Continued from In Search of French Past (8)…”
French philosopher, Paul Ricoeur, said that we tell stories because human lives need and merit to be told. Writing stories is one of the noblest employments of the mind and soul. Most good stories should aim at knowledge and wisdom. This aim is most evident in life stories – biographies. There is more. We all need to be valued and praised. There’s one problem, though. We all have something to hide, something we want to keep secret. It’s called “sins.” We want to be admired and loved, but to achieve this goal we have to hide our sins.
Whereas an autobiography is often more restrained – we hide our many sins – a novel often throws all caution to the wind. It is in the novel that many bare all their sins, where, in their role of author, they transpose the evil thoughts, intentions and acts of their lives onto their characters, wallowing in a cesspool of unlimited freedom. This self-indulgence makes the writing of a novel, in contrast to an autobiography, very gratifying. You can vicariously let it all hang out through the characters you create: you stole, you lied, you were unfaithful, you were involved in an abortion (there are some today who are ashamed of such an act) – the list only stops growing the day we die. Thank God we don’t live as long as the generation of Noah, who dragged centuries of personal sins down into the roiling deeps.
Yet, dirty washing just ain’t dirty anymore, so you don’t need to write a hard thing like a novel to tittilate, to excite to flash your wares? Forgive if I don’t do as Zorba advises: to be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble.
I continue my story.
After graduating with a B.A. Philosophy (1963) at the University of Cape Town, I returned to France a few weeks later. I traveled in Europe with Louis-Albert (My Dominican priest friend), where we stayed at different Catholic “religious” houses. In Belgrade, Yugoslavia, we spent ten days in a religious house. We then took the long train trip over the mountains to Thessaloniki, Greece, where we stayed with the Marist Brothers. It was nearing the end of our travels together. He accompanied me to the port of Piraeus in Athens where I took a ship to Haifa. I joined my brother Benny on Kibbutz Ein Hashofet (“Judge’s Spring”), where he had been living for a while.
The Kibbutz was founded in 1937 and is named in honour of Louis D. Brandeis, the US Supreme Court judge. It is situated about 30 kms from Haifa and 100 kms north of Tel Aviv. I stayed there for three months working in the orchards, and draining and cleaning out the steamy slime of the fish ponds. I attended Ulpan (Hebrew classes) where I brushed up on my Hebrew that I had learned in South Africa in Chaida (Hebrew school) and in my Hebrew course at the University of Cape Town (1960). I remember the time I embarrassed Benny. At breakfast we had to queue in a line. When you reached the a la carte table, you had a choice between three olives and an egg. I grumbled more than inwardly. Benny, close to me in the queue, huffed and puffed: pioneers don’t complain.
After three months, Benny and I went to Kibbutz Gonen, which in 1964 was on the Northern Israel-Syria border. On the Northern side was the Golan Heights, which Israel would occupy after the 1967 six-day war. I stayed on Kibbutz Gonen for 9 months, where I did apple-picking , and later worked in the chicken runs. In the apple season when it was very hot, I got up at 4 a.m., had a breakfast of several fried eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers and leben (fermented milk then churned and butter removed). We then traveled in a truck for about 20 minutes to the orchards. At about 8 am we returned to the kibbutz for (another) breakfast, and then back to the orchards until about noon. Then back to the Kibbutz for lunch and rest until about 3 pm, and back to the orchards for a few more hours.
I loved working with the chickens. In the morning I greeted my little friends: hullo Shmuel’ you’re up early Obadiah! Every morning, I would find a few dead on the straw floor. I took them outside, walked to a mound opposite the row of chicken runs, lifted the milk-can lid covering a deep hole, and dropped them in. Some mornings, before light, the trucks would come to collect the white birds for slaughter. The birds would panic, and so were difficult to catch. A good catcher could do eight at a time, four in each hand, one foot between two fingers. We lifted them up to the catcher on the truck, who stooped and scooped up the eight chickens between his fingers, depositing them into one of the cages on the truck.
We were close to Mount Hermon, and sometimes there were dog fights in the area between Syrian and Israeli jets. When this happened we had to scramble into shelters. Once, Benny and I. Wearing our blue worker’s overalls, went in the tractor outside the Kibbutz – Benny in the driver’s seat– and travel on the narrow path, which was the border between Syria and Israel. Benny was usually very cautious but for some reason he took me with him on this dangerous route. On the Israeli side of us, about 100 metres away was a U.N. observation post, and on the left was a hill with what looked like a Syrian fortification atop. It seemed vacated. We thought that the Syrians wouldn’t dare to fire on us in full view of the U.N. post. On reflection, it was a stupid. We trundled on the tractor, Benny as confident as ever, back to the Kibbutz.
