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Despite media blackout, Christians not backing down on ‘draconian’ treatment in the holy land

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church of the holy sepulchre inside
Holy Fire ceremony, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

“[T]heir hatred of Christianity is the real thing, which sometimes bursts to surface.”

                                                                                                                     —–Yossi Gurvitz

When Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the graffiti sprayed on walls of The Church of the Dormition in Jerusalem over the weekend my ears pricked up, not for what he said, but for what he didn’t. The Israeli government has been curiously silent over a much more offensive action — the attack on Palestinian Christian worshipers trying to reach The Holy Fire ceremony at The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jesus’s Tomb, in the Old City of Jerusalem during one of the most sacred days on the Christian calendar. 

This is not going away anytime soon.

The Reverend Gradye Parsons, the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has sent a letter ”expressing concern over the recent violations of the rights and the physical abuse of Orthodox and other Christian worshippers in Jerusalem” to the United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, the Reverend Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook:

“The Holy Fire ceremony is one of the most important religious occasions in the life of Orthodox Christians. The ceremony takes place on the eve of the Orthodox celebration of Easter when a lamp in the tomb of Jesus at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is kindled. The flame is immediately passed by candles to thousands of worshippers. At this time an olive lamp is also lit and quickly transferred to the West Bank town of Bethlehem. The flame is then passed to other Orthodox Christian communities throughout the world.

In recent years access to this ceremony and other religious events taking place in the Old City of Jerusalem has become increasingly difficult for Christians living in the area. West Bank and Gaza Palestinians have extremely limited access to these sites and Jerusalem Palestinians are finding it harder to gain entry to places of worship even on the holiest days in their calendar. Access is controlled by a permit system administered by the Israeli government, a system which has been described as arbitrary and unduly restrictive of freedom of worship.

This year thousands of Israeli police officers were deployed on the eve of Orthodox Easter to provide security for the massive celebration. The security, however, became increasingly aggressive and a number of worshippers and clergy were beaten as they tried to make their way closer to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

…………………

This year’s actions are part of a pattern of increasingly aggressive actions by Israeli security forces dating back a decade or more. The US State Department International Religious Freedom Report, found ‘[p]referential treatment [was given] to Jews celebrating Passover and to international visitors making pilgrimages when the authorities enacted restrictions that impeded the activities of local Christians celebrating Easter. Jerusalem Christians had to pass through four police checkpoints before reaching the Church of the Holy Sepulcher; according to Christian advocates, pepper spray was used indiscriminately at the various checkpoints.’

The Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem have called for an end to such restrictive practices, demanding full access to the Holy sites during the Holy Weeks in both Christian calendars. Members of the local Palestinian community were even more passionate in their demands, with a Facebook group identified as Palestinian Christians calling on church leaders to ‘[s]ay a word of truth to the Israeli authorities. Let Christians reach freely their Church on the day of their feast.’”

Videos surfaced of Christian worshipers being brutally beaten. My curiosity has not dissipated. What policy, what audacity prompted the brutal efforts to prevent Palestinians from reaching The Church of the Holy Sepulcher on Holy Saturday? And the press has been curiously silent about an investigation that is allegedly taking place as a result of the violence which prompted Israel to issue an apology to Egypt. Quite curiously the Jerusalem police feigned clueless. But can one simply disappear the presence of thousands of security officers manning barriers blocking all entrances to the Old City?

After several attempts to elicit on the record accounts from Palestinian Christians  or be interviewed about what came down that day it became apparent a chill had set in, albeit off the record I have emails testifying worshipers were treated like “animals”. 

Hence I wrote a followup email to Yusef Daher from the Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre, to find out if there had, thus far, been any explanation forthcoming from this investigation. No, there has not. Then I speculated perhaps there was a media blackout surrounding the violence of the day. He wrote me back, on the record:

You are absolutely right
Israel and Israeli media just blacked on this
Now they are giving Christians permits for 3 months to shut them up. Christians who never had permits are getting. Imagine Bethlehem Parish applied for 1700 permits ..they received 2000!!

and the story goes on

Wow, 2000 permits. Is somebody is trying to make this go away quietly?

Why did Netanyahu make a public apology about graffiti sprayed on The Church of the Dormition in Jerusalem and an apology to Egypt, while no apology for thousands of Palestinian Christian worshipers been forthcoming?

This is not over. I’m looking forward to a response from the United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom to the letter sent by the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Maybe we can finally start getting some answers.

More from the letter:

While we wish to call these particular abridgements of religious freedom to your attention, we also want to express our growing concern over what appears to be the use of military permits to control/restrict the movement of visitors, including our fellow church-workers, many of whom have come to work with partners not only in Israel, but also in the West Bank. We have reported evidence that they have been required to sign affidavits that aver that they will not enter Area A or any area under Israeli occupational control without a special military permit, issued by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. Some who have signed the statement have been sent on their way without being fully informed as to how to get the military permit that will allow them to enter the West Bank and, as a result, are not able to do so.

These draconian measures not only create anxiety on the part of visitors and religious workers. They create a substantial barrier to the effort of members of the Christian community to fulfill their missions of humanitarian aid, compassion and support for our Palestinian partners.

We shall be most grateful if your office will inquire into these matters, which seem to us to be an egregious violation of religious freedom.

Sincerely yours,

Gradye Parsons

cc. Michael Oren, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S.

annie
About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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73 Responses

  1. DavidK
    DavidK on June 6, 2013, 2:30 pm

    This is all quite natural. The Haredim hate Christians. They regularly spit on monks and priests in Jeruselam. There are absolutely vile statements in the Talmud about Jesus and Mary not to mention the goyim. This intolerance of Christians is well documented in Israel Shahak’s book “Jewish Fundametalism in Israel” Pluto Press 1999. One point Shahak consistently make in his book is that you will only find these ideas printed in Hebrew. All of this nastyness and hate is left out or glossed over in English translations. Witness last summer the photos of MK Michael Ben-Ami tearing up a copy of the New Testament. I’d like to know how John Hagee rationalized that one. It’s quite ironic that these nut job Christians idolize Jews as there bestest friends but it’s Muslims actually revere Mary, who they refer to as Miriam, and consider Jesus as one of the great prophets.

    • Shmuel
      Shmuel on June 6, 2013, 3:47 pm

      you will only find these ideas printed in Hebrew. All of this nastyness and hate is left out or glossed over in English translations

      With the exception of the bits specifically pertaining to Christianity, all of the “nastiness” is there for everyone to see, in the Soncino translation (to name the best known English edition) of the Talmud. As for the Christianity stuff, you won’t find it in any of the standard Hebrew/Aramaic editions either, because those passages were expunged by Christian censors and never put back. They can be found in manuscripts and in a separate published volume (Hesronot ha-Shas), accessible to any scholar (but not studied in the Yeshivot). The censored passages are openly discussed in scholarly works in all of the major European languages.

      • DavidK
        DavidK on June 6, 2013, 5:09 pm

        I suppose at the time Shahak’s book was written it was thue. Thanks for the clarification.

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel on June 6, 2013, 6:18 pm

        The Soncino Talmud was published between 1935 and 1948.

