For then will I turn to the people a pure language—Zephaniah 3:9
by Roy Tov
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God said Jesus and nailed the topic in an awesome reminder that both Hebrew*and Aramaic heavily rely on exaggerations and graphic metaphors to transfer messages compactly.
One visualizes the saying and the truth becomes evident. Camels are much larger than average needles. Consistent rumors claim that a giant needle is being constructed this day in a secret, deep desert location to render the wise words false.
Holocaust 2005. Number of Victims: 1. Aggressor: Israel.
On August 1, 2013, Israel provided a chilling reminder that this semantic power can be used also for evil. What was supposed to be an innocent memorial created a New Auschwitz.
Gush Katif was a conglomerate of seventeen settlements and 9,000 settlers in Gaza, next to the Mediterranean Sea and Egypt. It was aimed at separating the Palestinian cities and towns from Egypt.
In August 2005,** the settlers were evicted and their homes demolished as part of Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan. Many of those evicted had been evacuated from Sinai following the peace agreement with Egypt.
Gush Katif—black dots on the bottom left
KATIF: Nine Days in Av
The evacuation went swiftly despite the settlers’ violent protests. Some of them were being evacuated for the second time. There was only one recorded victim of the event: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was the mastermind behind the unilateral disengagement.+
New Holocaust Gets Memorial Day
On August 1, a strange memorial took place on the Mount of Olives. Located in Eastern Jerusalem and occupied by Israel since 1967, the place is central. On the watershed, it marks the beginning of the Desert of Judea. It has served as a cemetery for the last 3,000 years, and in the Book of Acts is described as the place from where Jesus ascended to Heaven.
Equally unlikely, the event was presided By Likud Member of the Knesset Reuven Rivlin. Last year, as Speaker of the Knesset, he announced Greater Israel, a Jewish State with 14 million Jews between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. “Palestinians Raus!” was his message.
The memorial had two locations. One in the cemetery, the other in the Knesset itself, where a memorial corner was inaugurated in the presence of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ze’ev Elkin. Its topic was the destruction of the Gush Katif settlements.
The point is that the memorial was not about the event’s only victim (who is still in a coma) but about the settlers who had been buried in Gush Katif. Their bodies had been removed in 2005 and were buried again the Mount of Olives Cemetery.
Now is when we can pick up again the Hebrew exaggerations thread. Another characteristic of the language is its directness. In this case, the proper way of referring to the deceased is simple “the dead.” No nice words needed. Bluntly brutal. He died, so he is dead.
This is when the strange ceremony became macabre. Rivlin did not refer to them as dead. He also didn’t mention Ariel Sharon, who got an odd memorial named after him, theTel Aviv’s Waste Damp. Yes, even for a though former commando knives-chewer, this is an insult.
“These are not easy days, danger hoovers over the unity of this land. I pray that we won’t need to face the need to evacuate the dead for the third time.”
“We came here to ask forgiveness from families that not only lost their homes, but they were also forced to evict their graves. The pain of the evacuation still burns our hearts, and despite the deep cut in our flesh we still have the strength to act.”
“We need to ask forgiveness also from the saints and the pure who lived, died and were buried in the good land of the Gaza Strip, which didn’t even allow them a last rest.”
They were Jews; thus Rivlin charmingly defined them as pure; this is loose change racism when compared with the recently disclosed behavior of Israeli Banks. Oddly, while referring to the latter, he condemned the words “Beitar Pure Forever!” that appeared in large signs placed by fans Betar Jerusalem soccer team who opposed the addition of Palestinian players to the team. Mr. Rivlin can you at least be consistent in your racism? Please hate humanity equally.
“Nizkor,” “we shall remember,” used in Holocaust Memorials
Featured in the Gush Katif Memorial Event with IDF ID’s
The combination of saints andpure fits the Israeli jargon++towards WWII victims. Rivlin announced that a new Holocaust took place. Palestine would probably be requested to pay reparations for the next hundreds of years, Germany would be blamed for not having stopped it, and the rest of the world would be nicknamed: “They are all anti-Semites.” Gaza had become New Auschwitz.
I started citing Jesus, allow me to end with a few wise words from Him: “let the dead bury their dead” (Matthew 8:22).
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* A Hebrew version of Matthew (this verse appears in chapter 19, verse 24) dating back to 70AD has been found, the Du Tillet Manuscript. Its digital version is available for download.
** Few holidays are more confused than the fast day of Tisha B’Av (“the ninth of Av”) in Israel. Formally, it commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. Contradicting its source, it reintroduced idolatry by its date having become a magic number.
Jewish religious communities commemorate a plethora of other events that they define as disasters. It is claimed that on this date SS commander Heinrich Himmler received approval from the Nazi Party for The Final Solution. On this day started the mass deportation of Jews from theWarsaw Ghetto, Ariel Sharon’s Gaza Disengagement Plan and many more. On this day, hungry Israel becomes an astrologist’s Utopia.
+ Pulsa diNura (“lashes of fire” in Aramaic) is a Jewish ceremony calling the angels of destruction to block heavenly forgiveness of one’s sins, causing all Biblical curses to befall the victim. Two cases became infamous. On October 6, 1995, at midnight, Avigdor Eskin, a prominent member of the Settler Gush Emunim movement recited (it was made public by the media): “Angels of destruction will hit him. He is damned wherever he goes. His soul will instantly leave his body… and he will not survive a month. Dark will be his path and God’s angel will chase him. A disaster he has never experienced will befall him and all curses known in the Torah will apply to him. I deliver to you, the angels of wrath and ire, Yitzhak, the son of Rosa Rabin, that you may smother him and the specter of him, and cast him into hell, and dry up his wealth, and plague his thoughts, and scatter his mind that he may be steadily diminished until he reaches his death. Put to death the cursed Yitzhak. May he be damned, damned, damned!” Later, in Court, it was proved that the Shin Beth secret police had been involved in the subsequent assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Another published event is related to the odd stroke of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. After the abovementioned Eskin faced troubles for his public course, the perpetrators of this one were careful not to identify themselves. In July 2005, opponents of the Gaza pullout plan recited the Pulsa diNura in the old cemetery of Rosh Pina, asking the Angel of Death to kill Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Seven months later, he was clumsily taken in ambulance to the hospital during Jerusalem’s rush hour, instead of being taken with the standby helicopter available to Prime Ministers. Along the way—oops!—he was given the wrong drug. Since then he is in a coma. Shin Beth agents refuse to comment. Israel’s Prosecutor refused to charge them, claiming that their prayers were aimed at God and not to specific persons, thus they were not instigating violence. Oddly, Shin Beth agent Avishai Raviv (a.k.a. “Agent Champagne” as disclosed by the Shin Beth during the Rabin’s assassiantion trial) instigated the assassin but was absolved by Court. He just followed orders.
++ I grew up in a kibbutz in the Valley, the situation there was so frightening, that the only critique we dared to utter was, “work is our life, but not for us” (“haavoda eeh chayeynu, ach lo bishbileinu”). In other words, “we are slaves.” So many years after I left, it still sounds to me like a frightening variation on Nazi “Arbeit macht frei” (“work makes [you] free”).
Roi Tov is a graduate—among others—of Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science. In addition to his memoir, Tov is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Molecular Physics and other scientific journals. He won various travel writing and photography awards.
In his writings, he tries to reveal life in Israel as a Christian Israel Defense Force (IDF) officer—from human rights violations to the use of an extensive network of underground agents. He was recognized first as a refugee and subsequently as political prisoner of Bolivia.