Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

May 19, 2009

Correspondence with a Zionist #2

Filed under: Jewish question,middle east,Palestine — louisproyect @ 3:24 pm

On Sunday May 10th, I read an article in the N.Y. Times about the latest Zionist outrage:

NY Times, May 10, 2009 Parks Fortify Israel’s Claim to Jerusalem

By ETHAN BRONNER and ISABEL KERSHNER

JERUSALEM — Israel is quietly carrying out a $100 million, multiyear development plan in some of the most significant religious and national heritage sites just outside the walled Old City here as part of an effort to strengthen the status of Jerusalem as its capital.

The plan, parts of which have been outsourced to a private group that is simultaneously buying up Palestinian property for Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem, has drawn almost no public or international scrutiny. However, certain elements related to it — the threatened destruction of unauthorized Palestinian housing in the redevelopment areas, for example — have brought widespread condemnation.

But as Pope Benedict XVI prepares to visit Christian sites here this week and as the Obama administration promotes a Palestinian state with parts of Jerusalem as its capital, Israeli activity in the area, known as the holy basin — land both inside and just outside the Old City — will be cause for growing concern and friction.

“Everything Israel does now will be highly contentious,” said Robert H. Serry, the United Nations special Middle East coordinator, on a recent tour of East Jerusalem. He warned the Israeli authorities “not to take actions that could pour oil on the fire.”

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says, however, that it will push ahead. Interior Minister Eli Yishai said last week of the activity in one core area: “I intend to act on this issue with full strength. This is the land of our sovereignty. Jewish settlement there is our right.”

As part of the plan, garbage dumps and wastelands are being cleared and turned into lush gardens and parks, now already accessible to visitors who can walk along new footpaths and take in the majestic views, along with new signs and displays that point out significant points of Jewish history.

The parts of the city that are being developed were captured in the 1967 Middle East war, but their annexation by Israel was never recognized abroad.

At the same time, there is a battle for historical legitimacy. As part of the effort, archaeologists are finding indisputable evidence of ancient Jewish life here. Yet Palestinian officials and institutions tend to dismiss the finds as part of an effort to build a Zionist history here.

Full article

****

It was sufficient to drive me to track down the website of the foundation responsible for this ethnic cleansing in the name of a bogus history and go to their contact us page. There I was given the choice of checking either as part of my response:

1) I would like to receive more information about new discoveries and activities at the City of David

2) Please do not send me information about new discoveries and activities the City of David

I checked number 2 and included this in the text box:

You are a bunch of god-damned fascists. And I say that as a NY Jew who was bar mitzvahed.

****

This morning, I received an email from the executive director:

Dear Louis,

Also, as an American Jew who was Bar Mitzvah’d and later moved to Israel , I was saddened by your email. If there is one thing that Jews have learned over the last 100 years is that the popular media does not have Jewish interests in mind, often is grossly exaggerated or completely wrong, and has in numerous cases caused pogroms against our people.

From 1939 – 1945 the German newspapers printed hundreds of innaccurate stories about our people, that probably caused certain Jews to call their own people fascists, despite the fact that fascism has never been more apparent than in those who wrote the reports in the first place.

I can tell you first hand that there is nothing fascist about the City of David or our work.  We work according to the law, and with the dream of rebuilding the most historic Jewish landmark in the world.  Never in the last 2,000 years has freedom of access to holy sites in Jerusalem been guaranteed to people of all religions like it is today.

We may be a small people throughout the world, but do we have to cringe from our smallness.  Are we not allowed to diplay the beautiful religion, history, and dynasty that our people are a living model for?

I hope you will reconsider your words, and your debt to the hundreds of ancestors that came before you, against the most horrific conditions, so that you can call yourself “Jewish” today.

Sincerely,

Doron Spielman

****

I responded:

Dear Louis,

Also, as an American Jew who was Bar Mitzvah’d and later moved to Israel , I was > saddened by your email. If there is one thing that Jews have learned over the last 100 years is that the popular media does not have Jewish interests in mind, often is grossly exaggerated or completely wrong, and has in numerous cases caused pogroms against our people.

Oh please. The American media is overwhelmingly pro-Israel.

From 1939 – 1945 the German newspapers printed hundreds of innaccurate stories about our people, that probably caused certain Jews to call their own people fascists, despite the fact that fascism has never been more apparent than in those who wrote the reports in the first place.

Do you actually read American newspapers? They are filled with pro-Israel editorials and reporting. There is no people on earth more hated than Arabs. They are the Jews of our time.  Hollywood makes movies about Arabs depicting them as lower than insects.

