The Jewish people

Considerations of religious issues in general

Re: The Jewish people

Postby Jonathan » 30 Aug 2013, 20:43

Gavin wrote:Here's my point: "progressive" change for the sake of it is wrong, I'm sure we would agree, but not necessarily all change is wrong, and it is good that some traditions and rituals evolve. I appreciate this probably has to happen slowly.


Agreed. I'm sure you'll also agree that one very good reason to be careful about changes is the unexpected consequences.

What sort of thing am I thinking of? Consider this - part of what makes Jewish immigrants less worrisome to natives than Muslim immigrants (or Christian immigrants, for that matter, back in 150 AD) is the fact that it is a relatively insular, non-proselytizing religion. How is it that over almost 3,000 years Judaism has maintained this trait, despite being scattered throughout the nations for most of this time? Why, through all the changes it has undergone, has it never mutated into a proselytizing version? Even Reform Judaism, which has cast away so many rituals and requirements, has maintained this trait.

A large part of the answer, I suspect, is Circumcision - which raises a very high barrier for male converts. If you get rid of Circumcision, you may find three generations from now that Judaism has lost this benign aspect, to the detriment of all.

In fact, a pagan Roman in 400 AD might think that this was not speculation, but a history of Christianity. He might say that Paul the Apostle followed your advice to the letter, casting away the obscure ancient rituals, abandoning circumcision, and coming up with a messianic, proselytizing Judaism which started undermining the morals and peace of the empire. Tacitus, if I recall correctly, did not think it necessary to distinguish between Christians and Jews, and Pliny the Younger wrote that (on matters of doctrine) no beasts are more vicious to each other than these Christians.

The third century and fourth centuries were full of doctrinal disputes (the Arian heresy and Donatist schism are the only ones I can recall off the top of my head) and the civil strife which it engendered (Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria, went into exile and returned four times? Six times? I don't remember). Edward Gibbon considered Christianity to be one of the (admittedly many) causes of the fall of the Roman Empire in the West.

So I guess what I'm saying is - be wary of small changes for small reasons.

Gavin wrote:Something that concerns me from my perspective here in Britain is that on your line of reasoning, perhaps we would be compelled to also excuse female circumcision and voodoo here in the UK


Yes, that was also where I thought the problem would lie. The thing is, the problem only happens because of a refusal to exercise judgment. Female Circumcision (at least as described by Ayaan Hirsi Ali) renders the female incapable of feeling any sexual pleasure, makes the first sexual congress much more painful, as the scar tissue which has formed to close the original wound needs to be torn open, and transforms a woman's virginity from an internal characteristic to an external one, which cannot be hidden.

In other words, it is an effective tool to enslave a young woman's libido to the will of her father, until he can transfer the job of controlling it to her new husband, along with physical proof that he (the father) has discharged the burden successfully.

Now, if I may be permitted a thought experiment, let us imagine that some poor Englishman of non-immigrant origin is kidnapped and (knowing these facts) is constrained on pain of death to choose either male circumcision for his son, or female circumcision for his daughter. Is there a single one who would choose the latter? You could repeat the experiment a million times and never find one who said "Well, in an abstract moral sense, in both cases I am permanently modifying the body of one of my children without their permission, so what difference does it make? Let me flip a coin.".

And yet you (justly, I think) fear that Parliament will not be able to pass a law except on this basis, which no MP would ever apply to his own children. This, I think, exemplifies a moral failing of our time - the fear of exercising judgment in public.


I would like to get some perspective on how this practice can have developed at all among very devout people


This is a very interesting question. I'm sure that any Rabbi will easily give two dozen explanations for it, depending on how the question is phrased (Why do we do it? Why does God want us to? What does it mean?). I'll give you my opinion, for what it's worth. It comes with no seal of approval whatsoever.

First, it is necessary to recognize that the practice of circumcision is a very ancient one, dating from before the First Temple period (~1000 - 587 BC), and probably much earlier. It is one of the first commandments explicitly given in the Old Testament. It also seems to have been practiced by many middle eastern peoples, though not by Greeks or Phoenecians (the Philistines are explicitly mentioned as being uncircumcised).

Second, it is necessary to recognize that child sacrifice was also prevalent in the ancient middle east. Two explicit cases are recorded in the Old Testament (Yiftach's daughter, and Mesha, King of Moab's son). The doctrinal sections of the Old Testament strictly condemn the practice, and the well-known story of Isaac's binding (Genesis:22) is an explicit rejection of the it. Yet some of the prophets (notably, Jeremiah, hundreds of years after Yiftach) castigate against it repeatedly, indicating that the it was difficult to uproot.