      • Stogumber
        Stogumber on June 7, 2013, 7:11 am

        “In Christian countries, the Talmud and other Jewish law books were censored by Christian authorities, who believed that certain passages of those books contained insults to Christianity or Gentiles. The passages to be censored were compiled into a manuscript or manuscripts that also found their way as underground literature to Jews, known as Hesronot Shas (or Chesronot Shas). When it became possible to circulate unmutilated versions of the books, corrected editions were published. However, the older versions continue to exist and are reprinted. Therefore, the Hesronot Shas was published as a separate book to be used in conjunction with the censored versions of the books. ”
        (http://www.zionism-israel.com/dic/Hesronot_Shas.htm)

        Here we are told: “When it became possible to circulate unmutilated versions of the books, corrected editions were published.” This is at variance with your statement that the expunged passages were “never put back” and are not studied in Yeshivot. (The truth may perhaps be that some passages were put back and others, more embarassing ones, were not put back??)

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel on June 7, 2013, 7:29 am

        Stogumber,

        The edition of the Talmud used almost universally in the yeshivot and in general is the Vilna edition (Romm), originally published with authorisation from the Russian censors, in the late 19th century (most later printings are merely facsimiles of the original edition). The excised passages are not a secret, and anyone who wishes to do so may consult Hesronot ha-Shas or specialist editions (or scholarly books and articles in many different languages), but they are not studied as a matter of course in the yeshivot.

    • Daniel Rich
      Daniel Rich on June 6, 2013, 3:52 pm

      @ DavidK,

      off topic:

      I think Lewis Black explained it quite well in his The Bible Jews & Christians rant.

    • Hostage
      Hostage on June 6, 2013, 9:13 pm

      I don’t think there has ever been much of a problem in our generation in getting one’s hands on the redacted portions of the Talmud. There is a much more serious problem in obtaining the redacted portions of regular news articles from the everyday Hebrew press.

      Even the editors of Haaretz are guilty of purging embarrassing accounts or details from their English language edition.

    • talknic
      talknic on June 7, 2013, 12:15 am

      DavidK “The Haredim hate Christians. They regularly spit on monks and priests in Jeruselam”

      Is it common elsewhere or specific to Israel and the areas Israel occupies?

      • tree
        tree on June 7, 2013, 1:14 am

        I would assume its not common elsewhere these days but there is a history of some Orthodox Jews spitting on crosses or crucifixes in older times. That is probably what the Haredim in Israel are spitting at, not the monks and priests themselves but the crosses and crucifixes they wear. In Orthodox Judaism, it is a blasphemy to worship idols and that’s what a cross is to an Orthodox Jew. And of course it is blasphemy in the Christian faith to spit on the image of God or Christ. To my mind, this is the source of much of the original animosity between Judaism and Christianity– the reaction of the other is perceived as a blasphemy against their religion in each case.

        It was discussed here in the comment section from 2010 .

        http://mondoweiss.net/2010/01/settling-into-sheikh-jarrah.html#comment-140350

        Here’s a book quote from my earlier comment:

        “Arthur Miller, who was born in New York City in 1915, recalled that his maternal grandfather once instructed him “never to walk under a large lighted cross overhanging the sidewalk outside a Lenox Avenue church; if by accident I did, I must spit when I realized what I had done, in order to cleanse myself.”119 Expectoration as a form of protecting oneself from demons or to counteract magic is, of course, an ancient and widespread practice,120 but the instructions given by Miller’s grandfather also echo the responses of some medieval European Jews when forced to decide between conversion and death; Kalonymos of Bacharach “spat conspicuously upon an image of the Crucified One” befroe being killed, and his young female contemporary from Wurzberg “was brought into their place of idolatry in order to be defiled [baptized], but she sanctified the name of God and spat upon the abomination.” For medieval Jews and for many of their modern descendants, the cross, as we have seen, elicited not only fear but also disgust.”

        from page 185, “Reckless Rites: Purim and the legacy of Jewish violence” by Elliot S. Horowitz, an Associate Professor of Jewish History at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

        And here’s a few examples from commenter Eva Smagacz:

        Spitting is unpleasant, but does happen, it may have evolved as a amulet against bad things happening, although it is mentioned frequently in Bible.

        “As have all cultures, Jews have developed numerous superstitious practices applicable to a variety of occasions. The following are some of the most common:

        Spitting Three Times
        Whether done literally or figuratively (by saying “pooh, pooh, pooh”), spitting three times (a mystical number) is a classic response to something exceptionally evil or good. For centuries, Jews have performed this ritual in response to seeing, hearing, or learning of something terrible and as a prophylactic measure to prevent such a tragedy from happening or recurring.”

        http://www.myjewishlearning.com/beliefs/Issues/Magic_and_the_Supernatural/Practices_and_Beliefs/Popular_Superstitions.shtml

        And with Christian symbols being considered bad, the spitting w was common between Jews in Poland:

        “A Jew from Nowy Sącz recalled how mischievous Jewish children from cheders (religious schools) would beset pious, elderly Jews, show them two crossed fingers, and taunt them by calling out, “a tsailim” (Hebrew for
        “crucifix”). The enraged, elderly Jews would respond with dire warnings, the traditional spitting, chasing, and even rock throwing.”

        Albin (Tobiasz) Kac, Nowy Sącz: Miasto mojej młodości, ( Nowy Sacz: Town of my youth) Kraków: Khoker-Dapas, 1997.

        Other symbols of Christian Fate also had bad luck connotations:

        “At every crossroad and before every village there were crosses protected by little sloping roofs, with icons of Jesus or the Madonna hanging beneath them. For some reason, we children were under the impression that Jews were forbidden even to glance at a cross, but our childish curiosity got the better of us and I would quickly and guiltily snatch a glance at the cross while repeating the short prayer ‘thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it, for it is a cursed thing’ (Deuteronomy 7: 26), spitting in the direction of the alleged cursed thing, but seeing to it that no one should see me doing so. Heaven forbid! Like the spitting after the saying of the prayer: ‘It is our duty to praise the Lord, since he hath not made us like the nations of different countries, nor placed us like the families of the earth.”

        Abraham Lipkunsky quoted in Avraham Aviel’s, “A Village Named Dowgalishok” Vallentine 2006

    • tokyobk
      tokyobk on June 7, 2013, 4:05 am

      Fundie Christians don’t idealize Jews as their best friend. They think of Jews as a necessary component to their own rapture.

      Islam treats Miriam and Issa as prophets in the unfolding story of Islam. That is a kind of reverence but not exactly the interfaith respect as you imply. And you must be aware of the current circumstances for Christians in Egypt and in all the places that used to be heavily Christian in the ME.

      The problem is fundamentalism, not Judaism, Christianity or Islam per se.

      Annie’s point stands however, the increasing restrictions on Christians is in itself immoral and by the way stupid policy given that Israel’s lifeblood comes form a country that is still majority Christian and in particular vocal fundies.

      • tree
        tree on June 7, 2013, 4:30 am

        Fundie Christians don’t idealize Jews as their best friend. They think of Jews as a necessary component to their own rapture.

        That’s an over-generalization. My Fundie ex-husband thought of my Jewish Israeli sister as someone to admire and look up to, despite her blatant racism, or maybe partly because of it. It fit with his ideal of the Biblical Israelites. Its not all just about the rapture. A lot of it has to do with Fundie views on the Old Testament as the undisputed word of God, thus their belief that the Jews ARE God’s chosen people. They may want them all to become “good Christians” at the crucial point of the end times, or face destruction with all the rest of the unbelievers, but in the meantime, at least in the abstract, and at least with the original Jews, there’s a lot of respect, most of it un-examined of course, but its there.

