In Hbl of Ons 13.12. there appeared an insändare by one Daniel Brunell, titled ”Att erkänna Jerusalem strider inte mot internationell lag”. The text contains quite a number of the usual Zionist arguments, in this case in support of Trump’s decision to consider Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. And I think it regrettable that there has up to now not been any reaction to this text.

In this comment I begin with concentrating on Brunell’s claim that Jerusalem ”har varit judarnas politiska och religiösa huvudstad i 3000 år”. About this claim there is the theory of the late Kamal Salibi (a Lebanese Christian with a good knowledge of the Middle Eastern languages and also history) as set out in the book ”The Bible came from Arabia”, which is available in the town library of Helsingfors (in the magazine of Böle library). According to his theory, the events of the Old Testament at least up to and including Salomo (plus the First Temple) were not taking place in Palestine but in the Saudiarabian province Asir (i.e. on both slopes of the mountain range which runs parallel to the shore of the Red Sea, between, about, Mekka in the North and Sanaa in the South). The mountains reach up to 3000 m in height (which produces rain). The reason why Salibi got the whole idea was that he was very familiar with the Bible, was also aware that, e.g., the Jews were beginning to write vowels in their script not before ca. 800 AD (! – which can very well have resulted in misunderstandings and re-interpretations of even sacred texts), and on this basis recognized very many Biblical place names just in the province Asir (but nowhere else). And my reasons for liking Salibi’s theory is that I was (in order to check) reading the Old Testament twice, and that it simply made much more sense to assume that the events happened there: suddenly one can believe that whenever the harvest had failed in the mountains it was the habit to put a few baskets on donkeys and ”go down to Egypt Land” (= an Egyptian-occupied region in Asir, recognizable by ancient place names) to buy grain (whereas the distance from Palestine to Egypt is at least 250 km each way), or that a flash flood along a wadi wiped out an Egyptian military force which pursued the Hebrews (who had started out from Egypt Land after robbing their neighbours there (Exodus 12,35), or that God was showing the Hebrews the way, by day as a pillar of clouds, by night as a pillar of fire, i.e. they took a volcano as a landmark (later on Moses was going up towards the top of the volcano and came back with his stone tablets) – and it is interesting that there never were volcanoes in Palestine, but in Asir there were (which may also have resulted in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha – the description fits anyway). And so on. Also the so-called miracle in Josua 3 makes suddenly sense. And when Salomo was building his temple the outcome was rather remarkably similar to the Kabaa in Mekka (should one take it as an example of South Arabian architecture?). Also, it is remarkable that the first Negus of Ethiopia was, according to the legend, one of the results of the Queen of Sheba’s visit at Salomo (do we have here an area with a specific South Arabian culture and tradition?). Salibi claims also that the supposedly lost tribes of Israel are still living in that area under their old names, but it seems that up to now nobody has taken the trouble to check that – which may also have political reasons: the Saudis would not like it, the Israelis would certainly not like it, and the Christian churches would not like either if their traditions were shaken. And as to Jerusalem: in Hebrew the name means something like ”foundation of peace”, which is a name which would fit on any town with a sufficiently strong wall around it, i.e. there might have been several places with that name (to use myself as an example, my home town is Rotenburg (Wümme), but there are in Germany still at least Rotenburg (Fulda), Rotenburg (Oder) and Rothenburg ob der Tauber …).

Altogether, quite a bit of mythology, also quite a bit of imperialism: if after World War I some diplomats of the imperialist tradition thought it fit to draw lines on maps and give some people’s land to some other people as some type of present (something which Donald Trump has now repeated with Jerusalem), then Zionists will of course cling to this shred of justification, as also Brunell is doing. To my mind comes, rather, something which Bruno Kreisky, then Chancellor of Austria (and a Jew) was saying some time in the 1950ies: ”The Israelis are quite as stupid as other nationalists also are”. And as a German, I am still used to the thought that even cities can be divided into, e.g., a Western and an Eastern part, each part being quite able to serve as some capital; East Berlin was anyway the capital of the DDR.

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2 Responses to Jerusalem

  1. A-K says:

    I’d recommend to read Schlomo Sand (”The Invention of the Jewish People” or ”How I Stopped Being a Jew”), both very good, could not find any blog etc. by him, but perhaps he has commented the state of current affairs. In any case, his books give an utterly different perspective that strongly questions the legitimacy of the Jewish state.

  2. Anders says:

    Questioning the legitimacy of the Jewish state or debating biblical interpretations is a fairly futile hobby. Israel, as it was established in 1948, exists, as one of the strongest military and nuclear powers in the Middle East. Many other states that showed up in the 20th century – Finland among them – also exist. The reasons and processes by which they were created vary enormously and all of them have their creation myths telling us why it was necessary and obvious that such a state should be created. Some of the myths are more mythical than others. One does not need to believe them.

    Israel, as a state that has occupied the West Bank and Gaza, that continuously discriminates against arabs – including Palestinian christians, by the way – is in clear contempt of international justice, which of course makes it also obvious why the Trump should support it. It is sad that two corrupt regimes, one in tel Aviv and one in Washington, should do their utmost to stop any kind of attemtp at a peace process in the region. But the number of corrupt regimes certainly does not end with these…


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