Here, I think, is where Circumcision had its origins. Faced with a people repeatedly backsliding into this abhorrent practice, the priests offered this substitute ritual, a way of dedicating the child to God, yet prohibiting the sacrifice of anything more.

Whatever the origins of the practice, hidden by the mists of time, it quickly adopted other meanings. Deutoronomy (I think) contains the phrase 'Circumcise the foreskins of your heart' as an exhortation towards repentence and devotion. This indicates that the ritual is now seen as an expression of utmost devotion, not at all as a second-rate substitute. The story of Dinah in Genesis:34 sees Circumcision as an identifying mark of the Israelites, distinguishing them from other peoples (I am here accepting the conclusion that Genesis:34 is a later interpolation from the second temple period). The references to the Philistines as 'foreskinned' also treats circumcision as an identifying mark.

This is my explanation for the origins of this ritual - at the time, it was a necessary, moral corrective for an even worse one, but in that barbarous time, no more than this could be done. You can see this technique in other biblical laws, for example, concerning slavery - being unable to extirpate the practice amongst the Israelites, the law limited it to seven years.

Edit: Corrected misattributed quotes.
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Re: The Jewish people

Postby Gavin » 22 Dec 2013, 20:42

One of the things I don't like about the Qur'an is all the hate from Allah ("I am a jealous God" etc. etc.). The New Testament is not like this - it's generally a book of peace and even pacifism. The trouble is, when I have read sections of the Old Testament at random, unfortunately God comes across as not very likeable in that, either. He's pretty angry, quite self-centred and there's a lot of hate.

Am I right in thinking that Jewish people follow the Old Testament and like the God of this book, while believing that Jesus was a fraud and that we are yet to experience the arrival of the true messiah?
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Re: The Jewish people

Postby Jonathan » 22 Dec 2013, 23:43

Yes, there are quite a few examples of divine wrath in the Old Testament which are quite absent from the New (barring certain passages in Revelations). However, I think the effect of these verses on Judaism has been quite different than that of Allah's on Islam, for several reasons -

First, most of God's wrath is in fact visited on the Israelites themselves, for disobedience. In other words, it is an instrument of self-criticism, not a fantasy of domination. One can see this attitude both in the ancient verse poems in the Pentateuch (e.g. Deutoronomy:32) and in the last of the prophets (e.g. Jeremiah 1:15-16)

Secondly, the instances of divine retribution are in the historical sections of the Bible, not in the doctrinal or liturgical ones. In other words, they are backwards-looking, not forwards-looking; descriptive, not prescriptive. If you browse the book of Psalms, or the Song of Songs, you won't find that much divine hate.

Thirdly, Rabbinical Judaism has many layers of interpretation between actual Jewish law and the text of the bible. This means that some verses receive much attention, and have a lot of influence on modern Judaism, but many don't. For the observant, the commandments whose observation dominates everyday life have nothing to do with those manifestations of divine anger you noted.

Regardless of the actual influence of these verses, there is still the question of the overall flavor of the work. Why should the book contain even one verse of violence? Well, each book is a product of its time, and of the people who wrote it. And the ancient Israelites were a small people, in a backwater land, with nearby neighbors who often oppressed them (e.g. Philistines, Midianites, Amorites, etc), and distant empires who could crush them with ease (e.g. Assyria, Babylon). They daily saw the results of military defeat - extermination, hunger, exile and slavery (e.g. Numbers 21:28-29) - and knew it could be visited upon them at any moment. Believing, as they did, that their God protected them, is it any wonder that they conceived of Him in such terms? And we, for whom such destruction will soon pass out of living memory - is it any wonder that we find such verses alien and distasteful?

But as for modern, everyday Judaism, these examples of divine wrath are considered ancient history; in prayers God is addressed as a merciful and forgiving God, not a wrathful and capricious one, regardless of the verses which show otherwise. One might say that the Jews have preserved their ancient text, but softened and smoothed out their ancient theology; and by means of a technique of interpretation and exegesis, the foundations of the new theology are still the ancient text. This is the archetypal Jewish solution - preserve the ancient form, but give it new meaning.

(Islam, as I understand it, does not have these same layers of interpretation and exegesis; therefore, its adherents still feel bound by the ancient exhortations to Jihad, and no authority can stop them without being accused of apostasy.)

Religious Jews are still waiting for the Messiah (except for one sect who think he was that 90-year-old rabbi who died 20 years ago. Apparently, they opened the coffin 3 days after his death and it was empty. The irony beggars belief). But professing that Jesus was the messiah will put you outside the bounds of Judaism, by any standard. I'm not sure he is universally considered a fraud in rabbinic texts - I think some sources treat him as a run-of-the-mill rabbi whose words were twisted, or a mystic who knew the true names of God and was able to perform miracles by them. But here I have stepped far beyond my limited expertise.
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Re: The Jewish people

Postby FormerUser » 18 Apr 2014, 07:14

Hi.

