish militants (many of them former students of the Yeshiva) that it is permissible to kill Palestinian children. It is a growing understanding amongst many religious Israelis with Messianic Zionist beliefs that Jews must expedite the cleansing of the land process to induce the redemption by killing as many Palestinians as possible to create the appropriate condition for the messiah to appear in their own lifetime.
The leaders of the religious parties in Israel (and especially the Mirkaz Ha’arv) strongly oppose any peace settlement with the Palestinians. Furthermore, the idea of creating a Palestinian State in the West Bank, and Gaza with East-Jerusalem as its capital is a redline that will only take place over their dead bodies. The idea of swapping peace for land is in total opposition to their religious beliefs, as it would prevent their ‘messiah’ from appearing. This being the case, any negotiating with Israel is meaningless as long as the religious parties are in control of Israeli politics. The influence of the religious parties in the Israeli army goes much deeper than their presence in the political arena. This again explains the brutality and barbaric nature of the actions of the Israeli Army regarding the Palestinians. Two weeks ago Rabbi Hershel Schachter, the Dean of Yeshiva University, told students to think before they enlist in the army, saying: “There is no mitzvah (commandment) to destroy the land of Israel…If the army asks you to destroy any of the settlements, and if the government orders the army to divide Jerusalem, I would tell everyone to resign from the army. I would tell them to shoot the Prime Minister.”
This whole theology was shaped by the founder of the Mirkaz, Rabbi Kook, who once boasted that “The difference between a Jewish soul and souls of non-Jews – all of them in all different levels – is greater and deeper than the difference between a human soul and the souls of cattle.” It is no wonder then that members of the Israeli army have no remorse after killing Palestinian children since they do not consider them humans. To a Jew killing a Palestinian is just like hunting a rabbit or duck in the wilderness. It’s even worse than that, since in the world of hunting there are hunting seasons with ‘rules of engagement’ that one must adhere to, but in Palestine it’s open season all year.
With all this in mind, it is easier now for us to understand the dominant religious thought in Israel and why many religious Jews throughout the world believe that ‘the redemption’ is at hand. They believe that the power of Satan (manifested in non-Jews) must be defeated. Therefore the stealing of non-Jewish land in Palestine is considered redemption of the land by its being taken into Jewish hands. They believe that being transferred from the satanic to the divine sphere ‘cleanses’ it of evil. They look at it as land that has been sanctified. This also might explain the fact that a Jew in Israel can kill a non-Jew and get away with it, but if a non-Jew kills a Jew it is considered under Jewish law as the worst possible crime. Relying upon the code of Maimonides and Jewish law known as Halacha it is stated that a ‘Jew who kills a non-Jew is exempt from human judgment’ as he (or she) has not violated the prohibition of murder according to Jewish law which Israel’s law is based upon. Jewish Rabbis have always maintained that Jews who killed Arabs should not be punished. This is clear by the demands of both Labor, Likud, and Kadima governments of Israel by insisting on not releasing Palestinian prisoners with Jewish blood on their hands.
If that is not enough, Jewish law provides for the taking of body parts of non-Jews to save the life of a Jew, according another Rabbi at the Mirkas Harav, Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg. Ginsburg said the killing of Palestinians is a “Jewish virtue”. Going a step further, Rabbi Dov Lior, one of Rabbi Kook’s top students proposed using captured (kidnapped) Palestinians in conducting medical experiments. Just as scientists use laboratory rats for testing, Jewish theology allows non-Jews for such use as well.
Let us listen more to what these 21st century lunatics say: “Don’t we have any powerful friends whatsoever? Let’s open our Tenach (Bible) to BaMidbar (Numbers), chapter 33:50-53, and 55. These scriptures make it very clear that we do have a powerful friend. The G-d of the Bible is on Israel’s side.”
And where do they get this idea, that God is on their side? From here, book of Numbers, 35–
“And the LORD spoke unto Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying: ‘Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: When ye pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images, and demolish all their high places. And ye shall drive out the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein; for unto you have I given the land to possess it… But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then shall those that ye let remain of them be as thorns in your eyes, and as pricks in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land wherein ye dwell.”
Recently, Shmuel Eliyahu, Chief rabbi of Safad told the Israeli government to officially allow Israelis to “revenge against Arabs.” He proposed hanging the children of the person who attacked the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva from a tree, and to do it to everyone who attacks Israel until they (Palestinians) scream enough “to the point where they fall flat on their face and scream help”. He also said the Palestinians need to “understand very well the language of revenge.”
Now enters the hypocrisy and political prostitution of our own Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, who said of the Yeshiva attack–‘The United States condemns tonight’s act of terror and depravity”, “This barbarous act has no place among civilized peoples and shocks the conscience of all peace loving nations. There is no cause that could ever justify this action.” This comes as the Israeli army was killing not just children, but infants in Gaza, deliberately which is not considered barbaric from the conscience of the “peace loving” nation of Israel and the US government. The conscience of all “peace loving nations” is not shocked when Palestinian children are buried under the rubble of their homes while sleeping in their cribs. Worse yet, that conscience looked the other way when heads and many body parts were scattered in the streets of Gaza just a day before the attack on the terrorist Yeshiva training center. President Bush spoke with the President of China over the harsh crackdown of the Tibetan Intifada, but had no words for the Israeli President, or the Prime Minister for the barbaric, inhumane, savage way in dealing with the Palestinian people’s call for freedom from oppression. America’s conscience is long overdue for a reality check when it comes to its being a civilized and modernized nation of people.
In conclusion, the Palestinian people have limited options to choose from when it comes to solving their 60 years of occupation and Diaspora: One they might want to try convincing “God” to change his mind about awarding the land to the Jews, that perhaps He should instead “reveal” a new covenant with the Jews requiring them to share a piece of it with the Palestinians as a way of redeeming themselves and that maybe they should just forget all about this idea of being “chosen” to kill the Palestinians to get to heaven. This is sure to be a difficult feat to accomplish, since the two way communications with “God” ended with Mohammed (PBUH). The only other option is to convince Israel and the US to close down all Jewish Yeshivas that teach and promote the “kill-the-Palestinians” theology. The war on terror–if it is to be genuine and if it is to be effective, must go to the roots of terror, and one such root is the idea that Jews are superiors to non-Jews and that “God” is a racist God who chooses people based on their particular ‘race’ instead of their deeds.
Those who would quibble at such suggestions of re-examining the racist tenets of Jewish thinking should ask the question–is this not what the world has heard these last 7 years when it comes to Islam? Achieving peace in the “Land of Peace” requires yet another transformation of the Jewish religion to accept co-existence with Christians and Muslims in the land of Palestine.
Hesham Tillawi, PhD International Relations is a Palestinian American writer, Political Analyst and a TV show host. His program Current issues with Hesham Tillawi can be viewed Live every Thursday evening between at 8:00 PM Central Standard Time on Cox Cable system Channel 15 in Louisiana, Nationwide on Bridges TV, and Worldwide on Amazonas Satellite, as well as Live on the Internet at http://www.currentissues.tv and can be contacted at Tillawi@currentissues.tv Interviews then archived for on demand viewing at http://www.currentissues.tv