For One Democratic State
in the whole of Palestine (Israel)


FOR One Man, One Vote



The Second Coming
A positive view of fundamentalism
By Israel Shamir

They walk in big and jolly crowds on Jerusalem streets, waving blue-and-white flags and smiling at passers-by; the Christian friends of Israel often arrive in the autumn, during the Tabernacles Feast. This year, too, they came by thousands; cheered up the despondent shopkeepers of Ben Yehuda Street, promised to stand by us, in weather fair or foul; met with the representatives of the settlers and with Sharon's ministers. Their leader, Pat Robinson, proclaimed: "I see the rise of Islam to destroy Israel and take the land from the Jews and give East Jerusalem to Yasser Arafat. I see that as Satan's plan to prevent the return of Jesus Christ the Lord,"- and the crowds applauded him, even ram horns blew.

The Israeli Jews are less than happy with them. Religious Jews hate their crosses and visibly restrain themselves from spitting in their direction as is their wont. Ministers of the Jewish Nationalist Right hoodwink their supporters promising them to use and manipulate the silly visitors. In the educated and liberal circles of Jerusalem (as well as in Boston, Washington and Paris) it is usual to pour scorn on the fundamentalist Evangelical Christians, to despise these 'country hicks', 'homophobes' and 'warmongers'. But I like these simple and sincere men and women; though their love of Christ was misused by their cynical leaders as the first love of a young country girl is misused by a cynical urbanite.

What is, indeed, the proper Christian attitude to the Jewish state? Nowadays it varies from "warm support" to "indifferent", i.e. from support of Israel on the grounds of an apocalyptic belief to the view that the Jews and the state of Israel have no more meaning for Christians than Inuit. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams offered a compromise affirming the need for a Jewish state and the state's duty to be good to its neighbours. A Palestinian Christian, Jonathan Kuttab of Sabeel wrote him an open letter bitterly complaining that he "ignored the Palestinian people on whose land the Jewish state was created" but "was satisfied that the Archbishop did not support eschatological or prophecy-driven interpretations". However this discourse is missing the fourth leg: the rejection of the Jewish state on the ground of an apocalyptic tradition; and so we shall supply this leg.

Indeed, the "eschatological or prophecy-driven interpretations" are unavoidable; millions of Americans express them openly and millions of Europeans feel them acutely. No amount of empathy with the Palestinians has been able to change the widespread feeling that was well expressed by Lord Balfour: "The fate of the world, the millennia-old plan of Redemption and the Second Coming, is more important than the immediate concerns of local inhabitants". Balfour, probably the Archbishop of Canterbury, other shepherds of the Catholic and Protestant Churches, and many, many ordinary folks feel about the fate of Palestine as [Egyptian President Gamal Abdel] Nasser felt about the fate of Nubian villages when he built the Aswan Dam: 'tis pity but they'll have to suffer for the greater good of the land and its people.

Let us follow this simile a bit farther. If the Aswan Dam were to flood the Nubian villages, Pharaonic temples and Coptic monasteries, but will provide Egypt with water and food -- fine and good; we shall just compensate the poor Nubians and relocate the monks. If the Dam were to create zillions of mosquitoes and bilharzia man-eating worm, arrest the inflow of fertilising Nile ooze and disrupt harvests, we shall regret the folly of building the Dam but stick with it hoping for the better. But were we to recognise the Dam as a new Damocles sword hanging over Egypt, allowing its neighbours to blackmail the country by the treat of nuclear targeting the Dam and turning the Lake of Nasser into the Sea of Doom for this ancient country - we would change our view about the setup rather radically and begin gradually dismantling the project.

