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Emet m'Tsiyon

Monday, September 25, 2006

PEACE: The Prophets' View of the Misuse of the Word "peace"

They offer easy healing for the wounds of My people, saying:
"Peace, Peace"
and there is no peace! [Jeremiah 6:14]

And they offered easy healing for the Daughter of My people, saying:
"Peace, Peace"
and there is no peace! [Jeremiah 8:11]

These quotes from Jeremiah just go to show that politicians haven't changed all that much in the last 2500 years. The prophets of Israel sniffed out the hypocritical misuse of the word "peace" more than 2,500 years ago. Today, people are not always so smart, not even in Israel.

Inasmuch as they have misled My people, saying:
Peace!
and there is none. [Ezekiel 13:10; the word shalom here is translated as "It is well," in the New Jewish Version of the Jewish Publication Society]

. . . the prophets of Israel who prophesy about Jerusalem and foresee a vision of peace for her and there is no peace, declares the Lord God. [Ezekiel 13:16; again the NJV translates shalom as "well being"].

Whether shalom is translated as "peace" or "well being," it is obvious that politicians and their hired spokesmen [nowadays called "journalists" or "correspondents"] have not changed since the days of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. The American poet John Greenleaf Whittier [19th century] caught the spirit of the Biblical prophets on the subject of peace:
"Great peace in Europe! Order reigns
From Tiber's hills to Danube's plains!"
So say her kings and priests; so say
The lying prophets of our day.
Speak, Prince and Kaiser, Priest and Czar!
If this be Peace, pray, what is war?
[JGW, The Peace of Europe]
Time magazine ran a wonderfully heartwarming cover story on peace not so many years ago. Time believed that acts of war were needed to bring peace:

BRINGING THE SERBS TO HEEL: A MASSIVE BOMBING ATTACK OPENS THE DOOR TO PEACE
[Time, 11 September 1995, on cover]

It's funny, isn't it, that when Israel very modestly and demurely tries to implement the same robust method for bringing peace against Arab warmongers, Time is not very happy and argues that such a method cannot bring peace. Oh, well.

This quote just goes to show that just about everybody wants peace and wants to bring it about, although some do it more robustly than others. Al Capone, the famous gangster, who was compelled by business necessity to wipe out dozens of gangland rivals and commercial enemies, wanted peace too. He took part in a gangsters' convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1929, with the purpose of bringing peace. After peace had been achieved, he told the world:
I'm tired of gang murders. I'm willing to live and let live. It was with the idea of making peace amongst gangsters that I spent a week in Atlantic City and got the word of each leader that there will be no more shootings. [Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, 21 February 1981; by Vicki Gold Levi, "The Way It Was"]
Capone's words of 1929 sound so much like the politicians of our day that it is astounding. Each leader promised peace. The universal love of peace is truly uplifting and inspiring.
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Coming: More on the deep and diverse meanings of peace, peace movements, peace processes, the Temple of Peace in Rome and the fate of the Jerusalem Temple Menorah

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Menorah: From Jerusalem to the Roman "Peace Temple"

One of the problems of peace is what it means to different peoples, religions, cultures, states and governments, and international organizations. Another problem is whether peace is a value for them. For instance, peacemaking with Arabs and other Muslims is problematic because they actually do not believe in peace as such --at least not with non-Muslims, infidels, unbelievers, kufar. Their religion teaches them to fight a perpetual war against the kufar until the lands of the unbelievers --called Dar al-Harb [House of War in Arabic]-- are fully under Muslim control and Muslim law [shari`ah] prevails over the whole world. In Muslim teaching Muslims are in a state of cosmic peace with other Muslims. But in practice, Muslims are quite willing to slaughter other Muslims, especially for religious reasons. Consider Algeria and Iraq. In Iraq, Sunni Muslims have been slaughtering Shi`ite Muslims since 2003 when it appeared that the new dispensation brought to Iraq by the Americans would put the Shi`ites [the majority of Iraqis] in power, a situation intolerable to Sunnis who view Shi`ites as heretics. These acts of slaughter have been labelled "insurgency" by most of the world's "Left" and by the media, two agencies of mass indoctrination of the world population. In Algeria, Sunni Muslim fanatics have slaughtered up to 150,000 fellow Sunni Muslims in a civil war going on since 1991. In Pakistan, a state formed for the Muslims of India, there are regular slaughters perpetrated by Sunnis against Shi`ite mosques. Meanwhile, the world's foremost Shi`ite politician, Ahmadinajad of Iran, is building an atomic bomb and threatens to destroy the Jews of Israel. So much for peace with Arabs and Muslims.

