‘In every generation they rise up against us’ — Passover and the Jewish imagination

Israel/Palestine
on 77 Comments
Moses before Pharaoh, from the Syriac bible

Moses before Pharaoh, from the Syriac bible of Paris, 6th century

For our Passover meal this year (Monday 14 April) I have a fifth question and answer to add to the traditional quartet of the Ma Nishtanah.

Why is this night different from all other nights?

Because on this night we make a meal, literally and metaphorically, of our unique story. Via mouthfuls of bitter herbs, salt water, nuts and raisins mixed with wine, and unleavened bread, we promote the damaging mindset that tells us that we are the world’s eternal victims.

I expect an immediate challenge to my liturgical liberties.

“Enough already with your iconoclastic itch! How can you say such things? Surely, Passover is the quintessential expression of our physical and spiritual liberation. Hasn’t the escape of the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery become the biblical paradigm of freedom from oppression that has brought hope to countless peoples across the centuries?”

I know, I know.

But my fifth question and answer is true none the less.

This is the night when we are most at risk from locking shut the Jewish capacity for empathy and blinding ourselves to the suffering of others – most notably, the Palestinians.

There will be some around the Seder table who will resent me wanting to recount the woes of another people (“the Palestinians for heaven’s sake!”) rather than those of my own kith and kin.

“Please can we celebrate the Exodus and our founding mythology of Jewish nationhood without dragging all that stuff into a nice family gathering! Let us enjoy the remembrance of our liberation by a God who intervenes in history with ‘a strong hand and an outstretched arm’. Or are you going to insist on playing the part of the ‘wicked son’, the one in the Haggadah that cannot see the point of the celebration? Now have some more Motza and shut up!”

So, I will have to take a deep breath and try to explain how we have reached this immensely regrettable state of affairs. I may need a fifth cup of wine to get me through.

There are two powerful themes at work within the Seder night service. Two themes that have dominated Jewish self-understanding since at least the Middle Ages when the Seder night service, as we know it today, was first woven together.

The first theme can be characterised by this beautiful sentence that comes early on in our Passover meal:

“Let all who are hungry, come and eat; let all who are needy come and celebrate Passover.”

This is the Jewish voice of welcome, of empathy. It marks the Exodus as the ancient anchor of Jewish ethics and reminds us of our timeless belief in a God that bends His universe towards justice and compassion.

The second theme arrives, with a chill air around it, towards the end of our evening of story telling, after the last terrible plague, the death of the Egypt firstborn, has persuaded Pharaoh to (temporarily) end his tyranny.

“In each and every generation they rise up against us to destroy us. And the Holy One, blessed be He, rescues us from their hands.”

This is the collective cry of a people that has been oppressed and discriminated against throughout its history. A people left physically and psychologically scarred. A people that feels justice for them has been long delayed. This is our story told as one long pogrom.

It is a passage that reinforces the sense of the Jews under perennial siege all the way from biblical mythology to modern history. From the tribe of Amalek trying to thwart the slaves’ escape from Egypt, to Haman’s planned genocide of the Jews of Persia in the story of Esther, to Adolf Hitler’s near success in making the European continent ‘Judenrein’

In every generation there is always another Pharaoh who is out to get the Jews.

It’s not difficult to understand how this idea repeated each year, at what is still the most widely observed Jewish festival, has profound emotional consequences for the Jewish imagination. And the resonance of the message does not end with the singing of the final verse of ‘Hud Gadyah’.

We leave the Seder table convinced, once again, that we are the eternal victims, outsiders, never accepted, forever threatened. It is the worldview that helped to propel 19th century political Zionism into the 20th century Jewish mainstream. Zionism, brilliantly and dangerously, wrapped together a religious longing for spiritual and physical redemption with a nationalist colonial project dressed up as a rightful ‘Return’. It was a compelling and heady mix. The world will never accept us, so the theory goes, so we must have our own state in our own land where we can live in safety and normalcy. And never mind who might be living there now, for our needs our greater than theirs, our story more important, and our ancient Promise more profound than any set of civil rights.

In our post-Holocaust, Israel-centred Jewish consciousness, the ‘Every generation…’ passage has continued to grow in significance, eating away at our moral sensibility. So much so, that we have difficulty understanding modern Jewish history and politics without constant reference to this paradigm of oppression and threat, or, as it is now more often described, ‘Security’.

Benjamin Netanyahu happily taps into all of this with his new demand that the Palestinians accept Israel as a ‘Jewish State’ with all the implications that has for Israeli Christian and Muslim Palestinian citizens, the rights of Palestinian refugees and the chances of the State of the Jews ever being truly ‘Jewish and Democratic’. John Kerry and the Obama administration have failed to challenge the same “In every generation…” mindset and so find themselves acting as Israel’s legal team rather than as honest brokers of peace.

And meanwhile…whatever happened to: ‘Let all who are hungry, come and eat…’?

In Hebrew, the word for ancient Egypt is ‘Mitzrayim’. The same word can also be translated as ‘the narrow place’. Today, we Jews are living our lives in a narrow nationalist echo chamber where the chanting of our past suffering bounces off the walls blocking out every other sound to our ears.

It is true, we celebrated many Seder nights in the ghettos and shtetls of European oppression. But we are now in a radically different place and we are yet to adjust to our new circumstances. We have failed to notice that in this generation it is we who have the power, we who have status in every country where we live, we who have a nation state with a great army and Super Power backing. And it is we who have constructed our own apparatus of prejudice and injustice in the very land we call ‘Holy’. Today, we have become the Pharaoh we once despised.

At this point I’m hoping that my Seder night companions will turn to me and ask, with at least a hint of humility: “So what is to be done, Rav Micah?”

I have a remedy. But it will not be easy.

A new Exodus is needed to set the Jewish mind free and open our imagination to those that suffer at our hands. The theme embodied by “In every generation…” must be understood anew. It must be claimed for the same Jewish spirit that invites the hungry and oppressed to share at our table. We must see that in every generation, even among ourselves, the narrow vision of ‘Pharaoh’ can rise up. Our task is is to bring it down in the name of the same God that rescued our ancestors with ‘a strong hand and an outstretched arm’ and delivered us to uphold a moral universe.

This year – we remain trapped in the narrow place. Next year – may we find our new Exodus to liberation.

Hag Sameach!
P.S. If you found this blog post provocative, stimulating or just plain annoying, then you may like to read ‘Occupy the Hagaddah’ from 2012  and the poem “On the Impossibility of Passover” from 2013.

This post first appeared on Cohen’s site, Micah’s Paradigm Shift.