In other words, we (as opposed to many friends and enemies of Palestine) may agree that prophecies are coming true, but which prophecies? There are two competing mutually exclusive versions of Apocalypse, a Judaic and a Christian. According to the Jews, after Jewish sufferings, God's rage will be awaken and he will avenge the shed Jewish blood and restore their good fortunes: the outcasts will become the leaders. Theirs will be the only spiritual centre of the world in Jerusalem, they will outlaw or kill believers in Christ and other idolaters, demolish churches, de-spiritualise and disarm the nations, will get seven gentile slaves to a person, collect all material and spiritual riches, and will live happily ever after shepherding the happy gentile flock.
In the Christian narrative of forthcoming events, before the new spiritual awakening of Christendom (described as the Second Coming), the Christian world is to sink slowly into the abyss of de-spiritualisation and Mammon worship; its nadir is described as "the Antichrist rule", the end of Kali Yuga, as they say in India. The prophets connected this dramatic development with the return of the Jews and with re-establishment of Judaic cult in Jerusalem. This was supposed to be the lowest point of spiritual descent, the darkest hour before the sunrise, for Judaism is based on rejection of Christ. This mass apostasy will cause a horrible war; in its aftermath, the survivors will return to Christ.
The prophets and fathers of the Church did not determine whether the Antichrist was to be a Jew (or even a person), but the intricate connection between the Jews, restoration of their cult and the Doom of Christendom was a universally accepted dogma, East or West. In the West, as long ago as the seventh century, Isidor, the bishop of Seville, knew of the "Antichrist who will take Jerusalem and re-establish the Jewish temple and the Jewish kingdom" before taking over the Church and the world. In the East, St John the Damascene prophesied that the Antichrist will come to Jews and for Jews, against Christ and Christians. The Church Fathers considered the Rise of the Antichrist as the rise and temporary triumph of Judaism. In the Tenth Century, St Andrew prophesied that the kingdom of Israel will be restored, and that it will be the launching-pad of the Antichrist.

The secret of this confluence of two narratives is hidden in the idea of de-spiritualisation: the Church fathers were aware that the Jews seek to remain the only sacral unity within profane mankind, while they wished the world to overflow with sacrality like a jar with good wine.

When a Christian observes the US Army and its auxiliaries being sent to subdue the Middle East and establish a Judaic ruler on the throne of Solomon; when the Jewish state declares its supreme sovereignty upon earth by assuming right to judge and doom anyone, anywhere; when prime ministers and presidents gather to deliberate whether they are doing everything they can for the Jews; when the superpower rates its allies by their attitude to the Jews; when princes of the church are begging forgiveness of the Jews, and when practical steps are being taken to renew the sacrifices in Jerusalem - one can't but recognise that prophecies are being fulfilled. One also can't but recognise that whoever supports this prophesied "rise of Jews" sides with the Antichrist. One may also find comfort in knowing that the dark night of the Antichrist will eventually bring the great spiritual awakening, or 'the Second Coming', but may one then hasten the darkness of the night while wishing for sunrise?

In the Bolshevik tradition, this is called "the worse, the better"; i.e. the worse is the situation, the better are chances to bring forward the desired revolution. It is a legitimate view; many good people feel that Bush the Worse is also Bush the Better, as he is so obviously evil that he antagonises even groups liable to support an equally bad but cunning politician. In Israel, a Jewish Ultra-Orthodox authoress wittily explained her antizionist community's support for Benjamin Netanyahu the Zionist: The Ultra-Orthodox realize that Netanyahu will surely destroy the Zionist state.

This attitude ceases to be legitimate when it is transformed into a positive action of supporting evil. One may passively find comfort in knowing that a nasty situation will be soon over, but one may not actively provoke the nasty situation "to have it done with", by, say, campaigning for Bush or Netanyahu. Such a Machiavellian action is perilous for the soul.

The rise of the Antichrist as the last stage before the Second Coming may be compared with the betrayal and the Crucifixion before the Resurrection. Thus actively aiding and abetting the Antichrist, in order to speed up the Second Coming, is tantamount to playing the role of Judas betraying Christ - if he betrayed Christ in order to quicken the Redemption. A mad theologian Nils Runeberg, a character in a Jorge Luis Borges story, admired Judas for his deed, as without him, the divine plan would not be fulfilled. Such an approach is called "antinomian", and Christ foresaw it when he said: "the Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed" (Mat 26:24). Indeed, for Christians, Judas is the symbol of the worst in human nature; Dante planted him in the Ninth Circle of his Inferno, while a Jewish author made him a national hero in the Toledoth Yeshu.

