When "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1:14) He provided the foundation for two religions -the Christian and the Antichristian. The first of these set forth the highest of ideals for His followers, to perfect them in every good word and work; the second did pretty much the exact opposite, often arousing the basest of human inclinations toward heinous crime. The ideal of the true Christian is to attain equality in character and vision with their Leader, an ambition which none of the human race has ever achieved. Had any of them ever been able to do this, the ideal would then be largely dissipated -no more hills to climb, no more conquests to accomplish. Thus, throughout the writings of the Apostles the ideal of "Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2) is ever prominent, "Christ" being the ransom price for our justification, and "Him crucified" being the narrow way in which "He set us an example that we should follow in His steps." (1 Peter 2:21) All of this is summarized in perfect love for the Lord, the Truth and the brethren, which, when properly comprehended and practiced, delights in doing good unto all men as we have opportunity, but especially to them which are of the Household of Faith.
Thus, St. Paul counsels "Husbands, love your wives, even as the Anointed One loved the congregation, and delivered Himself up on her behalf." (Eph. 5:25, Dia.) And among the last of the Lord's thoughts on the night before His death was toward those who would cleave to Him in spirit and in truth -"That they all may be one…that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me." (John 17:21-23)
All who know anything at all about Christianity admit that its fundamental precepts are good; but, they say, no one lives up to it. And, while it is true that the vast majority of those calling themselves Christians deserve such criticism, yet it is equally true that there have been some outstanding "examples of the believers" throughout the Age. Aside from the twelve Apostles, mention may be made of John Wesley, founder of what is now the Methodist Church. The focal point of all his teaching was that disinterested good will toward all men is the ideal for Christians, and there is little doubt that he practiced what he preached. Much the same may be said for George Fox, founder of what is now the Quaker Church. Similar appraisal may be made of Balthasar Hubmaier, founder of the Baptist Church. And the preaching of these three men, along with others throughout the Age, was potent and magnetic enough to cause many of their adherents to exemplify true Christian principles in their daily lives.
But alongside the few throughout the Age there have been great multitudes who did otherwise, many of the latter with such wealth, education and mental brilliance that they have almost completely eclipsed those faithful few who held "the testimony of Jesus, and the spirit of His Prophecy." (Rev. 19:10, Dia.) This deplorable situation was already making its first glimmering appearance in the early Church, so that St. Paul was prompted to write: "The secret of lawlessness is already working … then will be revealed the lawless one… whose coming is according to the energy of the Adversary, with all power, and signs, and wonders of falsehood and with every deception of iniquity to those who are perishing, because they admitted not the love of the Truth [true Christianity] in order that they might be saved." (2 Thes. 2:7-10, Dia.)
Here is an excellent description of the Antichrist that would appear after the Apostles had left this earth; and, while we stated in the first sentence of this treatise that our Lord had laid the foundation for this monstrous apostasy, it should be kept in mind that such was not His design. It was merely that He provided the opportunity for "evil men and seducers" to join a good cause for their own selfish purposes -much the same as the Bible itself has also provided a very convenient conveyance for those to enhance and enthrone themselves who in fact were really motivated by most selfish and unholy ambitions. It is well for us to keep in mind here that Antichrist not only means opponent, but it also means in the place of Christ. St. Paul had warned in 2 Thes. 2:3-5 that Jesus would not come again until "there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exa1teth himself above all that is called God … so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." The attempts to interpret st. Paul's words here are legion; quite a few would-be interpreters are very emphatic that this refers to an individual. During the 1914-1918 war there was quite some agitation to the effect that St. Paul's words were just another description of the "Beast" of Rev. 13:2-5, Dia.: "The beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet as a bear's, and his mouth as a lion's mouth… and they worshiped the beast, saying, 'Who is like the beast, and who is able to make war with him?' And there was given to him a mouth speaking great and blasphemous things [note the close similarity to St. Paul's words]; and authority was given him to act forty two months." The theory gained quite some followers back then that this was a prophecy of the German Kaiser, which meant that the war would end in forty-two months. But when the war went on for nine months more than the forty-two, and the Kaiser suffered complete defeat and was forced to abdicate and flee to Holland, that theory died as quickly as it had been born. Their mistake, of course, lay in their failure rightly to comprehend one of the basic rules for the understanding of The Revelation; namely, that the numerals in that book are literal, but almost all the common nouns are symbolic. Those months are 30-day months, making a total of 1260 days, as can be readily seen from Rev. 11:2,3: but, applying the principle of "a day for a year" (Num. 14:34; Ezek. 4:6), the period of time then involved would be 1260 literal years.
