For One Democratic State
in the whole of Palestine (Israel)


FOR One Man, One Vote



The New Year Blessings to my Jewish readers
from Israel Shamir

In Jerusalem, faith is always the most important preoccupation, even more so in these days, when the Jews observe the New Year, or Rosh Hashana, and the native Christians, members of the Orthodox Church, celebrate the Invention of the Holy Cross. Churches and synagogues are full, holy sites well attended, and chants flow in the slightly touched by early autumn mountain air of the Holy City. The chants are profoundly similar, and you can’t distinguish the Jewish hymns from the Gregorian chant retelling the miraculous discovery of the Holy Cross by Queen Helen. ‘For what merit the uncircumcised may sing every day the chant that the holy people of Israel intone only once a year?’ – wonders a Hassid character in S. Y. Agnon’s story In The Heart of The Seas. The answer can be found in a common fountainhead of our faith, for in words of Mircea Eliade, the Orthodoxy of Christianity is the theology of the Old Testament. The Orthodox Church even celebrates its New Year at practically the same time as Jews, in September. The faces of worshippers in my church of St James are quite the same faces you will see in the synagogue next door; even men sit separately from their womenfolk in both houses of worship. There is so much similarity, and still so much of difference.

I write to you with much love, my brothers and sisters in the Palestine-loving web community. I know your noble hearts and steadfast support of the difficult but sublime cause. You are the best; you are as good as your non-Jewish brothers and sisters. You rejected the temptation of exclusivity, you have embraced your Palestinian friends, and through them you have been united with mankind. And now some of you have a problem.

The Days of Awe (as these ten days from New Year to the Day of Atonement are called in the Jewish calendar) are the days of great spiritual awakening in the Jewish community. Your Jewish friends will stand for many hours in the synagogues and sing beautiful psalms and the touching liturgy of the soul’s quest for redemption. For this is the inner meaning of these days: repentance and hope for salvation. Unity of worshippers is the reason why people pray together instead of doing it alone. But you will find it difficult to obtain the great unity, for the synagogue will be plastered with posters calling to “support Israel. Now if ever”, while the worshippers will compete who gives more money to the very cause you fight against. On a deeper level, you will be asked to pray for Divine vengeance and to send curses on the heads of your very brothers. Indeed the political difference is but a direct consequence of theological difference. TOP

Many of you will skip the synagogue altogether, others will find their way to some non-Zionist Rabbis. And some are anyway atheists, and do not believe that there is a spiritual reality beyond the material one. The choice is hard.

An archetype of a non-Zionist Rabbi was the late Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, a champion of liberal Reform Judaism and "the most active and renowned rabbi in the United States" in the nineteenth – early twentieth century. He was acclaimed recently by our friend Miriam Reik of New York in a pro-Palestinian email group Univesalist. She wrote:

Rabbi Isaac Meyer Wise, one of its most important and progressive leaders who was passionately anti-Zionist and thought that Herzl's ideas were so dangerous that "it becomes the duty of every true Jew to take an active part in efforts to destroy it." TOP

This is surely very nice. But Rabbi Wise and his brand of rationalistic Judaism are tremendously uninspiring for the Days of Awe. His words were engraved on a tablet in the Memorial Hall of the Emanu-El, Reform synagogue in New York: "American Judaism. A religion without mystics or miracles. Rational and self-evident, eminently human, universal, liberal and progressive. In perfect harmony with modern science, criticism, and philosophy and in full sympathy with universal liberty, justice and charity ." But a rational religion without mystics or miracles is a Pharisee creed of self-righteousness, for we greatly need the miracle of Divine charity in view of our faults we confess in the Days of Awe. Moreover, the present-day reform Jews are rabid Zionists anyway, for Zionism is the only substitute of spirituality available in the Synagogue.

In such a spirit I replied to Miriam and she wrote back:
- You mean you prefer a mystical attachment to the Holy Land that allows Jews to drive out the Palestinians? You will not settle for a rational respect for other human beings as a God-given obligation?

