OPINION by Andriques Che Petersen – Across the globe there are hundreds of thousands of ethnic and religious Jews that stand opposed to the existence of the state of Israel. But, at risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, the hold Zionist sympathisers and Zionists themselves have on mainstream media is so strong that these men and women, including myself, seem to be a novelty and a peculiarity.
I say this in light of the ongoing attacks Israel is enacting on Palestine’s West Bank and Gaza territories. Already the death toll has risen to nearly 200, and as I write this thousands more have already begun making the trip so many Palestinians have made before: becoming exiles from their own land much the same as the Jews become nearly two thousand years ago.
And while I ponder the complexities of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, clearly instigated, to any rational person, by the former with the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948, I have made one final conclusion: any person claiming to be a Zionist and Jewish at the same time lives a novel contradiction.
Although the shul (synagogue) I attend has a ‘no politics’ policy, making no official stance known on Zionism and Israel, I do appreciate its openness to attendants having their own views and its policy to hold no political restrictions on them. But, as much as I appreciate my particular denomination, I admire the steadfast dedication Haredi Jews over the world have stood against Zionism and Israel.
I am aware that a year ago I touched on the differences between Judaism and Zionism. This time, having read up enough on my own religion to write this with confidence, this time I can say Zionism is in no way supported in any Jewish holy scripture.
In fact, every reference I’ve followed up on has driven me to believe Zionism is inherently warned against in our Talmud and Torah [the Torah is our set of rules to live by, the so-called commandments; the Talmud is rabbinical commentary on these rules as well as ‘divine’ edicts taken as life rules to also live by].
After the fall of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem under Roman siege, Jews dispersed across the globe. This big trip is widely known as the Jewish diaspora; through this the Jewish religion ended up in Europe, the Mediterranean, East Africa, North Africa, in what would become Arab states, as far as Southern Africa and just as far away in India and Far East Asia.
Because of the diaspora, Judaism became an international, cross cultural religion influenced by the nuances of the people they encountered and even split into separate ethnic groupings by intermarriage and mingling with their new neighbours.
What is most important here, however is to realise that Judaism, much like Islam, is a religion, and a way of life, not based on ethnicity or political or national involvement. Many Jews would profess that their nation of Israel is “in [my] heart”.
At a recent protest, spurred on by the ongoing conflict, the Neturei Karta’s Rabbi Dovid Feldman said:
“According to Jewish belief, ever since the destruction of the Second Temple, the Jewish people were sent into exile by Divine decree and were forbidden to create a State of their own, even without oppressing any other people. Thus the Zionists would have been forbidden to establish a state anywhere in the world, even on an empty piece of land.
But now that they have taken Palestine for their state, which involved oppressing an entire people and committing many crimes, they have violated many laws of the Jewish religion, which totally forbids killing and stealing. For the past two thousand years Jews have lived as loyal citizens in their host countries, without any political goals or aspiration to rule over others.”
The above has been proven historically and in religious record: Jews have lived side by side by their neighbours since the beginning of the diaspora peacefully. At another recent protest, one Haredi Jew who had been living in Palestine before Israeli statehood attested to “[us] living side by side with our Muslim brothers and sisters, at Yom Kippur when we went to shul we would leave our children with our Muslim neighbours. If they were truly our enemies why would we leave our children, our greatest gifts, with them?”
I have decided to keep this piece short, for brevity on the matter, and for the sake of dousing the inevitable fires of hate that will flame up from both sides: let us be clear then, true Jews, would never condone the behaviour of Israel, and it is unfortunate that many young Jews now grow up having no say in the treatment of what could have been another people to live next to in peace.
But across the world there are others, many, many others like me, who stand against the atrocities brought onto not only Arab Muslims in Palestine, but Copts and other Hebraic peoples such as the Mizrahi (Arab) Jews living in Palestine and the Samaritan people oppressed by Israel.
Before cries of “kill the Jews” (as I have seen too many times for my own comfort on social media) are thrown out, let us be cognisant of this, and realise that across the world Jews and Muslims have been symbiotic entities.
An example here is the large amount of Jews living in Iran who have not once faced persecution under the Ayatollah’s rule. Let us realise this and stand against what is clearly no more than an expansionist, colonialist regime that has been allowed to live and breathe longer than our own Apartheid.
Andriques Che Petersen is a VOC News reporter, writer and social media commentator.