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United Against Forgiveness

Gilad Atzmon

The Jewish world is outraged this morning [14/04/19] with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who apparently said he believes the crimes of the Holocaust can be forgiven, but not forgotten.

The far-right leader made the comments on Thursday night at a meeting with evangelical pastors in Rio de Janeiro.

“We can forgive, but we cannot forget. That quote is mine. Those that forget their past are sentenced not to have a future,” Bolsonaro said, adding that actions are needed for the Holocaust not to be repeated.

Bolsonaro is probably not the most forgiving person around. He freely spews misogynistic, anti-LGBTQ, and racist statements. However, he is a devout Christian and forgiveness is central to Christianity of all denominations. Forgiveness is not an ‘option’ as far as Christianity is concerned, it is actually a must. Forgiveness in Christianity is a manifestation of submission to Christ.

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Matthew 6:14-15

I guess that those who subscribe to the Old Testament’s ‘eye for an eye’ paradigm see forgiveness as an existential threat or a sign of weakness. Otherwise it is hard to grasp the hostile reaction to Bolsonaro’s statement.

But Israelis have been forgiving the Germans for more than a while. Back in 1953 Israel signed a reparation agreement with the West German Government. According to the Agreement, West Germany was to “compensate” Israel “for losses in Jewish livelihood and property resulting from Nazi persecution.” The legendary Israeli diplomat Abba Eban coined the precious adage ‘there is no business like Shoa business’ in the light of the Israeli-German reparation agreement. Israel was happy to transform Germany’s guilt into hard cash, yet some may argue that forgiveness wasn’t part of the deal. As a matter of fact, more than seven decades after the liberation of Auschwitz, the Brazilian president is singled out by Jewish and Israeli outlets for stating the true meaning of Christian ethics; forgive but don’t forget. Be merciful, however learn not to repeat your past sins.

It is also important to mention that from time to time Israelis and Jewish leaders explore forgiveness when there are clear political or material gains. Back in 2015 we learned from Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu that it was the Palestinian Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haji Amin al-Husseini, who gave Hitler the idea to exterminate the Jews. Needless to mention that Netanyahu’s claim was ludicrous and harshly criticised, but it practically confirmed that within certain political circumstances even Hitler could be vindicated as long as a Palestinian is there to take his place as the ‘ultimate evil.’

But Netanyahu was neither the first nor the last Israeli to forgive Hitler and the Germans. Back in 2014 we learned about Olim L’Berlin (Ascending to Berlin), a movement of young Israelis returning to the German capital because it was cheaper, cleaner and simply nicer. We would like the believe that Olim LeBerlin enthusiasts must have finally forgiven the Germans and even learned to love their new neighbours as much as they love themselves.

I am obviously not a supporter of the Brazilian president. However, I think that for us who dwell within the borders of the English-speaking empire, forgiveness and Christian values may as well be our last hope. I would have liked to think that president Trump and his dedicated Evangelist vice president Mike Pence take Jesus’s teachings into account when they consider whether to pardon Julian Assange for telling the truth. They should explore Christian mercifulness and reject the barbarian Old Testament vengeance that has made it into the true ugly face of America’s new century.


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Chris Williams
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Chris Williams

Pleased to see Gilad writing here and not wasting his time – as so many good people have done in the past – at the DNC/Clinton Foundation front known as Veteran’s Today.

Denis O'hAichir
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Denis O'hAichir

Publicity stunt.

Maggie
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Maggie

Expect a false flag reprisal against Brazil any day soon then? I wonder how many people are aware: ”Since 1951 Germany has paid more than 102 billion marks, about $61.8 billion at 1998 exchange rates, in federal government reparation payments to Israel and Third Reich victims. In addition, Germans have paid out billions in private and other public funds, including about 75 million marks ($49 million) by German firms in compensation to wartime forced laborers, the Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported recently. These figures are based on calculations by the German Finance Ministry, the influential paper said. Of the total,… Read more »

John2o2o
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John2o2o

“Bolsonaro is probably not the most forgiving person around. He freely spews misogynistic, anti-LGBTQ, and racist statements.”

What has his views on women, gays and race got to do with forgiveness?

He may have been raised as a Christian, but hate is not a part of modern Christian teaching. He is certainly not a devout Christian.

I very strongly object to your conflation of Christianity with this odious man.

Ian Fantom
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Ian Fantom

The idea of a resurgence in antisemitism, particularly in Russia and Germany, in order to encourage a transfer of Jews to Palestine came from the Patron Saint of Israel, Theodor Herzl. See my article ‘UK’s Labour Antisemitism Split: Just what the Doctor Prescribed’ (http://www.unz.com/article/uks-labour-antisemitism-split/). So when it comes to forgiveness, perhaps Israel should be a little more humble.

Maggie
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Maggie

Israhell umble? Hell will freeze over first. Take a look at this article and the comments: The latest news from the one and only Jewish state: Israel’s minister of religious services says that Reform Jews (infiltrated by Zionists) are not Jews. The report is from Isabel Kershner of the New York Times: “The moment a Reform Jew stops following the religion of Israel, let’s say there’s a problem,” the minister, David Azoulay of the Shas party, said on Army Radio, adding, “I cannot allow myself to call such a person a Jew.” Kershner notes that the Israeli president also has… Read more »

Ian Fantom
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Ian Fantom

That’s an interesting comment, and an interesting article linked to. I’ve known a lot of Jews but I don’t recollect ever having met a religious Jew, other than two rabbis. Religion is a pretext. Also, I don’t believe that “He was the founder of political Zionism, beginning with his 1896 book The Jewish State”. The ideas behind the Jewish State were in circulation amongst the Yiddish community long before Herzl. I think Herzl was a front guy for the pre-existing Zionist cause. As such, he would only have known what he needed to know, and so he would have missed… Read more »

lynette cracknell chaplin
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lynette cracknell chaplin

Forgiveness is important in the Christian religion, but as I understand it, forgiveness does not exist in the Jewish religion.

binra
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As I understand in Judaism only God can forgive sins – not humans. True forgiveness is a self-release. We hate our own sins in others and suffer our hate while thinking to have projected it away from self. As we release others – so are we released – but that does not mean others have to accept us – only that we are free to relate presently instead of being hostage to a past made in grievance. As you sow – so shall you reap – and as you release judgement so are you released of the measure that you… Read more »

Robbobbobin
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Robbobbobin

The hyphen in ‘Judeo-Christian‘ is now thousands of years old.

An Executive Summary by Rev. Dr Giles Fraser is available from The Guardian archives.

Robbobbobin
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Robbobbobin

The Off-Guardian/Wordpress editor discombobulates itself yet again. The first embedded link was, in plain text:

https://en.m.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Genealogy_of_Morals/First_Essay

Robbobbobin
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Robbobbobin

Now the second link has sfopped sorking, too! So, again in plaintext:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2008/nov/03/nietzsche-slave-morality-religion

p0000t
Reader

Forgive Who? That’s the point. Bolsonaro is abusing the humanistic trope as a screen to cover his own fascism. What have we learned from what the nazis did is that we, each one, are all capable of cruelty and inhumanity and have to change our hateful culture.

falcemartello
Reader

Amen
PACE E BENE
Yes simple facts tend to allude most zionist. Like Gilad has aptly pointed out the obvious paradox and blatant hypocrisy in Israeli real politik. Any decent human being with a scintilla of grey matter can plainly see that Zionism is racist,fascistic,supremacist and anti human.
VIVA UNA PALESTINA LIBERA
AMEN