      • tokyobk
        tokyobk on June 7, 2013, 4:43 am

        Fair enough. Though I include those sentiments as part of the usefulness of Jews to the Christian narrative, just as Miriam and Issa are useful to Islam rather than either being the kind of friendship that (as I think friendship should) acknowledges the other in their own terms.

    • quercus
      quercus on June 7, 2013, 7:23 am

      Here is a question I would like to ask and it is this — is this hostility toward Christianity and the demeaning statements about the religion that are found in the Talmud, the cause of Christian hostility toward Jews and Judaism. A mutual hostility that became deeply embedded in the culture, but which had its beginnings in the extreme chauvinism of the Talmud.

      It is instructive that eastern Europe is the area where anti-Jewish sentiment is very strong; it is also the area with the largest concentration of Haredim. Martin Luther knew of this hostility and disrespect toward Christianity and wrote about it, or so I have heard. Is there also not a story coming from the Middle Ages, of orthodox Jews spitting at a crucifix at the end of a bridge somewhere in eastern Europe, until the Hebrew word adonai was added to it and the spitting stopped.

      Just recently I’ve been watching a lecture series called “The Emperors of Rome”; the lecturer is Professor Garrett Fagan of the University of Pennsylvania. In the episode about the great fire in Rome, he posed the “uncomfortable”, as he called it, possibility that in fact it was some Christians who started the fire as Nero claimed.

      The truth is not always pleasant or comfortable.

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel on June 7, 2013, 7:50 am

        Quercus,

        If I understand you correctly, you are basically asking “Who started it?”

        Christian anti-Judaism (and Jewish anti-Christianism) is a lot more complicated than that and entails many factors that have very little to do with doctrine or theology or holy books. It is important to keep in mind that Christianity started out as a Jewish heresy, and that is the context of much of its treatment in the Talmud. In that sense, it’s a bit like asking, were Catholic anti-Reformist writings the cause of Protestant hostility to Catholics.

        A good book on the subject of anti-Jewish attitudes in the Middle Ages (in a broader social context) is David Nirenberg’s Communities of Violence: Persecution of Minorities in the Middle Ages

        On the subject of Jewish anti-Christian attitudes and practices, see Horowitz’ Reckless Rites, cited by tree, above (have a look a tree’s comments on the subject while you’re at it).

  2. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich on June 6, 2013, 2:34 pm

    Which makes you wonder why the Apartheid State is so immensely popular around the globe.

    Israel one of world’s most unpopular countries and it’s getting worse: BBC survey. Must be many antisemites worldiwde fueling that unpopular notion.

    “A wise man doesn’t need a mirror, for his moral reflections will always be his guiding compass.” – D.R.

  3. Sycamores
    Sycamores on June 6, 2013, 4:04 pm

    the treatment of Christians in the Holyland by israelis fanatics should stir up Christians worldwide to posed some questions towards the israeli government. also worth mentioning in the last month israel stops Muslims from entering al-Aqsa mosque http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/05/09/302560/israel-bars-muslims-from-entering-alaqsa-mosque/ .

    israel is literally ‘A shanda fur die goyim’ not just for the Jewish people but for everyone.

    • annie
      annie on June 6, 2013, 4:15 pm

      well, it just so happens to be the holy land for the whole world. if they think they can turn it into their own little money making disneyland tourism destination and palestinian christians are in the way of that image (which is my theory and the story i am working on) they’ve got another thing comin’. that’s not going to fly. you can’t pay off locals with permits for other times of the year to get them to abandon their holy sites during the holidays. not going to happen.

      this year palestinian christians (as documented in my last article, linked above) said over and over in email correspondence, this was ‘the worst year ever’. well it better be the last like this. i’m not dropping this til i find out what kind of agenda placed thousands of security blocking 7 entryways into the old city. and placed soldiers INSIDE the church, something i forgot to mention in this article, but not the last. it’s horrendous.

      • Rusty Pipes
        Rusty Pipes on June 6, 2013, 6:00 pm

        The many ways that GOI violates the sacred spaces of Palestinians, churches, mosques and graveyards, are all horrendous. As a Christian, I hope that Americans can see the beating of an 85-year-old priest and the IDF’s show of force inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as symptomatic of the treatment that all Palestinians face regularly.

      • Abierno
        Abierno on June 6, 2013, 7:47 pm

        Annie I believe you linked for this – the senior Egyptian ambassadors
        were pulled out of the midnight mass and beaten by IDF/police/IOF.
        Unlike the US (whose embassy is on record as being unable to protest
        US citizens or their spouses being murdered (some say executed),
        Egypt promptly and intensely complained directly to Netanyahu.
        Inquiring minds would surmise if this is the fashion in which senior
        embassy staff are treated from an allied country, the regular and
        ongoing treatment of Palestinian/Israeli Christians can be expected
        to be far worse. This is the predictable outcome of allowing yeshiva
        students, settlers and the orthodox to spit on priests and other Christian holies, to defecate in churches, to deface churches, mosques
        and monasteries without reprisal. In most other countries, such behavior would be prosecuted as “hate” crimes, but in Israel such behavior is tacitly permitted as the actors know that since there are no
        reprisals, “anything goes.” In many instances, as in the incidents
        you reference, little is reported in the media, further enhancing the
        perception of the ability to engage in significant criminal behavior
        with impunity so long as it does not involve those of the Jewish
        religion. Perhaps your investigation into this matter, can be tied to
        the UN dictum that Jerusalem be an “international” city, freely open
        to individuals of all the Abrahamic faiths.

      • annie
        annie on June 6, 2013, 8:22 pm

        I believe you linked for this – the senior Egyptian ambassadors
        were pulled out of the midnight mass and beaten by IDF/police/IOF.

        yes, here is the video again http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=TG9aOzVeK1A

        Perhaps your investigation into this matter, can be tied to
        the UN dictum that Jerusalem be an “international” city, freely open
        to individuals of all the Abrahamic faiths.

        of course this is what i believe. and israel believes everyone should just shut up about it as it gets worse and while while their hounds camera have the audacity to accuse other of antisemitism! for mentioning it. see “CBS Shareholders Accuse ’60 Minutes’ of Anti-Semitism,”.

        one difference , as i see it, between christian and muslim holidays, is israel promotes christian holidays for tourism. and then for the most part washes out the images palestinian and other arab christians in jerusalem. i was looking at this msm photography spread of celebrations of easter in the holy land, and the palestinians were photographed in ramallah where the flame goes after jerusalem. and the tourist video was primarily euro or russian accents for the jerusalem pilgrims. i know what they are doing. they have no right to be the gatekeepers of who is allowed to visit the holy sites. none at all. it’s a matter of time, this is a global issue and we will prevail.

        and of course they arrested the iman that same weekend and blamed it on events in syria! i hope people write me if they were there. or more photographs. there’s more about arrests..but it’s not confirmed.

        i am very very grateful the Presbyterians(USA) are not dropping this. very grateful.

      • Sycamores
        Sycamores on June 6, 2013, 8:44 pm

        The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation

        http://www.hcef.org/publications/hcef-news/790793480-access-to-worship-in-jerusalem-jerusalem-inter-church-center

        testimonies from a group called Palestinian Christians (they have a facebook account)

        “Military barriers were put in the Old city of Jerusalem, Christian Palestinians, from the Christian Quarter could not reach the Holy Sepulchre Church.

