Religious fanaticism and religious faith

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.

Mirror images

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.

Further reading

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’.


About David Gerald Fincham

Retired academic scientist.
This entry was posted in 4. RELIGIONS, Israel / Palestine. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Nick

    WOTL – on another page you challenged me to prove something I’d said about the UNSC resolutions that were passed to stop Israel being created.

    The UNSC came together three times (and the UNGA once) to try and put a stop to the unfolding disaster that culminated in the creation of Israel:

    “Appeals to all Governments and peoples, particularly in and around Palestine, to take all possible action to prevent or reduce such disorders as are now occurring in Palestine.” UNSC 42 5th Mar 1948. Eight votes to nil

    Then comes a demand for a ceasefire (UNSC 43, 1st Apr 1948, days before Deir Yassin, when it is obvious that the Zionists are running amok far outside the partition line).

    Then comes this:

    April 17 1948 … refrain from any immediate political activity which might later prejudice the rights or claims of any community … and refrain from any actions which might endanger the safety of any of the Holy Places in the territory”. Passed: 9 for – 2 abstain – 0 against.

    Finally, on the last day of the Mandate, 14th May 1948, UNGA 186 empowered a UN mediator for Palestine (presently to be the very pro-Zionist Count Bernadotte, rescued many Jews towards the end the war) as their man in the region. The Zionists murdered him and dragged their feet over any investigation, despite knowing exactly who had done it.

    • walk tall hang loose

      Hello Nick. You misunderstand, I was not challenging you to prove anything, I was asking for the numbers of the resolutions so I can look them up and complete some of the work in progress on the article. Many thanks for the information. From the text you quote, I would say that 46 was designed to stop the Israeli declaration, and the others to stop the fighting, but obviously I need to look into this period in more detail.

      • Nick

        Resolution 42 strikes me as quite important – ordering the Arab armies (in March) to enter Palestine and put a stop to the disturbances.

        However, I recall that Talknic had some problems with that interpretation, I didn’t discover what they were.

        As regards the translation “wiping off the pages of history” versus “disappearing from the pages of history”, I recall that Juan Cole’s preference was for the passive verb but other Farsi speakers thought it was more active.

        • walk tall hang loose

          Read the report of the Palestine Commission referred to in the Resolution. (UN Document S/676). It is a dramatic appeal to the SC to provide NON-PALESTINIAN forces to help THE COMMISSION restore law and order and thereby avoid a catastrophe at the end of the Mandate. The response by the SC is utterly pathetic. I have no idea what point 2. of the resolution means: but military intervention by the Arab States certainly could not be intended.

  • Yishai_Kohen

    You want to use the prophets for your own purposes but wantonly disregard those prophesies that are inconvenient.

    At least be intellectually honest.

  • Nick

    So this man told you that his G-d says the land belongs to him and his people not stinking Muslims?

    Even though the Muslim is probably a direct descendant of the Jews, while the settler is actually a Siberian peasant? (Both likelihoods can be sourced to Zionist sources).

    Quelle surprise!

    • Yishai_Kohen

      “And Abraham gave ALL that he had to Isaac. But to the sons of the concubines that Abraham had, he gave gifts and sent them away from his son while he yet lived, eastward, to the east country.” (Genesis 25:5-6)

      Ishmael was the son of Hagar, a concubine.

      “All” means “all”. There’s no room for error here. The birthright, the land, and everything else were given to Abraham’s son, Isaac. ALL of it.

      Now, just because Ishmael lived where he lived didn’t make it his and his descendents’. It just meant that he lived there. I can live in Tokyo, but that doesn’t mean that it belongs to me and my descendants as an everlasting inheritance.

      In fact, the Bible is replete with verses that CLEARLY state that the land was given to the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob- NOT to Ishmael and his descendants. I would post them, but there are so many that I wouldn’t want the server to crash here (lest someone accuse me of being intolerant of others with different beliefs from my own).

      Look in the book of Joshua where the land was divided amongst the 12 tribes as per G-d’s will. I don’t recall Ishmael getting anything there. Perhaps you could find me a verse to show otherwise.