A group of us from Kibbutz Gonen went on a tiyul (trip) in two jeeps through Israel down to Masada.
In Hebron we visited a shrine that was said to contain the massive catafalques (caskets) of Adam, and I think Eve and Abraham. I recall that one of the catafalques was draped in green. According to Sir Richard Burton, Muslims believed Adam and Eve to be buried in Mecca. They also claim that Abraham and his son, Ishmael built the Kaaba in Mecca.
One of the highlights for me – a Roman catholic convert – if not my fellow Jews, was the view of 4th century, St Georges Greek Orthodox monastery, hugging a cliff in the Judean desert.
The close-up above was not possible from my vantage point, which was the road on the other side of the valley. Along the road ran a disused aqueduct, perhaps ancient. We went on to Masada (Hebrew metzada “fortress”), the last Jewish stronghold against the Romans, and the most visited tourist site in Israel. Most of our information about Masada comes from Josephus, the Jewish historian. In 73-74 BC, the Romans led by the governor of Judea, Lucius Flavius Silva, laid siege to Masada for three months. When the Romans breached the walls, they found that the occupants had committed suicide.
After Masada, we returned to our kibbutz.
On some of my days off from the kibbutz, I went to Tel Aviv and spent many hours in cafes in Dizengoff Street. There was a particular cafe in Tel Aviv that I visited often with my Russian Jewish girlfriend, Rivka. On one occasion, I was alone in the cafe when a beautiful North African Jewish girl came to my table and burst out words to the effect “where have you been all this time, I’ve been searching a long time for you?” I said I didn’t know who she was. She yelled out loud: “What are you talking about, we were together all that time and you don’t know who I am!” She shouted “my name.” I said that this was not my name. I repeated that I had never met her. She persisted. The tables around were all eyes and ears. She began to cry. Should I bring down the curtain on the big scene by relenting and saying “Oh, of course, now I remember.” And then? Go to her place, get into bed with her? See I have no calves? (See The calves wil dance for joy: Malachi 4:2 (First Year University 2). “Who are you? It’s your face, but how did you get so skinny in two months?” Maybe she didn’t know me, and was a professional who conned lonely men. How many had she duped and robbed in the past. I couldn’t imagine her being a fraud. When she ran off crying, I felt a rotten scum; I broke her heart. I often wonder what happened to her. There are so many events in life with no closure: the victims of crimes, and the perpetrators who are never caught or disclosed. The events could be very personal such as the disappearance or murder of a love one, or on a larger scale, the 9/11 “false flag” operation. (“False flag” describes covert operations that are designed to deceive in such a way that the operations appear as though they are being carried out by entities, groups, or nations other than those who actually planned and executed them”).
My parents, Fanny and Issy came on holiday to Israel. I saw them twice, both times towards the end of their stay. The first time I went to see them was with my Russian Jewish girlfriend, Rivka. She had very blue eyes and unblemished light brown skin. I thought a Jewish girlfriend, and Russian to boot would make my parents happy, but no. I felt as if the Siberian winter had come over me. Why didn’t Fanny take to her, who was Jewish and from the Russian Empire like her? Was it because she wasn’t white like the Jewish girls in South Africa?
Here is an story of an Ashkenazi (white-skinned) who married a Sephardi (dark-skinned) Jew:
“Our Marriage Created Problems The marriage ceremony was held in the Sephardic Synagogue. The ceremony was simple but beautiful. Ziva and I were happy, but our marriage created serious problems. You see, Ziva is a Sephardi Jewess and I am an Ashkenazi Jew. For an Ashkenazi Jew to marry a Sephardi Jew is frowned upon in Israel by the ruling Ashkenazi’s. To understand why this is the case, you must realize the difference between the Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews. The powerful Zionist propaganda machine has led the American people to believe that a Jew is a Jew — one race of people and that they are “God’s Chosen People,”… it is important for you to understand that Jews are NOT one race of people. There are two distinct groups of Jews in the world and they come from two different areas of the world — the Sephardi Jews from the Middle East and North Africa and the Ashkenazi Jews come from Eastern Europe. The Sephardi is the oldest group and it is they, if any, who are the Jews described in the Bible because they lived in the area described in the Bible. They are blood relatives to the Arabs — the only difference between them is the religion.”