        All the ways going to the Holy Sepulchre were closed.

        All entrances to the Holy Sepulchre were closed.

        The place before the Basilica was closed.

        Inside the Church were also military barriers, even around the “Stone of Anointment” and the “Sepulchre”.

        Christians were forbidden to reach freely to the Church. The soldiers agressed them.

        Whose intention is it to forbid us to pray in the Holy Sepulchre.

        The Church was full with Israeli soldiers with their weapons, guns, hats, eating sandwiches, joking, speaking with their mobile phones, hearing songs, laughing loudly, crying on the faithful.”

        Under the Protection of Holy Sites Law of 1967, sacred sites of all faith groups in Israel are supposedly protected from harm. protecting the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them.

        http://www.knesset.gov.il/laws/special/eng/HolyPlaces.htm

        Protection of Holy Places Law 5727 (1967)*

        The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places.

        Whosoever desecrates or otherwise violates a Holy Place shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of seven years.

        Whosoever does anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of five years.

        This Law shall add to, and not derogate from, any other law.

        The Minister of Religious Affairs is charged with the implementation of this Law, and he may, after consultation with, or upon the proposal of, representatives of the religions concerned and with the consent of the Minister of Justice make regulations as to any matter relating to such implementation.

        This Law shall come into force on the date of its adoption by the Knesset.

        LEVI ESHKOL
        Prime Minister

        ZERACH WARHAFTIG
        Minister of
        Religious Affairs

        SHNEUR ZALMAN SHAZAR
        President

        * Adopted by the Knesset on 27 June 1967.

      • Hostage
        Hostage on June 6, 2013, 9:20 pm

        so long as it does not involve those of the Jewish religion.

        Nope, the Orthodox modesty patrols have beaten Jewish women black and blue for daring to wear short sleeved shirts or cut-off shorts in public.

      • SQ Debris
        SQ Debris on June 7, 2013, 12:59 am

        More like West World (1973 Michael Crichton film) than Disneyland. Disneyland isn’t set up to give visitors the pleasure of acting out murderous fantasies. That film is actually an interesting metaphor for what is transpiring in Palestine.

  4. AlGhorear
    AlGhorear on June 6, 2013, 4:18 pm

    Oh wow, the soncino Talmud comes in a 26 volume set and for a hefty price of $657.00. Fortunately, it’s also available online for free download here Online Soncino English Babylonian Talmud. Could someone provide the short version of the Talmud vs. the Torah?

    • AlGhorear
      AlGhorear on June 6, 2013, 4:32 pm

      I messed up that link. It should be Soncino Talmud

    • Shmuel
      Shmuel on June 6, 2013, 4:41 pm

      Could someone provide the short version of the Talmud vs. the Torah?

      Very very briefly, the word Torah can refer to the Pentateuch (5 Books of Moses – the “Written Law/Torah”), the Pentateuch and the Talmud (the “Oral Law/Torah”), or the entirety of Jewish religious teachings from the Bible to the present. When contrasted with Talmud, Torah generally means the “Written Law”.

      The Talmud (or Shas – an acronym referring to its 6 sections) is a collection of oral traditions written and redacted between the 2nd and the 6th cent. CE. It consists of the Mishnah (mostly a relatively concise exposition of laws based on the biblical precepts, but greatly elaborated) and the Gemara, which is supposed to be a commentary on the Mishnah but includes diverse opinions on just about everything, traditions not included in the Mishnah, ethical teachings, legends, etc., often developing in a very associative way.

      There are two versions of the Gemara – an earlier version, representing the traditions of Babylonia, and a later version, representing the traditions of Palestine. The Babylonian version is the more dominant, due at least in part to the influence of the academies and scholars of mediaeval Spain, who were direct heirs to the Babylonian schools, and laid the foundations for all later Rabbinic traditions (including the Ashkenazi traditions).

      The “Talmud” or “Oral Law” was rejected by various Jewish groups throughout history – including the Saducees (the Oral Law is a Pharisee creation) and the Karaites. On the teachings of Jesus and their relationship to the Talmud, I recommend J. Grunewald’s Chalom Jésus!: Lettre d’un rabbin d’aujourd’hui au rabbi de Nazareth.

      • AlGhorear
        AlGhorear on June 6, 2013, 6:48 pm

        Thanks so much, Shmuel, for your concise answer to my question and for all you contribute on this site. I started reading some of the mishnas and there were lots of words I didn’t understand, even with an English translation.

      • Citizen
        Citizen on June 7, 2013, 4:12 pm

        @ Shmuel

        Doesn’t the Torah state that it is the authority on interpretation of the Torah? And don’t the Jews who believe this, believe that “Torah Jews” don’t have the real scoop on Judaism? If so, I imagine Christian sects struggling with “replacement” or “succession” or supersuccession” theories would know this. But it has not been addressed from what I’ve read, here or elsewhere. Did you read Israel Shahak’s work discussing the Talmud?

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel on June 7, 2013, 5:20 pm

        Doesn’t the Torah state that it is the authority on interpretation of the Torah? And don’t the Jews who believe this, believe that “Torah Jews” don’t have the real scoop on Judaism?

        I’m not sure I understand your comment, Citizen. Attitudes to the “Oral Law” have been a source of countless schisms within Judaism. Halakhic, Rabbinic Judaism views the Written Law as inseparable from the Oral Law, whereas non-Rabbinic and post-Halakhic Judaism (and secular Zionism) have placed greater emphasis on Scripture. Even in Halakhic Judaism, however, biblical precepts (de-Orayta) take precedence over Rabbinic injunctions (de-Rabanan). Karaite Jews, for example, view things somewhat differently (although they too have their hermeneutical traditions).

        If so, I imagine Christian sects struggling with “replacement” or “succession” or supersuccession” theories would know this.

        They might or they might not. Remember that the “Nazarenes” opposed both the Sadducees (the priestly/political establishment that rejected the Oral Law) and the Pharisees (founders of Rabbinic Judaism). The Pharisees also introduced a lot of ideas (e.g. that of the “eternal soul”), shared with early Christianity, but decidedly post-biblical.

        But it has not been addressed from what I’ve read, here or elsewhere

        I’m sure it has (assuming I have understood what you mean by “it”).

        Did you read Israel Shahak’s work discussing the Talmud?

        You can read my views on Shahak here: http://mondoweiss.net/profile/shmuel?keyword=shahak

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones on June 7, 2013, 6:02 pm

        “The Pharisees also introduced a lot of ideas (e.g. that of the eternal soul), shared with early Christianity, but decidedly post-biblical.”

        Aren’t ideas about the eternal soul in the ancient scriptures too? eg. Psalm 22: Your hearts will live forever!

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel on June 7, 2013, 6:14 pm

        Aren’t ideas about the eternal soul in the ancient scriptures too? eg. Psalm 22: Your hearts will live forever!

        That’s it? A central tenet of post-biblical Jewish (and Christian) faith attached to a word of encouragement to the despondent?

      • Hostage
        Hostage on June 7, 2013, 9:55 pm

        hat’s it? A central tenet of post-biblical Jewish (and Christian) faith attached to a word of encouragement to the despondent?

