King Herod

The Z Factor XII: Masada and other Myths

“When we carefully examine …. the Great Revolt and Masada, a portrait of heroism …. is simply not provided. On the contrary. The narrative conveys the story of a doomed (and questionable) revolt, of a majestic failure and destruction of the Second Temple and of Jerusalem, of large-scale massacres of the Jews, of different factions of Jews fighting and killing each other, of collective suicide (an act not viewed favourably by the Jewish faith) by a group of terrorists and assassins whose “fighting spirit” may have been questionable.”

– Kim Stubbs, History News Network


The State of Israel and its claim to legitimacy stretches back to the patriarchs of Moses where romantic fantasy is constantly injected into the American-Jewish mind, far more than Israeli Jews. The almost guilty obligation to support the Jewish homeland is constantly reinforced by cultural archetypes saturating Hollywood and the corporate media. A stranglehold on voting and legislation from the ubiquitous Israeli lobby together with a hefty annual tax-payers’ bonus ensures an unquestioning support for the illusion of a hard fought “promised land.”

The Bible is seen as the greatest book ever written. It is true that there is great spiritual wisdom to be found within its pages. One might also say that great truths were systematically covered up and reinterpreted according to the dictates of the organised Church down through the ages. Which means that the Old Testament Bible has ultimately operated as a tool of control for the masses. What it certainly isn’t is an historical record. There are several books on the subjects worth reading to gain an overview of just how much Biblical propaganda has enveloped and shaped Western Culture. (To start with you might try: Who Wrote the Bible: The Making of a Christian Myth; The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q, both by Burton L. Mack and Laura Knight-Jadczyk’s online texts: Who Wrote the Bible? Along with her other publication: Comets and the Horns of Moses).

Similarly, public relations firms and PSYOPS have traditionally served Zionist interests whether it is ensuring the conquest of Iraq piggy-backing American interests or the embroidering of Utopian dreams of a Greater Israel. [1] Equally, recently declassified files in America have revealed just how invasive are the covert PR and lobbying activities of this little state. In the US, following a Senate investigation, the National Security Archive at George Washington University made the documents public leaving in no doubt how Israel attempts to shape media coverage for its own ends. [2]
The weaving of a highly subjective Jewish dream is tragically real. It is a collective umbilical cord nourished on a history of fantasy and authoritarian power on the one hand and covert manipulation on the other, where the mirroring of Nazi and Jew has been flipping over and over before and after the Holocaust. As one Jewish author noted: “A good many Israelis see that if conflict with the Arabs continues, they are in danger of becoming like the Germans from 1933 to 1945 – accomplices if not perpetrators of permanent oppression.” [3]

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Aerial view of Masada in the Judaean Desert with the Dead Sea in the distance. | Photo credit: Andrew Shiva (wikipedia) photo credit to Andrew Shiva

And this is exactly what has been happening for decades in the occupied territories of Palestine. The mythology of Jewish victim-hood from the massacre at Masada to the monopoly of suffering from the Nazi-led holocaust are both vital in this regard, extracting the necessary psychic reparation from the rest of us in order to keep the nationalist visions of Zion on track.

Situated in the desert and overlooking the Dead Sea, Masada, (Hebrew for “Fortress”) has a special place in Jewish legend. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, between 37 and 31 BCE the story unfolded with the following characters:

Herod the Great built the fortress of Masada between Herod, an Idumean, had been made King of Judea by his Roman overlords and was hated by his Jewish subjects. […] Some 75 years after Herod’s death, at the beginning of the Revolt of the Jews against the Romans in 66 CE, a group of Jewish rebels overcame the Roman garrison of Masada. After the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple (70 CE) they were joined by zealots and their families who had fled from Jerusalem. With Masada as their base, they raided and harassed the Romans for two years. Then, in 73 CE, the Roman governor Flavius Silva marched against Masada with the Tenth Legion, auxiliary units and thousands of Jewish prisoners-of-war. The Romans established camps at the base of Masada, laid siege to it and built a circumvallation wall. They then constructed a rampart of thousands of tons of stones and beaten earth against the western approaches of the fortress and, in the spring of the year 74 CE, moved a battering ram up the ramp and breached the wall of the fortress. [4]

Led by Eleazar ben Ya’ir almost one thousand men, women and children decided to commit mass suicide by burning the fortress rather than face enslavement by the besieging Roman army. The remaining Zealots killed each other through casting lots. Only two women lived to tell the tale passed onto one Joseph ben Matityahu who changed his name to the Roman moniker Josephus Flavius after the outbreak of the “Great Jewish Rebellion against Rome (66 CE) when he was appointed governor of Galilee.” [5]