Lurian Cabbala is decidedly antinomian; Sabbatai Tsevi, a post-Lurian Cabbalist messiah of 17th century, believed that sins lead to redemption. His adversaries claimed he would sodomise a boy while wearing phylacteries and singing hymns. The spiritual leader of the Israeli Cabbalist school, Rabbi Kook, also believed that mass murder, rivers of blood and a sinful life are the harbingers of salvation, though he never called for direct antinomian action - this was a later addition by his disciples.

So-called Christian Zionists are antinomians as they side with the Antichrist in order to quicken the Second Coming, but woe to that man who helps Antichrist to destroy the world. Whether they believe in the Second Coming of Christ or not, people who knowingly implement antichristian plans are better called "the Antichrist Zionists". Rise of the Antichrist Zionists is a part of the prophesied Apostasy of the Church. But our feeling towards them are like that towards misled brothers. They were ensnared by their spiritual longing for Christ. We do not mind that they are fundamentalists - we regret that they are not sufficiently fundamentalist.


A fundamentalist is one who follows the traditional teaching of the Church. There are no stricter fundamentalists than the monastic community of Mt Athos in Northern Greece, where I write these words. Athos is a great reservoir of spirit, and many people come to partake of its waters. (Charles, the Prince of Wales stays here in an abbey, too.) The monks keep the fire of Christian faith as it was kindled by Christ and his apostles. They do not expect their salvation will come from Jews, as it already came in the person of Christ. They feel no need to seek Rapture for they were given a plan of their own: to try and achieve the Second Coming by means of prayer and spiritual enlightenment. For them, the Second Coming is the individual mystic experience of seeing Christ in his glory, and it is attainable by divine grace. Thus, the Second Coming happened many times, and will happen again and again.
The roots of the Greek Church go beyond the first mission of St Paul to Athens, for he recognised the religious zeal of the Hellenes. They did not have to be converted, but enlightened. Even today, Greeks are devoted to Christ, to His Mother Our Lady Mary and to her earthly manifestation, their own Mother Church established by SS John and Paul.

Their church stays out of politics, but exercises moral influence. Guided by her church, Greece does not participate in the Iraqi war, her sons do not die on the streets of Baghdad; and this most religious, most Christian nation shares the view of good Muslims and ours, that the world including Greece is threatened not by Islamic terrorism, but by the US fight against terrorism. Their Archbishop Christodoulos correctly stated that terrorism is caused by the "injustice and inequality that pervades the world."

In The Wall Street Journal, a Zionist Greek Takis Michas, in a piece called Is Greece a Western Nation? writes with horror: "Such views seem to have more in common with public opinion in Cairo or Damascus than in Berlin or Rome." Indeed, such views are common among Christians of Jerusalem and Damascus, Madrid and Montevideo, in short, in all lands where Christians are united in Apostolic Churches. So much for the silly concept of conflict between Christendom and Islam promoted by these guardians of the Christian faith, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times!

As opposed to the West, the Greeks knew neither hatred nor fear of Jews. As they had their own national church, they did not transfer their spiritual values to Jews for safekeeping; and thus had no reason to bewail the loss of them. Where there is no guilt, there is no fear, either. Where there is no fear of Jews, there is no automatic support for the US, either, and Theodorakis' view that "the root of evil today is the policy of President Bush" rather than the Muslim world is shared by many Greeks.
Greeks know Muslims not from books - they lived in close quarters with them for a millennium. They are aware that their long and troubled relationship with their Turk neighbours reached its nadir under the anti-Islamic rule of Kemal Ataturk, while Islamic Sultan Selim the Grim spent a fortune restoring the monasteries of Athos.
Now, both the Greek Left and the Greek Right are united in their rejection of the American drive to conquer the East, to enforce multiculturalism and to separate Church and State. They support the Palestinians and wish the Jews to come to their senses. They are a good example for US fundamentalists. Indeed, Greece is the proof that fundamentalist Christianity is not that of George Bush, and that the alternative to him is not monopolised by the First Lesbian Synagogue of New York.
Mt Athos, this green wooded island stretching into Aegean Sea, an independent Christian nation under Greek protectorate and home to twenty massive abbeys, a place where hundreds of monks and thousands of lay pilgrims pray to Lord, work the land, grow heavy olives and red apples, is a good place to recognise an unacknowledged victim of the Iraqi war: Christianity. Its reputation has been besmirched by people who take the name of Christ - and of fundamentalism - in vain. From the New York Times to FrontPage magazine, various Judaic publications provide an outlet for anti-Muslim rant, for calls to war in the name of Conflict of Civilisations. As a result, some Muslims began to answer by counter-attacking Christianity; and European and American youth learn to think of their faith as a danger to mankind. However, this victim is innocent: true Orthodox Christendom, as fundamentalist as it can be, firmly rejects the creed of Mammon and the US war on Islam.