        In fairness, most Christians would be shocked to find the extent to which Orthodox Jews accept and teach doctrines regarding reincarnation. Most Christians are relying on a resurrection instead, based upon passages like Job Chapter 19:25-27

        25. I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.

        26. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;

        27 I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another.

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel on June 8, 2013, 5:15 am

        In fairness, most Christians would be shocked to find the extent to which Orthodox Jews accept and teach doctrines regarding reincarnation. Most Christians are relying on a resurrection instead

        Resurrection is a fundamental tenet of Rabbinic Judaism (see e.g. the first mishnah in Perek Helek); reincarnation is not. Some of my teachers (Orthodox/Haredi rabbis) believed in reincarnation and some didn’t, and the subject, when broached (even by those who believed) was dealt with in an ambiguous folk-tale sort of way.

        The verses you cite from Job are, of course, interpreted by Christians as “praeparatio evangelii”, but mean something entirely different in the context of the story of Job, who expresses his faith in God, even (and perhaps especially) in his own physical suffering.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones on June 8, 2013, 10:28 am

        “Aren’t ideas about the eternal soul in the ancient scriptures too? eg. Psalm 22: Your hearts will live forever!”

        That’s it? A central tenet of post-biblical Jewish (and Christian) faith attached to a word of encouragement to the despondent?

        If the scripture writers and their audience did not believe in the resurrection, wouldn’t such a passage be a cruel mockery of the despondent? Not only would they be sad, but this would sarcastically remind them that such a thing was not promised?

        Instead, it asserts an idea, and this assertion would most likely encourage them if it was meant to be believed. Further, being a text that was meant to be religious and true, the author must have valued it is an inspired and true statement in some important, powerful way.

      • Hostage
        Hostage on June 8, 2013, 10:29 am

        when broached (even by those who believed) was dealt with in an ambiguous folk-tale sort of way.

        I agree that many Hasidic and other folk tales do deal with elements of Jewish mysticism, like reincarnation, soul migration or astral travel. But many Christians are simply bowled over when they learn that so many Jewish religious authorities consider reincarnation a fundamental tenant and that it is front and center in the teachings of many Orthodox groups, like Chabad and Aish HaTorah, e.g.
        * http://www.askmoses.com/en/article/614,2146378/Reincarnation.html
        * http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/361889/jewish/Reincarnation.htm
        * http://www.aish.com/atr/Holocaust_Reincarnated_Souls.html
        * http://www.kabbalaonline.org/kabbalah/article_cdo/aid/380302/jewish/Gate-of-Reincarnations-Introduction.htm

        The verses you cite from Job are, of course, interpreted by Christians as “praeparatio evangelii”

        Which is what had I meant to imply;-) The Christian “proof verses” are usually a bit less compelling in the Judaica Press Editions.

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel on June 8, 2013, 10:53 am

        My point was that resurrection is a core belief and reincarnation is not. The sources you cite refer primarily to Hasidic and Lurianic thought. “Rationalists” (Lithuanians, Germans, Yemenites, etc.) are far less likely to believe in “gilgulim”, and to the extent that they do, it’s often in an “I don’t know what to think, but Rabbi so-and-so said ….” sort of way. My own religious education was primarily in the Lithuanian/Misnagdic tradition.

        Christians might be more surprised (frankly there’s a lot about Judaism that would “bowl Christians over”) in a relatively normative lack of belief even among Orthodox Jews in Judaism’s supposed central tenets (as formulated by Maimonides, for example).

        I was once standing outside the study hall of one of the most important “Lithuanian” Haredi yeshivot in Jerusalem on a Friday night (a time when only the most dedicated students go to the study hall). Two of these dedicated young Haredi men were on their way into the hall, to study Talmud, and one said to the other: “You don’t really believe in resurrection (tchiyas hameisim), do you?” To which the other replied, “of course not”, and on that note, they hurried back to whatever Talmudic topic they had been studying.

        The Christian “proof verses” are usually a bit less compelling in the Judaica Press Editions.

        And in Hebrew translations of the original English ;-)

      • Citizen
        Citizen on June 8, 2013, 10:59 am

        @ Shmuel
        OK, I’ve read your prior comments on Shahak, most, if not all, posted over two years ago on MW. Many relate to Keith’s questions. You said, in effect, Shahak was a nice person, but his work was too slanted towards the negative tradition in Judaism; he ignored the good tradition. You said all religions have a similar problem. You liked the quote, “The more the man, the more the Jew, the more the Jew, the more the man.” You felt that the univeral good values in any religion enhance universal good while simultaneously allowing for appreciation for one’s local cultural peculiarities? I’d say the negative values in any religion do the same.

        You said, over two years ago, you never read Shahak’s book, The Weight Of…”, just some of his excerpts, yet you dismissed his work as mistaken, too slanted, because he dismissed the good in Traditional Judaism as “methodical mendacity.” He didn’t take account of the evolution of ideas in Judaism, or of its diversity, nor of the history and social context of what he found despicable in Judaism. I imagine this at least partially refers to the Talmudic passages disparaging Christian figures and non-Jews generally.

        Your comments on the input of the Torah versus the input of the Talmud, as representing the essence of Judaism reminds me of the chicken v. egg question.

      • Citizen
        Citizen on June 8, 2013, 11:09 am

        @ Hostage
        Yes, bowled over–because nothing in the typical Christian’s upbringing and education, at least in USA, would lead them to believe you can be a religious Jew and believe in, e.g. reincarnation. But, hey–now there’s a few more than former Christians like Madonna and other Hollywood/Entertainment names who believe in mystical Judaism. Not Pat Boone of course. (LOL) He’s a mystery to me. Well, actually, more like a bad joke.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones on June 8, 2013, 11:19 am

        Hostage and Shmuel,

        The Christian “proof verses” are usually a bit less compelling in the Judaica Press Editions. ~Hostage

        You are not incorrect.

        But how would you translate:
        וְאַחַ֣ר עֹ֖ורִֽי נִקְּפוּ־ זֹ֑את וּ֝מִבְּשָׂרִ֗י אֶֽחֱזֶ֥ה אֱלֹֽוהַּ׃

      • Hostage
        Hostage on June 8, 2013, 11:40 am

        Christians might be more surprised (frankly there’s a lot about Judaism that would “bowl Christians over”) in a relatively normative lack of belief even among Orthodox Jews in Judaism’s supposed central tenets

        The same holds true for many Christian scholars. Years ago during a visit with my son at Duke University, one of his Jewish Studies professors invited us over to a dinner get together with E.P. Sanders, the author of “Jesus and Judaism” and “Paul and Palestinian Judaism”. I was pretty shocked when he blandly declared that an entire chapter of the Gospel of Matthew was unquestionably spurious.

        And in Hebrew translations of the original English ;-)
        ;-) . . . ;-)

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel on June 8, 2013, 11:44 am

        But how would you translate:
        וְאַחַ֣ר עֹ֖ורִֽי נִקְּפוּ־ זֹ֑את וּ֝מִבְּשָׂרִ֗י אֶֽחֱזֶ֥ה אֱלֹֽוהַּ׃

        Robert Alter (The Wisdom Books) translates as follows:

        “and after they flay my skin,
        from my flesh I shall behold God”

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel on June 8, 2013, 11:54 am

        If the scripture writers and their audience did not believe in the resurrection, wouldn’t such a passage be a cruel mockery of the despondent?

        If they did not believe it, it would not have been a frame of reference (something that others believe yet, alas, we do not share).

        In biblical idiom, a “dead heart” is a despondent one (see 1 Samuel 25:37). Wishing the heart “eternal” life, is a hyperbolic way of saying “cheer up”.

