The Nature of Israel

Throughout this tract we translate ‘am and laos as “people”, goy and ethnos as “nation”, qahal and ekklesia as “church”.

Israel is a people which does not count itself among the nations (Nm 23:9). Israel is a church (Nm 20:10-12). The word gentile, “non-Israelite”, comes from Latin gens, “nation”. Israel did indeed go down into Egypt and there become a great nation (Dt 26:5), but the Sinai experience turned that nation and its hangers-on (Ex 12:38) into a church. At the beginning of Joshua (5:8) we read that the nation was circumcised, but after that the Bible does not approvingly call Israel a nation.

In general, Israel gets contrasted with the nations (e.g. Ez 6:21), notably in that Israel has been given the Law and no nation has (Ps 147:20). When Israel does get called a nation, it is generally because God is annoyed with it (e.g. Ml 3:9).

How then can we briefly and usefully portray this church? First we note that it was founded at Sinai and absorbed many tribes and nations in Canaan (Ez 16:3), eventually fixing its central shrine in Jerusalem (2 S 6). It had a state of sorts to protect it in its formative centuries, but this state split (1 K 12:17-20) and so did the church (v. 28-29). One of the successor churches we call the Jews, the other the Samaritans. Each has its own history up to the beginning of the Common Era, when another great split took place.

Because churches have doctrines to teach, both branches of Israel, but especially the Jews, made converts outside the two states. The Book of Jonah proclaims Israel’s duty to spread the doctrines. By the beginning of the Common Era there were Jews from Barbary to Babylon and beyond.

Israel expected a Redeemer, a Messiah (Is 61:1-2 and many other places). At the beginning of the Common Era, Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be the Messiah (Lk 4:21, Jn 4:25-26). About the year 50, at the Council of Jerusalem (Ac 15:5-29), his followers renewed Israel. In the year 70, when the Romans were about to destroy Jerusalem, premessianic Jews stayed in the city while Christians fled beyond Jordan. The Emperor gave permission to rebuild the Temple, but instead the premessianic-Jewish hierarchy stayed in Jamnia, also known as Yavne. About the year 90 the Council of Jamnia founded the Rabbinical Jewish church as a continuing premessianic branch of Israel. Thus the Jews split into Christians and Rabbinical Jews, the most obvious difference being the question of whether Jesus was the Messiah, the most important perhaps the question of which matters of the Law are the weightiest (Mt 23:23 etc.).

Meanwhile we find a reference (Jn 11:48-52) to the people of the Holy Land as a nation, presumably a result of the Herodian conquest’s unifying effect. The chief priest would certainly not call Israel a nation, and John would not make the mistake of putting such a mistake in his mouth. This is the nation we now call Palestine, the first majority-Jewish nation.

Both Rabbinical Judaism and Christianity continued evangelization, the Christians by the year 200 converting a majority of the Palestinians from Samaritanism and premessianic Judaism – an apostasy for which some Rabbinical Jews have not yet forgiven them. The Palestinians remained majority-Christian until after the Crusades. Christians converted most of the Roman Empire, whereas Rabbinical Jews converted several Central Asian peoples, most notably the Khazars, from the remains of whose Empire the original Zionist settlers came.

Karma for Al Qa’ida

1. Original Sin, which Orthodox Christians – at least those on Mount Athos – insist on calling Ancestral Sin, is the source of most bad karma. Drowning in inadequate minds we experience more dissatisfaction, often clinging to poetry as a raft. Because of original sin we tend to react in actual sin to all dissatisfaction, sending more waves of bad karma down the ages.

2. Lack of a doctrine of Original Sin seems to me to be, within the Abrahamic tradition, the main distinguisher of Islam from the Mosaic/Mussadek/Israelite tradition, which has such a doctrine firmly established in Gn 3 – and Gn 4, for that matter. Original Sin is a reality, and should not need a doctrine, but Mussadeks have the advantage over Muslims of having a definite doctrine and hence the constant reminder that the struggle for right, jihad, must start within each of us. Muslims also believe this, but are more inclined than Mussadeks to forget it. Of course, people on both sides of the divide often forget it, but I think that Muslims are more inclined to start great projects without concern for inner orientation, making the great projects more liable to error.

3. Lack of church music robs Muslims of the rafts they need in inadequate minds. They have poetry – indeed much of the Quran is poetic – but singing and instrumentation are a great help in keeping us afloat in our inner seas of unreason. It should be noted that those Christians who contradict the Bible’s command to sing new songs and play on instruments tend to be nastier and more prone to condemnation than their otherwise similar fellow-Christians – think of the various kinds of Presbyterianism in Scotland, for instance.

4. Lack of monasticism deprives Muslims of an ultra-sane community to give example of a way of life radically different from that to which most of us have been called, and by that example to help us see more clearly our own vocations. I am talking here of an actual contemplative life, with celibacy and some degree of material poverty and obedience, not the life of a friar or cleric. This kind of life has various spin-offs, such as retreat houses and spiritual writing, both of which have special value because of their mode of provision.

