Vatican synod comes out strong for Palestinian rights

I grew up Catholic and although I haven’t been to church in a long time; I would be lying if I said this doesn’t speak very powerfully to me.

The Quotes Speak for Themselves:

“The Holy Scriptures cannot be used to justify the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of the Palestinians, to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestinian lands,” Monsignor Cyril Salim Bustros, Greek Melkite archbishop of Our Lady of the Annunciation in Boston, Massachusetts, and president of the “Commission for the Message,” said at Saturday’s Vatican press conference.

“We Christians cannot speak of the ‘promised land’ as an exclusive right for a privileged Jewish people. This promise was nullified by Christ. There is no longer a chosen people – all men and women of all countries have become the chosen people.

The good Bishop went further; into what was in effect an endorsement of a one state solution.

“Even if the head of the Israeli state is Jewish, the future is based on democracy.

The Palestinian refugees will eventually come back and this problem will have to be solved,” the Lebanese-born Bustros said.

Israel’s ambassador to the Holy See, Mordechay Lewy’s thought provoking and nuanced response:

“by inviting all Palestinian refugees to return and denying Israel’s right to define itself a Jewish state – the only such in the world – he is regressing to hard-line positions that deny Israel’s right to exist.”

One of the most powerful organizations in the world, the Catholic Church, has called Israel’s founding myth “nullified”.  So, what is the response of Israel?  That the Bishops are Jew-baiting hard-liners.  Awesome. 

Unfortunately, the document released to the public did contain a plea for the “two state solution”:

In their “Appeal to the International Community” the bishops expressed “hopes that the two-state solution becomes a reality and not only a dream.”

The Catholics continued:

The document calls for “taking the necessary legal steps to put an end to the occupation of the different Arab territories” as well as “an end to the consequences of the deadly war in Iraq” and promotion of “basic public freedoms” and “sovereignty” in Lebanon.

 

What impact will this have?  Will people like my war loving devout Catholic sister change her views on the occupations of the Middle East? I don’t know.  I think it’s one of many drops in the bucket which will eventually give way to the flood we’ve all been waiting for.

Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 77 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Antidote says:

    Palestinian Christian minority

    link to youtube.com
    link to youtube.com

    Do listen to this: Part I and II

    link to youtube.com

    link to youtube.com

    “We are paying taxes for the bullets that kill our own children.”

    “Christian Zionism has done more harm to Christianity than anybody else”

    Henry Siegmann (former head AJC) on Middle East Process: “the most spectacular deception in modern diplomatic society”

  2. Elliot says:

    The organized American Jewish community is yet again marching in lockstep with Israel’s government. You may remember the Kairos document by Palestinian-Christian clerics that similarly endorsed full equality for Jews and non-Jews in Israel/Palestine (it was reported on Mondo).
    Shamefully, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, repudiating core values of liberal American Jews, tore into the Kairos document for using “anti-Semitic rhetoric.”

    • pabelmont says:

      “Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

      When any Jews (even the Central Conference of American Rabbis) tells the world that any act is “bad for the Jews” or is antagonistic or hateful toward the Jews (that is, that the act is anti-Semitic, to use the loaded politically-puissant shorthand much favored by the powerful of Jewry), they lump all Jews together (and characterize them as victims or intended victims or objects of hatred), and thereby make the same mistake that rabid anti-Semites make.

      I’ve got news for them. Jews come in many flavors, sizes, complexions, and, especially, attitudes toward justice, racism, Israel, etc. And there are many Jews who agree with the Catholic Bishops — not on theological grounds but — because we are horrified to the depths of our souls about what Israel has become, and about what it continues to more deeply become (as it becomes stronger and as the sometimes argued justifications for its cruelty to its neighbors appear to diminish).

      As Mr. WELCH said (Army McCarthy hearings, “Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” It is this which we, very sadly, but with all too much cause, ask Israel and Israelis as they continue their onslaught against Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and as they prepare for the next war against Hezbollah. And as they argued for a USA war against Iran even after hey knew that their cyber-warfare had already been effective in slowing Iran’s nuclear preparations.

      • Antidote says:

        pabel – re: cyber-warfare

        my understanding is that Israel’s involvement is suspected but not an established fact (nor will it be possible to determine the source of the worm beyond any doubt). Did I miss something?

  3. Link above inaccessible (registration needed) but you can find the declaration here:
    link to news.yahoo.com

    Thanks Joseph..

    • Elliot says:

      The official Israeli response in the article you linked has two parts:
      1) Responding to the synod’s view, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said theological disputes over the interpretation of the holy scriptures disappeared with the Middle Ages, adding: “It doesn’t seem like a wise move to revive them.”

      This is disingenuous. Israel’s narrative is that of secularized traditional Judaism. Israeli exceptionalism (mirroring the American version) comes out of the theological world of special election. Palmor can mock the Vatican for using theological language but his government acts out this theology. It comes out in theological-neutral irrational claims about Israel having the most moral army in the world; Hebrew being the only language in the world that ______ (fill in the blank); Jews are the only people who_______ (fill in the blank); Israel is the only country in the world that______(fill in the blank).
      You don’t need to believe in God to claim that He chose you.

      2) “Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the number of Christians has increased over the years, and naturally warmly welcomes their presence,” he said.
      It is well known that Christians are fleeing the West Bank. With regard to Israel, the only nice, Western Christians are welcome, not Israel’s exploited undocumented workers, and certainly not Palestinians. Rabbi David Rosen, who testified before the synod gives a more
      honest appraisal.

      • Shmuel says:

        Great comment, Elliot. I especially love this: You don’t need to believe in God to claim that He chose you. Sums up Zionist secular theology quite nicely.

      • RoHa says:

        “You don’t need to believe in God to claim that He chose you.”

