November 18, 2014

          Let us begin with an Honest Prayer:
          HUMPHREY WILLIAMS: ...And spotteth twice they the camels before the third hour, and so, the Midianites went forth to Ram Gilead in Kadesh Bilgemath, by Shor Ethra Regalion, to the house of Gash-Bil-Bethuel-Bazda, he who brought the butter dish to Balshazar and the tent peg to the house of Rashomon, and there slew they the goats, yea, and placed they the bits in little pots. Here endeth the lesson.
          CHAPLAIN: Let us praise God. O Lord,...
          CONGREGATION: O Lord,...
          CHAPLAIN: ...ooh, You are so big,...
          CONGREGATION: ...ooh, You are so big,...
          CHAPLAIN: absolutely huge.
          CONGREGATION: absolutely huge.
          CHAPLAIN: Gosh, we're all really impressed down here, I can tell You.
          CONGREGATION: Gosh, we're all really impressed down here, I can tell You.
          CHAPLAIN: Forgive us, O Lord, for this, our dreadful toadying, and...
          CONGREGATION: And barefaced flattery.
          CHAPLAIN: But You are so strong and, well, just so super.
          CONGREGATION: Fantastic.
          HUMPHREY: Amen.
          CONGREGATION: Amen.
          [organ music]
          CHAPLAIN and CONGREGATION: [singing]
          O Lord, please don't burn us.
          Don't grill or toast Your flock.
          Don't put us on the barbecue
          Or simmer us in stock.
          Don't braise or bake or boil us
          Or stir-fry us in a wok.
          Oh, please don't lightly poach us
          Or baste us with hot fat.
          Don't fricassee or roast us
          Or boil us in a vat,
          And please don't stick Thy servants, Lord,
          In a Rotissomat.
          Let us thank Monty Python for that bit of honesty. I’m not 100% sure what a Rotissomat is exactly, but I can envision that it’s something like a rotisserie grill of some sort (probably from 1940s-50s England), and probably not the best place to die. But of course that’s just comedy so it’s not real and sounds ridiculous. The actual Bible makes far more sense and never sounds ridiculous, like the first two sentences of Genesis 14:1, “It was in the time of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goyim. They went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Bishra king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboyim, and the king of Bela, that is Zoar.” That makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? A bunch of kings went to war, so what else is new? For that quote I used the Cambridge New English Bible, which is very easy to read, unlike, say, the 1611 King James version, which, going back to Genesis (15:12), reads like this: “And when the Sunne was going downe, a deepe sleepe fell vpon Abram: and loe, an horrour of great darknesse fell vpon him.” OK, now this is the good part: “And he said vnto Abram, Know of a surety,* [Acts 7. 6.] that thy seed shalbe a stranger, in a land that is not theirs, and shal serue them, and they shall afflict them foure hundred yeeres. And also that nation whom they shall serue, wil I iudge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt goe to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.”
          It’s a drag to have an horror of great darknesse fall upon you, then find out that you’re going to be a stranger in a strange land for the next four hundred years, however, those lousy shit-heads who enslaved you, the wily Amorites, are going to get theirs. God continues: “But in the fourth generation they shall come hither againe: for the iniquitie of the Amorites is not yet full. And it came to passe that when the Sunne went downe, and it was darke, behold, a smoking furnace, and a + [+ obtaine] burning lampe that passed betweene those pieces. In that same day the LORD made a couenant with Abram saying ; * [* Chap. 12. 7. and 13. 15. & 26. 4. Deut. 34. 4.] Vnto they seed haue I giuen this from the riuer Euphrates : The Kenites, and the Kenizites, and the Kadmonites : And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Iebusites.”
          Well, that’s certainly clear enough. God said, “If you can endure four hundred of slavery, I will give you a land of your own, but . . .” (as Pee Wee Herman said, “Everybody’s got a big but,”), “you’ve got to clear it out, with my blessing, of course, of all those folks who thought it was their land, but, since I’ve now made a covenant with you, not them, they are now mistaken and it’s now your land. Get it? And Abram thought, “Well, I’m going to get to live to be about ninety-nine or something, but I sure as hell won’t live to be four hundred, so it’s not my problem, thank God.”