That the foregoing Scriptures could not possibly refer to an individual will we believe, be apparent from certain considerations, one of which is that no individual has ever survived for 1260 years. Also, the Antichrist, the Man of Sin, The Beast, all simply portray different characteristics of the same thing: Antichrist being in the place of Christ -Man of Sin (in the place of "Son of Man" -Mark 2: 10), the degrading disposition and influence -The Beast, the vicious destructive and inhuman qualities. The beast "was like unto a leopard." A leopard is black and white spotted, indicating that in some places the beast would be black as night, but in others appearing lily white in hypocritical manner -professedly Christian!
This latter has been outstandingly true of the Papacy; e.g., Spain, Mexico, Italy, tolerance has been foreign to their teachings. Not long ago they tried to chase the YMCA out of Italy -revealing the black spots of the leopard. But in America, where they are much in the minority, they are very outspoken for tolerance -for them, that is manifesting the white spots of the leopard.
In 2 Thes. 2:1-5 St. Paul states that the Lord would not return to earth again "except there come a falling away first." Certainly, this would not mean just one individual; the very construction of Paul's expression shows he was meaning many individuals -a great apostasy -that would be influenced, deceived, and overawed by "the man of sin" -"the son of perdition [destruction]" -yet professedly Christian. The only entity in Gospel-Age history that properly fits this description is the Papacy; it meets all the requirements perfectly -its own record is enough -we need not go to its opponents or critics for argument to sustain this conclusion. But, in coming to this conclusion we do not wish to convey the impression that every Roman Catholic is included in this opinion -any more than every Protestant should be held accountable for the vagaries of the various protesting systems. There have been, and still are, many noble and magnanimous individuals within Protestant and Catholic churches, who for various reasons have failed to recognize the true situation; but this does not alter the fact that the Lord Himself referred to certain features of the Roman Church as "the abomination of desolation." (Matt. 24:15)
Giant oaks from little acorns grow. So also the Roman Church came to its present prominence from a very small beginning -at first meekly bowing to the powers that be, but gradually, very subtly, telling them what to do, until from 799 to 1799, the Papacy "as God sitteth in the temple of God ["Ve (the true Church) are the temple of God" -1 Cor. 3:16], showing himself that he is God." Pope Innocent III said: "The pope holds the place of the true God." Innocent and Jacobatius state "the pope can do nearly all that God can do -none dare say to him any more than to God, Lord, what doest thou?" We here present a mere fragment of what has been written about this subject -enough, we hope, to establish a firm base for our position.
In our No. 7 tract we offered quite some detail about Luther's problems and wars with papal error and intrigue -a member of antitypica1 Elijah against antitypical Jezebel; and we now offer some of his statements about Antichrist as taken from the book of Roland H. Bainton, first published in 1955:
"The faith and the Church are at stake, I rejoice to suffer in so noble a cause. I am not worthy of so holy a trial. I feel much freer now that I am certain the pope is Antichrist." (p. 124) "If he is inviting me to my death, then I will come. I hope none but the papists will stain their hands in my blood. Antichrist reigns. The Lord's will be done." (p. 139) "I was wrong. I retract the statement that certain articles of John Huss are evangelical. I say now, 'Not some, but all the articles of John Huss were condemned by Antichrist and his apostles in the synagogue of Satan. I say freely that all the condemned articles of John Huss are evangelical and Christian, and yours are downright impious and diabolical ...' (p. 128) And on page 120 is a print showing "On the left Christ is washing the disciples' feet. On the right Antichrist, the pope, is having his toes kissed by monarchs."
