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Chaos Manor Special Reports

Unholy Lands

by J. Neil Schulman

APRIL, 2002

Last edited: Wednesday, October 16, 2002

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Copyright © 2002 by J. Neil Schulman. All rights reserved.

Unholy Lands

by J. Neil Schulman

 

I have in front of me a U.S. twenty-dollar bill.

On the back of the bill is a picture of the White House, the phrase ďThe United States of America,Ē and the motto ďIn God We Trust.Ē

On the front face of the bill are serial numbers, the seal of the United States Federal Reserve Bank, and the signatures of the Treasurer of the United States and the Secretary of the Treasury.

At the center of the front face of the bill is a portrait of Andrew Jackson, president of the United States from 1829 to 1837.

I am not initiating a discussion of monetary policy, though I canít resist noting the irony that the face of a president who abolished an early United States central bank now adorns a latter-day central bankís note.

No, I take cognizance of Andrew Jacksonís face on the contemporary currency of the United States of America because, in 1830, President Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which in 1838 resulted in the forcible relocation of the Cherokee nation from their lands in Georgia along a deadly thousand-mile march to Oklahoma. Over 4,000 Cherokee died along the way and ever since it has been called the Trail of Tears.

Iíve been known to write a science fiction story or two, so let me ask you a ďwhat ifĒ question.

Letís say that a couple of years from now, descendants of the dispossessed Cherokee Ė members of a nationalist movement to return to their ancestral lands in Georgia Ė managed to convince large numbers of people who have traces of Cherokee blood to move back to Georgia and take up residence.

Through lobbying, the new Cherokee get the president of the United States to issue a declaration that Western Georgia is the ancestral homeland of the Cherokee; but the president hedges his bets by also declaring it the homeland of the Georgians who live there now.

Later, the Cherokee win a U.S. Supreme Court victory restoring Georgian lands to them, including the city of Atlanta, as a sovereign Indian nation. The United Nations gets into the act and confirms the decision.

Fifty years later, a full-scale civil war is going on in Georgia between the Cherokee and the latter-day Georgians.

Obviously, I am trying to make an analogy to the current situation in Israel between the Jews and the Palestinian Arabs. If I were writing this as a science-fiction novel, I would fill it with analogic events including population movements, religious and cultural intolerance, terrorist bombings Ė the whole business.

Iím not going to write that story. Iíd find it too depressing.

But I do think I have a point to make here.

The Middle East is not the only place on earth where, if one went to the trouble, one couldnít make a good case for the restoration of ancestral homelands and fomenting a long-term civil war over real-estate. Considering how poorly the Cherokee people have fared in the last 16 decades, they might be able to convince a sympathetic world that they have as good a case for a restored homeland as the Jews of Europe had following Hitlerís holocaust.

As much as I think Andrew Jacksonís nearest contemporary of ours might well be Slobodan Milosevic, I think anyone who initiated a ďWhite RoseĒ movement to restore a Cherokee homeland in Georgia would be a maniac. If the Cherokee actually wanted a new homeland, Iíd suggest they start with someplace nobody is currently living, and start developing. Iíve flown over the United States. Thereís still plenty of unoccupied land.

But hereís my point.

Anyone who fought a war over Holy Land in the state of Georgia would be a maniac.

Anyone who decided that it was worth blowing up school buses, cafes, and supermarkets over conflicting deeds of title to real estate in Georgia would be maniacs.

When I look at Israel, I see a civil war between maniacs.

I believe in God.

I understand that the Arabic word ďAllahĒ translates into the English language as God.

When the Jews now living in Israel, the Hebrews who lived there millennia ago, the Christians and Muslims who have lived there over millennia and who live there now, talk about God, they all are talking about the same God.

And if they think that God wants them to fight and kill each other over real estate, even real estate of multiple historic religious significances, they are certifiable nutballs. With apologies to my good friend Tom Szasz, I have no problem with suicidal maniacs who want to blow up themselves and innocent civilians being strapped down by strong men in white coats and injected with Thorazine until they come to their senses.

