Blessed Are the Peacemakers

[ Ed. note – The video above is of a townhall meeting conducted last week by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in her home state of Hawaii. If you want to hear the congresswoman discuss the situation in Syria, fast forward the video to about 10 minutes in. Gabbard, who introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists act in Congress and who has drawn fire for challenging the media lies about Syria (most recently for questioning the narrative that the Assad government was behind the April 4 chemical weapons attack), is one of a number of a small number of prominent Americans who have been a voice of sanity in a world seemingly gone mad and moving closer and closer to war.

The article below,

“Blessed Are the Peacemakers,” holds up Gabbard, along with Professor Stephen Cohen, as models of modern-day peacemakers, and encourages Christians to follow their example. The irony of course: Gabbard is Hindu and Cohen is Jewish. The writer of the article, Yvonne Lorenzo, makes the point that there are “too few Americans who value the teachings of Christ on the primacy of peace—or at least value them enough to fight for them.” She is right. Something like 70 percent of Americans identify in some manner as “Christian.”

Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.

So said Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. If we truly want to be children of God, it is our duty to be peacemakers. And this means challenging the war mongers and speaking out as Cohen and Gabbard have done. We owe it to ourselves, our families, and to the planet we live on. ]

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

By Yvonne Lorenzo

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9 

I am writing these words before Good Friday (including Orthodox Christian) 2017. Tensions between nations have never been greater. Although there are tens of millions of people in America who profess the Christian faith, there appears to be very little in the way of public protests against military actions and incipient war.

Recently, conservative talk show host Michael Savage publicly criticized President Trump’s decision to attack Syria. His conversation with author and columnist Pat Buchannan is on this YouTube of his broadcast on April 11th. In his book, Trump’s War, Mr. Savage wrote in the chapter “Trump’s War against the War Machine” these wise observations:

Just after the election, I saw Mel Gibson’s movie Hacksaw Ridge. It’s about the U.S. Army medic Desmond T. Doss, who served at the vicious Battle of Okinawa in World War II but refused to kill anyone. He became the first man in American history to win the Medal of Honor without firing a single shot.

This was the perfect movie to see in the context of Donald Trump as an anti-war President. While I was watching this moving film, Trump was speaking to Russian president Vladimir Putin, even though Trump hadn’t been sworn in yet. The two men vowed to work together…

One of the reasons I worked so hard to get Trump elected is I believe he will be a man of peace. Put everything else aside. The most important thing in this world is not the economy. It’s peace.

I’ve written about Desmond T. Doss and there are several excellent articles on Lew Rockwell’s site; I’ve also written about the work and writing of Professor Stephen Cohen. In his appearance on Tucker Carlson’s show on April 12th, 2017, he discussed the bombing of Syria:

[Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev] said American-Russian relations are absolutely ruined—ruined. He’s considered the most pro-Western member of the Russian leadership…and the politics in Russia today as we talk is if not the conviction the concern that America is preparing for war against Russia…my concern is that Russia will overreact…

(In forty years as a Russia expert) I’ve never been as worried as I am today about war with Russia.”

Yet far from most of the political leadership agreeing with Professor Cohen, they react with outrage against those who challenge their agenda; witness the attacks against Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard:

Sporting a sweet new “Resist” picture on Twitter, Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress and author of numerous embarrassing email exchanges with John Podesta, called on Hawaiians to oust their Representative, Tulsi Gabbard, for having the audacity to question whether Assad was responsible for the recent chemical weapons attacks in Syria…

Gabbard told CNN on Friday that she wants to achieve peace in Syria, “Why should we just blindly follow this escalation of a counterproductive regime-change war?”

“There’s responsibility that goes around,” Gabbard said. “Standing here pointing fingers does not accomplish peace for the Syrian people. It will not bring about an end to this war.”

Meanwhile, former DNC chair Howard Dean also decided to join in on ganging up on Gabbard, but he immediately got shut down by a follower who asked the obvious question of why engaging in dialogue was disqualifying for Gabbard but violating federal record retention laws and a Congressional subpoena was perfectly fine for Hillary.

Here is Gabbard’s official statement that enraged so many of our elected representatives:

It angers and saddens me that President Trump has taken the advice of war hawks and escalated our illegal regime change war to overthrow the Syrian government. This escalation is short-sighted and will lead to more dead civilians, more refugees, the strengthening of al-Qaeda and other terrorists, and a direct confrontation between the United States and Russia—which could lead to nuclear war.

This Administration has acted recklessly without care or consideration of the dire consequences of the United States attack on Syria without waiting for the collection of evidence from the scene of the chemical poisoning.  If President Assad is indeed guilty of this horrible chemical attack on innocent civilians, I will be the first to call for his prosecution and execution by the International Criminal Court. However, because of our attack on Syria, this investigation may now not even be possible. And without such evidence, a successful prosecution will be much harder.

I am not a Russia expert like Professor Cohen yet I believe we ignore his warning at our peril. Right now, there is the potential for military conflict with North Korea, Syria, Russia and Iran. Yet for a few righteous voices crying out and being either scorned or ignored, there are sadly too few Americans who value the teachings of Christ on the primacy of peace—or at least value them enough to fight for them. How will God judge us for not taking a stand when now more than ever it matters so much and literally the world is at stake?


Gabbard versus CNN


US Veteran Stands With Assad Government

US Marine Corps Veteran Angelo John Gage

The Lubavitcher Rebbe’s dark side

April 15, 2017  /  Gilad Atzmon

GA: The following article was posted on The Time Of Israel’s website yesterday morning.  It was then removed by the Zionist outlet.  This is the first time I publish an article by Michael Lesher who is an orthodox Jew as well as a courageous whistleblower. In this article Lesher looks into  the militarism, racism and Zionification that have become dominant within contemporary Jewish orthodoxy.

Please read and spread widely. 

Michael Lesher will join our panel discussion at Theatre 80 NYC on 30 April https://theatre80.wordpress.com/the-post-political-condition-trump-brexit-the-middle-east-what-next/ 

By Michael Lesher

April 18 would have been the 115th birthday of Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe. Schneerson, who took over a struggling Brooklyn-based Hasidic sect in 1951, was by his death in 1994 arguably “the most influential Jew since Maimonides,” and it is about that influence I wish to write — particularly because, in the 20-odd years since his death, recollections of the Rebbe’s personal charisma have largely eclipsed the record of his actual teaching.

