Jonathan Zausmer

The Rot

Apparently the phrase “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”, was first coined by one Cistercian abbot, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 – 1153). Fat lot of good that did. Since then repeated wars, conquest, theft and abuse have plagued civilization. The thing is this. When you are sitting on a pot of gold, no matter how honest, righteous, moral, ascetic, strict and learned you may be, at some point someone is going to dig into the money pot. Why? Because it’s there. By what justification? That’s  easy: the strictest of moral codes, religion, missionary zest and God’s will, somehow always form the sound justification to steal, rob and kill. How do I know this? Well I was born and raised in apartheid South Africa.

The dominant religion was derivative of Calvanist faith, that being derivative of the great reformation, a rebellion against the then great Catholic Church which had, it appears, also been corrupted to the core. This new world of Calvanist faith (and other faiths)  in its colonial form known as the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa, led good people to abuse, discriminate, enslave and exploit the large population of indigenous African inhabitants living there. It was called apartheid. All in the name of God, civilization, righteousness, and defense of the free (white) world. The theft was ironically, pure gold, diamonds and even more horrendous, human labor and land. 

The creation of the state of Israel, originated from a clear understanding that Jews were, and would always be persecuted as a minority wherever they may be unless there is a fully fledged nation state which can defend itself. In the 1800’s Europe was in the late stages of nationalization itself. Jews were persecuted in almost every country, in some form or another. Thus this concept, the brainchild of Theodore Herzl, a non-religious journalist, formed the conceptual backbone of the creation of the nation state. Known then as Zionism. The enormous events which followed in Europe, yet not exclusively, brought us to Israel. Today we have a small country with immeasurable resources in brain-power, initiative, cultural diversity, and strength. We share this land with minorities, yet we have forgotten our own history or we have chosen a selective memory of that history. 

Why “…then as Zionism” as I stated above?

Well we need to understand that Zionism, at the time of the creation of the state of Israel was translated into meaning in the document of the  Declaration of Independence. And there it states, inter alia, “it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. “

Many events, some deeply life threatening and others born through zealous fanaticism, have corrupted the concept of Zionism thus eroding the core values as stated above. Following the Six Day War in June of 1967 and the vast areas gained in territory, religious zealots have led mainstream Israel and the Jewish Diaspora to undermine those core values embedded in the Declaration of Independence. At the core of this corruption of the Zionist concept is occupation, theft of land by dint of legal, illegal and outright violence in territory occupied following the war in 1967. And at the core of this movement are many good religious Jewish people who have been sucked into the narrative of messianic emancipation and the fulfillment of a biblical mission. Much like the deeply religious Duth Reformed Church doctrine in South Africa that viewed land-theft and discrimination as a missionary faith-driven goal.

Zionism today has thus been hijacked by ultra nationalist, ultra religious zealots, unhindered by government blunder together with  political survival needs. Yet you may ask where is the gold, where are the diamonds, where is the rich ore that was stolen out of Africa in this comparison? The simple answer is land; real estate; living space. Because in this  tiny living-spot on earth, smaller than some urban spreads around the world, there simply isn’t enough real estate. Add to that the biblical passion that places value on holy sites such as Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem, Shechem and you have outright theft in the guise of missionary religious fulfillment and claims – a great deal bogus, others based on law – on real estate belonging to others in occupied territory. We, the few left in this country who remember the Declaration of Independence, call this “the occupation”. But maybe we need to redefine the term to “The Rot”, the stench under the moral floorboards of our occupied Zionist idea, that which spawned the Rabin killer and those who desicrate our house of law and wish for this false messiah to reincarnate from his prison cell. 

Add to this The Nation State Law, relegating Israeli arab citizens to second class status, and the honorable Declaration Of Independence gets diminished and hurled over the moral cliff-edge.

Sheikh Jarrah deconstructed, and why this is important at this time 

The background to this, briefly mentioned in my previous post, highlights both the complexities of the occupation, the real-estate battle, legal loopholes, ethnic and religious friction and to some degree how all this dovetails perfectly into the narrative now owned by Hamas. This suburb was inhabited by Jews and Arabs before the war of independence in 1948. A physical barrier was set up after the war of independence which divided Jerusalem. Sheikh Jarrah was on the Jordanian side of Jerusalem. In accordance with international law, the Jordanians occupied Sheikh Jarrah and many areas of Jerusalem including the Holy Sanctuary. In accordance with international law, the abandoned Jewish-owned homes at Sheikh Jarrah were occupied by the Jordanian government and used to house arab citizens living in Jordan. After June 1967, however,  following Jordan’s historically disastrous attack on Israel, the entire area of the West Bank of the Jordan and Jerusalem was occupied by Israel.

Thus Jewish-owned homes were now lived in by arab families, having been leased before by the Jordanian government as occupied property. It is of note to add, that Israel after 1948 passed a series of land laws which ruled that any property or land abandoned after the war, would be the property of the state and leased at the discretion of the state ( to Jews…) This is converse to the Jordanian position which regarded abandoned Jewish homes as “occupied” under international law.

So following the victory of 1967 which placed Jerusalem entirely under under Israeli occupation, homes originally owned by Jews, which were leased to Jordanian-Palestinian residents for years under Jordanian rule, could, according to Israeli law be returned to the original Jewish owners of Sheikh Jarrah however homes that were abandoned in Jerusalem and elsewhere by Jordanian arabs in 1948 could not be returned to the original owners due to those land laws passed following the war of independence.

After multiple legal battles over decades, eventually radical nationalist Israelis often sponsored by foreign Jewish ultra nationalists, began reclaiming these homes in Sheikh Jarrah, and the Israel Supreme Court could not prevent this due to legislation post-1948.Yet Sheikh Jarrah is but one of many, many examples within greater Jerusalem today. As the settler movement has now “invaded” homes that Palestinians lived in for years due to this legal imbalance, and due to the social and national friction that this had induced on the ground, a growing sense of fury has evolved in arab communities spreading all over Israel specifically, but only,  in towns where absentee lands were arrogated by the state. 

This is the burning ember that Hamas identified: #Jerusalem #Holy Sanctuary # Occupation # Nation State Law # Sheikh Jarrah

And the ember has become a raging fire. 

Here is the upside – the fire will be extinguished. But at what cost?

About the Author
Originally from South Africa, Jonathan made aliya in the seventies, and lived and worked on a kibbutz for several years. He has a graduate degree in business from Boston University and is a managing partner of an Israeli based business. He was a co-founder of the Forum Tzora peace action group and participates in the Geneva Initiative workshops. He is the author of the book “Valley of Heaven and Earth”.
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