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Theodor Herzl wasn’t Jewish, according to Israeli minister

Israel/Palestine

The latest news from the one and only Jewish state: Israel’s minister of religious services says that Reform Jews are not Jews. The report is from Isabel Kershner of the New York Times:

“The moment a Reform Jew stops following the religion of Israel, let’s say there’s a problem,” the minister, David Azoulay of the Shas party, said on Army Radio, adding, “I cannot allow myself to call such a person a Jew.”

Kershner notes that the Israeli president also has said he doesn’t believe that Reform Jews are Jews:

President Reuven Rivlin infuriated American Reform Jews with remarks he made in the 1980s, when he was a member of the Israeli Parliament. After attending a service at a Reform synagogue in New Jersey, he told an Israeli newspaper, “This is idol worship and not Judaism.”

So what about Theodor Herzl? He was the founder of political Zionism, beginning with his 1896 book The Jewish State. He died in 1904, but his portrait rose above the declaration of Israel’s establishment in 1948, as the picture shows.

Herzl and Ben Gurion, 1948

Herzl and Ben Gurion, 1948

In 1895, he was asked by a journalist, “What is your relation to the Bible?”

“I am a freethinker, and our principle will be: Let everyone seek salvation in his own way.”

The Jewish journalist who posed the question said, “You must be the martyr to this idea [of Zionism]. The orthodox Jews will join you but consider you a bad Jew.”

Actually not a bad Jew: not a Jew at all.

Herzl celebrated Christmas. December 24, 1895:

I was just lighting the Christmas tree for my children when [head Vienna rabbi Moritz] Gudemann arrived. He seemed upset by the “Christian” custom. Well, I will not let myself be pressured! But I don’t mind if they call it the Hannukah tree–or the winter solstice.

More of his freethinking in his Diaries, 1895:

Shall we… end up having a theocracy? No! Faith unites us, science makes us free. Therefore we shall permit no theocratic velleities [inclinations] on the part of our clergy to arise. We shall know how to restrict them to their temples, just as we shall restrict our professional soldiers to their barracks.

Herzl’s disbelief in religion fostered one of his most important political ideas: “my plan to extraterritorialize the holy places [in Jerusalem], to make them res sacrae commercium gentium [holy places above the trafficking of the nations]. That would be a great symbol… La Gerusalemme liberata.”

The Israeli government today honors none of these secular principles, of separation of church and state.

How long before Israel tightens up the Law of Return? Jews will have to chant their haftorah before Israel lets them immigrate, and prove that they have been attending an Orthodox shul.

And David Ben-Gurion in the picture above, Israel’s first Prime Minister. He was a religious person, but something of a theist, according to Wikipedia; he was not devout; some even classify him as an atheist.

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107 Responses

  1. Balfour
    Balfour
    July 8, 2015, 11:14 am

    Will Israel continue to accept financial donations from Reform Jews? Should all non-Orthodox members of AIPAC “convert” to Orthodox Judaism just to be safe? 70% of the world’s Jewish population just wants to know how to deal with the one country in the democratic world where liberal Judaism faces the most government discrimination.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      July 8, 2015, 11:58 am

      “Should all non-Orthodox members of AIPAC “convert” to Orthodox Judaism just to be safe?”

      I don’t see what choice we have. After all Tribal Unity comes from Tribal Uniformity! Besides, if we don’t, they will kick us out of their religion, since we are accepted purely on sufferance and utility.

      Look, it’s seems to me pretty simple. When Zionism seemed to be a win-win-win thing, every denomination of Judaism wanted in on it. Now that there seems to be an accounting on the horizon, we are all of a sudden gonna get good and goddam denominational and they’ll be some jockeying and re-aligning before we decide which denomination will take the hit.
      Or which new denomination will offer American Jews an easy non-Zionist way out. I applaud that! Much better than an interminable “conversation” Talk to the empty seat, talk to the empty Blue Box.
      It’s looking more and more like it’ll be the Orthodox, as they seem eager to step into the role. Oh well, you throw the dice, you win or lose.

      • Eva Smagacz
        Eva Smagacz
        July 8, 2015, 12:20 pm

        Tsk, tsk, tsk Mooser,
        You are sailing close to the wind with your Gilad Atzmonesque conspiracy theories.

      • Pixel
        Pixel
        July 8, 2015, 1:13 pm

        Mooser, your thoughtful, longer posts like this one are some of your best.

        Keep ’em coming!

    • WH
      WH
      July 8, 2015, 4:23 pm

      Considering they accept money from Christian Zionist nutters who want them to convert or die when the Rapture comes, I don’t think they’re too fussy where the shekels come from.

      • Rob Roy
        Rob Roy
        July 10, 2015, 11:51 am

        People should know that Theodor Herzl didn’t want the home of Jews to be in Palestine. He didn’t like the place. He wanted it to be in Argentina and even wrote a paper. “Palestine or Argentina?” He was out voted. A few years ago I had dinner with the then director of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. I said, “I understand that many Jews are atheists.” He immediately responded, “85%.” By the way, Netanyahu said, “My opinion of Christian Zionists? They’re scum. But don’t tell them that. We need all the useful idiots we can get right now.” He also said, “Once we squeeze all we can out of the United States, it can dry up and blow away.“

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      July 8, 2015, 7:37 pm

      The plan is working, Mooser. More and more Jews are being unjewed. Soon you’ll be the only one left. You’ll have a whole state just for you.

      (I know you were excommunicated by eee some time ago, but it looks as though it didn’t take.)

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 9, 2015, 4:07 pm

        More and more Jews are being unjewed.

        It doesn’t work that way. Even Herzl’s deceased descendants, one of whom had converted to Christianity, were nonetheless redeemed and buried in Israel with full Zionist State honors. Spinoza was only excommunicated once (so far), but has been redeemed at least twice since he died. I think that once you’ve had your genitals ritually mutilated, you’re pretty much a son of the Covenant forever. At most, excommunication can only identify you as a bad one and suspend your rights, privileges, and immunities temporarily. FYI, Herzl created some suspicion about his own qualifications in that connection when he bragged about his venereal disease and his sexual endowments in a bawdy letter that he wrote to his friend Heinrich Kana. He described his penis as a young “German-Austrian” candidate for knighthood (not a kosher Jewish one).
        * https://books.google.com/books?id=zv6SAgAAQBAJ&lpg=PA34&dq=&pg=PA34#v=onepage&q&f=false
        * https://books.google.com/books?id=eTn61f9M-EYC&pg=PA104&dq=&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Ul6eVZeaC5fooATe1pi4Bg&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false

        Thanks to the composite and conflicting nature of Jewish-Hebrew-Israel religious, atheistic, agnostic, zionist, universalist, and racist (mis)identity, excommunication is a hit or miss proposition in any event. Someone will always be willing to claim you as their very own.

        For example Spinoza was excommunicated and died while renting a room from a Protestant family in Holland. They had him buried under a flagstone in the Church that they occasionally attended together, leading many to speculate that he had converted late in life. Then:

        A plaque was placed in the Nieuwe Kerk churchyard in 1927 to commemorate the two-hundred-fiftieth anniversary of Spinoza’s death. Several Jewish enthusiasts from Palestine, who wished to reclaim Baruch Spinoza as a Jew, were involved in the commemoration. The Latin inscription reads: “This earth covers the bones of Benedictus Spinoza, once buried in the new church.”

        In Palestine, at about the same time as the unveiling of this plaque, Joseph Klausner, the renowned historian and later a candidate in Israel’s first presidential election, delivered a speech at Hebrew University in which he declared that the Jewish people had committed a terrible sin in excommunicating Spinoza; he called for a repudiation of the idea that Spinoza was a heretic. He ended, “To Spinoza, the Jew, we call out . . . from atop Mount Scopus, out of our new sanctuary —the Hebrew University of Jerusalem —the ban is rescinded! Judaism’s wrongdoing against you is hereby lifted, and whatever was your sin against her shall be forgiven. Our brother are you, our brother are you, our brother are you!”

        In 1956, the three-hundredth anniversary of Spinoza’s excommunication, Heer H. F. K. Douglas, one of Spinoza’s Dutch admirers, conceived the idea of constructing an additional memorial next to the 1927 plaque. Knowing that Ben-Gurion, the prime minister of Israel, much admired Spinoza, Heer Douglas asked for his support. Ben-Gurion enthusiastically offered it, and when the word spread in Israel, members of a humanistic Jewish organization in Haifa, who considered Spinoza the progenitor of Jewish humanism , offered to contribute a black basalt stone as part of the memorial. The formal unveiling of the monument was well attended and included governmental representatives of both Holland and Israel. Ben-Gurion did not attend the unveiling but visited the memorial in an official ceremony three years later.

        The new plaque, placed next to the 1927 plaque, contained a relief of Spinoza’s head and the single word “Caute” (caution) found on Spinoza’s ring seal, and, below that, the black Israeli basalt stone sealed to the plaque contains the Hebrew word meaning “Your People.” Some Israelis took issue with Ben-Gurion’s attempts to reclaim Spinoza. Orthodox members of the Knesset were so outraged by the idea of Israel honoring Spinoza that they called for the censure of both Ben-Gurion and the foreign minister, Golda Meir, for instructing the Israeli ambassador in Holland to attend the unveiling.

        Earlier, in an article, Ben -Gurion addressed the issue of Spinoza’s excommunication. “It is difficult to blame the Jewish community in seventeenth century Amsterdam. Their position was precarious . . . and the traumatized Jewish community had the right to defend their cohesion. But today the Jewish people do not have the right to forever exclude Spinoza the immortal from the Community of Israel.”
        Ben-Gurion insisted that the Hebrew language is not complete without the works of Spinoza. And indeed, shortly after the publication of his article, the Hebrew University published the entire body of Spinoza’s work in Hebrew.
        Some Jews wished Ben-Gurion to appeal to the Amsterdam rabbinate for reversal of the excommunication, but he declined and wrote: “I did not seek to have the excommunication annulled, since I took it for granted that the excommunication is null and void . . . There is a street in Tel-Aviv bearing Spinoza’s name, and there is not one single reasonable person in this country who thinks that the excommunication is still in force.”

        Epilogue, Irvin D. Yalom, The Spinoza Problem, Basic Books, 2012 link to books.google.com

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        July 9, 2015, 7:30 pm

        “It doesn’t work that way.”

        Curses! My evil plan is foiled again!

        [RoHa twirls moustache in frustration, sweeps cloak around self, slinks off into the night.]

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        July 9, 2015, 7:37 pm

        “There is a street in Tel-Aviv bearing Spinoza’s name, ”

        Sure. Now he’s a world famous philosopher, and has been honoured for centuries, now he’s a Jew again. Now he’s an example of Jewish genius, though, as far as I know, his views are no less incompatible with Judaism than they were when he was excommunicated. Now he is called “Baruch”, a name he never used.

        I spit on those who want to reclaim him.