I note at once that I have neither the expertise nor the desire to try to analyze the whole range of the Rebbe’s religious doctrine. Of his role as clergyman and community leader I have little to say, never having lived in a predominantly Lubavitch enclave. Moreover, since I had no contact with him, I am clearly unequipped to write about the Rebbe’s personal qualities; I am prepared to grant that these were impressive.

I am more concerned with the darker side of what the Rebbe taught.

For that darker side — the farrago of apocalyptic messianism and overt racism at the core of the Rebbe’s teaching — is likely to be his lasting contribution to the Jewish world, in which his prestige (thanks in no small part to popular hagiographies by Joseph Telushkin and Adin Steinsaltz) continues to rise even as serious discussion about his legacy has all but disappeared.

Worse, the Rebbe’s teaching invites serious practical consequences. Some of his most vehement sermons were devoted to the promotion of Mideast militarism. While Israel’s violence against its Palestinian Untermenschen intensified and its attacks on neighboring countries reached new heights of savagery, the Rebbe rationalized the occupation and egged on Israel’s military assault against Lebanon in 1982, as he would cheer on the American-led carnage in Iraq nine years later. Certainly a Muslim cleric who preached similar things would be anathematized throughout the Western world. Why, then, is the Rebbe given a pass for his warmongering in support of the oppression of Palestine — surely the ugliest blot on Jewish tradition in modern times?

The question cannot be shirked. The Rebbe didn’t just tolerate Israeli oppression. He encouraged it.

In Eyes Upon the Land, a book explicitly “based on the public statements and writings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe,” the reader is told that “every inch of territory in Israel,” including “the lands taken in the Six-Day War,” must be held by the use of Jewish military force, regardless of international law or the consequences for the non-Jewish population. Why? Because “the ordinary Arab in the street” seeks nothing less than “Arab dominion over the entire land of Palestine” and regards all Israelis with “deep-seated hatred.” The Rebbe never produced evidence that a nonexistent Palestinian army would somehow overwhelm Israel’s massive military forces — there being none — but the darker question is why the Rebbe’s insistence on Jewish dominion over the same land, and the deep-seated hatred of Palestinians and other Arabs he encouraged (during Israel’s slaughter of over 17,000 people in Lebanon in 1982, the Rebbe repeatedly criticized the Israelis for being too timid) didn’t justify the use of force by Arabs against their Jewish attackers. The only possible answer is the obvious one: Jews were different from non-Jews by definition. Jewish goals mattered to the Rebbe. Arab lives didn’t.

And Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza? During the First Intifada, the Rebbe preached emphatically against the slightest easing of the oppressive conditions that had spurred the desperate (and overwhelmingly nonviolent) popular revolt. “[C]oncessions convince the Arabs of Israeli weakness,” he claimed. “Even mere talk of possible concessions is harmful because it encourages terrorist activity.” Meir Kahane himself could not have said it more brutally.

The mainstream reader seldom hears about any of this: much of what passes for commentary on the Rebbe’s work is mere propaganda. In Toward a Meaningful Life, a book intended as a distillation of the Rebbe’s teachings, Simon Jacobson claims that “the Rebbe taught – and embodied – a distinctly universal message, calling upon all humankind to lead productive and virtuous lives, and calling for unity between all people.” In fact, Schneerson based his teaching on the traditional Hasidic text known as Tanya, a deeply racist work according to which only Jews are endowed with fully human souls. True, Schneerson was far from being the world’s only racist preacher; but it is hard to imagine panegyrics like Jacobson’s being circulated about, say, David Duke.

Nor have only the faithful been playing such games. In her review of two recent biographies of Schneerson for the Wall Street Journal, Dara Horn – after describing the efforts of the Rebbe’s emissaries to persuade Jewish men to don phylacteries and Jewish women to light Friday evening candles — insists that although “[i]t all seems suspiciously cultlike,” these “bearded enthusiasts aren’t out to convert anyone.” Really? It’s true that the only targets of Lubavitch’s missionary activities are Jews — but to deny that they’re “out to convert anyone” makes sense only if you accept the underlying premise that all Jews ought to be Orthodox Jews, if not Lubavitch Hasidim, a position that aligns Ms. Horn with a highly tendentious theological position she fails to acknowledge, let alone to justify.

Schneerson’s warmongering was partly a product of his doctrinal Jewish chauvinism — but it also drew on his fanatical insistence that the end of days was rapidly approaching. “We are now very near the approaching footsteps of Messiah, indeed, we are at the conclusion of this period,” he claimed as far back as 1951. Samuel Heilman and Menachem Friedman, in a relatively clear-headed review of the Rebbe’s career, call it “the story of how one man and some of his followers were swept away by his beliefs and expectations and led to assume that death could be denied and history manipulated.”

But Western media generally disdain religious fanatics who believe they can defy death and turn back the course of history. The Lubavitcher Rebbe alone is treated with kid gloves — even though violence was among the tools with which he sought to change reality. Witness the silence that followed this fulsome encomium from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach in the Observer:

“His [the Rebbe’s] moral authority and unparalleled humanity inspired in all who met him a desire to be better…. [S]eeing the dignity he accorded all who came to seek his blessing his admirers ceased judging people who were different.”

Those fine sentiments will be news to Palestinians, for whom the Rebbe expressed nothing but loathing and contempt. And the Rebbe’s “unparalleled humanity” had no problem with extolling Israeli massacres in Lebanon and the slaughter of Iraqis in 1991.

Yes, religious leaders can be complicated figures, and I am willing to grant that other aspects of the Rebbe’s teaching may be genuinely inspirational. But until we come to terms with the dark side of his career, we will not be able to shake off his complicity — and ours — in the long-running crimes of the Jewish state which, in the Rebbe’s perverse preaching, became acts of piety.

Sheikh Imran Hosein interviews the Saker

The Saker

Sheikh Imran Hosein interviews the Saker

April 12, 2017

Dear friends,

Some of you might remember that I have mentioned in the past that I was planning to do a “coming out” of my “anonymity closet” on the 10th anniversary of my blog, on May 1, 2017.  Well, turns out that I had a better opportunity to do that just a little earlier upon the request of my friend Sheikh Imran Hosein who talked me into agreeing to a video interview for him.  I will be honest, I absolutely hate public speaking of any kind, and a video camera, even my own, makes me feel like I am sitting on a mount of red ants.  Also, this was my first video interview ever.  By temperament I am a *student* first and an *advisor* second: in other words, a “behind closed doors” kind of person.  I hate the limelight and I am much more comfy with my very-thin anonymity as “The Saker” than showing my face (and overgrown belly) to the public.  But I just did not find the courage to say “no” to such a respected and dear friend like the Sheikh.  So, friends, folks and neighbors – here I am for all to see  (sigh, cold shiver down the spine, deep breath).

