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Another slaughter of men, women and children in the land of the Bible.
Probably some or many have heard the voice of God demanding it.
At first glance this article will seem to be an impropriety, a critical discussion of someone else's religion. But the Old Testament of the Bible is part of the Christian Bible and your author was raised as a Catholic. And personally, the Old Testament story of God asking after Cain's brother, taught to me by nuns prior to my first holy communion at age seven, made a lasting and life affecting permanent impression. I always imagine Him asking me about my Korean, Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian, Congolese, Latin American, Iraqi, Syrian, Libyan, Afghani, Somaili, Yemeni brothers, for whom I, as an American, have responsibility for their having been murdered.
For some seemingly inexplicable and illogical reason, the far more ancient Bible of the Jews, with its running examples of an eye-for-an-eye tooth-for-a-tooth in obvious and direct contradiction to the teaching of Jesus, which prohibits even raising one's hand in anger against another person, is worshiped as much or more than the New Testament of Jesus' revolutionary teachings. I recently scanned on line a whole season of Sunday sermons at New York's prestigious interdenominational Christian Riverside Church, and found the name of Jesus unmentioned in sermon after sermon on teachings from the Old Testament or Jewish Bible.
So here goes your long serious student of the teaching of Siddhartha Gautama (called the 'Buddha' or enlightened one), but still a follower of Jesus, wondering out loud about how the genocidal orders of God written in the Old Testament factor out in our astounding age of exploration of the nearby reaches of the universe.
Halfway thru the last millennium yours truly, as a novice musician, enjoyed jamming or so to say improvising, on the famous African American spiritual, Joshua Fit' the Battle of Jericho. 'One two three four"
Joshua Fit' the Battle of Jer ree koh, Jer ree koh, Jer ree koh (tah daaah dat ),
Joshua Fit' the Battle of Jer ree koh, and the walls came a tumblen' down' ...
At the age of seventeen, your author had not yet read the Bible in its original words. I just knew stories from the Bible in illustrated large type children's books, and had heard this swinging tune sung in church by gospel and children's choirs.
Eventually, while still a teenager, I did come to read in the Bible's Book of Joshua that Joshua obeyed God's command that no living thing be left alive once Jericho was conquered by God's help and will. I remember thinking, 'Wow this is heavy!' But I just let it go, though it was a jolt to know that such an incomprehensible and mass murderous attribution to God's will is stated in the Bible. Two billion of us are taught to believe, or at least say we believe, the Bible is the 'word of God' - something like a rule book to live by.
Fast forward to the time of university study of world literature, philosophy and the English language, which of course contains many words that are defined by a knowledge of the Bible. A student is to learn and master what is part of his curriculum. I just let go of any annoying questions about sentences in the Bible, which be contradictory to morality, common sense, logic and common law. I thought, with no disrespect to anyone who worshiped the Bible, first written by scribes of a desert people at a time when the earth was thought to be flat, that it should not be taken as anything more than the written tradition and history of one specific Middle Eastern people - who heard the voice of God, Who, since then has apparently held His silence. I mean this is the space age. Today, we know our planet Earth, with its homo sapiens species, is most likely only one planet among millions with intelligent life forms.
So I began to wonder about those worshipers and children shaking tambourines and singing "Joshua 'Fit the Battle of Jericho!" It is hard to imagine those singing so joyously "and the wall(s) come a' tumblen' down," know what happened after the wall was down (shudder), as described in chapter six of the Book of Joshua 6:20-21
" ... and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city,
every man straight before him, and they took the city.
6:21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword."
The Book of Joshua continues with:
"11:11. They struck every person who was in it with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them; there was no one left who breathed... 12 Joshua captured all the cities of these kings, and all their kings, and he struck them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed them; just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded. 14 ... They left no one who breathed. 15 Just as the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did;" [from the New Standard American Bible]
Whew! but wait, this is only one of many quotes from the Old Testament or Jewish Bible that call for the slaying of 'everything that breathes,' that I would come across later, without any intention at all to look for them.
The fourth book of the Torah or Bible, Deuteronomy 20:16--18 reads: "Only in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes. But you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the Lord your God has commanded you ""15 "And Moses said to them, 17 "Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately. 18 "But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves."
The First Book of Samuel reads:
"Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys." 3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."