      • Jackdaw
        Jackdaw
        July 10, 2015, 8:09 am

        @Hostage

        For a guy who is loathe to say anything positive about Jews, you can’t seem to leave them alone.

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod
        July 10, 2015, 9:00 am

        Yeah, Zionism gives off that kind of odor. One just can’t get used to it.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 10, 2015, 10:32 am

        @ CigarGod

        The ancient Jewish prophets didn’t spend a great deal of time catering to “seekers of smooth things”. They are remembered to this day for rising up early and forcefully bearing witness against social hypocrisy and systematic injustice perpetrated against others. They did that with such devotion that it literally enraged the members of Jewish society and placed the prophet’s lives at risk. A well-deserved jeremiad is unlikely to be well-received by the intended audience.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 10, 2015, 9:36 am

        @Hostage

        For a guy who is loathe to say anything positive about Jews, you can’t seem to leave them alone.

        Hasbara fail! I’m a member of Jewish Voice for Peace and I have nothing but positive things to say about Jewish persons, religious or otherwise, who embrace honest scholarship, universalism, and equal human rights. I consider myself fortunate to have been raised and educated in a household full of such individuals. I just rub you the wrong way because I won’t defend blind faith in Jewish racism or tribalism grounded in either ancient religious superstitions and myths, or underhanded modern political subterfuges.

      • Jackdaw
        Jackdaw
        July 10, 2015, 11:26 am

        @Hostage

        ” I just rub you the wrong way because I won’t defend blind faith in Jewish racism or tribalism … ”

        No. You rub me the wrong way because you’ve failed to preserve any part of the 3000 year Jewish religious tradition.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 10, 2015, 3:11 pm

        No. You rub me the wrong way because you’ve failed to preserve any part of the 3000 year Jewish religious tradition.

        You must mean that rubbish about “the Guy-in-the-Sky” leaving “eternal commandments” instructing us on every subject, including the proper way to take a dump in order to avoid a toilet demon, all to ensure our ultimate success in slaughtering or driving-out the other nations residing in the Holy Land, then yeah, I consider that to be a bunch of self-serving genocidal nonsense.

        On the other hand, if you mean the lessons-learned from that failed undertaking, including the obligation treat others as we ourselves want to be treated and to grant the less fortunate and the strangers living in our midsts as equals under the law, then you know perfectly well that I have never abandoned my secular humanistic “Jewish Theory of Everything” for even one moment. In fact, I’ve commented before about the fact that hatred of others without a cause is the very subject that divided the ancient Jewish community from within and which led to its eventual downfall.
        * http://mondoweiss.net/2015/03/swarthmore-resigns-restrictions#comment-760540
        * http://mondoweiss.net/2015/06/supreme-israel-jerusalem#comment-773581

      • talknic
        talknic
        July 10, 2015, 1:21 pm

        Jackdaw ” You rub me the wrong way because you’ve failed to preserve any part of the 3000 year Jewish religious tradition”

        I didn’t know coveting other folks property, bigotry, racism, making false accusations and encouraging one’s fellows to break the law were Jewish values

      • Kris
        Kris
        July 10, 2015, 1:39 pm

        @Jackdaw: “You rub me the wrong way because you’ve failed to preserve any part of the 3000 year Jewish religious tradition.”

        Jewish religious tradition? This is the most interesting comment of yours that I’ve seen, Jackdaw. Could you please explain what part of “Jewish religious tradition” that Zionists preserve?

        Zionist Jews and Israel are completely opposed to what I know of Jewish religious tradition–i.e. the prophetic teachings in the Old Testament, and the Ten Commandments.

        I hope you will take a few minutes to explain what you mean.

      • catalan
        catalan
        July 10, 2015, 4:37 pm

        “You must mean that rubbish about “the Guy-in-the-Sky” leaving “eternal commandments” instructing us on every subject, – ” Hostage
        These are bold words, Hostage, but you are a learned man. Could you share if you feel the same way about Islam – if there is no Guy in the sky, who is the Prophet then? What about fasting on Ramadan, not drinking, etc.
        Is this all nonsense? I am sure you would have some choice words regarding stoning of adulterers, hanging of gays, female genital mutilation, etc, since you are a very objective person. And, after all, there are less than a million observant Jews worldwide, and probably several hundred million observant Muslims, so surely, there is also the issue of proportion of these purported evils.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 10, 2015, 11:38 pm

        Is this all nonsense?

        Yes, of course it is. I’ve described the Kahanists that write for The Jewish Press and Arutz Shiva as members of the Jewish Taliban and that wasn’t a backhanded compliment to either party’s theology or traditions. I’ve known hundreds of progressive Muslims from my days in the military, who don’t believe in taking everyone back to the 7th century state of affairs and level of civilization. I believe in practicing religious tolerance. Nevertheless I have ridiculed the idea that tolerance implies that anyone should be willing to accept or condone the right of governments or individuals to oppress and persecute the hell out of their citizens or neighbors in the name of the God of the Jews, Christians, Muslims, or any other religion.

        I’ve commented here almost incessantly about my support for the obligation under international law to condition recognition and maintenance of diplomatic relations between states and/or international organizations on guarantees that fundamental human rights will be respected and observed both in theory and in actual practice. I also put my money where my mouth is by contributing to organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace, Avaaz, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

        I am sure you would have some choice words regarding stoning of adulterers, hanging of gays, female genital mutilation, etc, since you are a very objective person.

        You can bet your bottom dollar on that. Any snide remarks that I’ve ever made here pale in comparison to the ass chewing I gave my representative in the US Congress when I found out that the US taxpayer was picking up the tab for the bodyguards detailed to protect Hamid Karzai and the members of the Afghan Supreme Court while they considered imposing the death penalty on one of their own Christian citizens for the crime of departing from the Islamic faith.

        I think I’ve made it perfectly clear that I’m: (a) opposed to the death penalty; (b) any form of ritual genital mutilation; and (c) any form of torture, “cruel”, or “unusual” punishment. I’ve stated that I’m no fan of the Hamas regime and that I’m convinced beyond any doubt that they have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity that have targeted Jews and Palestinians alike. I’ve commented about the fact that I think the other governing faction of the PA in Ramallah has an adequate set of basic laws, but a damned poor human rights record so far. I’m glad that they’ve all signed-on to the ICC Statute and the major UN Human Rights and Hague/Geneva Humanitarian Conventions, since that means they can be subjected to more formal oversight by the treaty monitoring bodies and the other contracting state parties who can demand an official accounting and corrective actions or sanctions.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        July 11, 2015, 12:30 am

        “I didn’t know coveting other folks property, bigotry, racism, making false accusations and encouraging one’s fellows to break the law were Jewish values.”

        Talknic, it will not please you to know that, when people refer to Jewish values (as distinct from common human values), it is those sort of things I think of.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        July 11, 2015, 12:45 am

        I will point out that FGM is not a specifically Muslim practice, and is not of Islamic origin. It seems to hav e originated in Africa, and it is practiced by pagans and Christians as well. It is not practiced universally among Muslims.

        The story behind stoning adulterers is interesting. What I was told was that, in Medina, The Prophet was asked to judge a case of Jewish adulterers. At that stage he had received no revelations about adultery, so he judged according to Jewish Law, and they were stoned. Subsequently, the Quranic law that adulterers should be flogged was received, but somehow the stoning was taken as Islamic law. Lots of Muslims have been surprised when I tell them it isn’t in the Quran.

      • Jackdaw
        Jackdaw
        July 11, 2015, 8:53 am

        @ Hostage

        “In fact, I’ve commented before about the fact that hatred of others without a cause is the very subject that divided the ancient Jewish community from within..”

        And very interesting comments indeed, but I have a question or two.

        You said that, “Then as now, some bigoted Jews created a controversy that almost destroyed the Jewish people by insisting that they accept a legal system which viewed Gentiles as enemies “.

        Well, for starters, no one knows today the exact nature of the Eighteen Measures, and it seems that no one even knew back in Talmudic times.
        Assuming, arguendo, that the Eighteen Measures included anti-Gentile legislation, how do we know that the anti-Gentile legislation was politically motivated and not religious?

        I sense that most anti-Gentile legislation had to do with the laws of ritual impurity. Gentile lands weren’t in and of themselves impure, but rather, a clod of earth from a gentile’s land could be impure because a Gentile might have plowed over a graveyard and rendered his crops impure.
        Likewise Gentile glassware would be declared impure because glass was made of sand and indistinguishable from gentile soil, and which might be ritually impure.

        Not hate legislation, but a very, very stringint interpretation from the Shammai school.

        You said that, “the Zealots were naturally inflamed against every one of them; and therefore the Shammaites proposed to prevent all communication between Jew and Gentile, by prohibiting the Jews from buying any article of food or drink from their heathen neighbors.”

        This Zealot-Shammaite connection is tenous at best, since it is based solely on the ‘iffy’ identification of Hezekiah ben Gurion with Hezekiah the Zealot. A speculative connection only.

        If there was indeed a putsch in the upper room of of Hananiah b. Hezekiah b. Gurion’s home, see Shabbat 17a, how do we know it had anything to do with the Gentiles?

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 11, 2015, 3:32 pm

        I sense that most anti-Gentile legislation had to do with the laws of ritual impurity. Gentile lands weren’t in and of themselves impure, but rather, a clod of earth from a gentile’s land could be impure because a Gentile might have plowed over a graveyard and rendered his crops impure.
        Likewise Gentile glassware would be declared impure because glass was made of sand and indistinguishable from gentile soil, and which might be ritually impure.

        Your post hoc attempts to cobble together some sort of unscientific religious veneer to disguise the underlying bigotry are just as effective as Donald Trump’s. You’re simply saying that a Gentile’s goods had to be declared impure, because they “might” be, not because they actually were impure. The logical corollary is that a Jew’s goods could be assumed to be pure, even if they actually weren’t. The laws of purity were unhistorical nonsensical and bent whenever they proved to be to inconvenient, i.e. The sefer Torah makes your hands unclean, but the books of Homer do not. The Priests in the Temple could nonetheless offer the sacrifices to God without worry on that account, because the sefer Torah of the Sanctuary didn’t make your hands unclean, only the ones everywhere else.

        Well, for starters, no one knows today the exact nature of the Eighteen Measures, and it seems that no one even knew back in Talmudic times.

        Well nobody left us step-by-step instructions or a detailed diagram regarding the construction and use of the Golden Calf, but that doesn’t mean that we are clueless about its nature or the intent behind its creation. I was careful to cite the commentaries on the pertinent passages from the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud authored by the Jewish scholars at Bar-Ilan University or The Jewish Encyclopedia. I notice that you’re not bothering to do anything like that.

