A few months ago I got lured into what I thought was a discussion and dialogue over American-Syrian foreign policy. My college friend had an obvious hatred for President Obama and Democratic policies. The discussion, turned heated debate, was regarding the treatment of Syria by President Obama and Syria’s perceived lack of respect for American threats against Assad’s regime and his use of chemical weapons on Syrian citizens. My conservative college friend’s stance on Syria, Islāmic regimes, and basic American foreign policy in the Middle East was one of ‘enforced power‘ applied through America’s alliance with Israel.
In my attempt to give more historical background to America’s long Israeli support in matters of Middle Eastern conflicts, including our MASSIVE costly mistake in invading Iraq for WMD’s, I stressed how prudent and utterly cautious the U.S. should be when involving itself in Middle Eastern matters so soon after invading Iraq. I eventually let him know that the 1949 U.N. creation of the nation of Israel was a horrible blotch on the U.S. and Western nation’s historical political record in the eyes of Palestinians, Syrians, and Islāmic nations in the region. It is the major reason the area has seen so much violence and blood-shed for the last 65-years toward Israel and Western powers.
My friend blew his top and began using Biblical passages – as if they were God-ordained entitlements – that Israel “belonged there” for several millennia. That’s when I knew I was facing an all too common Christian-Zionist misconception of the region’s history which is TOO OFTEN naïvely understood and ignorantly proclaimed by conservative (Puritan?) American politics. Here are at least 10 reasons why their belief is based in gross fabrication as inspired from the work of Dr. Juan Cole from the University of Michigan.
- The ancient geographical history of Judaism begins in Mesopotamia, loosely modern-day Iraq and Syria, not Jerusalem or the Levant.
The actual settlement of Jerusalem and its surrounding region was founded between 3000 to 2600 BCE by a Semitic people (possibly Canaanites), the common ancestors of modern Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, and Jordanians. However, outside of Old Testament passages, Judaism as a state or kingdom did not exist in or around Jerusalem. To date, there has been no archeological evidence found of a “Kingdom of David” or of Solomon’s Temple claimed in the Bible during this period.
- The settlement of Jerusalem was named in honor of Shalim, (salem) from the Canaanite religious pantheon, found on inscriptions in Syria. According to the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (1999), the word Jerusalem means “built-up place of Shalim.” Modern Judaism wrongly translates the word as City of Peace, and has romanticized its historical context as their own at the exclusion of Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, and Jordanians.
- Strictly from Biblical sources, i.e. not from additional independent sources, Judaism asserts that the prophet Moses led slaves inside ancient Egypt. Judaism asserts slave labor and a major slave revolt by Jews in ancient Egypt followed by a mass exodus into the Sinai Peninsula. Judaism also asserts a Jewish invasion of Palestine by fleeing slaves from Egypt. Yet no Egyptian records or evidence during the reign of Ramses II, as recorded at Luxor, exists to support any of these claims. Furthermore, the only archeological evidence of a monotheistic worship happening inside Jerusalem doesn’t take place until around 1000 BCE. All evidence prior to 1000 BCE clearly demonstrates common Canaanite deities were worshiped. And even in this case, as noted in #4 below, substantial evidence of a monotheistic religion beginning in Jerusalem doesn’t begin happening until after 900 BCE as a small sect or population!
- There is no definitive proof that Jerusalem was even inhabited between 1000 and 900 BCE. No archeological evidence of glorious palaces, great states or kingdoms, or recognized kings of the region by Assyrian tablets, which record even the minutest events throughout the Middle East, has been discovered. But once again, strictly from Biblical sources only, Judaism asserts these buildings, kings, and states existed. The independent archeological records simply are not there.
- Finally, with much exhaustion, a Jewish group known as the Hasmoneans did rule Jerusalem briefly between 168 and 37 BCE. This is a grossly different time span (almost a 2,200 year difference) from what Zionist Judaism claims: 3000 BCE to present? Yet even during this period (168 – 37 BCE) the reign over Jerusalem was with the significant help of Parthia. The archeological and historical sources clearly show the Assyrians ruled Jerusalem and the region in 722 to 597 BCE when the Babylonians conquered it. They lost it in 539 BCE to the Achaemenids of ancient Iran and ruled until Alexander the Great took the entire Levant in the 330’s BCE. Alexander’s descendants, the Ptolemies, ruled until 198 BCE when his other descendants, the Seleucids, took it. Enter the well-known King Herod of Parthian heritage from 37 to 6 BCE, at which time the Romans conquered all of Palestine. The Romans and then later the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium, or later Constantinople, or modern Istanbul) reigned from 6 BCE until 614 CE when the Iranian Sassanian Empire conquered Jerusalem. They ruled until 629 CE when the Byzantines took it back. But wait! The fighting and conquering isn’t over!