“The Ashkenazi Jews, Bernstein continues, now compromise 90% of the Jews in the world, had a rather strange beginning. According to historians, many of them Jewish, the Ashkenazi Jews came into existence about 1200 years ago. It happened this way: At the eastern edge of Europe, there lived a tribe of people known as the Khazars. About the year 740 A.D., the Khazar king and his court decided they should adopt a religion for their people. So, representatives of the three major religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, were invited to present their religious doctrines. The Khazars chose Judaism, but it wasn’t for religious reasons. If the Khazars had chosen Islam, they would have angered the strong Christian world. If they had chosen Christianity, they would have angered the strong Islamic world. So, they played it safe — they chose Judaism. It wasn’t for religious reasons the Khazars chose Judaism; it was for political reasons. Sometime during the 13th century, the Khazars were driven from their land and they migrated westward with most of them settling in Poland and Russia. These Khazars are now known as Ashkenazi Jews. Because these Khazar Ashkenazi Jews merely chose Judaism, they are not really Jews — at least not blood Jews.” (Jack Bernstein,“The life of an American Jew in racist Marxist Israel”).
“Blood Jews” (Bernstein) refers to “race.” Bernstein is saying that Ashkenazi Jews are ethnic Jews not racial Jews. What is the difference between “race” and “ethnicity?”
What is “race?” Here are definitions of “race”and “ethnicity.”“The traditional definition of race and ethnicity is related to biological and sociological factors respectively. Race refers to a person’s physical characteristics, such as bone structure and skin, hair, or eye color. Ethnicity, however, refers to cultural factors, including nationality, regional culture, ancestry, and language. An example of race is brown, white, or black skin (all from various parts of the world), while an example of ethnicity is German or Spanish ancestry (regardless of race). (Source).
So “race” refers to “biological factors” such as a person’s physical characteristics such as bone structure and skin, hair, or eye color.” No mention of (invisible to the naked eye) DNA, which is also biological. Is the reason why there is no mention because it is assumed that visible biological factors always reflect invisible genetic factors? The fact is that genes do not only condition external physical features but also internal ones. Is it possible, for example, for a Sephardi Jew, who looks more like a North African, to share genes with an Ashkenazi Jew, where many look European? Indeed is it possible for an Ashkenazi who looks like a Swede (or a Turnip) to be genetically related to a black African – a black African Jew?
There are indeed some Jewish Africans. Here is moi [time past in a Lemba synagogue; and they ARE Jewish: they have the genes to prove it. (The origins of the Lemba ‘Black Jews’ of southern Africa: evidence from p12F2 and other Y-chromosome markers).
(In passing, I’m an inset). I haven’t had my DNA checked for Jewish genes, but the Rabbinate in Jerusalem and my family, including my two Israeli brothers say I’m a Jew– a biological Jew. (See The blond and the black: Jews of South Africa and The invention of Shlomo Sand – a thousand “Jews” make one Palestinian).
Some Jews might say that the moment I was baptised (at the age of 20), God (quasi-)removed my Jewish DNA, and replaced it with a goyish single-helix. Michael Wyschogrod, admired by many “Messianic Jews” (they believe that Jesus/Yeshua is the Messiah) wrote:
“It is therefore important for Jews to know that a Jew who believes that Jesus was God in the sense asserted by the Nicene Creed commits idolatry as defined by Jewish law.”
Now say a Christian (or any Gentile) converts to Judaism, God replaces his/her idolatrous DNA. Wyschogrod, in his “The Body of Faith,” maintains that when a gentile converts to Judaism, he or she does not merely share the beliefs of the new religion – as would be the case of a Jew converting to Christianity – but that the convert miraculously, and therefore literally, becomes the seed of Abraham and Sarah. The miracle is not totally biological but “quasi-biological.” How does this quasi-biological miracle occur? By immersion in a mikve (ritual bath), which “symbolizes” (is that why the miracle is only quasi?) the mother’s womb through which a person is born. I suppose it follows that if a Jew chooses to be immersed (Greek – baptismo) in baptism, God cuts him off from the seed of Abraham and Sarah. God would only do that, though, if the Jew becomes a Christian; not a Buddhist, a Hindu, an atheist, a Satanist, or a fluid. (I’m not male or female; I’m fluid).