I have a request.  Even though my anonymity is pretty much long gone now, let’s just keep things as they were, okay?  Keep calling me “The Saker” – just think of it as a pen name if you want.  And, please, don’t focus too much on me.  What matters are the issues and what a person *does*.  Not who that person is.  So let’s pretend like you don’t know my real name and like you “forgot” who is interviewed in this video.  Believe it or not, I am kind of shy and not a social, nevermind public, person at all.

Still, I am happy that my “coming out” was with a Muslim friend.  Not only will that rattle some stinky cages, but it is also a tribute to all the kindness shown to me by my Muslim friends.

One more thing: there is no need to tell me that I don’t deserve the exceptionally kind words of praise of the Sheikh.  I know that.  Be assured that this praise is in no way a reflection of me, but it is a reflection of the Sheikh’s immense kindness and compassion for his fellow human being.  The fact that I am so unworthy of this praise says everything about the Sheikh’s kind heart.

Cheers and hugs to all,

The Saker

The Essential Saker: from the trenches of the emerging multipolar world

$27.95

Passover Special – Yahweh and WMD

April 10, 2017  /  Gilad Atzmon

By Gilad Atzmon

Not many people know that the evil genius who introduced our universe to WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) was the Jewish German chemist Fritz Haber. For his work at the service of the German ministry of defense at the time of WWI, Haber is considered the ‘father of chemical warfare.” Haber pioneered the weaponizing of chlorine and other poisonous gases during World War I. Haber died in 1934 on his way to Palestine. He was making Aliya.

It should also be noted that it was Jewish ‘pacifist’ Albert Einstein who, together with Leo Szilard (another Jewish physicist), initiated the Manhattan project to produce the very first nuclear weapons. In 1939, it was Einstein who proposed to President Roosevelt that the United States begin its nuclear energy project. Needless to say, the Manhattan Project was over-populated with Jewish German scientists, working day and night to build a nuclear bomb, hoping to bring total destruction on Germany and its people (not just the regime).

Just a few years later in the 1950s, David Ben Gurion and Shimon Peres decided to introduce the Middle East to WMD, launching the Israeli nuclear project and also the Israeli chemical and biological warfare laboratory at the Israel Institute for Biological Research in Nes Ziona.

One may wonder, what is it that motivates Jewish secular scientific geniuses such as Haber, Einstein, Szilard, Oppenheimer and many others, not just to place their brilliance in the service of evil, but actually to initiate and invent the most destructive genocidal weapons in the history of mankind? And what was it that motivated Ben Gurion and Peres to introduce the entire Middle East to the threat of Judgment Day weapons and the notion of ‘Samson Option’?

You may ask yourself, is it something in the Jewish religion that invokes such genocidal, fatalist thinking? But the truth of the matter is that all the above scientists were secular Jews – far removed from Judaism or the Talmud – so it is unlikely that it was rabbinical Judaism that motivated Haber or Einstein. Similarly it wasn’t Judaism that motivated the secular Ben Gurion or Peres to launch the Israeli nuclear project.

Yahweh – the God of WMD

If you really want to understand the possible roots of Jewish cultural fascination with WMD, the place to go is probably the story of Passover. The Jewish Passover dinner (seder), celebrated by both secular and orthodox Jews, delves at length into the story of the Ten Plagues – ten calamities that, according to the Book of Exodus, Yahweh inflicted upon innocent Egyptians, just to persuade their king, Pharaoh, to let the Israelites go. Could it be that the ten plagues are simply old-time WMD warfare perpetrated by Yahweh himself?

First God made water into blood: Ex. 7:14–24

This is what the LORD says:

“By this you will know that I am the LORD: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink and the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.”

Then God inflicted on the poor innocent Egyptians a blitz of frogs: Ex. 8:1-8:5

This is what the great LORD says:

“Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will plague your whole country with frogs. The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. The frogs will go up on you and your people and all your officials.”

The third Divine biological attack was lice: Ex 8:16

“And the LORD said […] Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt”

Fourth was wild creatures to harm people and livestock.

The Fifth was livestock succumbing to disease Then the biblical WMD God attacked the poor Egyptians and their livestock with boils and ulcers, an early version of mustard gas, I believe.

When none of that did the trick, Egypt was subjected to God-inflicted climate change.

The seventh plague was a thunderstorm of hail.

Then came locusts and, when this didn’t help, God simply turned off the light for three days.

Finally, the Jewish God really lost his patience and decided to murder every firstborn son in the kingdom.

So Yahweh is not exactly a nice god. In fact, he is a genocidal being who would not have the slightest chance of surviving a visit to the Hague – Alan Dershowitz himself would not be able to get him off.

As we have said, the story of the Plagues of Egypt is celebrated by most Jews and not only the religious. Jews see Passover as a festival of liberation which even the most secular Jews are happy to celebrate. But in practice, this joyous festival celebrates a merciless warfare against an innocent civilian population.

The story of Passover leaves unanswered some important ethical and theological questions. If the almighty Jewish God is so omnipotent, why did he not just soften Pharaoh’s heart towards the Jews? Or why not just punish the king? Why did the Jewish God prefer to engage in such murderous adventures on innocent Egyptians?

The above depiction of the Old Testament God leaves us with some unsettling philosophical questions. If it was the ancient Israelites who invented this God, a God who chose them over all other peoples, why not make him a bit nicer? Why did he have to be so vengeful, so genocidal even?

Einstein, Oppenheimer, Fritz Haber, Ben Gurion and Shimon Peres were secular Jews. They didn’t follow the Talmud nor did they keep the Sabbath, yet, like the Old Testament God himself, they probably believed that mass destruction was simply the kosher way forward.

Imran Hosein: Meeting with the Saker in beautiful Tobago by Imran N. Hosein

Meeting with the Saker in beautiful Tobago

by Imran N. Hosein

www.imranhosein.org
inhosein@hotmail.com

I have just spent 10 exciting days with my Russian friend, ‘The Saker’, in the enchantingly beautiful Caribbean island of Tobago. I was born in the island of Trinidad where I now live, and Tobago is located just next to Trinidad in the South Caribbean Sea close to Venezuela:

http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/map/central_america_map2.htm

This was the first time that I ever met with ‘Saker’, and I am happy to report that I succeeded in persuading him to come out in the open with his true identity, while putting his trust in the One God. As a consequence, his identity is now public. He is Andrei Raevsky, but he will continue to use his nom de plume of Saker. If you visit his website: http://thesaker.is/sakers-open-letter-to-the-saker-community/you will even see his photograph. Those who are not familiar with him will get to know him if they visit his website.