        We do know for certain from the various Jewish, Roman, and Christian sources that the law was intended to prohibit normal relations and trade between the Jews and their Gentile neighbors on the basis of these newly-minted, man-made laws of purity. You can compare the information from the Jewish Encyclopedia articles on Gentiles and the Houses of Hillel and Shammai with Simon Peter’s comment on the subject from Acts Chapter 10, after his his own purported vision regarding unclean things. The passage in question had certainly been composed by the time of the Talmudic era:

        Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation;

        https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+10%3A28&version=KJV

        We also know for certain that the Sages agree that the day they were adopted is remembered as a day that was every bit as bad for the people of Israel as the day that they made the Golden Calf; and that the consensus of opinion among the Sages was that hatred without a cause, and not a lack of ritual observance, purity, or acts of charity was the precise factor that led to the downfall of the Second Commonwealth and the destruction of the Temple.

        For example, according to Josephus, the Zealots had essentially declared war on the Gentiles when they put a stop to the daily sacrifices that had been provided for the welfare of the Emperor. Likewise, he reports that they hated “Hellenized” or culturally assimilated Jews. In War Chapter 6 he explained that all of the daily sacrifices had ended due to lack of supply and that Titus had offered a truce to provide for them. The besieged Zealots refused the offer and boldly claimed that the city belonged to their God and could not be captured. Josephus replied that the Zealots had actually angered God by ending the sacrifices and defiling the Temple. He claimed that God had switched sides in the dispute, because Titus was actually attempting to restore the necessary sacrifices to their God.

      • catalan
        catalan
        July 11, 2015, 9:10 am

        Roha,
        I know not all Muslims are the same. I once worked in a shop with many Muslims. They all knew I was Jewish and we always joked about it. They trusted me more even for some reason. During Ramadan, some fasted, and some didn’t, some thought fasting was foolishness. Then there was a girl, from Bangladesh, she told me she resents all the rules of Islam. She wanted to date boys and didn’t care for the religion and the arranged marriages.
        From personal experience, Orthodox Jews are not as orthodox as they want to appear. The heart wants its thing, and I was stunned by how every single rule can be easily broken, in spite of the outward facade. The way of flesh is the same and all the social structures in our heads collapse when desire sets in.
        That said, if you into this kind of thing, there are videos of stoning online. It’s savage stuff and you are not being a friend of the Muslims by explaining it as having this or that origin. Every religion has psychopaths, and since Islam is big, it has a lot of psychopaths.

      • Rob Roy
        Rob Roy
        July 11, 2015, 1:37 pm

        Stoning for adultery is not in the Quaran. It’s in the Talmud.

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel
        July 11, 2015, 6:40 pm

        The story behind stoning adulterers is interesting. What I was told was that, in Medina, The Prophet was asked to judge a case of Jewish adulterers. At that stage he had received no revelations about adultery, so he judged according to Jewish Law, and they were stoned.

        That is interesting, because according to Jewish law they would not have been executed at all in Mohammed’s time, and even when the death penalty for adultery was still practised in Judaism, the process was rather complicated and such executions were (according to the Talmud) extremely rare. To top it all off, the standard penalty on the books for adultery was death by strangulation, not stoning (see Maimonides, Hilkhot issurei bi’ah, ch. 4).

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel
        July 11, 2015, 6:45 pm

        Stoning for adultery is not in the Quaran. It’s in the Talmud.

        I don’t know whether it’s in the Qur’an, but the punishment of death by stoning (albeit not for “ordinary” adultery) is actually in the Bible (e.g. Deuteronomy 22:23-24).

      • Bumblebye
        Bumblebye
        July 11, 2015, 8:54 pm

        @ Shmuel
        I recall reading some years ago (where I don’t remember) that the story was that a member of a Jewish tribe asked advice of the prophet on how to deal with his adulterous wife. When he declined the offer of joining the new religion he was advised to treat her according to the laws and practices of his own religion. Perhaps the practice among the peninsula Jewish tribes was still stoning. Maybe it’s misunderstanding of this which led to the nasty habit of stoning for adultery in Islam?

      • dgfincham
        dgfincham
        July 12, 2015, 4:50 am

        In the Quran translation by M.A.S Abdel Haleem (Oxford World’s Classics) the penalty for adultery is specified thus in 24:2: “Strike the adulteress and the adulterer one hundred times.”

        The translator’s notes say that the Arabic word translated as ‘adultery’ (zina) covers all extramarital sex between a man and a women.

        He also says that the word translated ‘strike’ (jalada) means ‘hit the skin’ with the hand or anything else – there are reports that people used shoes, clothes etc.

        It seems to me that in this case a better translation would be ‘slap’. The mention of shoes brings to mind a picture of Iraqis throwing shoes at images of Saddam Husein. It may be that the aim of the punishment was more to humiliate than cause much pain or physical harm.

        A contrary view is given by the website ‘thereligionofpeace.com’. This quotes several hadith which have Mohammad personally ordering adulterers to be stoned. It also mentions the following:

        Muslim (17:4192) – This hadith clarifies the different penalties for adultery (when the subjects are married), and fornication (when they are not): “in case of married (persons) there is (a punishment) of one hundred lashes and then stoning (to death). And in case of unmarried persons, (the punishment) is one hundred lashes and exile for one year” (See also 17:4191)

        According to Umar, the companion of Muhammad and Islam’s second caliph, “[Allah] sent down the Book (Quran) upon him (Muhamad), and the verse of stoning was included in what was sent down to him.” Umar went on to insist that “Stoning is a duty laid down in Allah’s Book for married men and women who commit adultery when proof is established, or it there is pregnancy, or a confession.” (Muslim 17:4194) In other words, there was a verse in the original Quran narration that prescribed stoning adulterers, but it was left out of the compiling process in the years following Muhammad’s death.

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel
        July 12, 2015, 5:26 am

        Perhaps the practice among the peninsula Jewish tribes was still stoning. Maybe it’s misunderstanding of this which led to the nasty habit of stoning for adultery in Islam?

        Or perhaps Islamic tradition (assuming the story is part of Islamic tradition) included the story for other reasons. I was just pointing out that (except in a few very specific cases, where the primary crime is not adultery) the Rabbinic punishment for adultery is strangulation, not stoning, and that Rabbinic law forbids capital punishment in the absence of a Great Sanhedrin seated in its Temple chambers (a condition that, according to tradition, has not been met since 30 CE). (See Maimonides, Hilkhot sanhedrin, ch. 14.)

        Is it possible that a Jewish tribe in the Arabian peninsula practised a form of non-Rabbinic, biblical law (although the Bible does not actually stipulate stoning for adultery) in the sixth century? Sure. It’s also possible that said Jewish tribe (assuming it possessed the independent authority to inflict capital punishment) merely inflicted the punishments common among other tribes in that area at that time. Or maybe, the author/s of the story mistakenly ascribed the practice to Jewish law out of ignorance or misinterpretation — or intentionally did so for some other didactic purpose that may or may not have been related specifically to Judaism.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        July 12, 2015, 7:28 am

        In his commentary on 24:2, Maulana Muhammad Ali says that, according to a Hadith in the Bukhari collection, The Prophet ordered stoning for a Jewsih couple on the grounds that it was a Jewish punishment. He points out that in 4:25 the punishment for adultery for wives who were slaves was half that of free women, and stoning to death cannot be halved. From this he rejects the idea that stoning was ever the Islamic punishment.

        “… then if they are guilty of adultery when they are taken in marriage, they shall suffer half the punishment for free married women.”
        4:25, MMA’s translation.

        MMA also supports the idea that the intent of the flogging was to shame rather than hurt.

        I have no idea whether or not there actually ever was a verse for stoning, but if there was, it was lost long ago. It seems extraordinary that the punishment is still held to be part of the law.

      • Jackdaw
        Jackdaw
        July 12, 2015, 7:48 am

        @ Hostage

        You are cherry picking your history and generally taking things out of context.

        See, TRACTATE AVODAH ZARAH, CHAPTER ONE, MISHNAH SEVEN:

        We do not sell to them [non-Jews] bears, lions and anything else that might harm the public. We do not build for them a mansion, a scaffold, a stadium or a dais. But we do build with them pedestals and bath-houses. when they reach the alcove in which they set up the idol it is forbidden to [continue] building [with them].

        Why the prohibitions? Because they are Goyim?
        No. Because playing with wild animals is dangerous and cruel. Mansions (basilicas) housed Roman Courts and furthering Roman Law was a no-no. Same holds true for scaffolds which might be used for gallows, etc.
        Jews could construct public bath houses, but not the alcoves where the Romans placed their household god statues.

        Some of the Rabbis may have enacted ‘hate legislation’, but clearly, the overriding intent of the Rabbis in legislating these prohibitions was to distance Jews from idolotry, and ritual impurity, etc.

        BTW, why are BDS boycotts of Israeli goods and services, or the Palestinian ‘anti-normalization’ policy any different from what you say the zealots were doing?

        http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Success-and-pitfalls-of-Palestinian-anti-normalization-404641

      • annie
        annie
        July 12, 2015, 10:03 am

        clearly, the overriding intent of the Rabbis in legislating these prohibitions was to distance Jews from idolotry, and ritual impurity, etc.

        but you just wrote the prohibitions were because playing with wild animals (goyim) is dangerous and cruel. you should try to streamline your opinions.

        and that link of yours has faulty logic:

        The Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) is very clear: normalization is “the participation in any project, initiative or activity in Palestine or internationally that aims to bring together Palestinians and Israelis without placing as its goals resistance and exposure of the Israeli occupation and oppression against the Palestinian people.” PACBI argues that any work involving dialogue or reconciliation is unacceptable because it is not in the framework of struggle against Israel’s actions.

        why bother quoting something to rephrase is skipping the point? PACBI does not argue “that any work involving dialogue or reconciliation is unacceptable because it is not in the framework of struggle against Israel’s actions.” PACBI argues that any work involving dialogue or reconciliation “without placing as its goals resistance and exposure of the Israeli occupation and oppression against the Palestinian people” is unacceptable because it is not in the framework of struggle against Israel’s actions.

        there’s a difference.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 12, 2015, 2:29 pm

        and that link of yours has faulty logic … there’s a difference.

        He’s defending an ancient system of apartheid laws, invented by the House of Shammai and the Zealots, that even Jewish scholars have said were primarily motivated by hatred of their Gentile neighbors. Even back then, there were Jews who were so strongly opposed to the idea that they couldn’t worship under the same roof. They literally had to be put to the sword before the apartheid scheme could be adopted. When he stupidly asked “How is BDS any different than what the Zealots were doing?”, he already knew the answer. We aren’t using religion as a fig leaf for eternal bigotry and hatred. Nothing in the BDS platform violates the Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice, and equal human rights.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 12, 2015, 1:49 pm

        @ Hostage

        You are cherry picking your history and generally taking things out of context.

        Bullshit! You don’t need to be so meticulous about maintaining your purity against an accidental transgression, even if you had an offering, the God of the Bible wouldn’t accept it. How can you publicly defend highhanded cases of hatred, cold-blooded murder, covetousness, theft, and those who falsely bear witness about the situation in Palestine on such a widespread scale? If you can be cut off from the congregation of Israel and stoned to death for presumptuously gathering wood on the Sabbath, then what does Divine Justice require for those much more serious sins committed against the Palestinians by their Jewish neighbors?

