Springingtiger's Blog

Burning Bones (Religious Intolerance)

Image of Siva from a desecrated temple

I am tired, tired of the arrogance of religious people who think that their religion gives them the right to ignore the needs, wishes and feelings of others. I don’t care whether they are Shiv Sena Hindus, Sri Lankan Buddhists, Israeli Zionists, Fundamentalist Christians or Wahhabist Muslims, no one has the right to impose their views on others. They are quick to describe almost anything as an attack on their religious freedoms, but swift to deny any freedom to others. That the majority of adherents of any religion manage to live in harmony with their neighbours demonstrates that intolerance is not essential to any faith. Unfortunately there are too many of every faith who believe they have a right to be intolerant and that their personal views supersede human rights.

Day in and day out we are fed a narrative of Islam being a violent religion and that the violence of Islam arises from the teachings of the Quran. Neither the media nor anyone else, apart from a few hardy souls, makes any great effort to contradict this narrative. Of course as many of those who do speak out to contradict it are Muslims their objections tens to be dismissed, after all they’re biassed, aren’t they. On the other whenever anyone criticises the conduct of the Israeli government they are lambasted as Anti Semitic, Hitler loving Nazis. Should they suggest that religious violence and intolerance is sanctioned by the Jewish scriptures, the abuse directed at them would be even worse. What I wonder is why telling the truth should be considered Anti Semitic.

Again and again as I read my Bible I come across instances of the Children of Israel being commanded to slaughter people of other faiths. Most recently I was reading in Second Chronicles, Chapter 34: verses 3 – 7

For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images. And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images, that were on high above them, he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strowed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them. And he burnt the bones of the priests upon their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. And so did he in the cities of Manasseh, and Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali, with their mattocks round about. And when he had broken down the altars and the groves, and had beaten the graven images into powder, and cut down all the idols throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem.”  (2 Chr. 34: 3-7)

King Josiah did not wait for those who were worshipping other gods to die of natural causes before he burned their bones on their own altars, he slaughtered them. Again and again from the Exodus onwards the murder and persecution of adherents of other religions is praised as being pleasing to God. Whether anyone likes it or not it is a recurrent theme in the Jewish scriptures; under the circumstances it isn’t a big stretch to see the Israeli treatment of Palestinians as a religious act sanctioned by their scriptures. Does this mean that Israel should be destroyed? No, of course not. However it does indicate that there can never be a single state solution to the Israeli Palestinian question.

I don’t know if Islam also sanctions, as alleged, the slaughter of people of other religions, but being one of the three monotheistic religions deriving from Abraham, I would not be surprised. The unfortunate fact is that all the Abrahamic religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam appear to encourage violent intolerance in the name of religion and the furtherance of their political goals. I know that there is an argument that over time they have become more tolerant. However intolerance and religious violence is built into their foundations and anyone who calls for a return to the original purity of the religion, whether they are a Wahhabist or a Zionist is informed by teachings that encourage intolerance.

I am a firm believer in the freedom of people to worship and believe as they choose. However not at the cost of others freedom to do the same. So it would appear we come to an impasse because the intolerant, while demanding their right to be intolerant, will never extend religious freedom to others. I was always an opponent of apartheid, but I find myself increasingly of the opinion that those who follow intolerant forms of their religion should be geographically confined. It would be appropriate to partition the Middle East and remove all non Jews from Israel. Personally I feel that Israel should adhere to the UN Resolution 242, however experience shows that the Zionists will never accept that. Perhaps the best answer is to confirm Israel as the area of the 1922 Mandate and then close those borders and make them impermeable. Israel says they want to be left in peace, so let the world leave them in peace. The 1922 mandate was designed to give the Jews their homeland, let them return home and in the interests of peace, have no contact with their neighbours and vice-versa. The next problem is where are we going to put the Wahhabis?


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