My next few posts will likely be my last on the forum, aside from perhaps suggesting sites of interest in the appropriate thread.

I apologize for being overzealous and for derailing the other thread. Some posters may have been willing to engage in constructive conversation on the topic, and my approach was in part to blame for that not happening. I appreciate this forum and the work that is put into it.

I found a Jewish writer so fascinating and informative that I will just link him, and forgo personal input. The blogger I've been reading is Luke Ford. For those who don't know Ford, he's a journalist and former entertainment writer residing in California. The list of prominent media and cultural contacts and interviews on his website is very impressive. He was raised a Seventh-Day Adventist and converted to Orthodox Judaism, which is not an easy feat. He has answered nearly every Jewish-related question I've had, such as the differences in his WASP upbringing and adopted culture, with more clarity than any other writer.

He's also written about biology, IQ, race, immigration, and related taboo topics.

Here's a link to his blog.

http://www.lukeford.net/blog/

I also want to recommend Steve Sailer for similar reasons. Ford frequently links Sailer, and Sailer recently linked Ford as well. Ford also has a Sailer interview archived on his site.

http://isteve.blogspot.ca/
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Re: The Jewish people

Postby Gavin » 02 Aug 2014, 14:33

I'm not religious at all: all of the religious claims strike me as ridiculous and I sympathise with the "Dawkinsian" view that if only people would only value evidence and not mysticism and memes, then matters would be a lot easier to settle and everyone would probably be able to get on a lot better.

Readers will know that I consider Islam to be a very serious threat to the now largely secular west, and I'd like to see it removed. We never asked for it here. Muslims revere as the perfect man a probably schizophrenic warmonger who had sexual intercourse with a child. They also follow a book which says other people (especially Jews) are worthless unless they're Muslims. It's a fair prediction that that's going to cause some problems in your modern society.

Jews have been faced with many pogroms over the centuries, not just the holocaust. The orthodox ones seem to me to have some strange and irrational beliefs, with which they no doubt indoctrinate their children. There's a lot of debate over Jewish conspiracies to bring down the west too. But it seems to me many Jews are now quite well integrated into the west and don't take their religion very seriously. They feel some ancestral bond, of course, but they simply can't take the mystical side any more seriously than I can. (Your typical Jewish Hollywood actress is surely more likely to be into aromatherapy than her religion.)

Jews seem to cover the political and professional spectrums too. They're not all left wing or right wing, not all into money lending (or into acting). But they are generally self-sufficient, hard working and law-abiding, it seems. They've built that relatively civilised and high-tech oasis, Israel (albeit with a good deal of American financial assistance). They're intelligent and industrious, a bit like the Germans.

Contrast with Arab societies. Well, I don't need to say much. Despite being on fertile oil rich territory they're not able to manage much for themselves, as we know. They still seem to be living pretty much as they did in the 7th century. Typical footage on our televisions shows the women with headscarves on looking after a number of children they can ill-afford to have, and men waving guns in the air and ranting about Allah.

There's a lot of controversy about whether the Jews should have gone over and claimed Israel. Was it theirs to take? Many Palestinians are very angry about it, but this is probably based as much on envy as anything else, since as noted they don't seem to be able to achieve much themselves (probably in part because they are retarded by Islam). Wouldn't the Jews have been better to just keep on integrating with other people in the west, keep their religious beliefs, if they had to have them, to themselves? I agree entirely with Sam Harris' take on Israel and on the current conflict (and I think he's of Jewish origin himself, as of course is TD).

What does seem clear though is that the Jews simply want to get on with their lives and will be friendly enough to the Palestinians, but the latter want to kill all Jews - the declared aim of Hamas. One can understand the Jews being defensive about this, especially given what they have faced in the past.

Should we be a little careful about exculpating all Jews, and Judaism? Probably - without being abusive. To try to find out a little bit more about this situation I have been watching this video by Stefan Molyneux. Suffice it to say that some of the quotations from prominent Jewish rabbis (and from the Torah) are as inhumane as those one is accustomed to hearing from Muslim Imams. For example that Jews alone are the chosen people (no-one else, mind you), non-Jews are like cattle, etc. Of the "occupation", Molyneux also says:

"Since 1946, Palestine has lost 75% of its territory. For comparison, this would be like 146 million Muslims immigrating to the United States, establishing an Arab country on its territory and leaving only Alaska and Texas to the Americans."


It feels like that's what's happening now in the UK, and I can tell you we don't like it, we don't like it at all.