        You claimed that I rubbed you the wrong way because I had abandoned 3,000 years of Jewish tradition, but you’ve had to cobble together an argument. All of the sources that I cited, the Sages, Josephus, and the Christian scriptures are in perfect agreement on these historical details. Every time that the people of Israel forgot to live humbly and to care for others living in their midst as if they were looking out for their own interests it has resulted in societal failure, wars, and destruction. All you’ve cited are some comments that do not refute what the Sages, Josephus, and the Christian sources had to say on the subject. I’m not cherrypicking anything, since I’ve made my case by quoting the text of The Jewish Encyclopedia on these subjects verbatim.

        Here is what the article on HATRED has to say about the destruction of the Temple:

        Hatred is unbrotherly where love should prevail, and therefore the Law says, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart” (Lev. xix. 17). This prohibition is not, as is often asserted with reference to Matt. v. 43 et seq., confined to kinsmen (see Brotherly Love). Only idolaters and doers of evil are excluded from the universal law of love (Deut. vii. 2-10), whereas even an enemy’s beast should be treated with kindness (Ex. xxiii. 5-6). One ought not to rejoice at the destruction of the man that hateth him (Job xxxi. 29; Prov. xxv. 21 et seq.). The hatred most frequently denounced in the Psalms is that caused by no wrong-doing on the part of the hated and persecuted one (Ps. xxxv. 19, lxix. 5 [4], cix. 5). It was this hatred without reason which caused the brothers of Joseph to do evil (Gen. xxxvii. 4).

        “Hatred without cause” (“sine’at ḥinnam”) is therefore the rabbinical term for the vice of hatred: and the Talmud is emphatic in denouncing it. On its account the Second Temple was destroyed (Yoma 9b). It undermines domestic peace (Shab. 32b). It is equal in wickedness to any one of the three capital sins (Yoma 9b). To leave no doubt as to the extent of the prohibition of hatred, the Rabbis use the term “sine’at ha-beriyyot” (hatred of fellow creatures; see Creature), and condemn such hatred as is detrimental to the welfare of mankind (Abot ii. 11). “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer,” is Pharisaic as well as New Testament teaching (R. Eliezer in Derek Ereẓ Rabbah xiii. is prior to I John iii. 15).

        http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/7331-hatred

        Here’s what the article on BET HILLEL AND BET SHAMMAI has to say about the dispute over relations with Gentiles and the adoption of the 18 new laws:

        the Shammaites, whose principles were akin to those of the Zealots, found support among them. Their religious austerity, combined with their hatred of the heathen Romans, naturally aroused the sympathies of the fanatic league, and as the Hillelites became powerless to stem the public indignation, the Shammaites gained the upper hand in all disputes affecting their country’s oppressors. Bitter feelings were consequently engendered between the schools; and it appears that even in public worship they would no longer unite under one roof (Jost, “Gesch. des Judenthums und Seiner Sekten,” i. 261; Tosef., R. H., end). These feelings grew apace, until toward the last days of Jerusalem’s struggle they broke out with great fury.

        Relation to External World.

        As all the nations around Judea made common cause with the Romans, the Zealots were naturally inflamed against every one of them; and therefore the Shammaites proposed to prevent all communication between Jew and Gentile, by prohibiting the Jews from buying any article of food or drink from their heathen neighbors. The Hillelites, still moderate in their religious and political views, would not agree to such sharply defined exclusiveness; but when the Sanhedrin was called together to consider the propriety of such measures, the Shammaites, with the aid of the Zealots, gained the day. Eleazar ben Ananias invited the disciples of both schools to meet at his house. Armed men were stationed at the door, and instructed to permit every one to enter, but no one to leave. During the discussions that were carried on under these circumstances, many Hillelites are said to have been killed; and there and then the remainder adopted the restrictive propositions of the Shammaites, known in the Talmud as “The Eighteen Articles.” On account of the violence which attended those enactments, and because of the radicalism of the enactments themselves, the day on which the Shammaites thus triumphed over the Hillelites was thereafter regarded as a day of misfortune (Tosef., Shab. i. 16 et seq.; Shab. 13a, 17a; Yer. Shab. i. 3c).

        Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel continued their disputes—probably interrupted during the war times—after the destruction of the Temple, or until after the reorganization of the Sanhedrin under the presidency of Gamaliel II. (80 C.E.). By that time all political schemes and plans for the recovery of the lost liberty had become altogether foreign to the ideas of the spiritual leaders; and the characteristies of the Hillelites once more gained the ascendency. All disputed points were brought up for review (see ‘Akabia); and in nearly every case the opinion of the Hillelites prevailed (Tosef., Yeb. i. 13; Yer. Ber. i. 3b; Grätz, “Gesch. der Juden,” 2d ed., iv. 424, note 4). Thenceforth it was said: “Where Bet Shammai is opposed to Bet Hillel, the opinion of Bet Shammai is considered as if not incorporated in the Mishnah” (“Bet Shammai bimeḳom Bet Hillel enah Mishnah”—Ber. 36b; Beẓah 11b; Yeb. 9a); that is, null and void.

        http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/3190-bet-hillel-and-bet-shammai

        BTW, why are BDS boycotts of Israeli goods and services, or the Palestinian ‘anti-normalization’ policy any different from what you say the zealots were doing?

        That should be fairly obvious. Unlike the Zealots, the Palestinian Solidarity movement is pursuing righteous ends, like regional peace; equal rights and protection for everyone under the law, and a just settlement for those who have been wronged. We are not prescribing a perpetual or endless regime of boycott, divestment, or sanctions under the auspices of the eternal Torah and a person’s genealogy. We are only targeting the State governments, the individuals, and the organizations who are violating the traditional Jewish prohibitions against murder, covetousness, theft, spreading lies, and hatred of mankind in a highhanded fashion, until such time as they agree to comply with basic human norms.

      • diasp0ra
        diasp0ra
        July 12, 2015, 2:03 pm

        For those actually curious about knowing about stoning, cutting off hands etc etc, I’d urge you to read this:

        http://partytilfajr.tumblr.com/post/18084754020/is-cutting-hands-off-a-necessary-punishment-for

        It’s hilarious that some people actually go to thereligionofpeace.com to learn about anything Muslim. It’s like going to stormfront to learn about Judaism.

        If you’re too lazy to read the actual context sensitive historically driven explanation, no, stoning is not an Islamic punishment. This guy is an Imam with multiple degrees from Al-Azhar, so he has the credentials.

      • dgfincham
        dgfincham
        July 12, 2015, 4:13 pm

        @Diaspora,

        I don’t think I am funny or lazy. I did not go to thereligionofpeace.com to learn about anything Muslim. I went first to my translation of the Quran. Then I did a Google search to see if there were any alternative points of view. The lazy people are those whose minds are already made up and do not bother to do any research.

        I must say that thereligionofpeace.com makes an interesting point. It seems to me that adultery is indeed a more serious wrong than fornication involving two unmarried persons. It does seem strange for the punishment to be equal in the two cases. The ‘missing verse’ theory is credible, as is the ‘Jewish penalty for Jewish transgressors’.

      • just
        just
        July 12, 2015, 3:21 pm

        +1, diasp0ra!

        That site is despicable and replete with untruths meant to keep the Islamophobes raging. Thanks for setting the record straight!

        (I was away from MW a few days and it takes ages to catch up, especially on some of these threads.)

      • Jackdaw
        Jackdaw
        July 12, 2015, 3:26 pm

        @Hostage

        “Bullshit!”

        I’m confused.

        Hezekiah the Zealot lived around 30 BC, but it was Yosé ben-Yo’ezer who legislated to preserve the religious and ethnic identity of the Jewish people in the face of encroaching Hellenism, and “decreed uncleanness upon gentile countries and upon glassware” [Shabbat 14b–15b]. Yose ben-Yo’ezer was martyred around 160 BC. He and 59 other rabbis were crucified by Antiochus.

        That puts 130 years between Hezekiah and Yose ben-Yo’ezer.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 13, 2015, 11:42 am

        I’m confused. Hezekiah the Zealot lived around 30 BC, but it was Yosé ben-Yo’ezer who legislated to preserve the religious and ethnic identity of the Jewish people in the face of encroaching Hellenism, and “decreed uncleanness upon gentile countries and upon glassware” [Shabbat 14b–15b], …. That puts 130 years between Hezekiah and Yose ben-Yo’ezer.

        You certainly are confused. Years after the Sanhedrin had moved from the unclean Gentile lands of the Emperor’s private estate at Yavneh to Usha, the Rabbis themselves were still arguing about the proper mode of disposition for a heave offering in the six “doubtful cases of uncleanness”, including “the doubt of the area of a grave” and “Gentile lands”. So, if you had wanted to end all commerce and communication between the people of the land and their Gentile neighbors, it would have taken a hell of a lot more than one decree that simply made their crops and glassware ritually unclean. That’s why the passage from Shabbat folio 14b of the Babylonian Talmud that you just cited explains that the uncleanness of Gentile lands was only one of the 18 ordinances. http://halakhah.com/shabbath/shabbath_14.html#PARTb So let’s drop the apples to oranges comparisons, we are not talking about the same legal measures or the same enforcement regime.

        That’s one of the biggest difficulties in accepting your line of argumentation. The same very passage you cited indicates that these decrees regarding the uncleanness of Gentiles lands were not always accepted when they were handed down by the pairs of Sages. The passage indicates that they were only accepted from the Sages disciples (who resorted to bloodshed). In addition, the subsequent discussion in folio 15a reveals that the earlier decree by Yosé ben-Yo’ezer and Yosé ben-Yohanan was so obscure that even the Rabbis themselves had questioned its authenticy. http://halakhah.com/shabbath/shabbath_15.html They had finally sent word to Yosé ben-Yo’ezer’s son to repeat the two or three things he had said in his father’s name in the past to see if the decree about the uncleanness of Gentile lands would be mentioned among them. If that was the case with the experts, who literally were obsessed with the subject, then it’s extremely unlikely that the common people had any knowledge about the earlier decree’s existence.

        Vered Noam, of the Department of Hebrew Culture Studies, Tel Aviv University, has pointed out that the Rabbis had much more stringent customs of purity than those which were required under the theoretical-biblical concept of the proper bounds of non-priestly purity. He has also noted that the plain meaning of the scriptures relating to impurity dispels any notion that impurity is always regarded as a forbidden state or that it has to be avoided. He said that:

        “After all, bodily impurities, including corpse-contamination, are an inescapable component of daily life. … the few verses warning against impurity, or stating a punishment for its incurrence, are primarily directed at preventing contact between impurity and consecrated persons, objects, or places, and not against contracting or prolonging impurity in the secular sphere.”

