2020-02-11

Jewish Zionism . . . an Old Testament Project (for the USA, too)

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

Alastair Crooke

From an article by British diplomat Alastair Crooke, Israel in the Middle East — A Civilisational and Metaphysical War. Crooke essentially links the recent Trump “Deal of the Century” Peace Plan to the historical visions of both American “manifest destiny” and Israeli Zionism.

* Mr President … you became the first world leader to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over areas in Judea and Samaria that are vital to our security and central to our heritage. . . . For too long — far too long — the very heart of the Land of Israel where our patriarchs prayed, our prophets preached, and our kings ruled, has been outrageously branded as illegally occupied territory. Well, today, Mr. President, you are puncturing this big lie. (Applause.) . . . . These, as the distinguished pastors who are here know very well — these are places inscribed in the pages of the Bible. These are places carved into the bedrock of our common civilization: the sacred tomb in Hebron where the fathers and mothers of the Jewish people are buried; Bethel, where Jacob dreamed of a ladder ascending to the heavens; Shiloh, where the Ark of the Covenant that held the Ten Commandments … for centuries. That’s what happened in Shiloh.Netanyahu’s speech (Times of Israel)

Jewish Zionism, as expressed by Netanyahu this week*, though ostensibly secular, is not just a political construct: It is, too, as it were, an Old Testament project. Laurent Guyénot observes [link is to Zionism, Crypto-Judaism, and the Biblical Hoax by author of From Yahweh to Zion], that when it is asserted that Zionism is biblical, that doesn’t necessarily mean it to be religious. It can, and does, serve as key leitmotiv for secular Jews too. For secular Zionists, the Bible is on the one hand, a ‘national narrative’, but on the other, a particular civilizational vision, bound around a modern state (Israel).

Ben-Gurion was not religious; he never went to the synagogue, and ate pork for breakfast, yet he could declare: “I believe in our moral and intellectual superiority, in our capacity to serve as a model for the redemption of the human race”. Dan Kurzman, in his biography (Ben-Gurion, Prophet of Fire, 1983) writes that “[Ben Gurion] was, in a modern sense, Moses, Joshua, Isaiah, a messiah, who felt he was destined to create an exemplary Jewish state, a ‘light unto the nations’ that would help to redeem all mankind”. This is the inner Universalist vision (tied to a state). These backstage, half acknowledged, convictions – of being ‘elect’, as an example – clearly do condition political actions, (such as disregarding legal norms).

If you don’t have a subscription to Haaretz (your library may have an online subscription) you may not be able to read what Alastair Crooke means by “disregarding legal norms”. I’ll quote pieces from the Haaretz link. It is an opinion piece by Gideon Levy discussing the recent Trump-Netanyahu “peace plan”. Levy begins with “the good news”: the plan puts a decisive end to any hopes for a two-state solution. That was never a serious option, Levy writes, it was never going to be allowed by Israel. Levy calls this “good news” because it forces the world to acknowledge that the only positive option available is to work towards a single democratic state “between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.” That, of course, also implies the end of the “Jewish state”. The alternative is the acceptance of a new apartheid state.

Disregarding legal norms

So Levy writes of what the “peace plan” means for legal norms:

With the Jordan Valley and most of the West Bank settlements under Israeli sovereignty, the Palestinians are guaranteed not to have a state, half-state, city government or neighborhood. Nothing but a penal colony. With the Jordan Valley and most of the settlements annexed, Donald Trump makes official the establishment of the apartheid state to be known as the State of Israel. What Herzl began in Basel, Trump finished in Washington. . . . Trump’s news and the world’s capitulation, however, is much more portentous. Trump is creating not only a new Israel, but a new world. A world without international law, without honoring international resolutions, without even the appearance of justice. A world in which the U.S. president’s son-in-law is more powerful than the UN General Assembly. If the settlements are permitted, everything is permitted.

Levy, Gideon. 2020. “Opinion  One Person, One Vote for Israel-Palestine.Haaretz, January 26, 2020. (Highlighting is my own in all quotations)

Ben-Gurion was not a special case

Continuing Crooke’s article:

Ben-Gurion was in no way a special case. His immersion in the Bible was shared by almost every Zionist leader of his generation, and the next. And the Israel of today, is no longer as secular as it once was, but rather, is in transit back towards Yahweyism — which is to say, away from the law of a secular state founded by the Zionists, towards traditional Hebraic law as revealed in the Tanakh (the Old Testament of the Christians). Netanyahu implicitly reverts to Hebraic tradition (from secular norms), when he states flatly that as ‘leader’, he should not be removed from power. In other words, Israel is becoming more, not less, ‘biblical’.

