by Julian Rose, November 20, 2023, rumormillnews.com
During the Summer of 1975 I worked as a volunteer on a Kibbutz in Northern Israel, close to the border with Lebanon. As a recent organic farming exponent in the UK, I wanted to explore how this unique socioeconomic experiment on the land was working.
Although my stay in Israel was relatively short, it was an intense and meaningful experience. One which, as you will see as this story unfolds, throws a highly prescient light on the current catastrophe.
There were maybe two hundred residents of the kibbutz, named ‘Rosh Ha Nikra.’
One rose early and went to work on the land, coming back for a common breakfast at 9.a.m. It was too hot to work later in the mornings so one returned to the fields late afternoon to put in another session.
At its inception, the basis of this community was carved out of a desert. Only an intense commitment to establishing an enduring self-sufficient village could turn the sour, salty land into something capable of growing sufficient food to provide for its occupants and a trading income.
By the time I visited, there was already a thriving rural economy in operation, growing and exporting avocado pears and dairy products. Houses and land are integrated as a cooperative in the kibbutz movement, with no private ownership.
Being situated close to the Lebanese border had its disadvantages. Missiles were periodically launched into surrounding territory as unresolved hostilities flared-up intermittently on the border land. It was disconcerting to an outsider, but the Rosh Ha Nikra community was hardened to this reality and did not let it break their daily routines.
I am not Jewish, but have worked closely with Jewish colleagues in theatre and education projects based largely in the USA and Belgium. This led me to become interested in further exploring the background to the Israeli/Palestinian tensions that dog the peaceful functioning of the ‘two-state’ land division established in 1948.
In a break from the Kibbutz work schedule, I was fortuitously given the opportunity to meet a senior figure of the Israeli military in Haifa. A kind, thoughtful individual who was close to retirement.
Questioning him about his perspective on Israeli/Palestinian tensions, he responded in a way that threw a highly significant light on the reality. I recount here my memory of the deeply prescient contents of what he said:
“Israel is not a country. The word in Hebrew means ‘to strive with God’ (to work with God). It is a tribal aspiration, it is not a place. To give the name Israel to this area of land is a falsification. It comes from the Zionist belief that this country is the original homeland of the Jews. There is no historical evidence for this belief, it is a dangerous fixation. Zionism is not Judaism.”
At the time I was not fully aware of the ramifications of this reply; however it vividly endured in my mind from there on.
My host asked what places I intended to visit in Israel. Definitely Jerusalem, I replied. His response was quite firm “Go beyond Jerusalem into the West Bank; into Jordan. Experience this place where Jordanians and Palestinian refugees live and work together.”
I took his advice, initially boarding a bus to Jerusalem. It was here that I first experienced an uneasy tension between Palestinian and Jewish citizens.
It should be remembered that a number of holy sites in Jerusalem are places of worship for both Palestinians and Jews. The ancient claims of both parties to the rights of ‘ownership’ of these sites causes an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion to never be far from the surface. Over the years, many bloody incidents have flared-up out of this febrile tension.
Within deeper spiritual texts of old, bestowing imaginary religious powers on material objects and buildings, is considered a form of blasphemy of God, whose omniscient presence is recognised as a manifestation of infinite spirit, giving equal status to all races, colours, creeds and places. A manifestation of universal truth, not a proclamation about rights of ownership.
This reflects on just why associating ‘Israel’ with a material possession would completely distort the true significance the epithet ‘To strive with God’.
After exploring the impressive but austere architecture of old Jerusalem, I stepped into a colourful, creaking bus heading down into the ancient city of Jericho.
Immediately the atmosphere lifted. The bus and its occupants slowly weaved its way down a long twisting road into the fertile valley below, while Arabic songs wailed out from the radio and the air became perfumed by sweet incense. Arabic headdresses replaced the casual Westernised attire of most Israelis.
Outside, barren mountain slopes predominated, but in a number of places basic agricultural cultivations were in progress.
Upon arriving in Old Jericho, a hoard of young men exuberantly offered their services to show visitors the local sites. I duly accepted the services of a young man with a broad smile, a good approximation of the English language and a promise of full knowledge of the relics of this ancient city.
After a long day spent walking the ruins and rugged path ways, my guide asked me where I was staying. I don’t know, was my reply. Did he recommend anywhere?
No he didn’t, advising it was not a good idea to stay in a local hotel. Instead, he invited me to his family home and to attend a ceremony celebrating the birth of his brother’s first child. A raucous event of much fraternal dancing and singing into which I was fully integrated.
During more quiet moments my host told me about living in a form of Israeli police state. He admitted the tensions, but never spoke badly of the occupiers of his homeland, even praising Jewish agricultural achievements made on the barren hills East of Jerusalem.
I spent a further few days visiting local townships; mostly peaceful, but some of the larger market towns, like Nablus, widely patrolled by Israeli armed police clearly expecting trouble.
A few weeks later I left the country, with a strong impression left imprinted on my mind: on the kibbutz I was treated as a co-worker – and in Jordan I was treated as a brother. It was possible for me to see how these two quite different cultures could coexist in peace.
But this could only work if the Israeli population would adopt the wisdom of the military leader I met in Haifa; and the Palestinians echo the respect for Israeli workers shown by my young Jordanian friend. Such qualities, forming the foundation of humanitarian inter-cultural respect, are the best, and perhaps only, chance for lasting peace and unity.
Almost fifty years later, my reflections are not dimmed. However they have been dashed on the rocks of a terrible political deception which has now emerged as the catalyst for an ethnic cleansing nightmare that blows apart any opportunity for a peaceful resolution.
This is a conflict created by the dark spin doctors of the New World Order. It is part of a deadly and carefully planned chess game designed to wipe Palestine, Gaza and the Palestinian people off the map and free-up the country of Israel to become the Zionist capital of the world.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has publicly declared as much. For him and his fanatical Zionist colleagues, it is ‘God’s will’ that they should obliterate any and all opposition to the ‘chosen race’ achieving its ends.
The great majority of Jews I know – and I believe the one’s I don’t – are appalled by this utterly insane megalomania. They have seen through the distortions and lies that surround the supposed preordained right of total ‘possession’ of this ancient strip of land at the Eastern most point of the Mediterranean sea.
Those warm hearted brothers, sisters and elders who presently live in Israel, hold the key to the restoration of sanity.
I most ardently call upon them to show the courage and irrevocable determination to resist Netanyahu’s mass extermination plans.
Such resistance has the potential to catalyse a large ground swell of bottom-up support from around the world; but to do so – it must start from within Israel itself and embody:
- Total non compliance with political orders.
- A nationwide refusal to to be party to the murder of fellow human beings.
- A solid rebuttal of the demands of military recruitment.
- A ‘pro humanity’ expression of unequivocal solidarity with Palestinian brothers, sisters and children who share the same territory and know it as home; and whose fate it is to be subject to the view that they are ‘animals’ destined for the slaughter house.
No thinking, feeling, self-respecting Israelite could fall into line with such depravity.
Israel, as I learned, means ‘to strive with God.’ A fine and liberating ideal. So if one is proud to be an Israeli citizen, one should know that this means to carry out actions that will be smiled upon by one’s Creator.
This is the true ideological goal of the tribe of Israel.