Why were the Greeks better than the Western intellectuals at recognising these media lies for what they were? The reason, in my view, is the national character of the Greek Apostolic Orthodox Church. Separation of Church and State, this much vaunted accomplishment of the French revolution and even more of the US founding fathers, cut off the anchors of the Western society and it drifted straight towards the rocks. While in France the national Catholic church still occupies an important and exclusive place, the US, the country without a state church, became a victim and a servant of Mammon. The small, independent churches of the US had no ability to form the mind of the nation; they competed for an outlet in the Jewish-owned media; they were forever threatened by tax authorities; they broke with tradition and became prey for the wolves.

This absence of one church further undermines the underlying concept of unity-in-God, elaborated by T S Elliot in The Christian Idea of Society (1939). People live together united by an idea; this idea may (or indeed should) be their common worship and uniting communion, thus the need for one national church that unites its people by a single communion.

The US was a first experiment on a large scale of what will happen to a society that is built on the quicksand of profit, instead of the rock of faith. Given this background, one can understand the US churches' vulnerability to the Judaic influence and their readiness to support the Judaic Doomsday script. But this should be called heresy - not fundamentalism!

(Full version of Part Two: An Island of Faith can be read on

Fundamentally, the church always believed that the Jews will be eventually saved by coming to Christ. This important event will accompany the defeat of the Antichrist, as part of the Great Reawakening (metaphorically called the Second Coming). Then the sheep will be separated from goats, and those who accept Christ will continue into future life. As the Rise of Antichrist occurs in our days, we witness the first fruits of this sifting.
Our brother Mordechai Vanunu is one of the first swallows. This holy man, a scion of a learned Sephardi Jewish family, was horrified by the Jewish persecution of the native Palestinians and came to Christ. As a Christian, he denounced the Armageddon weapons of Antichrist, manufactured in Dimona, in the South of the Holy Land, within sight of Sodom. He was severely punished by the Antichrist and suffered 18 years in jail; but by God's will he survived it like Daniel survived the Lions' Pit.
There are many others: Neil and Gilad, Daniel and Menachem, Jews by birth who denounced the Judaic cult of Death and accepted the Living Christ. In every case, relationship to the Palestinian suffering was the sieve: whoever disregarded it followed Antichrist; whoever denounced it, began his way to Christ.
Though modesty precludes me from referring to myself, I have a duty to witness. A vain and suffering man, I was granted the grace of Christ and was reborn in his glory. Though the ways of God are mysterious, I believe that it was my compassion and love for the native people of the Holy Land that made me worthy of His Theophany. A poem by the Greek Alexandrian poet Cavafy helped me to recognise my way:
For some people the day comes
When they must say the great Yes
Or the great No. He who has the Yes
Ready within him, says it

And goes by the path of honour, strong in his conviction.
He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,
He'd still say no. Yet that No - the right No -
Drags him down all his life.

