By Richard Edmondson
Last week, for not the first time, a crowd of Palestinians gathered in the Israeli-occupied town of Hebron in the West Bank to demand the return of the bodies of their loved ones slain by Israeli forces.
The International Solidarity Movement posted an article on it at the time. The article included photos of Palestinian women holding up pictures of their family members, and in at least one of them, a woman can clearly be seen crying.
The rest of the people in the crowd don’t look too happy either…
There was also published the following photo as well. The sign reads: “We want our children back.”
This is not the first time I have posted information on Israel’s policy of withholding bodies of the dead. Previous articles can be found here, here, and here. The justification Israel always gives is that it is trying to preserve order and that funerals can become occasions for “incitement.” But in some cases corpses have been held for extended periods of time—years even—and when bodies finally are returned, they often arrive in a frozen state along with demands from Israeli authorities that burial take place immediately. And this, says one Palestinian forensic expert, can preclude the possibility of autopsies.
“Israel freezes the bodies of the Palestinian martyrs in mortuaries held at -35 degrees which prevents autopsy for 24 to 48 hours,” said Sabir al-Aloul, head of Al-Quds University’s Institute for Forensic Medicine.
The issue was addressed in May of this year by a UN committee investigating Israeli practices in the Occupied Territories:
The Committee was further concerned to learn that around 70 dead bodies of Palestinians who were killed, since October 2015, in the context of alleged attacks on Israeli civilians or security forces were held by Israel for many weeks and months, denying the families a proper and dignified closure. As of today, while many bodies have been returned to their families, it was further stated that the bodies of 18 Palestinians killed continue to be held by Israel. Representations were made that Israeli authorities have prohibited autopsies, and that the dead bodies are kept in poor and inhumane conditions, stacked on top of each other. It was brought to the attention of the Committee that the bodies returned to the families are often disfigured, sometimes beyond recognition, denying the families the right to accord, with dignity, final religious rites.
While all of this may, as Israel claims, be designed to reduce “incitement,” the policy, in reality, seems to be having the opposite effect. Protests have erupted over it inside Palestine, the issue has been discussed at the UN, and it has even captured the attention of mainstream media, including the Washington Post, which published an article headlined, “Palestinians and Israelis are Now Fighting Over Corpses” on November 25.
But of course it isn’t only Israel’s practice of withholding bodies. There are many other policies as well—of home demolitions, of blocking ambulances, appropriating more and more land for settlements, firing on Gaza fishermen, etc. All of these policies are things of darkness. What else can you really say of them?
In the first letter of John we read the following words:
God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
Key emphasis on the words at all. If Israel were of God—that is to say if it’s establishment had been sanctioned by God and had been a fulfillment of divine destiny, as is believed by Christian Zionists—we would not be seeing so much darkness engulfing the Jewish state. In fact, there would be no darkness “at all.” Instead Israel would be a light unto the nations. A shining city upon a hill. But it is not that. It has never been that in the entire 68 years of its existence.
“By their fruit you will recognize them,” Jesus says in Matthew chapter 7. He was talking about trees—though of course it was a metaphor, and he went on to add: “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.”
What can be said of trees can be said of human beings…and probably also of nations. Israel has produced an abundance of bad fruit. Wars, occupation, apartheid, a network of lobbies that have reshaped the foreign policies of various countries in the Zionist state’s favor. One would be hard pressed to point to any nuggets of “good fruit” in all of this.
Yes…as Zionist supporters are overly fond of telling us, Israeli scientists have made contributions in such fields as robotics and biotechnology, but at the same time national policies of destabilization and regime change—policies which have been painstakingly pursued by both Israel and its American patron—have turned the Middle East into a hell on earth.
God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
…and as John tells the recipients of his letter, “this is the message we have heard from him and declare to you.” It is the message that he and the other disciples had been given by Jesus “from the beginning,” as he writes, it is that “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched.”
John and the ‘Antichrists’
The first letter of John is believed to have been written sometime in the latter part of the first century, probably between 80 and 90 A.D. John would have been one of the few original disciples still alive at this time, and the letter is addressed to no one in particular, a fact which has led some to believe that it was a “circular letter,” intended to be distributed and circulated among the churches of Asia, where John spent the latter years of his life.
In addition to telling us that God is light, he rejoices that “the darkness is passing and true light is already shining.” But he also issues a warning–about “antichrists”–that is to say about people who were against Christ.
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
So who were these “antichrists” John was referring to? What group of people was he talking about? Many modern day scholars offer the view that it was Gnostics. And in fact, the 1995 edition of the NIV Study Bible, published by Zondervan, includes the following text note: “The antichrists referred to in John’s letter were the early Gnostics.” But this is absurd. It is a product of what I have referred to previously as “post-holocaust biblical scholarship”–in which university-employed scholars are terrified of offering scriptural exegeses, or analyses, that will reflect negatively upon Jews for fear of being accused of antisemitism.
