In Part 1 we interviewed Markus Abernathy. Now we interview Penda II, leader of West Germania, to hear his take on events. Having read both parts of our special report, we hope our readers will be able to make up their own mind on the conflict.
Thanks for joining us, Penda. Let us begin the interview.
- Thanks for joining us, King Penda. First of all, why did West Germania submit to New Israel in the first place? What benefit did you see to joining New Israel?
Back in the day, Emperor Markus II was leading a nation called Freedomia (and its descendant Freihetia is still one of New Israel’s imperial states). I was initially invited to participate in Freedomia’s government. At the time, there were two particular members who were trying to overthrow Markus and I wanted to support him. I feel he was treated very unfairly when there was a controversy over a vote which the opposition claimed to have won even though it was in a public forum. Markus and I were both devout Christians in what seemed, at the time, to be a largely atheistic or at least secularist micronational community. It seemed a good idea to merge our nations – Markus suggested a Christian empire.
- When did the situation start to deteriorate, and did you experience any aggression from New Israel before?
The situation began to deteriorate in June, I think. One of the sources of inspiration for the West Germanic model is Puritan England. I passed a law (applying only to West Germania) which forbade church calendars, images of Christ and episcopalian church government. Markus disagreed with this and his response to it irritated me a little. I found it condescending. Markus had a fixation especially with Jewish holidays and we had conversations where we spoke about the restoration of the Temple and future sacrifices which I found unsettling because I could see the national Israel philosophy might have a great impact on New Israel. Markus had already made it clear that the New Israeli Church and government should be closely linked and I was concerned certain beliefs would be imposed on West Germania and its Church. I wanted to put protections in place to prevent this from happening.
- What was the final straw for you, which made you think secession was the best way forward?
The final straw for me was the ‘Decree on behalf of the Jews’ wherein Markus stated that ‘the Holy Empire of New Israel reaffirms its support for the State of Israel… and the Zionist movement…’ He proceeded to talk about the State of Israel’s ‘God-given’ boundaries and the ‘true Holy Land’. I consider national Israel (the theocracy of the Old Testament) to be abrogated now that God’s Israel is fulfilled in the Church. Moreover, considering recent events in Palestine and allegations against Israel, I was alarmed that this legislation would effectively condone military expansion of Israel by any means necessary to regain the territory laid out in Genesis. I could not in good conscience submit to the decree. And I was furious that, in the decree, it states that any subversion thereof is a subversion of the gospel and ‘high treason against the Lord Jesus Christ’. Markus had no place to say that. I felt utterly alienated.
- According to New Israel, who insist you are an anti-Semite, you once said that Judaism “is no derivative of the true Abrahamic faith, but rather a filthy and vain religion”. Did you really say this, and if so, should micronationalists hesitate before supporting you in the conflict as a result?
I did indeed say that about Judaism. My remark should be seen from a Christian perspective, however. For Christians, salvation in Christ alone is absolute truth. I used the word ‘vain’ for its futility, because without faith in Christ, the practice of religion earns no favour with God. I used the word ‘filthy’ because of the Jewish religion’s dishonourable presumption on God’s mercy despite rejecting its own Messiah. The comment was made in a fully Christian context and I stand by it. If people will hesitate because of this, then that is up to them. But everyone is entitled to have an opinion. People disagree on many things and I respect many people, even those whose views I dislike. I definitely would not say that I am anti-Semitic, since that suggests my criticism is racial. I criticise Judaism, the religion, and not the Jewish people. I would use exactly the same words to criticise Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or any other non-Christian, non-trinitarian faith. This does not mean I hate or persecute the people who believe in them.
- New Israel has finally issued a long awaited declaration of war. What is your response to this declaration, and to the support offered to you by the micronational community?
My response to the declaration is to carry on as usual. Realistically, Markus has no control over West Germania and can do nothing other than to issue propaganda. I have no desire to take over the New Israeli throne. I am very grateful for the support of the community because I want West Germania to be recognised as an independent nation. I have not called upon anyone to fight a war on my behalf and my advice to those who have not signed the Treaty of York would be not to get involved.
- Do you see any solution to the conflict? Or could the conflict have been avoided in the first place through peaceful negotiation?
I can only see two solutions. The first is that Markus recognises West Germania in which case I would gladly forget the whole conflict and hopefully become an ally of New Israel. The second is that Markus continues to oppose West Germania in which case I will have no choice but to ignore him completely. In the first place, I wanted West Germania to secede peacefully and my preference is still for peaceful negotiation.
- What do you think of Markus Abernathy personally, and what do you make of his views, which can sometimes prove to be controversial?
Personally, I have great respect and admiration for Markus. We both believe that the Holy Bible is inerrant and we know that the Bible can be an offensive and controversial book. As such, I share most of Markus’ controversial opinions and that has at times resulted in tense relations with the rest of the community. Markus, though his heart is in the right place, hasn’t always expressed his opinions elegantly and since I’ve been the mouthpiece for New Israel, I feel that a friendlier image has been presented. Bearing in mind I have only been a Christian myself since the age of 19 and my world views have changed a fair amount, so I can easily relate to others; therefore, I get along well with most people regardless of the opinions they have or the religion they practise. Nevertheless, I am not afraid to speak my mind when I am called upon to do so.
- What are your plans for the future in an independent West Germania? Do you think you could ever rejoin New Israel?
My plans for West Germania haven’t changed greatly. It was established in June 2010 and has always continued to exist under various unions. I am already progressing with the re-establishment of the Saxon Empire (which existed before West Germania acceded to New Israel). The Saxon Empire is to be governed as a confederation of autonomous and equal constituent countries, where all leaders will have a voice and all governments will reserve their powers. It is my wish for West Germania and the greater Saxon Empire to maintain good relations with the community as well as to be more active both politically and culturally. Because of my loyalty to Prussia, a Saxon nation, and the possible accession of a new country to the Saxon Empire, it is unlikely we would rejoin New Israel. I certainly would not take this action without the unanimous approval of all Saxon countries (including any observer states). I would also be concerned, after remarks Markus made about giving me too much power, that a future New Israel would leave me with no voice at all. However, I do hope that West Germania and New Israel can be close allies at some point in the near future.
- Finally, what would you to say to Markus II, if he was reading this?
I hope Markus reads what I’ve said about him in this interview. I reminisce about our friendship and they are much better times than what we have now. We had some great edifying discussions. I still like to think we could be friends again some day. I wronged him by letting my concerns build up inside until the secession happened very suddenly. I was frightened of rocking the boat, so I did not confront him with minor issues, and distrust grew. I believe Markus has made some false charges against me, but I really don’t care about that. I myself have openly criticised some of his behaviour. As things stand, politically, he is an ‘enemy’. But in spite of all the rhetoric, I do not dislike Markus. I have always stood up for him and would do so again.
A truly interesting and surprising interview. Our thanks to King Penda for his time in taking part in the interview. Now it is your turn. We want to hear you opinions of the conflict, now that we have heard both arguments and viewpoints from each end of the conflict. At the time of publication, there was no thaw in the conflict, and no deal had been reached. In fact, no progress of any sort has been made in the conflict so far. So the question we put to our readers now is: What is the best solution to the conflict now, and can it ever be won by anyone?
Comment below, and stay tuned for future stories from Béal na Tíre.