Israel, Beware! Norway's Leading Man of Letters Speaks Out

August 11, 2006

In News

By Jostein Gaarder

There is no turning back. It is time to learn a new lesson: We do no
longer recognize the state of Israel. We could not recognize the South
African apartheid regime, nor did we recognize the Afghan Taliban regime. Then
here were many who did not recognize Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or the Serbs’
ethnic cleansing. We must now get used to the idea: The state of Israel in
its current form is history.

We do not believe in the notion of God’s chosen people. We laugh at
this people’s fancies and weep over its misdeeds. To act as God’s chosen
people is not only stupid and arrogant, but a crime against humanity. We call
it racism.

Limits to tolerance

There are limits to our patience, and there are limits to our
tolerance. We do not believe in divine promises as justification for occupation and
apartheid. We have left the Middle Ages behind. We laugh uneasily at
those who still believe that the God of flora, fauna, and galaxies has
selected one people in particular as his favorite and given it funny stone
tablets, burning bushes, and a license to kill.

We call child murderers ‘child murderers’ and will never accept that
such have a divine or historic mandate excusing their outrages. We say but

Shame on all apartheid, shame on ethnic cleansing, shame on every
terrorist strike against civilians, be it carried out by Hamas, Hizballah, or
the state of Israel!

Unscrupulous art of war

We acknowledge and pay heed to Europe’s deep responsibility for the
plight of the Jews, for the disgraceful harassment, the pogroms, and the
Holocaust. It was historically and morally necessary for Jews to get
their own home. However, the state of Israel, with its unscrupulous
art of war and its disgusting weapons, has massacred its own
legitimacy. It has systematically flaunted International Law, international
conventions, and countless UN resolutions, and it can no longer expect protection
from same. It has carpet bombed the recognition of the world. But fear not!
The time of trouble shall soon be over. The state of Israel has seen its

We are now at the watershed. There is no turning back. The state of
Israel has raped the recognition of the world and shall have no peace until
it lays down its arms.

Without defense, without skin

May spirit and word sweep away the apartheid walls of Israel. The
state of Israel does not exist. It is now without defense, without skin. May
the world therefore have mercy on the civilian population. For it is not
civilian individuals at whom our doomsaying is directed.

We wish the people of Israel well, nothing but well, but we reserve the right not to eat
Jaffa oranges as long as they taste foul and are poisonous. It was endurable
to live some years without the blue grapes of apartheid.

They celebrate their triumphs

We do not believe that Israel mourns forty killed Lebanese children
more than it for over three thousand years has lamented forty years in the
desert. We note that many Israelis celebrate such triumphs like they
once cheered the scourges of the Lord as “fitting punishment” for the
people of Egypt. (In that tale, the Lord, God of Israel, appears as an
insatiable sadist.) We query whether most Israelis think that one Israeli life is
worth more than forty Palestinian or Lebanese lives.

For we have seen pictures of little Israeli girls writing hateful
greetings on the bombs to be dropped on the civilian population of Lebanon and

Little Israeli girls are not cute when they strut with glee at death
and torment across the fronts.

The retribution of blood vengeance

We do not recognize the rhetoric of the state of Israel. We do not
recognize the spiral of retribution of the blood vengeance with “an
eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” We do not recognize the principle of
one or a thousand Arab eyes for one Israeli eye. We do not recognize
collective punishment or population-wide diets as political weapons. Two thousand
years have passed since a Jewish rabbi criticized the ancient doctrine
of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

He said: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” We do not
recognize a state founded on antihumanistic principles and on the
ruins of an archaic national and war religion. Or as Albert Schweitzer
expressed it:

“Humanitarianism consists in never sacrificing a human being to a purpose.”

Compassion and forgiveness

We do not recognize the old Kingdom of David as a model for the 21st
century map of the Middle East. The Jewish rabbi claimed two thousand
years ago that the Kingdom of God is not a martial restoration of the
Kingdom of David, but that the Kingdom of God is within us and among us. The
Kingdom of God is compassion and forgiveness.

Two thousand years have passed since the Jewish rabbi disarmed and
humanized the old rhetoric of war. Even in his time, the first Zionist
terrorists were operating.

Israel does not listen

For two thousand years, we have rehearsed the syllabus of humanism,
but Israel does not listen. It was not the Pharisee that helped the man
who lay by the wayside, having fallen prey to robbers. It was a Samaritan;
today we would say, a Palestinian. For we are human first of
all — then Christian, Muslim, or Jewish. Or as the Jewish rabbi said:
“And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others?” We
do not accept the abduction of soldiers. But nor do we accept the
deportation of whole populations or the abduction of legally elected
parliamentarians and government ministers.

We recognize the state of Israel of 1948, but not the one of 1967. It
is the state of Israel that fails to recognize, respect, or defer to the
internationally lawful Israeli state of 1948. Israel wants more; more
water and more villages. To obtain this, there are those who want, with
God’s assistance, a final solution to the Palestinian problem. The
Palestinians have so many other countries, certain Israeli politicians have argued;
we have only one.

The USA or the world?

Or as the highest protector of the state of Israel puts it: “May God
continue to bless America.” A little child took note of that. She turned to her
mother, saying: “Why does the President always end his speeches with
‘God bless America’? Why not, ‘God bless the world’?”

Then there was a Norwegian poet who let out this childlike sigh of the
heart: “Why doth Humanity so slowly progress?” It was he that wrote so
beautifully of the Jew and the Jewess. But he rejected the notion of
God’s chosen people. He personally liked to call himself a Muhammedan.

Calm and mercy

We do not recognize the state of Israel. Not today, not as of this
writing, not in the hour of grief and wrath. If the entire Israeli nation
should fall to its own devices and parts of the population have to flee the
occupied areas into another diaspora, then we say: May the
surroundings stay calm and show them mercy. It is forever a crime without
mitigation to lay hand on refugees and stateless people.

Peace and free passage for the evacuating civilian population no
longer protected by a state. Fire not at the fugitives! Take not aim at them!
They are vulnerable now like snails without shells, vulnerable like slow
caravans of Palestinian and Lebanese refugees, defenseless like women
and children and the old in Qana, Gaza, Sabra, and Chatilla. Give the
Israeli refugees shelter, give them milk and honey!

Let not one Israeli child be deprived of life. Far too many children
and civilians have already been murdered.