About Robert Cohen

Cohen is a British writer. He blogs at Micah's Paradigm Shift. http://micahsparadigmshift.blogspot.co.uk/

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77 Responses

  1. hophmi
    April 10, 2014, 11:23 am

    ” It is the worldview that helped to propel 19th century political Zionism into the 20th century Jewish mainstream. ”

    Yeah, that was it. It had nothing to do with the Jewish experience in Europe before and after the Enlightenment, or with the rise of nationalism in the 19th century. It’s amazing how arguments like this always seem to prove Herzl right. Here’s an ultra-assimilated Jew who knew relatively little about his faith and practiced relatively little. But his idea – it must have been deeply reliant on Jewish texts, rather than historical experience. No matter how assimilated you are, Robert, you’re always a Jew, right?

    “It is true, we celebrated many Seder nights in the ghettos and shtetls of European oppression. But we are now in a radically different place and we are yet to adjust to our new circumstances. ”

    We also celebrated many Seder nights in the comfort of nice homes in Berlin and Vienna. It is not a new thing in history for Jews to live in comfort. What is new is for Jews to control a political entity as Christians do Europe (which calls itself pluralistic and secular and then works to control the flow of immigrants and the worship of Muslims).

  2. seanmcbride
    April 10, 2014, 11:44 am

    “In each and every generation they rise up against us to destroy us. And the Holy One, blessed be He, rescues us from their hands.”

    1. Is never-ending conflict with ethnic outsiders baked into the core assumptions of Judaism?

    2. Do many Jews define themselves and their cultural identity in terms of this fundamental dualistic ontology?

    3. Is this never-ending conflict a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy — propelled by a questionable algorithm?

    4. Does this ideological system need to be retooled or tweaked — or perhaps discarded altogether?

    5. Should supposed universalist ethical and moral values be framed in terms of ethnic nationalism and ethnic conflict?

    Are these five related questions impolite and politically incorrect? (Certainly I must be Amalek for contemplating them — but I tend to question everything — including my own cultural conditioning and programming.)

    • hophmi
      April 10, 2014, 4:54 pm

      “1. Is never-ending conflict with ethnic outsiders baked into the core assumptions of Judaism?”

      No. Some Jews might think that way, just as some Muslims think that way about Islam and infidels, but it is not a core belief of the religion.

      “2. Do many Jews define themselves and their cultural identity in terms of this fundamental dualistic ontology?”

      No. Some Jews might, but the vast majority do not.

      “3. Is this never-ending conflict a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy — propelled by a questionable algorithm?”

      Of course, the notion of never-ending conflict can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. That’s why Al-Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center on 9/11. They had told themselves for years that America was in conflict with Islam. They still tell themselves that.

      “4. Does this ideological system need to be retooled or tweaked — or perhaps discarded altogether?”

      I see you’ve assumed the answer to your first three questions, which suggests that, as usual, you aren’t really asking them in good faith. But a good start would be to acknowledge historical antisemitism, and to leave Jews alone for once in history, instead of projecting the collective insecurities of guilt-ridden Europeans with their colonialist and genocidalist past, onto Israel. You could excuse Jews for believing that every generation, some crazy idiot or ideology rises up to try and destroy us. Because, it sometimes seems like that. Not every generation, of course. But a whole lot of them.

      “5. Should supposed universalist ethical and moral values be framed in terms of ethnic nationalism and ethnic conflict?”

      Want to parse that question out? If it’s universalist, then it cannot be framed in terms of nationalism or ethnicity, period.

      “Are these five related questions impolite and politically incorrect? (Certainly I must be Amalek for contemplating them — but I tend to question everything — including my own cultural conditioning and programming.)”

      Oy, no Sean, you’re not Amalek for contemplating them, and your preemptive defensiveness is telling.

      • Woody Tanaka
        April 10, 2014, 6:26 pm

        “But a good start would be to acknowledge historical antisemitism, and to leave Jews alone for once in history, instead of projecting the collective insecurities of guilt-ridden Europeans with their colonialist and genocidalist past, onto Israel.”

        What does the one have to do with the other? Does the history of the Jews give them license to oppress another people? Do Africans, for example, with their history of oppression, have license to, say, invade Fiji and oppress the Fijians or invade the Southern Cone and drive half of the Chileans into Argentina, and then when called to cease their oppression, do they get to respond by spewing nonsensical garbage about the speaker’s insecurity and guilt-ridden Europeans??

        Or is it, perhaps, that you are using the memory of those Jews who suffered antisemitic acts in the past in lands far from Palestine as a way of excusing the bad acts committed by the Israelis today, not because of any cosmic or moral squaring of accounts, but because you simply don’t want to find the criticisms of the Israelis to be valid because you believe that the cruelty and barbarism of the Israelis benefits Jews and you favor that, the cost to other people be damned?

        Because the way I see it, once one recognizes and acknowledges the history of antisemitism and the history of bigotry and hatred and prejudice against all those who have suffered for it, as one should, then one should be obligated to not just say, “this should not happen again to Jews” but “this should not happen again to anyone.” And that includes Palestinians.

      • seanmcbride
        April 10, 2014, 8:01 pm

        hophmi,

        To my question — “Is never-ending conflict with ethnic outsiders baked into the core assumptions of Judaism?” — you replied, no.

        The Torah is one long series of cultural and military wars against other peoples and nations; Simon Schama’s recent five-part series The Story of the Jews extends that narrative through the last few millennia of history to the present; and Israel (the self-described official representative of “the Jewish people”) currently seems to be in a state of serious conflict with nearly everyone (especially Europe and the United States lately).

        You are not addressing this issue in satisfactory way, in my opinion.

        There is something interesting going on here that merits close inspection, and it is summed up in this single brief quote:

        In each and every generation they rise up against us to destroy us. And the Holy One, blessed be He, rescues us from their hands.

      • seanmcbride
        April 10, 2014, 8:06 pm

        hophmi,

        To my point — “Should supposed universalist ethical and moral values be framed in terms of ethnic nationalism and ethnic conflict?” — you replied: “Want to parse that question out? If it’s universalist, then it cannot be framed in terms of nationalism or ethnicity, period.”

        I agree. If Judaism intends to survive as a universalist religion it will probably need to distance itself from ethnic nationalism (Zionism and Israel). All nations are notoriously defective in respecting and honoring universal ethical and moral values — it’s the way of the world.

      • hophmi
        April 11, 2014, 11:30 am

        “The Torah is one long series of cultural and military wars against other peoples and nations”

        No, it is not. Part of it is, of course. But most of what we know as modern Judaism is based on the Talmud and legal works since that time, and very little is drawn from these biblical wars.

        “Israel (the self-described official representative of “the Jewish people”) currently seems to be in a state of serious conflict with nearly everyone ”

        Oh please. They’re not a state of serious conflict with anyone except the Palestinians. They’ve signed peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt. They’ve withdrawn from Lebanon. They’ve had a long armistice with Syria. So the idea that they’re in a state of serious conflict is belied by the facts.