Thomas Merton writes somewhere that when we intensely want to do something to better the world we may ultimately decide that the best we can do for the world is to retire from it and pray for it. Muslims do not at present have this option. Taking a very concrete example, would John Walker Lindt have taken up arms had there been monasteries as well as schools in Yemen?

Monks give an example of the inner jihad: they repent their own sins first; they themselves are thus unlikely to have misguided external jihad, but those with strong tendencies to jihad may, in ignorance of the monastic vocation, do crazy things. Elijah lived on Mount Carmel and came down to thunder at kings. He did not work within governments to better things, although that too is good work, but stood aside and pointed out the corruption of the kings; he was better able to rebuke their lack of external jihad because of his own internal jihad. The upbraiding of kings is, of course, more pastoral than monastic, but the lack of monasticism weakens the pastor. There are two places in the Quran – 5:85 and 57:27 – which praise monasticism, but at some time a perhaps spurious hadith “there is no monasticism in Islam” [Ibn Hibban, Ahmad, At-Tabarani, graded authentic by Al-Albani] – which, for all I know, may have been a lament rather than a prescription – was generally received: monasticism, which had in fact arisen in Islam, was actively suppressed.

At the beginning of the Common Era Judaism split into Christianity and Rabbinical Judaism. It seems that Elijah’s followers all became Christian; at any rate I have come across no evidence of a monastic tradition within Rabbinical Judaism, which has apparently for all its nineteen centuries as a distinct church been monk-less. And there are in proportion probably more Rabbinical Jews who support Zionism than Muslims who support Al Qa’ida and the like.

5. Lack of democracy has prevented many Muslims from striving for their political ideals in a peaceable way. There are several reasons for lack of democracy in Dar ul Islam.

Firstly, people often see no need for democracy. In the most recent Yemeni elections some critics condemned the process as mindless aping of the corrupt and decadent West. We know the law of God, let us apply it without the kerfuffle of campaigns and parliaments. It should be noticed that the Catholic Church in the 19th Century had a similar distrust of democracy, with the result that the movements called “liberal” have tended to be anticlerical and even opposed to natural law. In Rerum Novarum we find surprise that any Catholic would wish to associate himself with a political party other than that proposed by the magisterium, showing a complete misunderstanding of the idea of democracy. Communists have a similar idea: “united trade union, of course: why then two parties?” as I read in Berlin’s Die Wahrheit during the 1970s. The 20th-Century Communist and the 19th-Century Catholic were both thinking of political parties as groupings on the basis of something other than political opinion.

This attitude may be at an end in Dar ul Islam. The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini believed that Iran would remain Islamic only so long as it remained democratic: he thought of democracy as a means of achieving and maintaining rightness. But other democracies have been slow to welcome this change – indeed, the United States had kept in power the regime which preceded democracy in Iran. In reaction there is now in Iran a movement to limit democracy, keeping all power in the hands of the judiciary, who know what is right.

Secondly, the United States has kept undemocratic Muslim governments in power, notably in Araby. President Jimmy Carter issued an executive order preventing the export of weaponry to undemocratic American governments; within a decade all America except Haiti and Cuba was democratic. Why has the order not been extended to the entire world? At one time there might have been arguments for arming non-Communist dictators in a strategy of preventing the expansion of the Kremlin Empire, but that was never a very good policy and the Kremlin Empire is now no more. As far as Araby goes, the obvious answer is that a democratic Arab state is likely – although democracy is unpredictable – to be more anti-Zionist than a despotic Arab state, besides taking from the Zionists the argument that their opponents are all dictatorships. Similar considerations arise for non-Arab states, notably Iran, and Zionism is no doubt one reason the U.S. persists in hostility to Iran.

There may be other reasons for the lack or failure of democracy. I have read the opinion that India has been democratic while Pakistan has stumbled from one despotism to another because in proportion to population Pakistan inherited less than its share of competent high-ranking civil servants from the Indian Empire. I do not wish to discuss such hypotheses, merely to show that the reasons may not have much to do with Islam. After all, China, Belarus, Cuba and Burma are not Muslim countries.

Even in democracy people with big ideas – or ideas which they think big – often descend to violence. In despotism the temptation is greater.

6. Confusion of church and nation is bad for both. Dt 32:28 warns us that when Israel – which is a church, not a nation (Nm 23:9) -, degenerates into a nation it loses its intelligence, as has been demonstrated in Northern Ireland, where both branches of Israel have degenerated into nations. The principle extends to churches outside Israel – and Islam is only just outside.

Muslims have some difficulty in distinguishing church and nation. The official English version of the Iranian Constitution states in Article 11 that all Muslims constitute a single nation. There may be a linguistic problem here, even a translation problem – I imagine that the word translated as “nation” is umma rather than watan -, but Muslims do tend to get more annoyed at wrongs done to fellow-Muslims than Christians do at wrongs done to fellow-Christians. The responses to Zionism and to the Bosnian conflict are here in their different ways instructive.