Securing “Israel’s destiny” … as outlined in the Bible

So, back to last Tuesday, when an Israeli leader speaks of Trump having secured Israel’s destiny, he is not just resorting to flowery flattery for the US President. The emphasis on ‘destiny’ is flagging something lurking in the background: “Zionism cannot be a nationalist movement like others”, Guyénot writes, “because it resonates with the destiny of Israel as outlined in the Bible … Israel is a very special nation indeed. And everyone can see that it has no intention of being an ordinary nation. Israel is destined to be an empire”.

Crooke points to the biblical mandate as found in Isaiah and channelled through Zionist ideology as we can read in Zionist Idea : a Historical Analysis and Reader. Isaiah speaks of a Pax Judaica.

An ‘empire’ – as in Isaiah, which describes the messianic times as a Pax Judaica, when “all the nations” will pay tribute “to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of the god of Jacob”; when “the Law will issue from Zion and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem,” so that Yahweh will “judge between the nations and arbitrate between many peoples.”

Further on in the same book, we read:

“The riches of the sea will flow to you, the wealth of the nations come to you” (60:5);

“For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you will perish, and the nations will be utterly destroyed” (60:12);

“You will suck the milk of nations, you will suck the wealth of kings” (60:16);

“You will feed on the wealth of nations, you will supplant them in their glory” (61:5-6).

Pretty clear: this is not just run of the mill nationalism.

Large numbers of Israelis and Americans believe these prophecies. Trump’s Evangelical base believe them literally.

They [Evangelicals] see the actualisation of Israel’s destiny as an eschatological necessity: It was they who insisted on the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem; they supported the Trump’s assertion of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan; they support the annexation of Israeli settlements; and they were behind the demand that the US scrap the JCPOA. . . . 

The Evangelicals were, of course, very happy with Tuesday’s outcome. Israel’s civilisational imperium is, they believe, now assured – at least between the west bank of the River Jordan and the sea. The actualisation of these prophesies has the effect of hastening the arrival of the Redeemer (for these Christian Zionists).

Civilizational destiny of the USA and Israel

It has been argued [link is to review of Fighting Identity: Sacred War and World Change], by at least one US historian, that the U.S. is no ordinary nation-state, but should be understood as a system leader, a ‘civilizational power’ – like Rome, Byzantium, and the Ottoman Empire. The ‘system leader’, historically, has always sought to embed its particular civilizational vision onto those distant ‘lands’ that serve, or abut, its empire: which is to say that the universalistic vision may be bound to one state, but is forcefully unfurled across the globe, as ‘our’ inevitable destiny.

I’m reminded of the slogan “Gold, God and Glory” that was said to sum up the age of imperialism. In those days, in the boats with the merchants came the missionaries.

It is not hard to see what we are talking about when it refers to America: politically it is liberal markets, liberal capitalism, individualism and laissez-faire politics – and the metaphysics of Judeo-Christianity, too, if you like. For most Americans, their victory in the Cold War spectacularly affirmed the superiority of their civilizational vision, through the defeat and implosion of communism. It was not just a political defeat for the USSR, more significantly, it represented a triumph for America’s full cultural paradigm: It was a Civilisational ‘win’.

Crooke’s outline of the origin of the Western “Judeo-Christian” idea . . . After the fall of Rome, circa 800, the leaders of the Frankish church precisely turned to the Old Testament as the basis to legitimise cultural war on Orthodox (Eastern) Christianity, which the Franks then labelled (pejoratively) as ‘Greek’ – with its clear connotation of eastern ‘paganism’ and apostasy. And they further leveraged the Old Testament in order to reign Dei Gratia: as divine sovereignty, whether as Popes or Emperors (i.e. Charlemagne), demanding the unreserved fealty and discipline of their subjects. This Frankish ‘turn’ towards a ‘Judeo-Christianity’ gave Europe its feudalism; resulted in the obliteration of the Cathars as an exemplar punishment for ill-discipline; and saw the imposition of its Civilisational model (Judeo-Christianity) on the Middle East, via militarised Crusades. West Christianity was infused with the Hebraic textual tradition, then – and again, of course, with the rise of Protestantism. East Christianity (Orthodox Christianity) never was. The two Churches were split asunder at the Great Schism (1054).