It may well be that the territorial disputes in the Middle East will not be solved without divine intervention. Speaking for myself, Iím just a little miffed that God hasnít shown up already to work a few miracles and tell the maniacs killing each other in His name to knock it off. But I also have to give God the benefit of the doubt for His tardiness; for all I know God is preoccupied at the moment with a planet in the Andromeda Galaxy.

But if God doesnít show up soon, I am going to be tempted to ask the worldís only remaining superpower to play God.

The United States could invade Israel and take the territory for our own. Some purists would call this imperialistic; I merely think that whichever nation is demonstrably morally superior to everyone else is Godís chosen people Ö and in my opinion, the United States is so far beyond the rest of the planet in our anal-retentive obsession with respect for individual rights that we win the morality contest hands down. The past crimes of the United States, including crimes against Native Americans, African Americans, and Asian Americans, are growing pains compared with the unrelenting genocides that dot the history of Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Or we could simply buy Israel for cash, the way we did the Louisiana Purchase from France or bought Alaska from Russia. Aside from a few antique sites of interest to Indiana Jones and American Express, Israel is about as uniquely valuable as Jean, Nevada. But if the American taxpayer dropped a trillion bucks on buying Israel and paying the armed partisans to move elsewhere and open fast-food stands, it would be cheap at twice the price if, by doing so, we avoided another day like 9/11.

I donít believe in holy land. Land is never holy. The closest you get to anything holy on this planet is the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar.

Piling up land with a lot of dead bodies and bad memories does not make it holy. Killing Godís son in a certain place doesnít give it what real-estate agents call curb appeal.

Jews donít need a stinking wall to talk to God. God is used to Jews wailing His ears off from wherever they are.

Muslims donít need a mosque to talk to God. All they need is a rug and a compass Ė and the rug is just to make your knees comfortable; God will listen to your entreaties regardless of your posture.

Land is nothing more than a place to lie down your head at night and make love. I'm all in favor of defending your home when it comes under attack but no spot on earth is uniquely worth killing other peopleís babies over. If the real estate you're on doesn't have a clean deed of title, in the name of God, find an nice unoccupied spot with decent weather somewhere else and plant a fig tree. With a little luck, you might even strike oil.

 

Part II


In the less than 12 hours since I emailed out the above, Iíve received two emails informing me that because the Jews who settled in modern Palestine paid hard cash to Arabs for the land, the Jews are morally the right side to back and the Palestinians are nothing but a bunch of sore losers.

You people are even crazier than I thought.

You want to talk about Israel as a land deal? Jesus H.  Ö.

If this is about a real-estate purchase, did those fast-talking Arab traders swindle those gullible Jews! These old Arab landlords sold the Jews worthless desert land by telling them what a paradise they could make out of it, not bothering to mention that their current tenants had lived there a long time and might get pissed off about having to move.

You want to talk about buying and selling land? You tell me that land which I bought years ago is so valuable to the kids of the old tenants that theyíre willing to send their children out to blow themselves up to get it back, Iíll tell you what we have here are what the real-estate trade calls motivated buyers.

What, have the Israelis forgotten how to be Jews? Sell them the god-forsaken land back at a hefty profit, jacking up the price because of all the improvements. If they donít have cash, make them sign sixty-year mortgages, and appoint the Swiss Guards as the collection agents for the loans. Take the profits and retire to Palm Springs.

Sheesh.

But, of course itís not about a land deal. Land deals get made every day and people donít blow up school buses over variable interest rates.

Itís about religious fanaticism.

Religious fanaticism, by the way, has nothing to do with God. God is not crazy and doesnít want people acting crazy.

The Middle East is a cluster of psychiatric disorders. It is a mental hospital where the shrinks have gone on strike.

People who canít get through their day without their religious rituals are self-made autistics, and they need to be told to get a life.

