Tuesday, December 29, 2015

In the Spirit of the Season Moslems and Christians with Good Things to Say About Jews

In the Spirit of the Season Moslems and Christians with Good Things to Say About Jews

The ook of Kuzari  by  Rabbi Judah Halevi of Spain recounts  The story of King Bulan of the Khazars who needs to decide whether to become a Christian and therefore an ally of Byzantium  or a Moslem and an ally of the Caliphate in Baghdad.

He calls in a Moslem who makes claims about Islam and when the king asks where here derives these claims from, he points to the Jews and their scriptures. He then has a similar conversation with a Christian, who also  points back to the story of the Jews.

At this point, the King, seeing both sides agrees on only one thing, the Jews, decides to call in a Jew, and, as a result, he and his kingdom become Jewish, and owe allegiance neither to the Christian  Byzantines nor to the Moslem Caliphates.

The moral of the story?
 Maybe we as Jews can get the Christians and Moslems to agree.

This is our traditionally blurred and mixed season; we have Happy Chanukah for ourselves, Merry Christmas for our neighbors.  In order for us to say Eid Mubrak to our Moslem neighbors at this time, we need to wait several decades for the holidays to overlap.

However, just a King Bulan discovered in his day, both sides have something important to say about us Jews, in some ways, very surprisingly.

First, in the spirit of this season, let’s see what Christians are saying about Jews now.

Just in the past weeks, the Vatican came out with a pronouncement that would have been unthinkable in earlier generations:

 “The Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards the Jews,” that is the core of the official statement written by a panel of Catholic theologians specializing in Jewish-Catholic dialogue.

       "Even though Christians believe that salvation comes through Christ alone, “it does not in any way follow that the Jews are excluded from God’s salvation because they don't believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah of Israel and the Son of God,” the document stated.

I am not a Catholic theologian, but for a church whose grounding principal is “There is no salvation outside the church”  this is a huge deal.

Here is a another statement:
   " Judaism is not to be considered simply another religion; the Jews are instead our “elder brothers” (Saint Pope John Paul II), our “fathers in faith” (Benedict XVI). Jesus was a Jew, was at home in the Jewish tradition of his time, and was decisively shaped by this religious milieu. [14]
             Pope Francis in his first Encyclical in November 2013 affirmed God’s everlasting covenant with the Jews: “We hold the Jewish people in special regard because their covenant with God has never been revoked, for ‘the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable’ (Rom 11:29).”

            To some extent, it was coming. 
The great Pope before World War ii, Pope Pius 11th,1938, preached against Nazi policies:”. . . antisemitism is inadmissible. Spiritually, we are Semites.” ( Sadly,  it fell on deaf ears of his coreligionists).

What about the State of Israel?

Pope Francis reappointed Father Raniero Cantalamessa as preacher to the papal household. Who is he?  Fr. Cantalamessa, a renowned bible scholar and teacher, in his book The Mystery of Christmas affirmed the everlasting covenant, writing, “We share with the Jews the biblical certainty that God gave them the country of Canaan forever (Genesis 17:8, Isaiah 43:5, Jeremiah 32:22, Ezekiel 36:24, Amos 9:14). We know that the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.”

     So much for the Catholics. How about the Protestants? The liberal ones, that are supposed to like us, have often times been siding with calls for BDS, which is tantamount to a call to dismantle the State of Israel, not just move out of the West bank.
          It is the traditional, what are called Evangelical Protestants, who don’t get along so easily with Catholics or the liberal Protestants, those very same Protestants that we traditionally  worry about, those have turned around to become our supporters.

       Here is one of the leading voices of the Christian right, Pastor John  Hagee.
         One newspaper account puts it this way:
Trying to convert Jews is a “waste of time,” he [Hagee] said. . . .
Everyone else, whether Buddhist or Baha’i, needs to believe in Jesus, he says. But not Jews. Jews already have a covenant with God that has never been replaced with Christianity, he says.
          “The Jewish people have a relationship to God through the law of God as given through Moses,” Hagee said. “I believe that every Gentile person can only come to God through the cross of Christ. I believe that every Jewish person who lives in the light of the Torah, which is the word of God, has a relationship with God and will come to redemption.
“The law of Moses is sufficient enough to bring a person into the knowledge of God until God gives him a greater revelation. And God has not,” said Hagee . . ."
( I think he was channeling the great Jewish philosopher of Jewish renewal in Germany a century ago, Franz Rosenzweig)

Here is the essential Pledge of his organization, Christians United For Israel, CUFI.
    "We believe that the Jewish people have a right to live in their ancient land of Israel, and that the modern State of Israel is the fulfillment of this historic right.
We maintain that there is no excuse for acts of terrorism against Israel and that Israel has the same right as every other nation to defend her citizens from such violent attacks.
We pledge to stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel and to speak out on their behalf whenever and wherever necessary until the attacks stop and they are finally living in peace and security with their neighbors. "

Pastor Hagee is a close friend with the Orthodox Rabbi of San Antonio and with many other Jews in Texas and supports Israeli charities. I can vouch for this first hand.