In cases like this I personally can't help but think again: religion - what a load of rubbish. If only all those people stopped believing things they can't possibly "know" to be true, and which should make no difference to their lives whether they're true or not anyway, then surely a lot of this could be avoided. This seems to be the conclusion of both Harris and Molyneux (and probably Pat Condell), too.
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Re: The Jewish people

Postby Rachel » 02 Aug 2014, 22:00

Gavin wrote:There's a lot of controversy about whether the Jews should have gone over and claimed Israel. Was it theirs to take? Many Palestinians are very angry about it, but this is probably based as much on envy as anything else, since as noted they don't seem to be able to achieve much themselves (probably in part because they are retarded by Islam). Wouldn't the Jews have been better to just keep on integrating with other people in the west, keep their religious beliefs, if they had to have them, to themselves? I agree entirely with Sam Harris' take on Israel and on the current conflict (and I think he's of Jewish origin himself, as of course is TD)..


I never heard of Sam Harris before.

To put it in perspective In ALL of Israel’s wars, something like 21,000 soldiers and civilians died. This is similar to the numbers of Jews murdered every two days at Auschwitz at it's height.
So I think things are better. Of that number I think over half are soldiers that died in the War of Independance 1948-49. The soldiers killed in Israel of course died in valor, defending their people and country. This total I have given is before this war in Gaza.

The Holocaust was not the only bit of misery during the exile. To take just one example, there was big massacre in the Ukraine in the 1600's called the Chmielnicki massacres that It was estimated to have killed 30% of all Ashkenazi Jewish population at the time.
Talking about perspective, there was a table circulating on the web showing the number of people who have died in present Arab/Muslim warring countries. It showed Libya, Iraq, various current African war death tolls that were much worse than in Gaza but get ignored because it is Muslims on both sides doing the killing. Unfortunatly I can't find it now.


Gavin wrote:Should we be a little careful about exculpating all Jews, and Judaism? Probably - without being abusive. To try to find out a little bit more about this situation I have been watching this video by Stefan Molyneux. Suffice it to say that some of the quotations from prominent Jewish rabbis (and from the Torah) are as inhumane as those one is accustomed to hearing from Muslim Imams. For example that Jews alone are the chosen people (no-one else, mind you), non-Jews are like cattle, etc. Of the "occupation", Molyneux also says:

"Since 1946, Palestine has lost 75% of its territory. For comparison, this would be like 146 million Muslims immigrating to the United States, establishing an Arab country on its territory and leaving only Alaska and Texas to the Americans."


.


That statement he made was nonsensical.
What was "Palestine's territory"?
A place named Palestine did not exist before 1918 when Britain named it.
He is assuming that the Palestinian people is a unique nation, culture, religion or language the way Britain or America is, or that there once a unique nation in the way the Polish used to exist in the Austria Hungarian Empire.
There was nothing of the sort.
Palestinian Muslims are identical in culture, religion and language to Sunni/Shite Muslims in Syria, Lebanon, Jordon – (Jordon is officially 90% Palestian) , Iraq. "Palestinian" is just the name given to the Arab Muslims who happen to be bits of land that Israel gets.
It's the opposite. Israel is less of 1% of the Muslim Arab landmass in the region of 21 Muslim countries. I don't know why the Arabs can't go to Tunisia, Algeria, Syria, Lebanon, Jordon, Egypt and any one of those 21 countries instead of fixating on that tiny piece of land in Israel.

Regarding the "Chosen people" phrase:
I think the chosen people is not meant to mean that Jewish people are superior. I think it is meant that the Jewish people were chosen from all the nations to be given Torah on Mount Sinai and will have the Messiah come out of them.

In either case the Catholics call their faith "The True Faith" and some Protestants think that since Jesus came, Christians are the chosen people and not Jews. There is nothing wrong with that as far as I can see.

Yes, there is a lot of savagery in the Talmud and Old Testamount.
Is there an actual source for that Non-Jewish people are cattle phrase? I think it sounds awful. I never heard it before and I am wondering if he made it up. I have not listened to the video because at 1 hour long.

I don't think religion generally is the fault of all the wars. At present I bet that 90% of all the wars on the planet have Muslims on at least one side of them.
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Re: The Jewish people

Postby Yessica » 03 Aug 2014, 06:39

I think that because of the recent comments some poster made in this forum it is neccessary to take a stand on our opinions on the jewish people.

Actually I never spend much of my time thinking of jews. They simply don't interest me more than say the persons of the russian orthodox faith.

I know very little about the history of the State of Israel but think that taking those peoples land away was probably wrong back then. Sorry for being that blunt. To my mind it doesn't matter how many places exist those people could have turned, they probably loved their little village/piece of land.

