The War Between Easter & Passover
- Israeli forces deliver notices of destruction to Palestinian refugees
Maisa Abu Ghazaleh, Jerusalem
Tuesday, 03 April 2007
Ringing in the Jewish Passover found Israeli forces storming East
Jerusalem's Shu'fat Refugee Camp in the middle of the night and
telling families at gunpoint that they would again be refugees.
At dawn in the Ras Al Shahadah neighborhood in the southern part of
Shu'fat Camp, Israeli soldiers told the families that they have two
weeks to leave their homes, claiming the refugees were the ones living
illegally on lands occupied by the Israelis.
Israeli lawyer Eitan Gabay, and translator to Arabic, said that the
owners of plot number 116 30571 had constructed their homes in the
refugee camp illegally, and therefore must evacuate within 14 days.
The issuing date was on 29 March, and withheld due to closed Israeli
offices for the Jewish Passover.
Israeli forces chose 3:00 am to invade the refugee camp while
residents were sleeping. Israeli soldiers went so far as to videotape
the homes and terrified families. They caused fear and panic among the
population, particularly the children. Citizens Housing reported that
300 Palestinians would be thrown out of their apartments.
Resident Abu Ayyash told PNN, "I was surprised after my husband had
already gone to work for the early shift when the occupation forces
surrounded the house and behaved violently while my children and I
were sleeping. We were dismayed, afraid. A number of soldiers wearing
black clothing, the special forces, and intelligence officers burst in
with a video camera and were screaming that they would destroy our home."
The family, whose eldest child is five years old, has already paid
18,000 Jordanian Dinars for the housing. They live on the third floor
of the apartment building, all of which covers 135 square meters. They
have three rooms.
She said, "We continue to work day and night to pay for this house. We
pay in installments. This is a completely unjust situation."
Sixty-three year old Mahmoud Srnedeh paid 4,000 JD over the past four
years after buying his home for an initial price of 20,000 JD. He is
married with five children. His youngest is 16.
"I was surprised at the danger I found at my door. We went with the
lawyer, Majid Ghnaim, to prove ownership of our house."
A 50 year old resident on the third floor said that he bought his
house for 26,000 JD. "When I heard the sound, the pounding on the
doors, and saw the soldiers asking for identification, it was strange.
They were videotaping and did not raid the house." His children range
in age from five years to 16.
Another woman in the building on the second floor with seven children
found an eviction notice on the door. "We have been saving for years
to pay for this house. No one will leave. We are already refugees,
where else can we go?"
The lawyers point out the Israeli violations of human rights,
international law and United Nations resolutions, but this does not
change the situation.
Paschal Greetings from Israel Adam Shamir
Was it good or bad in Egypt for the people of Israel? The Bible leaves
the reader confused. On one hand, they were enslaved and had to built
the cities in fear of the brutal overseer's whip. Exodus 5:7-19 tells
that the Pharaoh ceased to provide them with straw to make bricks of
(even to this day they mix straw and clay to make bricks in the Nile
Valley) and they ran around gathering stubble and straw for the quota
of bricks remained as it was. Whenever they would say: "We would
rather go and pray", the Pharaoh would answer: you say so because you
are idle, you have too much time on your hands; hurry, do your job,
deliver more bricks! And they were beaten to work harder and faster.
A legend ("midrash") tells of a pregnant woman who was mixing straw
and clay for bricks, worked hard, and when she gave birth, her child
fell into the pit and was made into a brick. This brick was taken up
to heaven and laid at the feet of God.
On the other hand, in the desert, the Israelites complained that they
had left the flesh-pots of Egypt, the land of plenty, where they had
everything they ever could wish - for the hardships of desert life.
So what it was a cruel bondage or prosperity? This contradiction
can't be settled convincingly, unless one understands that the story
of Exodus is an extended metaphor. The bondage is the bondage of
flesh, of our everyday life, of pursuit of things. The Pharaoh, call
him Satan, or Consumer spirit, demands from us to make more and more
bricks, to earn more money, so we will forget about God. Every day we
sacrifice some time of our children ("turn them into bricks") for
instead of attending to them we work more to pay mortgage, this is the
quota of bricks, to repay for the car credit, and what not. And from
time to time we go to a nice candle-lit restaurant on the seaside for
a good meal this is the fleshpots.