I also got him to agree to record a joint video with me in which I interviewed him for half of an hour, so viewers will soon be able to see us together in that interview in Tobago. It will be placed on my website at www.imranhosein.org as well as my You-tube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/SheikhImranHosein

We were joined in Tobago by my Serbian friend, the US-trained Attorney, Stefan Karganovic, and by his friend, a Serbian Neurosurgeon. I got to know Stefan a few years ago through the Saker, and we corresponded with each other by email before I travelled to Belgrade in 2015 to meet with him and so many others in what must be recorded as a blessed visit to that historic city. It was a dream come true for me to welcome my friend Stefan to beautiful Tobago.

Stefan has just completed the Serbian/Bosnian translation of my book on ‘Methodology for Study of the Qur’an’, and Prof Branko Rakic of the Faculty of Law of the University of Belgrade has written a long Foreword for the book. It will soon be published in a new edition with Prof Branko Rakic’s Foreword Insha Allah.

Both Saker’s wife, Ana, and my wife, Aisha, were also with us in Tobago.

I took them for an all-day tour all around the island of Tobago – driving from one end of the island to the other, while passing through Roxborough and Speyside where we stopped for lunch at a beachside restaurant with an absolutely stunning view of the Speyside Bay, until we reached the town of Charlottesville located at the other end of the island. Here are some pictures of Speyside Bay and Charlotteville:

https://www.google.tt/search?q=parlatuvier+bay+pictures+tobago&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwji4_zCgozTAhUESiYKHSBTDQgQ7AkIJA&biw=1163&bih=545&dpr=1.65#tbm=isch&q=speyside++bay+pictures+tobago&*

https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotos-g1463485-Charlotteville_Tobago_Trinidad_and_Tobago.html

We then drove through the rain-forest from the eastern side of the island across to the western side, got stuck in soft mud at the side of the road, and eventually found a rest-shed where we could enjoy our desert – which, inevitably, was pineapple.

Perhaps the most beautiful sight of all was when we looked down at the Parlatuvier Bay (otherwise known as Englishman’s Bay) from high up a hill. My guests were all absolutely amazed by the stunning natural beauty of Parlatuvier Bay. Here are some pictures of the Bay

We also made the trip by boat to Tobago’s Nylon Pool as well as to the archipelago known as No Man’s Land.

https://www.google.tt/search?q=tobagos+nylon+pool+pics&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjBwfW0hozTAhUGKCYKHYMbCd4Q7AkINA&biw=1163&bih=545

https://www.google.tt/search?q=tobago+no+man%27s+land+archipelago+pics&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjA96HehozTAhXqr1QKHXd9B3EQ7AkIMg&biw=1163&bih=545

Captain Phillips, who piloted our boat, assured my guests that whoever took a bath in the Nylon Pool would emerge looking ten years younger. Not only did they all look ten years younger at the end of their visit to Tobago, but Stefan eventually looked quite red. He spent endless hours enjoying himself swimming in the blue/green Caribbean Sea. I do not know why the native people who lived in what is now known as America, were called ‘Red’ Indians, but I am satisfied that Stefan should enter history as the first ever ‘Red’ Serbian who was authentically ‘red’.

Since it was the Christian time of Lent, when Christians have certain dietary restrictions, we bought lots of fresh fish at the Lambeau Fish Market, and took turns in cooking. I had my turn twice, and I was fortunate to escape, despite my somewhat unconventional menus, without any culinary disaster. I took lots of pineapples and two large watermelons to Tobago from Trinidad, and was very relieved when they turned out to be quite sweet. Indeed we ate pineapples so often that some of my guests may even have had dreams of sweet pineapples. I also took a local Indian bread called Dhalpouri Roti. It is soft, round in shape, and large enough for two people to eat one of them. The flour is mixed with yellow lentil called Dhall, which makes it very delicious indeed. My guests loved it.

Despite the time spent in cooking, touring, and bathing in the blue/green Caribbean Sea, we still found time for all four of my Orthodox Christian guests to visit Tobago’s Masjid al-Taubah to attend the congregational prayers known as Salaat al-Jumu’ah.

The Imam invited me to deliver the Khutbah (i.e., sermon) and to lead the prayer, and I delivered a Khutbah on Christian-Muslim relations which was based on verses of the Qur’an. 

Saker responded to the sermon with a declaration that he wanted all of Russia to be able to hear it, and Stefan had the same wish for all of the Balkans.

My sermon was based on verses of the Qur’an which explicitly affirmed faith in some Christians:

كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ وَلَوْ آمَنَ أَهْلُ الْكِتَابِ لَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَّهُم مِّنْهُمُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَأَكْثَرُهُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

“You (Muslims) are an excellent community evolved (by divine wisdom) for the sake of mankind, (provided that you) enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, and you have faith in Allah. If only the People of the Book (i.e., Jews and Christians) had faith (in Muhammad as a Prophet of the One God and in the latest Book, i.e., the Qur’ān, as His revealed Word), it would have been beneficial for them: amongst them there are those who have faith, but most of (the rest of them) are perverted transgressors.”

(Qur’ān, Ale ‘Imran, 3:110)

In consequence of the above unambiguous declaration by Allah Most High in which He affirmed that amongst the Christians and Jews (i.e., the People who have the Book of Allah as we, Muslims, also have the Book of Allah) there are those who have ‘faith’, while most of them are sinful in conduct, it became necessary for Muslims to make an effort to identify and demarcate the two groupsi.e., those Christians and Jews who act in a manner consistent with a people who have ‘faith’, and those whose conduct is manifestly sinful. A people who have ‘faith’ would not harbor feelings of hatred in their hearts for the believers in Allah Most High. Nor would a people who have ‘faith’ become friends and allies of those whose hearts are filled with hatred for Muslims.

