Tuesday, August 08, 2006

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Jostein Gaarder

Translation of Jostein Gaarder's article in Aftenposten, August 5, 2006

God's chosen people

Israel is history. We no longer recognize the State of Israel. There is no way back. The State of Israel has raped the world's recognition and will get no peace until it lays down its weapons. The State of Israel in its current form is history, writes Jostein Gaarder.
No way back. It is time to learn a new refrain: We no longer recognize the State of Israel. Vi couldn't recognize the apartheid regime in South Africa, we didn't recognize the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. And there were many who didn't recognize Saddam Hussein's Iraq, or the Serb ethnic cleansing. So now we must get used to the thought: the State of Israel, in its current form, is history.
We don't believe in the illusion of God's chosen people. We laugh at this people's conceits and cry over its misdeeds. To act as God's chosen people is not only stupid and arrogant, but a crime against humanity. We call it racism.
Limits for tolerance
Our patience has its limits, and so does our tolerance. We don't believe in divine promises as a basis for occupation and apartheid. We have left the Middle Ages behind us. We are embarrassed by those who believe that the god of plants, animals and galaxies has appointed one particular people as its favorites and given them funny stone tablets, burning bushes and a license to kill.
We call those who murder children child-murderers and will never accept that such people have a divine or historical mandate that can excuse their shameful acts. We can only say: shame over all apartheid, shame over ethnic cleansing, shame over all terrorist acts against civilians, whether perpetrated by Hamas, Hizballah, or the State of Israel!
Art of war without scruples
We recognize and accept fully Europe's deep responsibility for the fate of the Jews, for the shameful harrassment, the pogroms and the Holocaust. It was historically and morally necessary that the Jews got their own home. But the State of Israel has with its unscrupulous art of war and repulsive weapons massacred its own legitimacy. It has systematically violated international law, conventions, and numerous UN resolutions and can no longer expect protection from such quarters. It has carpet bombed the world's recognition. But have no fear! The hard times are nearly over. Israel has seen its Soweto.
We are at the watershed. There is no way back. The State of Israel has raped the world's recognition and will not see peace until it lays down its arms.
No defense, no skin
May spirit and words blow Israel's apartheid walls over. The State of Israel doesn't exist. It is without defense now, without skin. May the world have mercy on the civilian population. Because our prophecies of doom are not directed at the individual civilians.
We want the people in Israel everything well, everything well, but we reserve the right to not eat Jaffa oranges as long as they taste badly and are poisonous. We easily managed without the blue apartheid grapes for a few years.
They celebrate the triumphs
We don't believe that Israel mourns more over 40 Lebanese children than they for the last three thousand years have complained about 40 years in the desert. We take note that many Israelis celebrate such triumphs the way they once celebrate the Ten Plagues as "suitable punishment" for the Egyptian people. (In this story the Lord of Israel appears as an insatiable sadist). We ask ourselves if one Israeli life is worth more than 40 Lebanese or Palestinian [lives].
For we have seen the pictures of Israeli girls who write hateful messages on the bombs to be released over the civilian population of Lebanon and Palestine. Israeli girls are not cute when they take pleasure in death and agony on the other side of the front lines.
Retribution of the vendetta
We do not recognize the rhetoric of the State of Israel. We do not recognize the the bloody spiral of retribution of the vendetta and an "eye for an eye." We do not recognize the principle of ten thousand Arab eyes for one or two Israeli eyes. We do not recognize collective punishment or population diets as a political weapon. It's been two thousand years since a Jewish rabbi criticized the ancient doctrine of an "eye for an eye."
He said: "All that you would others do for you, you should do for them." We do not recognize a state that is built on anti-humanitarian principles and the ruins of an archaic religion of nationalism and war. Or, as Albert Schweitzer put it, "humanity is to never sacrifice a human for a cause."
Mercy and forgiveness
We do not recognize the old kingdom of David as normative for the 21st century's map of the Middle East. The Jewish rabbi who claimed two thousand years ago that the kingdom of God is not a resurrection of David's realm, but that the kingdom of God is within us and among us. God's kingdom is one of mercy and forgiveness.
It's been two thousand years since the Jewish rabbi disarmed and thoroughly humanized old war rhetoric. Already in his time there were Zionist terrorists.
Israel doesn't listen
For two thousand years, we have emphasize the curriculum of humanity, but Israel doesn't listen. It wasn't the Pharisean who helped the man who lay on the side of the road because he had been attacked by robbers. It was a Samaritan, today we'd say a Palestinian. Because first we are human - Christians, Muslims, or Jews. Or as the Jewish rabbi said: "And if you greet each in a friendly way, so what?" We do not accept the abduction of soldiers. But we do not recognize the deportation of entire groups of people and the abduction of lawfully elected parliamentarians or members of a cabinet, either.
We recognize the State of Israel of 1948, but not of 1967. That is the State of Israel that doesn't recognize, respect, and yield to the legal 1948 state. Israel wants more - more villages, and more water. To achieve this some are enlisting God's help to find a final solution to the Palestinian question. Some Israeli politicians claim that the Palestinians have so many countries, while we have only one.
USA or the world?
Or as Israel's highest protector puts it: "May God continue to bless America." A little child noted this and asked the mother: "Why does the president always end his speeches with God bless America? Why doesn't he say God bless the world?"
And then there was a Norwegian poet [Henrik Wergeland] who exclaimed the following childlike sigh: "Why does humanity progress so slowly?" He was the one who wrote so beautifully about the Jew and the Jewess [two epic poems by Wergeland]. But he rejected the the illusion of a chosen people. He called himself a Muslim.
Calm and mercy
We do not recognize the State of Israel. Not today, as we write this, in our hour of sorrow and rage. If the nation of Israel should fall under its own acts, and parts of its population must flee the occupied areas and into another diaspora, we say: May those around them show them mercy and calm now. It is always a crime without any mitigating circumstances to to lay a hand on refugees and the stateless.
Peace and right of passage for the fleeing civilians who no longer have a state that can protect them! Don't shoot at the refugees! Don't aim at them! They are as vulnerable as snails without their houses now, vulnerable like the slow-moving caravans from Palestinian and Lebanese refugees, defenseless as the women, children, and elderly in Qana, Gaza, and Sabra and Shatila. Give the Israeli refugees shelter, give them milk and honey!
Don't let a single Israeli child's life be lost. Too many children and civilians have already been murdered.