God's chosen people
Gaarder, the author of the global literary phenomenon
World (printed in 26m copies in 53 languages), launched a
scorching attack on Israel in Aftenposten,
Norway's paper of record. Gaarder, a historian of ideas, describes himself
as a friend of the Jewish people but doubts whether Israel truly is the
same. Suffice it to say that this will not appear in the New York Times
There is no turning back.
It is time to learn a new lesson: We do no longer recognize the state of
Israel. We could not recognize the South African apartheid regime, nor did
we recognize the Afghan Taliban regime. Then there were many who did not
recognize Saddam Hussein's Iraq or the Serbs' ethnic cleansing. We must
now get used to the idea: The state of Israel in its current form is
We do not believe in the
notion of God's chosen people. We laugh at this people's fancies and weep
at its misdeeds. To act as God's chosen people is not only stupid and
arrogant, but a crime against humanity. We call it racism.
Limits to tolerance
There are limits to our
patience, and there are limits to our tolerance. We do not believe in
divine promises as justification for occupation and apartheid. We have
left the Middle Ages behind. We laugh uneasily at those who still believe
that the God of flora, fauna, and galaxies has selected one people in
particular as his favorite and given it funny stone tablets, burning
bushes, and a license to kill.
We call child murderers
'child murderers' and will never accept that such have a divine or
historic mandate excusing their outrages. We say but this: Shame on all
apartheid, shame on ethnic cleansing, shame on every terrorist strike
against civilians, be it carried out by Hamas, Hizballah, or the state of
Unscrupulous art of war
We acknowledge and pay
heed to Europe's deep responsibility for the plight of the Jews, for the
disgraceful harassment, the pogroms, and the Holocaust. It was
historically and morally necessary for Jews to get their own home.
However, the state of Israel, with its unscrupulous art of war and its
disgusting weapons, has massacred its own legitimacy. It has
systematically flaunted International Law, international conventions, and
countless UN resolutions, and it can no longer expect protection from
same. It has carpet bombed the recognition of the world. But fear not! The
time of trouble shall soon be over. The state of Israel has seen its
We are now at the
watershed. There is no turning back. The state of Israel has raped the
recognition of the world and shall have no peace until it lays down its
Without defense, without
May spirit and word sweep
away the apartheid walls of Israel. The state of Israel does not exist. It
is now without defense, without skin. May the world therefore have mercy
on the civilian population. For it is not civilian individuals at whom our
doomsaying is directed.
We wish the people of
Israel well, nothing but well, but we reserve the right not to eat Jaffa
oranges as long as they taste foul and are poisonous. It was endurable to
live some years without the blue grapes of apartheid.
They celebrate their
We do not believe that
Israel mourns forty killed Lebanese children more than it for over three
thousand years has lamented forty years in the desert. We note that many
Israelis celebrate such triumphs like they once cheered the scourges of
the Lord as "fitting punishment" for the people of Egypt. (In
that tale, the Lord, God of Israel, appears as an insatiable sadist.) We
query whether most Israelis think that one Israeli life is worth more than
forty Palestinian or Lebanese lives.
For we have seen pictures
of little Israeli girls writing hateful greetings on the bombs to be
dropped on the civilian population of Lebanon and Palestine. Little
Israeli girls are not cute when they strut with glee at death and torment
across the fronts.
The retribution of blood
We do not recognize the
rhetoric of the state of Israel. We do not recognize the spiral of
retribution of the blood vengeance with "an eye for an eye and a
tooth for a tooth." We do not recognize the principle of one or a
thousand Arab eyes for one Israeli eye. We do not recognize collective
punishment or population-wide diets as political weapons. Two thousand
years have passed since a Jewish rabbi criticized the ancient doctrine of
"an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."
He said: "Do to
others as you would have them do to you." We do not recognize a state
founded on antihumanistic principles and on the ruins of an archaic
national and war religion. Or as Albert Schweitzer expressed it:
"Humanitarianism consists in never sacrificing a human being to a
We do not recognize the
old Kingdom of David as a model for the 21st century map of the Middle
East. The Jewish rabbi claimed two thousand years ago that the Kingdom of
God is not a martial restoration of the Kingdom of David, but that the
Kingdom of God is within us and among us. The Kingdom of God is compassion
Two thousand years have
passed since the Jewish rabbi disarmed and humanized the old rhetoric of
war. Even in his time, the first Zionist terrorists were operating.
Israel does not listen
For two thousand years,
we have rehearsed the syllabus of humanism, but Israel does not listen. It
was not the Pharisee that helped the man who lay in the wayside, having
fallen prey to robbers. It was a Samaritan; today we would say, a
Palestinian. For we are human first of all -- then Christian, Muslim, or
Jewish. Or as the Jewish rabbi said: "And if you greet your brethren
only, what do you do more than others?" We do not accept the
abduction of soldiers. But nor do we accept the deportation of whole
populations or the abduction of legally elected parliamentarians and
We recognize the state of
Israel of 1948, but not the one of 1967. It is the state of Israel that
fails to recognize, respect, or defer to the internationally lawful
Israeli state of 1948. Israel wants more; more water and more villages. To
obtain this, there are those who want, with God's assistance, a final
solution to the Palestinian problem. The Palestinians have so many other
countries, certain Israeli politicians have argued; we have only one.
The USA or the world?
Or as the highest
protector of the state of Israel puts it: "May God continue to bless
America." A little child took note of that. She turned to her mother,
saying: "Why does the President always end his speeches with 'God
bless America'? Why not, 'God bless the world'?"
Then there was a
Norwegian poet who let out this childlike sigh of the heart: "Why
doth Humanity so slowly progress?" It was he that wrote so
beautifully of the Jew and the Jewess. But he rejected the notion of God's
chosen people. He personally liked to call himself a Muhammedan.
Calm and mercy
We do not recognize the
state of Israel. Not today, not as of this writing, not in the hour of
grief and wrath. If the entire Israeli nation should fall to its own
devices and parts of the population have to flee the occupied areas into
another diaspora, then we say: May the surroundings stay calm and show
them mercy. It is forever a crime without mitigation to lay hand on
refugees and stateless people.
Peace and free passage
for the evacuating civilian population no longer protected by a state.
Fire not at the fugitives! Take not aim at them! They are vulnerable now
like snails without shells, vulnerable like slow caravans of Palestinian
and Lebanese refugees, defenseless like women and children and the old in
Qana, Gaza, Sabra, and Chatilla. Give the Israeli refugees shelter, give
them milk and honey!
Let not one Israeli child
be deprived of life. Far too many children and civilians have already been
(Translated from the
Norwegian by Sirocco)