If say Staffordshire was given to the coptic Christians (who have by the way been through genocide), it would not matter the population could easily be absorbed by the rest of England. It would still be wrong.
... but as I said I don't know much about Israelian history and there might be facts I have overlooked???

Today however it is a different story, it happened three generations ago. The palestinians of today have a higher life-expectancy and better educational opportunities than people living in most muslim countries and should be happy to my mind.

If everybody was at war with the people who wronged them three generations ago, whole the world would be a battle field. Where would it end? What if the Scots were firing missiles at Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein were the Angles live, who once took away?

Hamas wants to destroy all jews, so what should the State of Israel do? Fighting back is the only sensible option.

My stand on jewish religion: again I don't really have any. I have no problem with jews calling themselves the chosen people. My own pretty mainstream protestant church calls the believers "chosen people" as well as "people of God", "salt of the earth" and "light of the world".

We are believed to be a model for other people to emulate
Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do [men] light a lamp, and put it under the bushel, but on the stand; and it shineth unto all that are in the house. Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
That passage from the Bible is a pretty common theme for sermons.

To my mind religions must believe that they are "special" or they don't have the power to convince... and not only religions: successful political movements [url="http://www.westerndefence.org/viewtopic.php?f=32&t=3333"]take religious elements[/url].

Every group of people (unless they are white middle class atheists) holds the believe that they are the finest people in the world. That's pretty normal and healthy to my mind.

I don't like the fact that Judaism seems to believe in revenge much more than Christianity does:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.


On the other hand giving your cloke to people who already took away your cloak may be the end of Christians nations on day. Who knows.

I think that many people might be interested if I as a German have a special opinion on the jewish people, actually I don't. As far as I know non of my ancestors has been involved in any crimes against any jews... I think most German's ancestors were not involved in that kind of things. The people who worked in the concentration camps were sentenced to death, most were youngish and did not leave off-spring.
As a German I do not feel sorry for a crime that happened two/three generations ago, to my knowledge involved non of my ancestors, by a party that to my knowledge was nearly never voted for by people of my ancestors class while it sentenced a disproportionately high number of members of that very class to death.
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Re: The Jewish people

Postby Gavin » 03 Aug 2014, 08:05

Yessica wrote:If everybody was at war with the people who wronged them three generations ago, whole the world would be a battle field. Where would it end?


I'm inclined to agree with you on this. The Palestinians would probably be best off now trying to move themselves into the 21st century (with all of the aid money they are constantly given), rather than obsessing about Israel.

Also regarding colonialism generally, I think all colonialism is not the same. What I mean is that if a primitive culture (for example Islam) takes over a region, that's not as bad as a sophisticated culture taking over an area and, for example, building railways, sewage systems and setting up parliamentary democracies.
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Re: The Jewish people

Postby Yessica » 03 Aug 2014, 18:06

While not all forms of colonialism are equally bad I still would not like to be colonized by a more sophisticated people.

You said there were some problems in Britain such as a high crime rate, out-of-wedlock birth and so on. Would you like to be colonized by a people which is more sophisticated when it comes to this such as the Japanese or the Swiss. Say the Japanese would colonize you and that would bring down the crime rate, would it be worth it?

off-topic: When I talked about the Jewish people I forgot to say: No, I don't believe in a jewish conspiracy. I do not believe that there is a people jewish or not, who all want the same. Jews have a number of different opinions and world views.... and why should the jews be in favour of multiculturalism? The Muslims hat them.
Unfortunately there are a number of commentors on other conservative boards who seem to think so. I mentioned before that I eschew those boards because of them and I think other people do to. I really do not want to ingle with them.
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Re: The Jewish people

Postby Jonathan » 03 Aug 2014, 21:10

A couple of unrelated thoughts.

Phrases like 'chosen people' or 'light unto the nations' have two sides. The first side is the side of Pride - of all the peoples in the worlds, only the Jews were chosen etc. etc. The second side is that of the burden - chosen to bear the weight of 613 commandments, two Exiles, pogroms, massacres, etc.

I imagine most non-Jews only think of the first sense, since from their perspective it is infuriating snobbishness, and they're usually unaware of the details of the second sense. In common parlance it is never used in the sense of entitlement - as in "I will have *two* slices of cake because I'm the chosen people" - rather, it is used ironically, as a Brit might say about the Savile affair - "not our finest hour".

-------

Most discussions of Jewish colonization of Palestine tend to conflate different stages and events, and to blur the distinction between private ownership and national sovereignty (admittedly, the two are not unrelated). In the first stage (1881-1948) land was purchased from Arabs, often at inflated prices, all done legally under Turkish and later British law - though the Arab response was often violent (as in 1921, 1929, 1936-39). After rejecting the 1947 UN partition vote, several Arab armies invaded the nascent Jewish state, and were repulsed, losing additional territory. The West Bank and Gaza Strip were only occupied in 1967, after a similar defeat.