      Yes, the seed of Ishmael was also to become a nation [Gen 21:13], a great nation [Gen 21:18], etc… however, that doesn’t mean that it means here in the land of Israel, which CLEARLY and EXCLUSIVELY belongs to the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

      Now, the land of Israel (which, as I have shown CLEARLY and EXCLUSIVELY belongs to the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) is around 1/10th of 1% of the Middle East:

      That leaves the other 99.9% for the great nation of Ishmael. I don’t see how they can complain.


      PPS We’re not like you Nazis. It isn’t about DNA. King David himself came from a convert, Ruth the Moabite. And I have a number of neighbors (of all races) who converted.

      • Nick

        So your version of Sharia says that all the land from the Nile to the Euphrates belongs to you ….

        Hmmm – dangerous jihadi, anyone?

        • Yishai_Kohen

          I don’t have a version of Sharia. It isn’t MY “cross to bear”.

          As to the Nile to the Euphrates claim, I don’t even know of anyone in Israel who discusses any such a thing. Nope. We’re fine with OUR tiny 1/10th of 1% of the Middle East. We have no designs on anything more.

          It sure is a pity that the Arabs can’t “make do” with the 99.9% that they occupy- even with all of the oil.


          • Nick

            What have you been attacking Palestine, Egypt, Jordan and Syria for if you’re not in the business of land-grabbing?

            What us untermensch recognise as “Lebensraum”.

            But don’t tell us its not official policy, this map comes from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs web-site!

          • Yishai_Kohen

            We’re not attacking anybody. We’re beating the hell out of them when they attack us. Nope. We’re fine with OUR tiny 1/10th of 1% of the Middle East. We have no designs on anything more.

            It sure is a pity that the Arabs can’t “make do” with the 99.9% that they occupy- even with all of the oil.

            By the way, note what that map actually says: “Kingdoms of David and Solomon”. I’m sure you can find similar maps on any historical site or book on the subject. And note that it also gives “Modern Israel (within boundaries and cease-fire lines)”.

            Time to change the bong water, homey.

          • Walk Tall Hang Loose

            The caption on the map is a lie. It includes the West Bank as part of Israel, when in fact it is outside both the legal border of Israel and the 1949 Armistice Line. It is part of the territory of Palestine, under military occupation by Israel.

            Please translate your last sentence into English.

      • Walk Tall Hang Loose

        The purpose of my article is not to choose between two opposing fanatical views, but to show that they are both in conflict with true religious faith because they are infected with the evils of tribalism, fantasy and arrogance in the face of God.

        Suppose you are right: that God gave all the land of Israel to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is a huge and unjustified step from there to apply this to the modern State of Israel, some three thousand years later.

        First, no living person can trace their descent to these ancient (and probably legendary) characters. This is true on both the Jewish and Arab sides. Furthermore, Palestinian Arabs are most probably descended from Jews who converted to Christianity and/or Islam, and have nothing to do with Arabia or Ishmael.

        Second, the State of Israel does not share your view. Its Declaration does not mention God (except obliquely), the Bible (except obliquely) or Jerusalem. It specifically states that its territory includes only part of the Land of Israel.

        Third, many Jewish theologians do not share your view. The Haredim opposed Zionism from the start, saying it was forbidden for the Jews to reconstitute Jewish rule in the Land of Israel before the arrival of the Messiah. As Nick has pointed out, this was the view of a majority of the native Jews of Palestine.

        A main theme of my website is that the goal of all religion is to promote the love of God and neighbour; that the neighbour is not limited to the same tribe, religion or nationality, as Jesus taught in the Parable of the Good Samaritan; and that war and conflict are the enemies of love, and are to be abhorred by all religious people. Since the main purpose of the UN Charter is ‘to avoid the scourge of war’ I suggest to you that, as a religious person, you should regard this as the appropriate ‘sacred document’ on which to base your thinking when considering the resolution of the Israel/Arab conflict.