Suspicious name changing aside, it turns out the only written source about Masada is Josephus Flavius’ account called: The Jewish War which automatically sets up a red flag. In fact, the account is a fine exercise in early Jewish propaganda on behalf of a faithful Mosaic compulsion to Israeli nation-building and self-esteem. In 1995, author Nachum Ben-Yehuda offered highly convincing evidence which showed that Masada was a forerunner in ancient Israeli psychological operations and a “socially constructed … shrine for Jewish martyrdom and heroism.” [6]

sicarii

Artist’s rendering of the Sicarii

Quite apart from all academic sources tracing the myth back to this one account, Josephus Flavius was not quite who he appeared to be. The name changing gives a clue in that Flavius joined the Romans and was considered a “Judas” to the Jewish cause. However, more shocking still was that the Masada “Zealots” were actually assassins practicing their trade against both Romans and Jews. Rather than the wholly out-of-character image of Jewish-revolutionaries who loathed the Romans, these “Sicarii” or “dagger men” were driven out of Jerusalem by their Jewish clansman and had nothing to do with resisting Roman domination. Rather it seems, they fled to Masada as another example of factional infighting.

This band of brothers proceeded to wreak havoc in nearby Jewish settlements massacring inhabitants that largely consisted of women and children, with one raid numbering more than 700 dead. [7] To put it bluntly, Masada’s defenders were “thieves and assassins who robbed and killed other Jews.” [8]According to Ben-Yehuda the propaganda: “… was consciously invented, fabricated, and supported by key moral entrepreneurs and organizations in the Yishuv” within the Israeli community.[9]

Meanwhile, in the modern age, from all over the Jewish diaspora Jews come flocking – the Israeli military among them – to visit a virtual Jewish Mecca to rekindle devotion and ideology to Zionist nationalism. If this fabrication on behalf of a Nation State was just that, then it would be no different to so much of what has come down to us as “his-story.” But there is a disturbing undercurrent to this legend that may yet feed into a tragic denouement directly affecting Israel and Jewish peoples everywhere.

Keeping in mind US Dominionist beliefs alongside the Jewish Messianism of Chabad Lubavitchers, Jewish academics and social commentators have been picking up on the fact that turning Israel into a present-day Masada may not be the most sensible line of defence and could be courting future disaster. In the hot bed of Middle Eastern politics and messianic fervour the push to carve up Arab nations and plunder their resources, fostering the myth of Israeli Jews as inside the collective suicide complex is dangerously tempting providence. Indeed, the current game plan has many elements to it that confers exactly that scenario playing out in the not so distant future. As many Zionists call for Jews to return to the Homeland, Masada serves as a psychic entrainment to that end, thus, there is a danger of a double-cross at work with a large proportion of Israelis set to be destroyed in the ensuing chaos. Israel’s precocious arming with nuclear weapons and aggravated preaching to other nations in the region is playing with fire.

As journalist and author Christopher Bollyn observes:

“The world of Zionist terrorism is small and based on certain family ties. The Zionist terrorist regime of Israel today is very much like the Sicarii Zealots of the First Century. The Sicarii were Jewish robbers and terrorists who killed other Jews to further their extremist ends. Facing the power of the Roman army, the Sicarii wound up killing hundreds of Jews in the massacre of Masada. The Israeli terrorist regime of Netanyahu and Barak uses Jews as human shields, which endangers all Jews, Zionist and non-Zionist, in the same way as the Sicarii of Masada in the First Century. Israel today is becoming more and more like one huge Masada.” [10]

Meanwhile, thanks to the Jewish myth-making machine of Hollywood and the History channel, Israel’s Masada (inside the Masada National Park) does a roaring trade on the pilgrimage and tourist front, offering package tours, weddings, corporate functions and Bar Mitvahs in and around the site.

***

Another example of clever marketing to elicit support was the novel Exodus >by Leon Uris published in 1958. Replete with virtual Jewish super-heroes and feats of daring-do, it was commissioned by a New York public relations company headed by Edward Gottlieb with the express aim of “creating a more sympathetic attitude towards Israel.” The book was a sensation and fulfilled its objective of popularising the plight of Jewry down through the ages and placing in the minds of the public the notion of Israel as a divinely sanctioned nation-state. [11]A Hollywood film followed in 1960, directed by Otto Preminger and with an all-star cast. The fact that this was a blatant PR exercise for the Zionist cause – which made everyone a lot of money to boot – was not lost on many Arab and Jewish commentators alike.