           Nor was it his problem.
          As Bruce Springsteen put the next part:

          Little girl down on the strand
          With that pretty little baby in your hand
          Do you remember the story of the promised land?
          How we crossed the desert sand
          But could not enter the chosen Land
          On the banks of the river we stand
          To face the price you pay.

          So Moses and the freed slaves, now called “Jews,” couldn’t enter the chosen land. Why? Cuz God gave Moses fifteen commandments on three tablets and he went and broke one of them, so now there were only ten left. God got pissed and said, “Promised Land? How about a bunch of fuck you?”
          But it wasn’t up to Moses anyway, it would be up to warrior-chieftains, like Joshua and David, to kick the Amorites asses, which they did, soundly.
          But what about all of those stupid assholes who already thought they lived there, but didn’t, like: the Kenites, and the Kenizites, and the Kadmonites : And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Iebusites? Well, Joshua and David kicked their asses, too, and threw them fuck out of Judea. They slew them. Now there was nothing to worry about; all of the aliens were eliminated; Israel is ours; or is it Canaan? Or Palestine? Hey! Wait a minute. What the hell is this place called?
          Well, the bottom half was Judaea and the top half was something else, Judah, Eretz Israel or Canaan, or some such horseshit, and then they both went and wrote their own Bibles, which were in different dialects and contradicted each other, but that was OK, too. Because they now had a homeland, as anyone would want, except that it had been someone else’s homeland before they got there and slew them. No matter. God really liked these Jews, and everyone else be damned.
          So, the Jews, in their own minds, became the Chosen People, meaning that God liked them better than everyone else. Oh, and another thing, there was now only one God—Jehovah—and since he belonged exclusively to the Jews, everybody else’s Gods were now null and void. When the Jews proclaimed this news to the ancient world—our God is the real God; your Gods, however many you may have, are all bullshit. Well, this wasn’t a good idea then, and it’s no better of an idea now. When 0.05 percent of the population decides that the other 99.95 are all wrong, particularly about whom they worship, let’s just say it’s no way to make friends.
          Following the Siege of Jerusalem in 63 B.C., Judah/Judaea became a 'protectorate' of Rome, and in 6 B.C. was organized as the Roman province of Judæa. The Jews began to revolt against the Roman Empire in 66 AD during the period known as the First Jewish–Roman War which culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. During the siege, the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and most of Jerusalem. In 132 A.D., the Jews rebelled against Hadrian. In 135 A.D., Hadrian's army defeated the Jewish armies and Jewish independence was lost. Jerusalem was turned into a pagan city called Aelia Capitolina and the Jews were forbidden to live there, and the Emperor Hadrian changed the country's name from Judea to Syria Palaestina. This eviction of the Jews from Judea became known as the diaspora, or the dispersion of the Jews from the former homeland, whatever the hell it was called. And thus, Jews ended up spread out all over the world, where they were not liked by anyone because they looked funny with their curly locks dangling from beneath their covered heads, and now everybody had a scapegoat—if anything went wrong for anybody anywhere, it was obviously the Jews’ fault because what the hell were they doing there in the first place?
          However, the Romans didn’t kick anyone else out of Syria Palaestina, and those people were now known as Palestinians (whom the Jews had considered Pagans), who had been living there since the beginning of time, long before God’s covenant with Abram (later know as Abraham for having made that covenant). For some odd reason the Jews had forgotten to slay these people, perhaps because they were simply peace-loving goatherds, who also grew dates, palms, and olives, the trees of which take a thousand years to grow to full maturity. I can’t tell you for a fact, but I’ll just bet not one Palestinian tear was shed upon the Jews’ departure.