Ancient Rome saw peace as victory, not compromise. When Rome defeated the Jews and destroyed the Jews' Jerusalem Temple in the year 70 CE, they brought the holy objects from the Temple to Rome and had them carried in a victory procession by Jewish captives. Afterwards, some of the holy objects were placed in a "Peace Temple" in Rome. Yes, it was called the Temple of Peace. And that is where the menorah [candelabrum] of the Temple was placed after it had been carried in the procession as we see on the Arch of Titus to this day. The Arch is a graphic reminder of that historic event, the destruction of the Temple.

Before continuing about the Roman "Peace Temple," let's recall last night's performance by Iranian Nazi Ahmadinajad at the UN. He actually spoke rather moderately, at least for him. He attacked British and American imperialism [the Nazis too condemned British imperialism, by the way], which apparently doesn't bother the British or American governments very much since they haven't objected very strongly to what he said. When evaluating Ahmadinajad's remarks, we ought to bear in mind that when Goebbels came to the League of Nations assembly in Geneva in the fall of 1933, in Hitler's first year in power, he declared that Germany under Hitler was devoted to peace, democracy, and all the liberal goodies [see books by Genevieve Tabouis, author of They Called Her Cassandra, and several books in French]. So we should not assume that Ahmadinajad has dropped his Nazi, mass-murderous urges. However, allowing the Iranian fanatic to appear moderate before world public opinion, while he continues to prepare war and work on building nuclear bombs, is just another problem caused by the UN. It allows Ahmadinajad to create a sympathetic climate among public opinion --especially in the United States and among the so-called "left"-- while he can continue to prepare for aggression, thus aiding his war effort. This danger of the UN serving warmongers was explained by Abraham Yeselson and Anthony Gaglione in their book on the UN, A Dangerous Place [quoted in a previous post].

Josephus Flavius, a Jewish aristocrat who helped to prepare the revolt against Rome, then was captured and turned coat, wrote the most important book on the subject still extant. Flavius is the clan name of the family of emperors who had conquered Judea. Josephus added Flavius to his name while they were his patrons. His Hebrew name was Yosef ben Matityahu. In his book, The Jewish War, he describes the Roman triumphal procession for Titus, Vespasian, and Domitian [the Flavians] in Book VII:v:3-6. In Book VII:v:7 he mentions the Peace Temple.

After these triumphs [victory processions] were over. . . Vespasian resolved to build a temple to Peace, which he finished in a short time, and in so glorious a manner, as was beyond all human expectation and opinion. For he having now by Providence a vast quantity of wealth [looted from the Jerusalem Temple], besides what he had formerly gained in his other exploits, he had this temple adorned with pictures and statues; for in this temple were collected and deposited all such rarities as men aforetime used to wander all over the habitable world to see, when they had a desire to see them one after another. He also laid up therein, as ensigns [symbols] of his glory, those golden vessels and instruments that were taken out of the Jewish temple [in Jerusalem]. But still he gave order that they should lay up their law, and the purple veils of the holy place, in the royal palace itself, and keep them there. [Whiston translation].
One of the vessels mentioned was the golden menorah [candelabrum] of the Temple. By "their law," Josephus probably is referring to Torah Scrolls. The "purple veils" refers to curtains used in the Temple. These scrolls and curtains were kept in the royal palace, separate from the other holy objects. It is clear that the Peace Temple was more of a victory temple than a peace temple. It was devoted to --among other things-- the humiliation and defeat and despoiling of the Jews. This temple was a monument to a successful war. The name demonstrates how peace can mean very many different things to different people. It reminds us of what the Roman historian Tacitus once said about his own nation:
Where they create desolation, they call it peace