Beginning in 637 CE, the Muslim Arabs put siege to Jerusalem and conquered it a year later. They ruled until 1099 CE when all the European Crusaders took it. It is at this point when the Jewish and Muslim inhabitants of Jerusalem fought side-by-side but were horrifically murdered in mass by Christian Crusaders. The Gesta Francorum, the chronicle of the First Crusade, states “…[our soldiers] were killing and slaying [women and babies alike] even to the Temple of Solomon, where the slaughter was so great that our men waded in blood up to their ankles…” The estimated genocide is calculated today to be between 10,000 to 25,000 lives.
Upon the incursions and invasions of the European Crusaders, the great Sultan Saladin led his Egyptian and Syrian Muslims against the Christian armies, conquering much of the Levant and freeing Muslim slaves, then put siege to Jerusalem in 1187 CE and conquered it less than a month later. Saladin, in unprecedented military fashion of the time recognizing the historical significance of Jerusalem to so many, allowed non-combatant Christians to leave and allowed Jews the choice to return. Muslims ruled Jerusalem until the end of World War I, or in sum for about 1,192 years!
To conclude #5, advocates of Zionist Judaism did not found Jerusalem. Judaism as a firm stable known religion or as a kingdom did not begin until around 200 BCE. And the Hasmonean dynasty only ruled Jerusalem (in part) for about maybe 170 years.
- Perhaps the most notable part of Jerusalem’s history is in 136 CE after the Bar Kochba revolt against Roman authority failed. Some of the Jews in Jerusalem remained, but firmly under the rule of Rome and then Byzantium. Many converted to Christianity to escape the harsh oppression. After 638 CE and the Arab Muslim invasion, 90% of Jerusalem converted to Islam! Thereafter, the entire region was almost exclusively Muslim for the next 1,300 plus years. Palestinians are the legitimate descendants of Jerusalem, Eastern Israel, and the region!
- In 1947 the virtual city and region of peace was completely turned upside down. Despite the above historical and archeological chronicle of Judaism, the United Nations enacted the Partition Plan for Palestine following World War II and Jewish Holocaust. This plan for the State of Israel developed from the post-war British political and military withdrawal from Palestine as well as wide Western sympathy for Jews and the Holocaust. Suddenly, it seemed, the U.N. and West completely forgot what European Crusaders did to Jews and Muslims in Jerusalem in 1099 CE in the aftermath of the First Crusade. Naturally, Palestine breaks out into civil war shortly after Resolution 181 (II) of the United Nations General Assembly implementing the partitioning of Palestine. All out war followed between Arab militias and Jewish militias eventually leading to the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Because of Western powers and alliances with Zionist Israel, and dare I say ignorance, the region has seen very little peace ever since. Today tensions, violence, and terrorism trickle over into other contemporary conflicts from Western nations over-meddling in the Middle East, i.e. Iraq and Afghanistan, based indirectly on religious imperialist differences.
The 4th Geneva Convention of 1949 along with the Hague Regulations of 1907 explicitly forbids occupying powers (i.e. Britain or Jewish Europeans) to alter the lifestyles of non-combatant civilians who are occupied. It furthermore explicitly forbids the immigration of people from the occupiers’ country into the occupied territory (i.e. Palestine). Western nations of the U.N., including the United States, sat idle as the newly formed State of Israel removed Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem, usurped Palestinian property and settled on their property, annexed districts of Jerusalem, all in gross violation of International Law. Ironically, to state mildly, the Nazis began the same violations in 1938 and 1939 Europe.
Past and present Israeli governments have not been united, much less consistent, about how East Jerusalem and the West Bank should be settled and managed once they were taken over. Comically, this is reminiscent of Judaism’s long history of sectarian division and fragmentation going all the way back to 37 CE. The Judaization of Galilee, a region in northern Israel, was implemented throughout the 1960’s and ‘70’s but with limited success. Prime Minister and Nobel Prize winner Yitzhak Rabin was primarily responsible for bringing Israelis to peaceful coexistence with Palestine through the Oslo Peace Accord in 1993 and granting Palestinians their right to become a recognized state and withdrawing Jews from Gaza and Jericho. For these proceedings Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by Jewish-Zionist elements in 1995, specifically Yigal Amir, and elements that are now associated with current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government. As late as 2000, rhetoric and hints of Palestinian assurances by post-Rabin Israeli officials have been given but fourteen years and counting none have materialized.