I can tell you first hand that there is nothing fascist about the City of David or our work.  We work according to the law, and with the dream of rebuilding the most historic Jewish landmark in the world.  Never in the last 2,000 years has freedom of access to holy sites in Jerusalem been guaranteed to people of all religions like it is today.

Liar, liar. Pants on fire.

We may be a small people throughout the world, but do we have to cringe from our smallness.  Are we not allowed to diplay the beautiful religion, history, and dynasty that our people are a living model for? I hope you will reconsider your words, and your debt to the hundreds of ancestors that came before you, against the most horrific conditions, so that you can call yourself “Jewish” today.

Sincerely, Doron Spielman

Archaeologists, including those from Israel, cast doubt on much of the historical accuracy of the Bible. Are you one of those people who still believe that Moses parted the Red Sea? Ridiculous.

****

Louis, see below.

All the best, and by the way if you decide to return to your people one day, we will be here for you.  In the meantime, I hope you find deep meaning in solving the problem’s of everybody BUT YOUR OWN PEOPLE.

Brachot u’hatzlacha b’chazerat tshuvat’cha.

-Doron

Incredible Biblical Discovery at the City of David
Archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University announced the find of a clay bulla (seal impression) inscribed with the name “Gedaliah Ben Pashchur” from her recent archaeological excavation at the City of David. The name appears in the Book of Jeremiah (38:1) in the same sentence as the mention of “Yehuchal Ben Shelamayahu” whose name was found on an identical clay bulla as part of an earlier phase of the same archaeological dig in 2005. This is the first time in the annals of Israeli archaeology that two clay bullae with two Biblical names that appear in the same verse of the Bible have been found in the same location. The fact that these two bullae were found on the site indicates that the building in which they were found was used by the king, or at least by his ministers, until the destruction of the First Temple“And Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashchur, and Yehuchal the son of Shelamayahu, and Pashhur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah spoke unto all the people, saying:” (Jeremiah 38:1) Yehuchal the son of Shelamayahu and Gedaliah the son of Pashchur where both ministers of King Zedekiah (a descendant of King David and the last king to rule in Jerusalem before the destruction of the First Temple). They unsuccessfully plotted to kill the prophet Jeremiah by throwing him into a pit. Pashchur, Gedaliah’s father, may have been the deputy chief priest of the temple that “smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper gate of Benjamin, which was in the house of the Lord.” (Jeremiah 20:3) Dr. Eilat Mazar completed the third phase her excavation of what she believes to be Kind David’s palace at the City of David site a month and a half ago and is currently sifting through the remains of that excavation. It was in this material that she found the seal. Much of the rubble from the dig has yet to be sifted and it is likely that more discoveries will be made. The Ir David Foundation was the principal sponsor of the excavation, together with the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Hebrew University, and the Shalem Center.

****

And I wrote back inviting him to read this:

The New York Times, July 29, 2000, Saturday, Late Edition – Final
The Bible, as History, Flunks New Archaeological Tests;
Hotly Debated Studies Cast Doubt on Many Familiar Stories

By GUSTAV NIEBUHR

The Bible’s account of King David is so well known that even people who rarely crack the Good Book probably have an idea of his greatness.

David, Scripture says, was such a superb military leader that he not only captured Jerusalem but also went on to make it the seat of an empire, uniting the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. Thus began a glorious era, later amplified by his son King Solomon, whose influence extended from the borders of Egypt to the Euphrates River. Afterward, decline set in.

Yet what if the Bible’s account doesn’t fit the evidence in the ground? What if David’s Jerusalem was really a rural backwater — and the greatness of Israel and Judah lay far in the future?

Lately, such assertions are coming from some authorities on Israel’s archaeology, who speak from the perspective of recent finds from excavations into the ancient past. “The way I understand the finds, there is no evidence whatsoever for a great, united monarchy which ruled from Jerusalem over large territories,” said Israel Finkelstein, the director of the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University. King David’s Jerusalem, he added, “was no more than a poor village at the time.”

Statements like these have earned Mr. Finkelstein — who is leading excavations at Megiddo, a vitally important site for biblical archaeology in northern Israel — a reputation as a fascinating but controversial scholar. His reports from Megiddo that some structures attributed to Solomon were actually built after his reign have touched off fierce debate in Israel.

Within a larger context, what he says reflects a striking shift now under way in how a number of archaeologists understand Israel’s past. Their interpretations challenge some of the Bible’s best-known stories, like Joshua’s conquest of Canaan. Other finds have turned up new information that supplements Scripture, like what happened to Jerusalem after it was captured by the Babylonians 2,600 years ago.