I quoted the verse of the Qur’ān which explicitly identified Jews to be a people whose hearts will display great hatred for Islam and Muslims. While some Jews did not act in this way towards Muslims, most Jews did so. This was manifest in the life-time of Nabī Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم), and has once again manifested itself in the modern age in the conduct of Zionist Jews:

لَتَجِدَنَّ أَشَدَّ النَّاسِ عَدَاوَةً لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ الْيَهُودَ وَالَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُواْ وَلَتَجِدَنَّ أَقْرَبَهُمْ مَّوَدَّةً لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ الَّذِينَ قَالُوَاْ إِنَّا نَصَارَى ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّ مِنْهُمْ قِسِّيسِينَ وَرُهْبَانًا وَأَنَّهُمْ لاَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ

“Strongest among men in enmity to the believers will you find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers will you find those who (openly and publicly) declare, “We are Christians”: because amongst them are priests (who devote their lives to teaching and administering religious rites) and men who have embraced monasticism (and have hence renounced the world), and they are not arrogant.”

(Qur’ān, al-Māidah, 5:82)

Not only did the Qur’ān identify in the above verse the community of Jews as the People of the Book who are without faith, but it also went on to identify those (amongst the People of the Book) who display love and affection for Muslims – and hence display an important sign of faith. They are a people who declare of themselves that: “We are Christians”.

Christians who displayed love and affection for Islam and for Muslims, did appear in early Islam when the Negus of Abyssinia (i.e., modern-day Ethiopia) rejected the request of Makkah to repatriate the Muslims (who were slaves or semi-slaves) who had fled from persecution and oppression in Makkah, and had sought asylum in Abyssinia. Indeed, when the Negus died, and the news of his death reached Nabī Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) in Madīna, he performed the funeral prayer for him, thus recognizing him as a Christian who had faith in Allah Most High despite some of his Christian beliefs with which the Qur’an had taken issue.

There is absolutely no evidence that the Negus had renounced his belief in Jesus as the son of God, or that he had ceased to worship Jesus as God, prior to his death; nor do we have any such evidence from the community of Christians of whom he was the leader. When there is no such evidence from these two primary sources, dubious evidence from self-serving secondary sources is of no scholarly value. Yet the Prophet offered the funeral prayer for the Negus who was a Christian.

I argued in my sermon that such Christians who will be closest in love and affection for Islam and Muslims will once again emerge in the historical process in a time-frame that will match the contemporary emergence of Zionist Jews who have displayed unprecedented hatred for Islam and Muslims. That hatred is most visible in their barbarous oppression of the innocent people of Gaza in the Holy Land.

The verse of the Qur’ān provided important signs by which such Christians who would be closest in love and affection for Muslims, would be identified:

  1. They would be a Christian people who preserve the institution of priesthood and whose priests, from their Patriarch down to the lowest Priest, will demonstrate genuine love and affection for Islam and Muslims. This most certainly excludes the Vatican and the Roman Catholic faith, the Anglican Church (of England), and all other Christian churches in western Christianity.
  2. They would be a Christian people who preserve the institution of monasticism, and whose monks would display love and affection for Islam and Muslims. This most certainly excludes western Christianity which has almost totally abandoned monasticism and the monastic way of life. Monasteries in the West have almost all been sold, and have now become McDonalds Hamburgers etc.
  3. They would be a Christian people in whose conduct there is no arrogance. This again excludes those Christians who brought modern western civilization into being with an unprecedentedly arrogant agenda of imposing its unjust and oppressive rule over all of mankind at the point of a naked blood-stained sword.
  4. They would be a Christian people who would publicly and proudly identify themselves as ‘Christians’. This would exclude the secularized Christians of modern western civilization whose primary identity is with their nation or State, rather than with their religion.
  5. They cannot be a handful of scattered Christians who worship Allah as prescribed in the Qur’ān, and hence do not worship Nabī ‘Īsa (Jesus (عليه السلام as a third person in a trinity; and do not declare that Allah Most High had a son etc. Rather, they would have to be a community of Christians complete with their priests and monks, and hence can easily be identified. One would not have to search for them in some nook or cranny with a fine-teeth comb!

My sermon identified those Christians, referred to in the Qur’an, with the world of Orthodox Christianity.

When the prayer was over, the entire congregation of Muslims turned around and reached out to the Orthodox Christians sitting on chairs at the back of the prayer hall and greeted them with love and with affection. This first-ever visit to a Masjid was a very moving experience which Saker and his wife, Stefan and the Neurosurgeon, are unlikely to ever forget. No one turned away from them. No one rejected them. No one displayed any negative behavior towards them. I felt confident that they would have received the same welcome in all the Masajid (plural of Masjid) in the neighboring island of Trinidad. The only ones who would have displayed hostility towards them would have been those who took state-of-the-art weapons and heaps of US dollars from Santa Claus to fight their bogus ISIS Jihad in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.

Unfortunately the sermon was not recorded, so we do not have a video of it which can be viewed.

In the ten days which we spent together in Tobago we had adequate time to engage in religious dialogue, and the remarkable thing about our dialogue was that it was always conducted with profound respect for each other, and for each other’s religion. At no time did our discussions reach a state in which either side was subjected to any deliberate discomfort. There was no hint of rivalry, and no debate, in which one side sought to defeat the other side, and yet, we never compromised in stating the viewpoint of our respective religions. In fact, what we did was to set an example for those who come after us, in engaging in Muslim – Orthodox Christian dialogue in a form and manner which was free from rancor and bigotry. In doing so, we conformed to Allah’s command in the Qur’ān in which He ordered as follows:

وَلَا تُجَادِلُوا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ إِلَّا بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا مِنْهُمْ وَقُولُوا آمَنَّا بِالَّذِي أُنزِلَ إِلَيْنَا وَأُنزِلَ إِلَيْكُمْ وَإِلَهُنَا وَإِلَهُكُمْ وَاحِدٌ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ

And do not argue or dispute with the Ahl al-Kitab (i.e., People of the Book, or followers of earlier revelation who are like us since we also have a Book) otherwise than in a most kindly manner, (or except with means better than mere disputation), – unless it be such of them as are bent on evildoing, (or who inflict wrong or injury) and say: “We believe in that which has been bestowed from on high upon us, as well as that which has been bestowed upon you: our God and your God is One, and it is unto Him that We [all] surrender ourselves.”

(Qur’an, al-Ankabūt, 29:46)

The above verse of the Qur’an has therefore prohibited Muslims from engaging in religious discussions with those who received the Torah, Psalms and Gospel, except in the best way possible. This prohibition did not apply, however, with such Christians and Jews who committed acts of Dhulm, i.e., injustice, oppression, wickedness.

The verse also went on to establish the very foundation of any engagement in religious discussions with Christians and Jews in the declaration that: “We believe in the revelation which has come down to us (i.e., the Qur’an) and in that which came down to you (i.e., the Torah, Psalms, Gospel); Our Ilah (i.e., God), and your Ilah (i.e., God), is One; and to Him we bow (in submission)”.

