How the Roman Empire proves Zionism is legitimate
by Rabbi Avi Schwartz
The following is a transcription of the above speech given at Shomrei Haam's College Leadership Program. Scroll down to watch the video.
I have come tonight to speak about the Hope of every Jewish man, woman, and child. I have come tonight to speak about the long and arduous road of the Jewish Nation towards Freedom Land, to the Promised Land.
I am here tonight to speak about an oath taken on Roman slave ships by kidnapped children, boys and girls, and then passed on from parent to child throughout these 20 centuries.
I am here to right a wrong, to straighten the crooked, to unmask a lie, to end the vicious slander which enflamed murderous hatred, wrongfully accused the innocent and ignited false claims.
Like any nation, our Nation sings the song of freedom. The song dear to all human beings.
However, this song is especially meaningful to the Jewish Nation. We are a nation forged in the furnace of Egyptian slavery, which later endured Assyrian savagery, Babylonian captivity, Persian villainy, Greek brutality, Roman cruelty, Spanish barbarity, Nazi inhumanity, and now faces a global anti-Semitic ferocious depravity.
Our song towards Freedom Land is a noble and just song. It is a song that we have sung three times daily in our prayers, recited in our grace after meals, chanted at our holidays, remembered at our weddings, rejoiced with, at our births, lamented and cried with, in our national fasts, eulogized with, at our funerals, hoped with, through every tribulation, and danced to at the resounding announcement that after 2000 years, our right to return home was partially recognized by the world community. How fitting it was, that some of the nations that declared our freedom were once oppressed by the Roman Empire themselves. What better display of Divine Providence.
Nonetheless, we were partially recognized from the moment of the Independence Proclamation because our cousins, the Arabs, the sons of Yishmael, the son of Abraham, closed their hearts and minds to their extended family and set to destroy our existence as a free and sovereign nation, even though 23 Arab states had come into existence shortly before or at the same time as we were re-born. They closed their hearts and minds based on a lie. A lie so outrageous that it mocks our ancestors’ superhuman extraordinary commitment, struggle, and perseverance to overcome all the hurdles to return home.
It is the lie that proclaims us as imperialists; conquerors; thieves; ethnic cleansers; racists; and murderers. With this lie all things suddenly changed. Even interpreting the Quran was changed.
Suddenly, the People of G-d, were called an ungodly people. Suddenly, the most oppressed nation in the annuls of human history was now to be victimized again for daring to end its statelessness. Suddenly, a nation known for its Laws were declared lawless. Suddenly, the dream of the Jew longing to return to the East, to Zion, to Jerusalem was declared a nightmare.
But I am here tonight to tell you that as the Psalmist says, “From Heaven G-d looks down, He sees all mankind. From His place of dwelling He oversees all inhabitants of the earth.” You see the Hand of Heaven long ago recorded a video, a historical video, so to speak, of what truly transpired 2000 years ago, a video taken by non other than our very oppressors, the Romans. A historical video placed smack in the middle of Rome for the all to see. It is plain as day and bright as the sun at high noon.
Now if you have ever been in Via Sacra Rome you will see the main street of ancient Rome, known as the Forum Romanum, It leads from the top of the Capitoline Hill, through some of the most important religious sites of the Forum (where it is the widest street), to the Colosseum.
The road was part of the traditional route of the Roman Triumph that began on the outskirts of the city and proceeded through the Roman Forum. There stands a fifteen meter (about 50ft) tall Roman arch located at the highest point of the Via Sacra. It is the oldest surviving example of a Roman arch. A Roman arch was an especially designed monument commissioned by a Roman emperor to commemorate a great victory by Rome. Only wars of great significance was immortalized to demonstrate Rome’s glorious prowess. Now as mentioned, located at the highest point of the Via Sacra is the oldest surviving example of a Roman arch. It is the Arch of Titus.
At the inside of the arch are two panels with reliefs. One depicts the triumphal procession with the spoils taken from the Second Temple in Jerusalem – the seven-branched candelabrum or Menorah, the silver trumpets and the Table of the Shewbread. The other one shows Titus in a chariot accompanied There are inscriptions on the arch that read
"The Roman Senate and People to Deified Titus, Vespasian Augustus, son of Deified Vespasian."
This “historical video” was commissioned by Emperor Domitian in 82 to honor his late brother Titus and to commemorate his victory in the Jewish War.
Can you imagine to what extent the great Roman Empire regarded the courage, skill and determination of the Jewish people that Domitian wanted his brother’s name to be forever remembered as the conqueror of Jerusalem, the victor of the Jewish war. But when and what was the War of the Jews?