Ofttimes you see people posting (I'm thinking about comments on the Spectator which I've been reading of late) who seem to have some foggy image of lots of Jews being gathered offshore by guilt-ridden European countries in 1948, and then - blam! - conquering the poor innocent state of Palestine which had been peacefully independent for the last 76 million years and kicking everyone else out.

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It is quite understandable that a modern Brit looking at the hordes gathering in his Island would feel some sympathy for the Arabs of Palestine in the period 1881-1948. It flatters me to think that he might also feel some envy for them, having received first-world immigrants and not third-world ones, but surely, he must think, both they and I did not want masses of immigrants, regardless of their origin.

There is, however, an anachronism at the root of this feeling. It lies in the fact the Arabs in Palestine were in no sense a people, or a nation before 1948, (or even before 1967) distinct in any way from the rest of the Arab world in which they lived. It does not follow from this that they are not a nation today. But it means that the correct analogy to consider is not between Britain and Palestine, but between Britain and the entire Arab world.

Consider, if you will, what would be the British reaction if first-world foreigners started immigrating to one city, or county in Britain, on the grounds that their ancestors had come from that place, and they started buying up properties, draining swamps, building towns, planting crops, etc. Say, Icelanders immigrating to Yorkshire, to live in the towns they say their ancestors conquered in 950 AD. What would the British do? Would the British inhabitants of those towns start riots, burn, pillage and murder? Would they call on Cumbria and Durham to invade and drive them out?

Even today, with third-world immigrants flooding the whole country to live on welfare - after the tube bombings, after Lee Rigby - they have not done so.

But the Arabs did.

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"An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth... a life for a life...". The text of the bible is perfectly clear, giving half a dozen examples to make sure there was no misunderstanding. This did not stop Jewish sages from deliberately misunderstanding the text to mean the payment of fines in all cases (except life for life). The technique is both ingenious and ridiculous. An example: Elsewhere in the bible (Numbers 35:31) it says "Moreover ye shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer, that is guilty of death; but he shall surely be put to death". Asks the sage, why should the taking of a life be singled out this way? He answers: Because taking a life is different than knocking out a tooth, or gouging out an eye. In what way different, he asks? It is permitted to take ransom for a tooth, but not for a life.

This argument is about 2,000 years old. A google search (in Hebrew, alas) turns up at least half a dozen similar arguments. Whether you find them convincing or not is not the point. The point is that for 2,000 years, if not more, Jewish sages have been telling their flock that these verses do not, in fact, mean what they seem to mean, and thus suppress that instinct for revenge which lies hidden in every human heart.

Would the Bible be better without these verses? It certainly seems so today. But it's hard to know under what circumstances they were written. If you were a serf whose liege lord could maim him and get away with it by paying a petty fine, then 'an eye for an eye' would seem to you the height of justice. The laws of Hammurabi - which this part of the Old Testament seems to echo - are exactly like this.

But regardless of this particular example, it is vain to hope for a holy book whose commandments will fit every society for all time. Just consider how much norms about homosexuality have changed over 50 years. The question is, what do you do when society has changed so much that an old verse now appears intolerable. Do you cling even harder to the old interpretation (Islam)? Do you cast away this verse, and the next one, and soon find yourself without any belief - indeed, without any roots at all (Europe)? The Jews do something else - keep the ancient text, but change its meaning. This allows for slow change over the ages, but still staying rooted in the past.

It also gives plenty of opportunity to argue and debate just which changes should be allowed, and which not. Lots of fun for everyone!
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Re: The Jewish people

Postby Yessica » 04 Aug 2014, 06:38

Thanks, Jonathan. I learned a couple of new things. I did not know that the Jews bought the land. I used to think that they just stripped the former owners of it.

Re: chosen people. Wow, you really have 613 commands. Do some people really follow all of them like for example "Ex. 16:29 — Not to walk outside the city boundary on Shabbat", "Lev. 25:4— Not to work the land during the seventh year" or "Lev. 21:17— A Kohen with a physical blemish must not serve"?

Do the Jews believe that being the "chosen" people brings other obligations apart from following that 613 commands (not that 613 is a small number and people following them will be busy anyway;))?
Chritians believe that because of being the chosen people the must evangelize, they also believe they have special obligations to their fellow man... such as the missionaries who believed it their obligation to care for those with ebola... not that all Christians act on that. It is theory rather than practice.
I noticed that some of the commandsments seem to be only extend to other Jews such as "Lev. 19:14 — Not to curse any upstanding Jew" or "Lev. 19:17 — Not to hate fellow Jews". Would it be okay to curse and hate infidels then?