        “You are not addressing this issue in satisfactory way, in my opinion.”

        I’m not out to satisfy you. As usual, I simply do not agree with your presumptions and assumptions.

        “There is something interesting going on here that merits close inspection, and it is summed up in this single brief quote:”

        It’s a liturgical quote. It’s a reason to be thankful for deliverance. It’s not a organizing principle of the existence of most of the world’s Jews in the way you’d like it to be. Jews who mistrust the world around them do so for historical reasons, not because of a quote in the Torah. They are no different than anyone else in that regard. Muslims in the Middle East are far more intense in their mistrust of the world around them. It is not primarily because of the Qu’ran, even though you could cull plenty of Quranic quotes to support such a worldview. It is because of the history of colonialism in the region and the historical decline of Islamic rule in the past few centuries. Russians are the same way. It’s because of their history of being invaded militarily and culturally, not because of some religious text. Even some Americans have this tendency.

        “All nations are notoriously defective in respecting and honoring universal ethical and moral values — it’s the way of the world.”

        Certainly a true statement. But true for all nations, not just Israel, and much truer for nations other than Israel.

      • seanmcbride
        April 11, 2014, 1:59 pm

        hophmi,

        To my remark — “Israel (the self-described official representative of “the Jewish people”) currently seems to be in a state of serious conflict with nearly everyone” — you replied — “Oh please. They’re not a state of serious conflict with anyone except the Palestinians.”

        Israel isn’t in a state of conflict with Europe, the United States (John Kerry), Iran, the United Nations, and on and on? Apparently you haven’t been following the news.

        Look at yourself, hophmi — you are entirely bogged down in political and cultural warfare with your ethnic (and ethnic nationalist) enemies here on Mondoweiss. You are so firmly ensconced inside your ethnocentric and ethnic xenophobic bubble that you are completely unaware of how out of sync you are with most Americans and with most of humanity.

        Most of us are not obsessed with waging endless battles against our ethnic enemies. We do not define ourselves in those terms. We’ve evolved beyond the ethno-religious nationalist phase of human civilization.

        Have you thought much about the cultural conditioning and programming that has formed your outlook on the world and propelled you on your current confrontational path with so many people over your ethnic identity? That must be a terrible mental burden to carry.

      • seanmcbride
        April 11, 2014, 2:17 pm

        hophmi,

        PBS just broadcast a five-part series, The Story of the Jews, in which Simon Schama depicted thousands of years of Jewish history as one long sequence of conflicts between “the Jews” and “the nations” (more than a dozen of them, from ancient Egypt to 20th century Germany). Are you claiming that Schama got it wrong?

        To come back to my original point: this xenophobic model of the world — one which posits eternal conflict between a divinely chosen nation and all other nations — is baked into the founding documents of Judaism. Perhaps this ideology needs to be reworked and revised from the ground up. Enlightenment Jews came to that conclusion and developed Reform Judaism — but Reform Judaism has since been swallowed whole by Zionism.

        As Robert Cohen noted:

        This [Passover] is our story told as one long pogrom.

        It is a passage that reinforces the sense of the Jews under perennial siege all the way from biblical mythology to modern history. From the tribe of Amalek trying to thwart the slaves’ escape from Egypt, to Haman’s planned genocide of the Jews of Persia in the story of Esther, to Adolf Hitler’s near success in making the European continent ‘Judenrein’

        In every generation there is always another Pharaoh who is out to get the Jews.

        It’s not difficult to understand how this idea repeated each year, at what is still the most widely observed Jewish festival, has profound emotional consequences for the Jewish imagination.

  3. pabelmont
    April 10, 2014, 12:13 pm

    A little pilpul.

    Let “all who are hungry” come and eat. And what means “all”? Does it mean “all Jews” or does it mean “all people”? How shall we know?

    But wait! Later we read “the Holy One, blessed be He, rescues us from their hands.” It says “us” and “their”. This establishes an us/them and thus an us/all distinction.

    It did not say “all of us who are hungry” (come and eat). So it must mean “all people who are hungry, Jewish or Palestinian, or others.” It must also mean “all strangers” for we were strangers in Egypt. And today there are strangers, black Africans in Israel (as well as Palestinians outside Israel yearning to go home) who need to be “fed” (spiritually and bodily nourished and cared for).

    Well, glad we got that out of the way. Whew! I don’t do this sort of argument often. I’m trained to mathematics and law, not Talmud. And, so, maybe I got it wrong. Maybe the authors of these fine words only meant “Let all Jews who are hungry come and eat”. After all, Jews were (most of the time and in most places) not well fixed (or even well disposed) to invite all strangers to their tables.

    Today, in Israel, there seems little disposition to invite the strangers (or the exiles) into people’s homes (even and particularly if these people are the original owners of the said homes, but I digress).

    So, once again, it seems perpetually, the Jews need to be rescued. sometimes from other people’s bad acts, and sometimes from their own.

    Let it be so (Amen).

    • Walid
      April 10, 2014, 1:54 pm

      ““Let all who are hungry, come and eat; let all who are needy come and celebrate Passover.”

      … This is the Jewish voice of welcome, of empathy. ”

      Isn’t this invitation and welcome intended for Jews only? My understanding of things as they were back then (at least at the time of Jesus) was that Jews were not supposed to break bread with non-Jews. I gathered this from the huge commotion about this between Paul and Peter about Jewish Christians versus gentile Christians first at Antioch and later at Jerusalem. For Paul, circumcised or not, everyone was welcome at his table while Peter insisted on eating only with the circumcised ones.

      • Stephen Shenfield
        April 10, 2014, 8:22 pm

        “Let all who are hungry, come and eat; let all who are needy come and celebrate Passover.” This is supposed to be called out by the master of the household after opening the front door, so it can be heard by any traveler in the vicinity who is far from home and will appreciate being welcomed in for the Pesach Seder. As for many centuries Jews lived in their own Jewish areas the traveler can be assumed to be Jewish. What would a Gentile traveler be doing in the Jewish ghetto or shtetl and why would he be interested in celebrating Passover?

      • Walid
        April 11, 2014, 7:51 am

        “What would a Gentile traveler be doing in the Jewish ghetto or shtetl and why would he be interested in celebrating Passover?”

        Lived 5 years in a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood, although not a ghetto, and nobody ever opened the door to invite me to a seder and I would have been very interested.

        From the way you described it, invitations were limited to Jews.

      • Stephen Shenfield
        April 11, 2014, 8:32 pm

        I was thinking of the Middle Ages. Perhaps in those days the master of the house really did open the door and call out, as the Haggadah says he should (I have never heard of anyone actually doing it nowadays). If a non-Jewish stranger responded to the call would he have been welcomed? I very much doubt it. So yes, you are right: the invitation was limited to Jews.