But surely there is another possibility, that of a mystical attachment that allows Jews to embrace Palestinians? This thought did not occur to Dr Reik for a good reason. She – and all of us – understand full well that the Jewish mystic religious alternative to rational anti-Zionist Rabbi Wise is Rabbi Ginzburg the goy hater. There is no alternative mystic Jewish religiosity of universal non-discriminatory love, for this good mystic side of Judaism is not Jewish anymore. By becoming universal it turns into Christianity, its sister. TOP

That is why there are good rational non-mystic religious Jews like Wise, good rational atheist Jews like Dr Reik or Lenni Brenner, and there are bad rational Jews like Leo Strauss or Allan Bloom of The Closing of the American Mind, the neo-cons’ Bible, and his disciple Paul Wolfowitz of Iraqi War, and there are bad spiritual Jews like the settler rabbis clamouring for Goyim’s land, but for a strange reason there are no good spiritual mystic Jews. A good spiritual mystic Jew is not a Jew at all.

Do not confuse religion and its deeper innings, esoteric and exoteric levels. There are many good religious and pious Jews. Rabbi Milgrom went into besieged Bethlehem, Rabbi Arik Asherman of Rabbis for Human Rights picked olives in the teeth of the armed settlers, Rabbi Hirsch of Neturei Karta stayed in Ramallah with Arafat. With all vast difference between reformist Asherman and ultra-orthodox Hirsch they both follow the rational line of Vilna Gaon and Maimonides. Late Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitch, this Urim and Tummim of the Israeli progressive camp, admired Maimonides this side of idol worship. While calling for ‘the end of occupation’ he eagerly supported the Jewish state, was a convinced Zionist and a hater of Christ. He described intermarriage of Jews and non-Jews as ‘betrayal’, just like Golda Meier he disliked so much.

I had recently a long and friendly conversation with an extreme Orthodox Jew, a member of Eda Haredit, an organisation (“church”) close to the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta. He believed in divinity of Jews as much as a settler rabbi, though he thought that a Jewish state is not needed.

As we enter deeper into more mystic levels of Judaism, we experience more of the negative tendency. Rabbi Kook, Lubawitscher Rebbe, settler rabbis are certainly mystics, as is Rabbi Yitzhak Ginzburg, and their teaching is full of hate, vengefulness and exclusivity. The Jewish mystics deny equal humanity of Jew and non-Jew, even common origin from Adam and Eve. That is one of the reasons why so many Jews are rationalists: they are rightly revolted by the abyss, but are unable to find and embrace positive spirituality. TOP

There are no wonderful and inspiring mystic Rabbis as there are Christian saints and priests or Muslim Sufis. Sieve through centuries and you will not find a Jewish Francis of Assizi. The great sage Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai credited with founding of Cabbala, the Jewish mysticism, was so full of hate that his very looks set trees on fire, the Talmud says. Martin Buber tried to find some inspiring Jewish saints in the Hassidic lore, but failed profoundly. He tells a story of Besht, an 18th century Jewish Hassidic Rabbi, a story that apparently contradicts this grim assessment, but actually confirms it.

Saintly Besht used to go out of his home almost every night, and his Hassid followers were at loss for the purpose of his disappearances. ‘Probably he flies to heaven and converses with God and angels’, - they reckoned; and decided to sneak and watch their Rabbi’s doings. In the deep night, Rabbi took an axe and went out, while his disciples followed him unnoticed. They saw him chopping wood and delivering it to the door of a lonely Gentile widow. He knocked and called out: this is Vassili (a Gentile name) brought you some wood; and walked away. “This is an even greater miracle than flying to heaven’, - said the disciples.

It was also a transgression, according to the Jewish ideas, for a Jew is allowed to help a Gentile if his good deed will promote well-being of the Jews. Not only the widow was a person of no importance, Besht even failed, nay, refused to provide the Jews with a benefit of his good deed, as he assumed a Gentile name. He came dangerously close to Him who taught: ‘Do not do charity before men, when you give to the needy do not announce it with trumpets, but do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing’ (Matthew 6)

The good deed of giving fruits of one’s labour to a needy stranger would not amaze a Christian or a Muslim. They would consider it a proper and natural behaviour, certainly a very good one but unexceptional. St Martin gave his cloak to a needy pauper in a winter night, and remained in a shirt, while St Bernard gave all his vast property to the needy. They did not enquire whether the poor belong to the church. Indeed, the Christian charities of the Holy Land, schools and hospitals famously support needy Muslims and Jews as well as local Christians. But for Jews Besht’s most natural behaviour was a supreme miracle and an antinomic deed. TOP