Ubi faciunt solitudinem, appellant pacem
[Tacitus, Vita Agricolae, cap. x; Life of Agricola, chap 10]

Indeed, one should always be careful about how the word "peace" is being used. Need we say that if the Romans could play semantic tricks with the word pax [peace], perhaps quite sincerely, then surely the Arabs too can play such tricks, and even the West can do it.
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Coming: What do scholars believe happened to the golden Menorah of the Temple?; more on Jews in Jerusalem, Jews in Hebron, etc.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Chateaubriand on the Jews in general and in Israel in particular

We have already presented Chateaubriand's description of the Jews living in Jerusalem whom he saw on his trip in 1806. Thirty years after his trip to East, he wrote again of the Jews in Israel and of how he saw the Jews in history. His dates are 1768 to 1848.

The Jews were dispersed, living witnesses of the living word [he sees the Jews as witnesses to Christianity], they survived, a perpetual miracle in the midst of the nations. Strangers everywhere, slaves in their own country, they saw the Temple fall of which stone did not remain upon stone [a NT prediction], as my eyes were convinced [when he was in Jerusalem].
One part of their population came in chains to Rome to raise up that other monument where Christians were to die [the Colosseum]. The chisel sculpted on an arch of triumph that is still admired [the Arch of Titus] the ornaments that shone in the ceremonies of Solomon, and of which, without this luck, we would not know the form; the pride of a Roman prince and the talent of a Greek artist hardly suspected that they were furnishing a proof of more than the grandeur of the defeated nation and of its mysterious destinies. Everything was to serve, both glory and ruin, to eternalize the memory of the people that Moses shaped and that saw Jesus Christ born.
[Francois Rene de Chateaubriand, Etudes Historiques, Oeuvres Completes, tome I (Paris: Desrez 1836), p. 279]

Chateaubriand sees the Jews from a Christian point of view, although he is not especially hostile. He sees the experiences of the Jews since the Destruction of the Temple [Hurban haBayit] as fulfilling New Testament predictions. It is also interesting that he recounts that Jewish captives built the Colosseum in Rome. Just a few years ago, a carved ancient rock was dug up near the Colosseum with an inscription reporting that the valuable gold and silver objects and the money looted from the Temple in 70 CE when it was destroyed had been sold to raise money for building the Colosseum. This rock was displayed for a year or so in the Colosseum where there are regular art and archeology exhibitions with themes and objects related to ancient times. Unfortunately, it was no longer on display when I was there. The Arch of Titus preserves a picture of the Temple menorah being carried by captives in a Roman victory procession in honor of Titus. Indeed, the Arch of Titus [2nd link on the Arch] is tangible proof of an important, indeed tragic, event in Jewish history. However, it is unlikely that the objects carried in the procession in Rome were the same as used in Solomon's time, since the First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians more than 500 years before the Romans destroyed the Second Temple. Further, the First Temple was looted by Egyptian forces in the late 10th century CE, it is believed. In fact, Velikovsky claimed that the objects looted from the Temple were depicted extensively item by item in an Egyptian monument as war booty.

Chateaubriand wrote after his trip to the Levant in 1806 about the oppression of the Jews in Jerusalem.
One must see these rightful owners of Judea slaves and strangers in their own country. Itineraire de Paris a Jerusalem
In 1836 he published a similar description. They were slaves in their own country [as above]
It is interesting that many of the outstanding 19th century French writers and poets [Chateaubriand, Flaubert, Loti, Lamartine, etc] visited Jerusalem and wrote about the ancient Jewish aspect of the Land of Israel. Could Chirac and the editors of LeMonde please take notice?
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Coming: more on Jews in Jerusalem, Felix Bovet, Pierre Loti on Hebron, etc.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Gerry Adams --Liar & Hypocrite-- Ally of Britain, Ally of Hamas