It is not my intention to write a comprehensive report of all subjects of our dialogue since Saker and I have decided to jointly write a book which will present both Islamic and Orthodox Christian Eschatology while examining the subject of Islam and Russia. Rather I choose to focus on only one subject of our dialogue and, in doing so, offer our readers a glimpse of what is to come when the book is written Insha Allah (God Willing).

Saker already knew that the Arabic word ‘Allah’ was a combination of the definite article (‘the’) and the Arabic word for God (‘ILAH’). Hence the word ‘Allah’ meant ‘The God’ i.e., The One God. Even though the Christian worshiped Jesus as God, he was still insistent that he worshiped One God since the Bible was unequivocal in its declaration: Know Oh Israel that the Lord, Your God, is One! Hence when I repeated to Saker on several occasions that his God and my God were One God, it built between us a solid common foundation for positive dialogue.

There might, unfortunately, be some Muslims who will be uneasy with the above verse of the Qur’an in which Allah Most High ordered Muslims to declare to Christians and to Jews that: Our Ilah (i.e., God) and your Ilah (i.e., God) is One. Their uneasiness would be in consequence of their knowledge that Christians worship Jesus as God. Allah Most High has already responded to such uneasiness by asking them whether they wish to teach religion to the Lord-God (Allah):

قُلْ أَتُعَلِّمُونَ اللَّهَ بِدِينِكُمْ . . . .

Say: “Do you want to teach your religion to Allah? . . . .

(Qur’ān, al-Hujurāt, 49:16)

It is remarkable that we conducted our religious discussions in exactly the opposite way from the boxing matches staged by the late Ahmad Deedat of South Africa which sought to expose several things in the Bible, belligerently so, as false and rancid. Many Christians were enraged by those boxing matches, and those who were not enraged were secretly smiling with Deedat’s Saudi sponsors since they shared a covert agenda of driving such a thick wedge between the two faiths as would preclude any possibility of friendship and alliance ever emerging between Muslims and Christians. I believe that Saker and I were more faithful to the Qur’an than Deedat and his acolytes ever were, and we set the right example of mutual respect and proper decorum for those who will now follow us Insha Allah, in Orthodox Christian-Muslim dialogue.

I asked Saker what were his expectations for the future of Muslim – Orthodox Christian dialogue, and he was very clear and precise in his response in directing attention, first of all, to those matters wherein we differed, and which appeared to him to be beyond resolve. Saker was forthright in his declaration that Orthodox Christianity does not recognize Muhammad as a Prophet of the One God, like unto Abraham and Moses (Allah’s blessings be upon them all), and does not recognize the Qur’ān as a divinely-revealed Word of the One God. However he did go on to explain that Orthodox Christianity does not have a book comparable in absolute authority to the Qur’an. Rather, Orthodox Christianity is dependent on both the Bible as well as the Church, and the collective wisdom of its luminaries through the ages, for an authoritative declaration of what constitute Truth and Faith. And so, it appeared to me that Orthodox Christians have a possible future in which the Church and its luminaries can modify Christian views through new interpretations of Christian religious symbolism and through divine visions etc. I therefore did not close the chapter between us pertaining to the status of the Qur’an and of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah Most High ever be with him).

I was familiar, of course with our own Islamic view that while whatever is clearly and explicitly stated in the Qur’an is eternally binding on all Muslims, there are other verses in the Qur’an which have to be interpreted, and hence that new knowledge would constantly keep on flowing from the Qur’an.

I did address the matter of Christian worship of Jesus as God, and as Son of God, and put the matter to rest between us when I quoted a passage of the Qur’an in which Allah Most High addressed Jesus on the subject:

وَإِذْ قَالَ اللّهُ يَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ أَأَنتَ قُلتَ لِلنَّاسِ اتَّخِذُونِي وَأُمِّيَ إِلَـهَيْنِ مِن دُونِ اللّهِ قَالَ سُبْحَانَكَ مَا يَكُونُ لِي أَنْ أَقُولَ مَا لَيْسَ لِي بِحَقٍّ إِن كُنتُ قُلْتُهُ فَقَدْ عَلِمْتَهُ تَعْلَمُ مَا فِي نَفْسِي وَلاَ أَعْلَمُ مَا فِي نَفْسِكَ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ عَلاَّمُ الْغُيُوبِ

AND LO! Allah said: O Jesus, son of Mary! Did you say unto men, `Worship me and my mother as deities beside Allah?” [Jesus] answered: “Limitless art Thou in Thy glory! It would not have been possible for me to say what I had no right to [say]! Had I said this, You would indeed have known it! You know all that is within myself, whereas I know not what is in Yourself. Verily, it is You alone who fully knows all the things that are beyond the reach of a created being’s perception.

مَا قُلْتُ لَهُمْ إِلاَّ مَا أَمَرْتَنِي بِهِ أَنِ اعْبُدُواْ اللّهَ رَبِّي وَرَبَّكُمْ وَكُنتُ عَلَيْهِمْ شَهِيدًا مَّا دُمْتُ فِيهِمْ فَلَمَّا تَوَفَّيْتَنِي كُنتَ أَنتَ الرَّقِيبَ عَلَيْهِمْ وَأَنتَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ

Nothing did I tell them beyond what You did bid me [to say]: `Worship Allah, [who is] my Lord-God as well as your Lord-God.’ And I bore witness to what they did as long as I dwelt in their midst; but when you took me (i.e., took my soul and hence made it appear that I was dead, and then returned my soul and raised me into the Samawat or parallel universes), You alone has been their keeper: for You are witness unto everything.

إِن تُعَذِّبْهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ عِبَادُكَ وَإِن تَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ فَإِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

If You punish them – verily, they are Your servants; and if You forgive them – verily, You are Almighty (and) Wise!”

(Qur’an, al-Maidah, 5:116-118)

I argued that this response implied that the matter of the worship of Jesus as God, and as the Son of God, should not become a subject of dispute and debate between Muslims and Christians. The Qur’an has advised the Muslim to let the matter rest until Allah Most High deals with it Himself on Judgment Day. This Divine wisdom seems to have escaped the attention of those misguided Muslims who ignore the Qur’an whenever they take up their boxing gloves to do religious battle with Christians and with the Bible.

This brief report does not record all the matters discussed between us, since there is a book coming, Insha Allah, which Saker and I will jointly write. He and I will endeavor to set the example, as well as the stage, for future such dialogue between Muslims and Orthodox Christians so that we can advance the cause of friendship and alliance between our two persecuted peoples.

