From Jewish Messianism to Zionism
Interviews with Youssef Hindi (1), author of Occident et Islam.
Source: Arrêt sur Info
I read your book (Occident & Islam) with great interest. I like the fact that you are rigorous in the citation of your sources, which seem irrefutable. I think it is essential to highlight this when dealing with such a controversial issue. In particular, you quote the leading expert in Jewish mysticism, Gershom Scholem (1897-1982), founder of the chair of Kabbalah at the Hebrew University of Jersusalem. […] Why did you want to make an in depth study of such a controversial subject?
First of all, I wasn’t satisfied with the two main theories on the origins of Zionism. According to the first theory, Zionism was founded by Theodor Herzl and the World Zionist Congress. The alternative theory, which is lesser known and supported by several historians, including Shlomo Sand, claims that English protestants during the 17th century wanted to repatriate the Jews in the Holy Land, in order to hasten the return of Christ. I do not support this second theory either, as I was already aware that the idea of hastening the return of the messiah by means of political action was not originally a Christian idea but one which came from Jewish messianism. And so, in order to discover the true origin of Zionism, I knew that I would need to study Jewish messianism, in particular by going back to Kabbalah (the occult tradition of Judaism, said to be the “unwritten and secret law” given to Moses by God) which is the source of messianism, which I term “active messianism” in my book. Kabbalah was, therefore, the starting point for my research. I then began to study its origins, its purposes and its various concepts. My aim was to go back in history to identify the person who opened Pandora’s box.
In the book, you talk about “active messianism”. You say that your book aims to give us the keys for deciphering the modern world, and that going back in the past allows you to have a perspective which is highly relevant to today’s world. We are faced with geopolitical events and the chaos they cause in the Middle East. If we do not understand the underlying causes of events today, then it’s impossible to see what is really happening. This is why this book is important: it allows us to discover the origins of messianic Judaism and its consequences. You state that the origins of Kabbalah can be traced back to 1st century Palestine. During the 11th century, Kabbalah gradually spread across Europe. It then gathered momentum in 13th century Spain with Nachmanides (Moses ben Nahman) and Abraham Abulafia (Abraham ben Samuel Abulafia). You also explain that, in the beginning, Kabbalah was considered to be a dangerous heresy by the Jewish orthodoxy, but that it nonetheless gradually infiltrated Judaism.
Kabbalah is a mystical movement which dates from the 1st century. For over a thousand years, until the late Middle Ages, the Talmudists, the defenders of official Jewish orthodoxy, fought against Kabbalah. The Kabbalists mission was to ensure that Kabbalah formed an integral part of the Jewish orthodoxy. And they succeeded! As I explain in my book, almost all Kabbalist concepts have been integrated into the Jewish orthodoxy. At the end of the Middle Ages, a fusion took place between the orthodox Judaism of the Torah, the Talmud and Kabbalah. Kabbalah managed to reach the heart of the Jewish orthodoxy.
You retrace the steps of Solomon Molcho during the 16th century. Could you tell us something about this character and his importance in the development of Zionism?
Solomon Molcho (1500-1532) was a wandering rabbi and David Reubeni’s pupil. Under the influence of Reubeni, he attempted to convince the Pope to raise an army of Marrano Jews to attack the Ottoman Empire in Palestine and expel the Ottomans from the Holy Land, in order to recreate the Kingdom of Israel. His attempt failed because he was wanted by the Inquisition. But he was protected by Pope Clement VII and fled with Reubeni to meet one of the most powerful men in Europe, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Again, he proposed to attack the Ottoman Empire. This ends very badly, because Charles V had David Reubeni imprisoned in Spain and handed Solomon Molcho over to the Inquisition, which had him burnt at the stake. One of Molcho’s main goals was to influence Christians, to have them accept Jewish messianic views. In one of his treaties, he said that Christians should be the target of political actions with a messianic goal, in order to reconstruct the Kingdom of Israel. And he laid down one of the key stones for what later becomes Judeo-Christianity. He simply attempted to accomplish a messianic mission which predated him. This is what I explain in my book.
You explain that Jewish messianism gave birth to Protestant messianism. During the 16th century, Kabbalah gradually infiltrated the Christian world, as a result of efforts made by the rabbi Isaac Luria (Lurianic Kabbalah). During the 17th century, Kabbalah infiltrated the Muslim world because of Sabbatai Zevi (Sabbatean Kabbalah) and the Dönmeh. From the 15th century onwards, Christianity began to be destroyed from within by the Marranos (Spanish Jews who pretended to convert Christianity). Could you tell us about the Protestant restoration movement and then tell us a bit more about Jacob Frank, an infiltrator?