Gerry Adams, leader of the Sinn Fein party in Northern Ireland, came to the Land of Israel the other day, and was interviewed on Israel Radio's network 2 [Reshet Beyt] on 7 Sept 2006. Curiously, he was spouting a sickly sweet "peace" line, on the radio at least. He wanted peace between Israel and Hamas, he told us, just like "we" have achieved peace in Northern Ireland. He sounded quite clearly like any British "peacemonger," like the British government indeed. It seems that on the Land of Israel, the Sinn Fein's policy and the real British policy of supporting Arab murderers of Jews have come together. Sinn Fein and the Royal Institute of International Affairs strangely converge when it comes to Israel.

In addition to advocating the obtaining of peace through chatting with Hamas that denies Israel's right to exist, Adams was also propounding a false version of history of the Land of Israel. Or, if not that, then he was morally undercutting the Sinn Fein's right to oppose British rule in Northern Ireland. How so?

Adams spoke of British occupation in Northern Ireland going back four hundred years or more. He is aware of course that 400 years ago, the rulers of England brought settlers from Lowland Scotland to settle in Northern Ireland, sometimes called Ulster. Hence, these settlers were Celts, like the native Irish. The Scottish settlers were also Protestant and mixed with those of the native Irish who were Protestant. Today, this group of mixed Scottish-Irish descent, Scotch-Irish [as they were called in the United States], are the majority in Northern Ireland. There is also a Roman Catholic minority there that is presumably of more purely Irish ancestry. The majority wants to stay part of the United Kingdom and not join the Irish Republic.

So how does Adams justify the Sinn Fein/IRA struggle against British rule there which opposes the majority's wishes? The argument is that hundreds of years ago, the area was part of Ireland and purely inhabited by native Irish and there was no English/British occupation. The fact of what the majority wants now and of the demographic changes that go back hundreds of years does not matter. Northern Ireland must be without British rule, must not be part of the United Kingdom of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and must join the Irish Republic, despite what the majority in Northern Ireland wants.

Well, actually, I can see some merit in that same argument, that same principle, if applied to the Land of Israel. Judea-Samaria are historic parts of the Land of Israel. In fact, Judea was the heart of the ancient Jewish homeland. In fact, in Roman nomenclature, all of the Land of Israel was called Judea. The Arabs conquered the Land in the seventh century, eventually making the Jewish inhabitants --already excluded from the Jerusalem area [the Aelia Capitolina polis or colonia] by the Byzantine Empire-- into second or third class subjects, called dhimmis in Arab-Muslim law. Arab-Muslim oppression drove many Jews to leave Israel [and the Muslim domain altogether]. The period of Arab-Muslim rule before the Crusades is the period of origin of significant Jewish communities in northern Europe, called Ashkenaz by Jews. Meanwhile, Arab settlers and other Muslims [Turks, Kurds, Persians, Circassians, Indians, Bosnians, etc.] immigrated into and settled in the Land of Israel over the centuries.

After the Crusader conquest of 1099, The Western European Christians contributed their share to depopulating the Land of Israel of much or most of its Jews by means of the massacres of Jews that the Crusaders perpetrated during the first dozen or so years of their rule in Israel. So it is entirely appropriate that Gerry Adams, a denizen of northwestern Europe, come to the Land of Israel to help the Fatah and Hamas murder and drive out the Jews.

Adams is a liar by misrepresenting the history of the Land of Israel as if the Arabs were the natives, the original people of the Land. He is a hypocrite for not applying to the Jews the rights that he takes as an Irish nationalist over the whole of Ireland. If he were consistent, he would support a Jewish struggle to recover and hold all of the Land of Israel, at the expense perhaps of the descendants of the Arab settlers. Of course, Arabs conquered Israel long ago, and Arab and other Muslim settlers came here to settle long ago. But the same is true of Northern Ireland. As a matter of fact, Arabs have not ruled the country since before the Crusades. After the Crusades, Israel was ruled by Muslims who were not Arabs, first the Mamluks and then the Ottoman Turks [although the Turks allowed local Arabs into their governing class in the 19th century]. The local Arabs never opposed foreign rule as such, as long as it was Muslim.

