Here are examples of religious fanaticism from both sides in the Israel/Palestine dispute.
The Hamas representative
The (Jews) are brought in droves to Palestine so that the Palestinians – and the Islamic nation behind them – will have the honour of eliminating the evil of this gang. All the predators, all the birds of prey, all the dangerous reptiles and insects, and all the lethal bacteria, are far less dangerous than the Jews. In just a few years, all the Zionists and settlers will realize that their arrival in Palestine was for the purpose of the great massacre by means of which Allah wants to relieve humanity of their evil. When Palestine is liberated and its people return to it, and the entire region with the grace of Allah, will have turned into the United States of Islam, the land of Palestine will become the capital of the Islamic Caliphate, and all these countries will turn into states within the Caliphate. When this happens, any Palestinian will be able to live anywhere, because the land of Islam is the property of all Muslims. Until this happens, we must reject all the resettlement plans, naturalization, or even reparations prior to the return of the refugees.
The quotation is from a video clip of an interview with Hamas parliamentarian and cleric Yunis Al-Astal. It comes from MEMRI, a Zionist propaganda organisation, so it may have have lost (or gained!) something in translation. The references to ‘The (Jews)’ or ‘the Jews’ probably applies only to the Zionists, the European Jews who migrated to Palestine. I also question the use of the word ‘massacre’ in the translation. Despite these reservations, this is indeed a very nasty piece of rhetoric.
The Zionist website commenter
I spend much time (probably too much time!) arguing with Zionists on website discussion boards. They come up with all sorts of pseudo-legal arguments to explain why Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) are really part of Israel, and the Palestinians are the occupiers. Some people suspect there is a factory somewhere inventing this nonsense, and the commenters* are paid propagandists.
I try to explain why they are wrong, using references to official legal documents. This is rarely fruitful; they have no answer, but continue to repeat their far-fetched ideas. With one commenter, whom I suspected to be a religiously-motivated settler, I eventually answered as follows.
DO NOT LISTEN to the people who tell you that:
Iran is making a nuclear weapon; Arabs or Persians want to kill all the Jews; the Arabs or Persians are intent on a military attack on Israel; Israel has never declared its borders; the Partition Plan is null and void because the Arab side did not accept it; Israel has the right to acquire, by war, territory outside its legal borders; the Mandate for Palestine is still in effect and gives Israeli Jews the right to settle anywhere in former Mandatory Palestine; the Geneva Conventions give Israelis the right to settle in territory outside the borders of Israel which are under Israeli military occupation.
These people are LIARS. They are atheists who have abandoned Jewish tradition. They bear false witness, they know nothing of justice, they ignore the prophets’ desire for the time when ‘swords will be beaten into ploughshares’, they have forgotten that Israel should be ‘a light to the gentiles’; they worship only Jewish nationalism, they are racists and idolators, they lust after conquest, they frighten you to gain more power for themselves, and they put you in danger by telling you that you can settle in a military zone. They are destroying Israel by taking away its soul.”
His response was to first quote a some biblical prophesies. Here is a selection.
Ezekiel 37:21. Thus saith the Lord GOD: Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, whither they are gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land.
Zechariah 8:23. Thus saith the LORD of hosts: In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, shall even take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying: We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’
Joel 3:1-2 and 17. For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring back the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there for My people and for My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and divided My land…So you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who dwell in Zion, my holy mountain, and Jerusalem shall be holy and strangers shall never again pass through it.
Then he said:
G-d is fulfilling His promise now, and we are partners. Swords will be beaten into ploughshares AFTER we settle the land that G-d promised to us and AFTER our enemies accept it.
These two individuals are mirror images of each other. They each believe that in the Israeli/Arab conflict ‘God is on our side, and therefore we are going to win, and we cannot make peace because that would be against God’s will’.
I see several common factors in the thinking of these two individuals.
- Tribalism. Judaism and Islam (along with Christianity) are monotheistic faiths. These fanatics have reduced God, the creator of all and the judge of everyone, to a primitive tribal God who supports their extreme nationalistic ideology.
- Fantasy. It is politically impossible that there could ever be an Islamic Caliphate ruling the Middle-East. It is politically impossible that the Palestinians, the Arab World and the international community will accept defeat and hand over all of former Palestine to the Jewish state of Israel.
- Arrogance in the face of God. The essence of religious faith is humility in submission to God. No human can claim to fully understand the mind of God. To say that God intends a massacre of the Jews, or that the establishment of the state of Israel is the fulfillment of a biblical prophesy, are arrogant statements by people who are using the name of God in support of their own evil intentions.
Richard Falk has an interesting essay on fanaticism in Foreign Policy Journal.
*My spell-checker flags the word ‘commenter’. It is true that it does not appear as a separate entry in the Oxford English Dictionary. However, it is listed under the verb ‘comment’ as a derivative noun. The original word for someone who comments is ‘commentator’. But there is now a verb ‘commentate’, a back formation from ‘commentator’, which has the specific meaning of ‘report on an event as it occurs’, for example, on a sports event. If someone who commentates is a commentator, I argue that someone who comments should be called a ‘commenter’. After all, someone who runs is a runner, not a ‘runnator’.