        Great line!

      • MRW says:

        “It doesn’t seem like a wise move to revive them.”

        Unless you’re Israeli and need that revival to justify a massive land grab. ;-)

      • Antidote says:

        gut gezukt, Elliot. Addition: Christians are also fleeing Gaza and EJ, and Israel is quite happy to welcome Christian tourists to spend money at the increasingly Westernized, trashy and obscene Bible theme park that will be Jerusalem. Cry as they might about the special place Jerusalem holds in the history of the Jewish people, the economic motives for maintaining control over Jerusalem and its real estate market and tourist industry are transparent enough.

        • MHughes976 says:

          We are touching on the genius of Zionism here, the astonishing ability to appeal both to traditionalist, conservative minds (in politics and religion) and almost equally to modernising, liberal ones. I credit George Eliot, who in her younger days translated Feuerbach’s work which claimed that the true essence of religion does not involve belief in God and in her own last work, Daniel Deronda, envisaged a form of Judaism, freed from superstition, that would bring great and modern things to Palestine. She was drawing on an existing Protestant ‘restorationist’ line of thought, full of belief in the Bible in strongly conservative form. She adopted that line of thought in its essential features yet made it modern and give it a liberal face. What a woman.
          Antidote mentions trashy theme parks, but maybe that’s all part of the same ability to embrace and reconcile opposites. Zionism may have sentimental and gaudy expressions but still bears the marks of the high and progressive culture in whose midst it was born. That’s perhaps the most frightening thing about it.

  4. Finally things look like they’re moving forward..Maybe Israel obscenities are becoming too exposed to be ignored..

  5. talknic says:

    The Catholic Church calling for LEGAL steps, circumvents criticism of it’s stance based on religious grounds. No doubt there’ll be those who’ll try.

  6. Now that is “coming out”.

    All this time, Phil and Adam presented you an example of a dissenting Jewish voice.

    Who knew?

    • Go back to “My Holocaust Education” and read my comments from the comments section and that will explain everything.

      • Where is that?

        Maybe I missed it the first time.

        Phil and Adam have presented you as one of the “good Jews”. You didn’t notice that?

        • Do you derive your political stance from the religious view of

          “This promise was nullified by Christ. There is no longer a chosen people – all men and women of all countries have become the chosen people.”

          as on objective statement?

        • The theologic origination makes one’s politics then dependant on a myth.

          My chasidic rabbi told a story on Yom Kippur, that ended with the conclusion that “religion is a root of evil”.

          He obviously didn’t mean that religious practices, or values derived from spiritual principles, but that the dividing exclusivist approaches were.

          So, Judaism has its myth of permanently chosen people (objectively, not sentimentally as a personal motivation) for a particular piece of land. (The myth is sometimes stated literally, and more prominently metaphorically, intimately as in communal prayer state of mind.)

          Christianity has a myth layered on top of a myth. If the notion that Jewish people are God’s chosen people is a myth, then the idea that Jesus is the specific fulfillment of that myth is a myth squared.

          Islam has a widely agreed myth (fundamental to Islamic creed) that Mohammed was a prophet (that I can’t say one way or another, maybe so), and an elaboration that his revision of Jewish and Christian scripture is factual, and that Muhammed is the LAST prophet.

          Each myths, on myths, on myths.

          Maybe adding up to an even primary revelation that human beings equally have the seed of spirituality within them, the ability to make the world holy objectively and understood as loved, thanked, joyful and profound subjectively.

          But, STILL with the trappings of myth, believed as more than a means to reach the spiritual commitment, but with the trappings as the subject of the message, rather than as the vehicle to the message.

        • Elliot says:

          My chasidic rabbi told a story on Yom Kippur, that ended with the conclusion that “religion is a root of evil”.

          He obviously didn’t mean that religious practices, or values derived from spiritual principles, but that the dividing exclusivist approaches were.

          Chassidism, (following Kabbalah,) developed the idea of Jewish exceptionalism. The 19th century founders of Chassidisim’s various streams all invested in Jewish peoplehood unique, mystical attributes that were not present in other peoples.
          While Chassidism was a powerful, inspirational framework, foreshadowing today’s self-help movement, the racial narrative does not translate well into our world.
          Good for your Chassidic rabbi for rejecting this stuff.

          Christianity has a myth layered on top of a myth. If the notion that Jewish people are God’s chosen people is a myth, then the idea that Jesus is the specific fulfillment of that myth is a myth squared.
          RW: If m is preposterous then m x m = doubly preposterous.
          I prefer: If m is preposterous then, m – m = 0. Normality achieved.
          There is a Jewish, radical critique if Christianity’s universalism that sees that as the root of our global monoculture, class divisions and censorship, but, fundamentally, Jesus laid the theological foundation for universal human rights and democracy.
          Jews, in particular, should be grateful to the Christian Savior for that.

        • MarkF says:

          Well now “good” or “bad”, he could take advantage of the Law of Return, same as you or I.

          But a “good” point. Does a dissenting Jew have to be a practicing Jew religiously? After all, Jewish supporters(bad??) of Israel tend to run the gamet. Does strictly blood line count?

        • Elliot says:

          I was once briefly held up at Israeli passport control because my name is similar to an expat Jewish Israeli radial leftie who is persona non grata in Israel.
          But, for the most part, it’s all about blood lines.

        • My rabbi didn’t reject the experience of being chosen, or even the birthright of it (derived from God).

          He distinguishes between what the appropriate expression of that is.

          In this week’s Torah portion there is the negotiation by Abraham for possession of the Caves of Machpelah. The key phrase that I consider an important question (which I will raise next time I see the rabbi) is

          “18. [It was] to Abraham as a possession before the eyes of the sons of Heth, in the presence of all who had come within the gate of his city.”