Moreover, you can access the Nag Hammadi Library, a collection of practically all of the Gnostic writings, or at least the ones we know about, and you will be hard pressed to find anything negative about Christ. Some of the Gnostic writers had nothing at all to say about Jesus, but of the ones who did–and this is the majority–they viewed him with respect, reverence even. The Treatise on the Resurrection refers to Jesus as “our Saviour, our Lord”; in the Gospel of Philip he is described as “the perfect man”; and the Gospel of Thomas touts him as “the living Jesus,” while attributing 114 separate quotes to him. So why would John refer to such people as “antichrists”? The answer is: he didn’t.
Well, if he wasn’t talking about Gnostics, who, then, was John referring to? Who were the “antichrists” he remarks upon?
Modern day scholars will find it impossible to avow or affirm what I’m about to say and still manage to retain their jobs in academia, but the reference clearly is to Jews–specifically Jewish Christians who had turned their back on Jesus and returned to the Jewish fold. When John writes, “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us,” these are the people he is referring to. You have to keep in mind when the letter was written. Jerusalem had been sacked by the Romans in 70 A.D. The Jewish revolt had resulted in the destruction of the Jewish Temple, and Jewish Christians were heavily condemned by their fellow Jews for not having joined in the rebellion. Many in fact, rather than fight against the Romans, fled to the city of Pella, east of the Jordan River, while the revolt was underway. Whatever persecution of Jewish Christians took place before the revolt probably paled in comparison to what came afterwards.
With the Jewish defeat, the center of Judaism shifted from Jerusalem to the city of Jamnia, and it was here that the Eighteen Benedictions were revised to include a curse against the minim, or heretics–a revision that underwent a second rewrite, probably around 85 A.D., that included a direct reference to Christians. “Let notzrim and the minim perish immediately.” This is the wording in the twelfth benediction, the word “notzrim” being a reference to “Nazarenes.” The pressure on Jewish Christians would have been enormous. Basically, they were told that if they continued to worship Christ, they would no longer be regarded as Jews.
“Dear children, this is the last hour,” writes John–and in a way he was right. It would not be long before Jewish Christianity would disappear entirely–as the new faith increasingly came to be adopted by Gentiles. Yet as we can see, at the time of his writing, there were still some left in the Church–that is to say Jewish Christians who remained in the faith, with strong hearts, along with their Gentile brothers and sisters. And it seems to be these primarily John was addressing when he says:
I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist–he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
Just as no darkness comes from light ( but rather darkness is the absence of light), no lie comes from the truth.
How many lies have been told about the Palestine-Israel conflict? Over the years we have heard that the Israelis “have no partner for peace,” that “there are no Palestinians,” that “all Jews are descended from the biblical Israelites,” that Palestinians simply hate Jews and wish to “drive them into the sea.” Over and over until it becomes rote. How many lies have been told to justify land theft and the displacement of one people by another? How many newspaper stories over the years have depicted Palestinians as “terrorists” and Jews as victims? How many TV reporters have stood in front of how many cameras and talked about the latest onslaught of Israeli mayhem as being in “retaliation” for something done by Palestinians–a people who have been living under occupation for 68 years, who have no army, no navy, no air force, and who have little other than crude, homemade rockets with which to defend themselves?
Consider this–throughout the year 2016 we have seen repeated attacks upon the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement carried out by Israel and its supporters–and ask yourself: why? If Israel were of God, there would be no need to halt or crush the BDS movement, because there would be no BDS movement. If Israel were of God, Israeli soldiers who murder Palestinians would be charged with murder and punished accordingly. If Israel were of God, rather than being lauded by some of the most corrupt politicians on the planet, it would instead be despised and reviled by the very same people. But Israel is not of God. It is not the hope and fulfillment that Christians were longing for back in 1948 when it was established. It was/is–and I have said this before and will propose it again here–the “powerful delusion” that Paul talked about in II Thessalonians:
For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
In addition to being a vocal opponent of US wars and regime change as well as a champion for justice in Palestine, this website is also a living refutation of Christian Zionism. Were it not for the support of US Christians, Israel would find it far more difficult to continue to extract billions of dollars in aid from the American taxpayer each year. And part of what I have tried to do with this website is to make it apparent to one and all, and particularly those of the Christian faith, that the teachings of Jesus, and the policies of the state of Israel, are contradictory, and that being both a Christian and a supporter of Israel are therefore mutually incompatible.
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