The belief that Ashkenazi Jews are converted Khazars is widespread. It is probable that some Ashkenazis (European Jews) are Khazars, but I think that the numbers are not as large as many believe. Most historians agree that after the Bar Kochba revolt (132-136), the Romans exiled the Jews from Judea, after which they dispersed across Asia Minor, North Africa and Eastern Europe (See “Ashkenazi Economic and Social History” in Cochrane et al.).
DNA research provides contrary evidence to the Khazar theory. Some examples of this DNA research are Behar et al.’s. “Multiple Origins of Ashkenazi Levites: Y Chromosome Evidence for Both Near Eastern and European Ancestries” in American Journal of Human Genetics and Kevin Brooks’ “Jews of Khazaria” especially the chapter “Are Russian Jews Descended from the Khazars.”
In When is an “ex-Jew” not a Jew? Once (your mother’s) a Jew Oiveys a Jew, I referred to Jon Entine’s book “Abraham’s children: Race, Identity, and the DNA of the Chosen People”. Entine explains why most Jews shy away from genetic research:
“Discussing the genetic distinctiveness of populations, Jews or any other group, is a hot- button issue for many news outlets. “Abraham’s Children” suggests that there exist meaningful differences between populations, maybe even “races,” and that’s a taboo subject. It’s on the edge of acceptable popular discourse, although scientists discuss this all the time. I think a high percentage of reviewers are Jewish and liberal, and liberal dogma is that we don’t talk about racial differences. I understand that there is a traditional Jewish commitment to egalitarianism and identification with the underdog, which comes out of the Jews having been discriminated against throughout so much of their history. Many Jews carry that torch of fighting against discrimination, I do myself, and that’s a wonderful aspect of Jewishness.”
Several genetic studies (I mentioned a few above) provide reliable evidence that can establish whether a person is (more or less) Jewish. Yet most Jews eschew genetics of any kind in the evaluation of human beings; for example, measurements of intelligence between groups or races. These Jews are generally Ashkenazi Jews. But the facts are plain to see. North American Ashkenazi Jews, who make up three percent of the population, won 27 percent of North America’s Nobel prizes, and half the world chess champions are Jewish. They have reason to boast of a bodily descent, but not of the power of an indestructible life (Hebrews 7:15).
There are “liberal Jews” (Entine above) who don’t believe that the Torah is from God – which is the vast majority of Jews, This vast majority comprise atheists-humanists, Reform Jews and Reconstructionist Jews. All these Jews have a deep respect for their Talmud (the “Oral Torah” – see The Written and the Oral Torah – which is primary?).
I don’t agree that “there is a traditional Jewish commitment to egalitarianism and identification with the underdog, which comes out of the Jews having been discriminated against throughout so much of their history” (Entine). It is true that they – the majority – “have a commitment to egalitarianism” but only insofar as it applies to Gentiles. Most Jews are Zionists and atheists/humanists. Zionism – whose key text is the Talmud – teaches that the Jew is superior to Gentiles, that Jews should remain racially uncontaminated by intermarriage. The Zionist” lobby (not all Jews are Zionists) in the US runs the government, the banks and the mass media. Yet they encourage (and often legislate) “interculturalism,” same-sex marriage, homosexuality, pornography between the Gentile races, while generally, eschewing these (publicly) themselves. The Jewish lobby in the US – which runs the government, the banks and the mass media. One of their main objectives is to destroy Christianity. Yet many Christians are Zionists. If only they understood the Jewish – with exceptions hatred of Christ. Oh the insanity of it all! (See The insanity of Christian Zionism).
“A thousand Jews make one Palestinian,” in other words, that a Palestinian is much more Jewish than those who call themselves Jews. (Shlomo Sand – See my The invention of Shlomo Sand: A thousand Jews m ake one Palestinian). There are, however, many Palestinians that do have Jewish genes. Also, in some of the old houses in Palestinian towns today, the Star of David can still be seen above the entrance. When the Star of David appeared on the Israeli flag in 1948, Palestinians effaced and defaced many of the Stars of David above their houses. Some Stars of David still remain. (See the short Israeli movie Palestinians are Jews not Arabs – Hebrew with English subtitles). The picture is from the video.