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Various editions of Leon Uris’ Exodus (1958)

Uris produced a book that is a piece of entertaining and well-written propaganda – but propaganda nonetheless, with historical facts either missing or distorted in Israel’s favour in order to feed into the myth of a “triumphant” return. As the title suggests, the author took his cue from the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament where Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt and through the wilderness to Mount Sinai. It here that God (Yahweh) offers them the Covenant and in exchange the land of Canaan on a platter which is celebrated as the Jewish festival of Passover. The problem is that there is no evidence that such an Exodus took place for a number of reasons which include both archaeology [12] and the nature  of the Old Testament itself. As mentioned, it would be an understatement to say that the Bible is not a reliable historical source despite what the thought police may tell us.

On this point, Niels Peter Lemche, a biblical scholar at the University of Copenhagen, writes:

The liberation from Egypt is a critical moment in the history of Israel. A nation and its religion depend upon it. Without it, Israel’s nationhood would have been a historical footnote, and its faith in Yahweh as the God of Israel would have remained insignificant. The Exodus represents more than a national liberation: it marks the birth of a nation and justifies that nation’s very existence.

Two other events become important ‘foundation legends’ for the Israelites: the revelation at Sinai, and the occupation of Canaan. The Exodus marks the beginning of the people and the source of its identity, but the people also need a religion and a land. Without both, the people cannot survive but will face annihilation. A national identity requires a concrete, physical space within which to develop. Without its religion, the people would wander aimlessly through the wilderness like ghostly figures.

At Sinai, Yahweh presents himself as the God who liberated Israel from Egyptian bondage – the very same God who at the beginning of history entered into an exclusive relationship with the patriarchs and promised them a beautiful land.[13]

The whole justification for the State of Israel rests on this liberation from Egypt. What if it is a literary fiction like so much of the mythology that has come after it? In fact, Lemche and others have demonstrated that not only did the Exodus not happen, but Moses was invented as a lynchpin protagonist for a complex set of independently written patriarchal narratives which were joined together later for what can only be for reasons of control:

The book of Exodus represents a literary quilt, pieced together from the fragments of universal and timeless adventure stories and legends. These are examples of narrative art rather than specifically Israelite folk literature. Appreciating the utility of their plots and characters, the biblical authors appropriated these universal tales and reconstituted them with their own Israelite template. […]  This study demonstrates that the biblical portrayals of Israel’s earliest history – set in the larger contexts of Mesopotamia, Syrian Palestine, and Egypt – are literary compositions rather than historical sources. The biblical authors consulted various ancient tales and legends, but did not approach them with a critical eye. … A literary analysis of the Pentateuch [the first five books of the Torah / Old Testament] proves incontrovertibly that its narratives are not reliable sources for the study of antiquity; rather, they are works of art. Without regard for exact historical data regarding the development of their people, those writers used every weapon in their literary arsenal to create powerful and dramatic narratives. … One cannot reconstruct Near Eastern history from these narratives; rather, we must be content with what they are: adventure stories and legends, crafted and written by late author-compilers to discuss “the old days” with their audience. Clearly, that audience did not measure the historic by historical standards.[14]

As a result, the monotheistic Jewish myths and the creation of Israel have caused incalculable suffering and death, not only for the Jews themselves but for millions of people in the Middle East and around the world. Amid the resulting drama and conflict Palestinian History has been: “… ignored and silenced by biblical studies because its object of interest has been an ancient Israel conceived and presented as the taproot of Western civilization …” when objective scientific evidence continues to show that such stories have no basis in fact. [15]

As an adjunct to this subject, the reader might also like to explore Dr. Ashraf Ezzat’s Egypt Knew No Pharaohs (2015) which synthesizes historical and archaelogical evidence as well as his own findings to show that this bibilical propaganda extends so deep so as to paint vast deception against Ancient Egypt. After recently writing an online review of the book I’ll include it here:

[Dr. Ashraf Ezzat] show[s] that the original source of the Israelite stories in the Hebrew Bible explicitly shows that a small settlement of Mizraim in Southern Arabia rather than Egypt was the setting for the Moses/Pharaoh tale, including the stories of Abraham and Joseph. These distortions occurred during 2 B.C. at the hand of Jewish scribes in the translation of the Hebrew Bible to the Greek or Septuagint Bible. (Those of you who have read all about the Pharisees and Levite scribes will know that this process of obfuscation and general manipulation of Jewish tribes had been occurring for quite sometime). Yet, it is here that the real damage was done in the context of Ancient Egypt and the slippery slope that followed.

