Israel and the Ten Commandments
January 9, 2009
by William P. Meyers

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Citizens of the state of Israel (or occupied Palestine) seem to have a lot of trouble with "Thou shalt not steal." According to my Gideon Bible, that would be in the Old Testament, Chapter 20 of Exodus, verse 15 [Exodus 20:17]. In fact, Israelis seem to have left the Ten Commandments, or the majority of them, behind in Germany or Poland or Russia or wherever they came from before they invaded Palestine after World War II.

There were a lot of Jews in Palestine before World War II, and as far as I can tell they were about as law abiding as people are in general in the world. Occasionally in history Jews have occupied or ruled bits of Palestine for brief periods of time. Even then they always shared it with other ethnic groups: Canaanite, Philistines, Egyptians, Greeks, other Arab tribes, etc. The Romans kicked the Jews out of Palestine in 132 A.D. An Islamic ruler, Caliph Umar, let them back in after 638 A.D., but the majority of Jews still live outside of Palestine even today.

Up until about 1948, Jews migrating to Palestine bought land from willing sellers. There were some problems even with that, for instance peasants found themselves turned out of their lands when whichever Arab patriarch held the title decided to cash in and live the good life somewhere else. Sad as that might be, it was no different than similar land deals elsewhere in the world.

The Jews, or the Jews in Palestine known as Israelis, started massive land thefts beginning with the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. This theft took many forms. In all too many cases for a particular piece of land some Palestinians were murdered and the rest fled; title to the land was worked out later. In other cases after Palestinians fled they were unable to pay the real estate taxes imposed by the Israeli government, so they lost their land, which Israel gave or sold to Jewish settlers. This process has ebbed and flowed but never stopped. Fraudulent conveyance continues to this day. In a recent case investigated by the Associated Press, land newly settled by Jews in the West Bank had been ruled legally transferred by Israel even though the documents were forged. The guy who supposedly signed the deed transferring title had been dead for over two decades. [See also West Bank Sites on Private Lands]

Maybe God should have made it more specific: using lawyers and courts to steal is still stealing. Most of the land that now constitutes Israel is stolen land. But if you talk to Jewish fanatics (which I have on more than one occasion) none of this is theft. No, it is the Palestinians who are thieves. God gave the land to the Jews. It is okay to take away land, or lives, from Palestinians because they are "animals." Devoid of human rights, presumably created by a different God than the one worshipped by Israel. Throw in the "terrorist" word and you can justify anything.

Let's take a quick trip through the other Commandments. The stealing one is number 8 [See numbering the Ten Commandments; I am following the Catholic system, but quoting from the Protestant King James Bible].

1. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." I think the Israeli nationalists have made the actual land of Israel their false god. They are willing to break all other commandments to attain it.

2. Don't misuse God's name ("Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord they God in vain). I think they are okay on this one, or at least about the same as other groups.

3. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." It seems to me the Israelis have been raining terror on the Palestinians, including on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, lately. Killing on a Saturday seems to break two commandments at once.

4. Honor your father and mother. Jews are probably no worse than at this than any other people.

5. "Thou shalt not kill." I'll admit, this is a difficult one, most people allow an exception for killing for self-defense. But Israel is an act of aggression. The right of the Jews to defend themselves against the Catholic Church and its fascist minions in the 1930's and 1940's should not have been perverted into a license to kill Palestinians every time an Israeli had a bullet to spare.

6. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Fine, as far as I have observed Jews are not the chosen people compared to any other religious or ethnic group when it comes to adultery.

7. Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbor. That would seem to preclude forged land transfer documents. But perhaps some logic Rabbinical excludes non-Jews from the concept of "neighbor."

8. Is discussed above.

9. You shall not lust after your neighbor's wife. I know of no objective evidence that Jews or Israelis lust more or less than other people.

10. Thou shall not covet they neighbor's property. Again, most of Palestine belonged to non-Jewish Palestinians, and the state of Israel is the manifestation of desire for other people's property.

So I would give the Israeli Jews, as a society, a failing score of following only 4 of the 10 commandments. Of course individuals vary, and few people have the time to break all of the commandments every day.

If I recall my Old Testament, some very bad things happen to Jews who do not keep the commandments. Worst case scenario: an army expels them from the Holy Land.

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