In their efforts now to embrace Martin Luther, to praise his teachings and work, are the Roman Catholics also accepting what he taught about the pope being Antichrist, sitting in the synagogue of Satan? Let us not forget that the very book from which we quote foregoing was banned by Catholics shortly after it appeared just twelve years ago (in 2001 45 years ago), and many stores were intimidated from further sale of it. And those who continue to pay homage and worship at the feet of Antichrist are in truth also "sitting in the synagogue of Satan" so long as they assemble in the same company with Antichrist. No sane human being would logically do this, of course; but the eyes of many are being opened, and they forsake such company. And we have the "sure word of prophecy" that many others will shortly do likewise. Thus, this writing is no indictment of Roman Catholics as individuals; and we urge all our readers to follow St. Paul's counsel: "A servant of the Lord must not be contentious, but be gentle towards all, fit to teach, patient under evil; in meekness correcting the opposers; perhaps God may give them a change of mind in order to a knowledge of the Truth; and that they may be recovered from the snare of the enemy, who have been entrapped by him for his pleasure." (2 Tim. 2:24-26, Dia.)
Psalms 75 carries fitting application to our subject matter -to the true Christ and to Antichrist. Verses 6 and 7: "Promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: He putteth down one, and setteth up another." Here is· veiled reference to Baal, the sun God of the nations round about Israel.
Almost from the beginning of Israel's conquest of Palestine, after their deliverance from Egypt, there was constant conflict between the Lord God of Israel and the false Baal of the Heathen round about. In our paper on The Great Reformer we gave some detail of Elijah's engagement with the Prophets of Baal, who received equal recognition in Israel because of Queen Jezebe1, the wife of Ahab; and Elijah's complete victory over them forecast the complete victory during this Gospel Age of antitypica1 Elijah (the true Church attempting to reform this "present evil world"), over antitypical Jezebe1 (the Roman Church) before this Age comes to a close.
The Heathen Baal was typical of power-graspers in the Christian Church during this Age, and those who "bow the knee to Baal" refers to all who do obeisance to the Antichristian system. Thus, an identical conflict has transpired during this Age to the one that raged in Israel in the centuries preceding the Christian era. And those on the side of Baal have received no "promotion" -no lasting recognition -from the God of Heaven. In fact, in almost every instance when the Pope asks special blessing upon some event or locality or populace, the very reverse occurs: Great calamity is often the result. We instance just one example: We detailed in The Great Reformer (copy free upon request) how King Philip II of Spain is said to have laughed for the first time in his life over the horrible massacre in France on St. Bartholomew's Day. It was this same King Philip who a few years later prepared the Invincible Armada to annihilate Protestant England for rejecting the papal domination. And that Armada received the very special blessing of the Pope for its mission -a mission which culminated in complete failure and the destruction of a major part of the ships and men in that expedition.
Thus, the warning is given in Psa. 75:5: "Lift not up your horn on high; speak not with a stiff neck." The "horn" in the Bible is often used to symbolize power (see Psa. 18:2): "The Lord … the horn [power] of my salvation"; also Micah 4:13, "1 will make thine horn [power] iron." This exhortation is companion to St. Peter's words: "God resisteth the proud" (1 Peter 5:5); and then the Psalmist warns: "for promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west," nor from following the course of Baal and his devotees; but God will exalt whom He will exalt -those who resist the power-grasping system of Baal.