          So then, 2,000 years dribbled by, and by the end of the 1800s, when there were now more Jews in the United States than anywhere else in the world—there were still millions of Jews all over Europe, Asia and Africa—at least in one single country, they began to make tsouris, meaning trouble in Yiddish, the adopted language of the European and Asian Jews, saying that they wanted to return to Eretz Israel, a mythical land that not only no longer existed, but never had except in the fantasy world of the Jews. American Jews formed the Zionist Movement and began to trickle back to Palestine, even though the British, who now controlled the land, didn’t want them there. But the British had such an enormous Empire to rule—the sun never set on the British Empire—that Palestine was the least of their worries. During the time of diaspora, a Jew here and a Jew there bravely moved back to Palestine in direct defiance of the British, who were simply paying them no mind. This is when, in 1933, my Aunt Elsa, her parents, and her brothers who had not been killed during WWI fighting against the British, moved to Palestine from Hungary.
          Well, Jews are a lot like Catholics in that they all had as many children as humanly possible, ostensibly to return the “Holy Land” back into a Jewish state. And procreate they did, until, by the end of WWII, when millions of homeless Jews just released from the Nazi concentration camps, began flooding into Palestine to the great consternation of the British who kept trying to stop them. But the Jews would not be stopped no matter how hard the British tried. So, the Jews invented “Terrorism,” then began blowing up British military installations all over the country, culminating in the destruction of the British High Command headquarters in Jerusalem located in the King David Hotel. Apparently, the natural response to oppression is terrorism, and guess what? It worked.
          During WWII American President Franklin Roosevelt proposed, after the complete failure of Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations, another group to oversee what kinds of nasty shit everyone was up to all over the world, and he called it the United Nations, then FDR promptly dropped dead. When Harry Truman (my hero) came into office in 1945 he put the United Nations into effect, and on November 29th, 1947, the U.N. voted and “recommended the adoption and implementation of the Partition Plan for Mandatory Palestine,” meaning that half of the country would belong to the nearly three million or so Jews and the other half would belong to the nearly three million or so Palestinians.
          However, when the end of the British Mandate for Palestine was set for midnight on the 14th of May, 1948, that same day, David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the Zionist Organization and president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared "the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel," which would start to function from the termination of the mandate. Well, none of the surrounding Arab countries were on board with the name-change, nor were the Palestinians, not to mention that the U.N. had not specified the borders of the new state, so who lived where? Neighboring Arab armies from Egypt, Lebanon and Trans-Jordan invaded the former Palestinian mandate on the next day and fought the meager Israeli forces, who soundly kicked all of their asses. And who was caught smack in the middle of this mess—the Palestinians. Israel has since fought and won numerous wars with neighboring Arab countries, in the course of which it has occupied the West Bank, the Sinai Peninsula (1956–1957, 1967–1982), part of South Lebanon (1982–2000), the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. It annexed portions of these territories, including East Jerusalem, but the border with the West Bank is still disputed. Israel has signed peace treaties with Egypt and with Jordan, but efforts to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have so far not resulted in peace.
          Which brings us up to the present day. OK, let us now examine the Israelis’ spurious claims to “ownership” of Eretz Israel, which includes all of Palestine.
          So I was having breakfast with my dad at the nearby restaurant, Joe’s Country Kitchen, and I was telling him about this essay. He got slightly offended, but he’s not much of a Jew and never has been, so he didn’t really care. But the old Jewish man at the next booth over became extremely offended, blurting out, “What about the Holocaust?”
          “What has the holocaust got to do with it?” I asked.
          “The Jews were homeless after the war and wandering around aimlessly, why shouldn’t they return to their homeland?”
          “Nobody said they shouldn’t, but there are already people living there, and the Jews keep stealing their land.”
          “’Stealing?’” proclaimed the old Jew, “They’re not stealing anything from anybody, God gave them that land.”
          “Not the Palestinians’ God.”