        The Jews are “a people who dwell apart.” The dietary laws, for instance, are designed to prevent Jews and Gentiles from eating and socializing together. There are always a few mavericks who defy the customs of their tribe, but that is the general rule.

        Judaism is a tribal religion. Passover, Purim, Chanukah etc. are tribal commemorations. Their main purpose is to cement the tribe, and the presence of outsiders would undermine that purpose.

        It is understandable that Jewish self-segregation should upset non-Jews, and especially those like yourself who would most like to be friends with Jews. It is sad and I am sorry if your feelings have been hurt. But it is functional in the sense that it preserves the tribe. Even the negative reactions that it produces are functional in that sense, up to a certain point.

        But why seek to preserve the tribe? Surely there are better goals to pursue. And in today’s world tribal identity can only be preserved by desperate and dangerous means. That has become the main rationale for Zionism — a necessary means for preserving the tribe.

        Once a Jew starts thinking along those lines, he or she has started the journey away from tribalism and Judaism (and not only away from Zionism). The journey away from being a Jew to being a human being who happens to be of Jewish origin.

        Others will disagree. And I admit that Judaism contains the potential to change into a religion for all human beings (what is called a universal religion). Christianity, Hellenic Judaism, and in modern times the most far-reaching forms of Reform Judaism have all been movements in that direction. But if such a movement succeeds it is no longer called Judaism but something else, because the very word Judaism is linked to the tribe called Jews.

      • yonah fredman
        April 14, 2014, 3:50 am

        Walid- Many Jews invite nonJews to their seders. Usually these guests are friends, maybe even close friends, rather than strangers.

      • seafoid
        April 14, 2014, 5:06 am

        “Let all who are hungry, come and eat; let all who are needy come and celebrate Passover.”

        Is that not more a Middle East thing? In Cairo, rich Muslims pay for Iftar feasts in the street during Ramadan and everyone is welcome to dig in.

      • Walid
        April 14, 2014, 7:38 am

        “Is that not more a Middle East thing?”

        A sharing custom most probably picked up from the Jews in 622 AD when the first Muslims at Medina started commemorating the Yom Kippur with the Jews that they termed “Ashura” ( Hebrew “Asor”) and at which time they were still praying 3 times daily facing Jerusalem, like the Jews. Later, Jerusalem was dropped for Mecca and fasting was raised to a full the full lunar month of Ramadan that fell at another part of the year. One of the purposes behind the fast is to remember the plight of the poor, such as with the iftar for the others that you mentioned. At Adha commemorating the aborted sacrifice by Abraham, 2/3 of the substituted sheep that is slaughtered has to be donated to others that must include the poor.

      • seafoid
        April 14, 2014, 8:55 am

        I thought it might have more to do with Middle East hospitality as well as the Muslim insistence on charity.

    • AbigailOK
      April 13, 2014, 2:15 pm

      Hear hear, what beautiful words! Let all who are hungry come and eat.

      I have gotten some immensely inspiring haggadot (yes, online if we use them we are up all night (……) or plain helpful remembrances of people who are entitled to freedom but are not. That certainly does not stop with Jews certainly not in today’s world.

      http://www.truah.org/resources-91356/holidays/passover.html
      http://www.truah.org/images/refugee_seder_2014_supplementFINAL.pdf
      (Refugees/asylum seekers and not in Israel alone but certainly there too, often locked up in prisons where they do not get enough to eat and treatment is bad!)
      http://www.truah.org/images/Haggadah_Supplement_final.pdf (mass incarcerated African-Americans and Latinos)
      http://www.truah.org/images/Tomato_on_Seder_Plate_2014.pdf (workers in the fields picking tomatoes are treated as slaves)
      http://www.jews-onthechocolatetrail.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/A-Haggadah-for-a-Chocolate-Seder.pdf (slavery on cocoa plantations)
      http://ijvcanada.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/hagadah_jvp_final_2012.pdf
      http://ijvcanada.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/jvp_hagaddah_insert_hp_2014.pdf
      http://ijvcanada.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/love-and-justice-haggadah.pdf

      And a nice YouTube clip asking you to divest from Hewlett-Packard and why. http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/campaigns/hewlett-packard-harming-peace

  4. edwards
    April 10, 2014, 12:19 pm

    I’m intrigued by the “rising up against us” phrase. Nobody “rises up” against the oppressed. Can somebody help me understand?

    • yonah fredman
      April 10, 2014, 5:21 pm

      edwards- Rising up against us, is a mediocre translation. In every generation they stand over us to wipe us out, would be a more literal translation. But let us adjust to the history of events. Quite often the murder of Jews was a rebellion against authority. The Jews were prominent as tax collectors for the Poles against the Ukranians, thus the murder of Jews was a rising up against a class of oppressor, which involved mass murders, but to the Ukranians, the offense of the Jews was one of oppression, that was handled through bloodshed and murder of innocents.

      • W.Jones
        April 10, 2014, 5:52 pm

        Dear Yonah,

        As you know, the idea of a leader “rising up” is a common Biblical term. If you believe that ‘stand over’ is a better translation, can you please say what the Hebrew is?

        I note that it elsewhere says “tyrants fall but others rise to take their place.” Naturally, “stand over” is incorrect.

        Edwards is correct. The natural idea is that at some point they are not oppressed, but someone will rise up to do that. In any case, Moses’ law predicts protection in return for obedience, meaning that the tyrants would not be an actual threat so long as people were following God and His law.

      • Naftush
        April 11, 2014, 2:40 am

        The Hebrew is plain: עומדים עלינו לכלותנו, literally “standing over us to exterminate us.” An act of oppression/repression, not uprising.

      • edwards
        April 10, 2014, 6:25 pm

        Thanks for the alternative translation, and also the historical reference.

        It’s telling that the existence of Israel does not prompt someone to remove this gloomy passage. Or is someone still “standing over us” in the year 2014? And if so, who?

      • Stephen Shenfield
        April 10, 2014, 8:47 pm

        I agree but only partly. The key phrase is amad aleinu. Amad means stand, also in the sense of persist. Aleinu is translated as some preposition (which preposition depends on the context) + “us”. In many contexts it is “to us”. Here I think “stand against us” is best. Both “rising up” (from below) and “stand over us” (above us) have implications that are absent from the Hebrew.

      • W.Jones
        April 11, 2014, 9:52 am

        OK. Psalm 3:1 says: How many rise up against me! – qamim alay.

  5. seafoid
    April 10, 2014, 1:02 pm

    Today’s Angel of Death flies an F16 and identifies his victims by their pass issued by the Israeli government.