Yes, Jacob Frank had infiltrated Catholicism in the 18th century. He claimed to be the reincarnation of Sabbatai Zevi. We should note that Marranism concerned the Spanish Jews whom the Christians, following the Reconquista (the Alhambra Decree of 1492), had decided to expel from the country. The Marranos were the Jews who had pretended to convert to Christianity in order to stay in Spain. From then on, a culture of concealment developed. This was termed Marranism, but in fact this culture of concealment was already present in Jewish culture. False conversions have always been commonplace in the Jewish tradition, be it in the European world or in the age of Muhammad, during the 7th century, when rabbis pretended to convert to Islam.
As regards Kabbalah’s inflitration into the Christian world, this is explained in detail in a chapter of my latest book. This movement begins in the late 13th century, but successful attempts were made during the second half of the 15th century, when Kabbalist Jews started to teach Christians, the most well-known among them being Jean Pic de la Mirandole. His master taught him Hebrew, Chaldee and initiated him in Kabbalah. Together they created a Christian version of Kabbalah, in order to subject the Christian world to Jewish ideas. In other words, they attempted to convince Christians, and even the Vatican, that Kabbalah can in fact explain Christian doctrines, such as the Holy Trinity. This Christian Kabbalah, which took root first in Italy and then in France, continued to develop in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries in England and Germany at the height of the Protestant age.
At the same time, during the 16th century, Isaac Luria, chief rabbi of Safed, intensified the messianic dimension of Kabbalah. He developed a theory of political action, which is much more proactive than that of Spanish Kabbalah. And it is Luria’s version of Kabbalah which spread across Europe. The Christian version of Kabbalah, the birth of Protestantism, and this wave of messianic Kabbalism developed by Luria all came together during the 17th century, which saw the birth of the millenarian Christian restoration movement. English Protestants spearheaded the project for the repatriation of the Jews in the Holy Land. The Restoration Movement had influential leaders during the 17th and 18th centuries. But it is only really during the 19th century that the Zionist project began to take shape. This Zionist project, then, needed centuries before finally coming to fruition because the necessary political, ideological and geopolitical conditions had to be met.
In your book, you also look at another chapter in history, namely the subversive movements in Islam and their links to messianic Judaism. In particular, you look at Wahhabism during the 18th century and the 19th century Islamic Modernist movement, which gave rise to the Muslim Brotherhood. Could you elaborate on this point?
In the second half of the book, I begin my examination of the 17th century with Sabbatai Zevi, a Kabbalist rabbi who developed an antinomian theology, i.e. one which is against divine law and which reverses all values and is therefore, strictly speaking, Satanic. From 1666 onwards, he and his disciples pretend to convert to Islam. He urges his disciples, in other words hundreds of families, to infiltrate Islam and destroy it from within. To prove this, I provide all the evidence, including quotes from Gershom Scholem. The Dönmeh are the direct descendants of this Sabbatean movement. They are Turkish Jews who pretended to convert to Islam and were at the origin of the Young Turk reform movement. The 19th century saw the birth of Islamic Modernism, which was a purely Masonic initiative, as it was connected with all the networks linked to the Young Turk movement.
In Europe, the Frankists were members of Masonic networks. Indeed, European Frankists and Turkish Sabbateans remained in permanent contact until the end of the 19th century. In parallel, both movements achieved the same objective by using the same means: the destruction of Christian Europe and the Islamic East.
We could go further by including Wahhabism, which developed during the 18th century, but there is no solid proof of a link between Wahhabism and Sabbateanism. When we examine Wahhabism, however, we do find striking similarities not only between these two movements but also with Cromwell’s revolution in 17th century England. Wahhabism and the Islamic Modernism shaped the Muslim world from within and, via the disciples of Muhammad Abduh, both these movements ultimately merged to form the Muslim Brotherhood, founded by Hassan al-Banna. They are, therefore, two parallel schools of thought which function dialectically.
I should point out that the founding fathers of Islamic Modernism during the 19th century (Jamal al-Din Al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh) and many of their disciples were freemasons. Indeed, in Egypt during the 1870s, both Al-Afghani and Abduh, in liaison with their Masonic networks, attempted to stage a great revolution, known as the Urabi Revolution. The modernists adhered to the same subversive ideology (albeit diluted and tinged with progressivism) as the Sabbateans, the Young Turks, the French revolutionaries and the Frankists.