Meanwhile, it is very convenient that Gerry Adams, in the guise of a "revolutionary" leader and hero, comes to the Land of Israel to support Arab rule here like a good European, or at least a loyal operative of the European Union. Indeed, the EU has made clear its racist, Judeophobic policy of denying Jews national and civil rights throughout the Land of Israel, which European powers had recognized in 1920 [San Remo] and 1922 [League of Nations] as the Jewish National Home. Of course, the rabidly Judeophobic EU conveniently forgets all this, as well as the fact that one of its leading members, the United Kingdom --Gerry Adams' supposed nemesis-- betrayed its commitment to foster development of the Jewish National Home in Israel, flagrantly preventing Jews fleeing the German [and Austro-German] Nazis from finding refuge in the Jews' internationally designated national home. By the way, demonstrating British and general European loyalty to international law is the fact that the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League found the British 1939 White Paper on the Land of Israel to be in violation of the mandate. Yet this finding did not change British behavior nor does the EU today --claiming to represent an age-old European civilization-- seem to remember any of this rather recent history.

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UPDATING: old, 19th century photos of the Western Wall prayer place have been added to the two posts quoting from Pierre Loti, and the one post quoting Gustave Flaubert.
Coming: more on Jews in Jerusalem, etc.

Pierre Loti's Observations of Jerusalem and the Jews There [1894] -- Part Two

Continuing Pierre Loti's description of Jerusalem, particularly of proceedings at the Western Wall Jewish prayer place --often offensively called the "Wailing Wall." This is just a section of the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount built by the Jewish priestly caste, the Kohanim, during the reign of King Herod of Judea, although not finished in his time. On the lower levels, the original Herodian stone wall is still in place to this day. It could not have been removed, of course, without destroying the Temple Mount itself, which subsequent conquerors [Arab-Muslims and Crusaders] wanted for their own use.

Loti continues his description of Jewish prayer at the Western Wall prayer place:
Against the wall of the Temple, against the last wreckage of their past splendor, it is the Lamentations of Jeremiah that they all recite over and over, with voices that chant quaveringly in cadence, with the quick rocking of the body:
-- Because of the Temple which is destroyed, the rabbi cries out.
-- We are seated solitary and we weep! the crowd answers.
-- Because of our walls that have been brought down.
-- We are seated solitary and we weep!
-- Because of our majesty which has past, because of our great men who have perished.
-- We are seated solitary and we weep!
And there are two or three of them, of these old men, who shed real tears, who have placed their Bibles in the holes of the stones, in order to have their hands free and shake them above their heads in a cursing gesture.
If the shaking skulls and their white beards are in the majority at the foot of the Wall of Tears, it is that --from all corners of the world where Israel is dispersed-- his sons come back here when they feel their end approaching, in order to be buried in the holy valley of Jehoshaphat. And Jerusalem is more and more congested with old men who have come there in order to die.

In itself, it is unique, touching and sublime: after so many unparalleled misfortunes, after so many centuries of exile and dispersion, the unshakable attachment of this people to a lost homeland! For a little one might weep with them -- if they were not Jews, and if one did not feel one's heart strangely icy on account of all their abject forms.
But, before this wall of Tears, the mystery of the prophecies appears more unexplained and more striking. The mind meditates, confused over these destinies of Israel, without precedent, without parallel in the history of mankind, impossible to foresee, and yet, foretold, at the very time of the splendor of Zion, with disquieting accuracy of details. [quoted in Claude Aziza, Jerusalem. . . p 1299]
[Photos from Focus East, Early Photography in the Near East 1839-1885 (Jerusalem: Israel Museum 1988)]
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Coming: more on Jews in Jerusalem, Gerry Adams--liar and hypocrite, more follies of peace in the Middle East, etc.

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Pierre Loti's Observations of Jerusalem & the Jews There, 1894 -- Part One

Forty-four years after Flaubert visited Jerusalem [1850], another French writer, Pierre Loti, visited the holy city.