In various forms “we” have inherited the idea of a Judeo-Christian civilization. We have reached a point where both much of the Israeli and American populations share a common vision:

The Israeli civilisational vision may not be exactly the same as America’s, but America’s archetypal cultural stories – Abraham commanded to sacrifice his son – come from the Hebrew Bible. In short, the American exercise of power has never been more ‘Frankish’, as it were*. And the exercise of it, increasingly is justified in terms of Israeli language – viz the targeted assassination of Qasem Soleimani.

It’s not only Evangelicals, either. The Far Right, White Supremacist groups, have taken it upon themselves to “defend” the West’s “Judeo-Christian heritage”.

When those on the American Right (such as Steve Bannon) speak incessantly of the need to sustain America’s Judeo-Christian heritage, they almost certainly would see an Israeli project to spread its Pax Judaica right across the Middle East as a clear civilisational ‘win’ for America too. Trump may not be prepared to go to war for Israel, but others in the US Establishment view America ‘winning again’ in the wider civilisational war, as an existential issue for America.

 


Crooke, Alastair. 2020. “Israel in the Middle East — A Civilisational and Metaphysical War.” Strategic Culture Foundation (blog). February 3, 2020.


 

The following two tabs change content below.

Neil Godfrey

Neil is the author of this post. To read more about Neil, see our About page.

Latest posts by Neil Godfrey (see all)

If you enjoyed this post, please consider donating to Vridar. Thanks!

9 Comments

  • Morris
    2020-02-11 16:38:36 GMT+0000 - 16:38 | Permalink

    Can the power of a myth be so strong that it literally manifests itself into reality?

    “The riches of the sea will flow to you, the wealth of the nations come to you” (60:5);

    “For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you will perish, and the nations will be utterly destroyed” (60:12);

    “You will suck the milk of nations, you will suck the wealth of kings” (60:16);

    “You will feed on the wealth of nations, you will supplant them in their glory” (61:5-6).

  • Grabrich
    2020-02-11 19:28:30 GMT+0000 - 19:28 | Permalink

    Hi Neil,

    This article remined me of a recent one at Mother Jones, by Stephanie Mencimer,

    “Evangelicals Love Donald Trump for Many Reasons, But One of Them Is Especially Terrifying

    End Times”:

    https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2020/01/evangelicals-are-anticipating-the-end-of-the-world-and-trump-is-listening/

    Richard G.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2020-02-12 00:26:41 GMT+0000 - 00:26 | Permalink

      We’ve had the same beliefs in Bush #2 (also Reagan?) and that was worry enough. But then one always had hope that there were enough adults around to keep things from getting out of hand.

      • Grabrich
        2020-02-12 06:00:22 GMT+0000 - 06:00 | Permalink

        VP Pence terrifies me more, as he seems to be hardcore Zionist/neo-con/evangelical.
        Be careful what the never-Trumpers wish for, as the back-up president could be worse!

        Richard G.

    • Grabrich
      2020-02-15 23:26:02 GMT+0000 - 23:26 | Permalink

      Here’s a concise video from Vox (just over 7 min long):

      “How a Bible prophecy shapes Trump’s foreign policy”

      Neil, you’re right that George W. shared/shares the same Evangelical Christian-Zionist beliefs, and he was also surrounded by the same type of “advisers”.

      Richard G.

      • Neil Godfrey
        2020-02-16 06:14:29 GMT+0000 - 06:14 | Permalink

        Most interesting. Thanks for the link. I liked the U.S. ambassador’s remarks towards the end of the clip where he speaks of an unprecedented opportunity for “biblical tourism”! Always the commercial interest — as per Nazareth. At least Trump is ignorant of the prophecies (I’m sure he has no idea of what the sounds making the words “king Cyrus” even mean) — the worry with Bush was that he personally believed the prophecies. We can be “reassured” Trump will do nothing that he does not believe will enhance his narcissistic image among Arab and other tyrannical leaders.

  • Pingback: Understanding Why Hamas Refuses to Recognize Israel |

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.