Could you clarify what Masonic lodges are?
We can answer this question from various angles. I take a unique approach by showing how the Masonic lodges, which in fact are networks, were used by the Sabbateans and the Frankists to subvert both Christian and Muslim world from within. In addition, as I explain in the book, there exists a whole variety of Masonic lodges: some are ideologically neutral, some quite clearly adhere to Satanism, while others are either theistic or Judeo-Christian. What I wanted to show was how those Masonic lodges were used by the Sabbateans, the Frankists and, later on, by those in the Islamic Modernist movement in order to subvert both the Christian and the Muslim world.
And always indirectly, in an underhand fashion, never open and direct?
Yes, always indirectly. It’s a surreptitious subversion. I demonstrate this by using copious references.
I wanted to touch upon the ulema (Sunni theologians) and Al-Azhar University. You say they are opposed to the Wahhabi doctrine. Could you tell us more about them, in order to show that there are schools of thought in the Islamic world which attempt to fight against Wahhabism?
Al-Azhar is the University of Cairo, historically the centre of Sunni Islamic thought (for the modern era, in any case). This university, together with other universities elsewhere in the world, have always virulently opposed Wahhabism which originated in Najd, Saudi Arabia.
We shouldn’t forget that Muhammad Rashid Rida, a disciple of Muhammad Abduh, was financed during the 1920s by the Saudis, notably by the newspaper al-Manar. Together with his disciples, he attacked the ulema of al-Azhar, opponents of Wahhabism. Rashid Rida attacked the enemies of Wahhabism, defended the Wahhabi doctrine and portrayed Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab as a great reformer!
At a conference, held in Grozny in June 2016, the world’s leading Sunni theologians, including the Grand Mufti of Egypt (Shawki Allam) and the Grand Mufti of Damascus (Abdul Fattah), decreed that Salafist Wahhabism was a non-Sunni doctrine, excluded from Sunnism (a clear reference to Wahhabi and Takfiri groups supported by Saudi Arabia).
Thank you for highlighting this vital point. Indeed, the press briefly made mention of this. To come back to your research on Jewish messianism and how it developed over the centuries, you detail the origins of political and atheist messianism, which was later to became Zionism during the 19th and 20th centuries. You refer to the Balfour Declaration and the Sykes-Picot Agreements as well as the restructuring of the Middle East. Could you also tell us about the historian Henry Laurens (2) and the Greater Israel project? Could you then make a brief analysis of the current situation in relation to what is happening in Syria today? Could you describe the key players who mainly act outside of Israeli territory and who work to accomplish the messianic mission?
The Zionist project has undergone many changes, the most important of which took place during the 19th century. In the book, I demonstrate that Zionism is but one element of the global messianic project. During the 19th century, certain religious ideas and messianic projects took on an atheist, materialist and secular form. Zionism was one of these messianic ideas which became “secularised”, as it was portrayed as a project to create a Jewish homeland in order to protect the Jews from pogroms, etc. But this was mere propaganda. In truth, the aim was to accomplish the biblical mission. Indeed, from the early 20th century, Zionists, such as Theodor Herzl, defended the project to create an Israel defined by biblical borders, stretching from the Nile to the Euphrates. David Ben-Gurion stated this in writing in 1918, which was even before the creation of Israel.
In truth, therefore, this religious project, falsely portrayed as being atheist, was just a facade and a means of accomplishing a mission which, at the time, could not be openly couched in religious terms.
In the early phases of the execution of the Zionist project, in 1882 for instance, Edmond de Rothschild began buying land in Palestine. The Zionists then attempted to convince the Ottoman Sultan, the Kaiser and then the British to create a Jewish homeland. In the end, it was the British who took charge of this project. In 1916, before the end of the First World War, the British were losing against the Germans. The Zionists then proposed them a deal: they persuaded the Americans to join the British in the war against Germany, in exchange for which the British attacked the Ottoman Empire in Palestine in order to create a Jewish homeland. From the start, therefore, we can see that Jewish international finance influenced Western powers from within in order to have them endorse the Zionist project. This method was used throughout the 20th century. From 1948, the US politically and financially supported Israel.