    • Walid
      April 10, 2014, 2:01 pm

      The angel has grown lazy; now he sends in the robotic drones to do his killing and he doesn’t take out only the first-borns but also the second, the third, the fourth, both parents and a few neighbours that happen to be nearby.

      • seafoid
        April 10, 2014, 4:58 pm

        And Pharaoh owns casinos in Macau and is still a cruel bastard.

      • tree
        April 10, 2014, 5:02 pm

        Damn those first-born for “cowardly blending” with their family and friends!

    • RoHa
      April 11, 2014, 7:58 am

      Killing Gentiles is how God liberates Jews. F16s, drones, angel of death – they all work. Just celebrate!

      • eljay
        April 11, 2014, 9:08 am

        >> Killing Gentiles is how God liberates Jews. F16s, drones, angel of death – they all work. Just celebrate!

        In the words of one “liberal Zionist”: “The nakba that occurred in 1948 was accompanied by the independence, the liberation, of the Jewish community. So, I primarily celebrate … “

      • Yitzgood
        April 11, 2014, 10:49 am

        Killing Gentiles is how God liberates Jews. F16s, drones, angel of death – they all work. Just celebrate!

        Why isn’t this an example of anti-Semitism? Just curious.

      • RoHa
        April 12, 2014, 12:25 pm

        I don’t know whether it is anti-Semitic or not.
        Passover is frequently referred to as a liberation of the Jews, and the story the Jews tell is that it was brought about by God slaughtering Gentile first born. Israel is referred to as a liberation of the Jews, and there is no doubt it involved slaughtering Gentiles, though not everyone agrees that God had a hand in it.
        So what is it that worries you?
        It surely cannot be the case that you are more concerned with possible anti-Semtism than actual slaughter of Gentiles.

  6. American
    April 10, 2014, 1:47 pm

    ”The world will never accept us, so the theory goes, so we must have our own state in our own land where we can live in safety and normalcy. ”

    Self-fulfilling Prophecy

    [The term “self-fulfilling prophecy” (SFP) was coined in 1948 by Robert Merton to describe “a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the originally false conception come true”

    SFP is a particular type of dynamic process. To count as SFP, a belief must have consequences of a peculiar kind: consequences that make reality conform to the initial belief.

    The actors within the process—or at least some of them—fail to understand how their own belief has helped to construct the resulting reality; because their belief is eventually validated, they assume that it had been true at the outset.

    • seanmcbride
      April 10, 2014, 4:21 pm

      American,

      This hits the bull’s-eye:

      Self-fulfilling Prophecy

      The term “self-fulfilling prophecy” (SFP) was coined in 1948 by Robert Merton to describe “a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the originally false conception come true.”

      SFP is a particular type of dynamic process. To count as SFP, a belief must have consequences of a peculiar kind: consequences that make reality conform to the initial belief.

      The actors within the process—or at least some of them—fail to understand how their own belief has helped to construct the resulting reality; because their belief is eventually validated, they assume that it had been true at the outset.

      If you organize your culture around an ideology which posits eternal conflict between yourself and other ethnic groups, peoples and nations (“the nations,” collectively), it is safe to say that you will perpetually generate the situations that you imagine.

      What could be more obvious?

      Xenophobic ideologies are powerfully self-reinforcing. Modify the ideology and you will probably succeed in modifying the repeated pattern of negative social interactions.

      Fear of “the other” has traditionally been an effective tool exercised by self-appointed priesthoods for maintaining cult cohesion and keeping followers in line. Xenophobic cults require an endless stream of enemies to survive.

      • yonah fredman
        April 10, 2014, 4:57 pm

        seanmcbride- This doesn’t apply to you, but those who never met or heard of a Jew hater they didn’t approve of, suddenly blaming all the Jew hating on the self fulfilling prophecy theory of Jew hatred really have no credibility.

      • hophmi
        April 10, 2014, 5:01 pm

        Ditto. People in lots of generations hate the Jews. The Jews say people seem to always hate them, so they need a safe space. Therefore, the Jews must be engaging in a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s a bit circular. It’s a nice way to ignore the actual Jewish experience, and substitute instead this self-fulfilling prophecy nonsense.

        Anyway, I’ve had enough experience with Sean to know that Sean is not interested in debating so much as asking rhetorical questions, and then throwing a tantrum if you don’t agree with the answers.

      • seanmcbride
        April 10, 2014, 7:30 pm

        yonah fredman,

        Does it strike you as a reasonable observation that ideologies which organize their beliefs around perpetual conflict with enemies of a particular type will find themselves embroiled in endless conflicts with those enemies?

        Isn’t this one of those “elementary, my dear Watson” insights? Self-evident?

        For instance, Marxists and Communists envisioned themselves as being locked in a messianic long war with capitalists — and, of course, they remained bogged down in an endless series of conflicts with capitalists — until they were decisively defeated.

        Your thoughts?

        What is your take on dualist/binary ontologies and belief systems in general — and on their role in generating self-fulfilling prophecies?

      • seanmcbride
        April 10, 2014, 7:45 pm

        yonah fredman,

        In the matter of religious ideologies, we are basically dealing with three groups: creators, leaders/curators and followers. Creators of religions are interesting; leaders and curators (priesthoods) much less so; and followers are of little interest at all — they are programmed bots, mechanically following a prepared script. They are underwater; sleepwalking; not fully developed individuals.

        Would you agree?

        By the way, what does this statement mean to you? How do you interpret it? Who are “they”? What motivates them? Why does this occur “in each and every generation”?

        In each and every generation they rise up against us to destroy us. And the Holy One, blessed be He, rescues us from their hands.

        This was the main theme of Simon Schama’s The Story of the Jews — a few of “the enemies of the Jews” mentioned by Schama:

        1. Arabs
        2. Assyrians
        3. Babylonians
        4. Christians
        5. Egyptians
        6. English
        7. Europeans
        8. French
        9. Germans
        10. Greeks
        11. Iranians
        12. Iraqis
        13. Muslims
        14. Palestinians
        15. pagans
        16. Persians
        17. Poles
        18. Protestants
        19. Roman Catholics
        20. Romans
        21. Russians
        22. Spaniards
        23. Syrians
        24. Ukrainians

        Why so many enemies in every generation and place from ancient Egypt to 2014? Schama made no effort to explain what is propelling this narrative over millennia. One reasonable explanation: the core ideology is the main driver: this is precisely the historical pattern that it imagined from its origins.