Recognition of this fault keeps many good Jews out of spiritual search altogether. They see the only choice, between ‘We won. Let’s eat’ of rationalists and the dark mystics of Jewish chauvinism – and stay away. It is tragic, for though people go into substitutes of politics, sex, power struggle, but the real thing one needs is spirituality. It gives you more kick than heroin. It would be even more tragic if you, the best and the most spiritual people, will stay in the desert of rationality. The desert is dangerous place, for Mammon loves places of dead spirit. That is why God is needed, but the way to God is not with Rabbis, it is not with their obedient servants who call themselves ‘Evangelical Christians’ but they are not.

It is perfectly possible to have the best of both worlds: to support the brotherhood of men, to reject the evil brood of neo-cons and neo-liberals, and to be with God. That is exactly what the Pope preaches, that is what my local Orthodox priest Fr Attalla Hanna preaches, and what so many Muslim clerics preach. There are no such Rabbis, but you do not have to get stuck with them. The Synagogue became a rich men’s club, a great supporter of AIPAC and ADL. St John’s Synagogue of Satan became the Synagogue of Sharon. But the gates of the Church are open for you. Instead of trying to create some dubious but exclusively Jewish sects, you can follow the footsteps of the first apostles and join with your neighbours in one community of believers for Christ is what the Jews call ‘Israel’.

Even the fundamentalist Jewish settlers are not inherently bad. They are not Mammon worshippers. Mistakenly they seek for mystic meaning of life with phylacteries and machineguns, but they can come to light if they follow just two commandments of Torah: ‘Love God with all your heart ’, that is ‘love God instead of Jewish self-adoration’ and ‘Love thy neighbour ’ where the ‘neighbour’ is everyone, even Samaritan or Palestinian. They can consider the return of the Palestinian refugees, these certain descendants of ancient Israel, into their ancestral homes to be as necessary precondition to messianic awakening, as the return of the dispersed tribes. For it is said, ‘aliens will join them and unite with the House of Jacob ’. It will turn their dark pessimistic mysticism into one of hope and salvation, for a Jew may descend into the dark depth of Jewish mysticism, to find the fountainhead of all grace and cross the lines into the luminous all-embracing spirituality of Christ. This outcome was glimpsed at by Rabbi Akiba, Besht and Rabbi Nahman It was achieved by St Paul and Rabbi Zolli of Rome. TOP

The late disciple of Sigmund Freud, Dr Theodore Reik, (incidentally, father of Dr Miriam Reik) wrote that the Jews are always making the same mistakes by following the archetypal model of the Bible, and always find themselves in the same trouble. It is an all-too-human feature, for criminals are likely to return to jail and a raped woman is likely to be raped again. By constantly blaming others and mitigating themselves, the Jews make this repetitious routine likely to come back. It should worry the US Jews for their leadership follows the perilous path of Joseph who helped the Pharaoh to enslave the Egyptians like modern neo-cons and neo-liberals are actively enslaving America and the world. It should worry the Jews in Israel, for they treat their neighbours harshly and trample upon their poor. It should worry the Jews elsewhere as their support for Israel and the US will cause their neighbours to think, ‘if the war breaks out, they will join our enemy’ (Exodus 1:10). The Jews have their mode of behaviour, and it can not be changed by a simple expedient of changing countries.

What is worse, we see this contemptible mode of behaviour with our own eyes, and we can not blame it on somebody else. That is why we find no place in the synagogue, as it is preserved for Derschowitz and his kin, the people who can exonerate the guilty and blame the innocent. Stand not at the doorstep of a synagogue for you are holy and just. Leave the Sharon-loving throngs of the Wailing Wall, and come over to the great Church of Resurrection. Today, like two thousand years ago, it is the right time for you, the remnant of Israel, to find your way to Christ.

When Victims Rule,
Deut 6:5, Luke 10:27
Lev 19:18, Luke 10:27
Isa 14:1