Israel

Blood Soiled Hands and the Dreams of Our Fathers (On Israel Independence Day)

Why did King Solomon build the temple, rather than his father, King David?
The answer is found in Chronicles, when David speaks to his son and says to him:

“My son, I wanted to build a House for the name of the Lord my God. But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and fought great battles; you shall not build a House for My name for you have shed much blood on the earth in My sight. But you will have a son who will be a man at rest, for I will give him rest from all his enemies on all sides; Solomon will be his name and I shall confer peace and quiet on Israel in his time.’” (I Chronicles 22)

Yesterday, we celebrated Israel’s 68 years of independence. It is an appropriate time to examine ourselves and look at the values we live by and act on, in light of the lesson embedded in God’s words to David. King David did not build the temple because his hands were soiled with blood. It was not stated that David spilt blood unlawfully, but rather simply that he was a man of war, who shed blood abundantly – even if the bloodshed he carried out was justifiable.
God’s words to David express a worldview in which war, even if just or necessary, is seen as an evil that damages the souls of anyone involved in it, to the point that King David became unfit to build the house of God, due to the blood on his hands.
Before Israel was established and for the last 68 years of our lives here, there were times in which war was, indeed, a necessary evil. However, this recognition does not exempt us from constantly asking the following questions: Is the bloodshed necessary? Has war become an end in and of itself, instead of being a means to peace and justice? Next month we will mark 49 years of occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. 49 years after the Six-Day War, Israel is still entangled in a complex and costly occupation, one which is characterized by military rule and civilian settlement in the West Bank, alongside continued partial military control of the Gaza Strip.
[pullquote] There are those who purport to describe our protracted military occupation of the territories as a ‘’temporary project,’’ and as a necessary part of our “security.” It is hard to take this claim seriously.
[/pullquote]There are those who purport to describe our protracted military occupation of the territories as a ‘’temporary project,’’ and as a necessary part of our “security.” It is hard to take this claim seriously. Decades-long military rule over millions of Palestinians who have no basic human or civil rights, the expropriation of land and resources, the establishment and expansion of civilian settlements replete with high-quality infrastructure – such things do not contribute to Israeli security. Rather, the opposite is true. They entrench hatred between Israelis and Palestinians, perpetuate bloodshed and ensure, as Prime Minister Netanyahu said a few months ago, that we will ‘’forever live by the sword.’’
We will forever fill our calendars with death-counts. In 2015, the death-count stemmed largely from the resumption of the violent Palestinian uprising and from the harsh response by Israel’s security apparatus. In 2014, the death-count centered around Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. And the list goes on and on. We aren’t solely responsible for all of the bloodshed; we can only assume responsibility for our policies and our actions.
Control over another people is not and cannot be a moral mission. [pullquote align=left] … the routine raids Israeli soldiers conduct in the West Bank in the middle of the night in the homes of Palestinians who are not suspected of doing anything wrong. The purpose of these raids is to make the IDF’s “presence known” and to instill fear in the population so as to deter it from rising up in any way, shape or form (whether violently or non-violently). These and other such operations require that soldiers see all the Palestinians first and foremost as potential threats that must be preemptively neutralized and only secondarily as human beings.
[/pullquote]Take the example of the routine raids Israeli soldiers conduct in the West Bank in the middle of the night in the homes of Palestinians who are not suspected of doing anything wrong. The purpose of these raids is to make the IDF’s “presence known” and to instill fear in the population so as to deter it from rising up in any way, shape or form (whether violently or non-violently). These and other such operations require that soldiers see all the Palestinians first and foremost as potential threats that must be preemptively neutralized and only secondarily as human beings. As the occupation nears its 49th year, this worldview has been adopted by the Israeli public at large.
The vision of those who founded the state, as inscribed in the Declaration of Independence, was of a state based on the principles of freedom, justice and peace, as envisioned by Israel’s prophets. This Independence Day, alongside celebrations of our national freedom, we must ask ourselves if we have fulfilled the dream of our founding fathers, or whether the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian people prevents us from establishing a society based on freedom, justice and peace. If the latter is true, as I believe it is, then our prayers and goals for the next year should be about making the vision of freedom, justice and peace a reality.


Yehuda Shaul served as an infantry combat soldier and commander in the IDF during the Second Intifada, and is a founding member of Breaking the Silence.

3 thoughts on “Blood Soiled Hands and the Dreams of Our Fathers (On Israel Independence Day)

  1. Interesting read, but there’s a lot about occupation of the “Palestinian people” rather than Palestine. How will we move forward if we keep on replicating the mistakes of our ancestors! It’s really weird that up until now we did not hear not one forward thinking voice who believes in the rights of people as people rather than religion, race, or color. How come a plot of land becomes the exclusive property of a group of people who belong to one religion, while depriving all the people who lived and still live there from their basic human rights! we are in 2016 and we are fulfilling 3500 year old prophecies!
    We need to hear more forward thinkers stepping up to stop this madness,,, not for us but for our children and the future generations. I personally believe in a one CIVIL state solution.
    Thanks