He also points out that this enormously influential culture of Egypt spanning three thousand years had kings and queens which were never referred to as Pharaohs in any Egyptian records linked to Egypt’s Kings, prior to the Greek era of 305 B.C.- 30 AD. We realise that the name “Pharoah” has been cynically drawn from the Mizraimian word: “Faraon” meaning an Arabic Chieftain and where the story of Moses took place. In the same way, Moses and the Israelites do not feature at all in Egyptian oral or written records. Nor was there any mention of Pyramids in Mizraim. (Egypt was called Gopt/Gept rather than Mizraim). Indeed, reference to Pyramids or the Sphinx is also entirely absent from any of the Israelite stories. Illustrating but one example, the whole tribal structure of Israelite tales was obviously incompatible with the agricultural culture of ancient Egypt and its rejection of the slave trade. So, when this is partnered with a complete lack of archaelogical evidence to support the stories located in Palestine and current accepted locations in Biblical theology, it becomes abundantly clear that the location of the Biblical myths of Moses’ Exodus never took place in Egypt and likewise, the Israelites never set foot in Egypt at all.

Ezzat shows us that the true Biblical landscape is located in South Arabia and North Yemen, with the latter location providing the start of what was to become Judaism which, along with its commensurate tribal conflicts, was exclusively Arabic.

Yet, once the myth has taken hold, however false it maybe, the psychic power continues to have its effect, regardless. After all, since when has truth been allowed to get in the way of a good story? Israel plays an enormously powerful role in the maintainance of myth in order to benefit its own perceived survival, not least as an excuse to continue perpetrating acts of violence, abuse and murder against the Palestinian population.  To that end, Professor Keith W. Whitelam of the Department of Bibilical Studies at the University of Sheffield in England describes the thorny issues of past and current interpretations in academic theological research of Israelite history:

The search for ancient Israel, in which I include for shorthand purposes second Temple Judaism, has consumed phenomenal intellectual and material resources in our universities, faculties of theology, divinity schools, theological colleges, seminaries, and departments of archaeology, particularly in the USA, Europe, and Israel. A quick glance through the prospectuses and catalogues of these institutions will reveal numerous courses on the history and archaeology of ancient Israel conducted in the context of the study of the Hebrew Bible from Jewish and Christian perspectives. This is just as true in ‘secular’ universities with departments of Religious Studies rather than faculties of theology. Interestingly, and revealingly, I have been able to discover very few courses on the history of ancient Israel in departments of History or Ancient History. It seems that ancient Israelite history is the domain of Religion or Theology and not of History. […] Biblical studies have been dominated from its inception by a concern for the history of ancient Israel as the key to understanding the Hebrew Bible. It has been of fundamental concern for Christian theology since Christianity is conceived of as a religion based upon revelation within history. Philip Davies has demonstrated, however, that the ‘ancient Israel’ of biblical studies is a scholarly construct based upon a misreading of the biblical traditions and divorced from historical reality. […]

The cultural and political factors that have dominated biblical studies discourse on ancient Israel have denied the development of a strategy for investigating such issues. Ironically, much of the archaeological work, the regional surveys and site excavations, which have contributed to the paradigm shift are coloured by the overwhelming search for ancient Israel, the material reality which, it is presumed, will help to illuminate the Hebrew Bible. … It has been difficult to uncover or document sufficiently the subtle political and ideological influences which have shaped historical research in biblical studies. [16]

And there lies the rub.

The paradigm shift hasn’t been powerful enough to dismantle these negative myths and the emotive nature of these fabricated archetypal energies. The hold they have on secular and religious discourse alike, is unlikely to be shifted. The entertainment industries are constantly on hand to reinforce these emotional beliefs which in turn, are dominated by American-Jewish movers and shakers. This wouldn’t be a problem if those beliefs were not tied directly to deep political and social fissures.

An example of just how manipulative it can get was channelled through two films in particular in the last three decades, each arriving with suitable marketing fanfare and associated budget. The first was the multi award-winning 1993 film of Schindler’s List directed by Steven Spielberg and the second a nine hour Holocaust epic Shoah made in 1985 by French documentary film-maker Claude Lanzmann. Both had an enormous impact on Jewish and non-Jewish audiences alike.

Some commentators accuse Shoah of distorting the Polish part played in the Holocaust by casting them as the villain in the drama thereby fuelling, still further, the concept of Jewish victimhood as exclusive and isolated. The Polish peasants are given a shared guilt alongside their Nazi persecutors the inference being that Poles aided and abetted their path to destruction. Although over two million ethnic poles perished it seems through Lanzmann’s direction, such historical loathing of non-Jewish Poles is denied the same kind of victim status demanded by Jewish mythology. Lanzmann, responding to a query by an interviewer if his film was accusation against Poles, responded: “Yes, it is the Poles who accuse themselves. They mastered the routine of extermination.’” [17]

According to Israeli Omar Bartov distinguished Professor of European History and Professor of History and Professor of German Studies at Brown University, Rhode Island in the United States: “Shoah is highly biased and its biases are intensely personal, stemming directly from its maker’s own national and ideological prejudices and finding expression in his style of interviewing, his editing technique, and the context of his comments.” [18] And those “prejudices” created the impression that the historical reasons that Jews went to their deaths was in a large part due to the indifference and even the assistance of Poles, which is contrary to witness testimony and history.