        The dual strategy of Rabbinic purity legislation — http://www.verednoam.com/articles/NoamDualStrategy.pdf

        FYI, the majority of the Jewish people lived in communities in Alexandria and Babylonia and would hardly have been troubled by such a Palestinian rabbinical decree, since they would have only rarely come into contact with a consecrated person, place, or thing involved in the Jewish Temple cult or its offerings.

        For that matter, the same thing could have been said for the descendants of the so-called “Am Ha-Aretz” that Ezra and Nehemiah found living in Palestine when they returned from exile. Experts agree that they never shared the Rabbi’s obsession or enthusiasm for purity. By the era of the Maccabean revolt, they were quite numerous and the term had come to mean “those less than scrupulous in the observance of the Law.” In actual practice they had normal relations and trade with their Gentile neighbors and the Rabbis actually included contact with “an Am Ha-Ares’s clothes” as one of the six doubtful cases of uncleanness right along with “Gentile lands”. See for example Lawrence H. Schiffman (editor), “The Talmud of the Land of Israel, Volume 13: Yerushalmi Pesahim”, University of Chicago Press, 1994, page 34 https://books.google.com/books?id=cYutcDYf1HQC&lpg=PA33&ots=jYVrjRsMtk&dq=&pg=PA34#v=onepage&q&f=false and Aharon Oppenheimer, “The Am Ha-Aretz: A Study in the Social History of the Jewish People in the Hellenistic-Roman Period”, Brill, 1997.

      • gamal
        gamal
        July 12, 2015, 11:43 pm

        Dear Dr David,

        “This quotes several hadith”
        “This hadith clarifies the different penalties for adultery”

        “According to Umar, the companion of Muhammad and Islam’s second caliph, “[Allah] sent down the Book (Quran) upon him (Muhamad), and the verse of stoning was included in what was sent down to him.” Umar went on to insist that “Stoning is a duty laid down in Allah’s Book for married men and women who commit adultery when proof is established, or it there is pregnancy, or a confession.” (Muslim 17:4194) In other words, there was a verse in the original Quran narration that prescribed stoning adulterers, but it was left out of the compiling process in the years following Muhammad’s death.”

        You can not derive a legal principle from a hadith without a Quranic basis, when they list sources Quran, Hadith etc, its not check in one and then if you dont find it look in the next one, its sequential, do Muslims violate this yes while paying lip to service to it and without any sign of suffering cognitive dissonance, its puzzling. Zina is mentioned 5 0r 6 times in the Quran, there is no execution, so that’s clear, but we have found ways round that.

        As to Umar, he did not say, he is reported to have said and further more the fundamental Islamic tenet is that the Quran, in its seven slight variant editions, is the final and complete testament, given what survives of previous scripture, given that a full knowledge of the living ancient dialects and their idioms survives, if the Mushaf is not complete there no point in Islam at all, Umar ‘s purported utterance, if Umar said such a thing Muslims are doctrinally compelled to accept that he was in error, if through Gods providence the Quran is not the final complete summation of semito-aryan monotheism Islam, in its exoteric aspect is entirely pointless, all our scriptures are garbled. Also any English translation of any Arabic source is already an interpretation, there is no Islamic position on anything, there are a variety of conflicting ones, the Quran says that engenders peace, so you can judge its general reliability from that perhaps. What makes Muslim smile is your firm and clear grasp of our ambiguity, as in life nothing in Islam is clear, that Viennese ex-Jew Assad still has far and away the best English translation, good and copious footnotes and appendices.

        Of course Zina is interesting in other ways

        “With regard to witnesses to zina, they should be four people whose testimony is acceptable, and they should state that they have seen the zina in clear terms, i.e., they should have seen the man’s penis in the woman’s vagina. If some of them only testify that they saw them naked, or they describe certain positions or movements, that is not sufficient to proof that zina took place.

        Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in al-Sharh al-Mumti’ (6/157):

        They should describe zina in clear terms, such as saying: “I saw his penis in her vagina”. There is no alternative to that. If they say: “We saw him on top of her and they were naked”, that is not acceptable. Even if they say “We saw him doing with her what a man does with his wife,” that is not sufficient as testimony. They must say “We bear witness that his penis was in her vagina.” And this is very difficult, as the man said who was testified against at the time of ‘Umar: “If you were among the (four) thighs you would never be able to give this testimony.” Hence Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah mentioned that at his time no case of zina was proven by means of testimony from the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) until the time of Ibn Taymiyah. If no case was proven from that time until the other, then we do not know of any case that was proven by testimony up till our own times, because it is very difficult.”

        http://islamqa.info/en/88051

      • Jackdaw
        Jackdaw
        July 14, 2015, 8:37 am

        @Hostage

        ” In actual practice they had normal relations and trade with their Gentile neighbors ”

        An “ Am Ha-Ares’ has multiple meanings.

        http://www.chabad.org/multimedia/media_cdo/aid/1989687/jewish/Intermediate-Talmud-Lesson-15.htm

        Anyway. Rabbi Schiffman tells us that the dirt from a Gentile lands can impart uncleanness because it’s earth may contain decayed human body, and, that there is ‘doubt’, attached to an ‘am ha’ ares’s’ clothes because his menstruate wife may have sat on the clothes.

        Where’s the Gentile hate?

        Even Yosé ben-Yo’ezer, who originally decreed Gentile land (clods of earth) impure, did so as a stop gap measure to try to stop Jews from moving from Eretz Yisroel.

        Gentile hate?

        I think the Greeks who crucified Yose, were the haters. Don’t you?

        “That’s why the passage from Shabbat folio 14b of the Babylonian Talmud that you just cited explains that the uncleanness of Gentile lands was only one of the 18 ordinances.. ”

        Right. And the same folio explains that no less than 3 of the 18 ordinances has nothing to do with the Gentiles.

        Didn’t Josephus say that the Zealots were one of the sects; Saducees, Pharisees, Essenses and Zealots.

        Why didn’t Josephus lump the Zealots in with Pharisees? Because they were outside of the religious authority of the Pharisees? Which, by extension, would mean that they were outside of the authority of Bet Shammai.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 14, 2015, 2:16 pm

        @ Jackdaw Anyway. Rabbi Schiffman tells us that the dirt from a Gentile lands can impart uncleanness because it’s earth may contain decayed human body, and, that there is ‘doubt’, attached to an ‘am ha’ ares’s’ clothes because his menstruate wife may have sat on the clothes.

        You’ve failed to take notice that no evidence was required, and that no amount of exculpatory evidence would have been deemed acceptable in either case. This wasn’t just limited to a Gentile’s soil as you suggest. The same thing is true of many other rabbinical texts which simply assume that the Gentiles (themselves) must be treated as if they are both ritually and morally impure because they “might” eat unclean things, be idolators, commit sodomy, or have contracted carcass contamination of their persons or their dwellings. See for example T. Zabim 2:1.

        You still sound as clueless and bigoted as Donald Trump. I supplied you a link, try reading it again. Rabbi Schiffman clearly included both the Gentile lands and the clothes of the Am Ha-Aretz in the “six cases of doubtful uncleanness”, i.e. there is merely “doubt” and no real evidence of uncleanness. The decrees regarding both are based solely upon the ignorance and prejudice of the Rabbis toward others, not upon any solid evidence that someone’s wife sat on their clothes or that anyone had discovered bones in a Gentile farmer’s field. It goes without saying that you can’t explain why dirt from a Jew’s land isn’t automatically considered unclean for the very same reasons or why a Rabbi’s clothes aren’t suspected. After all, there had been other peoples buried throughout the Land of Canaan for hundreds of thousands of years before the Israelite cultivators arrived on the scene and all of their women folk started looking around for a place to sit down.

        Where’s the Gentile hate? Even Yosé ben-Yo’ezer, who originally decreed Gentile land (clods of earth) impure, did so as a stop gap measure to try to stop Jews from moving from Eretz Yisroel.

        You gotta be kidding me. Many Jewish scholars (e.g. Rabbi Adolf Büchler, Dr. Jonathan Klawans) agree that the laws regarding the ritual impurity of Gentile lands, houses, and persons were adopted shortly before the revolt of 70 A.D. Those laws were also applied domestically to places, like the region of Caesarea Maritima. Cities like it, and Tiberias were known to have been built upon graves but there were surely many others where that happened unwittingly. In your earlier comment, you claimed that he had “legislated to preserve the religious and ethnic identity of the Jewish people in the face of encroaching Hellenism”. So, any reasonable person could conclude from your own comments here that these were new, non-scriptural laws aimed at creating isolated ethnic enclaves inside Palestine or preventing Jews from taking up residence in Gentile countries by declaring Gentiles “impure” or “unclean”. That’s the textbook definition of an apartheid law or legislated descent-based segregation.

      • Rob Roy
        Rob Roy
        July 14, 2015, 2:22 pm

        O.K. I’ve been reading along with all the comments thus far and it’s time to ask “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” Come on…rabbinical texts? biblical texts? You do know, surely, that they are all myths, don’t you? They don’t really prove anything except people have fun debating them at great length…each trying to get the upper hand. For what? Not a thing of importance, really.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 15, 2015, 7:58 am

        O.K. I’ve been reading along with all the comments thus far and it’s time to ask “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” Come on…rabbinical texts? biblical texts?

        Yeah, the very same material that many western cultures and societies mined for centuries in order to justify their own Christian politics, philosophy, and ethnics. I frankly doubt that the ancient leaders were very different from our leaders today, like Carter, Regan, Bush II, or Obama who sometimes employ their religion for political ends. I firmly believe that religion was always the hand maiden or instrument of the competing political echelons in the past. Likewise, I think that the many references to Rabbis or other persons, who were either excommunicated or who were apostates (meshumad, min, epikoros, & etc.), but were nonetheless the subjects of the on-going ethical or philosophical debates indicates that Jewish secularism, atheism, or agnosticism are not new-fangled ideas.

        You do know, surely, that they are all myths, don’t you? They don’t really prove anything except people have fun debating them at great length…each trying to get the upper hand. For what? Not a thing of importance, really. They don’t really prove anything except people have fun debating them at great length…each trying to get the upper hand. For what? Not a thing of importance, really.

        No, while I admit that the scriptures and rabbinical texts contain religious myths, they also contain the wisdom literature which discusses lessons learned from historical events, and contain philosophical and ethical material and the related debates and discussions about those subjects that serve as a cultural touchstone for many people. If you’ve been following the article and the comment thread so far, then you certainly know by now that there have always been competing Jewish world views regarding the desirability of separatism, isolationism, or universalism.

        The article points out that Herzl and roughly half of all Jewish people living today aren’t considered the co-religionists of the hard core fanatics. But I would argue that has always been the case. In the era of Josephus, the historian wrote that there were only about six thousand Pharisees with their Persian/Zoroastrian derived fixation on “purity”. The much more numerous Am Ha-Aretz or people of the Land of Israel most certainly were not considered members or proponents of all of their religious doctrines.