Saker has already set the example of faithfulness to his Orthodox Christian creed, and I too will endeavor to ensure in my dialogue with Saker that I remain faithful to the Qur’an and faithful Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) who personally received in Madina a delegation of about 60 Byzantine Christians (including many religious scholars) who travelled from their native Najran in Yemen to meet with him. He not only welcomed them warmly and kindly, but offered them the Masjid itself as their place of residence and rest, as well as a place for them to pray, during their stay of approximately 3 days in Madina. The inter-religious dialogue did not yield any break-through regarding the central issues which divided the Christians and the Qur’an, but also did not result in bitter and acrimonious exchanges. Before saying good-bye and returning to Najran in Yemen, the delegation of Christians even requested of the Prophet that a learned and trustworthy Muslim be sent to them in Najran so that, among other things, the lines of communication for continuing dialogue could remain open. Despite all that has since occurred between our two peoples, and which unfriendly critics will now rush to relate, Saker and I are doing precisely that – we are continuing that Orthodox Christian – Muslim dialogue that was initiated in Madina in the presence of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and upon all the messengers of Allah Most High).

——-

Small post-scriptum by The Saker: with all due respect and love for the Sheikh, I don’t believe that he is correct when he writes that “it appeared to me that Orthodox Christians have a possible future in which the Church and its luminaries can modify Christian views through new interpretations of Christian religious symbolism and through divine visions etc.“.  The problem here is that for a teaching to be considered “Orthodox” it has to meet two criteria:

  1. It has to be the expression of the consensus patrum, the agreement of all the Church Fathers, and thus is cannot contradict the past position of the Church.  Saint Vincent of Lérins (5th century) expressed it in the following words when he said that is true that “which has been believed everywhere, always and by all” .  Thus, it cannot be the opinion of only some, contemporary, Church Fathers.
  2. It has to be “upward compatible” with what has been taught in the past.  Saint Athanasios (4th century) expressed this idea in the following words that the Orthodox faith is the faith “which the Lord gave, was preached by the Apostles, and was preserved by the Fathers. On this was the Church founded; and if anyone departs from this, he neither is nor any longer ought to be called a Christian“.  Thus no new teaching can be accepted if it contradicts what was taught in the past.

The Church having refused to recognize Muhammad as a prophet of God and having refused to accept the Quran as a divine book, She cannot under any circumstances change Her point of view.  On issues of faith and dogmatics the Church, being the Theandric Body of God filled with the Holy Spirit, She is infallible.

However, and as long as their is no compulsion in religion and as long as everybody recognizes the absolute right of each human being to follow his/her conscience, I totally agree with the Sheikh when he writes “the matter of the worship of Jesus as God, and as the Son of God, should not become a subject of dispute and debate between Muslims and Christians. The Qur’an has advised the Muslim to let the matter rest until Allah Most High deals with it Himself on Judgment Day“.

As long as our differences are not obfuscated or otherwise minimized, I do believe that it makes little sense to engage in disputes about them. What we all have to do is the explain our beliefs and make sure that the other is not mislead/misinformed about them.  But once that “informational” phase is over, there is simply no point in engaging in disputes.  Finally, we all have to recognize that the other is following his/her conscience with as much honesty, zeal and purity of faith as we do.  While we do not have to agree with the other, we do have to respect this quest for the truth in by the other.

These are my humble comments to the wise and kind words of the Sheikh.

The Saker

On Religious Freedom in America

April 01, 2017  /  Gilad Atzmon

Living the American Dream...

Living the American Dream…

By Negar Azizmoradi

A couple of months ago I started working as a barista for coffee company; a small but expanding business owned by two wonderful brothers which works under a hospital.

A couple of weeks ago, a customer asked me about my necklace emblem; the Raelian Symbol which contains, namely, the Star of David and a misinterpreted ancient Swastika. Both of these symbols can be found in the background of all nations across the globe and even some other religions being practiced today such as Hinduism, as a sacred sign. His main focus was the connecting Swastika in the middle; a concern that in addition to the later stereotypical sequences led me to identify him as a Jew.  Interestingly, he was well-informed about Raelians and the origin and true meaning of the Swastika.  However, it didn’t stop him from returning back to me on the corner of the register while I had a line of customers to take care of, with a simple but meaningful question in mind.  “Don’t you think wearing such a symbol in public might offend some people?”,  he asked.  I answered with a smile out of respect, though with raised eyebrows, “well, I prefer to educate the people who don’t know about the origin of the symbol.”

Then, regardless of my answer, he continued by repeating the same question adding a “still…” to the beginning.

I replied in the same manner,

“first of all symbols do not harm, people do and secondly, I am just being myself!”

After I apologetically pointed to the line of customers waiting for me, he finally decided to leave.

A few days ago, my employer pulled me aside to talk to me. He said, with a hesitating manner, that he has received a complaint from a customer, backed up by a person in HR of the hospital, and that it would be better to cover my symbol since it may offend some people.  You cannot imagine my feelings of outrage! I’m sure my face turned to red and I was shaking.  The reason of exasperation was not because I believed I would need to follow such flagrant direction, but due to what this image clearly shows: an American doctor, (as his proud signature on his email apparently indicated) who knows better than I, a so-called alien, about Amendment 1 feels so confident, not only to deliver his complaint about my religious symbol to the owners, but dares to take his nonsense to HR.  A woman from HR validates that claim by bringing it back to the owners.  After a few minutes and some effort to manage the emotions, my first words were to ask my boss if he knows my story, which he obviously didn’t.

“If you want to know how much wearing this symbol, a sign of being myself, matters to me, just google my name and you will understand that I didn’t put my life at risk, sacrifice being with my family and friends, and suffer so much so far from home to hear the same fanatical nonsense as in Iran, during the interrogation, I was unexpectedly told that “there is no concern with what I believe in, but the problem starts when I make it public.”

To make the story short,  although being aware of my religious rights in this country (at least according to the US Constitution), I declared,

“if I’m supposed to choose between my job and wearing the symbol, my choice would definitely be the latter.”

He said all is well and he is going to learn about and explain my story to the person in HR (I’m not sure about the necessity of explaining to anyone but it’s his business).  At this moment, it won’t be a matter of surprise anymore to encounter any further actions from the concerned Holocaust doctor or his agent at HR.  They have already proven to be unconcerned about the American Constitution and its first Amendment, enough to make the first move. And I’m not concerned about it either as the Raelian Movement is officially being recognized as a religion in United States and any further action from their side would be taken to the court.

