The Rebel Road…

I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, coward, you’re only going to kill a man. – Ernesto Che Guevara

Europe Divided: The Rise of Zionism.

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It is important to outline the historical struggle between the Europeans themselves – the struggle between the Jews and the Christians of Europe. If one was to ignore the recent, cosy relationship between the Jews and the White House, the cohabitation of the Jews and the Christians over the centuries has been anything but friendly. This has important religious reasons.

The Christians believe in the concept of vicariousness. The belief held is that Adam committed the original sin, but that sin is passed onto every single human being – living or dead – due to his being descended from Adam. This sin condemns everyone to misery in the afterlife. In order to save humanity from ultimate misery, God sent his son (some believe Christ was the physical embodiment of God himself) and this son (Christ) saved mankind.

It is indeed this concept that internally legitimises the belief of the Christian community – the belief that only the Christians are the “chosen” people, hence only they shall receive the virtues from Christ’s sacrifice. It is this virtue from the sacrifice that is transferred to each and every Christian, vicariously. Similarly, it was the Jews who conspired to bring about the fall of their Prophet, Christ, and in doing so the sin of the Jews, i.e. the sin of Deicide is passed onto every single Jew, living or dead. It is for this reason that any Jew is just as accountable for the death of Christ as the original Jews who committed the act. This philosophy ignores the fact that hundreds of years separate modern Jews from those particular Jews. This understanding had far-reaching consequences.

History bears testament that within the span of a few decades, the Christians came to power, replacing the old Judaic kingdoms. Since the Jews were now in positions of lesser power and the Christians blamed them for killing their Lord and Saviour (Christ), the Jews were subjected to the most brutal of oppressions. This led to a condition of the systemic oppression of Jews within Christian society. The state (monarchy) made laws that forbade the Jews from the most fundamental of religious and social rights in that particular society. These included:

Law against preaching Judaism;

Law against coming outdoors on Good Friday;

Law against holding synagogues;

Law against conjugal inter-religious relationships; and

Law against Jews owning Christian slaves, etc.

Having been marginalised to this extent in Christian society, the Jews found themselves economically strangled. They could not hope to hold agricultural land nor employ Christians for their work. They could not own slaves, so it is evident that their growth was intentionally retarded by the state. In such a scenario the best they could hold to become was entrepreneurs. They took to two main businesses: money-lending and mercantile trade.

It was here that the rise of Capitalism comes about and even the initial tendencies allow the Jews to accumulate a fantastic amount of wealth through their economic endeavours. Trade flourishes and initial capital becomes very important with increasing technological sophistication. Soon the Jews found themselves quite comfortable even within the confines of their ghettos. With Capitalism comes the Age of Reason, i.e. The Renaissance. The stranglehold that the Church had upon the state is removed and reason and scientific thought replaces religious sentiment. The Jew finds himself equal to those who oppressed him earlier. Having secured a right to public office and freedom of owning land and employment the Jews now commit themselves to become as European as possible, within a small period of time. According to Al-Farouqi, this drive to be “Europeanised” was so prevalent that within a span of one generation they had almost forgotten Hebrew and replaced it with local vernaculars.

This Golden Age also came to an end with the rise of European Romanticism. Where the criterion of differentiation was once religion, then reason, now it became race. Being Semites, the Jews were always racially segregated from the Europeans. With a rise in nationalism, a drive to purge these impurities and to give rise to pure, cohesive and powerful nations became the cry of the West. Jewish hatred became the slogan of a new breed of Europeans. Hitler, under fascism (the extreme of nationalism) raced to purge Nazi Germany of all Jews; a drive hitherto unparalleled in history. It was not until Europe saw its own ugly face reflected in the actions of the Nazis did this trend come to an abrupt halt.

Too little, too late.

This experience coupled with the Dreyfus affair had changed the mentality of the European Jew. He came to realise that no matter how hard he tried to emulate the European, he would never be accepted as a respected equal: he would always be the outsider – the unwanted alien. This was the rise of Zionism.

Never before in history had the Jews thought of themselves as anything other than a religious community. Never before had the political group consciousness of the Jews been so thoroughly disillusioned. Having gone through oppression after oppression, mass exodus after mass exodus, the Jews had survived only because of hope. It was now that this very hope was taken away from them. Radical steps had to be taken, new strategies had to be put to pen. The Jew had to escape, he needed the “promised” land – a country of his own. It was the understanding of Thomas Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement that, “No amount of assimilation was going to win for the Jew a European identity as long as he remained something to be assimilated i.e. a Jew” (Al-Farouqi, 29).

Political Zionism swept through the Jewish masses of Europe electrifying them, congealing this hitherto loose confederation. The imagination of the Jews was set alight with this new concept. Whichever country they resided in, whichever class they belonged to, the Jews now wanted out of Europe, wanted freedom to form their own sovereign nation. Europe was still reeling from the intense blow that Nazi Germany had delivered to it. Embarrassed nay, shamefaced over their errors in ideology they decided to give into the wishes of the Jews. This was the birth of Israel.

So as is quite apparent, religion did play a very important role in most of the political decisions taken throughout history – however, modern politics play out somewhat differently – so differently in fact that, once, rivals now stand together as convenient bed fellows. There is a lesson here for the Muslims all over the world – that if they continue to view everything from the viewpoint of ‘is he a Muslim or not?’ then many an opportunity will simply pass them by.

That is the funny thing about opportunities – they only knock once.

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