      • yonah fredman
        April 11, 2014, 5:03 pm

        seanmcbride- As far as the line from the Hagadda- In recent times: meaning Europe 1881-1953 (extended from 1945 to include Stalin’s end of life anti Jewish paroxysms) the persecution of the Jews by nations is a historical fact that needs no embellishment. The recent history of American Jews is utilized to prove that 1881-1953 was an aberrant period or an irrelevant period, but certainly from the aspect of history, the idea that I am supposed to dismiss the line from the hagadda or the facts of 1881-1953 in order to satisfy you and your silly lists, is ridiculous. I do not teach the children (my nieces and nephews) that Jew hatred is inevitable and the hagadda lines quoted here are not my favorite. But any real study of recent Jewish history would not dismiss the 1881-1953 period as irrelevant, aberrant or self fulfilling and would instead ask, what caused such a violent reaction to the existence/presence of the Jews during that period. What about the change of modernity led to a sick, virulent form of hate? What about nationality, Europe and religion brought up such a sick mix during that period? And why can’t intelligent people discuss the issue without casting about for self fulfilling prophecies, when clearly such theories are insufficient and there was something about the emergence of Christian European societies into modernity that thrust them into a crisis that resulted in such sickness.

      • American
        April 10, 2014, 7:57 pm

        @ yonah

        Actually you are a good example of that self fulfilling prophecy.
        You believe and expect the majority of people to be Jew haters.
        So that attitude towards people makes people not like you.
        Which you then say is because you are a Jew and they are a anti semite.

      • Pixel
        April 11, 2014, 7:35 am

        An African-American colleague of mine is currently reasearching the concept of “presumed racisim”. She came to believe that it had immense negative power.

        Whatever we presume about someone becomes the filter through which judge /project ourselves onto their words and actions, even before they’ve said or done anything.

      • American
        April 11, 2014, 2:48 pm

        yonah fredman says:

        April 10, 2014 at 4:57 pm
        seanmcbride- This doesn’t apply to you, but those who never met or heard of a Jew hater they didn’t approve of, suddenly blaming all the Jew hating on the self fulfilling prophecy theory of Jew hatred really have no credibility.>>>>>

        Here is the difference between the Jewish ‘tribal ‘ kind of mindset
        and the mindset of non Jewish others.
        Most people understand, admit to and recognize, even in themselves the old truism of ..’ getting what you give’.
        That if you act a certain way or have certain attitudes toward people then those people will return the same attitude towards you.
        Your kind wont admit that about themselves.
        Because of your extreme tribal narcissism you cant grasp how “human nature” works.

      • hophmi
        April 14, 2014, 10:12 am

        “That if you act a certain way or have certain attitudes toward people then those people will return the same attitude towards you.
        Your kind wont admit that about themselves.”

        Yes, the paleoconservatives have been deluding themselves for a long time. Keith seems to be a case in point, fabricating quotes about Einstein and all.

      • talknic
        April 14, 2014, 11:55 am

        @ hophmi “Yes, the paleoconservatives have been deluding themselves for a long time. Keith seems to be a case in point, fabricating quotes about Einstein and all”

        Or copying without checking. https://www.google.com.au/search?q=%E2%80%9Cantagonistic%20attitude%20produced%20in%20the%20non-Jew%20by%20the%20Jewish%20group.%20The%20Jewish%20group%20has%20thrived%20on%20oppression%22%20-wikipedia

        Meanwhile the Israeli Government and its spokespersons amongst their thousands of blatant lies and crimes against International Law and the UN Charter, claim Israel didn’t have any declared borders in 1948 … http://wp.me/PDB7k-Y#ignorance

      • W.Jones
        April 10, 2014, 5:55 pm

        After 2001, many Americans were asking “why do they hate us?” and our government settled on “for our freedom”. I would not be surprised if America was not the only culture whose establishment answered these kinds of questions this way.

      • Walid
        April 14, 2014, 1:14 pm

        W. Jones, that was a stupid question by a stupid person to which he gave a stupid answer.

      • American
        April 10, 2014, 8:29 pm

        @ sean

        They cannot advance without enemies.
        What was the title of the book I am thinking of about the US?…something about ‘War Defines Us’ or makes us who we are?

        I think the world being their enemy is what propels them in what they do, beat the WASP, beat the Arab enemy, beat the goys, beat the world….their ‘striving’ and success is always about beating someone, being more than the others.
        Terrible way to live to have resentment and enemies as what inspires and drives you in life .
        You see that all the time in the way Zionist talk.

        Israel is the perfect example of a SFP.

      • hophmi
        April 12, 2014, 5:37 pm

        Lol. Only an antisemite would put it this way. Many cultures have faced oppression, for sure. Jews have long tried to overcome oppression by striving to be better than their oppressors. So you characterize it as “trying to beat the world.”

        This is exactly how classical antisemites talk, using pronouns like “they” and claiming that Jews are always out to “beat” everyone. Disgusting. This entire discussion should give Phil an idea of just how his blog is a magnet for bigots.

      • eljay
        April 14, 2014, 12:52 pm

        >> This is exactly how classical antisemites talk, using pronouns like “they” and claiming that Jews are always out to “beat” everyone. Disgusting. This entire discussion should give Phil an idea of just how his blog is a magnet for bigots.

        I see that hophmeee has conveniently overlooked the fact that this blog site has attracted Zio-supremacist bigots who – in addition to defending and justifying past and on-going Jewish (war) crimes and Jewish supremacism – use pronouns like “they” and claim that non-Jews (especially Palestinians / Arabs / Muslims) want nothing more than to kill Jews. Disgusting.

  7. Yitzgood
    April 10, 2014, 3:51 pm

    The passage in question begins “This is what stood by us.” If you start from “in every generation” it changes the stress. Also, there are many hagaddah commentaries, some by classic commentators. Also, “anyone who is hungry” in “hey lachma anya” may have to do with not eating the Passover offering on an empty stomach. Jews are commanded to give charity to the non-Jewish poor (See Maimonides, Laws of Kings, I think), but that is probably not what is being discussed here. I am in the midst of Passover preparations, so I may not have time to follow-up, but approach this subject with a little humility. In fact, that’s an appropriate stance for any treasure-house of information one has never explored, not just the haggadah. To anyone here who celebrates Pesach: chag kasher vesameiach!

  8. Les
    April 10, 2014, 4:28 pm

    Don’t forget the famous painting that celebrates Passover, “The Last Supper.”

    • chuckcarlos
      April 10, 2014, 7:01 pm

      and you can see where that got him, huh?

      Shlomo Sand said somewhere…he was for the two state solution for Israelis were just too racist to live with the Muslims…don’t know and don’t concern me none I figure…

      all this mythology in the JudeoChristian world is just to much to fathom…and since most of it is horseshit anyways…

      anyway, the world is going in the other direction with the guy who sits under the Banyan Tree and accepts everybody…or so says Richard Gere…but they ain’t perfect either but a damn site better than what came out of the MidEast…

      “After supper she got out her Bible and taught me all about Moses and the
      Bulrushers. I was pretty excited to hear about him, until she told me that he’d been dead a long time. After that, I didn’t really care to hear more, since I’m not interested in dead people. ” Huck

    • Walid
      April 14, 2014, 1:25 pm

      Not many give a thought or know what was on the table to be eaten. Even Leonardo didn’t know because he got all his foodstuff wrong; The gathering was for a Passover Seder, the rest is easy.