I do not regret my Yes, and the attacks of enemies do not break my spirit. I am daily grateful to Christ who saved me from the Judaic paranoia of hating and being hated, and brought me into the world of loving and being loved. And every Jew who has come to Christ by the way of rejecting the Judaic ideas, by upholding love for the nations, is a portent of Salvation.
Now I have received good news, great news from a great man, Alfred Lilienthal, an American Jewish author of many books including famous What Price Israel? published in 1953 and republished last year. Alfred Lilienthal was one of the first Jews who renounced Zionist separation and mistreatment of Palestinians.
Now Suzanne Nicole, his webmaster, secretary and assistant wrote to me:
"At age 90, Alfred is quite frail and too blind to read, his short-term memory is severely impaired, so he has to be asked short questions (in a loud voice since he is also growing deaf), or he forgets what he is being asked. His long-term memory is still quite good, so he is also able to discuss concepts such as the difference between Judaism and Zionism. He understands current events when he first hears about them but quickly forgets the details. I did paraphrase one of your statements from The Pardes to him:
"Thus, this discourse should help an individual to decide whether he wants to be a Jew, or not, in the same way one may choose whether one wants to be a communist or a Quaker, for it is my deep conviction that to be or not to be a Jew is an act of free will."
He replied, "And that is what I have finally done." He was baptised sometime shortly before last Thanksgiving. Even in What Price Israel? in 1953, he had referred to Jesus as a prophet of Israel. One day a couple of ministers had come by to see him at the urging of a Christian friend, and he made the decision in what seemed to some perhaps as a senile moment. But Friday afternoon, he said, "What is today? Is Ned coming to take me to church today?" So, it has stuck. He may not remember what day it is, but he does remember each day that he has chosen to become a follower of Christ like you."
This conversion of Alfred Lilienthal is an important event, for it tells us that Christ's grace is available to Jews and not only in the physical Holy Land: It is enough to renounce the separation of a Jew and a Gentile, to give up hate and to accept the love that is Christ.
Christian faith is not compatible with Jewish exclusivity. The mission among Jews can be successful only if the whole complex of Jewish separatism is removed, when their hearts are circumcised and they are brought into full communion with the people they live amongst. I have met in Israel with some 'messianic Jews', who were full of hate to the native people of the Holy Land. Not surprisingly, they thought Jesus Christ came just for Jews, and the Holy Land was theirs, too; they worshipped the Israeli Army and the flag of Israel. For them, the pivotal moment of history was not the Resurrection, but the Destruction of the Jewish Temple. In other words, they only pretended to be Christians, or not even that, as they preferred to be called 'messianic Jews'.
Indeed, the plans of Almighty include the Jews; like the plans of the Ring included the hobbits; but some will play the role of Frodo, while others will take the part of Gollum, some will support Antichrist, and some will stay with Christ.
The 'Antichrist Christians' may revert to true fundamentalism, reject Antichrist and his drive to destroy the last enclaves of spirit still hidden in the high mountains of Asia. Then they will be called 'Christ's Christians'. They may campaign for strengthening and uniting the American churches and eventually bringing them into full communion with the Apostolic Churches of the East and the West. They may campaign and undo the extreme separation of church and state in their country; for sacred and profane must be reunited. They may reintroduce worship of Our Lady, as the way to connect to nature. She performed a miracle in the neighbouring Mexico, and healed the wounds of the native people; she can repeat it in the US. Then you will be blessed by all those who damn you today; and the Americans will be met as friends by friends wherever they go. The plans of the Antichrist will be ruined, as happened before; and mankind will resume its noble path of striving to discover its divine qualities. For the main message of the Orthodox Christianity is that God became Man so Man can become God; this is the true meaning of the Second Coming.


Responses of Readers:
From Ahmed, Bahrain

Greek people are such wonderful people, so easy to be with and so light and refreshing in their being. I always felt at home amongst them. They were always glad to share their bread, fetta and olives with a stranger like me. If this hospitality was ingrained in them then they truly are blessed by God. If they inherited it from Christ then they are truly showing grace to Christ for following his ways. As a Muslim, I have always considered myself to be a Christian too for I believe in the immaculate birth of Christ, the Spirit of God, and his Mother being The Jewel of the women of Paradise. Bless them both and God bless Greece.

Shamir replies: I also consider Muslims being Christians; the third branch of the tree of faith, next to Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran branches.

From Antoine The prophecies, as events supposed to happen in a "future", in a "tomorrow", have been already accomplished to my humble Christian opinion. On the Cross, Jesus said "everything have been accomplished". This precisely means that prophecies have no more accuracy as futuristic events in a time "to come".

