Het uitverkoren volk

Aart Klein: Op de vlucht voor de watersnood, Stavenisse (1953)

Op een moreel oordeel uiten over Israël heerst een taboe. Daartegen zondigen staat als een misdaad gelijk en zo kunnen fascisten, pardon, zionisten er hun voordeel mee doen. De schrijver van een pamflet over de staat Israël ondervond het in alle toonaarden: “Jostein Gaarder, the author of the literary chef d’oeuvre, “Sophie’s World,” has become seriously ill, either with malice or, perhaps, Alzheimer’s, or both.” Zo opende een open brief van het Wiesenthal Centre gericht aan de auteur van GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE. De kunst van het ontmenselijken van de boodschapper van onwelgevallige waarheden beheersen ze kennelijk bij dat centrum uitstekend.
Het bewuste artikel, ingeleid door de vertaler ervan in het Engels. Aansluitend een reactie van Gaarder een week later, eveneens in Aftenposten gepubliceerd.



Israel is now history. We no longer recognize the State of Israel. There is no way back. The State of Israel has raped the world’s recognition and will not achieve peace until it lays down its arms. The State of Israel, in its present form is history, writes Jostein Gaarder.
The form of Gaarder’s condemnation is inspired by Amos, the first Judaic prophet whose message is preserved in scroll (ca. 750 B.C.). Quoting Wikipedia:

“The central idea of the book of Amos according to most scholars is that Yahweh puts his people on the same level as the nations that surround it — Yahweh expects the same morality of them all.”




Jostein Gaarder

There is no turning back. It is time to learn a new lesson: We do no longer recognize the state of Israel. We could not recognize the South African apartheid regime, nor did we recognize the Afghan Taliban regime. Then there were many who did not recognize Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or the Serbs’ ethnic cleansing. We must now get used to the idea: The state of Israel in its current form is history.
We do not believe in the notion of God’s chosen people. We laugh at this people’s fancies and weep over its misdeeds. To act as God’s chosen people is not only stupid and arrogant, but a crime against humanity. We call it racism.

Limits to tolerance

There are limits to our patience, and there are limits to our tolerance. We do not believe in divine promises as justification for occupation and apartheid. We have left the Middle Ages behind. We laugh uneasily at those who still believe that the God of flora, fauna, and galaxies has selected one people in particular as his favorite and given it funny stone tablets, burning bushes, and a license to kill.
We call child murderers ‘child murderers’ and will never accept that such have a divine or historic mandate excusing their outrages. We say but this: Shame on all apartheid, shame on ethnic cleansing, shame on every terrorist strike against civilians, be it carried out by Hamas, Hizballah, or the state of Israel!

Unscrupulous art of war

We acknowledge and pay heed to Europe’s deep responsibility for the plight of the Jews, for the disgraceful harassment, the pogroms, and the Holocaust. It was historically and morally necessary for Jews to get their own home. However, the state of Israel, with its unscrupulous art of war and its disgusting weapons, has massacred its own legitimacy. It has systematically flouted International Law, international conventions, and countless UN resolutions, and it can no longer expect protection from same. It has carpet bombed the recognition of the world. But fear not! The time of trouble shall soon be over. The state of Israel has seen its Soweto.
We are now at the watershed. There is no turning back. The state of Israel has raped the recognition of the world and shall have no peace until it lays down its arms.

Without defense, without skin

May spirit and word sweep away the apartheid walls of Israel. The state of Israel does not exist. It is now without defense, without skin. May the world therefore have mercy on the civilian population. For it is not civilian individuals at whom our doomsaying is directed.
We wish the people of Israel well, nothing but well, but we reserve the right not to eat Jaffa oranges as long as they taste foul and are poisonous. It was endurable to live some years without the blue grapes of apartheid.