        What I’ve been pointing out is that: (a) there is a long Jewish tradition which says that the halakhah (the way we should all live) follows the universalism of the House of Hillel and its custom of patiently listening to all opposing views and repeating them to others before presenting their own; and (b) that political Zionism is willing to do neither of those things. So, it’s absurd to suggest that an Anti-Zionist has abandoned 3,000 years of Jewish tradition.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        July 19, 2015, 12:40 am

        “It doesn’t work that way. “

        Thank you, Hostage. That is a big relief! I was losing several minutes of sleep every night over it.

  2. Citizen
    Citizen
    July 8, 2015, 11:24 am

    Haha. Did Herzl come from the womb of a Jewish mother? Did he proclaim his conversion to a religion other than Judaism?

    • W.Jones
      W.Jones
      July 9, 2015, 12:18 pm

      “Did he proclaim his conversion to a religion other than Judaism?”
      According to the ideas of Rivlin, was Herzl’s religion still really Judaism?

      Anyway, I don’t get how Reform Judaism could rationally be considered non-Judaism and idolatry. Wouldn’t at worst it be considered “heresy”, not non-Judaism?

  3. Mooser
    Mooser
    July 8, 2015, 11:50 am

    “Did he proclaim his conversion to a religion other than Judaism? “

    Oh boy, are you missing the point! Citizen,!
    When Hophmi (or any of the herd of ilk) start screaming about who is or isn’t Jewish, do they ask me, or Phil or anybody else if we have converted?

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      July 8, 2015, 4:20 pm

      My Daddy always told me “the point is on top of your head.”

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        July 8, 2015, 11:55 pm

        “My Daddy always told me “the point is on top of your head.”

        Well let me feel around on top of my head and, ouch! Wow, my finger is bleeding! Well, I guess your Dad’s right, at least in my case.

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      July 9, 2015, 12:59 am

      Mooser…. Just a mo! Not so damn fast, please. It’s only yesterday that they (included friend Hophmi) were telling us that we cannot possibly unjew ourselves because we were born to a Jewish mama for better or worse. Remember, not even yesterday!
      And now all of a sudden it’s a religion again –complete with Ayatollahim.
      I mean, at my age you gotta give me a couple days to catch my breath when having a full redo.

  4. dgfincham
    dgfincham
    July 8, 2015, 12:02 pm

    Edwin Montagu, a Jewish member of the British Government at the time of the Balfour Declaration, said:

    “I have always understood, by the Jews before Zionism was invented, that to bring the Jews back to form a nation in the country from which they were dispersed would require Divine leadership. I have never heard it suggested, even by their most fervent admirers, that either Mr. Balfour or Lord Rothschild would prove to be the Messiah.” http://jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Montagumemo.html

    It was standard Jewish theology at the time to regard the return of Jews to the Land of Israel as an end-times prophecy, to be led by the Messiah.

    Montagu’s memorandum is worth reading in full: it has several strong arguments against Zionism.

    P.S as to restricting clergy to their temples: readers may be interested to hear that in Britain until 2001 clergy of all denominations were disqualified from being Members of Parliament.

    • lysias
      lysias
      July 8, 2015, 12:13 pm

      until 2001 clergy of all denominations were disqualified from being Members of Parliament.

      Many bishops were (and are) members of the House of Lords.

      • dgfincham
        dgfincham
        July 8, 2015, 2:48 pm

        Yes, but Bishops are still not allowed in the House of Commons. There was also a well known Methodist minister Donald Soper in the Lords. The point is that the Lords are not elected, and clergy in the Lords are cross-benchers, not aligned with any political party.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        July 8, 2015, 7:19 pm

        But actresses are.

    • John O
      John O
      July 8, 2015, 12:49 pm

      Not true – the Rev. Ian Paisley being an MP for many years before that. Church of England bishops sit in the House of Lords. Margaret Thatcher ennobled her friend Chief Rabbi Emmanuel Jacobowitz, enabling him to sit in the HoL too.

      • dgfincham
        dgfincham
        July 8, 2015, 3:03 pm

        As far as I can determine, Iain Paisley was a preacher in independent congregations and not ordained in a regular denomination, until he founded his own denomination, the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster.

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      July 8, 2015, 7:18 pm

      Montagu’s arguments are, as I have pointed out before, very similar to those of Sir Isaac Isaacs, the first native-born GG of Australia.

  5. a blah chick
    a blah chick
    July 8, 2015, 12:11 pm

    I have never heard a justification for Jewish nationalism that was NOT predicated on some aspect of Jewish supremacy, be it religious, ethnic, racial, economic or military.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      July 8, 2015, 4:26 pm

      What about the justification that Goys are always around the next corner, waiting to pounce? Jewish history books are all themed so, same as the bigJewish holiday narratives. Bibi has trotted out that survival theme, also known as the imperative of “continuity” in various rhetoric constantly. You know, Israel as the only “safe haven” for all Jews?

  6. Mooser
    Mooser
    July 8, 2015, 12:12 pm

    “I was just lighting the Christmas tree for my children when [head Vienna rabbi Moritz] Gudemann arrived. He seemed upset by the “Christian” custom. Well, I will not let myself be pressured! But I don’t mind if they call it the Hannukah tree–or the winter solstice.”

    Look, I don’t want to bother the EMT’s or call 911 and get all those emergency vehicles rolling, so could somebody check on “Yonah” and “Hophmi” and make sure they’re all right? Hopefully, they only bruised their head when they fainted, but I’m afraid they might do themselves a mischief.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      July 8, 2015, 4:28 pm

      Some folks love dead trees, others love burning bushes? Poor foliage.

    • CigarGod
      CigarGod
      July 9, 2015, 10:13 am

      They are looking for their lost face. Every time they lose it, it is harder to find.

  7. lysias
    lysias
    July 8, 2015, 12:50 pm

    After attending a service at a Reform synagogue in New Jersey, he told an Israeli newspaper, “This is idol worship and not Judaism.”

    Doesn’t Zionism amount to idol worship?

    • amigo
      amigo
      July 8, 2015, 1:14 pm

      “Doesn’t Zionism amount to idol worship?”Lysias

      Well , it certainly is not “idle”worship.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      July 8, 2015, 2:07 pm

      “Doesn’t Zionism amount to idol worship?”

      Look, okay, you got your “wooden idols” (they’re never any good), and you got your Golden Calves (shapely, too) but if you want a real idol, you make it out of the stuff they’re not making any more of!

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        July 8, 2015, 7:29 pm

        Mooser, if you mean Holy Ground Land, there has just been proposal to build a new island off the coast of Gaza. Or do you think that bit could never be holy?

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 9, 2015, 3:16 pm

        Mooser, if you mean Holy Ground Land, there has just been proposal to build a new island off the coast of Gaza. Or do you think that bit could never be holy?

        [Hostage dons a knitted kippah] No, the Torah allowed David and Solomon to occupy and collect tribute from any profane territory that the Holy One, blessed be he, had explicitly placed off limits to annexation in such places as the lands granted to the descendants of Lot and Esau. We’d rather owe Eilat to them forever than steal so much as one footstep for our tourist or shipping trades. Other than those few examples, everything else is up for grabs under the rule of Divine foreknowledge and the “Every place where you set your foot will be yours.” license granted in Deuteronomy 11.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        July 9, 2015, 7:22 pm

        So as soon as they get there, it’s holy? No need for an Irish priest to say a few words?

      • Lasher
        Lasher
        July 21, 2015, 6:30 pm

        I guess you mean gold, right?

      • dgfincham
        dgfincham
        July 22, 2015, 1:23 am

        I guess Mooser means land. Indeed, a Zionist once told me that “the Land of Israel plays the same part in Judaism that Jesus Christ does in Christianity”.

  8. ritzl
    ritzl
    July 8, 2015, 1:34 pm

    Another Monty Python moment…

    Life of Brian: “Yes. We are all individuals!”

    https://youtu.be/QereR0CViMY

  9. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    July 8, 2015, 3:46 pm

    RE: “Shall we… end up having a theocracy? No! Faith unites us, science makes us free. Therefore we shall permit no theocratic velleities [inclinations] on the part of our clergy to arise. We shall know how to restrict them to their temples, just as we shall restrict our professional soldiers to their barracks.” ~ Theodor Herzl

    SEE, ZIONISM’S “WHITE LIE” ACCORDING TO URI AVNERY (VIA BERNARD AVISHAI), Feb. 2010:

    [EXCERPTS] The Israeli Interior Ministry recognizes 126 nations, but not the Israeli nation. An Israeli citizen can be registered as belonging to the Assyrian, the Tatar or the Circassian nation. But the Israeli nation? Sorry, no such thing.
    According to the official doctrine, the State of Israel cannot recognize an “Israeli” nation because it is the state of the “Jewish” nation. In other words, it belongs to the Jews of Brooklyn, Budapest and Buenos Aires, even though these consider themselves as belonging to the American, Hungarian or Argentine nations. Messy? Indeed.
    THIS MESS started 113 years ago, when the Viennese Journalist Theodor Herzl wrote his book “The State of the Jews”. (That’s the true translation. The generally used name “The Jewish State” is false and means something else.) For this purpose he had to perform an acrobatic exercise. One can say that he used a white lie.
    Modern Zionism was born as a direct response to modern anti-Semitism. Not by accident, the term “Zionismus” came into being some 20 years after the term “Antisemitismus” was invented in Germany. They are twins. . .
    . . . Herzl understood that the new reality was inherently dangerous for the Jews. In the beginning he cherished the idea of complete assimilation: all the Jews would be baptized and disappear in the new nations. As a professional writer for the theater, he even devised the scenario: all Viennese Jews would march together to St. Stephen’s cathedral and be baptized en masse.
    When he realized that this scenario was a bit far-fetched, Herzl passed from the idea of individual assimilation to what may be called collective assimilation: if there is no place for the Jews in the new nations, then they should define themselves as a nation like all the others, rooted in a homeland of their own and living in a state of their own. This idea was called Zionism.
    BUT THERE was a problem: a Jewish nation did not exist. The Jews were not a nation but a religious-ethnic community. . . Herzl had to ignore this difference. He pretended that the Jewish ethnic-religious community was also a Jewish nation. In other words: contrary to all other peoples, the Jews were both a nation and a religious community; as far as Jews were concerned, the two were the same. The nation was a religion, the religion was a nation.
    This was the white lie. There was no other way: without it, Zionism could not have come into being. The new movement took the Star of David from the synagogue, the candlestick from the Temple, the blue-and-white flag from the prayer shawl. The holy land became a homeland. Zionism filled the religious symbols with secular, national content. . . The first to detect the falsification were the Orthodox Rabbis. Almost all of them damned Herzl and his Zionism in no uncertain terms.
    When Herzl originated the Zionist idea, he did not intend to found the “State of the Jews” in Palestine, but in Argentina. Even when writing his book, he devoted to the country only a few lines, under the headline “Palestine or Argentina?” However, the movement he created compelled him to divert his endeavors to the Land of Israel, and so the state came into being here.
    When the State of Israel was founded and the Zionist dream realized, there was no further need for the white lie . . .