Re: "An eye for an eye" - interesting what you say. I had no idea some sage interpreted it like this.

Re: "An eye for an eye" being biblical. According to my church it is not, while it is written, it was repealed by the words of Jesus like many other things written in the old testament.

I think it is believed that the laws of the old testament have been changed by the sacrifice of Jesus. You probably know that Christians believe Jesus was the "lamb of God" (Agnus Dei) and they are "cleansed in his blood", which is always an important part of the Lithurgie of the different Christian persuasions... and because of the fact we are "under Grace" we are supposed to apply the same grace to others. Do the others Christians on this boards agree with what I said or is my explanation wrong?
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Re: The Jewish people

Postby Rachel » 08 Aug 2014, 00:14

Yessica wrote:Re: chosen people. Wow, you really have 613 commands. Do some people really follow all of them like for example "Ex. 16:29 — Not to walk outside the city boundary on Shabbat", "Lev. 25:4— Not to work the land during the seventh year" or "Lev. 21:17— A Kohen with a physical blemish must not serve"?...?


Yes, the ultra orthodox black dressed Jews today still won't walk outside some boundries on the Shabbat.
Not to work the land in the 7th year – that is called Shemittah, some of the religious nationalist farmers in Israel keep it.
A large proportion of those commandments can only be done when the temple is rebuilt, like the Kohen law you quoted.



Yessica wrote:
...Do the Jews believe that being the "chosen" people brings other obligations apart from following that 613 commands""?

Jews believe that by doing those 613 their obligation is the be a "light unto the nations" Isaiah 42:6


Yessica wrote:I noticed that some of the commandsments seem to be only extend to other Jews such as "Lev. 19:14 — Not to curse any upstanding Jew" or "Lev. 19:17 — Not to hate fellow Jews". Would it be okay to curse and hate infidels then?


It's definitely forbidden in Judaism to hate someone just because they are not Jewish.

Regarding what you said about Non Jews, in the 316 commandments it says
Not to wrong any one in speech (Lev. 25:17)
Not to wrong the stranger in speech (Exodus 22:20)

But there also is:
Not to curse any other Israelite (Lev. 19:14)

So it's forbids saying bad things about Non Jews unfairly, but goes above and beyond that for Israelites.

In Judaism there are commandments that talk about behaviour towards all humans:
Not to wrong the stranger in buying or selling (Lev 35:14)
Not to afflict an orphan or a widow (Exodus 22:21)
Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he has saved the whole world...(Talmud)

But there are laws which seem to unfairly discriminate against Non Jewish people like the laws of interest and lending and a few of the laws of negative speech.
The common thread amongst those discriminatory laws is that they only represent standards of behaviour not demanded or even expected by the broader society.
The theory in Judaism is that a Jews should be behave ethically and fairly towards Non Jewish people in broader society but should go beyond that to other Jews.

Also in Judaism there is an acknowledgement that some negative things are part of the material world created by God and can be used to do good.
For example lending with interest is an important part of the economy. If interest did not exist then people would find it hard to borrow money to start businesses and the economy would dry up. The theory behind it is that God wants us to give and take interest. He created interest as part of the laws of economics but he wants Jews to "go the extra mile" amongst fellow Jews.
Similarly with the laws against negative speech. The American Constitution upholds the right of people to talk speak negatively about others.
Some Rabbis say that righteous Gentiles that observes the laws of Noah, should be regarded the same as Jews in all laws of speech.
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Re: The Jewish people

Postby Jonathan » 13 Aug 2014, 20:37

Yessica wrote:Thanks, Jonathan. I learned a couple of new things. I did not know that the Jews bought the land. I used to think that they just stripped the former owners of it.


I sometimes think that a lot of people think that. When people watch news about Israel all they see is the IDF, so it's very hard to imagine Jews coming to Israel without any military power at all.

Re: chosen people. Wow, you really have 613 commands. Do some people really follow all of them like for example "Ex. 16:29 — Not to walk outside the city boundary on Shabbat", "Lev. 25:4— Not to work the land during the seventh year" or "Lev. 21:17— A Kohen with a physical blemish must not serve"?


The observant Jews follow pretty much everything, except for things that are related to the temple (since it's destroyed). They don't drive on the sabbath, so people stay close to home, visit family/friends, etc. It's not always what you'd expect it to be just from reading the verse in the bible.

A crazy example, explained to the best of my limited knowledge on the subject. On the Sabbath one is not permitted to carry things about outside the house - it's like working. But when people started locking their doors regularly, the keys became a problem. Will you leave the house unlocked? Hide the key under the mat? Urgh. However, a solution was found.

