Religion, Politics, and the Peace talk in the Middle East
September 7, 2000
Recently, there was a gathering of the soi-disant world religious leaders at UN for the “Millennium World Peace Summit”, that was ironically invented and sponsored by Ted Turner, a high priest of capitalism.
Mr. Turner, an epitome of mammon, has entertained, as an honorary chairman, the enlightened assembly evoking much laughter by criticizing the Christian claim of the monopoly of heaven, and many attendant religious and spiritual leaders from all faiths echoed in unisonous hymn of love, tolerance, forgiveness and reconciliation.
However, no mass media in the United States took serious look at their commitment to global peace, condemnation against all forms of violence, and proclamation of the equality of all religions, since there were neither Pope, nor Taliban leader, Ayatollah, Dalai Lama, and Grand Mufti, but a band of small fries of various religious group.
Pope was busy to beatify his predecessors in preparation of nominating them as saint, and one of them, Pius IX who reigned the Pontificate from 1846 to 1878 was infamous in abducting a Jewish boy from his parent and later made him a Catholic priest. Edgardo Mortara, a kidnapped Jewish boy, was forced by Pius IX to lick the floor with his tongue drawing a cross in public to affirm his faith as Christian.
Pope Pius IX during his 32-year reign has called the first Vatican Council to define the doctrine of papal infallibility in matters of faith and morals, and he branded Jews as “dogs” because they kvetch all days and every day.
In the meantime, in the United States, a Mecca of democracy and land of freedom, Democratic vice-presidential candidate, Joseph Lieberman, an orthodox Jew, rhapsodized that “ Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion, and there must be and can be a constitutional place for faith in our public life.”
This self-styled guardian of morality and faith defiantly insisted that he would continue to preach from campaign stump, calling his invocation of God and religion “the American Way.”
It is the Connecticut Senator’s most explicit attack on the Constitutional principles of freedom of thought and the separation of church and religion.
There appears to be two-pronged electoral tactics in Lieberman’s interpretation of the First Amendment prohibition of state support for religion.
First, by sermonizing the Republican right that stress the role of religion in establishing a unifying ethics among American people, Democrats attempt to neutralize their opponent’s tactics to exploit the Lewinsky peccadillo.
Secondly, Democrats desperately require garnering the Jewish support, especially from Orthodox Jewish section of the electorates, who have been gang-voting according to the instruction of their rabbis and leaders.
American Jews, though only three percent of the total electorates, have concentrated in the electoral regions crucial in winning the presidential election like New York, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, Florida, and California. And they are singularly notorious to turn out en masse to support their friend, unlike other fragmented and illiterate ethnic group like black, Hispanic and Asians.
However, the reality, that the conceptual foundation for all democratic rights to free thought and expression is compromised if secularist basis of the state is removed, has been abundantly manifested in the state of Israel, where its non-Jewish citizens or Jewish citizens who oppose the principles of the Jewish state are not entitled to enjoy the benefit of being Israeli citizen…that is, Israel is not a state of its citizens but of Jewish people, who believe in Judaism, whether it is reform, Haredic, or orthodox where Mr. Lieberman calls it home.
Imagine that an American, born, raised, and worked in the land, is not entitled to have property, liberty, freedom of thought, and potentially subject to legal sanction or discrimination on account of his belief. There can be no freedom of religion without the right to be free from religion.
Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, two of the most important framers of the Bill of Rights, insisted as deist that new republic be founded on a secularist legal code despite the prevalence of religious backwardness among people at the time.
When Americans have elected John F Kennedy, the first Catholic to be their president 40 years ago, he insisted that his religious beliefs were nobody’s business but his own, and if elected, they would play no role in the formulation of government business.
As for the Republican candidates, George W Bush and Dick Cheney, they are a cabal of “compassionate conservative millionaires” who feel your pain while causing more of it, and they publicly support to impose prayer in the public school.
Imagine again that a child of a secular family or of other religious faith stands in awkward position in his classroom while other kids loudly pray in unison in their Christian faith. I wonder how Mr. Lieberman reacts if his kid with yarmulke were tormented by other Christian classmates, and perhaps he would dream that the United States of America becomes a “Jewish States of America.”
When child is young, for good Darwinian reasons, it would be valuable if child believed everything it is told. A child needs to learn a language, it needs to learn the social customs of its people, and It needs to learn all sorts of rules for good survival reasons.
But any rule that “believe everything you are told” is automatically going to be vulnerable to parasitization and consequently the minds of young are stunted and filled with fanatical hostility to those who have either other belief engine or object to all fanaticism.
It boils down to the question whether religions do rather harm than salvage the people from misery, ignorance, and violence.
To find an answer, let us travel to the Middle East region…
First of all, many people, whether Christians, Muslims, Buddhists or atheists, possess an “encyclopedic ignorance” about the Jewish fundamentalism (Orthodox Judaism) due to the virtual Jewish control over the mass media around the world, and it is a taboo subject especially in the United States to raise the issues of middle east peace talk with respect to the open and hidden influence of the Jewish fundamentalism. If there is anyone who’s brave enough to have cavalier attitude against it, then the New York Times would make sure that he would never be heard from again.
