[26. Biblical Israel is not Zionist Israel

With dismay and disbelief I read the answer given by Father Frank Sheedy to a question about Israel, Jerusalem and the Temple and whether they relate to present-day Israel (May 19 [25]). Dismay because Fr. Sheedy seems to totally espouse the Zionist ideology and disbelief because, while mentioning the Mosque of Omar and of course the Jewish Temple, he failed to mention any of the Christian shrines there.

Present-day Israel has nothing to do with biblical Israel. Present-day Israel was created by a political movement called Zionism which has used Judaism to achieve its objective. The initial Zionist theoretical formulation was avowedly non-religious. It was developed and implemented by atheists, that is why it was opposed by religious Jewish thinkers; only later was it sanctioned by religious apologists, and not by all of them.

Let me give some specifics. The whole question of the territory of the Zionist state for example was deliberately left open. "Shall we choose Palestine of Argentine?" wrote Herzl. Palestine was just an alternative. Other locations were Uganda, Cyprus, Iraq etc. In favor of Palestine, as Herzl indicated, was "the mighty legend--the very name." Max Nordau, a German Zionist who believed that the Torah was "inferior as literature" compared to "Homer and the European classics" declared: "we do not want to be a mere religious community; we want to be a nation like all other nations." This is exactly the opposite of what the Bible teaches. The term "Jewish people" in the Bible is a religious one, signifying a community of true believers obeying God's commands. General Sharon, however, asserts that "the first and most supreme value is the good of the State." It is this type of statement that led Prof. Shahak of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem to say that "the majority of my people has left God and has substituted an idol in His place. The name of this modern idol is the State of Israel."

As a Christian, I feel compelled to ask questions about how the vision of a Jewish state has been realized. I cannot be blind to the fact that much land has been a acquired in much the same way Ahab acquired Naboth's vineyard (1 kings 21), i.e. through deceit and violence. Also, when I read the Gospels, I see Jesus of Nazareth, a Jew, presenting himself as the fulfillment of ALL the hopes and aspirations of the Jewish people. And although his disciples at first had typically Jewish hopes about the establishment of the Kingdom of God through an independent Jewish state in the land, after the Pentecost they ceased to think and speak in these terms. Fr. Sheedy, however, brings us back in his answer to the pre-Pentecost period.

May 19, 1991]