Inasmuch as the Psalmist is here contrasting "the horns [powers] of the wicked" and the "horns [powers] of the righteous" (v. 10), it is certainly no strain on the imagination to conclude the "promotions" of the righteous must come from the north, since they do not come from the east, west or south. This is quite clearly confirmed in Isa. 14:12-14, where the power-grasping course of Lucifer is described -identical twin to the course of the Papacy. Note the very similar language of v. 14: "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High," to that of 2 Thes. 2:4: "Who [the Papacy] exa1teth lJ.imse1f above all that is called God… he as God sitteth in the temple [congregation] of God ["ye are the temple of God" -1 Cor. 3: 16,17], showing himself that he is God." And Lucifer would make his attempts "upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north [his abode would rival that of the Most High]."
THE DARKNESS HATETH THE LIGHT
It needs little argument that throughout the Age true Christians have been much in the minority. The Lord had promised, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the Truth" (John 8: 31, 32); but this promise "to know the Truth" would not apply to the vast majority who did not "continue" to keep it. To such came the "strong delusions" -also promised to those who "received not the love of the Truth." (2 Thes. 2:10) But it is a sad commentary concerning the many that they were not content to lose the truth, they must also persecute those who did faithfully retain it. Thus developed the monstrous crimes, the heinous tortures by the Antichrist against those who "protested" against their errors. Some of this was given in our No. 7 tract, so we need not repeat it here. However, the Antichrist was not the only system that resorted to the persecution of those who retained Present Truth; and we now catalog some of these:
Michael Servetus was one of those true Christians who accepted and defended the truth that there is but one God. This aroused the ire of John Calvin (strong advocate of, and chief organizer of, the Presbyterian Church), so he tricked Servetus into Geneva and had him arrested for "heresy." The trial lasted about two and" one-half months, with Servetus thoroughly defeating Calvin on the Truth that there is but one God. On October 27, 1553, Servetus was taken from the city and made to sit on a block. Instead of using dry wood, green timber was used, placed some distance from him, which subjected him to a slow roasting of over a half hour duration. Also, in mockery -like the crown of thorns that was placed on the brow of Jesus at His crucifixion by the errorists of His day -a chaplet of straw and green twigs, besprinkled with brimstone, was made to encircle his head. This "crown" was ignited first, and produced such a cry of anguish that it struck terror into the hearts of the spectators. That was his only expression of pain.
Perhaps the saddest part of the above recital is that John Calvin himself had strongly denounced the persecuting spirit of Antichrist in France; had addressed a noble publication to the King of France in defense of religious tolerance -tolerance for him, that is. But he readily forgot all about tolerance when he could not meet the Truth that came from Servetus, and blackened his memory with one of the worst examples of cruel intolerance ever to be recorded. This is indeed a sad record against Calvin, who was considered one of the most brilliant religious minds of the entire Gospel Age, and a zealous champion of his idea of Christianity.
"Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake; but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." (Mark 13: 12, 13) And, "Who is sufficient for these things?" (2 Cor. 2: 16) "He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully." (Psa. 24:4)
Coming a little further along in history, there is the case of the pilgrim fathers who left England because of religious persecution; but, hardly had they landed in New England in 1620, than they began to heap much the same abuses upon those who disagreed with them. But let us keep in mind that, while Wesley and his adherents were sorely persecuted in England, he himself and those who fully embraced his teachings, never persecuted, or recommended persecution of those who disagreed with them. The same could be said of George Fox and the Quakers, the same for Balthasar Hubmaier and the Baptist. And this is definitely our own position now.
By the time the Parousia had arrived the physical manhandling of dissenters had pretty much become out of date, but those who embraced the Harvest Truth were subjected to considerable verbal abuse and vilification, with considerable vicious slander heaped upon That Servant. This increased in severity as the 1914 war began, during which time some of the Truth people did incur actual physical violence, with even a few of them dying from that abuse. During that time those in "present truth" were a unit in advocating religious tolerance; and it would seem the lessons of the past, plus their own untoward experiences, should have taught them thoroughly the quality of tolerance. But, sad to say, hardly had That Servant died than quite a few of them took up the very unchristian weapons against their former brethren that had been previously used against them. Were we not personally witness to this, it would be difficult to believe.