At Easter Sunday, we do say "today is the day of Resurrection". This "today" has no "time" dimension. It is now, yesterday, tomorrow, it is not a "chronologic" sequence but rather a "kairotic" event. This "kairotic" perspective is indeed the same that allows us to say at the end of the "anaphora": "We make the anamnesis ( remembrance ) of your incarnation, your death, your resurrection and your second coming". In the western rites, this same liturgical moment is said: "We remember your death etc... and we EXPECT your second coming". In the East, and since "everything had been accomplished" we can very easily "remember the future". Remembering the future, dear Shamir, is at the very heart of "Iconopeia", or "image craft", i.e. thinking through images.

I know this may sound a little strange. But what I want to say is that all the prophecies of the Old Testament have no more accuracy as "chronologic events to happen in a future to come". They are definitely "kairotic moments" that has been fully accomplished already. Therefore, to recognize to the Zionist state a theological value, in matter of salvation, is a very strange attitude for a Christian.

As for your article, I like it very much. I admire your courage and I acknowledge your Christian faith.

Shamir replies: though it is certainly true, still the apocalyptic ideas were known to the Eastern Fathers of the Church.

From Michael:
…It seems to me that the essence of both Judaism and Christianity is spiritual rather than material. In Judaism, this spirituality is worldly, but only up to a point. It may well be part of Jewish spirituality to form communities that live according to a certain law. It may sometimes be part of Jewish spirituality to form communities, even empires, against the will of other men. But it is certainly not part of Jewish spirituality to do this against God's will. The Bible on the contrary makes it crystal clear that Jews continually find it difficult to keep God's law, and that they must accept the consequence of diaspora.

It was long the consensus of the Jews that, with the destruction of the Temple, the time for empire-building had past, and the time for humility, submission and contemplation was upon us. A true Jewish fundamentalism would have to take account of this consensus. This does not mean that there might never come a time when Jews were once again sovereign in the holy land. But it does mean that anyone who claimed to establish sovereignty in accord with the dictates of the Jewish religion would have to receive a clear indication of God's command that the time of contemplation was past. To suppose that modern Zionism, an intensely secular enterprise, was founded on such an indication would be ludicrous. Nor can even the most fanatical settlers show a sign or a prophet credible to the spiritual leaders generally. So the true Jews are either those who remain contemplative, or those whose actions testify, not to prideful ambition, but to a respect for God's laws and His punishments. Anti-zionists are far more likely to embody such respect than Zionists. And the same may be said for the worshippers of Mammon. It is not forbidden, even in the diaspora, for a Jew to become wealthy. But it is forbidden to use this wealth to reverse God's verdict, to amass a human power divergent from His will. This is what happens when wealth is put in the service of Zionism.

As for Christianity, its spirituality is clearly much less worldly. Here too one must not exaggerate. Seclusion from the world and its concerns is considered admirable but far from mandatory: one may fight injustice; one may help others; one may live an active, engaged yet Christian life. But - and this I think is crucial to the issues you raise - genuine Christian fundamentalism, like genuine Jewish fundamentalism, must never seek to manipulate history on a grand scale. True Judaism and Christianity have in common the abhorrence of pride, and Christian Zionism, like Jewish Zionism, is pride in its most sinful form. It is not just that using American or British power to accelerate eschatology in Palestine would require a sign as unambiguous as the coming of Christ Himself. It is also that the spiritual Sorelianism of encouraging the ascent of Antichrist is literally the worst insolence conceivable, the arrogation of a literally Godlike power to visit calamity on the earth in His name. True fundamentalism practices the fundamentals of the faith. Nothing could be further from Christian fundamentalism than the lack of humility and love inherent in this geopolitical tinkering with evil.

From Hans, Norway
The message from Alfred Lilienthal is fantastic. His life work is finished. He will be remembered for ages - as a messenger of the truth of the Gospel.