    . . . [W]hy do the words “Jewish state” appear in our [Israel’s] Declaration of Independence? There was a simple reason for that: the UN had adopted a resolution to partition the country between an “Arab state” and a “Jewish state.” That was the legal basis of the new state. The declaration, which was drafted in haste, said therefore that we were establishing “the Jewish state (according to the UN resolution), namely the State of Israel.”…
    . . . LIKE MOST of us at the time [of the founding of Israel in 1948], David Ben-Gurion believed that Zionism had supplanted religion and that religion had become redundant. He was quite sure that it would shrivel and disappear by itself in the new secular state. He decided that we could afford to dispense with the military service of Yeshiva bochers (Talmud school students), believing that their number would dwindle from a few hundred to almost none. The same thought caused him to allow religious schools to continue in existence. Like Herzl, who promised to “keep our Rabbis in the synagogues and our army officers in the barracks,” Ben-Gurion was certain that the state would be entirely secular. . .
    . . . BUT THE white lie of Herzl had results he did not dream of, as did the compromises of Ben-Gurion. Religion did not wither away in Israel, but on the contrary: it is gaining control of the state. The government of Israel does not speak of the nation-state of the Israelis who live here, but of the “nation-state of the Jews” – a state that belongs to the Jews all over the world, most of whom belong to other nations.
    The religious schools are eating up the general education system and are going to overpower it, if we don’t become aware of the danger and assert our Israeli essence. Voting rights are about to be accorded to Israelis residing abroad, and this is a step towards giving the vote to all Jews around the world. And, most important: the ugly weeds growing in the national-religious field – the fanatical settlers – are pushing the state in a direction that may lead to its destruction. . .

    SOURCE – http://bernardavishai.blogspot.com/2010_02_01_archive.html

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      July 8, 2015, 7:32 pm

      “THERE was a problem: a Jewish nation did not exist. The Jews were not a nation but a religious-ethnic community ”

      But people keep telling me …

  10. Citizen
    Citizen
    July 8, 2015, 4:34 pm

    Hey, look–even the US Constitution gets reinterpreted quite often, e.g., we now have a right of privacy stemming from its penumbra. And just look at all those rights stemming from the commerce clause! Not to mention, look at all the different interpretations of the old and new testaments.

  11. Bornajoo
    Bornajoo
    July 8, 2015, 5:10 pm

    “Look, I don’t want to bother the EMT’s or call 911 and get all those emergency vehicles rolling, so could somebody check on “Yonah” and “Hophmi” and make sure they’re all right? Hopefully, they only bruised their head when they fainted, but I’m afraid they might do themselves a mischief” (too funny Mooser!)

    Still no sign of them Mooser. Looks bad. One of them should have been here by now. You’d better call 911. You can’t underestimate the shock this may have caused!

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      July 8, 2015, 11:58 pm

      “You’d better call 911. “

      I’d send a St Bernard with a cask of brandy but I bet neither of them likes dogs.

  12. Keith
    Keith
    July 8, 2015, 5:29 pm

    JAMES/PHIL- “How long before Israel tightens up the Law of Return?”

    A long, long, LONG time. According to J.J. Goldberg, in 1988 Israel tried to placate the Orthodox Israelis with a minor change to the Law of Return tightening-up on the Jewishness of Jews converted by non-Orthodox Rabbis. Very few people would be affected. Organized American Jews went berserk. “Over the next four weeks, planeload after planeload of American Jews flew to Israel, including the top leaders of the CJF, the UJAQ, NCRAC, AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, B’nai B’rith, Hadassah, the Reform and Conservative movements, and dozens of local federations and synagogues….Some flew to Israel and back two or three times inside of a month. Hadassah president Bernice Tannenbaum made the trip four times.” (p339, Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment, J.J. Goldberg). The bottom line? The Law of Return was not changed.

    If there are Israeli Jews who think they can ride roughshod over American Jewish Zionists, they will soon experience a very rude awakening. Israel is utterly dependent upon the empire, hence, utterly dependent upon the organized power of American Jewish Zionists, and these American Jewish Zionists intend to keep it that way.

  13. wondering jew
    wondering jew
    July 9, 2015, 12:47 am

    The two exemplars of successful Jewish continuity could be considered: Theodor Herzl and Moshe Feinstein. (That is the two successful means of continuity are Zionism and Halacha.) I would not go to Moshe Feinstein to find fidelity to Zionism nor would I go to Herzl to find fidelity to Halacha.

    You are insulting Reform Jews by comparing them to Herzl and his Christmas tree. Yes, there are some Reform Jews who have Christmas trees, but primarily those who are intermarried, which Herzl was not. By this point in time, 2015, in case you think we’re still living in 1904, the percentage of Reform Jews (who do not consider themselves Jews of no religion, but in fact consider themselves Jews of the reform denomination of Judaism) who marry other Jews and still have a Christmas tree is pretty low.

    Herzl was seeking a modus vivendi for the Jews. At first he was seeking just for himself a way to belong to the German nationalist dueling clubs. when informed in due course that he was no German (a surprise to him), he sought other possible grandiose solutions to the problem at hand: mass baptism, with him handing over the Jews for this mass baptism. Then he discovered Zionism.

    Israeli politicians consider themselves as Orthodox, as in: the synagogue that they don’t go to is an Orthodox one. They don’t like greys ,they like whites and blacks and reform is all about compromises and that’s not what they want to hear. either you believe in Torah, which they don’t, or you do and if you don’t why go to temple at all. That’s what Reuven Rivlin is about.

    This rabbi azoulay is about Halacha, that’s his thing. There is one path to Torah and jewish observance. (halacha means a path, or the way) and reform judaism is truly not dedicated to Halacha, so a branch of Judaism that okays intermarriage, that is a gateway to assimilation is directly opposed to everything that this rabbi stands for.

    There is no question that if Herzl had never found Zionism (and if Hitler had not intervened and given the quick fix solution to Judaism rather than the slow solution of dissolution of natural causes) that the Herzl family would have disappeared in the aspect of their Jewishness and the only semblance of their Jewishness would be in photographs.

    to look to Herzl in order to figure out what zionism ought to be is not really that relevant to anyone outside the academy. to look to Herzl to define what Judaism ought to be is ridiculous and it is the refuge of those who wish to throw Judaism under the bus and who have interest in Judaism only as a way of undoing zionism.

    • Shmuel
      Shmuel
      July 9, 2015, 4:59 am

      the two successful means of continuity are Zionism and Halacha

      Güdemann himself, dismayed as he was by Herzl’s tree, related to the subject of Zionism vs. assimilation (in Nationaljudenthum), arguing that: 1) “Assimilation”, in the sense of profound engagement with non-Jewish cultures, is necessary both for the evolution of Judaism itself — citing the examples of Philo, Maimonides and Moses Mendelssohn — and for Judaism’s ability to spread its own messages. The analogy he offers is that the fear of drowning should not stop one from swimming; and 2) Zionism is the ultimate form of assimilation (in the sense of “drowning”), in that it exchanges evolving, ethical, universal Judaism for common nationalism and chauvinism — which he considered not merely something other than Judaism, but it’s actual antithesis.

      The argument of “continuity” (or against assimilation) was one of early Zionism’s main themes (especially when addressing traditional, East European Jews — the movement’s primary target audience). It was an argument that was sharply rejected, of course, both by Ultra-Orthodox and by Reform, but also by Orthodox rabbis such as Güdemann, Tamares and Hermann Adler, who basically said, if Jewish nationalism is the alternative, we’d rather take our chances with assimilation.

  14. rosross
    rosross
    July 9, 2015, 8:21 am

    And that makes most Israelis not Jewish since a secular Jew cannot be Jewish because secular means without religion.

    • rosross
      rosross
      July 9, 2015, 8:26 am

      It seems 42% of Israeli Jews are secular which means they are not Jews. Combined with the non-Jewish, Palestinians who took up Israeli citizenship that means, 42% plus 25% makes 67% of non-Jews in Israel.

      • talknic
        talknic
        July 9, 2015, 8:56 am

        Added to which Arab DNA is deeply and inescapably embedded in the Jewish Israeli population

        By 1950 the population of Israel was estimated to be about 1,370,000

        There were approximately 156,000 non-Jewish Israeli Arabs who were not dispossessed within the borders of the territory proclaimed by the Israeli Government and recognized on the 15th May 1948 as Israeli and; there were some 500,000 Arab Jewish refugees from the Arab states

        That’s approximately 656,000 Arabs of a population of about 1,370,000

        656,000 of 1,370,000 is about 47% not including the non-Jewish Israeli Arabs who were dispossessed by 1950 and; not including the indigenous Arab Jews.

        Simple maths shows us the Arab population of Israel in 1948 was well in excess of 50%. A large number of Israeli Jews today are of Arabic descent.

      • rosross
        rosross
        July 9, 2015, 9:10 am

        @ talknic,

        Israelis talk about Arab Israelis because they do not want to mention the real term, Palestinian. If one is going to talk about Arab Israelis for those of Palestinian origin then the other Israelis, most, should be classed as European Israelis, with a few African Israelis.

        Arab is a culture, not a race. I am not sure you can have Arab DNA anymore than you can have European.

        Arabs are not a race but members of a culture with shared language, Arabic. I don’t think language gives DNA either.

        The Palestinians are largely Semitic which can be traced in DNA but since most ‘Jewish’ Israelis are European, albeit some with links to Semitic peoples, most are not Semitic.

        But yes, we are saying similar things.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        July 9, 2015, 9:27 am

        rosross: ‘Jewish’ Israelis are European, albeit some with links to Semitic peoples, most are not Semitic.
        ———————

        According to Wikipedia:

        The majority of Israeli Jews are Mizrahi Jews,[18] with 61% of Israeli Jews having Mizrahi Jewish ancestry as of 2005.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_Jews

      • catalan
        catalan
        July 9, 2015, 10:14 am

        I think that pronouncements on DNA and nationality by people whose knowledge of genetics stems from Yahoo and Wiki are very informative. I always felt that I am Celtic myself.

    • talknic
      talknic
      July 9, 2015, 8:52 am

      Glad no-one ever tried to tell my mother (rip) that …. LOL

      • rosross
        rosross
        July 9, 2015, 9:34 am

        She may not have minded in another age. Times change.

        I have long believed we inherit a cellular memory along with DNA and research seems to be showing just that. Which means that culture can be passed down as cellular memory, along with many other experiences, attitudes etc.

        And of course we are also influenced by our environment. Anyone spending time in Israel cannot but be struck by how Middle Eastern it is. The colonists might have been mainly European but there is no way that Israel is a European country in how it functions and feels.