In an interview by e-mail from the Megiddo site, Mr. Finkelstein said that not long ago, “biblical history dictated the course of research and archaeology was used in order to ‘prove’ the biblical narrative.” In that way, he said, archaeology took a back seat as a discipline.

“I think that it is time to put archaeology in the front line,” said Mr. Finkelstein, the co-author with Neil Asher Silberman of “The Bible Unearthed,” to be published in January by The Free Press.

His reference to past practices can be illustrated by a remark by Yigael Yadin, an Israeli general who turned to archaeology and who once spoke of going into the field with a spade in one hand and the Bible in the other.

Many archaeologists, both before and after the founding of the modern state of Israel, shared a similar approach: seeking direct evidence for biblical stories. This outlook was shaped either by their religious convictions or their nationalist views, said Amy Dockser Marcus, the author of “The View From Nebo” (Little Brown), a wide-ranging and engaging book that describes in detail the shift in archaeology taking place in Israel. The problem with that outlook, she said, is that “you can’t help but go in and look at material and interpret material in a certain way.” And that, she added, “led to certain mistakes.”

In her book, Ms. Marcus — formerly the Middle East correspondent for The Wall Street Journal — notes that Mr. Yadin believed he had unearthed evidence in the ruins of a place called Hazor that corroborated the biblical account of how that Canaanite city had been destroyed. The Bible says Hazor fell to invading Israelites led by Joshua.

But these days, she said, an increasing number of archaeologists have come to doubt that Joshua’s campaign ever took place. Instead, they theorize that the ancient Israelites emerged gradually and peacefully from among the region’s general population — a demographic evolution, not a military invasion. “And that would explain how their pottery is so similar to the Canaanites’, and their architecture, their script,” Ms. Marcus said.

Mr. Finkelstein makes the same argument: “Archaeology has shown that early Israel indeed emerged from the local population of late Bronze Canaan.” In addition, he said, archaeology has turned up no physical remains to support the Bible’s story of the Exodus: “There is no evidence for the wanderings of the Israelites in the Sinai desert.”

Asked how such conclusions have been received in Israel, Mr. Finkelstein replied that they had produced a “quite strong and negative” reaction. But the anger, he said, was coming not from strictly Orthodox Jews (“who simply ignore us,” he said) but from more secular Jews who prize the biblical stories for their symbolic value to modern Israel. “I think that the young generation — at least on the liberal side — will be more open and willing to listen,” he said.

Still, considerable disagreement exists among archaeologists on how to interpret many recent finds. And the new theories about ancient Israel are emerging against the backdrop of a raging dispute over so-called biblical “minimalists,” scholars who argue that biblical accounts of early Israel, including the stories of David and Solomon, have little if any basis in history.

This debate was recently fought out in a lively issue of the Biblical Archaeology Review, a bimonthly magazine published in Washington, in which one of the minimalists, the British scholar Philip Davies, wrote that biblical accounts of early Israel were purely theological, not historical. In response, a major critic of the minimalists, the American archaeologist William Dever, wrote that ample physical evidence pointed to early Israelites living in the region’s highlands 3,200 years ago, two centuries before the time of David and Solomon.

But if many archaeologists are far less interested in trying to corroborate the exact biblical accounts of Israel’s ancient past than in how the area’s ancient history fits into the larger picture of the Middle East, that change of perspective, Ms. Marcus said, reflects an intellectual shift among the people doing the digging. Many current archaeologists, she said, were born in modern Israel and don’t need a link to the biblical King David to think of themselves as part of the Israeli nation: “They see themselves as part of the broader Middle East.”

Yet while archaeology is challenging some of the biblical narrative, it is also adding to it. At Megiddo, Mr. Finkelstein said, he found that the period 2,900 years ago — the century following the rule of Solomon — was a far more interesting and powerful time for the Kingdom of Israel than the Bible says. Another tantalizing discovery, in 1993, turned up a stele with an inscription referring to the “House of David,” the first real evidence that refers to the biblical king. Still other recent excavations have provided compelling new evidence about the lives of the residents of Jerusalem 2,600 years ago, when they were besieged by the Babylonian army, and about the nearby people of ancient Judah who did not go into exile in Babylon.

Ms. Marcus said that such discoveries illustrate how archaeology can restore information “left on the cutting room floor,” as it were, by those who compiled the biblical narrative. “Archaeology is giving you back all this history,” she said. “So archaeology doesn’t just deconstruct the Bible, but reconstructs it.”

