The Pokey Finger of God

meditations on religion and culture

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God Gave Jews the Promised Land

August 23rd, 2005 · No Comments · history, intentional communities

Mom asked me about this, and I rarely need much incentive to rant uncontrollably about the Zionist conspiracy. Heh, heh. “Where does it explain,” she asked, looking at my newest historical atlas, “why the Jews think God gave them that land?” I couldn’t break it down into a ten-second answer, so I think I changed the subject.

Now that Israel has nearly completed evacuation of the Gaza Strip, I find myself stunned by expressions of sorrow for the squatters from Americans in media interviews. “But God gave them that land, that’s so sad.”

Well, actually, no. The British and the French arbitrarily parceled out some prime Mediterranean real estate, colonized it with Europeans, and gave it a name out of the Bible. When the neighbors complained, Western cash and bullets flowed in to expand the boundaries. In all, certainly a more dominant attempt at European colonization than the ones a thousand years ago.

Oh, and there’s a bunch of people who can now live out their sanctimonious, fantasy life of whatever they imagine Second Temple Jews would have done. Kind of a 24/7 Babylonian Ren-Faire sort of deal, I’m sure, with Remi the Rabbi hand puppets and pulled veal-on-a-stick for the Americans. Ahh, the Americans: so desperately clue free about history and logical discourse as to blindly accept any froth as faith.

Yes, there is currently a nation called “Israel” in and around a place that once, twenty-five centuries ago, was called something we now translate to “Israel”. Further, I have little doubt of the authenticity of the heredity of the current European occupants as having descended from ancestors from that very place. Yet there is something disingenuous, if not hypocritical, about pretending that the modern state of Israel has more to do culturally or politically with the ancient Semitic states in the Levant than with the fairy tales in Samuel and Kings.

I often wonder if the modern state had been named something else, like “Judah” or even “New Israel”, whether or not so many years of war in the Middle East wouldn’t have been avoided. It is difficult to measure how much of the complete inability of these European colonists to feel compassion for Arabs comes from their perception of inherent righteousness or because they consider themselves to be natural successors to the ancient Hebrews, just because the name of their country is “Israel” and not “Palestine”.