Church and nation are two modes of identification – a Latin word meaning same-making – of people. If Muslims constitute a church, the Muslim’s attitude to persons of another church should be that, at least in the long run, they should be converted to Islam: there is only one true church. We are more symmetric in our attitude to persons of another nation: we are as foreign to them as they are to us, and, although we secretly think our nation the best, all nations are in principle of equal worth. Unfortunately there are sometimes fights among nations, even tending to genocide, and when we confuse church and nation we bring this kind of fighting more to the fore. When churches as churches fight they have rather different motives from nations fighting each other. We assume that the members of the other church are being deliberately obstinate, and our anger at this obstinacy becomes greater when we confuse nation and church. Humanity and God’s church will go on forever, and so will every person, but all nations will come to an end. We have a calm assurance that the church will not die. The fear that someday our nation will die leads us to insane deeds on behalf of the nation, and of the church if we confuse them. When we confuse nation and church we lose the assurance of the church’s permanence and, panic-stricken, do crazy things to save the nation.

There are other examples of this confusion on a large scale. The descendants of the Khazars have been treated as a nation and have extended their national loyalty to other Rabbinical Jews, so that the Rabbinical Jewish church has degenerated into a nation; this is one of the origins of Zionism. Similarly, the Hindutva policy strives to make Hindu church preference identical with Indian nationality.

7. National and hence ecclesial humiliation have been the lot of Muslims for nearly a century. Through most of the 20th Century most Muslim countries were under some kind of foreign hegemony. Muslim Filipinos, for example, feel themselves to be under Christian Filipino rule. Whereas a Christian may feel sympathy for a Christian group elsewhere under some kind of supposed oppression he does not identify himself with the sufferers, or if he does their Christianity has little to do with the identification. The Muslim does identify himself more with a supposedly suffering Muslim than with other sufferers. Much recent hegemony has been by communities perceived as Christian, so that a Kashmiri rebelling against Hindu stubbornness identifies himself and an Egyptian rebelling against the adoption of Christian social practices.

When Muslim governments try to modernize, they offend conservatives, who are often able to portray the modernization as Christianization. In Lebanon for a long time the Christians were materially better off than their Muslim compatriots; instead of identifying and emulating those Christian practices which made Christians richer – after all, does Fidel Castro consider copying the practices which have made the Puertoricans more prosperous than his own people? -, Lebanese Muslims became resentful. Palestinians, Pakistanis and Indonesians shared that resentment. On a larger scale, nearly all Muslim countries seem to their inhabitants somehow inferior to those of the Christian West, but reject the solution of aping the Christians.

One of the greatest humiliations for a Muslim community has been Zionism. The Palestinians are of course about 20% Christian, which is probably more important for the Zionists than the Muslim majority, but nevertheless a majority-Muslim nation is being wronged. In 1967 Abba Eban proclaimed that the Palestinians opposed Zionism because they were Muslims, not because of Arab nationalism or in objection to dispossession. That was a lie at the time, but the solidarity among Muslims has begun to make it true. And Zionism has, with help from the Christian West, been the most violent external imposition on Dar ul Islam during more half a century. To react to it seems natural, and a large part of the reaction is against Christendom.

8. Homosexualism in Christendom has grown in parallel to the growth of homophobia in Dar ul Islam. I know that there has been in Christendom a big wave of homosexualism – in which I played some small part – starting in the 1960s, but I am ignorant about the rise of homophobia in Dar ul Islam. It appears that sexual self-respect diminished considerably in Europe during World War II: regular Saturday beer and sex became customary in those parts of the British armed forces serving at Home, and the practice continued and expanded after the war; I imagine the same was true elsewhere. Muslims do not admit to similar behavior amongst themselves, and so find something to look down upon in Christendom.

In the 1960s, partly as a result of lessened erotic self-respect generally, sympathy for gays increased. Laws decriminalizing mutual masturbation were urged with the promise that, freed from the risk of prosecution, gays would be more likely to seek treatment for their sexual inversion so that decriminalization would lead to a decline in the behavior complained about. That promise has obviously not been kept, although the majority of cases of sexual inversion were already by that time rectifiable: the gay lifestyle, contrary to the common morality of all the children of Abraham, has become common while its opponents are vilified, accused of homophobia as though the homophobia-homosexualism axis covered all the possible opinions.

It is hardly surprising that Muslims see Christendom as a nauseating cess-pool of fornication, perversion and venereal disease, clearly morally inferior to Dar ul Islam and thus justly meriting God’s punishment at the hands of the faithful. This increases the resentment at Christendom’s material prosperity and the feeling of righteousness in striking the infidel down.

9. The Black Legend of U. S. wickedness parallels the earlier Black Legend of Spanish wickedness. Both result from predominance in the world. Both tend to be believed both outside and inside the hegemonic society. Anything evil the great power does gets exaggerated; anything good gets forgotten or misrepresented.