  9. seanmcbride
    April 10, 2014, 9:06 pm

    There is an interesting discussion of this passage:

    In each and every generation they rise up against us to destroy us. And the Holy One, blessed be He, rescues us from their hands.

    at Chabad.org:

    [Why Do They Want to Kill Us? http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/936148/jewish/Why-Do-They-Want-to-Kill-Us.htm ]

    And see: [Text of the Passover Haggadah http://www.sichosinenglish.org/cgi-bin/calendar?holiday=pesach11101 ]

    Also: [Google; In each and every generation they rise up against us to destroy us. And the Holy One, blessed be He, rescues us from their hands http://www.google.com/#q=In+each+and+every+generation+they+rise+up+against+us+to+destroy+us.+And+the+Holy+One,+blessed+be+He,+rescues+us+from+their+hands ]

  10. palijustice
    April 11, 2014, 11:52 am

    Since the creation of Israel, it’s been the Jews who have been systematically working to ethnically cleanse, oppress and persecute non Jews. This is the new reality that is being ignored by most Jews, and even non Jews.

  11. W.Jones
    April 11, 2014, 2:34 pm

    In the Bible, it is interesting that the prophets like to attack the Middle Eastern deities, including the Babylonian ones, but the Egyptian deities are never mentioned, as far as I know. Nor are the Persians’. Yet Persia and Egypt play major roles in the Old Testament. I think this may be because Israel was politically under Egypt, either directly or indirectly.

    Lebanon and Persia get sympathetic portrayals in the Bible. Lebanon helped build the Temple, and Persia’s king is a prophetic image of the Messiah.

  12. seanmcbride
    April 12, 2014, 10:49 am

    yonah fredman,

    (Again, the Reply button is missing so I will add my comment here.)

    You are not dealing with the reality that antisemitism has been a permanent feature of human history, in all times and places, since the founding of Judaism. Jews have been bogged down in an endless series of culture wars (clashes of civilizations) with dozens of nations and peoples since the era of Moses to the present day. This is the organizing theme, for instance, of Simon Schama’s The Story of the Jews.

    Modern European and Christian antisemitism is just one segment of a timeline that extends for thousands of years in many settings — not just European and Christian.

    The main point is that this narrative of perpetual conflict between “the chosen nation” (Israel) and “the nations” (all non-Jewish peoples) defines the ideological core of Judaism as expressed in the Torah, Passover, Hanukkah, Purim and other elements of the Jewish tradition.

    Most reasonable people might conclude that the core ideological beliefs in this tradition are playing a key role in producing the pattern of historical conflict that they envisioned and enshrined from their original conception.

    What in the world could be more obvious?

    Your thoughts?

    Keith just posted some lucid thoughts on this topic, especially the Albert Einstein quote. One presumes that you don’t think that Einstein is antisemitic for having spoken the simple truth on this issue — or do you?

    • hophmi
      April 12, 2014, 4:26 pm

      “Keith just posted some lucid thoughts on this topic, especially the Albert Einstein quote. One presumes that you don’t think that Einstein is antisemitic for having spoken the simple truth on this issue – or do you?”

      No, Keith’s just lying, that’s all. And because you’re an antisemite, you bought it hook, line, and sinker.

      Keith claims that Einstein was quoted as saying the following: ““Anti-Semitism is nothing but the antagonistic attitude produced in the non-Jew by the Jewish group. The Jewish group has thrived on oppression and on the antagonism it has forever met in the world. The root cause is their use of enemies they create in order to keep solidarity.”

      He did not. In the November 26, 1938 issue of Collier’s, Einstein wrote a long, fantastic piece on subject of antisemitism, called “Why Do They Hate the Jews?”

      In the article, the first two sentences of this quote appear, not together, but in different places. The first is a simple definition. The second is the thesis statement of a paragraph on how Jews use the oppression as a stimulus to strive to do better. The third sentence, claiming that the root cause of antisemitism is some Jewish need to create enemies, is a total fabrication, and appears nowhere in the piece. The fabrication is obvious to non-bigots, of course; Einstein never would have said anything like that. But if you’re an antisemite, it’s not obvious. It’s a lie, Sean, and you and Keith both fell for it.

      The first part of the article may be found here:

      http://www.unz.org/Pub/Colliers-1938nov26

      The second part is here; you have to advance to page 38.

      http://www.unz.org/Pub/Colliers-1938nov26-00024

      • hophmi
        April 12, 2014, 7:52 pm

        Put through, please.

      • hophmi
        April 13, 2014, 2:39 pm

        Why has my comment not been put through yet? It is almost 24 hours.

      • Keith
        April 14, 2014, 5:08 pm

        HOPHMI- Who are you calling a fabricator, liar and anti-Semite? Apparently, my Einstein quote had an incorrect third sentence. The first two sentences, however, seem to be accurate. I was making a comment based upon the information I had available. I don’t feel the need to go to primary sources to verify every single quote, an impossible standard which you hardly hold yourself to. The essential point being that anti-Semitism is to a significant degree encouraged by historical Jewish hostility to Gentiles. Witness your reaction to my use of the quote. Rather than simply providing a correction, you take the opportunity to smear me as a liar and anti-Semite, totally unjustified but consistent with the Mondoweiss culture. It doesn’t take much to be called an anti-Semite here.

        Speaking of Mondoweiss culture, it is a whole different experience than what I was used to. Prior to beginning commenting in 2010, I had never personally witnessed anti-Semitism, nor been called an anti-Semite. My personal experience with Jews had been non-eventful. They were mostly secular, I am secular, just a bunch of middle class folks. It was a bit of a shock to be exposed to the aggressive venom of the power-seeking East Coast Askenazi who comment on Mondoweiss. It didn’t take long for a tribal anti-Zionist self appointed censor to accuse me anti-Semitic comments based upon my critique of Zionist power-seeking. Among you East Coast power-seekers, this type of behavior is considered appropriate, honest discussion to be avoided, control of the narrative the prime concern. Witness how my entire comment has been deleted based upon a one sentence error. Unlike you, I need to be careful what I say.

      • seanmcbride
        April 13, 2014, 9:00 pm

        These two passages from Einstein’s Collier’s essay (1938) are verifiably accurate:

        1. The formation of groups has an invigorating effect in all spheres of human striving, perhaps mostly due to the struggle between the convictions and aims represented by the different groups. The Jews, too, form such a group with a definite character of its own, and anti-Semitism is nothing but the antagonistic attitude produced in the non-Jews by the Jewish group. This is a normal social reaction.