I would like describe the personal circumstances within which I, starting at age eighty, came to discover these last quotes and began to ask about them.
I was in hospital waiting to have a stress test, and in the waiting room lay a Bible. To kill time, I picked it up and opened it arbitrarily about in the middle. I had opened it to the Books of Samuel. Now as the story of Saul continues past the above quote, it turns out that Saul did not kill some valuable animals as instructed by the prophet Samuel as being God's will and command. The prophet Samuel denounces Saul as disobedient. Saul protests that his intention was to sacrifice the animals to God, and Samuel says God would rather you follow his orders. At that point it had become my turn for the stress test, and I stopped reading. After the test, I noticed a doctor in the corridor with a yamaka atop his head, and I told him that I had just read by happenstance Book 1 of Samuel and would love to ask him how Jewish parents deal with relating that God is said to have ordered the massacre of an entire community even the tiny children and animals. To my dumbfounded surprise this doctor of medicine sworn to protect life and apparently doing so, replied, "God's orders have to be obeyed." "They were evil people," the doctor added, looking me straight in the eye and continued walking down the corridor.
In my mind I wanted to write him off as a weirdo, but did so uneasily. Earlier, I had gotten the same answer from a Rabbi and a Yeshiva University grad student regarding the Jericho slaughter of children.
The year before, on a bus, a rather elderly Rabbi sat down in the seat next to me. After chatting about whatever for a bit, I said I would like to take advantage of this meeting a distinguished Rabbi (head of a West Side Manhattan congregation he had told me), to ask a question that I, as a father of children, always wondered about, "What do you tell small children about the killing of even the little children in Jericho?" (In my mind, I was thinking how frightened I would been as a child hearing that the little children and animals were killed by 'command of God,' and imagining it being carried out )
"They were evil people, and God's orders have to be obeyed," the rabbi quietly explained looking straight ahead.
""But why were they evil," I asked (so taken aback that I forgot to ask why innocent children be included, and the full bearded pleasant enough looking Rabbi, responded, "They were worshiping the wrong God." I started to say, but what if someone would aim to kill us for worshiping the wrong God, and that this could go on forever, as the Rabbi, smiling at me politely, got up to get off at his stop.
The year before this encounter, a handsome red-bearded young man, wearing the large black fedora wide-brimmed dress hat common for orthodox Jews in New York, had approached me on the street in Spanish Harlem very politely introducing himself as a graduate student at Yeshiva University, and had asked me if perhaps I knew whether or not I had any Jewish ancestry. I said didn't think so, but not for sure, as I had a great grandfather who was of dark complexion and known to have been always on the run from police in Poland, whereupon, he produced literature for people with some possibility of having Jewish blood. I smiled and said I wasn't interested in this vague possibility, but was glad for the opportunity to ask an expert student of Judaism a question (the same question I would ask the Rabbi a year later). He seemed not interested in the question, maybe because he was busy on this class project of searching for people that might become Jews, but while hurrying off had answered quickly more or less the same as the Rabbi would later answer me, shrugging his shoulders and opening his arms wide as he moved away from me while I was pressing him about a child's reaction to such hearing of adults running a sword through little children and their animals.
After the third try in the hospital with the Jewish doctor, I had decided there must to a way for Jews and Christians to explain why 'even the children and the animals' were ordered killed without frightening a child being taught the Torah or Bible.
As an archival research peoples historian who worked a bit with Howard Zinn, I found that in that brutal ancient time in Middle East history and elsewhere, killing the male children, who would grow to be warriors and probably be taught vengeance, and killing the women, who would give birth to more warriors, was a logical precaution for the conquering society's future protection.
I thought to write to progressive journalist, publisher and editor of Tikkum magazine, Rabbi Michael Lerner, a dear friend of a mutual friend Sid Peck, one of the three organizers of the anti-Vietnam war demonstration in Washington that brought down the Johnson administration. Rabbi Lerner had personally endorsed the Howard Zinn's and Ramsey Clark founded 'King Condemned US Wars International Awareness Campaign.'
Rabbi Lerner wrote back that he had written a whole book about this uncomfortable subject, titled A Jewish Renewal. I found a copy in the New York Public Library and read it, and here from page 91, after relating the genocidal terrorism demanded by Moses and sundry other similar ghastly "show-no-mercy" instructions the Bible describes as those of God, my friend Rabbi Michael pounces nicely with "I confront these passages and the entire " Joshua tradition" not to judge those who adopted it, but to say in the most unequivocal terms: This is not the voice of God, but the voice of pain and cruelty masquerading as the voice of God."