I once read a letter in The Economist describing seven great evil deeds by the United States. Judging justly, the U.S. was clearly on the right side in five of the cases, the guilty party was doubtful in the sixth, and I could not determine the truth of the seventh. People concocted preposterous – and even contradictory – justifications for North Vietnam’s 1956 attack on South Vietnam, but not until the 1960s, when the U. S. was trying to help the South Vietnamese: the Black Legend of U. S. malice motivated those stories. Many such stories are bandied around, simply because the U. S. is the world’s dominant polity. It is also Christendom’s dominant polity, so all the attacks made on it, whether true or false, are of use to the enemies of Christendom. The Black Legend concentrates hatred on the U. S. in particular and on Christendom in general. Muslims are more conscious of Christendom than most people, and of the centrality of the U. S. to Christendom.

Each of the karmic threads I have identified has its own karmic origins, and consequences besides Al Qa’ida. Al Qa’ida and the associated movements are themselves going to have tremendous consequences for us all.

It is noticeable that Zionism enters the karmic background of Al Qa’ida in two ways: firstly it has similar karma behind it; secondly it enters into several of the elements I have identified. We might follow Hegel and think of Zionism as the thesis, Al Qa’ida the antithesis and… ¿what? as the synthesis.

© 2003, John A. Wills

Catholics Voting for Abortion

Catholics tend to be left-wing. Left-wingers tend to be pro-abortion. Therefore Catholic constituencies frequently elect pro-abortion politicians.

Now, this is not true in, say, Germany, where both great parties are, in Anglo-Saxon terms, left-wing. But it does seem to be true in both the United States and the United Kingdom. I am pretty certain the pattern can be seen elsewhere too. There is a problem here, and resolving it may by generalization resolve and describe higher-level things. I suspect, for instance, that it may help explain the Italian situation regarding abortion, although one might suppose Italy to be here similar to Germany.

The reason my premise seems paradoxical is that the Catholic Church not only officially but also in the minds of most of the flock condemns abortion: Catholic talk of “dignity” refers to the whole gamut of human rights, of which that to life is the first and most fundamental. What we have is people voting the opposite way from what they explicitly believe and what, I am sure, they have for the most part internalized.

As a first step I resolve the problem into 3 questions:

1. Why are Catholics left-wing?

2. Why are left-wingers pro-abortion?

3. Why do people who believe in human rights vote for left-wing candidates even when those candidates oppose human rights, the defense of which should be to the Catholic prior to any left-right question?

Catholics are left-wing because many of the things called left-wing are desirable from a consistent Christian perspective. A slew of papal and episcopal letters have pointed this out. In addition, many Catholic Anglos are of Celtic descent and so have been low down the social hierarchy, another factor which makes for left-wingery; the Chicanos in California today in this sense resemble the Irish of Massachusetts a century ago.

When I wonder why left-wingers like abortion, I am not wondering about specifically pro-abortion forces or secular inhumanism generally: I am wondering about those who have abortion on a palette of favorite things, most of which are more understandable from a left-wing stance. Contrary to my original intention, answering this question has become the bulk of this essay.

All political movements run a danger of dishonesty, even if only to sidestep explaining difficult ideas. The pro-abortion movement has produced the most contemptibly dishonest arguments of any political trend I have come across. I have in fact only once come across a pro-abortion argument both honest and informed, and that was Libertarian, not left-wing. I see no point in searching dishonest arguments for clues.

Left-wingers are pro-abortion because left-wingers like to be anti-establishment and the establishment until a few decades ago forbade abortion. This is not an adequate answer. Also, pro-abortion propaganda claims sympathy for the unwilling mother and abortion is touted as a relief for her; the unreflective left-winger goes along. Neither is this answer adequate: it should work just as well for right-wingers, and left-wingers are certainly much more pro-abortion than right-wingers(except when the right-wingers are thinking of socially poisonous races).

The real answer goes deeper. Consider the Irish potato famine. Potato blight increased over several years until the potato crop was worthless. There was hunger in the land. The hungry people had not produced any material values which they could exchange for food produced by others. Other people on the island of Ireland, not relying on a single crop, had indeed produced food enough that there was actually “export” of some kinds of food from Ireland. The food could be sold in Great Britain for prices far higher than people in Ireland could afford to pay. So it went east, out of reach of the hungry.

So great is our horror at people (especially of more or less our own race) going hungry in large numbers that we are inclined to say that Her Majesty’s Government should have done something about the situation. My mother used to say that HMG, noticing the annual decline in the value of the potato crop, should have organized the introduction of new varieties and new crops. To this the libertarian would reply that every farmer should have chosen to plant a different crop, as some in fact did, resulting in the possibility of surplus food from some farms. Even if HMG had advised the farmers about alternative crops and farming methods they might have ignored governmental advice – as has happened in recent years in Mexican Chiapas, where peasants insist on continuing unproductive methods, then revolt because they remain poor. It is also said that HMG should have bought vast quantities of food and distributed it to the unfortunate farmers and their frustrated customers. Most of all, however, critics of HMG say it should have forbidden the “export” of food from the island of Ireland. This would have got prices down to a level at which a significant proportion of the hungry people could have afforded at least some food. This kind of argument is common among left-wingers, even among Christian-influenced right-wingers. Many liberals will agree with this socialist argument.