          The question of being chosen is of three possible forms:
          1. Objective – That God objectively granted permanent property to the collective Jewish people over the land defined (even as the definition of extent was slightly and grossly differently stated to Abraham, Jacob and Moses).
          2. Metaphorical – That God granted some physical haven and situation to the Jewish people eternally. “I will preserve you as a people, and gather you from the four corners of the earth.” (paraphrase).
          3. Devotional – That the experience of coming through travail was perceived and explained as being chosen. “How could these amazing experiences have happened to us?.” And, in the state of transformation of consciousness occurring following the historical (or even fictional) liberation from Egypt, then long period of isolation in Sinai and desert world, they firmed their devotion, their surrender.

        • potsherd says:

          More and more Jews are not welcome in Israel now. This puts the lie to the notion of a “Jewish state.”

          Call it what it is, a Zionist state, where only Zionists are welcome.

        • The significance of “in the eyes of the sons of Heth”, is that property is not possibly solely based on the word of God to Abraham, that it must be either confirmed or even just a parallel notion of title based on consent of the community.

          So, relative to Israel, that is an argument on religious grounds, against the expansionistic self-talk that declares “God gave us this land, we can ignore community conventions”.

          Torah here says that “in the eyes of the sons of Heth” is controlling as well.

          The return can be a soul’s motivation, but not a confirmation of title.

        • Elliot says:

          RW – I like your reading of the Biblical story of Abraham’s first land purchase in Canaan.

        • Mooser says:

          “Phil and Adam have presented you as one of the “good Jews”. You didn’t notice that?”

          Richard, is the quote “good Jews” a quote, or one of your made-up quotes. Is there an article in which Phil or Adam says Glatzer is a one of the “good Jews”? If not, you are lying, creating a fictitious quote.
          We can update the old joke: How do you know if Richard Witty is lying? His fingers are moving.

          How the hell can you expect to be taken seriously when you simply make things up and put quotes around them? You do that constantly, and you can’t stop, can you, because you simply cannot argue honestly. So, you know, look, I gotta tell you, it sorta makes me wonder, (I’m quoting myself) “is he this way about everything, or is this a special place he goes to when Israel is under discussion”? You know Richard, the process I call “ziocaine”.
          Jeez sorry to burst in, all off topic, but Jeez, Richard, I do gotta wonder. It’s not as if I haven’t seen it before, and really close up, too.
          Oh well, carry on. No reason why you should pay any attention to me.

        • marc b. says:

          you need not respond, mooser.

          i assume that you’ve heard of the theory that a million chimps set a typing will eventually reproduce all the great works of literature. well in this case i have it on good sources that you are conversing with ten chimps. that’s right, only a couple of fists full of chimps are needed to produce the comments attributed to the fictional character known as rw. and these are stubborn chimps. nothing you say will change their minds.

        • Antidote says:

          a myth debunked, not squared (m- m =0). But also ‘a myth squared’, or ‘doubly preposterous’. The debunker himself is a divinely chosen member of the divinely ‘chosen people’ acting as their savior from the myth of the ‘chosen people’.

          Like the Cretan saying: all Cretans are liars

    • tree says:

      Joseph’s a product of the “Silent Holocaust”, that vulgar Zionist term otherwise known as interfaith marriage to the rest of the world.

      • tree- I agree the term “Silent Holocaust” is vulgar, but I don’t see why it is Zionist. Does wishing for the Jewish people to be gain in size and strength equal Zionism to you? Then any statement wishing for the Jewish nation to be strong in any way is Zionism, whether it infringes on the rights of the Palestinians or not. Intermarriage may be natural and as such to equate it to a silent Holocaust is offensive, but can’t one wish that the Jewish people survives and strengthens?

        • RoHa says:

          “can’t one wish that the Jewish people survives and strengthens? ”

          Such a wish suggests that the survival of “the Jewish people” as a group is more important than the desires and the happiness of individual Jews.

          It also hints at the idea that Jewishness is more important than common humanity.

        • pabelmont says:

          If the Jewish people were increasing (or intended to increase) in numbers for any useful or beneficial purpose, I’d be OK with it. More science, perhaps, or more art of music. All admirable. But when the central organizing principle has been reduced to testifying the horrors (and destructiveness to Jews) of the Holocaust, and to demanding world tolerance for all of Israel’s crimes, even the worst of them, without criticism, then bringing new Jews into the world takes on another meaning.

          I’m all for intermarriage. I’m all for raising kids without religious instruction. I’d settle for teaching human rights and starting with a just description of the tragedy of the Palestinians and a side explanation about how pogroms and the Holocaust were (and are still) offered as excuses for Israel’s inexcusable excesses.

        • pabelmont and roha- The case of Joseph Glatzer is not a case of someone who was raised without religion as the alternative to Jewishness, but rather Catholicism as the alternative to Judaism/Jewishness. So even thought today’s Christianity might be closer in some ways to universalism, it is not universalism personified that is being adopted as the alternative to Judaism, but rather a specific belief system.

          Also, pabelmont, once you identify all Judaism or Jewishness as on average meaning support for Israel, then you are saying, I only oppose Zionism rather than Judaism, but since most Jews are Zionist, in fact I am against the Jews (most of the time).

          Group dynamics involve limitations on the individual and as such there is a cost benefit analysis that must be made. Judaism today is not the Judaism of Spinoza’s time imposing excommunication if one espouses heretical views. On the theory that maybe Judaism is something other than a group foisting its will on unwilling individuals, but in fact contains some wisdom that might come to fruition some time in the future, that the seed is there but it needs or deserves some chances to blossom into something useful for our modern age, then there is no reason to denigrate Judaism or Jewishness and state that it is worthless, when in fact it may contain something of worth. You never know. It might have survived so long for a reason. Our current common humanity is poisoning the planet and raising the temperature of the planet, how can you be sure that the answer doesn’t lie somewhere in the future with someone or some group raised with something other than a typical education and discipline. You don’t know, but you pretend that common humanity has it all figured out, which is in fact, not the case.

