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Pleading for my Land
Herbet Pagani was a French/Italian poet and singer who was very popular in the 70’s. He was communist and Jewish. He eventually became an enthusiastic Zionist and wrote the text below.
This text, called “Pleading for my Land”, was read by Pagani on November 11th, 1975 on the French radio station Europe 1, after the UN passed a resolution equating Zionism to Racism. Here are some excerpts:
And now that there is a country, anti-Semitism reappears from its ashes... - Sorry! From OUR ashes - and it’s called anti-Zionism. It used to be applied only to individuals; it is now applied to a country.
I remember reading and learning this text by heart as I tried to explain my decision to move to Israel to my French friends when I was 19 (they never understood).
What is Zionism? It’s reduced to a simple sentence: "Next year in Jerusalem."
I feel this text is as strong as it was in 1975 – Israel’s right to exist is still denied and the same liberal left that abandoned Israel in the 70’s is doing the same today.
I copy below the original text from Herbert Pagani and my translation into English (please help me with the translation and let me know if you feel some sentences should be changed).
The full text and translation are found below.
November 11, 1975
Last Night, I was in the subway when I heard two ladies say:
"Did you see these Jews with their stories at the U.N.? What jerks! "
It’s true. We are jerks. For centuries we have been the world’s jerks. It’s in our nature, what can you do?
Abraham with his single God, Moses with his 10 Commandments, Jesus with his second cheek always available for a second slap, then Freud, Marx, Einstein, all were intruders, revolutionaries, enemies of the Order.
Because no order, whatever the century, could satisfy them - since they were always excluded. To call everything in question, to see further, changing the world to change their destiny, such was the destiny of my Ancestors.
This is why the defenders of all established orders hate them.
- The anti-Semite of the right blames the Jews for having executed the Bolshevik revolution. It’s true: there were many of them, in 1917.
The reason is simple: religion, culture, and the revolutionary ideal on the one hand, stocks and banks on the other, are the only transportable values, the only possible country for those that do not have a country.
And now that there is a country, Anti-Semitism reappears from its ashes... - Sorry! From OUR ashes - and it’s called anti-Zionism! It used to be applied only to individuals; it is now applied to a country.
Israel is a ghetto - Jerusalem is Warsaw... The Nazis who besiege us speak Arabic! And if their crescent is sometimes disguised in a sickle, that’s simply for better trapping the liberal leftists of the world.
I, who am a Jew of the left, I don’t care about a certain left that wants to free all men of the world at the expense of some of them - because I am precisely one of these!
I support class struggle, but I also support the right to be different. If the left wants to count me among its members, it cannot exclude my problem.
And my problem is that since the Roman deportations of the 1st century after Jesus-Christ, everywhere we went we were expelled, dishonored, banished, tracked, denounced, crushed, burned and converted by force!
Because our religion - i.e. our culture was dangerous. Some examples:
· Judaism was the first to create the Shabbath, the day of God, i.e. the day of weekly mandatory rest. You imagine the joy of the Pharoes, always late in building the next pyramid.
· Judaism prohibits slavery. You can imagine the sympathy of the Romans, the most significant wholesalers of free labor of the Antiquity.
· It is said in the Bible: "The earth does not belong to man, but to God." From this sentence a law is created, the automatic handing-over of real-estate every 49 years. You imagine the effect of such a law on the Popes of the Middle Ages and the builders of empires during the Renaissance.
It was imperative that the people do not learn the truth.
They started by banishing the Bible, then were the libels: walls of defamation that became walls of stone that were called ghettos.
Then it was the Inquisition, the flames and later the yellow stars.
Auschwitz is only an industrial example of genocide, but there were thousands of hand-made genocides. It would take me three days only to name all the pogroms of Spain, Russia, Poland and North Africa.
By continuing to flee and to move, the Jew went everywhere. One extrapolates: he ends up being from nowhere.
We are among the people like the welfare child. I don’t want to be adopted any more. I don’t want for my life to depend on my owners’ mood any more. I don’t want to be a “citizen-renter” any more.
I have enough of knocking at History’s doors and waiting until I’m told: "Enter". I enter and I yell! I am at home on earth and on earth I have my land: she was promised to me, she will be mine!
What is Zionism? It’s reduced to a simple sentence: "Next year in Jerusalem."
No, it’s not a slogan of the Club Med. It's written in the Bible, the book that has sold more copies and has been misunderstood more than any other book in the world.
And this prayer became a roar, a roar that is over 2000 years old, and the fathers of Columbus, Kafka, Proust, Chagall, Marx, Einstein, and even Mr. Kissinger, repeated this sentence, this roar, at least once a year, on Passover.
Then, is Zionism equal to Racism? Don’t make me laugh! Is "Soft France, dear country of my childhood" (“Douce France, cher pays de mon enfance”) a racist anthem? Zionism is the name of a struggle for freedom!
In the world, everybody has its Jews. The French have theirs: they are the Breton, Occitans, Corsicans, and the immigrant workers. The Italians have Sicilians; the Americans have their Blacks; the Spaniards their Basques.
We, we are EVERYBODY’S Jews.
To those that tell me: "And the Palestinians?", I answer: "I am a 2000 year-old Palestinian. I am the oldest oppressed man in the world."
I will negotiate with them, but I will not yield my place to them. There’s enough space there for two people and two nations. The borders are to be determined together. But the existence of one country cannot in any case exclude the existence of the other. And the political options of a government never called into question the existence of a nation, whatever the nation.
Then why Israel?
When Israel is out of danger, I will choose among Jews and my Arab neighbors,
Today, I must be united with all of my people, even those whom I hate, in the name of this insurmountable enemy: RACISM.
Descartes was wrong: "I think, therefore I am" doesn’t mean anything. We have been thinking for 5000 years, and we still don’t exist!
I defend myself, therefore I am!
Herbert Pagani, 11/11/1975
Here's the original French (found here):
Plaidoyer pour ma terre
Hier, j'étais dans le métro et j'entends deux dames dire :
Parce qu'aucun ordre, quel que fut le siècle, ne pouvait les satisfaire,
L'antisémite de droite reproche aux Juifs d'avoir fait la révolution bolchévique.
Israël est un ghetto,
D'accord pour la lutte des classes,
Parce que notre religion,
Le judaïsme interdit l'esclavage.
Il ne fallait pas que les peuples sachent.
On commença par interdire la Bible,
À force de fuir, de bouger, le Juif est allé partout.
Qu'est ce que le Sionisme?
Alors le Sionisme, c'est du racisme ?
Dans le monde, chacun a ses Juifs.
Nous, nous sommes les Juifs de TOUS.
À ceux qui me disent : "Et les Palestiniens ?",
Alors pourquoi Israël ?
Quand Israël sera hors de danger,
Descartes avait tort :
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