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June 2001 • Vol 1, No. 2 •

The Rape of Dulcinea

By Israel Shamir

The touching words of Elie Wiesel (“Jerusalem in My Heart”, New York Times 1/25/2001) painted a beautiful portrait of the Jewish people, yearning for Jerusalem, loving and praying for it over the centuries and cherishing its name from generation to generation.

This potent image reminded me, an Israeli writer from Jaffa, of something familiar yet elusive. I finally made the connection by revisiting my well-thumbed volume of Don Quixote. Wiesel’s evocative article is so wonderfully reminiscent of the immortal love of the Knight of Sad Visage to his belle Dulcinea de Toboso. Don Quixote traveled all over Spain proclaiming her name. He performed formidable feats, defeated giants, who turned out to be windmills, brought justice to the oppressed, and so much more for the sake of his beloved. When he decided that his achievements made him worthy, he sent his arms bearer, Sancho Panza, to his Dame with a message of adoration.

Now I find myself in the somewhat embarrassing position of Sancho Panza. I have to inform my master, Don Wiesel Quixote, that his Dulcinea is well. She is happily married, has a bunch of kids, and she is quite busy with laundry and other domestic chores. While he fought brigands and restored governors, somebody else took care of his beloved, fed her, provided her with food, made love to her, made her a mother and grandmother. Do not rush, dear knight, to Toboso, or it would break your heart.

Elie, the Jerusalem that you write of so movingly is not now and never has been desolate. She has lived happily across the centuries in the embrace of another people, the Palestinians of Jerusalem, who have taken good care of her. They made her the beautiful city she is, adorned her with a magnificent piece of jewelry, the Golden Dome of Haram al Sharif, built their houses with pointed arches and wide porches and planted cypresses and palm trees.

They do not mind if the knight-errant visits their beloved city on his way from New York to Saragosa. But be reasonable, old man. Stay within the frame of the story and within the bounds of common decency. Don Quixote did not drive on his jeep into Toboso to rape his old flame. OK, you loved her, and thought about her, but it does not give you the right to kill her children, bulldoze her rose garden and put your boots on her dining room table. All your words just prove that you confuse your desires with reality. If you must, continue to ask why the Palestinians want Jerusalem? Because she belongs to them, because they live there and it is their hometown. Granted, you dreamed about her in your remote Transylvania. So did many people around the world. She is so wonderful and certainly worth dreaming about.

Elie, many people have adored this city across the ages. Swedish farmers left their villages and moved there to build the lovely American Colony together with the Vesters, a devout Christian family from Chicago. You can read about it in the works of Selma Lagerlof, another Nobel Prize winner. On the slopes of the Mount of Olives, the Russians built the dainty church of Mary Magdalene. Ethiopians erected their Resurrection monastery amid the ruins left by the Crusaders.

The British died for her and left as their architectural legacy the St. George Cathedral and St. Andrew’s. The Germans built the lovely German Colony and nursed the city’s sick in the Schneller Hospital. My devout great-grandfather moved into the protection of her thick walls in the 1870s from a Lithuanian Jewish village and threw his lot with the hospitable Jerusalemites. He found his eternal rest until the day of Resurrection on the slopes of Mount of Olives. None of them thought to rape their Dulcinea. They just left bouquets of architectural flowers as testament of their adoration.

Those who love Jerusalem are legion. It is disingenuous of Elie Wiesel to reduce the struggle for this city as a tug of war between Muslims and Jews. It is a question of coveting property versus having the deed of ownership. The resolution of this case should be based on the 10th commandment, observed by our fathers. They knew that veneration does not amount to the right of ownership. Millions of Protestants venerate the Catholic-owned Gethsemane Garden, but it does not transfer the garden into their hands. Millions of Catholics visit the Tomb of Mary, but it still belongs to the Eastern Church. For generations, the Moslems have come to kneel at the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem, but the church remains Christian forever.

What water did to Gremlins in Spielberg’s movies, Zionism has inflicted on the jolly Jewish folk of Eastern Europe. It caused them to carry out the ethnic clearing of Gentiles in West Jerusalem, to convert Schneller hospital and church into a military base and to build a Holiday Inn on top of the venerated shrine of Sheik Bader. The Israeli State forbids the Christians of Bethlehem to pray in the Holy Sepulcher and bans Moslems below the age of 40 from attending Friday prayers at al Aqsa mosque. These changes of the city by the Israeli government amount to her rape.

In order to justify this rape, you invoke the names of King Solomon and Jeremiah, quote the Koran and the Bible. Let me tell you a Jewish Hassidic tale, one you might have heard in your childhood. A Jewish midrash, a legend, mentions that Abraham had a daughter. A simple-minded Hassid asked his Rabbi, why Abraham did not wed his daughter and his son Isaac. The Rabbi responded that Abraham did not want to marry a real son to a legendary daughter.

The legends are the stuff dreams are made of. Some are charming, some are horrible, and none is valid as a deed to the land or as a political platform. Elie, you certainly would not like to lose your private home in New York because of a few verses written in the Book of Mormon. This game is rather irrelevant, but I will play one more round with you for the entertainment of the crowd. As every archaeologist will tell you, King Solomon and his temple belong to the fantasy realm of Abraham’s daughter. Moreover, and not that it matters, but the name of Jerusalem is not mentioned even once in the Jewish Holy Book, the Torah.