        • Elliot says:

          how can you be sure that the answer doesn’t lie somewhere in the future with someone or some group raised with something other than a typical education and discipline.

          WJ –
          You lay out the kind of mystical thinking that gets us into all sorts of trouble. In short, it means hoping that the future will deliver us from today’s challenges.
          These irrational beliefs included:
          -hoping a future technology will solve global warming.
          -hoping the “peace process” will, down the road, rectify the ongoing abuse of Palestinian civil rights.
          Messianism is perilously close to escapism. The only use I can see for it is to inspire people by painting a vision of what the world might be if we take action today.

          Also, what is the “discipline” that you speak of? Furthermore, most Jews today don’t practice any meaningful Jewish discipline so what value has that got? As you say, one common value that binds identifying Jews together is Zionism.
          What hope does that offer, now, or down the road?

        • Elliot- In essence you are agreeing that the best thing the Jewish people can do is intermarry and in essence stop associating with each other because the surest way for Zionism to disappear is for the Jews to disappear. In essence you are saying that Jewishness is a disease that one should celebrate if not encourage its disappearance.

          Certainly the promotion of justice or sensible policy regarding pollution and global warming is logical and straightforward and I was not advocating anything different as far as justice, p0llution or global warming are concerned.

          I feel that an attachment to the survival of the Jewish people by Jewish people is a natural attachment and for Jewish people to celebrate their own disappearance is a sign of disease and decadence.

          I see many great traditions being upheld by Jews who wish to keep the Jewish people alive. I think the seder is a great tradition, I think dipping an apple in honey and blowing the ram’s horn when the new moon appears in September is a great tradition and I think the set of books and studying those books is a great tradition.

          Because Zionism offers no hope therefore you wish to flush the Jewish people and any attachment to anything Jewish down the toilet. In essence this is an antiJewish position.

          The current situation of the conflict between Israeli Jews and their neighbors I happen to see as the unfortunate circumstance involving many different factors including 1. certain retrograde ideas that exist in Judaism, 2. certain retrograde ideas of the west that were adopted by Jews at a late point in history, 3. certain retrograde attitudes that existed and exist in retrograde Islam particularly in the Middle East and 4. certain retrograde ideas that existed in Europe particularly in the first part of the last century. The attitude of a particular people exiled (excluded from their capital city, which was renamed to promote their despair and acknowledgment of defeat) and dispersed maintaining the hope to return to the land of their origin in itself is neither here nor there if it does not contain the acknowledgment that the people who have settled their in the meantime must be considered as well. But as an attitude of survival as part and parcel of a religion that wished and wishes to maintain survival of a group despite its wandering, it is significant that it succeeded in that the Jews survived the 1800 years between the rebellion of Bar Kochba until the British mandate.

          Your advocacy of the disappearance of the Jewish people unless they can prove their own validity on immediate grounds of efficacy is in essence anti Jewish.

        • Elliot says:

          WJ – I’m sorry but I did not get to the end of your posting. I stopped at the fictitious statements you tried to insinuate into my posting on mysticism.
          If you want to know my views on intermarriage and the future of Jewish people, please let me know. I’d be happy to have that conversation with you.

        • Elliot- your words were: “most Jews today don’t practice any meaningful Jewish discipline so what value has that got? As you say, one common value that binds identifying Jews together is Zionism. What hope does that offer, now, or down the road?”

          I am sorry if I interpreted your words as denigrating all things Jewish.

          The comments by Roha and pabelmont advocated the disappearance of the Jewish people. I stated that there might be some value in their survival. I posited a long term indirect possibility of the value of their survival. You rejected that as mystical and then had nothing positive to say about any aspect of Jewishness, that’s why I interpreted your words in such a way.

          What is your attitude towards intermarriage and the proposed disappearance of the Jews?

        • tree says:

          I agree the term “Silent Holocaust” is vulgar, but I don’t see why it is Zionist. Does wishing for the Jewish people to be gain in size and strength equal Zionism to you?

          Does using the term “Silent holocaust” equal “wishing for the Jewish people to gain in size and strength”? Otherwise I don’t see why you have put one together with the other, despite you’re acknowledgment that the term is vulgar. I equate use of the term “Silent Holocaust” with Zionism, one, because the only ones I have heard use the term are those of a Zionist persuasion, and, more importantly, because such a term coincides with the Zionist emphasis on the “rights” or “desires” of the collective over the rights and desires of individual Jews. The early Zionist search for “pioneers” to make( or remake, in the mythology) the “muscular Jew”, the rejection of Diaspora Jews, the use of the term aliyah, the treatment of the early Yemenite Jews, the Zionist emphasis on eugenics, its mistreatment of the Jewish inhabitants of the displaced persons’ camps, its mistreatment of its Arab Jews, its use of the term “self-hating Jew” to describe anyone who criticizes their reprehensible actions: all those indicate to me a political belief system that puts the interests of the mythical collective (or more exactly, the wishes of the Zionist elites) above those of individual Jews. I find that vulgar and on a par with the term.

          The term “Silent Holocaust” is demeaning to those who died in the Holocaust. It is as if one were saying that the real tragedy was that Judaism lost a lot of adherents, rather than the tragedy was the death of 6 million human beings. Judaism, or any religious belief or non-belief for that matter, is not more important than human life.

          Intermarriage may be natural and as such to equate it to a silent Holocaust is offensive, but can’t one wish that the Jewish people survives and strengthens?