What the socialists and their liberal fellow-travelers forget is that the farmers who had produced the exported food were its owners until they sold it. They had chosen to farm better than their neighbours, and so had a surplus. They were entitled, one might think, to all the benefits resulting from their choice. To prevent them selling their produce where they wanted would be stealing. Even to compulsorily purchase it would be stealing unless the price paid were equal to what could be obtained by “export”-ing it.

Left-wingers sneer at this kind of argument. They seem to themselves and even to many right-wingers to hold the moral high ground because starvation is abhorrent, and because they seem to be advocating charity – a kind of charity they might call justice, ignoring the injustice done to the good farmers, from whom this charity would have been exacted. In recent decades it was for such reasons illegal to export more than a certain quantity of beef from Guatemala, because beef was so expensive in the importing country that it was worth while dedicating land to pasture rather than to corn to sell at a price people could afford to pay. The call for trade restrictions looks like a call for social justice.

The left-wingers may be right: perhaps food exports from hungry areas should be limited. But they are impatient of the intellectual effort required to justify what looks very like stealing. They then go further and ignore private-property rights. George Orwell, for instance, bemoaned the re-fencing of people’s lawns in London after World War II. He said that if it was theft to compel the owners to maintain what would in effect be small public parks, he was in favour of theft . And how had these owners acquired ownership anyway? he wanted to know. Again we see impatience of intellectual effort to justify what seems socially beneficial.

One area where public benefit requires private loss is public projects, such as roads and ports. In deciding whether a proposed project should be carried out, governments typically list all the losses anyone would suffer by the project and all the gains people would realize. If the gains are clearly greater, then the project should go ahead, with such confiscation of private property and loss of private amenity as is needed. Obviously, those who lose property or amenity should be compensated for their losses. The great left-wing economist Kaldor (who gave bad advice to the governments first of Ghana then of the UK) said no, it was not necessary to compensate those who lost by the public project. He went the whole way, approving stealing for the alleged common good. And many people would agree with him, especially if those losing were some kind of outcaste (the Afro-Irish villagers displaced with low compensation to construct Central Park in New York, the allegedly idle rich almost anywhere, the “boss class” hated by the Socialist Workers Party).

One of the functions of government is to construct great common works. All functions of government should fulfil government’s sole purpose, namely the securing of such human rights as those to life, to liberty and to property. But Kaldor says that the functions of government can legitimately involve the violation of human rights. He would be impatient – or at least many of those agreeing with him are impatient – of arguments showing the basic fallacy of this thesis. They choose what seems somehow right and then ignore what makes it wrong.

For a number of minor reasons, often classed as social, left-wingers see something attractive in abortion. With the impatience gained in scorning the right to property they scorn the right to life, even lying about important facts and constructing – or at least regurgitating – the contemptibly dishonest arguments I mentioned earlier, so distracting themselves from their refusal to think. The fashion has taken hold, and there is little that can overcome it.

As for the third question, people do not vote on issues in any hierarchy but on a congeries of issues without any systematic weighting. Having once decided to be left-wing (or right-wing, for that matter), the voter thinks of a candidate’s stand on abortion as one among many issues. Disagreeing with the candidate on several issues, the voter may still choose him for his general tendency. Voters thus give the same weight to methods of securing human rights (which is the purpose of the state) as they do to the question of whether to secure a fundamental right at all. To see the raison d’être for the pursuit of power lost in the pursuit of that power renders the whole thing meaningless, but somehow people get lost in the plethora of arguments about a plethora of secondary, tertiary and n-ary issues. In internal discussions of a party, there is a tendency to mock moral arguments against party doctrine, and even those comparatively clear in mind about why power is being pursued often cannot express themselves and feel ashamed about being the exception on “single issues”, unable to explain, even to themselves, that abortion is so basic, so important that unless we get this right we will not get anything else right .

What, then, is to be done? Firstly, I must be honest on this matter and in all political questions, clearly distinguishing means and ends. I must not make health-care provision, for example, an end which justifies state-funded abortion, just as I must not make tidy streets an end which justifies euthanasia of the homeless. I must in political discourse, whether internal or external, always remember that the purpose of government is to secure such God-given rights as those to life, to liberty and to property. It is better that the state do nothing at all than that it violate these. All my wonderful plans for a better world must be discarded if they imply wrong-doing by me or by the state, my servant.

One thing that has led people astray in reading (often indirectly) papal social encyclicals is that when the earliest of them were written it was generally agreed and understood that personal human rights were inalienable, however often violated. The popes therefore saw no need to reiterate the primacy of personal rights when developing their theories of collective rights. Furthermore, the earlier social encyclicals, at least, preferred the collective rights to be secured less by the state than by other societies, so that the state’s special duty of securing human rights, and in particular personal rights, fell by the wayside. It was even thought that personal rights were so well understood that securing them need not be mentioned among the state’s functions. This was a serious error. All future ecclesiastical pronouncements on collective and social rights should clearly make them subsidiary to personal rights. Among ecclesiastical pronouncements I include guidance from the pulpit at election time. And when politicians are interviewed by clerics, personal human rights should be emphasized even to the extent, where necessary, of forgetting the favourite social projects of the clerics.