      • MRW
        MRW on June 8, 2013, 12:01 pm

        My point was that resurrection is a core belief and reincarnation is not.

        Not what Dennis Prager (Orthodox radio host in LA) said on the radio here. I was on the freeway. Shocked the hell out of me, never forgot it. He said “Jews believe in reincarnation.” But that “most people don’t know that.”

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel on June 8, 2013, 12:03 pm

        Your comments on the input of the Torah versus the input of the Talmud, as representing the essence of Judaism reminds me of the chicken v. egg question.

        I’ll try to be a little clearer. In Rabbinic Judaism, the Written and Oral Torahs were both given at Sinai — the latter interpreting (and providing hermeneutic rules for interpretation) and complementing the former. Any interpretation of the Written Law that follows the process (meaning of the word “halakhah”) laid out in the Oral Law given at Sinai, is considered to have been given at Sinai as well. Nevertheless, there is a distinction between the strict requirements of the Written Law and later Rabbinic injunctions — in terms of precedence and stringency.

        Historically, rejection of the Oral Law is has been the Jewish heresy par excellence.

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel on June 8, 2013, 12:09 pm

        Not what Dennis Prager (Orthodox radio host in LA) said on the radio here.

        Who am I to argue with Dennis Prager ;-)

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones on June 8, 2013, 12:16 pm

        And in Hebrew translations of the original English ;-)
        ;-) . . . ;-)

        Wow.

        E.P. Sanders… blandly declared that an entire chapter of the Gospel of Matthew was unquestionably spurious. ~Hostage

        Sanders could find no substantial points of opposition between Jesus and the Pharisees ~Wikipedia

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._P._Sanders
        Maybe you are not the only person who would be surprised by some things….

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones on June 8, 2013, 12:52 pm

        But how would you translate:
        וְאַחַ֣ר עֹ֖ורִֽי נִקְּפוּ־ זֹ֑את וּ֝מִבְּשָׂרִ֗י אֶֽחֱזֶ֥ה אֱלֹֽוהַּ׃
        Robert Alter (The Wisdom Books) translates as follows: “and after they flay my skin, from my flesh I shall behold God”

        Thanks. Unfortunately I do not have that translation. But in it, does it sound like Job 19 is saying Job was killed: “He hath destroyed me on every side” (v.10), Jobs’s skin is destroyed v.26, and Job’s insides are destroyed v. 27?

        And does it say that Job sees God at the last day in his flesh and with his own eyes, the combination of which indicates an apocalyptic return to living in the flesh despite his previous death? (v. 25-27)

      • Citizen
        Citizen on June 8, 2013, 1:03 pm

        @ MRW
        Love to listen to Prager’s show. He handles nearly all callers easily, injecting them with their own feeble ignorance, constantly, blithly, with warm overtone, that the US interests, values, are exactly the same as Israel’s. Once in a blue moon he gets an educated caller firm with facts–then he hangs up on them with the flimsiest excuses. He endlessly voices to conservative talk radio that if you are a true, blue American Patriot, all for apple pie, you must be all for Israel. He has an easy job due to the nature of his goy audience.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones on June 8, 2013, 1:16 pm

        In biblical idiom, a “dead heart” is a despondent one (see 1 Samuel 25:37). Wishing the heart “eternal” life, is a hyperbolic way of saying “cheer up”.

        1. Even if a dead heart is a metaphor for a sad one, the verse does not wish that the heart will just come alive (cheer up), but rather will “live forever” (be cheery forever).

        2. I am very doubtful that a dead heart is only a metaphor for sadness. The passage you pointed to says that after Nabal sobered up, his wife told him shocking things and his heart died and he became like a stone, and ten days later he died. This suggests he heard something shocking, and had a stroke that led to his death. In other words, his heart’s death in the verse you cited meant a real, physical thing- even if the heart was not literally dead 100% at that moment.

        In fact, one explanation for that verse seems to be that it was his soul, spiritual energy, or mind that “died”, since his body was still alive, but he acted like a stone.

        3. There a plenty of references to the heart as being an entity or real thing, rather than just an emotion. For example: Gen. 17:17: “he said in his heart”. In the verse he did not just feel an emotion, but put a thought in a thing. You can say it is just a figure of speech, but the figure of speech itself expresses the heart as an entity.

        4. So even if this Psalm is just a poetic idea and not a prediction, it still contains an idea about the eternal soul.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones on June 8, 2013, 1:32 pm

        I feel like I could write more about this than I need to. :)
        In Samuel 25:37, when Nabal’s “heart died”, he began acting like a stone, which is not to say that he was crying or doing something, but rather that he was not acting in any way at all. In other words, it was not that he was experiencing a sad emotion for ten days, but rather experiencing a lifeless state in some way for ten days before his body died. Thus, a living heart means not that the “heart” is happy or sad, but rather “alive”. So “Your ‘hearts’ will live forever” should mean the person’s “heart” will live, and not just live, but live forever.

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel on June 8, 2013, 1:35 pm

        W.Jones,

        Thanks for the interesting discussion, but I think we’ve strayed a little too far from the original post and purpose of this site.

      • Citizen
        Citizen on June 8, 2013, 1:51 pm

        @ W.Jones
        Did the Pharisees introduce the notion that the oral law (Talmud) was the final authority on the meaning of the Torah? And is that what Jesus rebelled against? And much later the Torah was actually written down, in the 3 centuries following the death of Jesus?

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones on June 8, 2013, 3:18 pm

        Yes, I found the discussion with you pleasant and interesting.

        The Sadduccees were a primary part of the establishment, and the question of whether the scriptures mentioned the resurrection was a major part of their disagreement with J.C. (Matt. 22:29).

        At the same time, I like that you take a critical and inquiring mind to the discussions.

        Regards.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones on June 8, 2013, 7:11 pm

        Citizen,

        One proposed explanation runs like this:

        The conflict between 1. the Written Torah (the Old Testament and 2. an important part of the rabbis’ and elders’ extra-Biblical rules (the Oral Torah) could be much older than the pharisees.

        Isaiah 29, written 700-500 BC, says:
        “their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, the wisdom of their wise men shall perish”.
        ie. God complained that the Israelites’ worship followed their elders’ religious rules that were not inspired, unlike the Biblical teachings of Isaiah and Moses.

        The pharisees came along about 150 BC and continued emphasizing their oral rules. Then Jesus showed up and pointed out contradictions between the pharisaic rules and the Old Testament. In Mark 7, He specifically quoted Isaiah’s passage above as His justification for His opposition. So certainly Jesus rebelled against some of the pharisees’ rules.

        But it seems too simplistic to say that Jesus completely rejected the concept of “oral law” like the Karaites, because I believe there were some pharisaic rules that He referenced in a positive way. Furthermore, early Christians passed down some of their own “oral law” too.

        So to answer your question, Yes, one of the things He rebelled against was some of the pharisees’ “oral law.”

      • Hostage
        Hostage on June 8, 2013, 11:41 pm

        But how would you translate:
        וְאַחַ֣ר עֹ֖ורִֽי נִקְּפוּ־ זֹ֑את וּ֝מִבְּשָׂרִ֗י אֶֽחֱזֶ֥ה אֱלֹֽוהַּ׃

        Well I couldn’t in the first place. I have studied more than enough paraphrases and parallel versions of the scriptures over the years along with commentaries to satisfy my interest in the subject. The list includes interlinear Greek and English (Septuagint) and interlinear Hebrew and English versions (by both Christians and Jews alike), e.g. the Judaica Press, The Soncino Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, articles from members of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Jewish Encyclopedia, TC the Journal of biblical textual criticism, papers submitted to the Josephus Seminar, and papers submitted to the Orion Center Seminars, & etc. I wasted a small fortune over the years on books, and passed them down to my son, but most of them are available for free online these days and are fully searchable.