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Promotional Film posters for Schindler’s List and Shoah

Similarly, despite Schindler’s List taking place in Poland, Polish persecution is not explored in the film, it is strictly a Jewish enterprise, a creative undertaking which grossed $4 billion by 1994.

The film’s premise was based on a book by Thomas Keneally originally titled: Schindler’s Ark (released in America as Schindler’s list) and which told the story of Nazi industrialist Oskar Schindler who rescued 1,200 Jews from concentration camps during the Second World War. It is undoubtedly a tale of sacrifice, immense courage and fortitude from Schindler and his Jewish workers. However, in Spielberg’s version we see it, yet again, as a black and white portrayal of evil against the Jews hermetically sealed against the possibility that other tribal groupings and nationalities were suffering. They are not merely Jewish but almost saintly in their roles, cardboard cut-outs of holiness waiting for Schindler to do the right thing. There is barely a the hint of a stain on any of the characters portrayed in the film perhaps because it was about an archetypes of clear demarcation of good and evil, victimhood, heroic rescue and deliverance rather than historical realism.

In Keneally’s book however, praised for its emphasis on careful research, the mise en scène is somewhat different. The Jews in question were deeply connected to the SS forming part of the “Judenrate” a sort of secret Jewish police that reported to the Nazis as well as making sure that Nazi policy was implemented. It was essentially a nest of agents created by the Nazis to ferment divisions and propaganda within Jewish groupings and to neutralise any internal oppositions. Those with connections to the Judenrate often had an advantage over their compatriots, but this also meant that it was the wealthy that were able to bribe their way out of detainment. [19]

Keneally writes about Symche Spira, an agent in the Judenrate who took his orders from the SS and who at their command, set up a police force by recruiting his friends:

“Spira’s Political Section would go beyond the demands of grudging cooperation and would be full of venal men, men with complexes, with close-held grudges about the social and intellectual slights they’d received in earlier days from respectable middle-class Jewry. Apart from Spira, there were Szymon Spitz and Marcel Zellinger, Ignacy Diamond, David Gutter the salesman, Forster and Gruner and Landau. They settled in to a career of extortion and of making out for the SS lists of unsatisfactory or seditious ghetto dwellers.” [20]

The above was set against the background of endemic extortion from those wishing to get on the list. Ironically, Oskar Schindler went bankrupt after spending much of his money rescuing Jewish people.

Inclusion of the reality of life in the Nazi ghetto and the ever-present threat of being carted off to the Nazi death camps would have fed into Jewish stereotypes and the incomprehensible Jewish exploitation of each other. If nothing else matters but the redemption and rescue of Jews, where no other ethnic suffering can possibly feature in the narrative, then to show survival that overtook Jewish solidarity could not be permitted because such objective reflection on Jewish history is not allowed.

The issue here is not that one shouldn’t feel sympathy and grief for Jewish suffering and those that lost their lives in such horrific circumstances – this is obvious. But to understand when and how that demand turns manipulative. It is about how religions and ideologies are hijacked and ponerised by pathological constructs. We are all members of tribes none of which are exempt from pathogenic infection. It so happens that the impetus behind Judaism and the Jewish peoples’ ascendency may harbour more than its fair share. The Jewish story has lent itself to such normalised distortions due to its engineered uniqueness and perhaps the consequent peculiarities of its psychological typography. This may end in a cumulative tragedy of epic proportions if they do not begin to wake up to who is controlling the direction of this singular and talented tribe.

In one sense, the Jewish people may yet hold the destiny of us all in their hands, but perhaps not in a way that was first thought.