Tuesday 3 April 1894
. . . tunnels seem to lead to the Haram esh-Sherif, to the Temple enclosure. . .
It is at sunrise of one of the cloudy spring days in Judea. . . [Aziza, pp 1296-1297]
Note that Loti calls the country Judea and that the Muslim sanctuary built on the Temple Mount is identified with the place of the ancient Jewish Temple and is important precisely for that reason.

Friday 6 April 1894
. . . Turning the southern corner of the walls [the southeastern corner facing the Mount of Olives], we come back into Jerusalem through the ancient Mughrabi Gate [also called Dung Gate, on the south of the Old City]. No one any longer within the ramparts; one might think one had entered a dead city. In front of us, gullies of cactus and stones that separate Mount Moriah from the inhabited quarters [neighborhoods] on Mount Zion -- waste land where we walk alongside the the enclosure of that other desert, the Haram esh-Sherif, which formerly was the Temple.

It is Friday evening, the traditional moment when --every week-- the Jews come to weep in a special place granted by the Turks, on the ruins of the Temple of Solomon, which "will never be rebuilt." And we want to pass, before nightfall, through this place of Lamentations. After the empty ground, we now reach narrow alleys, strewn with rubbish, and finally, a sort of enclosure, full of the stirrings of a strange crowd which moans together in a low, cadenced voice. The dim twilight is already beginning. The background of this place, surrounded by somber walls, is closed, crushed by a formidable Solomonic construction [actually Herodian], a fragment of the Temple enclosure, all in huge, identical blocks [actually the stones are massive and similar but of various sizes]. And men in long velvet robes, agitated by a kind of general rocking back and forth, like caged bears, appear to us seen from their backs, facing this immense ruin, tapping their foreheads on these stones and murmuring a kind of slightly quavering chant.
. . .

The robes are magnificent, black velvets, blue velvets, violet or crimson velvets, lined with precious furs. The skullcaps are all in black velvet, edged with long-haired furs, which put in the shade the sharp nose and the hostile glance. The faces, which make a half-turn to examine us, are almost all of a special ugliness, of an ugliness to make one shiver: so thin, so slender, so sly, with such small eyes, sly and tearful, under the fall of dead eyelids! White and pink hues of unwholesome wax and, on all ears, corkscrews of hair which hang in the "English" fashion of 1830, completing disturbing resemblances to bearded old ladies. . .
[quoted in Claude Aziza, Jerusalem: le reve a` l'ombre du Temple ("Collection Omnibus"; Paris: Presses de la Cite, 1994), pp 1298-1299]

Notes
--The Mughrabi Gate is so named after Arabs from North Africa settled nearby since the Middle Ages. In fact, the Jewish prayer place at the Western Wall was enclosed on the western side, facing the Temple Mount, by houses of the Mughrabi Quarter.
--Mount Moriah is a late name for the Temple Mount, originally called Mount Zion.
--The Mount Zion of today is roughly speaking, the areas of the Jewish and Armenian Quarters, incorrectly named Mount Zion on account of the Byzantine Nea Sion church once there, now a ruin.
--The New Testament claims --perhaps in words written after the fact-- that the Temple will be destroyed [Matt 24:2; Mk 13:2; Lk 21:6]. The claim that the Temple "will never be rebuilt" seems part of a later Christian tradition building on these NT verses.

Pierre Loti [1850-1923] was a French naval officer and widely traveled on that account. Less famous than Flaubert, he was elected to the Académie Française. His novels emphasized the exotic, the sensual, and love [real name: Louis-Marie Julien Viaud]. He disparages the Jews he sees in Jerusalem, but recognizes the ancient, vanished Jewish Temple as giving importance to the present Muslim sanctuary built in its place.
[Photos from Focus East, Early Photography in the Near East 1839-1885 (Jerusalem: Israel Museum 1988)]
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Coming: more from Pierre Loti on Jerusalem and Hebron, Jews in Muslim lands, etc.