They celebrate their triumphs

We do not believe that Israel mourns forty killed Lebanese children more than it for over three thousand years has lamented forty years in the desert. We note that many Israelis celebrate such triumphs like they once cheered the scourges of the Lord as “fitting punishment” for the people of Egypt. (In that tale, the Lord, God of Israel, appears as an insatiable sadist.) We query whether most Israelis think that one Israeli life is worth more than forty Palestinian or Lebanese lives.
For we have seen pictures of little Israeli girls writing hateful greetings on the bombs to be dropped on the civilian population of Lebanon and Palestine. Little Israeli girls are not cute when they strut with glee at death and torment across the fronts.

The retribution of blood vengeance

We do not recognize the rhetoric of the state of Israel. We do not recognize the spiral of retribution of the blood vengeance with “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” We do not recognize the principle of one or a thousand Arab eyes for one Israeli eye. We do not recognize collective punishment or population-wide diets as political weapons. Two thousand years have passed since a Jewish rabbi criticized the ancient doctrine of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
He said: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” We do not recognize a state founded on antihumanistic principles and on the ruins of an archaic national and war religion. Or as Albert Schweitzer expressed it: “Humanitarianism consists in never sacrificing a human being to a purpose.”

Compassion and forgiveness

We do not recognize the old Kingdom of David as a model for the 21st century map of the Middle East. The Jewish rabbi claimed two thousand years ago that the Kingdom of God is not a martial restoration of the Kingdom of David, but that the Kingdom of God is within us and among us. The Kingdom of God is compassion and forgiveness.
Two thousand years have passed since the Jewish rabbi disarmed and humanized the old rhetoric of war. Even in his time, the first Zionist terrorists were operating.

Israel does not listen

For two thousand years, we have rehearsed the syllabus of humanism, but Israel does not listen. It was not the Pharisee that helped the man who lay by the wayside, having fallen prey to robbers. It was a Samaritan; today we would say, a Palestinian. For we are human first of all — then Christian, Muslim, or Jewish. Or as the Jewish rabbi said: “And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others?” We do not accept the abduction of soldiers. But nor do we accept the deportation of whole populations or the abduction of legally elected parliamentarians and government ministers.
We recognize the state of Israel of 1948, but not the one of 1967. It is the state of Israel that fails to recognize, respect, or defer to the internationally lawful Israeli state of 1948. Israel wants more; more water and more villages. To obtain this, there are those who want, with God’s assistance, a final solution to the Palestinian problem. The Palestinians have so many other countries, certain Israeli politicians have argued; we have only one.

The USA or the world?

Or as the highest protector of the state of Israel puts it: “May God continue to bless America.” A little child took note of that. She turned to her mother, saying: “Why does the President always end his speeches with ‘God bless America’? Why not, ‘God bless the world’?”
Then there was a Norwegian poet who let out this childlike sigh of the heart: “Why doth Humanity so slowly progress?” It was he that wrote so beautifully of the Jew and the Jewess. But he rejected the notion of God’s chosen people. He personally liked to call himself a Muhammedan.

Calm and mercy

We do not recognize the state of Israel. Not today, not as of this writing, not in the hour of grief and wrath. If the entire Israeli nation should fall to its own devices and parts of the population have to flee the occupied areas into another diaspora, then we say: May the surroundings stay calm and show them mercy. It is forever a crime without mitigation to lay hand on refugees and stateless people.
Peace and free passage for the evacuating civilian population no longer protected by a state. Fire not at the fugitives! Take not aim at them! They are vulnerable now like snails without shells, vulnerable like slow caravans of Palestinian and Lebanese refugees, defenseless like women and children and the old in Qana, Gaza, Sabra, and Chatilla. Give the Israeli refugees shelter, give them milk and honey!
Let not one Israeli child be deprived of life. Far too many children and civilians have already been murdered.


Aftenposten 05.08.06 – From the Norwegian by Sirocco

From my blog.
Also available there:

Bron: boomantribune.com

NABESCHOUWING – 14 augustus 2006


Jostein Gaarder sticks to the intentions behind his controversial critique of Israel’s conduct in recent fighting in Lebanon, but admits that the approach chosen was ‘problematic’.