I return to my parent’s visit to in Israel. They invited me for breakfast at their hotel in Tel Aviv, where we had a Jewish favourite – cheese and cream. After breakfast, we went to the lounge. Issy went to sit at one of the tables, hauled out a pocketful of coins and swooned into his favourite routine, the highlight of his working day at his bottles-bones-scrap metal business in South Africa, which I described here. Here is an excerpt:
“At the end of the day, Issy would cash up. There was always a high pile of silver and copper coins left over at the end of the day. Issy lays all the coins in the middle of the big table in his office. He separates the silver and coppers into two piles in the middle of the table. The silver coins consisted of tickeys (threepence), sixpences, shillings, two-shillings, and half-crown (two shillings and sixpence). The coppers were farthings (quarter of a penny), ha’pennies (half pennies) and pennies. He stacks the coins into neat little towers. He adds up the towers and writes the total in his A4 hardcover notebook. He then coaxes the coins into different linen bags, and pulls the string shut. He will take the bags to the bank. The day is complete: the bottles are packed in bags, ready to be loaded onto trucks first thing tomorrow morning, the floor of the store has been swept, the workers have gone home. Time to lock up and go home to Fanny’s nice supper. Or if she is not feeling well, Issy will step in and cook supper, as he did on so many occasions. Sammy (my brother, who worked in the business) and Issy lock up and go home.”
While he was counting the coins in the hotel in Tel Aviv, he said to me that the success of a holiday was determined by the amount of money you managed not to spend. One should not immediately think “Shylock”; my father’s generation in the Russian Empire and later as immigrants to the West was initially very poor and had to work very hard to make ends meet. Yes indeed, the Jew loves money, but so do you. It is true, though, that many Jews have given money a worse name – it’s bad enough that it is the root of all evil – especially the Jewish banksters, who have been ruling the world for centuries and are the main power for centuries behind many wars; WWI and WWII, for example.
“I care not what puppet is placed upon the throne of England to rule the Empire on which the sun never sets. The man that controls Britain’s money supply controls the British Empire, and I control the British money supply” (Jewish Baron Nathan Mayer Rothschild).
The Jewish magazine Sentinel of Chicago printed in its issue of 8 October 1940:
‘When the National Socialists and their friends cry or whisper that this [the war] is brought about by Jews, they are perfectly right.’ (Why Hitler hated Jews). When Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, Jews declared war on Germany. (See Ashkenazis declare war on Nazis and The Nameless War by Archbald Maule Rams).
My parents had come to the end of their visit to Israel. They were about to go through customs to the departure lounge. I wanted so much to ask my father for some money; I earned a pittance on the kibbutz, and had no other source of income. Eyes pleaded with him to realise my sorry state. I squirmed and made all kinds of forlorn gestures, hoping against hope to raise his consciousness. I thought: how about a little donation, if not a raise. Issy looked at me and asked if anything was wrong. I couldn’t get the words out: “Daddy, could I have a few of those coins?” They left for the departure lounge. What was that little jingle I heard as I embraced my Dad! It was the beginning of 1965. I departed Israel for South Africa.
Always departing, never arriving. “We’re in “a sort of diabolical trance, wherein the soul traverses the world; feeds itself with a thousand airy nothings ; snatches at this and the other created excellency, in imagination and desire ; goes here and there, and every where, except where it should go” (Thomas Boston). Towards the Messiah. Always pursued. Always arriving always departing; or rather never arriving always departing. When will the Messiah come? Is the point of about having a messiah the promise, the hope, the aspiration, not that he comes. What’s the deal, says the humanist, with having a messiah who’s arrived? Where is the mystery once he’s exposed and had his say?” (See The postmodern pursuit: always departing, never arriving). Much mystery remains; the great mystery, the overwhelming mystery, the aweful mystery, the mysterium tremendum (Rudolf Otto):
“Otto was one of the most influential thinkers about religion in the first half of the twentieth century. He is best known for his analysis of the experience that, in his view, underlies all religion. He calls this experience “numinous,” and says it has three components. These are often designated with a Latin phrase: mysterium tremendum et fascinans. As mysterium, the numinous is “wholly other”– entirely different from anything we experience in ordinary life. It evokes a reaction of silence. But the numinous is also a mysterium tremendum. It provokes terror because it presents itself as overwhelming power. Finally, the numinous presents itself as fascinans, as merciful and gracious.”
My greatest discovery, which can never be surpassed in this life is the discovery of God’s mercy and grace – through the Son of God, the Messiah, who died that I may live.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,