 

 


Notes

[1] ‘Israel Turns to P.R. Firm for Makeover Amid Violence’ The Miami Herald July 29, 2001. Martin Jozefowicz a young Jewish Zionist who was chosen to Head the PSYOPS outfit the Lincoln grp to disseminate false stories in US media as well as active operations in Iraq itself.
[2] ‘Declassified: Massive Israeli Manipulation of US Media Exposed’ By Russia Today (VIDEO) | See also: ‘The Israel Lobby Swims The Atlantic’ By Grant Smith, http://www.anti-war.com, August 20, 2010. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article26199.htm | You can download the files from the web-site of the Institute for Research on Middle Eastern Policy. (IRMEP)
[3].‘Why Do Zionists Fear a Muslim on the Anti-Terrorism Commission?’ By Norman Birnbaum, Norman Los Angeles Times, July 11, 1999.
[4] The Jewish Virtual Library online.
[5] Ibid.
[6] The Masada Myth. Collective Memory and Mythmaking in Israel by Nachum Ben-Yehuda, University of Wisconsin Press, 1995.
[7] Ibid. (p.36)
[8] Ibid. (p.300)
[9] Ibid. (p. 307)
[10] ‘The Goldman Scam & John Paulson’s Links to 9-11’ By Christopher Bollyn, April 20, 2010 http://www.bollyn.com
[11] p. xxv, Deliberate Deceptions. Facing the Facts About the U.S.-Israel Relationship, by Paul Findley, Lawrence Hill Books, New York, New York, 1995. / Exodus by Leon Uris Published by Corgi; New impression edition: Mar 1970. From Amazon.co.uk we read : “Exodus is an international publishing phenomenon–the towering novel of the twentieth century’s most dramatic geopolitical event. Leon Uris magnificently portrays the birth of a new nation in the midst of enemies–the beginning of an earthshaking struggle for power. Here is the tale that swept the world with its fury: the story of an American nurse, an Israeli freedom fighter caught up in a glorious, heartbreaking, triumphant era. Here is Exodus –one of the great best-selling novels of all time.”
[12] Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come from? by William G. Dever, Eerdmans , 2003. ISBN 0-8028-0975-8 . – “..no room for an Exodus from Egypt or a 40-year pilgrimage through the Sinai wilderness.”(p.99).
[13] pp. 62- 63; Prelude to Israel’s Past- Backgrounds and Beginnings of Israel’s History and Identity by Niel Peter Lemche, published by Hendrickson Publishers, 1998 | ISBN-10: 1565633431
[14] op.cit; Lemche (pp.62-63).
[15] p.1.; The Invention of Ancient Israel – The Silencing of Palestinian History by Keith W. Whitelam. Routledge; New edition edition, May 25, 1997 | ISBN-10: 0415107598.
[16] op. cit.Whitelam (pp.2-3)
[17] p. 108; The Jews and the Poles in World War II By Stefan Korbanski, Hippocrene Books, New York 1989.
[18] p.55; Spielberg’s Oskar: Hollywood Tries Evil by Bartov, Omer. From Spielberg’s Holocaust: Critical Perspectives on Schindler’s List edited by Yoshefa Loshitsky.Indiana University Press, 1997.
[19] Poland’s Holocaust. Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide in the Second Republic, 1918-1947. By Tadeusz Piotrowski,.McFarland & Co., Jefferson, North Carolina, and London, 1998.
[20] Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally Published by Hodder & Stoughton Ltd; New edition edition, 17 Feb 1994. ISBN-13: 978-0340606513. Originally published as Schindler’s Ark in 1982.

Religious Authoritarians V: Rapture and Killing for God

“Never so sure our rapture to create,

As when it touch’d the brink of all we hate.”

― William Hazlitt, author and philosopher


Alongside the burgeoning rise of all things eschatological we also have the religious marketing phenomena of the “Rapture,” a term that refers to being “caught up” in anticipation of the Second Coming and finally resurrected. The word was chosen due to the mix of meanings from ecstatic joy, spiritual rebirth and the act of transporting the supplicant from one plane of existence to another.

Those responsible for introducing the concept of the Rapture came from a scattering of individuals. Firstly from puritanical American preachers Mather and Increase Cotton, a father and son duo from 17th Century; the theologians Philip Doddridge and John Gill who helpfully introduced the actual word in popular religious discourse. Various sparks of religious fervour supporting this idea appeared throughout the 17th Century until the mid-18th Century Scottish minister and theologian Edward Irving passed the baton to John Nelson Darby who took hold of the idea with particular fervour and made it truly popular for royal and rabble alike. Though rejected by the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox churches and the Anglican Communion, the eschatology went into overdrive for the Protestants. It caused a stir in Baptist, Pentecostal and other fundamentalist denominations in both Britain and America; now they had something to really set their sights on, acting as a laser beam of focus within traditional eschatological movements as a whole. [1]

Teachings_of_Jesus_38_of_40._the_rapture._one_in_the_field._Jan_Luyken_etching._Bowyer_Bible

The Rapture: One in the Field Jan Luyken – Bowyer’s Bible, Bolton, England 1795 (wikipedia)