These are the easy endorsements.

What about the Moslem world?

Here too, there are some surprising voices that have good things to say!


This is from “ Allah is a Zionist”. By  Italian Muslim communal leader and Quranic scholar Sheik Abdul Hadi Palazzi :
1 On the accusation by the Palestinians that there never was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in antiquity:
From the time of the Revelation of the Noble Quran until recently, all Muslims unanimously accepted that the Haram as-Sharif, or Holy Esplanade, on which the Dome of the Rock today stands is the same place where Solomon’s and Zorobabel’s Temples once stood. Accepting that Solomon’s Temple was in Jerusalem is compulsory for every Muslim believer, because that is what the Quran and the Islamic oral tradition, called the Sunnah, teach. . . .
2. As for the right of Jews to have a State of Israel:
The Biblical notion that God granted the land of Canaan to the Children of Israel is confirmed by the Quran.:
We settled the Children of Israel in a beautiful dwelling-place, and provided for them sustenance of the best.(  Surah of Jonah, verse 93)
We made a people considered weak inheritors of the Land in both Eastern and Western side [of the Jordan river] whereon we sent down Our blessings. The fair promise of thy Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel, because they had patience and constancy, and We levelled to the ground the great works and fine buildings which Pharaoh and his people erected. ( Surah al-Ahraf  verse 137)
3. Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel was never abolished
Moreover, the Quran explicitly refers to the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel before the Last Judgment when it says in the Surah of the Children of Israel, verse 104:
And thereafter We [God] said to the Children of Israel: ‘Dwell securely in the Promised Land. And when the last warning will come to pass, we will gather you together in a mingled crowd.’
Therefore, from an Islamic point of view, Israel is the legitimate owner of the land God deeded to her and whose borders were defined by Abraham in Genesis.
The third entry of the Jews ( 1948) to their divinely appointed land—is not mischief but rather a fulfillment of what Imam az-Zamakshari reminds the Jews: “God swore it and wrote in the Divine Tablets of Predestination: that it is yours, belongs to your people and do not turn back from it.”

Sheikh Palazzi has many detractors for sure, in the  Muslim world, but there is a sect, based in Pakistan, the Ahamdiya, followers of Mirza Gulam Ahmad,  who espouse some similar views.

Here is an example of their teaching on respect of others beliefs, especially Jews.

“Islam teaches you must respect and care for the sentiments of other people. This includes religious sentiments and the feelings of others in relation to general social issues. On one occasion, in order to safeguard the religious sensitivities of a Jewish man, the Holy Prophet sided with the Jew after he reported an argument that had taken place between him and a Muslim. To spare the feelings of the Jewish person, the Holy Prophet rebuked the Muslim by saying that he should not claim that the Holy Prophet was superior to Moses, although he knew that he had brought the final law-bearing book. This is the manner in which the Holy Prophet took care of the feelings of others and established peace within society.
- Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, World Crisis and the Pathway to Peace

What about Israel?
Here from Wikipedia on the Ahmadis:

The Ahmadis believe that the coming into existence of the State of Israel is in accord with the prophecies contained in the Bible [2]and the Holy Quran. Inferring from the words in 17:105: '...We shall bring you together out of the various peoples', at the time of the "Promise of the Later Days";.[3] The Second Khalifa of Ahmadiyya Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad in his ‘’Invitation to Ahmadiyyat’’[4] writes:
Therefore in verse 17:105 the warning of the latter days relates to the period after the second coming of Jesus. The words 'shall bring you together' refer to the present influx of Jews [written 1924] into Palestine. Jews from different countries are offered facilities of travel and rehabilitation. The revelation of the Promised Messiah said, 'I will relieve the children of Israel.' This indicated a great change in the position of the Jews. It indicated the end of the opposition which nations of the world had made for so long to an independent home for the Jews.[5][6]
“ The prophecy has been remarkably fulfilled by the return of the Jews to Palestine, under the Balfour Declaration and by the setting up of the so-called State of Israel.[7]

So what can is say, I we can get Catholics and Protestants and some Muslims to say good and positive statements about us Jews and Israel, maybe, just maybe, we can get to a day when it is not just a few, but it is truly, all of them, to say good things about us and about each other. We can have our Kumbaya moment, our "Why can't we all just get along" moment. And then, we can return the favor!

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