My concern is whether Americans are aware of such a powerful and perverse influence that is dangerously writing down the dooming of their nation.   The influence emanates from the people that Gilad Atzmon identified in his must-read book, “The Wandering Who? A Story of Jewish Identity Politics”, as the third category and the problematic one:

“Those who put their Jewish-ness over and above all of their other traits.” And this is exactly what that “image” meant to me!

 

Some Thoughts on the Jews-Against-AIPAC Protestors

Posted on March 30, 2017

 photo innwhen2_zpsnsphtxx4.jpg

What to make of the emergence of yet another group of Jewish activists protesting the policies of Israel while openly and pointedly identifying themselves as Jews?

The group If Not Now first formed back in 2014 but seems to have taken center stage earlier this week at a protest outside the AIPAC conference in Washington. The protest was attended by roughly a thousand people, and Yonah Lieberman, an If Not Now co-founder, described it as “the biggest ever Jewish-led protest of AIPAC.”

One of course might ponder: why is it so important that the protest be openly labeled as “Jewish-led”?

The group’s name is taken from a saying by Hillel, the Jewish religious leader who rose to prominence in the years prior to the birth of Christ, and who once posed three questions: “If I am not for myself who will be for me? If I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?”

A visit to the group’s website reveals a rather Judeo-centric mindset:

Today, the Jewish community is faced with a choice. Will we choose a Judaism that supports freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians, or will we let the leadership of the establishment define our tradition as incompatible with our values?

Will we continue down the path of isolation and fear that’s destroying the lives of millions of Palestinians and alienating a generation of young Jews? Or, will we create a vibrant Judaism that emerges from the trauma of our past to bring our tradition to life in the present?

We have chosen. We are building a Jewish community that recognizes we cannot be free absent the freedom of Palestinians. No longer will our community be used by American politicians and the American public to justify the violation of Palestinian rights. Like those born wandering in the desert, we are rising from our people’s trauma in order to move us toward the ongoing promise of liberation.

It’s nice that we have a group of Jews who have reached the conclusion that “we cannot be free absent the freedom of Palestinians,” and the natural tendency is to applaud them. But the entire passage, and particularly the part about “the trauma of our past” suggests a very us-against-the-rest-of-the-world outlook that seems so deeply ingrained in Jewish thinking. Moreover, the part about the Jewish community being “used by American politicians and the American public” is a very peculiar way of looking at things. How exactly is the American public “using” the Jewish community when it is the American public that direly wants the “Jewish community” (as embodied by AIPAC and Jewish, pro-Israel PACS) to stop bribing our politicians to support Israel?

Of course holding protests for Palestine under the banner of an organization which loudly and openly trumpets itself as Jewish almost inevitably leads people to wonder: What exactly is the chief priority of the protestors? Is it to win freedom for the Palestinians? Or to redeem the Jewish public image? About a week before the AIPAC conference in Washington, If Not Now held a protest outside of the AIPAC office in Los Angeles. Seven people were arrested, including the young man in the photo below, whose chief concern seems to be proving to the world that such things as “moral Jews” do indeed exist. It’s a point worth making, but perhaps one should take care not to make it in too ostentatious a manner.

 photo innwhen_zps5j8lg9np.jpg

Not that the members of If Not Now would ever solicit my advice, but if they did, here is what I would say to them:

If you are going to protest in support of Palestine, do so as human beings, not as Jews. In other words, join the rest of the human race. Imagine how much more impact your protest would have had if, instead of proclaiming your membership in the Judaic tribe, you had announced your separation and divorce from it. Imagine if you had carried placards reading “We are no longer Jews.” Due to the corrupting influence of AIPAC and the crimes of Israel, the very word “Jew” has become toxic in modern discourse. I doubt that’s going to change significantly no matter how many “moral Jews” t-shirts you have printed up or how many protests you organize–and in proclaiming a bond and a tribal kinship with the same people committing crimes against humanity in Occupied Palestine you are creating a disconnect in most people’s minds–a disconnect that probably does more to damage your credibility than boost it. You say that “Jews won’t be free until Palestinians are,” but the way to win your freedom is by saying adieu and launching your exodus from this dictatorial tribe. By doing something of this nature at your protest in Washington–that is proclaiming your departure from Judaism–you certainly would have caused far more outrage inside the AIPAC conference (and if you truly had wanted to spark fury you could have converted to Christianity as well–that would really have gotten to them!) than with the protest you actually held. And while  I can well imagine that such a course of action ultimately would not be an easy road for you, the end result is that you would win your freedom.

In addition to the above, I would also suggest that members of If Not Now ask themselves: who showed more courage in standing up to the corrupt Jewish leaders of their day–Hillel or Jesus?

In the fourth chapter of the Gospel of John we see Jesus, in a conversation with a Samaritan woman, making a rather remarkable statement: “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews,” he tells her. It’s a remarkable statement because it’s one of the few instances in the Gospel of John in which the term “the Jews” is used in a positive sense. But in my view, the key word in the passage is “from.” Salvation, Jesus is saying, is not “with” the Jews, it is “from” the Jews. In other words, an exodus, a separation, a divorce has taken place.

And indeed it did. The Gospel of John was written by a group of people who formerly were Jews but who had ceased to identify as such. They were kicked out of the synagogues (John 9:22, 12:42), and there may have been instances in which Jewish Christians were even murdered by their fellow Jews (John 16:2). It isn’t only Christian sources who give us this view of early Jewish hostility toward Christianity. It can also be found in Jewish sources.

After the events of 70 A.D., the center of Judaism shifted from Jerusalem to Jamnia, where the Eighteen Benedictions were reformulated to include a curse against the minim, or heretics. Then, sometime around 85 A.D., they were revised yet again to include what appears to be a direct reference to Christians: “Let the notzrim and the minim perish immediately.” This is the wording in the twelfth benediction, the word “notzrim” generally being viewed by scholars today as a direct reference to the Nazarenes, or Christians.

After telling the Samaritan woman that salvation is from the Jews, Jesus continues with yet another remarkable comment (as so many of his comments were):

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

Spirit and truth are important, especially in the world in which we now find ourselves. But such things don’t seem compatible with an inward-looking tribal ideology. And maybe this is what the Jewish Christians of the first century realized.

If the young Jews of If Not Now want to help lead the world into truth and light, my guess is they would stand a much better chance of doing so by stepping outside the tribal matrix and taking their place among the larger human family.

%d bloggers like this: