These three candidates were each in the news today. Is this a coincidence, or is it the times of the year? After all, around Easter was in Europe the time to mass murder Jews because we not only reject their Trinity, but also allegedly murder Christian children to use their blood for the making of matzoth – never mind that they clearly have in their translation of our Bible that it is Jews completely forbidden to consume blood: Leviticus 17:14.
Israel Today brought a story, Rabbi Aviner and the ‘Christian Scam’, that it took from the Hebrew publication Kipa that headed its article (my translation): Christians [as] Lovers of Israel: the World’s Great Deception. In that article leading Rabbi Shlomo Aviner warns that all the love, hugs and kisses for Jews from Christians are dishonest.
I always thought that Israel Today was the poodle of our PM Benjamin Netanyahu, only interested in justifying Likud policy. However, much to my surprise and dismay I found in it recently, several Jews for Jesus articles. Therefore, justly or unjustly, I don’t trust their unbiased reporting about this.
This daily opens the piece with noting that Rabbi Aviner is an important leader and thus “Whatever he says, therefore, carries considerable weight among his many adherents.” That sounds like slavishly following and that is not what his students do – the National Religious do not form a cult.
Rather, I – not even a National Religious Jew – would say: “He is an extremely great Rabbi, and hence one should consider anything he says as very important.” That is different from how this paper put it.
Afterwards, I will summarize what the Rabbi really said, but let’s first follow what this author made of it.
“Catholics see [the declaration of the State of] Israel as “the greatest disaster in history” because Catholics are [sic] the true Israel.” That’s what this daily wrote.
“Love and money softens the traditional Jewish resistance to Christianity. But with all his antipathy for Christians, Aviner’s real problem is with Jews who value money above all else.” That’s what this daily printed. Those damned money grabbers. [The Rabbi, of course did not say this – see below.]
“Aviner’s broad brush should rightly offend countless Christians who seek no reward for helping Israel. One wishes for a day when Jews [sic] realize that many millions of Christians love Israel simply because God loves Israel.” – Bold type face in the original. That’s what this daily preached. One Rabbi speaks out – Jews in general are the blind ones.
Is it just me or tried the author to provoke Christians to be offended? In any case – it works – read some of the comments ( – o rather, don’t).
And then this Israeli daily closes off with a disclaimer (back to plain text): “At the same time, can Aviner’s suspicions be dismissed as wholly unfounded?” That is so dishonest! First to incite Christians against Rabbi Aviner and then add that maybe there is something to what he said, after all? Such a sentence after the bolded paragraph does not make for evenhandedness or neutrality. Rather, it constitutes dishonest reporting, which I suspected from the start (see above). And I found all the missionaries who try to convert Jews dishonest. How can one want to convince someone to believe in dishonesty? (I did not say that all Christians are dishonest!)
Now what the Rabbi really said.
Rabbi Aviner divides Christian attitudes into Catholics, liberal Christians and Evangelical Protestants. On Catholics, he reports the Replacement Theology that states that they would be the “New Jews.” However, he leaves out the great changes in the RC Church since the Holocaust, which detracts from his analysis. Liberal Christians are simply humanists who want the land to become Arab. And Evangelicals see the Jews fit their own ideas about the future. They don’t really want to help us – they help us so that we may help them.
The Rabbi quotes the Sages of Old that taking money from Gentiles is like eating pork. He acknowledges that money is hard to resist for some, but not for most. However, it concerns here hundreds of millions! To this he answers: our national budget is hundreds of billions – leave it.
No doubt the reason for the Rabbi speaking up now is that around Eastern, Christian pilgrims flood the Holy Land and he wants to warn the naive Jews.
My own summary of what goes on would be slightly different:
- Most Jews mistrust any non-Jew and especially Christians. Such an inflated suspicion is dangerous, because when they meet Christians they might find out that these are wonderful people (too), after which they would feel ashamed and might flip to blind trust – which should be earned, not be the simple embarrassed reversal of exaggerated mistrust.
- Christians and Jews have more in common that what divides us. That makes them easier to embrace as brethren and sisters, but also more dangerous because in their sheer numbers they could overpower us, and even succeed in converting many of us to their religion, which is a Jewish disaster. Christianity is a very nice religion – but not for Jews (see below).
- Christians have problems, many of whom they do not clearly see:
- Many say: I’ll pray for and bless the Jews. Instead, they should ask us to pray for and bless them. We’re supposed to be closer to G-d.
- Their feeling of love for us could be genuine and still mistaken. There are people who say: I love fish, and who then proceed eating them. That is not loving fish – that is loving the feeling eating it gives you. Christians who love us that way do not love us.
- Many do not ask us for help clarifying their religion. We could lend them a hand, but they often “know better.” They could use some fine-tuning in their ideas about Satan, Hell, negative Prophecy, earthly pleasures, and yes: Jews. We have a more-demanding religion and exchanging it for Christianity is a disgrace for a Jew.
Last but not least, how do I know that Rabbi Aviner is right – and I say this with the greatest respect for Christians – some of them my best friends for many years. Twenty years ago, I tried to find in Jerusalem and on the Internet, Christians who would respect Jews as Jews so much that they would personally help Christian Jews to return to their unspoiled Judaism. I found a very round number of Christians who would be willing to even consider doing this: nil. That is a disgrace Christians eventually need to deal with. It should also be an eye opener for Jews.
Islam has its own checkered history about its relationship with Jews and Judaism. A new revelation just hit the news today. Many fundamentalist Christians think that Jews and Christians, who roughly read the same Bible (they think) are a closely knit front against Islam, the Satan. They don’t know that Judaism and Islam have much more in common than Judaism and Christianity.
Haaretz columnist Yossi Klein claims that the National Religious are “More dangerous than Hezbollah.” Much criticism followed his outburst. On closer inspection we read that his main fear is that the rabbis one day could force religion upon him. This overstatement has nothing to do with Hezbollah and everything with the division between religious and secular Jews in Israel. Let me share a few points that could shed some light on this.
- Like it or not, Israel is a Western democracy with a Jewish flavor.
- Most Israelis are somewhere between the two extremes of religious and secular. To divide the Jewish Israeli population up into religious and secular gives a false picture.
- In my experience, the vast majority of religious Jews in Israel feel connected to secular Jews because they learn how we all should be one.
- In my experience, the vast majority of secular Israelis are extremely loving and lovable people. They represent for me the sweetness with which all Jews should relate to everyone, and that sometimes is lacking in religious circles – because there the people may erroneously assume that their relationship to G-d is more important.
- One would assume that extremist are always less tolerant than less-extreme people, but in Israel, where so many things are opposite of everywhere else in the world, I found that not true. Many Israelis who see themselves as moderate and tolerant are extremely intolerant and even hateful and anti-Semitic towards seriously religious Jews. They frequently have no religious friends and their hatred is baffling. They often don’t know that Judaism does not believe in religious coercion and project their intolerance onto religious Jews – which seems what is going on with this Haaretz columnist. The only solution is to forge friendships across the divide. Shulamit Aloni did so. Yossi Klein should do so to.
Happy Festival for all!