Still: The very strange thing is that even Judaism's apocalyptic system comes very close. The message of Talmud is very clear:
"One, that Israel shall not go up [all together as if surrounded] by a wall;8 the second, that whereby the Holy One, blessed be He, adjured Israel that they shall not rebel against the nations of the world; and the third is that whereby the Holy One, blessed be He, adjured the idolaters that they shall not oppress Israel too much'. And Rab Judah? - It is written in Scripture, That ye awaken not, nor stir up.1"
Even the words - "Israel shall not go up all together as if surrounded by a wall". And if they "go up as if surrounded by a wall":
R. Eleazar explained: The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Israel, 'If you will keep the adjuration, well and good; but if not, I will permit your flesh [to be a prey] like [that of] the gazelles and the hinds of the field'.
I think the few orthodox Jews left that still follow the terms of the Talmud here are "the remnant of Israel", the ones that shall see salvation. But this is complicated dialectics - I don't know if it can be incorporated.

From Geoff, Oxford

What sort of writing is this? Is it writing about something? To some extent. Mainly, it is writing to someone. It is a letter, addressed to Jews and Christians.
To Jews it says, grosso modo: "A Jewish identity always will be problematic, for you and for everyone you have to do with, individually and collectively; here is the solution; become Christian." To Christians it says: "The story of the second coming is hard to take, yes; but there is great meaning in it; the meaning is that, simultaneously, Jesus' message of compassion is to be renewed and Talmudic exclusivism is to be overcome."

This is good stuff. It is not all there is to the piece.

There is another level to it. This fits together with the first level, as above, but is not necessarily implied by it. It says something different about the story of the second coming. The story is true, you suggest here, not just in the sense that it offers a valid means to transform experience positively but also in the sense that it correctly describes external, objective reality. It is true not only for Christians and Jews now but for all people for all time.

Well, if you like. I don't say that's false. I ask how useful it is.
Suppose you address an audience of 100 Jewish people and say that the way forward for them, determined by God and History, is for them to become Christian. And then suppose you address another audience of 100 Jewish people and say that a way forward for them, consonant with an understanding, of God and of History, that works, is for them to become Christian. In each case, how many are likely to become (a) less inclined to Zionism and (b) more inclined to Christianity? More in the first case than in the second, or vice versa?

And is this message only designed for Zionist Jews and fervent Christians? How about the non-Zionist Jews and the tepid Christians in whom it would be useful to stimulate a more activist stance? Is over-statement or under-statement more likely to achieve the desired effect?

And then, (as we were saying in London a couple of months back), it is perhaps worth remembering that most of the world
¨ is neither Christian nor Jewish nor Muslim; and indeed
¨ tends to think of the Abrahamic religions as a bit weird; and moreover
¨ is reinforced in that opinion by the situation in Palestine - and as a result
¨ is less likely than would otherwise be the case to translate revulsion at the patent injustice of what is happening into effective action.
Is it not important to mobilise these people too? How to do that? The first level of your message can contribute to this cause; perhaps not the second level.

Shamir replies: this is indeed a letter to 'fervent Christians'; it was not meant for Jews or Buddhists. They will be mobilised by another letter J

From Hans, Sweden
I find your essay very touching and well written, although I myself is not a religious person. This does not mean that I am not a christian. I was raised in a country where christendom was still a living entity and all my underlying moral values obviously have their origin from within the Bible. So the connection is there although I later in life adopted the marxian world view.
But remember what Marx himself said, that he preferred a wise idealist to a stupid materialist. I regard yourself as being predominantly a wise idealist and I definitely share your opinion that love instead of hate should be "le genre humain".
As to my existential beliefs, I regard myself as being an insignificantly small part of nature. This wonderful and harsh entity, surrounding us all. Coming out of nature and returning back to nature after life sounds a lot like the christian burial ritual so in that respect I feel like a part of something much greater, which I prefer to name Nature. Apart from that I am still a dialectical and historical materialist as described by Marx.
And I definitely find your essay very appealing and worth publishing.

From Ian, England

…One of your themes - that of despiritualisation - is of great importance.

Here is what a despiritualised society looks like :,6903,1283478,00.html

"Sitting in the heart of the lowlands that once produced much of Britain's coal, the centre of the city is now almost entirely ringed by run down, sprawling, low-rise estates which were originally conceived as high-density housing for the local workforce. With little or no recreational facilities and declining employment, many areas of the city are spiralling into decline. Huge numbers of properties, many of them close to the city centre, are boarded up, burned out or simply falling down. The collapse of the mining industry in the north of the county has forced many workers back into the city and it is their increasingly disaffected children who are being drawn into Nottingham's drugs and guns culture. "

Not exactly pretty, is it?