Therefore, it has become a received conventional wisdom in the world that the Oslo Accord and ensuing many talks that have been arranged and mediated by the U S government would finalize the conflicts in the region and bring forth a peaceful solution in near future.
On the contrary, to understand the situation in the Middle East and the prospects for peace, one must come to grips with how strong and effective the political influence and importance the religions in general and Jewish fundamentalism in particular have on the whole agendas on the negotiating table.
The basic principles of Jewish fundamentalism are the same as in the case of Christianity or Islam: restoration and survival of pure and pious religious community where there were rabbis, mullahs, and saints call the shot.
All sorts of religious fundamentalism are hostile to democracy, because it contains a form of totalitarian and messianic strains in its basic structure and denies equality for all citizens.
As for the Israeli orthodox Judaism, it influences especially the principles of state policies decisively and Jewish fundamentalists absolutely sanction the ideology that Jews are morally superior to all other nation and condemn almost everything “not Jewish” mostly because it is non-Jewish. They closely adhere to the archaic form of Jewish tribalism that confirms the cosmic difference between Jews and non-Jews.
There exists a ridiculous case no one could believes is that Israeli educational authorities removed the plus sign (+) from the elementary textbook of arithmetic used in the first grade of Israeli school, because the plus sign which is cross could religiously corrupt little Jewish children and substituted it with a capital “T” that was made several years after Israel became a state.
One of the thorny issues in the peace talk has been the Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories, and most of the settlements were created with Gush Emunim movement that aims to establish a homogeneous models of new society where they live in the collective Jewish identity and values established through Halacha and Cabbala.
There was total negligence about the settlement issues in English language coverage in the West that Gush Emunim’s urge to settle in the mountains of Judea and valleys of Samaria has been theoretically motivated and is a manifestation of Jewish fundamentalism.
Any political leader who dares to go for land-for-peace settlement was termed as Jewish traitor by the Jewish fundamentalists, as Yasir Arafat would write his own obituary if he ever gives up East Jerusalem in return for Palestinian right to statehood. Ehud Barak, Israeli Prime Minister would never be stupid enough to be oblivious about the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin years ago by one of the fundamental zealots who believe that Oslo accord is a culmination of spiritual apostasy.
There is a deeply flawed understanding about why Israeli constantly refuse to admit that Israel had anything to do with the Palestinians becoming refugees. Contrary to the popular notion that Israeli do not want to assume the financial responsibility to compensate the Palestinian refugees of five millions, the Jewish fundamentalists do not recognize theologically and ideologically the historical reality that Palestine is now the homeland of two separated communities where Jews and non-Jews have equal rights to the lands they jointly inhabit.
Most of religious Jews view that no land of Israel should be given to non-Jews in accordance with the beginning of Jewish Redemption, and any concessions to non-Jews in the state of Israel has to be based solely upon the consideration of whether denial could prove harmful for Jews.
Their views on territories have been clearly reflected a great part of the actual foreign policy of the state of Israel in both Labor and Likud Party. (Two parties have been almost identical twins on territorial issues and totally swayed by the ideological hegemony of the Jewish fundamentalists like the National Religion Party (NRP) and Gush Emunim).
Despite of its otherworldliness, religion has been highly pragmatic and people have continued to adopt a particular conception of the divine because it worked for them, not because it was scientifically or philosophically sound.
Many people salivate how Mr. Lieberman’s religion, orthodox Judaism, a.k.a. Jewish fundamentalism, plays a role in American political arena, where there has been strong revival of fundamental Christianity in the national horizon, because he said he would live up to his religion. He can’t eat, fly, drive, vote, fuck or virtually do anything on Sabbath day. He even can’t ride a bike for an exercise, let alone to try to save goyim’s life on Sabbath day. The exception on Sabbath day is he can do something to save Jew’s life because Jewish life is worth saving.
Well, a lot of politicians admire him as a smart and pragmatic guy who knows the ropes and compromises accordingly, as other Jewish fundamentalists in Israel make concession only because the Jews fear the non-Jewish retaliation harming the sacred Jews.
Politicians and religious leaders around the world jump on the religious bandwagon whenever it fits for exploiting their political aims…George W Bush, who has been presiding over 143 executions, got burned when he went to address at the Christian fundamentalist Bob Jones University in South Carolina and made a U-turn to apologize when the Catholics raised Cain.
Christian communities in America want to display the framed Ten Commandment on the wall of every classroom whenever juvenile killers rampage and massacre their classmates, as if there is close relationship between religion and morality. The desires to do good and not to harm others are not predicated solely on a belief in Jesus or adherence to a religion.
Conversely, many perpetrators and criminals would consider themselves to be god-fearing as crooked politicians raise the bible whenever it helps to consort with his purposes.
Religion has always been the great divider of people in the world. People kill each other based on the belief that was formulated and manufactured in a time when they believed the earth was flat.
The Roman Catholic Church was especially notorious in persecuting many philosophers and scholars for the crime of heresy…for example, Giodano Bruno, Italian philosopher and scientist in 17 century, was burnt alive at the stake with his tongue tied so that he would be unable to address those gathered to witness his execution.
It is intriguing phenomenon in this post-Enlightenment age to find why religion has such a powerful hold in human life and flourished with no end in sight, even though religion is directly responsible for more death, war, murder, destruction and misery through the ages than any other human activities.