          Who said this? You constantly do this. You put words in people’s mouths, and assume you know what they are thinking when all you are doing is riffing off your own prejudices and fears. As I pointed out to you before, there is nothing about interfaith marriage that must intrinsically mean less Jews. Jews who intermarry with other faiths have a choice as to whether to raise their children as Jews or not. Jewish parents who don’t feel very committed to the Jewish faith probably won’t pass it on, but that would be the case even if they didn’t intermarry. Its just as possible that two Jews, marrying outside their faith instead of each other, could each produce one child that is raised as a Jew, resulting in two Jewish children because of the intermarriage, rather than the one they would produce if they married each other. Frankly, if Judaism is interested in increasing its adherents it would be better served by welcoming interfaith couples rather than denigrating them, and by proselytizing, and inviting more adherents into the fold, something Judaism did in the distant past.

          Hey, maybe Israel could make all Palestinians honorary Jews, solving the Palestinian problem and doubling the Jewish population in one stroke. They could even use the multi-decades long victimization of the Palestinians to support their victim mentality. “We’re such perennial victims, we even victimized ourselves!”

          Like any other belief system, it will continue as long as it is considered relevant to its adherents. If people stop believing then the belief system has passed its usefulness. That goes for any religious belief system, whether Judaism, or Christianity, or Islam, or Buddhism, or Unitarianism, or Jainism, etc. I won’t cry for the passing of any belief system that people no longer believe in. I’m more concerned with treating human beings (and the planet) with equality, justice and compassion. No belief system is more important than the human beings that subscribe to it.

        • Elliot says:

          WJ –
          Tree pretty much said it all and did so very well.
          I admit that I have some unease about the mixture of close family and non-Jews. That is something I need to work out.
          Regarding the big picture, as you laid out in one of your posts, Judaism is constantly evolving. Older forms of Judaism are slipping away. The most obvious, and closest to me is the end of Yiddish civilization. I also am saddened by the loss of Jewish culture in Arab lands. Whether it is the Nazis, modernity, or Zionism that are culpable, I put it all down, philosophically, to the way of the world. Anyway, what good will it do to protest reality.
          I am also excited about some of the new forms of Judaism, both in America and, to a lesser extent, in Israel.
          I have no fear that Jewishness will disappear. I am also not concerned that there may be no Jews 2, or 3 generations hence, I’m not even sure that the numbers are diminishing. It depends how you count. Even if the numbers of Jews are dwindling I am not worried about that at all. I don’t associate with all 13.3 million, and in most cases, that is by choice.

          Since you grew up Orthodox in America and have lived in Israel for many years I don’t know if you have had any firsthand experience with interfaith couples who are members of the Jewish community here.
          There are basic concepts that, my guess is, are unknown in Israel.
          1. Jewishness is an identity that people choose. This religious identity is significantly different – and I would argue of greater value – than a biological definition imposed by religious and/or state law.
          2. A non-Jewish spouse (as Tree indicated) can be a powerful ally to Jewishness. Can you imagine a practicing Catholic parent driving their child to Hebrew school because the family has decided to raise the child Jewish?
          3. For many, Judaism is about being a better person and raising children well, about celebrating heritage and about building community.
          Since child rearing is a perennial challenge, people need roots and folks are desperately isolated from one another, I don’t see Judaism disappearing any time soon.

          I can’t get past the feeling though that all this talk about dwindling Jews is a Zionist obsession that stems from a belief that if Jews can score a hair above 50% of the population of Israel/Palestine, then they can get the Western world to accept whatever they do.
          Consider this: what if Israelis reasonable rights were guaranteed, even as a minority. How liberating would that be for Israelis? – particularly the women :)
          Anyway, how Jewish are Israelis. The perception of most Israelis by the Orthodox faithful is that they are “Hebrew speaking goyim.” Is it worth setting aside so many of your human values away for the sake of Jewish continuity, just to get children of former Jews to marry each other and create more biological Jews?

        • eljay says:

          >> Like any other belief system, it will continue as long as it is considered relevant to its adherents. If people stop believing then the belief system has passed its usefulness. That goes for any religious belief system, whether Judaism, or Christianity, or Islam, or Buddhism, or Unitarianism, or Jainism, etc. I won’t cry for the passing of any belief system that people no longer believe in. I’m more concerned with treating human beings (and the planet) with equality, justice and compassion. No belief system is more important than the human beings that subscribe to it.

          Beautifully put!

        • I concede the vulgarity of the term “silent Holocaust”.

          This discussion began because of Joseph Glatzer’s being raised as a Catholic and people (or person) assuming that he was Jewish because of the Jewishness of his name.

          I think the statistics reveal that something less than 30% of intermarried couples raise their children as Jews, so the idea that intermarriage as a whole strengthens the Jewish people is not statistically valid. Since the topic was raised because of someone who was raised as a Catholic as a result of an intermarriage, there seems something dishonest about a raw assertion that intermarriage strengthens the Jewish people in this context.

          There are many possible reactions to the Nazi genocide of the Jews. Some of them are political and when they involve persecution of others, it is worthy to condemn them. Some of them are personal (Jewish people deciding to have more children in reaction to the genocide is one example). As in most things personal one should tread lightly and allow individuals to make their own decisions. Recoiling at the idea of someone else’s intermarriage is a type of combination of the personal with the political.

          Coldly rationally the mere number of Jews (except for Zionism and its demographic battle) can be dismissed as a minor thought. More Jews, less Jews, we’re not about to overwhelm the world by mere babymaking, it makes little difference. But there is an emotional element as well. The world Jewish population was 18 million on the eve of WWII. It is less than that today. That fact is painful.

          As I am childless I am partly to blame. As I am part of a family that has done well in the babymaking “game” and as an active nonparticipant (the uncle who shows up to weddings, circumcisions and bar mitzvahs, despite his untraditional ways and childlessness) I feel slightly vindicated. (To paraphrase Tolstoy: All families are different in their unhappinesses.)

          Judaism is both belief system and ethnicity. That there is much wisdom in the belief system (alongside some retrograde ideas) would be conceded by most people. To feel a connection to a people is something entirely different and would be rejected by many of the people who comment on this blog. But I reject neither the belief system nor the ethnic identification and feel that human beings and group dynamics are more complicated than any dogma, whether objecting to intermarriage or promoting it.

        • RoHa says:

          ” it may contain something of worth. You never know. ”

          It may, but is there any reason to think it does?

          Abandoning Jewishness may be more worthwhile, and since abandoning Jewishness would mean an end to anti-Semitism, Jewish sneering at the rest of us, and kletzmer music, there is reason to think it would be more worthwhile than retaining Jewishness.

          “you pretend that common humanity has it all figured out”

          No I don’t. I do think that people who identify themselves first and foremost as human beings living in co-operation with other human beings are morally better than people who think that they belong to a special super-group.

        • Elliot says:

          “Abandoning Jewishness may be more worthwhile, and since abandoning Jewishness would mean an end to anti-Semitism, Jewish sneering at the rest of us, and kletzmer [sic] music,”

          RoHa,
          What did klezmer music do to you?
          Like you I would welcome the end to anti-Semitisim, but I am oblivious to “Jewish sneering” and I have to say that I have enjoyed very much the klezmer revival of the last twenty years.

        • Elliot says:

          The world Jewish population was 18 million on the eve of WWII. It is less than that today. That fact is painful.
          In what sense is 18m vs. 13m meaningful to your life? How does seeing a roomful of young, Orthodox Jewish kids make you feel better?
          It is clear that there are broader issues here, as we have laid out.

        • Seeing a room full of young Orthodox Jewish kids (modern Orthodox rather than ultra Orthodox) in fact does make me feel better. I feel pain when I think about the missing six million and the large Jewish civilization that was wiped out. Imagine if there was now a large Jewish civilization in Eastern Europe rather than the remnants that Hitler and Stalin and emigration have left there. It was a major loss and I guess looking for procreation to cover that loss is a lost cause.

        • Shmuel says:

          WJ,

          The culture is lost (and despised by the Zionist establishment – insult to injury), the communities are lost and the lives are lost. The pain is immense. I derive no comfort from rooms full of national-religious (what you call “modern orthodox”) children, most of whom will grow up to play an active role in perpetuating the destruction of another culture, other communities and other lives. The pain is immense.

      • Antidote says:

        vulgar beyond belief

      • Mooser says:

        tree, two people of the same religion often have interfaith marriages.

        As to whether it happens with three people, I have no personal knowledge, but I never claimed my life was anything but depressingly conventional.

    • What’s your problem Witty? Joseph has already written that he’s half Jewish..Here:
      link to mondoweiss.net

      “It’s truly what I thought being Jewish–I’m half–was about.”
      And :
      “So, here I was a half Jewish critic of Israel living in Valley Village”

      • And again, Witty, nothing was hidden..Here’s another comment by Joseph made in December last year:

        JGlatzer December 15, 2009 at 7:18 pm
        “Actually, I am Catholic. My parents divorced when I was young and I was raised by mom in a Christian Right Wing Republican home in Orange County, CA.”
        link to mondoweiss.net

  7. RE: “Vatican synod comes out strong for Palestinian rights” – Glatzer
    MY COMMENT: But…but…but, “Pastor” John Hagee down there at the Cornerstone Church™/John Hagee Ministries® in San Antonio says…..

  8. Citizen says:

    The Christian Zionists, Hagee et al, take exactly the contrary view. The settlements are justified by the bible itself. Those folks actually arm the hill top settlements with stuff such as sniper scopes–and get a US tax deduction; hence all US taxpayers indirectly support such settlements–even Israel itself does not do this, recognizing such settlements as illegal under Israeli law. link to nytimes.com

  9. Shmuel says:

    This promise was nullified by Christ.

    Now that’s going to convince a whole lot of Jews. These guys are stuck in the same kind of self-referential “logic” that likes to pretend that “God promised it to us” is a valid argument in the first place.

    • Citizen says:

      Yep, Shmuel, you’re right about that. High papal folks wear yarmulkas too, though they have a different name for their little hats.

    • Elliot says:

      Yup. Jews will chuckle at this (if they have a sense of humor) or accuse the Vatican of anti-Semitism (if they don’t).
      It’s not going to convince Pastor Hagee et al either.
      But it’s important for Christianity to figure out where it stands on I/P.

      The synod was formed by Middle Eastern bishops and my impression is that this is the Vatican’s way of showing solidarity with its co-religionists on the front lines.

      • Antidote says:

        There’s nothing to chuckle about. Universalism/common humanity is not a novel Christian idea. Are Adam and Eve Jewish/Israelites? Don’t think so. The difference between rejecting and accepting Christ, the Jewish revolutionary, as the new Adam/savior is whether the laws of the Pharisees are overruled or not.

    • potsherd says:

      There is a Jewish rationale for this, that the Israelites violated the covenant with the Lord and the lease was rescinded, the people delivered into the hands of conquerors.

      • Elliot says:

        This underpins Hannah Arendt’s overarching analysis of Jewish history: taking victimhood out of the Jewish narrative.
        This is the great gift of Judaism’s rhetoric about sin: since our current circumstances are punishment for our sins, it follows that we have the power to make things better by doing better.
        That’s as far as I feel comfortable using traditional Jewish language.

        I have no use for the Biblical “covenant” in the traditional sense. Not only does it reinforce Jewish exclusivity but I find it childish.
        If we do x, God is bound, per covenant, to deliver y.
        If not, I have a posse of Jewish lawyers who will sue God for all He is worth.

        • The covenant is primarily an obligation on those that participate in it.

          “If you keep my commandments, I will give you the rain in its time”, as a metaphor, life in balance. Security, strength and dignity, and humane treatment of one’s neighbors.

          The majority DON’T speak of the covenant as a permanent privilege, moreso as a permanent intimacy.

        • Elliot says:

          The majority DON’T speak of the covenant as a permanent privilege, moreso as a permanent intimacy.
          Have you polled them?
          Anyway, I like my intimacy one-on-one, in candlelight rather than torch-lit. Group intimacy that celebrates the uniqueness of the group always feels creepy to me.

          Seriously, this is one, emblematic instance of many traditional concepts of Jewish exceptionalism. IMHO, we need to read this out of contemporary Judaism.

        • Mooser says:

          “If you keep my commandments, I will give you the rain in its time”,

          “Don’t piss down my leg, and tell me it’s raining” – Yiddish Proverb

  10. RoHa says:

    “a Jewish state – the only such in the world ”

    Why is this such a big deal?

  11. Antidote says:

    ‘There is no longer a chosen people’. Both in term of religion or ethnicity, this should be obvious to everybody by now. Israel is certainly not the only country that resists this view, but one that fights tooth and nail to define such resistance as a humanitarian necessity (in order to prevent another Holocaust) to which everyone else has to subscribe or be accused of anti-semitism and genocidal designs.

    Rabbit hole, anyone?

    A Protestant perspective and excerpt from Martin Luther, “On the Jews and their Lies”, 1543, one of the most vitriolic anti-semitic publications on record (but note that his diatribes against the ‘Papists’ are arguable worse or, at any rate, much more numerous)

    “Yes, this is it, this is the bone of contention, that is the source of the trouble, that makes the Jews so angry and foolish and spurs them to arrive at such an accursed meaning, forcing them to pervert all the statements of Scripture so shamefully: namely, they do not want, they cannot endure that we Gentiles should be their equal before God and that the Messiah should be our comfort and joy as well as theirs. I say, before they would have us Gentiles whom they incessantly mock, curse, damn, defame, and revile share the Messiah with them, and be called their co-heirs and brethren, they would crucify ten more Messiahs and kill God himself if this were possible, together with all angels and all creatures, even at the risk of incurring thereby the penalty of a thousand hells instead of one. Such an incomprehensibly stubborn pride dwells in the noble blood of the fathers and circumcised saints. They alone want to have the Messiah and be masters of the world. The accursed Goyim must be servants, give their desire (that is, their gold and silver) to the Jews, and let themselves be slaughtered like wretched cattle. They would rather remain lost consciously and eternally than give up this view.

    From their youth they have imbibed such venomous hatred against the Goyim from their parents and their rabbis, and they still continuously drink it. As Psalm 109:18 declares, it has penetrated flesh and blood, marrow and bone, and has become part and parcel of their nature and their life. And as little as they can change flesh and blood, marrow and bone, so little can they change such pride and envy. They must remain thus and perish, unless God performs extraordinarily great miracles. If I wished to vex and anger a Jew severely, I would say: “Listen, Jehudi, do you realize that I am a real brother of all the holy children of Israel and a co-heir in the kingdom of the true Messiah?” Without doubt, I would meet with a nasty rebuff. If he could stare at me with the eyes of a basilisk, he would surely do it. And all the devils could not execute the evil he would wish me, even if God were to give them leave — of that I am certain. However, I shall refrain from doing this, and I ask also that no one else do so, for Christ’s sake. For the Jews’ heart and mouth would overflow with a cloudburst of cursing and blaspheming of the name of Jesus Christ and of God the Father. We must conduct ourselves well and not give them cause for this if we can avoid it, just as I must not provoke a madman if I know that he will curse and blaspheme God… for they really are possessed….They are the boastful, arrogant rascals who to the present day can do no more than boast of their race and lineage, praise only themselves, and disdain and curse all the world in their synagogues, prayers, and doctrines. Despite this, they imagine that in God’s eyes they rank as his dearest children.”

    Needless to say, the anti-Christian Nazis, who were possessed by the very same demon in pursuit of their ‘Aryan destiny’, were fond of co-opting Luther as a national hero and precursor, not only executing his battle cry (“Set fire to their synagogues and schools”) but proceeding with a genocidal attack on European Jews.

    But it is also clear that Israel has become the embodiment of the madness Luther attacks, with spiritual leaders like Rabbi Ovadia Yosef spouting the same old nonsense about the goyim, and Israeli politics and politicians, religious or secular, following in the same path.

    I’m not sure whether Rabbi Yosef was talking about the time prior or after the arrival of the Messiah (see this article by Peretz, scroll down to comment section for Hebrew version of what he actually said). But it is obvious enough that the Israel-firsters inside and outside Israel, be they Jews or not, are stuck in this moral insanity, and one increasingly fears that they’d rather blow up the planet than give up one inch of the holy land and Jerusalem. Just like ‘Let them eat cake’, ‘après moi le deluge’ has become virtually synonymous with the aristocratic mindset that led to the French Revolution. Israel needs a revolution, but who will lead it, and against whom?

    link to tnr.com

  12. Please allow a little space for a carefully thought out and crafted posting that does not violate the comments policy.

    To atheists:

    When it comes to statements by Rabbis and Jews: spew the most vile hatred against these holy men, relegating religion to the dustbin.

