Tag Archives: human

What Defines The People of God?

Chosen People Racist?

What’s behind the whole concept of the Jews as the Chosen People? Isn’t this idea racist?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

All human beings are God’s people, as it says that Adam and Eve were created in the image of God. Further, the great prophet Malachi said, “Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:10) The Talmud likewise points out that one reason the entire human race descends from a single set of parents, Adam and Eve, is so that no one would be able to claim his ancestors are greater than his fellow’s (Sanhedrin 37a). Judaism does not believe there is an inherently superior race of human beings.

-From the “Ask the Rabbi” column
Aish.com

Yesterday, I posted a blog article called Giving Up the Identity Crisis, which was based on material I reported on in Where Are All The Gentiles Who Are Drawn To The Torah?; a comparison between modern Noahides and their communities, and we “Messianic Gentiles” or, if you prefer, Talmidei Yeshua (Gentile Disciples of Jesus).

I’ve been pondering the ramifications of giving up the identity crisis and becoming more comfortable with who I am. Relative to our relationship with God, there’s only really one thought to consider: you’re either Jewish or you’re not.

new heartThe Jewish people, the modern inheritors of the covenants Hashem made with the Children of Israel, are the only named participants in those covenants. For the rest of us, by attaching ourselves to the Jewish Messiah, we attach ourselves to Israel and thus by God’s grace and mercy, we are allowed to benefit from some of the blessings of the New Covenant.

But as the quote from the Aish Rabbi states, if the Jewish people are not inherently superior to the rest of humanity, and if we’re all created in the image of the Almighty, then why are there distinctions between Israel and the people of the nations at all?

Historically, however, the world slipped away from its relationship with God, and eventually the entire world was worshipping idols. Approximately 4,000 years ago, Abraham re-discovered the one God, and chose to accept the challenge of spreading the ideas of monotheism and morality to the world. Through his dedication and willingness to give up everything for God, he was chosen – and his descendants after him – to become the guardians of God’s message.

In other words, Abraham chose God, and thus God chose Abraham.

Abraham then passed this responsibility to his sons Isaac and Jacob. That mission was formalized 3,300 years ago at Mount Sinai, when God put these ideas into a written form (the Torah).

Oh, that.

Yes, Israel became the keepers of the Torah of Moses for many, many centuries as well as the only nation on the planet that paid homage to God and obeyed His laws and statutes.

the crowdOf course, in that time, there were a number of non-Jews who, seeing the wisdom and beauty of the Torah, attached themselves to Israel and eventually, after the third generation, assimilated completely into Israel, leaving behind their non-Israelite lineage.

But God didn’t desire that humanity either have to convert to Judaism (which is how modern Jews view the ancient assimilation process) or be out of relationship with Him. And while modern religious Jews believe that humankind is born into a relationship with the God of Israel through the Noahide covenant (see Genesis 9 and AskNoah.org), God had a better plan.

That plan was absolutely not to replace Israel and Judaism with Gentile Christianity. That plan was and is for the people of the nations to benefit from God’s ultimate redemption of Israel by redeeming us as well, at least those of us who accept that Moshiach is the mediator of the New Covenant, trust in him and obey God’s commandments as they apply to the Goyim.

We aren’t born into this covenant relationship, but we are grafted in essentially as “alien residents” among Israel (symbolically, since most of us don’t live among the Jewish people in national Israel) so that the barriers that previously separated us from Israel have been resolved.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that all Christians and all Jews get along. Quite the opposite in some cases. But it does mean that the Gentiles and Jews who revere Rav Yeshua (Jesus) within the context of the ekklesia (which does not mean “church”), and trust in Hashem to save, are part of a larger Messianic community that will be fully realized upon Moshiach’s return.

I’ve said all this before in one way or another, so why am I repeating myself (yet again) now?

jew and gentile
Martin Luther King Jr. in the front line of the third march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama with Rabbi Joshua Heschel, March 21, 1965

Because (and this is a gross oversimplification) once you learn that the only two identities you can have are “Jewish” and “Other” within the devotees to Israel’s God, there’s not much else to be concerned about.

But like I said, this is a gross oversimplification. People love labels and love to differentiate between groups by those labels and what they think those labels mean.

However, what we call ourselves and what we tell ourselves that means is probably less important than what we actually do about it. Is the non-Jew who says he or she “observes the Shabbat” any more or less loved by God or created in His image than the non-Jew who volunteers at the local food bank, donates clothing to the local homeless shelter, or who spends time with hospitalized friends and relatives because tzedakah (charity) was made part of our obedience to our Rav and thus to God?

Don’t get me wrong, I think the blessing of lighting the Shabbos candles is very beautiful, and so is inviting God into the home to share our rest, but the Shabbat is a unique sign of the Sinai covenant, a covenant Hashem made exclusively with the Children of Israel (and the mixed multitude present who would assimilate into the Israelites within three generations).

Once we acknowledge that we are either Jewish or not and we learn to be OK with that, our identity problems go away for the most part.

I am a (non-Jewish) disciple of my Rav.

Another person might say “I am a (non-Jewish) Christian,” and essentially mean the same thing.

OK, there are differences, but if I obey my Rav by donating to my local homeless shelter and the Christian obeys Jesus by donating canned goods to the local food bank, are we not both being obedient and following his commands? Are we not both being faithful in the same way to the same Master?

churchSure, you might say that Christians believe in supersessionism, or deny that the Jewish people are still attached to God through the commandments and the Torah, or that they believe that Jesus “nailed the Law to the cross,” but which of us has a theology and doctrine that is 100% correct from Hashem’s point of view?

Probably no one. And yet with an imperfect understanding of the Bible, our Rav, and our God, we can still do good in His Name. That very likely describes 100% of Christians and observant Jews.

One Christian denomination rails against another spending a lot of time and resources to do so. One branch of religious Judaism rails against another spending a lot of time and resources doing so. And good grief, just look at those of us who live, study, and worship “outside the box,” so to speak. We waste a lot of time arguing about distinctions this and distinctions that.

Isn’t there a better way to use our resources and to obey our Rav?

There is once you let go.

Someone on a closed Facebook group recently asked non-Jewish group members why they became Messianic Gentiles and what was the biggest obstacle they had to overcome in entering into Messianic Jewish community.

I know these are important questions and answering them facilitates a sense of community among those who participate, at least a virtual community since these people (potentially) live all over the world, but in some ways, making that distinction also facilitates the identity crisis.

Inner lightWho is a Messianic Gentile and what does that mean? What’s a Messianic Gentile’s relationship with Messianic Jewish community and how (or if) do we fit in? There are a bunch of other questions attached to those and there is no one unified answer.

But what if those aren’t the most important questions to ask and asking the right question gives us a better answer?

We are all created in the image of God. The Aish Rabbi said that the Jewish mission is to be a light to the nations. My interpretation is that Rav Yeshua is that light (John 8:12) and by becoming his disciple, we too become lights to the world (Matthew 5:14-16).

Maybe all we really have to answer is the question, “How can I better shine my light onto the world?” That’s a totally inclusive question because it applies to everyone, Jew and Gentile alike. Sure, the answer is somewhat different depending on whether you’re Jewish or not, but not as much as you think.

Both the Jew and the Gentile are commanded to do kindness and give charity. Both the Jew and the Gentile pray. Both the Jew and the Gentile give thanks to God for what He provides us from His grace, mercy, and generosity (Psalm 145:16).

I’ve stopped worrying about what to call myself (this is a lot easier for me because I’m not part of a religious community that has a label and expects that label to mean something specifically defining). I suppose there are any number of words that others use to define me. My Jewish wife for instance, considers me a Christian. From her point of view, she’s probably right.

Who am IBut what about God’s point of view? Maybe the identity He assigned us, the person He created each of us to be, is based less on some theological system of belief and more on what we do about it.

If you behave like the person God created you to be, and strive each day to become a truer realization of that person, who cares what people call you? Who cares what you call yourself? It matters most of all how God sees you and your (our, my) response to Him.

Who am I? What do I call myself? Why, I’m “me”. I’m doing my best to be the person God created me to be. Or like Batman said, “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.”

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The Image of the Holy

[If a criminal has been executed by hanging] his body may not remain suspended overnight … because it is an insult to God.
Deuteronomy 21:23

Rashi explains that since man was created in the image of God, anything that disparages man is disparaging God as well.

Chilul Hashem, bringing disgrace to the Divine Name, is one of the greatest sins in the Torah. The opposite of chilul Hashem is kiddush Hashem, sanctifying the Divine Name. While this topic has several dimensions to it, there is a living kiddush Hashem which occurs when a Jew behaves in a manner that merits the respect and admiration of other people, who thereby respect the Torah of Israel.