In ordinary preaching the clergy should from time to time explain the meaning not so much of the 5th as of the 7th Commandment: Thou shalt not steal. I did not create Bill Gates’ wealth (he got it by making other people’s work more valuable), for example, and it is not my business, apart from taxation, to tell him how to spend it. Similarly, the “windfall” taxes in Britain not long ago were effectively stealing, because they were directed at people who were already paying taxes on the same scale as other enterprise owners, employees and customers. Did one sermon in the realm point this out? If envy (not ambition) and stealing are suitably rebuked, Catholics will develop the reflexes required to protect them also against pro-abortion propaganda disguised as left-wingery.

More generally, to change left-wingers in this regard we must understand how they became pro-abortion, concentrate their attention on the basic human rights, and have them work out in detail why coercion to certain charity-like actions is in truth justified. Then they will see that they cannot apply the same arguments to abortion: we restrict the rights to liberty and property to secure the right to life, and the reverse motivation is insane.

In all political discourse human rights should be prominent. Discussion of them should be prior to left/right, devolution/subsidiarity, democracy/aristocracy, even anarchy/government questions, and when that becomes customary those other questions will doubtless become more tractable. There may be partisanship about methods of implementing, but the principle of securing human rights, firstly by ourselves (including the state) avoiding violations and secondly by punishing egregious violations, should never be subject to partisan politics.

More generally still, in all our discussions about means we should remember our ends. Unless we know roughly what we have in the pantry our trip to the supermarket is pointless. We should not use a scouring pad to polish the car. And in all our votes we should remember the purpose of the state.

John A. Wills 1999.01.01

Pro-Palestine Movements and Consequences

The recent pro-Palestinian marches in various U.S. cities were reminiscent of the 1960s movement against U.S. aid for South Vietnam. The U.S. is the main provider of money and weaponry to the Israeli state, and one can easily imagine the pro-Palestinian movement growing until that aid stops and Zionism comes to an end. The parallel with the Vietnam demonstrations is not entirely accurate, of course: North Vietnam’s cause was not just. It is a great pity that the demonstrators of the 1960s chose to support a tyranny in the conquest of a democracy rather than an oppressed and exiled people trying to get home. Communism and Zionism are both works of the Devil, who, I suppose, used support for one to avert opposition to the other. But now the pseudoliberals of the U.S. are taking the morally right side. Europeans are now predominantly pro-Palestinian, but U.S.Americans, who have the financial and armament power to end Zionism, have somewhat less competent news media and also tend to identify the Israelis with the Biblical Israelites, who in the Bible have the assumption of being on the right side.
This linguistic confusion is addressed in a chapter of my book Albatross ISBN 0-595-19418-4. The great irony here is that those making this linguistic error are predominantly Christian, and , as I point out in another chapter of Albatross, a prime motive for Zionism is to punish the Palestinians, national descendants of the Biblical Israelites, the first Jewish nation, for following the false Messiah Jesus of Nazareth. Also, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has wielded tremendous clout from 1957 on, and there was no equivalent lobby for South Vietnam.
These problems will be overcome, as far juster arguments were overcome when the pseudoliberals opposed democracy in South Vietnam; after all, the pseudoliberals will not have to lie this time. In a decade or two, unless better solutions are found, the Zionists will be violently defeated. North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam to replace liberalism and democracy with Communism and despotism; also, perhaps, to pay off some scores from the quarrel between Bao Dai’s people and the Viet Minh and from the later quarrel which split the Viet Minh. It was natural that victory led to horror and poverty. It is not natural that Palestinian vindication lead to horror or poverty, but it is very likely: the Zionists have taught the Palestinians to hate Jews, something new in their history; on the other hand, the Zionists have always hated Palestinians, and have nukes to wreak that hate in their last days of power: the victory is likely to be violent and pyrrhic, leading to bad karma on all sides, with consequences for another century or so. Furthermore, since the June War there has, initially at Zionist prompting, been a tendency to identify Palestinian patriotism and Islamic Fundamentalism, so it is possible that a “liberated” Palestine would be some kind of despotism. Iran has shown that an Islamic state can be a democracy, but the other omens are not good; furthermore, it would be preferable that the democracy be more or less secular, and not only because of the Christians and Rabbinical Jews in the country. There can be no doubt that Christian support of Zionism has been one of the components in the rise of Islamic Theocratic movements. There is a real danger that Palestinian victory may act like a tonic on these dangerous movements, hindering democracy worldwide, and even leading to interstate wars and further atrocities like September 11. We certainly do not want the Holy Land ruled by some Taliban-like group, with resurgent Zionists from abroad attacking them and thus strengthening both ideologies for decades on end.
What then is to be done to end the succession of bad karma? How can we help the Palestinians emerge from Hell with empty hands? As often in politics, the answer is to concentrate on commutative justice. The U.S., as chief beweaponer of the Zionists, is in a position to insist on progress here. If the U.S. were to demand that the Israeli state cede its sovereignty to the PLO the state would refuse and try to carry on without U.S. weaponry and money, nuking Jerusalem rather than lose it, but if the demands were such as to keep the Israeli state itself working, without sudden changes, there is a good chance that the Israeli leaders would acquiesce, with the result of a comparatively peaceful transition without loss of whatever good Zionism has done(Museum of the Diaspora, Yad vaShem Archive, kibbutz idea).

313,000 people own homes and farms and orchards in the 1948 territories, property stolen from them or their parents in the Nakba – and on some later occasions. There are also many people who have been robbed of their property in the 1967 territories. I am not talking here about sovereignty, but about personal property rights, protected by the Seventh Commandment. The Israeli Custodian of Absentee Property is in charge of these properties, although in fact some of the dispossessed live in the 1948 territories and so are not absent, being recognized as Israeli citizens. He delegates his authority to the Jewish National Fund Qeren Qayemeth leIsrael, which rents the property out to immigrants. The Israeli state has an absolute moral obligation to arrange the return of these properties to their owners, with the payment(by the JNF, which has had the profit) of back rent with interest for the time of dispossession. Each returning owner should be given a note from the JNF(or, in some cases, the state) for the back rent with interest, at least the accruing interest to be paid each month, with no reduction in payment until the last payment. Those whose property is in the 1948 territories must also, of course, be given Israeli citizenship without naturalization oaths, because they should never have been expelled from their property or country.
The U.S., as chief beweaponer of the Israeli state, should credibly threaten the withdrawal of all aid and arms sales unless the enabling act is before Knesseth Israel within a month, it gets signed by the President within another month, the Custodian of Absentee Property issues claim(not petition) forms within another month, the first family has returned to its property within another month and within 6 months the speed of restitution is such that one can reasonably expect all the owners to be home within 5 years. This demand should be independent of any irrelevant matter, such as behavior of the Palestinian Authority or other Arab polities.
The property owners, together with their immediate families, make up more than a tenth of the refugees; also most of the settlements in the 1967 territories would be dismantled. This act of simple commutative justice will therefore at once lessen the refugee problem, Palestinian anger at Zionism, the bigoted “Jewish character” of the Israeli state, and the hatred for the Palestinians which the Israelis nourish in themselves by this robbery. Once the Israelis do what they know is right in this matter, some of them will recognize that the Zionist project is mostly immoral and unJewish.
Disputes as to ownership in the 1948 territories should be resolved primarily in Israeli courts. To ensure justice, there should be the possibility of appeal to a bench of the International Court of Arbitration whose members would be appointed half by the Israeli government, half by the PLO or the Palestinian Authority, and the chairman by those appointees or by the president of the International Court of Justice. Further benches of the ICA can be erected later to deal with other problems.

There arises the problem of those currently living in or working on the stolen property. We might think them unentitled to much sympathy, because they have known all along that they are on stolen property, so they have no claim against the owners, the JNF, the Israeli state, or, indeed, anyone. But that matter of justice will not prevent bitterness. Various solutions are possible. Firstly, some of the property consists of blocks of flats and the like, and the Israelis have a Tenant Protection Law, so no-one will be immediately displaced by the restitution. Similarly, owners may choose not to re-occupy their property at once but rather to live somewhere else in the 1948 territories, renting the property out to the current tenants, perhaps until the termination of the current lease from the JNF(usually for 49 years), perhaps for some other period; this is something on which the owner must decide; some such owners may even choose to ask the JNF to administer the tenancies for a while. Other tenants may have family they can live with, either in Eretz Israel or abroad; many, I imagine, would choose to return to their ancestral countries(Arab states already have the administrative machinery in place for the return of their nationals, with restitution of abandoned property and citizenship; but most Arab states are rather unattractive places to live in) or to third countries. A few may move to wherever the owners were living just prior to the restitution; some tenants in Ein Hawd may move up-hill to Ein Hawd al Jadidah – and so understand at first hand what Zionism has meant to the Palestinians.
Another problem arises from the destruction of property carried out by the Zionists not only in 1948 but also later. What is to be done with the property rights in Emmaeus, which the Israelis dynamited and bulldozed after the June War to make Canada Park? What about the Arafat family home, destroyed not out of Zionist spite but for the more or less legitimate purpose of expanding the worship area in front of the Wailing Wall? Some of these difficulties can be resolved with either state or JNF funding of reconstruction, but that will not always be practicable. Still, these are a minority of the cases.