        2. Perhaps even more than on its own tradition, the Jewish group has thrived on oppression and on the antagonism it has forever met in the world. Here undoubtedly lies one of the main reasons for its continued existence through so many thousands years.

        http://www.filosofiaesoterica.com/ler.php?id=1397#.U0sru1d1e4o

        You are right that Keith’s quote contains a single fraudulent sentence: “The root cause is their use of enemies they create in order to keep solidarity.” That sentence doesn’t appear in the Collier’s article.

        Einstein in a New York Times letter (1948) expressed his views on the Zionist faction which currently rules Israel (Likud):

        Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the “Freedom Party” (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.

        The current visit of Menachem Begin, leader of this party, to the United States is obviously calculated to give the impression of American support for his party in the coming Israeli elections, and to cement political ties with conservative Zionist elements in the United States. Several Americans of national repute have lent their names to welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin’s political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents.

        Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial contributions, public manifestations in Begin’s behalf, and the creation in Palestine of the impression that a large segment of America supports Fascist elements in Israel, the American public must be informed as to the record and objectives of Mr. Begin and his movement.

        The public avowals of Begin’s party are no guide whatever to its actual character. Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character; from its past actions we can judge what it may be expected to do in the future.

        Within the Jewish community they have preached an admixture of ultranationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority. Like other Fascist parties they have been used to break strikes, and have themselves pressed for the destruction of free trade unions. In their stead they have proposed corporate unions on the Italian Fascist model.

        During the last years of sporadic anti-British violence, the IZL and Stern groups inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community. Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting their children join them. By gangster methods, beatings, window-smashing, and wide-spread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and exacted a heavy tribute.

        https://archive.org/details/AlbertEinsteinLetterToTheNewYorkTimes.December41948

        Note carefully the language used and the charges lodged: Nazi, Fascist, ultranationalism, religious mysticism, racial superiority, terrorism, gangster methods, etc.

        With regard to main point in this thread — that the Passover ceremony expresses an ideological vision of perpetual conflict between “the chosen nation” (Israel, the Jewish people) and “the nations” (all other nations and peoples) — a historical pattern extending over millennia which Simon Schama documents in The Story of the Jews — there has been no rebuttal. That is the easily demonstrable truth.

        And this xenophobic attitude towards “the nations” has been rife in many thousands of comments made by pro-Israel activists over the last few decades — simply consult, for instance, the pages of leading Israeli publications for the evidence.

    • yonah fredman
      April 14, 2014, 4:08 am

      sean- The way Keith presented himself and the way you present yourself is not conducive to thought (by me) but to emotion as in: reacting against arrogance, but that is not something that attracts me this moment.

      The survival of the Jews throughout the years since the destruction of the temple in 70 amazes me. The conditions that existed in the earliest parts of this epoch and certainly those that predate 70 C.E. are really a bit distant for me to really assess. The attempt to turn the Talmud into a type of portable homeland, where Shabbat a day of the week, a time rather than a place, became the home of the Jewish people was a rather audacious attempt to defy the usual requirements of land and language.

      Because of my familiarity with Talmud and Tanach in the original languages, I attribute survival to the strength of the belief in the one God and the way of life that the Torah and the law provided for the Jew in their wandering. There is a type of tribal internalism, as in a nomad tribe that turns inward and does not allow the outside world to fully penetrate the private beliefs and studies and behaviors, that is central to Judaism, certainly in its travels around the globe.

      If you wish to discuss this, rather than posing, “nah, nah, nah, Einstein must be an anti semite according to you!” then might i suggest a different tone. This web site really is not friendly territory to those who consider Judaism a good thing and keith’s tone and your own merely exacerbate antagonisms rather than attempt to dialogue regarding attitudes and beliefs.

      If you enjoy typing your own opinion and then reading it here, keep up the mediocre work. If you are interested in finding out how others think, change your mode of dialogue to one of dialogue rather than taunting.

      • tree
        April 14, 2014, 4:34 am

        If you enjoy typing your own opinion and then reading it here, keep up the mediocre work. If you are interested in finding out how others think, change your mode of dialogue to one of dialogue rather than taunting.

        You might consider taking your own advice, yonah.

      • seafoid
        April 14, 2014, 5:17 am

        “This web site really is not friendly territory to those who consider Judaism a good thing ”

        Au contraire

        Judaism has so much potential post Zionism .
        The US gets by OK post Cheney !

      • yonah fredman
        April 14, 2014, 6:34 am

        seafoid- You are one of the friendlier voices here vis a vis Judaism. When some of your cohorts say, “Let Judaism disappear” you protest, “maybe some Jews like Judaism,” but your feeble protests aside, the predominant view here is “let Judaism disappear.” It is not unanimous, but it is predominant.

      • seafoid
        April 14, 2014, 7:08 am

        Yonah

        Judaism will get over Zionism.
        It can’t end in apartheid.

      • Walid
        April 14, 2014, 9:11 am

        “… the predominant view here is “let Judaism disappear.”

        yonah, I’ve yet to see anyone here calling for Judaism to disappear. Zionism, yes of course and the call for it to disappear is very predominant, but definitely not Judaism that’s being used as a host for the evil parasite.

      • Ellen
        April 14, 2014, 9:26 am

        Yonah, can you quote or cite any poster here who wrote such nonsense “let Judaism disappear?”

        I’ve never read anything like that on this blog.

      • ritzl
        April 14, 2014, 11:35 am

        Good one talknic. Ones of hits… :)

      • CloakAndDagger
        April 14, 2014, 12:23 pm

        @talknic

        link to google.com

        Holy crap, talknic! That is just brilliant! Here is a prime example of someone reusing the same tired old unfounded accusations despite having been debunked just in the last couple of years! I really believe that MW should make it a rule for posters to provide citations whenever they make maligning assertions like these.

  13. Boomer
    April 12, 2014, 12:15 pm

    The stories we tell ourselves, both individually and collectively, are indeed important. Thanks for helping to craft a better narrative.

  14. seanmcbride
    April 14, 2014, 11:52 am

    hophmi,

    Do you agree with Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt, Sidney Hook and other leading Jewish intellectuals who signed that famous New York Times letter that Likud Zionism constitutes a toxic mix of religious mysticism, racial supremacism, terrorism, gangsterism, ultranationalism, Fascism, Nazism, etc.?

    http://socioecohistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/albert-einstein-letter-to-the-new-york-times-december-4-1948-protesting-against-zionist-terrorist-leader-menachem-begin-and-the-genocide-of-palestinians/

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