Great! but we have been brought up with these stories "masquerading" as true stories of God. We sing about them, look at masterpiece paintings of them, read them quoted in secular literature, and they remain planted in our consciousness as biblical truth. A lot of the time we are told these stories as children with the frightening and ghastly parts, like for instance, what happened to the children of conquered Jericho, left out?
On page 45 one finds Rabbi Michael's breathtakingly comforting "What kind of a God would order what Abraham heard ordered?" referring to the Biblical story of an angle staying Abraham hand about to slay his son at God's order. Genesis 22:1-16
Rabbi Lerner seems to be in accord with Rabbi Joseph Herman Hertz, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom from 1913 until his death in 1946, a period encompassing both world wars and the Holocaust. Hertz interprets Genesis 22:1-16 as demonstrating to the Jews on the contrary that human sacrifice is abhorrent. Rabbi Hertz, "Unlike the cruel heathen deities, it was the spiritual surrender alone that God required." Hertz points out that in Jeremiah 32:35, God, Jehovah via Jeremiah, states that the later Israelite practice of child sacrifice to the deity Molech "had [never] entered My mind that they should do this abomination." (Because of this "abomination" and others, Jehovah, via Jeremiah gives the Israelis into the hands of the Assyrians as punishment. "Jeremiah 32:28. Therefore thus saith Jehovah: Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans, and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take it:") [Binding of Isaac - Wikipedia]
Other passages in the Bible give a history of kings sacrificing their sons to placate God or plead for his protection in battle. This Biblical fact puts Abraham hearing or dreaming he heard God tell him to kill his son in a different context. And as far as God testing the loyalty of his worshipers goes, the story of Job being tested includes the death of all his children, who are not restored as part of God's well earned satisfaction and bountiful rewards. Seems normal to ask, why does the God of the Jews, Who everyone else is taught to be the only God there is for all Mankind, have to do loyalty checks, on the humans He has created? There are, after all, religions in Asia, Africa and North America that teach of a God or gods that are described as confident of their creations' loyalty and having an understanding of human frailty.
Your author has run some searches on various nations in Asia, Africa and North America and found many religious beliefs that fit our age of outer space exploration very well.
Why in the twenty-first century, shall these anxiety causing passages not be helpfully annotated accordingly in all editions? I mean, given the relief of what both Rabbis Lerner and Hertz offers us, why are a billion worshipers of the Bible and perhaps another billion nominal worshipers, still saddled with horrifying stories of God ordering the wiping out of children and the sacrifice of someone's firstborn. Apparently, they need not be so awfully convoluted and difficult to sort out to make fit for child, mom and dad consumption as Biblical teaching?
Back on page 47 of A Jewish Renewal, the reader would have read, "we get a different reading of the Torah, one that sees this cruelty as part of God's will, so that our task is to be faithful to God's cruelty but to disallow human cruelty." And on the next page Rabbi Lerner wrote about "distinguish[ing] between the word of God and the unconscious legacy of pain presenting itself as if it were the voice of God."
For Michael's insistence that what we have learned to waltz with is opprobrious and fraudulent, the reader might come to be anticipating some sort of showdown with the popular consumption of the Bible as we know it through its stories. Unfortunately, however, the following two hundred and fifty pages disappointingly seem to temporize and leave readers to make their own judgement about Rabbi Lerner's powerful statements in the first hundred pages.
Recently, while waiting to be called in the dental school of a prestigious Jewish hospital, I became engaged in conversation with a fellow patient who turned out to be Israeli. I mentioned having come close to being invited to join the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra but choose to go on a State Department Cultural Exchange Tour of the Soviet Union instead of taking up the invite to audition with Lenny Bernstein (who I had already worked under) for the Israel job. I asked her about life in the Israel I had missed out on living in, and that got her talking at length quite emotionally until at one point she became distraught and cried out wildly, "They should kill all the Palestinians! all of them!" so loudly that I thought best to terminate our conversation about Israel for the shock on the faces of the largely African Americans and Hispanics in the dental school waiting room.