Once having shown that it means business about peace, the U.S. can one by one make other demands. One is similar to the rights of owners: for some kinds of tenancy from the state, e.g. miri, there was in Ottoman and Mandate times a right of the tenant to continue the tenancy, and those with such rights can at some time be treated like the property owners, although the back rent owed would have to be calculated differently, and would obviously be lower. And there are other angles to work from.
As I write the Israelis are demanding the extradition of the killers of a genocidal maniac hight Zeevi, who was murdered in revenge for the murder of a violent resistance activist hight Zibri. There are many such claims being made by the Israelis, and the Palestinians might make many more. If there are to be two states, as there more or less are at present, there should be an attempt at symmetry. Each state should be able to make extradition petitions in the court of the other, with external appeal to a second bench of the International Court of Arbitration. A third bench should be available to ensure that trials have been conducted in accord with relevant law. This would make many people feel uncomfortable, but it is so obviously the right thing to do that most will be ashamed to object to it; at least, I hope they will. It is conceivable that other kinds of dispute will also be resolvable in this general kind of way.
It is probably not worth while to have the parties go to the International Court of Justice to determine their proper boundaries, because there has been so much change since 1948 as to make it most convenient to have borders decided in some other manner. It is conceivable that the Partition of Palestine was contrary to the United Nations Charter(the U.S. wanted the ICJ to decide that, but the U.K successfully begged the U.S. not to suggest it in open forum), and I know that the Mandate of Palestine was contrary to the League of Nations Covenant, but it might be taking states’ rights, a legal fiction, beyond their legitimate function, the securing of human rights, to try to adjudicate these matters now.

The Holy Land question set includes many problems about religion. The oddity is that a solution to an important part of these problems has been known since 1929. In that year the Holy See, central administration of the Catholic Church, was given a microstate, smaller than many city parks, with juridical sovereignty, thus fulfilling the needs formerly fulfilled by the larger Papal States and allowing the Italian territorial state to develop without ecclesiastical domination. This means that the Pope can condemn politicians without being thought to have his own political motives for doing so. It is surprising that the same solution has not been applied to other churches. One reason is, of course, that not all churches have equivalents of the Holy See, but that can be remedied.
The World Jewish Congress should develop a method of choosing a Chief Rabbinate of All Israel, separate and distinct from the Chief Rabbinate of Eretz Israel, and the Israeli state and the Palestinian Authority should in parallel cede a small piece of land up against the Wailing Wall as Zion City State. Historically the Mount of Olives would be a better location, but modern Rabbinical Jews have forgotten that. Just as the Holy See has some say in holy places outside the Vatican, the Chief Rabbinate might have some rights outside its state, notably the Tomb of Abraham. Many people support Zionism who really want something like the Holy See, as I mention in Albatross, though they may not realize that that is what they want.
The World Muslim Federation, which is separate and distinct from the Organization of the Islamic Conference, should develop a method for electing a Supreme Mufti of the Faithful. He would probably not be accepted by Shias, but the Pope is not accepted by Protestants. The Supreme Mufti should be given a trilocal state including the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the Tomb of Muhammad in Medinah and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The last would very much annoy some people, but Rabbinical Jews could have rebuilt their temple in the second century of the Common Era(they had imperial permission) but did not even move the Patriarchate to Jerusalem, instead keeping it at first in Jamnia and then in various places in already Christian Galilee, so I think they have abandoned their rights; as indeed have the Christians, who, during the Christian period of the Roman Empire, did talk about erecting a basilica there but never actually did anything. The Supreme Muftiyyah too might have interests in the Tomb of Abraham, as well as in the Tomb of Moses.
The Christian leaders in Jerusalem are quarreling a lot less than formerly, having even taken the keys of the Holy Sepulchre back from the Moslem families who had been holding them for centuries. They should be able to work out some kind of deal for a Holy Sepulchre City State, with recognized interests in the Church of the Nativity, the Church of the Annunciation, and so forth.
For symmetry, any movement for these states would include motions for a Sikh Golden Temple City State and a Buddhist Potala City State.
The three microstates in Jerusalem should over a period of years cool down much of the religion-related anger about the holy city, although obviously a lot of people would be dissatisfied. The Supreme Mufti and his microstates would probably weaken the movements for Islamic theocracy, not because the Supreme Mufti would say anything in particular about it but because the daily working of the Muftiyyah would distinguish church and state in people’s minds.
Somehow, in conjunction with these matters, perhaps, the Chief Rabbinate of Eretz Israel, now appointed by the Israeli state, should become more independent, perhaps following the pattern of the Chief Rabbinate of the British Commonwealth, which too was once state-appointed. Similarly, it is probably a good idea for the Chief Mufti of Jerusalem to be elected by someone other than the Palestinian Authority. For that matter, there should be no more state interference in the appointment of Christian prelates.

There would be a lot more to do to bring peace to the Holy Land. The U.S. can induce this slowly. At present villages formed by people classified as Jews promptly get utilities installed. Other Israeli citizens often have to wait decades; think of Ein Hawd al Jadidah. The U.S. can probably stop this, if the gradually reforming Israeli citizenry does not itself do so. Similarly, public housing, even when administered by the JNF, should be available to citizens regardless of religion. This would go a long way towards transforming Israeli society.

Eventually the Israeli state and the PLO should be merged; not federated. I have ideas of how this might be carried out in stages, but will not go into them here. One can imagine a peaceful, democratic prosperous Palestine as the nucleus of a peaceful, democratic, prosperous Araby, itself the nucleus of a peaceful, democratic, prosperous world. That is not the way I choose to direct my political activity, but I pray God’s blessing on those who do. I do not believe that their next steps can reasonably be very different from what I have described above.
© 2002, John A. Wills