Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Rock of Israel

Over the past few days I've been reading about the small but highly significant Jewish component of New Holland, the 17th century Dutch colony in what is now northern coastal Brazil.

They referred to themselves as Zur Israel, rock of Israel, a play on the name of Recife, their capital, which derives from Rock of Brazil, apparently, but is also a reference to a messianic snippet within the Book of Isaiah.

They had a fairly tolerant governor who they called wise: Johan Maurice van Nassau, who permitted them to form the first legal community of Jews in the New World. These guys were the real deal: settler colonists in contemporary parlance.

There were about 1500 of them, 20-40% of the whole population of the colony. Aside from their commercial interests (The three Ss: shipping, sugar and slaves) they ran various charitable programmes, including one for unattached Dutch women looking for a husband in the Americas (!), a bank of last resort for their Christian neighbours and, interestingly, a fund which regularly donated money to Israel.

And that historical factlet certainly caught my attention, because just how many idiots are there out there who think Israel is a place made up by Eastern Europeans at the end of WWII. 

Lady Gaga and Madonna's mad hatter Nazim Mashar certainly seems to, writing in December that “Hamas is a resistance movement and Palestinians have every right under international law to defend themselves and resist the theft and occupation of its land from European and American settlers." He later referred to the 'Zionists' in his own US-based fashion industry as parasites and called for them to be named and shamed.

Clearly none of the peoples who have invaded and repressed Israel almost since the dawn of recorded history: Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Normans, Turks and so on have in any way behaved parasitically. Absolutely not. Never. How could you even presume to say so?

I think we can leave it to an impartial third party, the Buddhists, to respond to this apparent injustice of stolen Arab land: Karma's a bitch!

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