I thought, now, this was only one person's distraught outcry, but I wasn't looking for it, or expecting this insanity from an obviously low income, although very upset Israeli. Of course all these above related personal surprising experiences are but one persons experiences, someone else will have entirely different experiences. But still,
your author asks himself whether the lady in the dentist school office was perhaps influenced by the wild genocidal taking of lives written of in the Holy Torah and Bible?
I feel the same suspicion regarding influence of the Biblical stories of God ordered genocide in the following Jerusalem Post headlined report:
Rabbi Lior: Jewish law permits destruction of Gaza to bring safety to Israel
"Rabbi Dov Lior, a national- religious leader and the chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba and Hebron, published a letter on Monday saying that Jewish law permits destroying the entire Gaza Strip to bring peace to the south of the country." [click here]
But interestingly, for all the homicidal violence related in their (our) Bible, Jews have been a completely non-violent people for more than 2000 years, while Christians have been often exterminating Jews and Muslims and massacring each other in the name of a gentler God. All the more striking is the genocide practicing military of a nation proclaiming itself to be a, or the, Jewish nation, presently repeating the merciless Christmas slaughter of 2008 on its captive population of Gaza.
University study installs a warm respect for the intellectualism and gentleness of Jews, and for their geniuses within the firmament of stars of human endeavor. Anyone with half an education can reel off names of the inordinate number of renowned Jewish scientists, philosophers, inventors, composers, physicians, artists, singers, musicians, educators, actors, movie producing moguls, and comedians revered as seminal contributors to Western civilization.
This respect does not fit with an amazing irrepressible feeling that a yamaka now can now suggest a helmet more than purity of mind, as so many Jews in the US seem to feel forced to go along with whatever horrors this Zionist state, representing a colonial powers crime against humanity and against a captive population of the British Empire, perpetrates.
Chalk it up to the aftereffect and fallout of the beyond comprehension creepy chilling freaky massive human genocidal insanity that was the Holocaust?
No, as a historian, no! Chalk it up to something a more fundamental and underlying cause, namely, the Colonial Powers' business as usual. For few Jews seem interested that the Holocaust was facilitated by all fifty top US corporations heavily investing in and joint venturing with the Nazis to build up the Wehrmacht of a prostate Germany to world's number one military power in five short years while Hitler continually was making clear his intentions for Jews, communists and the USSR. This lack of interest might be attributed to the fact that the same corporate America also facilitated the use of Holocaust survivors, denying them refuge in the wide USA, but claiming to be helping them by throwing them into another lethal predicament for the sake of a imperialist outpost in the middle of Arab oil. Citizens of the US-created Israeli state be not wanting to bite the hand that financially and militarily feeds.
[see US Economic Facilitation of Holocaust and Middle East Destabilizing Partition
The story is told in detail in a scrupulously documented long article, on the economic facilitation of the Holocaust, WWII and Partition also published as:
US Invested Heavily in Hitler Facilitating Holocaust Used Survivors to Destabilize Arabia in Three Parts: History, Deception and Imagining by Jay Janson. June 9, 2011, by Counter Currents, Kerala, India
Synopsis: Israel is in bed with a US business elite that once heavily invested in Hitler, was itself anti-Semitic in outlook, coldly indifferent and even complicit during the Holocaust its investments made possible. A popular quip in Yiddish goes,"with such friends, who needs (voice rising in pitch) enemies?" Arabs saved Jews from Christian persecutions in 637, 1187, 1492. Now Christians are persecuting Arabs. Needed! Jewish-Arab Semitic solidarity.]
As to the neocolonial genocide-backing media citing Zionist claims on the Holy Land, we can chose between the following Biblical quotes and what Jewish Albert Einstein thought.
"I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River. I will hand over to you the people who live in the land and you will drive them out before you."
"On the south side it will run from Tamar as far as the waters of Meribah Kadesh, then along the Wadi of Egypt to the Great Sea. This will be the south boundary."
"On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates."
Here is what Einstein confided to a close friend in a letter dated January 1954, "For me the unaltered Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most primitive superstitions."
And one might add that amazingly, according to the Ottoman Empire census of 1850, there were less than twenty thousand Jews in all Palestine for so many thousand having migrated to the more developed Europe.