        For the sake of completeness here is the Judaica Press translation:

        And after my skin, they have cut into this, and from my flesh I see judgment.

        and Young’s Literal Translation:

        And after my skin hath compassed this [body], Then from my flesh I see God:

      • Hostage
        Hostage on June 9, 2013, 1:03 am

        Your comments on the input of the Torah versus the input of the Talmud, as representing the essence of Judaism reminds me of the chicken v. egg question.

        Most of the world studies scriptures which say things like:

        *Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment;

        *”But this thing I commanded them, saying: Hearken to my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people: and walk ye in all the way that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.

        http://biblehub.com/exodus/23-2.htm
        http://biblehub.com/jeremiah/7-23.htm

        In the Oral Law found in the Babylonian Talmud, Baba Metzia 59b we learn that the Torah is no longer in Heaven, because it was already delivered to man at Sinai. We also learn that the majority of the scholars in the rabbinical college decide what is or isn’t the halakhah, and that they pay no attention if a Voice from Heaven happens to disagrees. http://halakhah.com/babamezia/babamezia_59.html#PARTb

        Shmuel is correct that historically, rejection of the Oral Law has been the Jewish heresy par excellence. But modern non-Orthodox streams don’t usually pay such deference to the opinions of their Rabbis.

      • MRW
        MRW on June 9, 2013, 8:05 am

        He [Prager] endlessly voices to conservative talk radio that if you are a true, blue American Patriot, all for apple pie, you must be all for Israel. He has an easy job due to the nature of his goy audience.

        Don’t forget, Citizen, that used to be me. I was a true blue audience member at one time. ;-)

      • Citizen
        Citizen on June 9, 2013, 10:18 pm

        @ MRW
        Once in a while somebody calls into Prager, objecting to something Prager said. He usually polishes them off quickly, glibly, demolishing their narrowly logical objection with his own specious but wider logic, every premise a lie the objecter doesn’t see as Prager’s adept at pandering to his audience’s susceptibility to feel good rhetoric. And they are always ignorant of the historical garbage he spews, especially regarding Israel and the US special relationship with that state.

        Michael Medved, otoh, is more like Eric Cohen or Richard Witty in delivery in style and rendering spiel.

      • Citizen
        Citizen on June 9, 2013, 10:22 pm

        @ MRW, so what gave you your epiphany, causing you to bolt from Prager’s audience?

      • Citizen
        Citizen on June 9, 2013, 10:31 pm

        @ Hostage

        First came Jesus, then came the Roman Catholic Church Canon, then came Luther, then came that fundy down the street who talks to Jesus every day, right there on his/her shoulder.

        How could rejection of the Oral Law be Jewish heresy if the Torah preceeded it?

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones on June 10, 2013, 5:41 pm

        Citizen,

        That’s a good question, because after all, the Sadducees, who ruled the Temple the last time it was there, rejected the Oral Law, as do the Karaites, who are still around today.

      • Hostage
        Hostage on June 10, 2013, 10:14 pm

        That’s a good question, because after all, the Sadducees, who ruled the Temple the last time it was there, rejected the Oral Law, as do the Karaites, who are still around today.

        Josephus was a Priest who never had anything good to say about the Pharisees. Most translations of his works have him saying that he joined the sect. But recent scholarship on the subject by Steve Mason, who chaired the Josephus Seminar, explains that he was really only saying that the Sadducees had to decide matters pertaining to the law according to the customs of the Pharisees or the people would not have tolerated them.

        There is a seminar paper on the subject that I can’t locate right now, but this article covers the subject: http://web.archive.org/web/20081006032748/http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/Flavius_Josephus.htm

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel on June 11, 2013, 2:05 am

        How could rejection of the Oral Law be Jewish heresy if the Torah preceeded it?

        Heresy is always in the eye of the beholder and, like history, is written by the victor. The Rabbinic view is that the Written Torah did not precede the Oral Torah, but that they were given simultaneously, at Sinai.

  5. quirx
    quirx on June 6, 2013, 6:36 pm

    Annie, please don’t let go of this issue. It is an affront to the notion of ‘religious freedom’ they claim to uphold, and in fact hide their treatment of Christians who live in Israel and Palestine while pointing to how few Christians are left in the Middle East, and Muslim countries in particular. What hypocrisy! Also, and this is not about Christians, but as an ancillary issue – how in Jerusalem they close off the Al Aqsa mosque to worshipers (during their services!), but then ‘give tours’ to Jews (not necessarily Israeli Jews) who have been known to deface the interior and desecrate their Quran. Despicable, whatever anyone thinks of religion in general, Islam or Christianity. Imagine the outrcy if anyone kicked Jews out of a synagogue (anywhere in the world) and then defaced it and desecrated the Torah?!? Freedom of religion (or to choose no religion) for everyone!

  6. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870 on June 6, 2013, 6:52 pm

    RE: “Members of the local Palestinian community were even more passionate in their demands, with a Facebook group identified as Palestinian Christians calling on church leaders to ‘[s]ay a word of truth to the Israeli authorities. Let Christians reach freely their Church on the day of their feast.’” ~ Reverend Gradye Parsons

    FACEBOOK: Palestinian Christians
    Religion · Community Page · 391 likes
    LINK (TO “LIKE”) – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Palestinian-Christians/112033392146517

    • annie
      annie on June 6, 2013, 7:26 pm

      dickerson, here is the site i linked to in my previous article

      https://www.facebook.com/PalestinianChristians?ref=stream

      http://mondoweiss.net/2013/05/holdchristians-manhandling-apologizes.html

      and here is the full appeal: https://www.facebook.com/PalestinianChristians/posts/601486056547050

      المسيحيين الفلسطينيين · Palestinian Christians † المسيحيين الفلسطينيين · 18,159 like this
      April 5 at 4:49am ·

      To our Venerable Heads of Churches
      After having lived a hard experience in trying to attend the celebration of Easter, this year, in the Holy Sepulchre, we feel compelled to address you this “angry” but sincere letter.
      You keep telling us that we are the descendants of the Apostles, and of the first Christian community, the first who believed in Jesus Christ, the first who proclaimed His Gospel to the world.
      You tell us: that we have suffered so many persecutions, under various governments and military occupations along centuries. We are proud of you because you are still here perseverant in the land where Jesus Christ was born, taught, suffered, died and resurrected.
      You tell us, come and pray as Jesus prayed.
      You tell us all that, and on the day of Easter, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the holiest of our Churches, we were forbidden to pray. And you know that. On the day of our Easter, we have lived a religious and human tragedy.
      The celebrations of Easter, according to the Gregorian calendar, this year, was the worst that happened. Christians from Gaza were forbidden to reach Jerusalem. All Christians from all occupied Palestine were forced to ask for military permits in order to celebrate the feast in Jerusalem, and only 6 thousand permits were given. Then, all occupied Palestine was closed, and those who had permits could not use them.
      Military barriers were put in the Old city of Jerusalem, Christian Palestinians, from the Christian Quarter could not reach the Holy Sepulchre Church.
      All the ways going to the Holy Sepulchre were closed.
      All entrances to the Holy Sepulchre were closed
      The place before the Basilica was closed
      Inside the Church were also military barriers, even around the “Stone of Anointment” and the “Sepulchre”.
      Christians were forbidden to reach freely to the Church. The soldiers agressed them.