People who get so attached to historical sites that theyíre willing to kill over it have obsessive attachment disorders. They need to be whacked up the side of the head with a two-by-four.

People who canít see how destructive their attachment to land is are narcissists.  They need to be told to get over themselves.

Iím not saying that God told me to tell them all this.

But I wouldnít be surprised if He did.

J. Neil Schulman
April 2, 2002

##

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There followed some mail, and then this:

Unholy Lands, Part 3

by J. Neil Schulman

I can not disagree more with Leslie Fish regarding the safety of Jews in the United States. Not only am I convinced that Jews are far safer in the United States than anywhere else on earth, including Israel--and even during our current war against terrorism--but I regard the United States as the natural homeland for Jews.

The State of Israel was a utopian experiment. That experiment failed within 24 hours of the declaration of the State of Israel, when all of Israel's immediate neighbors declared war on it and launched a multi-front invasion. That war continued for 15 months. The ability of the Jews to repel the invading neighbors then, and in subsequent wars against the unrelenting hostility of all its neighbors, is a testament to Jewish courage, military savvy, stubbornness ... and stupidity. When one has a choice, one does not choose as a preferred homeland a spot surrounded by hostile enemies ... at least unless one has a reliable strategy for turning those hostile enemies into supportive friends. I have observed no such strategy. In fact, Israel's two-eyes-for-an-eye strategy of dealing with terrorist attacks, while morally defensible, has been disastrous for any hope of making friends with its neighbors.

I am well aware that Israel has been capable of maintaining its borders without the military forces of the United States. But the Israeli economy is incapable of paying for its own defense without constant injections of foreign aid. Consequently, the survival of the State of Israel has been, since its founding, largely dependent on the goodwill of the American taxpayer. What has that goodwill bought us recently besides slowing down our war against the terrorists who hit us on September 11th, having the current prime minister of Israel compare our president to Neville Chamberlain, and compromising the resolve of our people to fight our enemies?

I was serious when I suggested that Israel should become United States territory. As far as I'm concerned, we've already loaned the Israelis enough billions to foreclose.

I wouldn't mind having one six-sided star on the American flag along with all the five-sided stars. The only statehood I unreservedly favor for Israel is for Israel to be one of the United States. I'd like to see the Stars and Stripes flying over Jerusalem. It is historically, morally, and theologically satisfying for me to contemplate.

Extending the Israeli Jews American citizenship would be a pearl beyond price for them, even if they don't have the good sense to recognize it.

Putting aside that proposal, Jews have lots of alternatives to Israel as homelands, most of them in the English-speaking world. If one is considering merely safety, the United States is far and away the best of these, with Canada coming in a close second. If one adds in the value of political liberty, particularly guarantees of religious freedom of worship, the United States wins all contests.

We are, and were considered to be by our Founding Fathers, the new Holy Land. We were founded on the best principles in human history -- life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness -- and we have the best track record in human history of living up to those principles.

Sure, the record is not perfect, but what is? Anti-Semitism in the United States is about as bad as athletes' foot compared to the plagues, cancers, and heart attacks anti-Semitism represents elsewhere. When one compares how Jews in America have fared compared to antebellum blacks, nineteenth-century Chinese laborers, many Native American tribes, and even the early Mormons, the Jews in America have damned little to complain about and a tremendous amount for which to be thankful. I certainly know I thank God that my great-grandparents and grandparents had the good sense to emigrate to the United States before the turn of the last century.

My own home state of Nevada is 92% owned by the United States government. I suggest that if the Jews of Israel were invited to settle there, they'd have the Nevada desert blooming in no time.

I assure you poetic justice would be served when, within a generation, the former State of Israel, left to the Arabs, reverted to worthless desert aside from a few interesting spots for archeologists, tourists, and pilgrims.

J. Neil Schulman   June 4, 2002

-- "Aslan is on the move."

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