By drawing on the work of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, I demonstrate in the final part of the book how the pro-Israeli lobby pushed the US to destroy the Muslim world (Iraq, Syria) in order to pave the way for the creation of Greater Israel, planned long ago (4). I then quote the Oded Yinon plan, written in 1982. The neoconservative plan to restructure the Middle East, the “Greater Middle East Initiative” is nothing other than the execution of the Oded Yinon plan. Indeed, following September 11, the pro-Israel lobby pushed the US to carry out the destruction of the Arab states bordering Israel, in order to allow Israel to expand its territory in the future. This was the goal at the outset and it remains so today.
You also discuss the fact that messianism has reached fever pitch in Israel, as well as the connection between American neoconservatism and the current Israeli government and its links to Jewish religious leaders. Could you explain this, as those who are not experts in the field do not necessarily realise that there is a link between the two?
Jews form the nucleus of neoconservatives in the United States. They are in fact former Trotskyites who had shifted to the right. Their political mission is modelled on the Zionist project and that of the millenarian Protestants. And it is these American neoconservatives, the hardcore of which is Jewish, who collaborate with the pro-Israel lobby and work in the interests of Israel. Using a number of quotes, I demonstrate very clearly that these people do not work in the interests of the United States. Nor do they even work in the interests of American imperialism. They in fact strive to accomplish the Israeli mission. At the same time, I show that the current Israeli administration (dating from at least 2012) is, historically speaking, the most messianic government that Israel has ever known.
For instance, I cite Charles Enderlin. It’s not that I criticise him, but I don’t think he has understood the problem, because he believes that the phenomenon corresponds to the conquest of holy sites which began with the 1967 war. This is false. I explain that we are seeing a resurgence of Jewish messianism which gave birth to the Zionist project. As I demonstrate in the book, primary causes shape outcomes, and do so even over many centuries. So we shouldn’t be surprised to see those who represent the biblical orthodoxy come to power in Israel because, in truth, they never lost control of the country!
David Ben-Gurion himself wrote that socialism was merely a means to accomplish the Zionist mission. All these political movements which appear to be atheist are just tools for the Israelis and the messianic Jews. This is why atheist Jews, secular Jews and religious Jews do not truly oppose each other. Regardless of whether they are atheist, secular or socialist, Jewish opinion converges at this stage of the messianic project. They disagree as to the means, but they all agree on the end goal.
In particular, you quote the Book of Joshua, often mentioned by Israeli political leaders, including Benjamin Netanyahu. Could you explain the religious dimension to the construction of Israel?
In the final chapter, I show that the creation of the Jewish homeland – its method of conquest and its ultimate goal – is based on the Book of Joshua (the destruction of villages, expulsion or massacre of the inhabitants). Beyond this aspect, I make a comparison between stages of conquest in the Book of Joshua and the successive stages towards the creation of the Jewish homeland and Greater Israel. And this is very salutary…
You quote Ovadia Yosef (1920-2013), the controversial Israeli rabbi. Could you tell us more about him?
By discussing Ovadia Yosef, I wanted to highlight the underlying influence of religious leaders on Israeli policy. He is not an isolated case. There is also the chief rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994) who lectured Netanyahu, urging him to take action to hasten the coming of the messiah. In 1967 and 1973, Ariel Sharon sought rabbi Schneerson’s advice on military issues, even though Sharon is not religious.
To come back to Ovadia Yosef, I explain that he was a key player in Israeli policymaking, because all Israeli leaders went to him for advice. The religious orthodoxy plays a key role in the making of Israeli geopolitical policy. This is why, throughout the history of Israel, we can see the application of both Jewish laws and the implementation of a programme based on the Old Testament. As I demonstrate in the book, rabbis throughout history focused on using the bible to develop both a theology and a praxeology, and turned this into a political instrument as well as a geopolitical project.
Some of the statements made by Ovadia Yosef are so racist and abhorrent they chill the blood. Regarding the Palestinians, he declared that “It is forbidden to have pity on them. We must give them missiles with relish, annihilate them.” (2001 Passover sermon. Cf. Haaretz, April 12, 2001) […]
As I explain, he was not a lone eccentric. He is a chief rabbi who advised politicians. Even Israeli army generals sought his advice in the preparation of the war against Iran. He was a key figure in Israel and is certainly not the only one to hold these views.
In order to demonstrate that he was influential, you quote a member of the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) who, during the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in 2014, called for the death of all Palestinian mothers ?