When observing those - like Blair or TV newsreaders - who mouth words they do not believe about 'prosperity' or 'success', I sometimes have the feeling of watching an animated carcass, or perhaps an android of science fiction.

Total despiritualisation has taken place: they have (visibly) sold their souls..

From Augustin:

People are born different, some have more princely blood and behaviour than
others. Before as well as after Christ there were Christians. I have been
reading and seeking my whole life, but I cannot say that I have become something
really distinct from what I was meant to become, still at variance with the
answers I got; they were chance meetings with friends,- like-hearted
individuals, or part friends - and with enemies, whom I turned my back to
although keeping listening to them out of an unprincipled curiosity about how
far people can go to or a kind of Schadenfreude, both disgraceful but commonly
shared attitudes, I fear.
I follow with intellectual and spiritual pleasure your discussions and share
most of your ideas and struggles; I suppose that you must have been a Christian
your whole life without knowing it. I must have been born a Christian too,
before ever having heard of Christ, and you may say that I am one because I was
born into this judeo-christian society. I have great sympathy for the Christian
teachings, but the mysteries remain and the reading in between the lines can
turn it into anything we have met so far on the christian front. Paul is such an
interpreter, acute, maybe a little intransigent, and he is not the most harmful.
I would say that I can accept and recognise the christian part of my cultural
basis, but that theologically there should never have been a judean trait to it,
since the Old Testament should never have been added to the christian corpus. My
cultural basis is certainly more Greek or Latin, Germanic or Slavic than Jewish,
even if we use a lot of jewish christian names. European-christian would be a
better definition, as there must be a sino-christian, a judeo-christian (if you
insist, and if there is any), a indo-christian and so forth. There are good
jews, since they are human beings, there are many mafias (and the jewish one is
not the least powerful), there seems to be a majority voting for Bush, for God's
sake: these are people who want to kill and get killed. That is what you get
when you are frustrated of self-knowledge. Personally I am too civilised to want
either, and I can only hope that some day a majority will be like that. I think
that being civilised is being a christian, with or without Christ. Didn't Christ
want peace and justice, and are not that very reasonable (induced by reason)
proposals? The second coming is a cry of hope. Reasonable and full of hope are
Plato, Zeno and Seneca, Epictetus and Aurelius, humanism, enlightenment and
science. I sometimes have the impression that human biological evolution is
stirring strongly these days, considering the amount of precocious and
self-confident children I know of, about whom adults keep saying that they seem
like extra-terrestrials. The new ones would be felt as strangers.

For instance: what is the proper christian attitude towards the Jewish state? As
a civilised human being I am against colonialism, exploitation, accumulation of
riches and power. There is an International Law, a Declaration of Human Rights,
better than the precepts of any religion. Prophecies and apocalyptic teachings,
which attract broad interest and following, must be psychological compensations.
The Old Testament should not stop with the return from babylonian exile: the
history of jewish fanaticism, hopes and bloodbaths went on in their promised
land until the Romans put an end to it. Now that they are back they will go on
revering their unjust god, new gods, other facets of the Mammon you talk about
(but the same old devil), and at the same time rejecting them since the seed of
civilisation is planted in every soul. That is an insurmountable contradiction
and must lead to despair and annihilation.

I don't give a shit about whether you are a fundamentalist or not. My knowledge
of the pros and contras is and will be forever lacking in width and depth. I
keep swimming in a river, upstream mostly, since I keep unsatisfied with life
most of the times, except when I experience beauty and love. Otherwise I feel
hatred, envy, fear and such things, certainly not indifference. I have to accept
the facts of life, and through learning that, I am aware that I follow the
precepts of intelligent and wise men, or simply wise men, whom I suspect of
knowing or feeling more than I do, but who are assailed, I suspect often
unbeknownst to themselves, by the same contradictions and doubts, since not a
single one returned saying I am who I am.

Mount Athos must be an inspiring experience, a sort of learned Hobbittown. Its
inhabitants no doubt will provide you with the commentary on your views I am
incapable of giving. Forgive me my incoherence.