****

This prompted the last mail I got from Doron Spielman:

http://www.aish.com/jewishissues/jerusalem/Reclaiming_Biblical_Jerusalem.asp

(Dare I use a Jewish publication?)

Get a better idea of the debate and of the facts.  Finkelstein is at least as pigeon holed as Dr. Mazar and much much more.

Best, D

Doron Spielman

Ir David Foundation – City of David
02-671-3434 ext. 42 office
02-671-2929 fax
http://www.cityofdavid.org (awarded #1 by the U.N. for excellence in e-culture)

****

Look, Doron

If you want to be taken seriously by Jews in the U.S., you have to stop pretending that every view that disagrees with your own is illegitimate. Every sect always believes its own “truths”, from the Mormons to the Catholics but it is always best to consult sources that don’t have a stake in the outcome.

As http://www.aish.com freely admits, its name is Hebrew for “Fire of Torah”. When you refer me to a website like this, it is like having a global warming skeptic refer me to Rush Limbaugh’s website.

UPDATE

$100 million plan would dislodge Palestinians

In addition to demolitions, plans under way for a vast tourist complex near the Old City – as reported by Ir Amim, another Israeli human rights group – represent a looming Israeli footprint on largely Palestinian areas. Its proposed location, in the shadow of holy sites such as the Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall, make the project potentially explosive and suggest a renewed effort to prevent the establishment of an official Palestinian sector in Islam’s third-holiest city.

One of the partners in the $100 million development plan is a private group named Elad, which focuses on buying Palestinian property in East Jerusalem and moving settlers into Arab neighborhoods. Several human rights organizations say there is an obvious link between the ramping up of demolition orders and Barkat’s plans to develop the tourist complex in East Jerusalem – focusing on Jewish history in the area known in Hebrew as Ir David (City of David) and as Silwan in Arabic.

According to Ir Amim, which tracks policy affecting both Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem, the under-the-radar project is motivated by a right-wing ideological goal of cementing Israeli sovereignty in East Jerusalem. That plan, which has not been made public, appears to be focused on moving Palestinians out of the historic heart of Jerusalem – areas near the Old City – while allowing some Palestinian growth in much more peripheral areas, such as those closer to the West Bank city of Ramallah.

“All of these things are linked, though not every house demolition follows this logic,” says Sarah Kreimer, the deputy director of Ir Amim.

“The plan is based on moving as many Palestinians out of the historic basin as possible and making way for Israeli nationally controlled projects or settler projects,” she says. “It’s a plan to try to lessen Palestinian population in the center of town.”

In reaction to such complaints over Barkat’s performance so far, he announced last week that there would be an additional 13,500 additional housing units allowed for East Jerusalem’s Arab residents, who are feeling the pinch of overcrowding in Arab neighborhoods.

“What he didn’t say, and what we later learned, is that this is his plan for the year 2030,” says Tali Nir, an ACRI lawyer. “What he declared is not a solution.” Most Arab neighborhoods lack municipality plans for any new housing to be added. “Our message to the mayor is, allow planning in these areas, and until you do, stop demolitions and stop building settlements.”

2 Comments »

  1. Israel’s actions over the last several decades are not the reason why Israel should be called fascist — although there is a savage brutality to them for which there doesn’t seem to be any other adequate word. Israel’s campaign to seize the land by driving all Palestinians out of their former homes comes the closest to deserving the term, though, since it is not based on an official theory of racial inferiority, it can’t quite be equated with Germany’s treatment of the Jews. though in fact, it amounts to the same thing.

    Fascism really resides in the culture and ideology of the offending state, and Speilman’s replies are full of examples — the identification of the state with a single religion, the basing of its legitimacy on ancient history, the sense of being encircled by hostile states, the belief in one’s own race and history as uniquely “beautiful”, and uniquely suffering, both of which transcend all other values.

    Self-righteousness combined with a sense of victimhood are the core of the Jewish version of fascism.

    Comment by senecal — May 19, 2009 @ 10:11 pm

  2. Louis: I just received a notice of publication of the book by Jonathan Nitzan and Shimson Bichler, Capital as Power. I’ve read some of previously published material in the book and wish I could afford the full thing. I’m sure you could get a review copy, and of course I’d love to read your comments on the book.

    If you’re interested, and aren’t already on their list, I could forward you the notice they sent, if you gave me an email address.

    Bob W.

    Comment by senecal — May 20, 2009 @ 3:26 pm


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