        Perhaps the most tragic irony is that Israelis have more in common with Palestinians than anyone else and the only reason they reject them is because of religious bigotry, i.e. a belief that Jews are superior and must remain separate.

      • talknic
        talknic
        July 9, 2015, 4:01 pm

        @ rosross

        “She may not have minded in another age. Times change.”

        She didn’t live in ‘another’ age :-) and DNA wasn’t even on the radar in her age. We were all in the tribe, no matter what religion we professed or not to have. “Atheist, shmatheist! You’re Jewish! Now eat!”

    • Sibiriak
      Sibiriak
      July 9, 2015, 9:35 am

      rosross: And that makes most Israelis not Jewish since a secular Jew cannot be Jewish because secular means without religion.
      ——————

      That notion has never been widely held.

      Cf. Wikipedia:

      According to the traditional Rabbinic view, which is maintained by all branches of Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism[46] today, only halakha can define who is or is not a Jew when a question of Jewish identity, lineage, or parentage arises about any person seeking to define themselves or claim that they are Jewish.

      As a result, mere belief in the principles of Judaism does not make one a Jew. Similarly, non-adherence by a Jew to the 613 Mitzvot, or even formal conversion to another religion, does not make one lose one’s Jewish status. Thus the immediate descendants of all female Jews (even apostates) are still considered to be Jews, as are those of all their female descendants. Even those descendants who are not aware they are Jews, or practice a religion other than Judaism, are defined by this perspective as Jews, as long as they come from an unbroken female line of descent.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_is_a_Jew%3F#Halakhic_perspective

  15. tony greenstein
    tony greenstein
    July 9, 2015, 9:28 am

    Herzl was an archetypal assimilated Jew. His own son, Hans, was not even circumcised (the Zionist movement took care of that after his death). His original solution to the Jewish Question was the mass conversion of Jews to Catholicism. But that wouldn’t have helped because anti-Semitism had changed from a religious to a racial antagonism, which met its ultimate obscenity in the phenomenon of Christian Jews under the Nazis – Christian by religion and Jewish by race.

    Zionism was therefore the solution, as someone has said, of collective assimilation. The Jews became like all others and being Jewish was transformed from a religious to a racial/national definition. The problem was that in order to define who was Jewish in the first place you had to go back to the Rabbis. They held the key to the treasury and it was they who were allocated by Ben Gurion with the responsibility for personal affairs – birth, deaths and marriage – in Israel. So Reform Jews are not Jewish and in Israel there is and will continue to be a third race – neither Jewish nor non-Jewish, just as in Nazi Germany there was the mixed race Mischlinge – who had one or two Jewish grandparents.

    In fact Israel has two definitions of being Jewish. One the orthodox definition for purposes of birth, marriage and death and the definition under the Law of Return as amended in 1970. This has caused immense problems because it casts the net even wider than the Nazi definition [you were Jewish if you had 3 or more Jewish grandparents in 1870]. Under the Law of Return as amended, you are Jewish if you are a child or grandchild of a Jew, a spouse of a Jew, or a child or grandparent of a Jew. So it has made Jews of the Russian Jews, many of whom are anything but Jews! It is about creating a definition of who is and who is not a settler and therefore privileged.

    It is therefore irrelevant whether Herzl or Ben Gurion were themselves secular atheists. What they proposed and implemented depended on the stamp of approval of the rabbis. They made a faustian pact.

    • rosross
      rosross
      July 9, 2015, 9:36 am

      Except you cannot be Jewish by race. Religions don’t make a race and Jews, like other religions, comprise all races and dozens of nationalities.

  16. Boo
    Boo
    July 9, 2015, 9:30 am

    To paraphrase Robert Owen, “Everyone’s treyf but thee and me … and even thee’s a little treyf!”

    • rosross
      rosross
      July 9, 2015, 10:03 am

      It is interesting how some religions have turned food into theology and eating habits into dogma. The Indian Jains are the most strict in terms of food – nothing from under the ground, more bugs there and the Jewish dividing up the kitchen into meat/dairy etc., is just exhausting.

      But, like vegans, and vegetarians, a variation on the theme of food as religion, I would be prepared to bet 99.9% if not 100% would eat anything if it was that or death.

      All I can think is that God must have a great sense of humour because I doubt S/HE gives a toss what we eat or wear for that matter. What is in the heart is all that counts and how we act toward others.

      • justicewillprevail
        justicewillprevail
        July 9, 2015, 11:55 am

        Indeed. And i have often that a god who concerns herself with whether a hat is on or off, what kind of hat it is, the hairstyle, shaved or not, bearded, bald or elaborately coiffured has perhaps too much time on their hands (what do they do all day?)

        Whatever, people love making up rules and rituals to justify their cultish beliefs. Then they can persecute the other lot who wear hats on the wrong day of the week, or don’t wear fur coats in summer. Life of Brian had it about right.

  17. Hostage
    Hostage
    July 9, 2015, 10:57 am

    The latest news from the one and only Jewish state: Israel’s minister of religious services says that Reform Jews are not Jews.

    That’s okay, you don’t have to be a “Jew” to be “Jew-ish”. That’s why the Zionists adopted the circumlocution in the first place.

    For example, the declassified memo from the Secretary of the British War Cabinet on the various suggestions regarding the wording of the draft Balfour Declaration indicated that the Anti-Zionist Jews rejected the wording of the first draft because it contained no safeguards for the rights of non-Jewish communities or Jewish people living in other countries. Their objections make for fascinating and educational reading. These suggested changes from Nahum Sokolow, the Secretary General and future President of the World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency for Palestine, underscore the fact that the distinction between “Jews” and “the Jewish people” was quite deliberate and that he even left the door open to the possibility that the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine could indeed prejudice the civil and political rights of Jewish people living elsewhere who harbored “dual loyalties”:

    The following alterations, however, in the wording of the declaration I venture to suggest as most’ desirable : ­
    (1.) Line 2. ” The establishment in Palestine of a national home.” I would suggest the substitution of ” re-establishment” for “establishment.” By this slight change the real character of the movement and its historic basis would be recognised.

    (2.) Line 3. ” The Jewish race ” I would suggest to be altered to ” the Jewish people.” The definition of ” race ” is a much-disputed question. It would also be questionable whether the word refers to all persons of Jewish origin or only to Jews. ” Jewish people ” is the best definition.

    (3.) I would also suggest in substitution for the concluding phrase, ” or the rights and political status . . . . nationality and citizenship,” the following more comprehensive expression : “or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country of which they are loyal citizens.”

    CAB/24/4 formerly G-164 dated October 1917 http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D7644748#imageViewerLink

    • dgfincham
      dgfincham
      July 9, 2015, 12:06 pm

      Hostage, the phrase “or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country” appears in the Palestine Mandate. In fact it is the only place where the word ‘rights’ is used in connection with Jews.

      The fear of Edwin Montagu (link in another post of mine) was that the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine would be used in other countries as an excuse for expelling Jews.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        July 9, 2015, 2:03 pm

        The fear of Edwin Montagu (link in another post of mine) was that the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine would be used in other countries as an excuse for expelling Jews.

        Yes, I understand that. The exact wording of that particular safeguarding clause was all over the map. You should download or read the document online that I cited. The various alternative drafts submitted were collated in the attached Appen­dix I I

        It also contained the personal views of six persons in favor of a “Zionist form of declaration” and their individual suggestions:
        1. Herbert Samuel, M . P .
        2. The Chief Rabbi.
        3. Lord Rothschild.
        4. Sir Stuart Samuel, Bart., Chairman of the Jewish Board of Deputies.
        5. Dr. Weizmann.
        6. Mr. Nahum Sokolow.
        And three unfavorable:
        7. Sir Philip Magnus, M.P.
        8. C. G. Montefiore, Esq., President, Anglo-Jewish Association.
        9. L. L. Cohen, Esq., Jewish Board of Guardians.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        July 9, 2015, 7:19 pm

        Poor, oppressed, persecuted Jews, everyone of them. But especially Lord Rothschild.

  18. Vera Gottlieb
    Vera Gottlieb
    July 9, 2015, 2:19 pm

    What a fortunate country…no other zores.

  19. DaBakr
    DaBakr
    July 9, 2015, 6:00 pm

    Ahh. SO rfreshing to come onto MW and see the posts of its brightest and best making snarky comments and generally belittling the age old issue of ‘who is a Jew’. Yes folks-this is an ancient issue which predates the second temple and has been a discussion amongst the most revered of rabbis and scholars ever since -probably the first Temple was built. Or maybe even before that.

    The point being: The issue was discussed and debated in the ancient past, the middle ages, the enlightenment , the Bolshevik and Zionist, the WW2 and now the age of modern Israel. That the small group of far-left fringe [both Jew and Gentile] hotly debate it here still is only a testament to the eternal nature of the argument. People of serious intellect all the way to hysterical ninny’s will be forever discussing exactly who is a Jew, why and why not and exactly who says so. Thats just how it is. One can question but sometimes things just are as they are.

    What truly surprises me is that many here probably believe that the vast majority of jews in the world -be they reform, conservative (the worst of the 3 imo, neither here nor there) or orthodox actually care what a few lefty-fringe human rights touting but Zionist-hate spouting bloggers think about wether Hertzl was a ‘real’ Jew? He did what he did and the orthodox can keep spouting all the silly orthodox things they spout. That is the nature of they belief. Jews in the world know this now and have known it collectively forever. Some complain but most just shrug and think, ‘not for me’. But MW commentaries are certainly up in arms and entertained by this very old news on views about Hertzl and other former Israeli leaders.

    • James North
      James North
      July 9, 2015, 6:20 pm

      DaBakr: You are mistaken. Mondoweiss did not start the discussion about “Who is a Jew?” A minister in Israel’s government said flatly that Reform Jews are not Jews. The president of Israel said back in the ’80s that Reform Judaism is “idolatry.”

      So your argument is not with “a few lefty-fringe human rights touting but Zionist-hate spouting bloggers,” but with these Israeli officials. Why don’t you go to their websites and argue with them?

      • talknic
        talknic
        July 9, 2015, 8:54 pm

        But James, DaBakr’s job is here

    • justicewillprevail
      justicewillprevail
      July 10, 2015, 10:51 am

      No, you are overreacting. Who cares what your associates think. There is some amusement at the revelation that ‘who is a Jew’ is an ‘age-old question’. Since the state of israel is founded on this definition, and depends on it to dispense privileges not afforded to others, give them the land and houses of the native people and beggar other countries for billions of dollars, it makes the whole edifice rather shaky. Now we find they can’t even agree themselves, which demolishes the whole basis for discriminating in favour of people who have arbitrarily the ‘correct’ grandparents. So they’re just like everybody else, but different in a way nobody can quite define or detect, although an enormous bureaucracy is dedicated to ensuring their separate identity – how bizarre. Maybe it’s all a social construct, eh?
      A modern state with a commitment to equal human rights would not of course discriminate in such arbitrary ways, based on the myths of one section of the population.

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