And from 1916 on, those brethren who were being defamed by the Society also were loud in their acclaim of tolerance, the Executive Trustee of the LHMM being one of the foremost in denouncing intolerance; and he did an excellent job of declaring the evils of intolerance. It was easy enough for him to do that, too, because he had the Truth as his "shield and buckler": and it was no problem to prove that it was once more error persecuting truth.
But scarcely had the Epiphany Messenger left us until the Executive Trustee began to cudgel his opponents with the same weapons that had formerly been used against him and others -with the situation now reversed: The former champion of the Truth on tolerance was now forced to intolerance by the Truth which appeared against his error -just as was true of those intolerant ones in the Society after 1917.. Here is a sad illustration indeed of human frailty -the accumulated experience of the Age, coupled with extreme brilliance of Harvest Truth, availed them little as those who still retained Parousia Truth began to expose their decline into error. The formerly excommunicated became the excommunicators in very pronounced fashion: "Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed." (Isa. 66:5)
In so many instances the founders of present-day religious organizations -John Wesley, Martin Luther, William Miller, Thomas Cranmer, Robert Brown, George Fox, Balthazar Hubmaier, Michael Servetus, Zwing1i, Charles T. Russell, et al -were mercilessly opposed because of the truth they presented; a number of them were actually burned at the stake. Yet, quite often those who were outraged witnesses to such abuses, adopted the tools of the persecutors when the situation became reversed. However, the underlying cause of such conduct was largely due to the fact that they themselves had departed -in whole or in part -from the teaChings of those they claimed to follow. All during the Age it seems it never took long until the examples of the respective reformers were forgotten, and much of the truth they presented was perverted or lost completely; and, as the truth was lost, so also was lost the spirit of true Christianity which had actuated their leaders. "Strong delusion" (2 Thes. 2: 11) regarding the truth usually inculcates "strong delusion" in conduct also, which in turn develops fanaticism in those who fall prey to it. It is certainly sound appraisal that religious fanaticism is the deepest, wickedest and most conscienceless of hatreds.
THE TOWER OF BABEL
Some years after the deluge, when the population had begun to increase, men said, "Let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven." (Gen. 11:4) They would have insurance against another flood in spite of the promise that another flood would never be (Gen. 9:15) and they would build Bab-el (Gateway to God). As retribution for this affront, the Lord confused their tongues; they could no longer understand each other. Thus, the effort became known as Babyl, meaning confusion, the same being typical of the Roman Church's effort also to build a "Gateway to God." That is, We are the one true church -no salvation outside of us -no other access to God -their popes are now the successors to St. Peter (despite the fact there is no evidence whatever that St. Peter ever once visited Rome). But their shibboleth over the centuries has been, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church." (Matt. 16:18)
In further explanation, we quote this text from the Emphatic Diaglott: "I also say to thee, Thou art a rock, and on this rock I will build my Church." Reference to Peter as "a rock" is from the Greek Petros; and "this rock" as the foundation for the Church is from the Greek Petra -the difference in meaning being Petros is a small stone, with Petra as a huge boulder. Once this is clearly understood, it is easily comprehended that Jesus was not referring at all to Peter as the rock upon which He would build His Church, but to the great indisputable Truth that Peter had just spoken: "Thou ljrt the Christ, the son of the living God." Indeed, in the words of the hymn, "My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus' blood and righteousness." He is truly the Christ; and "other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. 3:11) He is the Petra, the unmoveab1e rock, upon which the Church has been built. "There is none other name [neither Peter, nor any other] under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) But the Roman interpretation is TRULY ANTICHRIST -"in place of" Christ. And to them also God sent confusion of tongues -a "Baby1"; their teachings today are completely foreign to the truth given us by the Lord through St. Peter.