God takes you out of bondage of flesh ("Egypt") to the freedom of
spirit (the "Promised Land"). He Himself comes to take you out, and He
will overcome even death to save you for spiritual life. Life is more
than small talk about mortgages and new cars and candle-lit dinners,
Man is more, much more than a consumer of goods, He is Godlike and can
enter the Promised Land of spirit in flesh. This is the Paschal
message, and that is why this is the most important message mankind
An ordinary Jew takes this metaphor literally; he thinks this is a
story of his physical ancestors who were enslaved in the land of
pyramids and escaped into the Promised Land. An ordinary Jew thinks
that God actually killed the first-born of Egypt and empowered Joshua
to kill the natives of Canaan in order to provide his family with a
valuable seaside real estate. He thinks that the Promised Land of the
Bible is a physical real land, Palestine, that this is a story of
liberation from national slavery and conquest of a country. By such
interpretation, he debases this great message of its spiritual and
universal meaning; he privatises the story and robs others and himself
of its true meaning. The recurring motive of Jews using blood of
children for the Passover ritual is a symbolic reply to this
literalism. The Christian replies: if you are that literal, if you
read the metaphoric story of Man's liberation as some trivial Drang
Nach Osten, you may as well pour real blood of children into your
Much blood - of children and of adults was poured on the altar of
Zionist conquest. But this conquest of Palestine was inbuilt in the
literalist Judaic reading of Exodus for Zionism is a literalist
realization of the metaphor, the project of conquering the Promised
Land by force of arms instead of connecting to spirit by means of
prayer, good deeds and grace. It was a titanic, gigantic project; I
mean the titans and giants who tried to conquer Olympus and unseat the
blessed gods. And whenever people applied this literalist reading, no
good came out of it, vide the conquest of North America, where very
few natives survived (as opposed to South America) and the resulting
nation causes much trouble to the rest of the world.
Ignorant vulgar materialists are prone to "defend Jews" while accusing
"Zionists", for they are not aware of theological grounds of Zionism,
and these grounds are deeply entrenched in Judaic literalism. For
sure, there were Jewish divines who proclaimed metaphoric reading, for
instance, they explained "there was no water for three days" (Exodus
15:22-25) passage as reference to three days without God's Word.
Thanks to these wise men who were aware of the secret spiritual
meaning of the Holy Land, that is the Land of Spirit; Zionism did not
break forth until late 19th century. But literalism was never far
away, never sufficiently exorcised, and with rise of materialism and
decline of understanding, the spiritual reading of the Scripture was
Likewise, the sad story of Exile can and should be understood as
departure of man from the Grace of God. The First Man was in eternal
communion with God, in eternal state of grace. Since the exile of Adam
from Paradise, we sorely miss this grace. The Christians have Christ
who offered us the way to regain the grace; Gnostics created a pretty
myth of Sophia entering the sacred marriage with Christ, but in Jewish
literalist reading even the concept of grace was forgotten and
transplanted by quite trivial physical relocation into Palestine.
Blessed are the Buddhists who did not entertain the thought that the
Pure Land is a part of Nepal where Gautama Buddha was born and found
his enlightenment. Indeed, literalism debases its followers, as Karl
Marx noted in his witty remark: "Christianity is sublime Judaism,
while Judaism is sordid Christianity". The schism between old Israel
of flesh and new Israel of spirit is the split between metaphoric and
literal readers of the Exodus. Anti-judaic polemics carried out by St
John Chrysostom and Martin Luther were arguments not against a small
tribe, but against the deniers of spirit. Extremely potent
anti-spiritual attack of modernity which almost obliterated Christ's
footsteps is deemed "Judaic", and is supported by spirit-denying Jews,
though it has wider and not exclusively Jewish following.
Fathers of the Church were aware of extremely troublesome consequences
of literalism. Origen was an enemy of "literalists who believe such
things about [God] as would not be believed of the most savage and
unjust of men".[Origen, Principles 4.1.8] He could tolerate simple
believers, but not the Judaisers. By means of a more sophisticated
literalism this group attempted to continue obedience to the Law
within the Christian Church, writes Bradshaw, but the real problem
with the Judaisers was their opposition to spirit. They were with
Letter, i.e. they were literalists and spirit deniers.
The Eastern Orthodox Church preserved the uncorrupted traditions of
the Church Fathers, and that is why she stresses the metaphoric
reading of the Bible narrative. Orthodox icons do not depict suffering
of Christ, as opposed to the Western paining: though the Church surely
does not deny it as the Gnostics were prone to, she prefers the image
of Christ Resurrected, the Pantocrator, the Supreme King victorious
over Death. On the icons, Christ is equally serene on the Cross and on
his Throne in heaven.
For us, this week is the time to obtain the most important and most
precious gift of God, the Grace. See though myths for their only
purpose is to concentrate your mind on spirit, like rosary helps to
concentrate on prayer. Do not become inordinately concerned with the
details of the myth, or with material of the rosary. Remember, if we
get grace, we can solve all small problems of this world. Out of Egypt
of flesh to the Promised Land of spirit, this is what we may wish to
each other and to ourselves.
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