There was an old authority permitting to carry things within a house, but also within a courtyard. Presumably this was granted when houses had courtyards in the middle, and someone was carrying a cup of water from one room to another, effectively within the house. So people ran a wire around a bunch of houses, their Rabbis agreed that it met the definition of a courtyard, and people could walk about carrying their keys on the Sabbath. Of course, you have to be careful not to cross the wire. Inconvenient, right?

Well, the areas surrounded by the wires expanded and expanded. If you walk about in cities in Israel you will see poles like this:

[url="this"]http://images1.ynet.co.il/PicServer3/2013/03/06/4499501/449949801000100408272no.jpg[/url]

with wires strung between them, which permits the observant to walk about with their keys in their pockets on the Sabbath. Occasionally, when there's some conflict about the degree of religiosity of a neighborhood, these poles will get put up or chopped down in the middle of the night.

As for the seventh year, some provision is made for it, but I am ignorant of the details. I've never heard anything about physical blemishes in a Cohen, so I suspect it's only relevant for the rituals of the Temple, which haven't been used in almost 2,000 years.

Do the Jews believe that being the "chosen" people brings other obligations apart from following that 613 commands (not that 613 is a small number and people following them will be busy anyway;))?
Chritians believe that because of being the chosen people the must evangelize, they also believe they have special obligations to their fellow man... such as the missionaries who believed it their obligation to care for those with ebola... not that all Christians act on that. It is theory rather than practice.


The number 613 is symbolic, and it includes special obligations to their fellow man. One particularly important Rabbi is quoted as saying that the whole bible can be summed up as 'Love thy neighbor as thyself', and all the rest was details. Israel routinely sends help to disaster areas around the globe, usually in the form of a field hospital (as in Haiti). But there's no evangelizing.

I noticed that some of the commandsments seem to be only extend to other Jews such as "Lev. 19:14 — Not to curse any upstanding Jew" or "Lev. 19:17 — Not to hate fellow Jews". Would it be okay to curse and hate infidels then?


I'm not sure which translation you're using, as the verses you quoted are quite different in my copy of Leviticus:

יד לֹא-תְקַלֵּל חֵרֵשׁ--וְלִפְנֵי עִוֵּר, לֹא תִתֵּן מִכְשֹׁל; וְיָרֵאתָ מֵּאֱלֹהֶיךָ, אֲנִי יְהוָה. 14 Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling-block before the blind, but thou shalt fear thy God: I am the LORD.

יז לֹא-תִשְׂנָא אֶת-אָחִיךָ, בִּלְבָבֶךָ; הוֹכֵחַ תּוֹכִיחַ אֶת-עֲמִיתֶךָ, וְלֹא-תִשָּׂא עָלָיו חֵטְא. 17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart; thou shalt surely rebuke thy neighbour, and not bear sin because of him.

I usually use mechon mamre's online copy of the bible to look up quotations (at http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0.htm). I usually make do with the Hebrew, but sometimes need the English to help me out with difficult passages.

Leviticus 19 is quite a unique chapter in the Old Testament, as it contains almost entirely moral commandments. And yet it contains some strange exceptions - hard to tell if the ancient Israelites also considered these things fundamental to their faith, or if it's a later interpolation. How bad could it be if meat from a sacrifice was eaten on the third day? Bah.
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Re: The Jewish people

Postby Gavin » 01 Feb 2015, 14:35

I have been watching this video which shows how ignorant many Palestinians are and how much they hate Jews.

However, at one point a young Palestinian says the following:

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 14.21.00.png

Do they? And is that racist? Or would they happily open up their doors to everyone, providing they weren't going to seek benefits and weren't going to kill them? (I dare say this young man would do both.)

I mean, we already open our doors to everyone and many do seek (and are given) benefits. Many others are indeed trying to kill us - but this would of course be immediate suicide for the case of Israel. But, all things being equal, I wonder if they would throw open their doors to everyone, and, if not, would this be "racism" or perfectly natural and acceptable?

The answer has big implications for other countries and their ethno-nationalism too, of course.

What if I wanted to go and live in Israel as a computer programmer, for example? I wouldn't, because it isn't my culture and I do not believe in any of their religion (quite apart from the issue of their very hostile neighbours). But would I be welcome as such? I think I should not be unless I want to embrace their culture. But it would mainly be a cultural matter rather than an ethic or racial one, for me.

p.s. Must say I agree with the man at 11'55 who says that if they would all just put their religion aside they'd have a lot better chance of getting on.
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Re: The Jewish people

Postby Gavin » 17 Sep 2015, 08:24

Jonathan, isn't this potentially a problem?
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