In identical manner, the Jehovah's Witnesses have made similar pattern; they claim also to be the "Channel for present truth" -no salvation apart from them -they, too, would build "Bab-EL." And to them also has come retribution: a confusion of teachings so far removed from that presented by Pastor Russell, who they claim as their founder, that there is almost no similarity now to their beliefs of fifty years ago. And they also -in true Roman spirit -would suppress the truth presented by us; they have actually seized our papers from the hands of their dedicated deluded devotees and trampled them in the street. Yet they still boast of Pastor Russell, just as the Catholics boast of St. Peter. Was such conduct ever in evidence by the Master, Apostles, or by those true reformers mentioned aforegoing? Indeed, "By their fruits ye shall know them." (Matt. 7:20) The spirit of Antichrist readily reveals itself to all unbiased observers. The following excerpt from Reprint 5172 (Feb. I, 1913) is most appropriate here:
"All down the Gospel Age, those who have been faithful to the truth of God have been put 'out of the synagogue.' The creeds of men have been barriers to keep out those who understood the word of God."
And there is sound logic in explanation: The Truth always brings out the best in the faithful, but it often brings out the worst in the unfaithful or measurably faithful. "We [the faithful] are unto God a sweet savour of Christ in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the savour of death unto death [as they go deeper and deeper into error]; and to the other the savour of life unto life [as the Truth perfects them in every good word and work]." (2 Cor. 2: 15,16) "The light [Truth] shineth in darkness [amid error]; and the darkness [error] comprehended it not." (John 1:5) It is an evidence of human frailty that physical force is usually applied when the intellect is not sufficient. Thus, for a thousand years the Antichrist resorted to the rack, boiling oil, hot lead in the ears, etc., against the "heretics" whose truth they could not gainsay or resist. But there is no record of the fully faithful ever using such weapons against Antichrist. St. Paul also had counseled "Resist not evil with evil" (1 Thes. 5: 15) -"the weapons of our warfare are not carnal." (2 Cor. 10: 4) He also wrote in 2 Cor. 3: 17: "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [tolerance]." Conversely speaking, we may draw the ready conclusion that without liberty there is none of the Spirit of the Lord. And from such we are advised to turn awayl Woe unto those who fall prey to the spirit of Antichrist!
"For we are not like the many, trafficking the word of God; but really from sincerity, and as from God, in the presence of God, we speak concerning Christ." (2 Cor. 2: 17, Dia.)
(By John J. Hoefle)
ARIKI DON'T FAIL US NOW
Every day there are dozens of shootings, bombings and killings all over Israel -over 3300 since Arafat IItarted his War of Attrition-2000. Every road has become a potential death trap. This fulfills the basic meaning of terror: you are afraid to let your family ride to work, school, or to visit friends, because the terror has occurred everywhere. Slowly the Arabs are closing in and Israeli soldiers are firing rubber bullets. The Arabs have no fear on the roads because they know that the Israeli courts are still conducting the Leftist program of jailing Israeli civilians and soldiers for daring to fire on the attacking mobs.
Arik, you have hired the same pacifists who failed in ·their numerous attempts to appease the Arabs. While you are out to please world opinion, Jews are being massacred. The Arabs fire their AK 47 Kalashnikov rifles (given to them by Rabin, Peres and Beilin) from any position they wish, knowing there will be no effective pursuit.
We already know that the Closet Dove Ehud Barak is no good as a defender -he failed to take action even in his last days as caretaker Prime Minister.
We know that Shimon Peres, as Foreign Minister, will continue to peddle his Peace Now policies, regardless of any instructions you may give him. You can depend upon him only to subvert your policies.
We know that whichever Leftist you put in as Defense Minister will carry with him the virus of acute "pacifism" which will continue to be inj ected into Israel's milltary. We know that the radical Labor Left has always used the Israeli officers' corps as an incubator for Leftist-politicians-to-be.