“I must admit that the reactions have been stronger than I expected. But now it is over for my part. Starting today I have no intention of further comment on this matter,” Gaarder told Aftenposten.

“Now it can run its course without my participation. But I hope that in a month or a year I can think back and not regret what I have done. I don’t regret it today at least,” Gaarder said.

The reactions to Gaarder’s editorial “God’s chosen people”, published on Saturday, have been ferocious. The author of the bestselling “Sophie’s World” has been accused of being anti-Semitic, muddled, ignorant and mixing an ill assortment of themes. He now admits that he would have chosen a different form for trying to make his point if he were to do it again.

“I said in advance that my greatest fear was to offend Jews and when I now see that I have done this I have to ask myself what could have been done differently. First and foremost I would have tried to differentiate more clearly between religion and how religion is used politically and rhetorically in Israel,” Gaarder said.

“Also, I think it is sad that the debate has turned away from my intention, namely to confront the war Israel is waging… but I must also point out that I have received hundreds of encouraging and supportive mails and messages, much more than would have thought from the debate in newspapers and other media. The support also concerns the style of the article.”

Form and content

Gaarder is asked if he could expect to urge reconciliation from Israel while writing in the manner of biblical prophecy, and if he should not have given greater thought to the consequences of his article and the mood of anger that inspired it.

“Perhaps. It is a bit early to say. Let us see how the debate develops. I see that the rhetorical devices chosen were debatable. On the other hand, I am a writer. The piece is written in literary style, formed as a prophecy. And I am absolutely not about to retreat from the content, despite the clarifications I have now given you. I have long thought of confronting Israel and the abuse of religion for political ends taking place in Israel itself. I drafted this with several Middle East experts before I published it. Many Israelis have messianic ideas about their nation and the war being waged. They believe the land is given them by God. This is naive and dangerous. I believe we must confront this type of thinking – no matter where we find it. ‘God bless America’ says President George W. Bush. Why can’t he say ‘God bless the world’?”, Gaarder said.


Gaarder said that calls like those of Professor Helge Høibraaten, who wrote that he should ‘shut his face’, only remind him of those who ask for an author’s books to be burned. Gaarder confirms that he has been frightened by the reactions.

“It is correct that I have started to look over my shoulder when I walk down the street. Not that I have any objective reason to do so, it could well be just that I am just a bit crazy. And I have no fear at all of being attacked by Norwegian Jews. They are very peaceful people,” Gaarder said.
‘Laughable obsessions’
Gaarder is asked about the passage “we laugh at this people’s obsessions”, one of the article’s flashpoints.

“…We must ask: Is it so that we can discuss some religions and not others? Some aspects of a religion and not others? It must be possible to put forth religious criticism in the public sphere. We have traditions for this in Norway. Arnulf Øverland wrote “Christianity – the tenth plague” in the 1930s and was accused of blasphemy. This is over and done with,” Gaarder said, and goes on to stress the importance of using freedom of speech, and that it must be possible to have such discussions without being branded an anti-Semite.

“I have said it countless times and I can repeat it again: I am a humanist, not an anti-Semite. Both the Jewish and Greek traditions of thought are part of the foundation on which I stand. My article was written from disgust for the war, and the assault of the Israeli war machine … and I also condemn Hezbollah’s missiles over Israel, to make that clear,” Gaarder said.

Mohammed caricatures

Gaarder paused when asked if he would have published the caricatures of the prophet Mohammed that set off violent reactions in the Muslim world last winter.

“I have seen the drawings and didn’t like them. I have seen caricatures of Jesus, too, and don’t like that either. So if I had been the editor I would not have printed the Mohammed drawings. Of course I don’t mean that it should be forbidden, but that I personally would not have done it,” Gaarder said.

“It has to do with giving offense. This is not the type of religious criticism I want. I don’t want to offend people. That is also why I say that the only thing that I am truly sorry about my article is that it has been hurtful.”

Aftenposten’s Norwegian reporter – Per Anders Madsen
Aftenposten English Web Desk – Jonathan Tisdall

Uitgelichte foto: bron

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