Also see God Gave Them Someone Else's 'Land Of Milk & Honey' To Conquer Twice? by Jay Janson
www.countercurrents.org/janson081011.htm, Counter Currents, Kerala, India
Einstein along with Martin Buber and hundreds or thousands of Jewish intellectuals had vigorously warned against partition, and as the expected and prepared lethal violence was set off by the criminal UN 'Plan' creating a separate ethnic state unfolded, Einstein wrote in the New York Times of December 4, 1948:
Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the "Freedom Party" (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.
A shocking example was their behavior in the Arab village of Deir Yassin. This village, off the main roads and surrounded by Jewish lands, had taken no part in the war, and had even fought off Arab bands who wanted to use the village as their base. On April 9 (THE NEW YORK TIMES), terrorist bands attacked this peaceful village, which was not a military objective in the fighting, killed most of its inhabitants (240 men, women, and children) and kept a few of them alive to parade as captives through the streets of Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish community was horrified at the deed but the terrorists, far from being ashamed of their act, were proud of this massacre, publicized it widely, and invited all the foreign correspondents present in the country to view the heaped corpses and the general havoc at Deir Yassin. .. they have preached an admixture of ultranationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority. Like other Fascist parties they have been used to break strikes, and have themselves pressed for the destruction of free trade unions. In their stead they have proposed corporate unions on the Italian Fascist model. During the last years of sporadic anti-British violence, the IZL and Stern groups inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community. Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting their children join them. By gangster methods, beatings, window-smashing, and wide-spread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and exacted a heavy tribute. The people of the Freedom Party have had no part in the constructive achievements in Palestine. They have reclaimed no land, built no settlements, and only detracted from the Jewish defense activity. "a Fascist party for whom terrorism (against Jews, Arabs, and British alike), and misrepresentation are means, and a "Leader State" is the goal. " it is imperative that the truth about Mr. Begin and his movement be made known in this country. It is all the more tragic that the top leadership of American Zionism has refused to campaign against Begin's efforts, or even to expose to its own constituents the dangers to Israel from support to [Menachem] Begin.
Writing to Neturei Karta International to ask how many Orthodox Jews oppose the existence of Israel as it does, brought the following response "Torah-true, religious Jews who are against the Zionist State number close to a million worldwide and comprise the majority of Orthodox communities."
A very welcomed and logical clarification was included in Neturei Karta's answer, "Judaism is a religion, not a nation or race, and so non-religious Jews can say whatever they want, but not in the name of JUDAISM."
Something else that has been submerged into obscurity, is that until US world hegemonic business interests bankrolled right wing Zionists into leadership, the majority of Zionists, religious and secular, were socialists and communists opposed to colonialism. My first summer job as an undergraduate student in 1951 was playing with some members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for Yiddish Theater at the socialist Workmen's Circle Camp on Sylvan Lake NY. The camp of the communist wing of Workmen's Circle was on the opposite side of the lake. Although the kind of right wing terrorists, Einstein had denounced had been long in charge in Israel and committed to a Greater Israel, the wonderful people at the Workman's camp were by my recollection international socialists and of course by large, Zionists. I, as the only Goyim, besides a Chinese dishwasher, was exposed to a joyous basic education in Sholem Aleichem Jewish humor, dietary laws, politics and customs, perhaps the happiest summer of my life. The musician, a close friend, also Goyim, who took that position in Israel, that I might have taken, related to me, his having had a super unhappy year of a steadfastly isolated existence in Tel Aviv and having been turned off by the much worse treatment of Arab Israelis he witnessed.
In any case Israel was really created by the Christian colonial powers that occupied or controlled most of the world at the time and still do today as the Christian neocolonial powers. My next article 'Until the Partition is Recognized as a Colonial Crime Against Humanity' will seek to make this clear.
Maybe if the New Testament were the only Bible of Christians, Christians would not have been so overwhelming in number apostate to Jesus' teaching of non-violence, and Mahatma Gandhi might not have ever commented, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
With reports in recent years of Buddhist monks leading mobs in deadly attacks on citizens in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, the irreligious and homicidal use of organized religion by the inhumane business interests that have controlled society in most of the world for centuries, seems all encompassing.
Perhaps a more profound understanding and use of the sacred scripture of all influential religions would make it more difficult for mega-genocidal thieving and enslaving amoral private speculative banking backed neocolonialism and its imperialist militarized media to overcome Mankind's natural spirituality and humanity.