There are differing theories within the movement on timing: pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, pre Wrath, Partial and Post-tribulation (see chart below) but the general consensus is that Jesus Christ appears in the air and has a con-flab with the righteous immediately preceding his return to Earth. They believe that their salvation is assured provided they sign on the dotted line to manifest Armageddon so that He can return at the appointed time. Thus they can be plucked from seven years’ worth of apocalyptic “tribulation,” which they enthusiastically helped to create. (How is that for a twist on “create your own reality”?) Meanwhile, the rest of us will be gnashing our teeth and weeping and wailing in a pit of fire.  It’s appears to be a little more complicated then that however, as you can see from the chart below:

 Tribulation_views.svg

Diagram of the major tribulation views in Christian theology | LamorakOwn work uploaded by User B (wikipedia)

The faithful Dominionists are busy making sure that this is exactly the scenario that will play out. This is the bread-and-butter of fanaticism and should come as no surprise for anyone who has studied religious authoritarians. However, what makes this phenomenon chilling is the heavy, modern-day marketing of “Christian duty” which must have a guiding hand in its manifestation and furthermore, to rejoice in destruction. The absence of love and compassion in favour of vicious selfishness and spiritual greed is astonishing to behold.

Rapture prediction has been big business. Books, audio tapes and seminars offering sage advice in preparing for the Big Day have saturated the Christian market. Gracing our bookshops and internet outlets are The End-Times Survival Handbook: What to Expect before the Rapture and How to Survive It (2003) by Joan Hake Robie and Daymond R. Duck which seems to be somewhat oxymoronic. If all genuine Christians are going to be raptured then what is there to survive?

Then we have Jerry B Jenkins, ghost-writer for Tim LaHaye who seems to have cornered the market on apocalyptic writings using fiction to promote their message. With subtle titles such as: The Rapture: In the Twinkling of an Eye–Countdown to the Earth’s Last Days (2007); The Mark: The Beast Rules the World (2011) and The Remnant: On the Brink of Armageddon (2011) and the popular Box-set of ten volumes entitled: The Left Behind Collection (2003) the formula is most reminiscent of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s Mission Earth series and equally lucrative.

Part of the success of the books is drawn from its sensationalist promotion of genuine fears which are already rising from the uncertainty of economic disruption and social dislocation. LaHaye is also the founder and president of the Council for National Policy, a secretive outfit known to very few but which exerts considerable influence. Formed in 1981 the CNP brings together a collection of disparate ultra-conservative groupings to focus and strengthen the right wing Christian agenda on Middle East foreign policy.

A New York Times report described CNP members as comprising of “a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country” who meet “behind closed doors at undisclosed locations … to strategize about how to turn the country to the right.” [2]  The group is chock full of Neo-Conservatives and Christian Zionists who share the same burning desire to see the Middle East reduced to an apocalyptic pile of rubble as a prelude to the Second Coming. George W. Bush, former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, devotee of Jewish messianic cult Chabad Lubavitch, were all members.

As author and journalist George Monbiot observed at the time:

“So here we have a major political constituency – representing much of the current president’s core vote – in the most powerful nation on Earth, which is actively seeking to provoke a new world war. Its members see the invasion of Iraq as a warm-up act, as Revelation (9:14-15) maintains that four angels ‘which are bound in the great river Euphrates’ will be released to slay the third part of men.” [3]

Though the Bush Administration has gone, the legacy remains within the Obama government.

US TV Evangelist Rev. Jack von Impe allegedly sent his pearls of wisdom directly into Bush’s ear and advised him on the religious stakes concerning the war in Iraq. Von Impe believes (and probably hopes) that Russia and the Arab nations will attack and destroy Israel as part of a nuclear Armageddon no later than the end of 2012. [4]  Thankfully, along with brains, prediction is not an Evangelist’s strongest suit.

Conversely, another Armageddon cheer-leader and Christian Zionist TV preacher John Hagee believes that the United States must stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel for the return of Christ at the appointed hour. Essential to this countdown to destruction is the Neo-Con doctrine of a pre-emptive strike against Iran which will initiate the countdown to a global holocaust. The fact that part of this mythology includes the required obliteration of Israel is conveniently left out of his proselytizing.