- The archeological record and linguistic history of Jerusalem and Levant show who has the most legitimate claim to sovereignty from best to least, in chronological order, by the number of years settled:
- Muslims – they ruled it and built it for at least 1,191 years.
- Egyptians – ruled it as a vassal state for several centuries in the 2nd millennium BCE.
- Italians – ruled it for about 445 years until the fall of the Roman Empire in 450 CE.
- Iranians – ruled for 205 years under the Achaemenid Empire, for three years as a Parthian-Hasmonean vassal state, and for 15 years under the Sassanids.
- Greeks – ruled it for over 160 years, counting the Ptolemys and Seleucids as Greek empires. If this period is counted as Egyptian and Syrian, that adds significantly to an Egyptian claim while introducing a Syrian one!
- Byzantines (Greeks/Turks) – ruled it for 188 years, however if one considers the heir to be Greece and add the time Hellenistic dynasties ruled, that gives Greece almost 350 years of ruling Jerusalem.
- Iraq– the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires ruled Jerusalem for 183 years, though adding the Ayyubid Empire (Saladin’s dynasty) who were Kurds from Iraq, ruled for 730 years bringing the total reigning years up to that point to a whopping 913 years!
- Jews – finally we arrive to the people who have the LEAST claim for Jerusalem. The Hasmoneans ruled as a vassal state under Parthia for 131 years.
- In the end, the only real claim Judaism has for Jerusalem and a state of Israel is based subservient to Persians, Greeks, and Romans when they ruled Palestine. To make assertions to inhabit Jerusalem and the Palestinian region based on Biblical history, is like Americans claiming the European continent as legitimately theirs because of their ancestors, or Mexico claiming the southwest United States as their own because prior to the 18th century CE it belonged to them. Spain could then lay claim of southwest America prior to them! Yet, in a post-WWII world, by pandering to the West’s sympathies and political imperialism, Zionist-Jews robbed western Palestine and expelled Palestinians from their legitimate homeland while the “civilized” Western nations turned their heads.
Christian Biblical Fundamentalism
My conservative college friend no longer acknowledges me. Because I questioned and disagreed with his political, religious, and social positions, he no longer speaks to me. In fact, many of my former college and seminary friends – yes, I attended three years of seminary in Jackson, MS – no longer speak to me much less listen to me. My more moderate college friends and my current liberal friends enjoy having these types of discussions and examinations. Why they do, compared to the far-right fundamentalists, I cannot specifically answer. I can speculate, but without any level of communication it is impossible to figure his or the far-right’s obstinacy.
For the last twenty-three years, my once biblical fundamentalism has been increasingly deprogrammed and deconstructed until finally there was no intellectual basis for it whatsoever. It eventually became all together Pagan or non-religious until I finally determined my current “title” or label: Freethinking Humanist.
I recently read a post from one of my favorite bloggers, 500 Questions, where he examines whether the canonical Bible is divinely inspired (click here for that post). He delves into the power and persuasion of memetics or the transfer of information or stories socially over the span of many generations. If popular and useful enough, the meme can take on a life of its own becoming seemingly factual. It is an excellent post if you have a chance to read it!
My now former conservative friend is a microcosm of a larger global problem: religious extremism or literalism. When I study all the world’s various faiths and social systems, I am appalled by how much of humanity’s history is filled with religious conflict and imperialism. More striking is how much of it has been born from the Abrahamic religions. If historians compiled the top ten worst moments in human history so far, half of them would be religiously based with the Crusades of Jerusalem topping all of them. Two to three more would be politically-religiously based.
In light of what I’ve written here, in an age where geneticists and modern genetics have determined time and again that all of humanity has less than a 1% difference with each other, it is appalling that religious extremism and imperialism still exists. Ninety-nine percent of us have the same tools genetically to live in peace and prosper together! Everything outside of that 1% is taught to us (truthfully or falsely) by our parents, family, and community. What does that say about potential change and world peace?
**Nov. 22nd, 2014 — More Information:
“Few Americans today are aware that US support enabled the creation of modern Israel. Even fewer know that US politicians pushed this policy over the forceful objections of top diplomatic and military experts. As this work demonstrates, these politicians were bombarded by a massive pro-Israel lobbying effort that ranged from well-funded and very public Zionist organizations to an “elitist secret society” whose members included Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.”
Alison Weir’s organization: IfAmericansKnew.org
John Crewdson’s October 2007 Chicago Tribune article
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