      Whose intention is it to forbid us to pray in the Holy Sepulchre?

      The Church was full with Israeli soldiers with their weapons, guns, hats, eating sandwiches, joking, speaking with their mobile phones, hearing songs, laughing loudly, crying on the faithful…
      This church is the place of our prayer and not a military caserne. The word of Jesus apply on our situation: “My house is a place of prayer and you converted it to a military camp” (Cf Lc 19,45 sq).
      We ask all our Heads, the three Patriarachs, the Franciscan Custos, and all the Churches to ask the police and the army not to close the entrances of the Church neither to be in the Church with their guns and impolite manners. Please take the necessary measures. Say a word of truth to the Israeli Authorities. Let Christians reach freely their Church on the day of their feast.
      Order cannot be used as pretext for all this tragedy and violation of the sacredness of our Holy Places and our Feasts.
      We prayed hundreds of years in the Holy Sepulchre without all this heavy military and insolent presence. Tens of thousands celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem without such military presence. In Ramallah more Christians than in Jerusalem celebrate the Holy Fire and have no need to all this military “order”.

      Our dear and venerable Heads of Churches, your silence kill us. Do you not see the soldiers and their guns, and their attitudes? Please say a word of truth. And let us pray on the day of our Easter in our Churches.
      57Like · Comment
      Amy Alejandro, Sophia Ponders, Sam Abdul and 54 others like this.
      Marlene Katan Very true as I myself live 100m away from the Holy Sepulchre and yet was forbidden to reach it.
      April 5 at 5:09am via mobile · 9
      Rhadia Qubty Elia and I came from Nazareth to attend Good Friday mainly Via Dolorosa/ Stations of the Cross and we were over whelmed with the numbers of Police and Military soldiers, every three to four meters in the Old City of Jerusalem….There were many Interna…See More
      April 5 at 9:46am · 5
      Hilda Dabai Amen ! yes Lillian give em hell, they deserve it…God Bless you and yours for caring, we love you.
      April 8 at 4:33pm · 1
      Sonceto Zare I wish i could come to visite you there!
      April 8 at 6:03pm · 1
      Diana Kawa Simmons So I posted this arterial on my fb home page and this is the response I received . I guess a response to the writer of this letter . I know how to respond but i don’t want to offend so if the writer can help me out I would greatly appreciated. …See More
      April 27 at 10:29pm

      but i happen to know the date on this said may, not april when i first posted it. very strange. this holy fire is held on orthodox easter : http://www.imemc.org/article/65422

      PLO official Hanna Amireh, who also heads the Presidential Committee on Church Affairs, stated, “It is not only that Israel has isolated our occupied capital from the rest of our country — forcing our people to apply for special military permits to access their families and holy places for religious occasions — but even Palestinians from Jerusalem were beaten when trying to reach the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.”

      The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is located in Jerusalem’s Old City, and is the place where Christians believe that Jesus ascended into heaven. On the Saturday before Easter, Orthodox Christians carry out a ‘Holy Fire’ ceremony, in which a torch is lit in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and carried to Bethlehem, where Christians believe that Jesus was born. The Jerusalem-Bethlehem road is now blocked by a massive Israeli checkpoint, rendering the ceremony virtually impossible.

  7. Stephen Shenfield
    Stephen Shenfield on June 6, 2013, 9:23 pm

    The media blackout doesn’t surprise me, because this is dynamite that may finally destroy US and European support for Israel. Even Christian Zionists can hardly be expected meekly to swallow all these insults against their faith. Netanyahu must understand this and wish he could halt the anti-Christian steamroller because that is obviously what the interests of the State of Israel require, but the only way he can do that is by giving up power and allowing the formation of a new coalition that is less dependent on the Orthodox (though even that might not suffice).

    The anti-Christian persecution in I/P also has the potential to shock many American and European Jews, the majority of whom belong to Conservative and Reform congregations and are, I suspect, blissfully unaware of this and many other aspects of the medieval bigotry preserved in Orthodox Judaism.

    I received my Jewish education (such as it was) from a Conservative rabbi in north London. He told us that Jews have the greatest respect for Jesus as a teacher, though they consider him only a man and not divine. It made sense to me that Jews should respect Jesus as a teacher because I could see how close his teachings were to those of Hillel, who lived a couple of generations earlier. At the same time, the rabbi allowed us to assume that all Jews share this respectful attitude. He did not inform us about the hateful things said about Jesus in the Talmud. I first learned of them from Shahak’s book.

    I suppose that the rabbis who compiled the Talmud hated Jesus so much because they saw themselves as the successors to the Pharisee sect whom Jesus so harshly condemned. Jesus and the early Christians were loyal to Judaism, but they did hate the Pharisees and the Pharisees returned the compliment.

  8. W.Jones
    W.Jones on June 6, 2013, 10:17 pm

    “but i happen to know the date on this said may, not april when i first posted it. very strange. this holy fire is held on orthodox easter”
    Yes, Annie, it’s a well known fact that Orthodox Easter and the Holy fire Ceremony were in May of this year, so it does not make sense that the comments say April, especially as you remember them saying May.

    • annie
      annie on June 7, 2013, 1:50 am

      i definitely would have noticed that w.jones.

      but that’s not the only weird thing about the coverage. there’s also stuff like this: http://www.jpost.com/National-News/Video-shows-Jerusalem-Police-assault-elderly-priest-313168

      see the photo, the church in ramallah. this violent incident didn’t happen in ramallah.

      A video released Tuesday showed Jerusalem Police assault an elderly Egyptian Coptic priest outside an Old City church on May 4, while he and various other Egyptian clerics and diplomats attempted to attend a holiday mass one day before Easter.

      The six-minute video, released by Maariv, clearly depicts the highly-publicized assault, during which Father Arsanios, the 85-year-old head of the Coptic Church in Ramallah, can be seen being battered by the officers.

      they say jerusalem police, and they say “an Old City church” but the do not say the priest was attacked at the most sacred holy site in all of Christianity, where jesus was resurrected, the Holy Sepulchre. and they show a photo of a church in ramallah.

      they are trying to disappear this.

  9. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich on June 7, 2013, 7:45 am

    @ Annie Robbins,

    In the wider scheme of things “South African bodies call for Israel to be excluded from diamond processing over ‘war crimes’” might be of interest.

  10. Obsidian
    Obsidian on June 7, 2013, 7:47 am

    ” Videos surfaced of Christian worshipers being brutally beaten”?

    I saw a two minute video that showed one single Arab being arrested, with minimal force, and I Arab attacking the Border Police with a stick or something.

    Brutal beatings? Cite please.

  11. W.Jones
    W.Jones on June 8, 2013, 10:23 am

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Christmas Greeting 2012

    Come see our ancient land with your own eyes. Visit… Bethlehem, wade into the Jordan River… And next year come visit our eternal capitol, Jerusalem.

    That was a nice greeting, and he talked about tolerance for other religions.
    One thing was not clear: Why would Christians visit Bethlehem now and Jerusalem “next year”?

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