We all thought (and hoped) that you were going to clean out all the "politically correct" officers and bring back the pride of the military.
Arik, my dear friend, have you grown old and a little afraid of public opinion? Were you so beaten down with the false accusations of Sabra and Shatila that you fear attacking our dedicated enemies? You saved the nation by ignoring frightened generals when you dashed across the Suez Canal to trap Egypt's Third Army. I remember crossing the Canal where we met and then you took me to see the "killing field."
You always had the right instincts to defeat the enemy and fight back the generals and politicians too fearful to do what was necessary. Please don't lose your nerve now! The Big Battles are yet to be fought. (Excerpts By Emanuel Winston, The Jewish Press, March 23, 2001)
ISRAEL SHUDDERS IN A TIME OF SIEGE
One by one, people around me are beginning to vanish. So far, the random disappearances haven't claimed anyone in my intimate circle. But the background of my daily life is gradually being depleted. Casual acquaintances, who fill the empty spaces of the day with small pleasantries, now appear on the front pages of Israeli newspapers, smiling for the last time.
In recent weeks, the violence in the West Bank has penetrated my Jerusalem neighborhood of French Hill. A month ago, my neighbor's son was shot in a terrorist ambush on a West Bank road; a few days ago, the janitor of my son's school was killed in a similar attack while driving to work. Now, when my neighbors and I greet each other in the parking lot and ask what's new, what we really mean is, "Has anyone we know disappeared today?" But that increasing sense of Israeli despair seems to have gone largely unnoticed abroad. Our victims tend to disappear from press reports about the intifada's casualties -"most of them Palestinians," as the media formula goes. And when a murder is reported, the victim is often dismissed as a "settler," forfeiting his civilian status and his place in the ledger of mourning.
The implicit assumption in that contempt for Israeli deaths is that our casualties are somehow deserved because we are supposedly the Goliath of this conflict, the occupiers and the aggressors. That assumption ignores the fundamental shift that has occurred in the balance of moral power between Israel and the Palestinians. Beginning with the Oslo process in 1993 and culminating with former Prime Minister Ehud Barak's peace overtures, Israel did what the international community had been demanding of it for decades: empower the Palestine Liberation Organization and agree to redivide Jerusalem and withdraw almost fully to the 1967 lines, offering land within Israel proper for those settlements that would remain intact.
Palestinian rejectionism and Israeli vulnerability have returned the Middle East to 1947. Yasser Ararat's intransigence recalls the Arab world's rejection of the 1947 U.N. partition plan, when the Palestinians also insisted on all or nothing and ended up with nothing. And Israelis' growing fears recall that time just before Israeli statehood when roads became too dangerous to travel without armed escort and entire parts of the country became off-limits to Jews.
Today's state of siege imposed on Israelis extends from the territories to the entire country. A few days ago, mortar shells were fired at Kibbutz Nahal Oz, on the border of Gaza but within pre-1967 Israel. That incident was followed by the murder of a member of Kibbutz Manara, on the Lebanon border. The international media barely noted those stories, which are, after all, local news. But for Israelis, they are the details that define our new reality, reminding us that the conflict isn't about occupied territories after all, -that the Middle East has marked us, individually and collectively, for disappearance.
The other night I drove a friend back to his home in Neve Yaakov, a working-class neighborhood mere minutes from French Hill. Once I would have considered that a routine drive. But in recent weeks, sniper fire has targeted the road between our two neighborhoods, and now I drive there reluctantly, aware that I have become a target.
Having urged us to empower the PLO, some in the international community now seem to believe that we have no right to protect ourselves from the terrorist entity rising on our borders. If it is immoral to respond to the Palestinians' siege of terror against us with a counter-siege of Palestinian towns, how do we prevent those trying to kill us from entering our neighborhoods? Or is that right too now forbidden us? (Excerpts By Yossi Klein Halevi, March 22, 2001)