The Book of Provocations

A newly discovered Dead Sea Scroll.

And lo! It came to pass that there was weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, for there was warfare in every corner of the Earth, which continued for six years. And many of the sons and daughters of the children of Israel perished. And those who learned of the calamity stood in disbelief and grieved, renting their clothing and crying, “Woe unto us! Such death and destruction cannot be the work of the Lord, but is the travail of evil men. Let us labor night and day to prevent it happening again.”

And so it was, and there was love and goodwill towards the children of Israel, who prospered in the lands of the diaspora once more.

And up rose an elder of the Zionists and cried, “Let us go into the land which God has promised us, for I say unto you, we have been in exile for two thousand years. Let us join the children of Israel who dwell in the land of Zion and this will be our homeland and place of refuge.”

And the wise among the children of Israel gathered together and said unto the elder of the Zionists, “But the land of Zion is inhabited by Amalakites and Jebuzzites and other ites. They tend their flocks and grow their olives on the banks of the River Jordan, and are peaceful. How will you live in harmony with them?”

And the elder of the Zionists replied and said, “It is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord to see these peasants on our land.”

And the wise men replied: “Let us Israelites live in the cities and allow the Amalakites and Jebuzzites to stay on their farms, tending their flocks, growing olives and generally being peaceful. After all, they are only partly Amalakites and Jebuzzites, for if you go back far enough they too are probably descended from the twelve tribes of Israel in any case, and are our distant cousins.”

And the elder looked at them in disbelief and great was the mockery of the onlookers. “But we are rich and our fathers and our fathers’ fathers have been rich and successful unto the tenth generation. We are the chosen people and they are poor and share not our common values of democracy, justice and hard work. How can they be our kinsmen?”

And the wise men had no answer to that.

And so the children of Israel re-entered the land of Zion, and the soldiers appointed to keep the influx to reasonable proportions, were smitten. And the Great-Pharoah-over-the Water crieth, “Lo, it is an Exodus”, and a film was made of it in the land of Hollywood. And great was the sound and fury thereof. And the soldiers departed and the host of the children of Israel entered in upon the land.

And so it was, and there was love and goodwill towards the children of Israel who now could prosper in the land of Zion, well out of sight of the rulers of the world. And big-hearted people in many and varied lands cried, “They have suffered grievously and deserve a homeland.”

But the Amalakites and Jebuzzites rose up, saying: “Lo, unto us is the land of Zion. We have lived here with Israelites for many lifetimes and have done so in peace and friendship, Allah be praised. Now cometh a horde who would dispossess us of our sheep and our olives and our quiet life on the west bank of the Jordan.“

“We have better values than you,” said the Zionists. “And we are the best ally of the Pharoah-over-the-Water ”.

“Who saith that your values are better than ours,” came the reply. “We follow the preachings of the Prophet Mohammed, and our religion is an ancient and noble one. We may not be quite so well organised in the gold and raiment department, but our culture is a peaceful one”.

But the Zionists closed their ears, saying, “Is it not written in the good book ‘This land is my land, this land is your land, from the Lebanese forests to the Persian Gulf waters’? If thou like-est it not, go into Sinai or Gaza.”

“But,” replied the Amalakites and Jebuzzites, “the world is just dismantling the great empires and their colonies, and you are creating a new colony in our midst. This is not fair, it is not just. In fact it is short-sighted.”

“Silence, or we will smite thee with our sword,” said the Zionists,
“supplied by the Great Pharoah-over-the-Water.” And smite them they did.

And the homes and the lands of the Amalakites and Jebuzzites, the distant cousins of the Zionists, were destroyed, and their oxen and their asses were smitten along with them. And they fled the lands of their forefathers, pursued by the army of the Israelites. And they lived in exile and poverty.

Still the Amalakites and Jebuzzites raised their voices and cried, “If the descendants of all those who occupied the lands of the world two thousand years ago claimed back the property of their long-forgotten forefathers and tried to reoccupy it, there would be a further holocaust in all the kingdoms of the Earth. Why pickest though on us?”

To which the Zionists replied, “It is written, and we have done the writing thereof”.

And now the big-hearted people in many and varied lands who formerly had cried, “They have suffered grievously and deserve a homeland”, began to worry and have doubts and to whisper behind their hands, saying, “Why be so ungracious? Surely they will reap a whirlwind. Why are the Amalakites and Jebuzzites always gunmen and the Zionists noble freedom fighters?” And many other less polite things were said, but never very loudly.

The Great Pharoah-over-the-Water and his courtiers and henchpersons saw to it that no hint of these worries or doubts or whispering behind backs reached his people from the scribes, for he wanted at all costs to avoid being called an anti-Zionist. Did not the Zionists share his values and were they not good allies, testing out new weapons for his great army? And where else would he find the gold to stay in power? For the Zionists were clever, talented and successful, the most prosperous of the peoples over whom he ruled, and prodigious givers to appropriate causes. Ahem.

And so it was, and the frustration of people multiplied, and the Zionists were in denial, convinced of the rightness of their cause and of the evil nature of their critics, and unable to foresee the apocalypse which potentially faced them. Alas, the wise men among the children of Israel were old and discredited. They rent their clothes, covered their heads with sackcloth, and upon the sackcloth they poured they ashes. And they cried, saying:

“ The ungodly have made themselves a golden calf, a graven image, for they worship their prosperity and the very land they have taken by force. Lo, who can sooth their fierceness and their pride?”

Yes, the Zionists had sown the teeth of a dragon. The Amalakites and Jebuzzites proved fertile and their numbers grew. And as they grew their sons became martyrs, taking their own lives to avenge the loss of their farms and flocks and olive groves and the peaceful life of their fathers and their fathers’ fathers on the banks of the Jordan river. And despite these martyr deaths still their numbers grew, and although their sheep pastures had become supermarkets and their olive groves armament factories, the Amalakites and Jebuzzites never forgot.

Now in the empire of the Great Pharoah-over-the-Water only scripture kind to the Zionists had been published for years and the people had grown to believe that one side was wholly good and the other wholly bad, for they believed the scribes and Pharisees. The Amalakites and Jebuzzites were clearly poor, lazy and prone to terrorism.

It was therefore a profound shock when some distant cousins of the poor, lazy and disorganized attacked two of the greatest cities in the empire of the Great Pharoah-over-the-Water. And a particularly vicious and indiscriminate attack it was, deplored by every decent person on the planet.

And there was wailing and gnashing of teeth, and the people asked themselves privately, “Why do they hate us so much, when we have been so good and generous to them?”

But answer came there none, for even if he had wanted to the Great Pharoah-over-the-Water would not have dared to tell the people, “This is in part because we have supported an deeply wounding cause against an otherwise harmless people who used to tend their flocks and grow their olives on the west bank of the River Jordan, and didn’t bother us in the slightest.”

And the people rose up and said, “How many lives must we lose to support this injustice. We have lost more people than the Zionists have. For what? Sitteth thou upon these people firmly, O Great Pharoah, and make them sign a just peace. And let us see what else we can do to be better friends with the Amalakites and Jebuzzites. No labor is to be had, and the stock market has gone to hell in a handbasket. Get us back to work, and pronto!”

And so it was that the Zionists were forced to make a peace. They had to return the lands on the west bank of the Jordan River, which are once again sylvan sheep pastures and olive groves. And the Great Pharoah-over-the-Water? He is now the ex-Pharoah. Well, you can’t win an election without money from the children of Israel.