  2. This is a very powerful reflection and assessment of the importance of freedom, justice and peace and the means of fulfilling it. What good is democracy if people are denied basic rights? It’s how the USA came into being. This is all that many Palestinians want that there might be peace with Israel.
    I am reminded of when I refused military service during the US war in Vietnam because of the many atrocities against unarmed, non-combatant civilians. The massacre of 4 students at Kent State University in Ohio for protesting Vietnam was a very small example of what the military was doing to Vietnamese. Despite nationwide protests and more students being killed or seriously injured, President Nixon escalated the bombing and ground offensive in Cambodia. This was despite his pledge that he would withdraw our troops if elected. (cf Kill Anything That Moves by Nick Turse).
    Prophets have forever been persecuted or murdered, like Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for trying to make peace and establish a Palestinian state. Micaiah in 1 Kings 22 warned against taking land we believe to be ours. The spirit that moves us will claim us. His prophecy came true for King Ahab. Did Yahweh really tell the Israelites in Deuteronomy 20:16-18 to take land that others were living on? Or was it one of the deceptive spirits that Yahweh can send as Micaiah warned?
    The prophet Jesus wept for Jerusalem for not hearing His message of peace. His prophecy came true and could easily come true again when Christian Zionists in the US are deaf to His warnings. (Luke 19:41-44).
    Does God approve of what Israeli hardliners are doing to Palestinians? More people have been killed in God’s Holy Name, no different than the insane who claim God told them to. If anyone were to ask God why He’d want someone put to the sword, stone or Exocet, He might reply, “Why do you?” It is because of hate, no different than the hate the Israelites had for the Hittites and their religion. When Sir Winston Churchill asked Hitler why he hated the Jews, he went into an apoplectic rage about how they were taking over the world, which of course is what he wanted to do. The Jews were clearly a threat to his supremecy.
    The disproportionate use of force to stop Palestinian reprisals is sadly similar to what police are doing to African Americans in the US. We all have to realize why we hate anyone or risk being claimed by the spirits Micaiah warned of, even if we run to the inner room and try to hide.
    Perhaps if Israeli hardliners were to stop the settlement expansion and ease the stranglehold, maybe Hamas might put down their weapons and negotiate a lasting peace has many warring countries have done? How can all Palestinians be terrorists when there are over 100,000 in the US and close to a million in countries around the world? How many Israeli’s and Jews have married Palestinians?
    It was known long ago that hardliners would not allow a Palestinian state, which is how Prime Minister Netanyahu was first elected and then pledged a year ago to get re-elected. He is correct in saying that “Israel hasn’t done anything different than the US.” Vietnam is a prime example. The taking of Native American land and putting them on reservations even more so. The breaking of treaty after treaty led to 30 years of war, ending with the massacre of the Sioux Ghost Dancers at Wounded Knee. They refused to give up their Ghost Dance which prophesied the demise of the US.
    The UN determined that the US funded Israeli settlement expansion and stranglehold on Palestinians is what’s causing all the violence. President Eisenhower is the only US president to sanction Israel for non-compliance with the UN. He knew war as only a soldier could and how it must be avoided at all costs. He liberated the concentration camps and millions from the fascists of Europe. He especially warned about the war mongers and the military industrial complex.
    Rabbi Judah Magnes of Hebrew University predicted “endless bloodshed” from what he called “the Israeli war machine.” The great historian Tony Judt feared that Israel “. . .is taking the world down a path to ruin.” It’s historical and biblical that no Goliath or tyranny lasts long, which Max Blumenthal and Noam Chomsky have emphasized. Gideon Levy is correct in warning of fascists in Israel and the US, which General Golan has affirmed. Maybe if hardliners were to see a psychiatrist as Mr. Levy suggested they might realize from their dreams what spirit moves them? Maybe even try medication or meet with Palestinians who are peaceful?
    Here in Boulder Colorado USA, we’re trying to establish a sister city with Nablus but have met with fierce and near-violent opposition. It doesn’t seem to matter to them that President Eisenhower established the sister city program to promote peace and understanding. There are over 4 dozen countries with sister cities in Palestine. Italy has four sister cities with Nablus. I’ve publicly warned that unless the hardliners of Boulder deal with their prejudice (or hate) of Palestinians, our country could easily become divided as it did over slavery.
    Not long after Micaiah’s prophecy, the Taoist Lao Tzu wrote: “If you see something you like in someone, strive for that quality. If you see something you dislike, look within.” Jung confirmed the importance of this and showed how our dreams can help, especially if we dream of someone we dislike. What can come out of others can come out of us where we are acting no different.
    It is the problem of evil in us all that we too often project onto others, leading to unnecessary war or violence. Jung would simply prescribe to know how much good and evil we’re capable of. The serpent on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil indicated as much. Is this why God put the serpent there that Noah suffered and Moses raised up? Why does He grant Satan his wish more than ours? Whom do we serve? God or our own ambitions, vice, vanity or any iniquity for which God has forever sent prophets to warn us?
    The Star of David is a most powerful symbol of God, uniting the Above and Below, the Good and Evil in the garden. It is the Mysterium Coniunctionis that Jung wrote of. Eve was very brave.
    War or any violence should be an absolute last resort and in strict self-defense. Even martial artists like Morihei Ueshiba know that we are only fighting with the worst in ourselves. Buddha saw that long before.

  3. Well yes good luck with all this, guys.
    Only it doesn’t work. Except if you want to end up with a cut throat
    in your bed.

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