    Yet,

    When a priest says something that supports your claim, though it may also be based on a religious belief:

    In this case, theological views are valid.

    It’s not about religion, it’s not about left or right, and it’s not about race. It’s about antisemitism.

    Antisemitism is an old disease, it infects and spreads like a cancer, it is an evil that corrupts leftism, rightism, totalitarianism, Islamism and socialism when it comes into contact with these ideologies.

    The same men that engineered the inquisition, they are now praised when the statement is made that Jews have to right to the Land of Israel.

    Terrorists who murder children in cold blood, they have valid motive, and can be well understood, when the goal is to force fleeing evacuation of Jewish settlements in the Land of Israel.

    Radical leftists, those who prefer anarchy, and, radical rightists, those who prefer an iron fisted government. They are both praised: When their design is to “smash the Jewish state”

    Antisemitism is a beast, it will infect you, and it will destroy you.

    Max

    • talknic says:

      “The same men that engineered the inquisition….

      DIED.. a long, long time ago…. Unlike illegal settlers, who live for 3,000 years it seems

      “..when the goal is to force fleeing evacuation of Jewish settlements in the Land of Israel.”

      Illegal Israeli settlements OUTSIDE of Israel, in the historical Land of Israel, which is now a part of the non-state entity of Palestine, under occupation by Israel.

    • Elliot says:

      Antisemitism is a beast, it will infect you, and it will destroy you.

      I was raised in a community of Holocaust survivors; all the grown-ups above a certain age had an accent.
      I experienced anti-Semitism on the streets of my neighborhood.
      I was in synagogue when rocks came crashing into the sanctuary’s windows and men ran out to catch the hooligans.
      I ran in fear from a group of Arab boys in the hills of Jerusalem.
      I narrowly escaped being killed on the streets of Jerusalem.

      And I don’t buy into your fears.
      Please read Hannah Arendt and get over it.

    • Antidote says:

      “Antisemitism is a beast, it will infect you, and it will destroy you.”

      That’s just another way of saying: Jews are the chosen people and beyond criticism, because all criticism is anti-semitic and irrational (“a beast”), so mess with us at your own peril.

      “The same men that engineered the inquisition, they are now praised when the statement is made that Jews have to right to the Land of Israel.”

      For crying out loud! The inquisition was engineered on the very same principles that are behind loyalty oaths to the Jewish state and recognition of Israel as a ‘Jewish and democratic state’. The bone of contention is not whether ‘Jews have a right to the land of Israel’ but whether their rights trump the rights of the Palestinian people. And the answer is: NO

    • Mooser says:

      “When their design is to “smash the Jewish state””

      Is that a quote? All those Bishops got together, all chausibles and orfreys and miters and inscence, and issued a statement calling for to “smash the Jewish state”?
      Hmm, I’ll have to give that serious consideration.

    • Shingo says:

      “Antisemitism is a beast, it will infect you, and it will destroy you.”

      The same goes for Zionism.

    • lysias says:

      The Herrenvolk mentality is a beast that will infect you and destroy you.

    • talknic says:

      Silly accusations by criminals trying to justify their behaviour is quite revealing

      maximalistNarrative

      “To atheists:

      When it comes to statements by Rabbis and Jews: spew the most vile hatred against these holy men, relegating religion to the dustbin….. etc etc etc”

      Uh huh …Being a Jewish atheist applauding the Vatican call for LEGAL steps to resolve the issue and being supportive of the Jewish Rabbi Hillel’s common sense, I find your accusation rather ….well…..silly

  13. eljay says:

    >> To atheists:
    >> When it comes to statements by Rabbis and Jews: spew the most vile hatred against these holy men, relegating religion to the dustbin.
    >> Yet,
    >> When a priest says something that supports your claim, though it may also be based on a religious belief:
    >> In this case, theological views are valid.

    I’m atheist. Religious pronouncements are vapid no matter which religious authority utters them. Vile pronouncements are vile no matter which religious authority or person utters them.

    >> Please allow a little space for a carefully thought out and crafted posting …

    If that’s “carefully thought out and crafted”, I’d really hate to see “poorly thought out and shoddily crafted”! 8-o

  14. Mooser says:

    Gosh, another interesting day at MondoWittyMaxWondering.

  15. Mooser says:

    Zionism is a beast, it will infect you, it will destroy you.

  16. MHughes976 says:

    The Eastern Catholics, and eastern Christians of other traditions, have always taken a negative view of Israel – that is the reason commonly given for the slow recognition of Israel by the Vatican. So this, as far as I can see, is and long has been a view within Catholicism but not of Catholicism. I can’t deny that’s it’s interesting that the Melkite Archbishop is allowed to say certain provocative things. But it’s also interesting that it’s an eastern-rite Catholic, not an ordinary Catholic, who says it. I’ll be surprised if the mainstream Catholics endorse these views in any very visible way.
    That’s partly because I don’t think that the traditional balance within the organisation is about to be conspicuously upset, partly because I can’t see any flurry in the mainstream press.
    Most of all, I don’t see the theological resources being mustered to make a way through the minefield sown by the Melkite proposition that a former divine decree, or something of almost that status, has been ‘nullified’ by Christ. Not the word many of us would choose!!
    Antidote has usefully mentioned an anti-Jewish outburst by Luther, who had been reading St.Paul. There’s been a huge effort, perhaps going too far, in recent Pauline scholarship, called the New Perspective, aimed at rejecting Luther’s interpretation and at moving Paul firmly back into the Jewish fold.
    Turning the dispute over Zionism into a battle of sacred texts is not a good idea.

  17. Shmuel says:

    I’ll be surprised if the mainstream Catholics endorse these views in any very visible way.

    According to the Italian press, the Holy See has already distanced itself from “the remarks of individuals” at the synod.