LETTERS: Qana betrayed Deuteronomy

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The Independent Online
Robert Fisk writes that the name Operation Grapes of Wrath "was taken from the Book of Deuteronomy, which is filled with blood, biblical ire and promises of God's vengeance" ("Seventeen minutes in Qana", Review, 19 May). In fact, it originates in the New Testament, The Book of Revelation chapter 14, verse 19: "And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God." From this, a 19th-century American preacher coined the phrase "The grapes of wrath".

The verse in Deuteronomy that Mr Fisk is presumably thinking of is chapter 32, verse 32, which refers to sour grapes. This is directed not against the enemies of the Israelites but against the Israelites themselves if they disobey the moral commandments of God.

Mr Fisk has repeated the antisemitic cliche that the Old Testament God is primarily a God of vengeance against the enemies of the Jews. The Qana massacre was not an expression of the allegedly vengeful, nationalistic spirit of Deuteronomy. It was, on the contrary, a terrible betrayal of one of Deuteronomy's great moral imperatives: chapter 5 verse 17, the Sixth Commandment: "Thou shalt not kill".

Deborah Maccoby

London E5