          “No,” corrected the man, “the one true real God, Jehovah, not a Johnny-come-lately like Allah. The Temple of David was built long before the Dome of the Rock [which is located directly next to the only remaining ruin of the Temple of David, the Wailing Wall].”
          “Are you trying to intimate, sir, that the Temple of David was built before the Palestinians were there?”
          “Of course.”
          “Then, sir, I’m afraid you’re mistaken. The Palestinians were there long before the Jews were.”
          “That’s absurd!”
          “Well, then,” I queried, “where did the Palestinians immigrate from?”
          “What do you mean?”
          “Where were they before they were in Israel? The Jews were wandering aimlessly in the desert if you’ll recall your Bible lessons from your youth, long, long ago. The Jews weren’t even Jews when the Palestinians were already living there; Abraham hadn’t yet made his covenant with God.”
          “Ah-ha!” he proclaimed, having caught me in an enormous error, “The Palestinians weren’t Muslims yet, either.”
          “Uh-huh, but they were already living in Israel. They were probably Zoroastrians, as most folks were at that time in that area, as were the not-yet-Jews more than likely.”
          “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
          And thus ended my little chat with old Jewish man.
          So, just a few days ago, I was speaking with my elder sister on this same topic, and she said, as many, many people do, “Why don’t the Palestinians just move?”
          “Because they were there first.”
          “So what? Why don’t the Jordanians take them in?”
          “The Jordanians,” I informed my clueless sister, “take in a lot of refugees—they’re exceptionally kind-hearted—but they haven’t got the facilities for over three million more refugees. Besides, the Jews invaded the Palestinians’ land and took their homes and their thousand-year-old olive trees. Why? Because the Jews’ imaginary God gave it to them? Shit-on-a-stick, the Jews didn’t even live there for 2,000 years, so, just because they decided to move back, the present occupants, who were completely up-to-date on their rent and mortgage payments, have to now live in internment camps and have to pass through 127 checkpoints to buy their kid a loaf of bread, then somehow get back through that God-awful mess, which takes hours in both directions, to finally give their kid that loaf of bread? Who the fuck do the Israelis think they are?”
          “They’re the Chosen People.”
          Ah! That horseshit again. “Chosen by whom?”
          “Not the Palestinians’ God.”
          My sister isn’t religious either, so she didn’t fight me on this point, but she didn’t give in, either.
          And what happened to the U.N. partition? The Israelis didn’t even bother declaring it null and void, they just voided it.
          An old jewish joke: A reporter at the U.N. approached three ambassadors—one from America, one from Russia, and one from Israel, and asked, “Excuse me, gentlemen, but what do you think about the meat shortage in Rwanda?” The American replied, “What’s a shortage?” The Russian replied, “What’s meat?” The Israeli replied, “What’s excuse me?”
          Jews believe that because they have suffered so greatly, and they have, that they are now all allowed to be snotty assholes to everybody, including each other. But this in direct denial that anybody else has ever suffered, except them. Israelis think that they can treat the Palestinians any Goddamn way they want—which means bad—because Hitler exterminated 6,000,000 Jews, which certainly wasn’t the Palestinians’ fault, nor any other Arab country. The jerks in Iran can proclaim as often as they like that Israel should not exist, and, as per the U.N. Partition, doesn’t actually exist. The world has not yet recognized Israel as an independent country—that’s why it needed to be partitioned.
          My point is my title—the oppressor is always wrong. There is no excuse or explanation extant that rationalizes oppression; if you’re treating someone poorly, you’re wrong. I don’t care if they looked at you the wrong way, called you a Kike, a Nigger, a Peckerwood, a Mick, a Kraut, or a Towel-head, you have no right to oppress them. Ever. And until the hardheaded Jews get this through their thick skulls, there will continue to be anti-Semitism and strong anti-Israel sentiments. I’m not saying for one second that the Jews should leave Israel and a second diaspora should occur; what I’m saying is that the Israelis need to figure out what Excuse Me means.

--Josh Becker