The Romans had conquered the Jewish kingdom nearly a 100 years earlier. However, after almost a century of tyranny Jewish Zealots in the year 66 began a revolt against the Roman occupation of Judea. Jewish resistance was so formidable, that General Vespasian was sent from Rome itself, to suppress the revolt. Once Vespasian became emperor, his son Titus took over command of the besieging troops.
After four long years and with four legions Titus captured Jerusalem in the year 70. But the revolt did not completely end until the fall of the fortress of Masada in 72. Six years of war, siege, and many losses including countless of Roman soldiers made it a great triumph deserving of an arch.
And so the historical video, the arch of Titus was erected for all eternity, for all generations to behold, and say “Titus, conqueror of Jerusalem, victor over the Jews, despoiler of the Temple, crusher of the Jewish revolt.”
As we stand today and behold this magnificent victory and memorial what else is the significance of this video to humanity, to the family of nations?
Its significance is that it is a monument of truth, an eyewitness account of what transpired in the Middle East by the Jewish people’s very enemies.
If you want, you can google the Arch of Titus and see for yourself. And as you scan and exam it you will find something so striking on the panels that illuminates so strongly that even the blind can see it.
And what do you see? There was a Jerusalem. There was a Jewish Temple. That the Jews were the inhabitants of Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular. That the Jews fought to the death for their home, capital and freedom. That there is no mention of other nations, including the Palestinians, on the panels, because the Jews were regarded as the owners of the land of Israel. In other words, there was no Palestine.
And so, this is the revelation to what I was referring to earlier, regarding the lie; the lie that has enflamed murderous hatred, wrongfully accused the innocent and ignited false claims stating that we are foreigners who stole and occupy the indigenous land and population.
Rather the Romans themselves, the greatest enemies of the Jews that set us to wander the Earth for nearly 2000 years, bear witness to all the Family of Nations the United Nations, the Arabs, the Palestinians, the EU, the anti-Zionist self-righteous instigators, and the anti-Semites that We, the Jewish People, are the indigenous inhabitants of Judea, had a state, regarded Jerusalem as its capitol, worshipped on the Temple Mount in the Holy Temple, and were forcibly, ethnically cleansed, and forced into the Diaspora.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the Arch of Titus attests the Jewish people, are not European imperialists that colonized and stole Palestinian land, but middle easterners savagely uprooted from their beloved and sovereign homeland. We are far from being conquerors; thieves; ethnic cleansers; racists; and murderers.
In fact, the later invaders: the Sassaind, the Byzantine, the Muslim conquerors, the Turks, and the Arabs (later to be known as the Palestinians) invaded our homes, took our land, and then claimed ownership to our property. These peoples took our homes because we were powerless to return home. But might does not make right. And even though Rome had so crippled us that it took nearly 2000 years to get back on our feet, we never stopped to sing our song of Freedom, our song of Hope, our song of Hatikva to return home. We never relinquished our rights.
In the Jewish heart
A Jewish spirit still sings,
And the eyes look east
Our hope is not lost,
Our hope of two thousand years,
To be a free nation in our land,
In the land of Zion and Jerusalem
Although the hour looks bleak as we now face a tsunami of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, I know we will be recognized, our Hope is not Lost.
Deep in my heart, I do believe we shall be recognized. Sometimes we cried as we wept on the Waters of Babylon, but we still sang our song of Freedom, our Hope is not lost. We shall be recognized. As our pioneers reclaimed the desolate land, we still sang our song of Freedom, our Hope is not lost. And even as the vile enemy threw us into the gas chambers and burned us in the crematorium, we still sang our song of Freedom, our Hope is not lost. And as we declared our Return on Independence Day, and six invading Arab armies attempted to exterminate us and re-steal our home, we still sang our song of Freedom, our Hope is not lost.
These are difficult days ahead of us. Some of us may have to fight on the college campus. Others on social media. While others make their voices heard with protests. Some on the battlefield. But we shall be recognized.
And I will tell you why. Because Truth can longer be suppressed. Because “justice will roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream”.
We shall be recognized because the Bible is right: “Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed.” We shall be recognized, “Because the humble shall inherit the earth. Because He delivered the poor who cried for help, And the orphan who had no helper.” I know we shall be recognized because the Supervisor of Justice, had long ago made Rome bear witness to the truth. And now it is time, Rome is called to bear witness. And no matter how blind someone is, the Light of Truth illuminates all, friend and foe alike.
Have no fear. Right will win over might and the innocent will prevail. With backs held straight and tall, and truth as our shield, the day of our total recognition is upon us…. I see the coming of the glory of L-rd.
Let us sing our song of Freedom, our Hope is not lost. Our Hope is not lost.