Yes, you are referring to the ultra-nationalist Ayelet Shaked, who went on to become a minister. I also quote the Knesset’s vice-president, Moshe Feiglin, who proposes to expel the Palestinians from Gaza and drive them into the Sinai. As in the Book of Joshua, he quite calmly explains that Gaza’s infrastructure should be destroyed with full force. The resemblance to the following passage in the Book of Joshua (6:24) is striking: “And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein.” Feiglin mentions “no consideration for human shields” which basically means that those who refuse to leave Gaza should be wiped out in order to ethnically cleanse the entire city. We should remember that we are talking about the vice-president of the Knesset here!
Could you give us your analysis of the current situation in Syria and that of what happened in Iraq ?
The destruction of Iraq, Libya and Syria is not directly linked to American vital interests, contrary to what the majority of geopolitical analysts say. Nor is it linked to any desire to control the oil reserves. As John Mearsheimer (3) and Stephen Walt demonstrate, if the Americans had wanted to seize control of the Iraqi oil fields, all they had to do was put pressure on Saddam Hussein, and he would have gladly accepted!
Indeed, during the 1990s, President Assad did nothing but reach out to Israel and the USA for the sake of peace. And each time the Americans wanted to come to an agreement with the Iranians or the Syrians the Israeli lobby systematically stepped in. Why? Because the Israeli lobby’s ultimate goal is the destruction of those countries. Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer have clearly demonstrated that it was in fact the Israeli lobby, not the oil lobby, which pushed the US to destroy Iraq. Indeed, Bernard-Henri Lévy, who participated in the destruction of Libya, declared before the CRIF (Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions) that he did as a Jew. It has to be understood, then, that he did this as an Israeli agent.
The main reason for the tension between Russia and America on the Syrian issue is the Israeli project. As I explain in the preface to my book, the Russians, the Iranians and the Syrians are not fighting against American imperialism but against the Israeli project, executed and endorsed by the Americans to their own detriment. American imperialists are not the friends of humanity, but, as Carl Shmitt put it, we should correctly identify the principal enemy.
Needless to say, American imperialism (and all that it entails) is one of the problems – if not the main problem – for the world today. But if the Americans were to return to the isolationist Monroe doctrine, as Trump would like to, the problem would be solved. Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of America’s greatest geostrategists, understood that basing American foreign policy on that of Israel’s jeopardised the future of the United States.
Both the destruction of Syria and perhaps even the future US-Russian war, which remains a possibility, both have the same root cause: the Israeli imperialist project. This should be born in mind.
How do you explain that so few people – in the West, at any rate – are aware of this ? And why do so few people speak out against it?
First of all, we cannot publically speak out against it in the West because both the media and the political system are tightly controlled. But if you were to go to the Middle East, for instance, you can openly give your opinion on this matter. The Western world, especially Europe and the US, has a politicised media system which prevents any form of free debate of this issue. It is not difficult to understand why. Just take any of the major TV channels or newspapers and then go to the top of the chain of command: here you often find Jewish, Israeli or even Protestant multimillionaires as well as arms dealers. We shouldn’t, therefore, be surprised that we do not have complete freedom of speech in the West.
If we now look at dissident circles, those who criticise American imperialism and even Zionism, we see another problem, which is methodological in nature. The work of geopolitical analysts often lacks historical depth, because they base their work on statistics and the study of energy resources, believing this to be the be all and end all of geopolitics. The religious, ideological and messianic dimension is totally ignored. This is why I wrote the book, in order to provide a new and different way to interpret modern history, an interpretation which appears to me to be more effective than geopolitics as it currently stands.
(1) Youssef Hindi is an historian, specialising in the study of messianic eschatology. Born in Morocco, he emigrated to France at a very young age, which led him to develop his thinking on the necessary reconciliation between northern and southern Mediterranean countries. Since time immemorial, the destinies of these two worlds have been inextricably linked.
(2) Henry Laurens, historian, states that : “The Yishuv (Jewish community) was established as an absolute refusal to collaborate economically and socially with the Arab population. Jewish exclusionism, necessary for the construction of a Jewish homeland, meant that any interaction with the Arab sector was considered as being a failure which needed to be addressed. The historical ambiguity of Zionism as a nationalist and secular definition of this community, hitherto defined by religious criteria, transformed the Yishuv into a hybrid: a public group having the right to call itself a “people” but whose membership criteria are defined by religious affiliation”
(4) David Ben-Gurion stated in 1938: “[I am] satisfied with part of the country, but on the basis of the assumption that after we build up a strong force following the establishment of the state–we will abolish the partition of the country and we will expand to the whole Land of Israel.”