JCH_at_Podium

JCH_at_Podium Christian Zionist Pastor John C. Hagee of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio Texas at the U.S. Capitol on July 18, 2007 during CUFI’s annual conference | 18 July 2007. Source: Christians United for Israel | photo: Paul Wharton (wikipedia) (Star of David added)

Another Club which has grown into a comprehensive cabal is “The Fellowship” which had its beginnings in the 1930s care of spellbinding Norwegian immigrant and Methodist minister, Abraham Verified. Having changed its name on various occasions since 1935 and cultivated a constant but modest presence throughout politics, its strength and influence is now considerable. Journalist and author Wayne Madsen asserts: “Its stealth existence has been perpetuated by its organization into small cells, a pyramid organization of ‘correspondents,’ ‘associates,’ ‘friends,’ ‘members,’ and ‘core members,’ tax-exempt status for its foundations, and its protection by the highest echelons of our own government and those abroad.” [5]

It seeks to present itself as a religious fraternity when it is nothing more than cult of political control working in tandem with other factions for totalitarian government. Like other nested military-intelligence cults, Fellowship members believe that the New World Government should consist of the Christian elect that will rise from the ashes and establish God’s dominion on Earth. Madsen connects the heritage from which The Fellowship draws its succour is none other than our favourite iconic despot Hitler, who:

“… planned for a ‘Thousand Year Reich’ over the planet. It is not a coincidence that Hitler desired and the so-called Christian Dominionists/reconstructionists now contemplate a thousand year reign. The Christian Dominionists are the political heirs of Hitler, the Norwegians Vereide and Quisling, Buchman, Opus Dei founder and fascist patron saint Josemaria Escriva and their political and religious cohorts.” [6]

This is essentially what we are talking about here: a virulent, religious fascism that has merged with all the many elements of the Conservative Establishment and melded with American-German Nazism to produce a potent political force. It is the new militant army that exerts near total control over the United States executive, its legislature and several state governments. The federal judiciary and the U.S. Supreme Court are sure to follow, as its influence in high-level international affairs continues to expand.

This sect may well be the source of the revival in Dominionism within the Bush and Obama administrations. Many top level members of the military are in its thrall appealing to the spellbinders and psychopaths that fancy cutting a retributive slice of messianic deliverance upon their enemy. Some of these members include those for whom sexual abuse and torture are part of God’s will for the New American-Israel, such as former Joint Chiefs Chairman General David Jones, former Marine Corps Commandant and current NATO commander General James L. Jones, Lt. Gen. Bruce Fister, the former head of the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, Iran-contra figure Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, current Joint Chiefs chairman General Richard Myers, and yes, the familiar presence of Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, the military head of Defence Secretary Rumsfeld’s intelligence branch who went on to create the torture and sexual molestation of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The United States has become the battleground for millennial fanaticism of the kind that was last seen at the time of the crusades. Instead of swords, arrows and armies we have drones, smart bombs and technocratic psychological warfare.

US-Empire-Crusader

The Crusades: Updated and re-packaged under Dominionists

Notice how religious, scientific and civic activism is engineered to conflict and fight out each other’s opposing force so that the population is kept busy and attention deflected away from those pushing the buttons of these movements? On the one hand you have atheists and humanists all waxing lyrical about the evils of the religious right while the latter hurls fire and brimstone accusations at the communist Anti-Christ minions of the left. All the while “Satan” puffs a cigar and warms his hands on the conflict from each.

There is no shortage of groups and individuals proclaiming a Rapture date from the 17th Century right up to the present. The well-publicized announcements of radio evangelist Harold Camping predicted the fateful / joyful day as September 6, 1994. Surprisingly enough, nothing happened that could be described as Rapturous. Camping revised his predictions and confidently told us that May 21, 2011 was in fact, the true date for a trans-spiritual pick-up. Again, nothing happened. Camping put this down to God’s Judgement. Even God can get his Rapture day wrong it seems.  So, October 21, 2011 was to be the new Departure point, which nonetheless, proved surprisingly – for Camping at least – a non-Rapture event. [7] (More ruptured than raptured?)

However, there may be some truth to the predictions of a specific time of “Tribulation,” the Rapture being the least important of the beliefs currently swirling in the vortex of Dominionist anticipation. This is where sects like The Fellowship, Christian Fundamentalism and Zionism link hands forming a circle around the Biblical icon of End Times prophecy:

Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

 


Notes

[1] “What is ‘The Rapture?’” by Fr. Dimitri Cozby. Orthodox Research Institute.
[2] ‘Club of the Most Powerful Gathers in Strictest Privacy’ By David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, August 28, 2004.
[3] Their Beliefs are Bonkers…, George Monbiot, The Guardian, 2004.
[4] ‘Is Bush Getting Apocalyptic Advice?’, MSNBC, August 13th, 2003.
[5] ‘Expose: The “Christian” Mafia – Where Those Who Now Run the U.S. Government Came From and Where They Are Taking Us’ By Wayne Madsen, May 2005, waynemadsenreport.com/
[6] Ibid.
[7] ‘Apocalypse (Not Quite) Now: Camping Picks New End-of-World Date’ May 24 2011. Laist.com