April 15, 1996
Very Dear Roger,
You know the limits of my strength. I weaken every day, even though many think that my strength is great because my voice is still resounding and because, as soon as I have the conviction that an action or an issue creates injustice or falsehood, I recover my energies, however briefly.
Forgive me for talking so much about myself, but this is to explain to you and to all who would deem it useful to make my letter known, why, despite phone calls, I am late in expressing my convictions concerning you as a person, whom I have known for over 50 years, and concerning your actions, from the most intimate to those having great public consequences.
As a communist deputy, you were the first person with whom I had a debate, the memory of which has remained unforgettable because it was fruitful for both of us.
Your most recent book reached me while I was at the limits of my strength, attending to other pressing tasks. At 83, with all that is happening to me, I can read very little. I have only 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon when I can really work.
About this crushing, thousand year old unending drama surrounding Israel, you have known, for many years, my careful considerations and you know that my thoughts extend beyond the contemporary dramas.
We have had serious discussions about this subject.
It is impossible for me to speak about your new book with all the care that is required, not only because of its fundamental subject, but also because of the amazing, brilliant and scrupulous scholarship on which each argument is based, as I noticed while going through it.
I will do my best so that soon, true historians with your same passion for truth will set out to debate it with you.
The insults against you that I have seen (even in a Daily that I like most because of its customary objectivity) and that have bombarded you from all sides show the dishonesty of those who have rashly condemned you.
In this letter, I want to make public two convictions: one, in a few words, concerning your person; the other (still imperfectly expressed) concerns how my life has led me to conceptualize the succession of historical events, which I view with sadness. Such is the admirable faith (but for many centuries withdrawn to itself) of this people, my brothers, that limits itself by not hearing the call to a mission of another, nobler greatness.
Providence had allowed me, in other times (that seem so near), at the risk, voluntarily accepted, of my life, to come to the help of those I could help. Because of this, I am particularly sensitive to their pain.
About you and your life, a few words suffice. You are one of those men who will never cease to be tormented by a devouring thirst for the Absolute, until faced with Infinite Love.
I pity those who are too superficial, or too busy with many other things, that they do not know how to respect and love your research, and do not understand the manner in which (all during your life) you have tried to approximate the Absolute, approaching it from its many, perceived, fragmented dimensions, from all over the world and through the centuries, that people share (and over which they are led astray, and sometimes fight).
Itis not without some painful trembling and great humility that I invoke another of my convictions concerning the Jewish portion of the human universe.
After I finished my theological studies, I pursued my own biblical studies. It came as a horrible shock when I discovered the Book of Joshua. I had already been gripped by more serious trouble when I learned of the Golden Calf's order to massacre 3000 people a short time before Moses brought the "Table of Laws," which said, "Thou shall not kill!" But with Joshua, I discovered (surely told centuries after the event) how a true Shoah took place on all existing life in the "Promised Land."
I say: "If I promise you my car, and if you come at night, kill the guard, force the door open and take the promised car, then what is left of the 'promise'?" Doesn't violence destroy the foundation of the promise? Indeed, afterwards, the Covenant will continue to be repeated constantly with a people who (not unique, it seems, but unique as a highly constituted people) have in their conscience the notion of a Unique Eternal (indeed, not yet clearly knowing that this Essence is Love). I live this revelation with Jesus, Jesus who founded the Trinity of faith: Deus caritas est.
But does not this Covenant also concern this part of the world (that can and must be called not "Promised Land," but "Holy Land," filled with crimes but also with Prophets)?
I can no longer justify promises by God (even if orders to massacre are attributed to Him - and isn't this an offense to God?) for only this corner of the earth, for or against which so many are still dying today.
Is not the Covenant to send all of Israel to spread the faith it has received, for all of the earth?
The promised land is for every believer (hence, for every Jew, too). I cannot swerve from this idea, of carrying to the whole earth the JOY of experiencing the true GOD.
Oh, how I would like to still be young, to work with fraternal groups for the realization of the mission received first in Israel, then in Jesus.
I do not ignore that the retreat of Israel upon itself is partly due to the strange reversal of history caused by [Emperor] Constantin after the Edict of Milan, and the harmful consequences that accompanied its beneficial effects.
We have heard that in the year 2000, the Pope (will it be the same Pope?) will express the intention to confess the historic mistakes that accompanied the zeal of Christian missions.
Could he underestimate the role that the words, "deicidal people," played in anti-semitism? This would be insane, for it is to all peoples, to all humans, that Jesus offered himself in ransom.
At that time, forbidden martyrs were replaced (to compensate for the decadence of the empire) by the disastrous structures of privilege: Prince-Bishops, Pope-Kings, including the most abusive confusion between the spiritual and temporal.
Roger, we are both old men, and we have to talk more about this and question people more scholarly than myself. Please, from these illegible lines that we will read together over the telephone, keep the force and loyalty of my affectionate esteem and my respect for the enormous work of your new book. To confuse it with what has been called "revisionism" is a deception and a veritable slander by unthinking people.
I embrace you and assure you that you and your family will remain present in my daily offering.
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