Elie, you want to play some more games? I’ll tell you more. The Jews are not even mentioned in the Jewish Bible. Get that thick book off of your shelf and check it. None of the great and legendary men you named, from King David to the prophets, were called ‘the Jews’. This ethnonym appears the first and only time in the Bible in the Persian story of the very late Book of Esther. The self-identification of the Jews with the tribes of Israel and with the heroes of the Bible is as valid as the story of Rome being founded by the Trojan prince Aeneas. If the modern Turks, who call themselves ‘the descendants of Troy’ would conquer Rome, dynamite Borromini’s baroque masterpieces and expel her inhabitants in order to re-establish the legacy of Aeneas, they would just be repeating the folly of the Zionists.

Our ancestors, the humble East European folk of Yids, whose language was Yiddish, had a tradition of adorning themselves with the impressive heraldic lions of Biblical heroes. Their claim of descent from these legends was as valid as the claims of Thomas Hardy’s ambitious farmer girl Tess. But, the fictional Tess did not conspire to evict the lords from their castle and claim the manor for herself.

Once, walking with the Christian pilgrims to the great Church of the Holy Sepulcher, I was stopped by a Hassidic Jew. He inquired whether my companions were Jews, and, receiving a negative reply, exclaimed in amazement: “What are these Goyyim (Gentiles) looking for in the holy city?” He had never heard of the Passion of Jesus Christ, whose name he used as a swear word. I am equally amazed that a Jewish professor from Boston University is as ignorant as the simple-minded Hassidic Jew. Jerusalem is holy to billions of believers: Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Christians, Sunni and Shia Moslems, to thousands of Hassidic and Sephardic Jews. Still, as a city, Jerusalem is not different from any place in the world; she belongs to her citizens.

Twenty more years of Zionist control of this ancient city would turn her into just another Milwaukee and forever ruin her charm. Jerusalem needs to be restored to its inhabitants. The seized properties in Talbieh and Lifta, Katamon and Malcha should be returned to their owners. Professor Wiesel, respect the Gentile property rights as you would like Gentiles to respect your right to your lovely house. The holy sites of Jerusalem are regulated by the 150 years old international statute (Status Quo) that should not be tampered with. Last attempt to touch it caused the siege of Sevastopol and the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava. Next attempt could cause the nuclear war.

Israel Shamir, author of The Rape of Dulcinea and The Failed Test, stands out from the great majority of Israeli Jews who support the Zionist theocratic settler state of Israel. He goes far beyond the growing minority of Israeli Jews who call for Peace Now!—but who fully support the Zionist project of the state of Israel.

He courageously cuts through the whole of Zionist mythology designed to portray the Palestinian victim as the criminal and the Zionist criminal as the victim. Shamir honestly and truthfully equates the Israeli “Rape” of Palestine (“Dulcinea”) with Adolph Hitler’s “solution of the Jewish question”—the murder of six million innocent Jewish men, women and children that has gone down in history as the Holocaust.

We had the good fortune to have had Shamir and his views brought to our attention by one of our Palestinian American friends who thought we would find this Israeli writer and his viewpoint more than interesting. He was right to think so and it will be useful for our readers to know why.

It is because Shamir, in these articles, offers support for our strategic outlook that the ordinary men and women that make up the populations of oppressor nations like Germany during the time of Adolph Hitler, and the United States and Israel today, cannot be held responsible as a people for crimes against humanity committed by their rulers. On the contrary, we believe that given the right kind of leadership, workers everywhere—in both oppressor as well as oppressed nations can be won over to the strategic principle of putting their common class interests as workers above any other concept of self-identification.

Our political orientation can be summed up in just a few words: First, we support, unconditionally, the Palestinian struggle against Zionist oppression. Second, we see their struggle against the Israeli oppressor as a component of the struggle by all captive nations in the Mideast—and in the world, for that matter—against imperialist super-exploitation and oppression. Third, and central to our strategic outlook, is our view that the struggle by the world’s neo-colonial captive nations against imperialism is an integral and organic part of the world working-class struggle against global capitalism.

Fourth, we believe that, contrary to the myth of “progressive capitalists,” history has shown that the indigenous capitalist rulers of the world’s neo-colonial countries are incapable of mobilizing a revolutionary struggle against imperialist domination. After all, the regular armed forces of these industrially backward countries are no match for the military might of even a single imperialist power—not to mention such combined imperialist assaults as were mounted against Korea in the early 1950s, against Vietnam in the 1960s and ‘70s, and most recently in Iraq and Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

The only force capable of overcoming the military power of the imperialists is a mass movement of all victims of capitalist exploitation led by the working class. Capitalists as a class cannot mobilize anything approaching a consistent struggle against imperialism without at the same time arousing a struggle against their own class interests as exploiters. Should they dare to arm and mobilize landless peasants to expropriate imperialist landholdings as the only effective means for mobilizing the masses against imperialist power, there would be no way to stop the same peasants from seizing the farms of their own landlords.

In our view, whether or not Israel Shamir subscribes to our view outlined above, his writings strike powerful blows at the criminal capitalist state and government of Israel.

“The Failed Test” was written by Israel Shamir in January, 2001.

“The Rape of Dulcinea,” by Israel Shamir, was written in reply to an article in The New York Times of January, 25, 2001 by Elie Weisel.

Shamir, is one of the best-known and most respected Russian Israeli writers and journalists. He writes for Haaretz, BBC, Pravda and has translated Agnon, Joyce and Homer into Russian. He lives in Jaffa and writes a weekly column in Vesti, the biggest Russian language paper in Israel. He can be reached at shamiri_@netvision.net.il

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