What is chilul Hashem? One Talmudic author stated, “It is when I buy meat from the butcher and delay paying him” (Yoma 86a). To cause someone to say that a Torah scholar is anything less than scrupulous in meeting his obligations is to cause people to lose respect for the Torah.

Suppose someone offers us a business deal of questionable legality. Is the personal gain worth the possible dishonor that we bring not only upon ourselves, but on our nation? If our personal reputation is ours to handle in whatever way we please, shouldn’t we handle the reputation of our nation and the God we represent with maximum care?

Jews have given so much, even their lives, for kiddush Hashem. Can we not forego a few dollars to avoid chilul Hashem?

Today I shall …

… be scrupulous in all my transactions and relationships to avoid the possibility of bringing dishonor to my God and people.

-Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski
“Growing Each Day, Av 17”
Aish.com

This is an excellent point we Christians should learn. Yesterday, I commented about the intrinsic interweaving of loving God, loving other people, and loving ourselves. Rabbi Twerski’s commentary builds on that and shows us that what we do, for good or for ill, reflects upon the name of God. If we do good, God’s Name is elevated, even among the unbelieving nations. If otherwise, God’s Name is desecrated.

But there’s more.

Since all people everywhere across the vast span of human history have been created in the image of God, how we treat each other and how we treat ourselves is incredibly important. To treat another human being for any reason, with a lack of respect and dignity, is to treat God with dishonor. When we show kindness and compassion to someone, it is as if we were doing so to God. To show cruelty, dishonor, and disrespect to another…

…well, you get the idea.

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” –Matthew 25:41-46 (ESV)

This reminds me of a song I heard Alanis Morissette sing on the radio, though I guess it was originally released by Joan Osborne:

What if god was one of us,
just a slob like one of us,
just a stranger on the bus trying to make his way home?

-Lyrics by Eric Bazilian

If we would just try to imagine that everyone we encounter, no matter who they are, is God. How would that affect how we respond to them? How would we treat them differently? How would we see them? How would we feel about how we treated them yesterday?

But if God is holy, and being created in the image of God, other people are holy, what about you…and me? That is, how are you treating yourself? How am I treating myself?

Lakanta (played by Tom Jackson): What do you think is sacred to us here?

Wesley Crusher (played by Wil Wheaton): Maybe the necklace you’re wearing? The designs on the walls?

Lakanta: Everything is sacred to us – the buildings, the food, the sky, the dirt beneath your feet – and you. Whether you believe in your spirit or not, we believe in it. You are a sacred person here, Wesley.

Wesley Crusher: I think that’s the first time anyone’s used that particular word to describe me.

Lakanta: You must treat yourself with respect. To do otherwise is to desecrate something that is holy.

Wesley Crusher: Is that what you think I’ve been doing?

Lakanta: Only you can decide that.

Wesley Crusher: I guess I haven’t had a lot of respect for myself lately.

from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode,
Journey’s End (1994)

I always feel a little embarrassed when I include a quote from a television show or movie in these “meditations” but this transaction between Wesley and Lakanta absolutely crystallizes the point I’m trying to make. Remember, I previously said that there’s a connection between loving God and loving other people with loving yourself. Now we see that perhaps we can’t obey God at all; we cannot love Him and treat His Name as sacred, until we learn that to treat ourselves with disrespect is to desecrate someone who is holy…that is you…and me.

I know, it’s pretty hard to wake up first thing in the morning, look at that tired, unshaven face in the mirror, and think of myself as holy. On the other hand, what do we see when we look at the faces of other people? If we can’t see what is holy in them, how will we ever see what is Holy in God?

When we seek to serve God, when we do our best to help others, to treat them kindly, with respect, with dignity, we aren’t just doing it for them, though of course they benefit. We aren’t just doing it for ourselves either, for that would be ultimately self-serving. But in honoring others, we are serving a purpose that transcends our human existence and connects us with holy realms and an infinite God. The very act of spending half an hour with a sick friend at the hospital or even donating one can of beans to your local food bank inescapably connects you with the Divine purpose; the very heart of the One and True God. It’s not just morality, it’s spirituality. It’s not just right and wrong. It’s living holiness.

It’s so easy to think of ourselves as “ordinary.” It’s so easy to get swept away by the habits of our small lives. To go to work. To shop for food. To mow the lawn, To take out the garbage. But that’s not why we’re here. We’re not here to be ordinary people doing ordinary things. God created us to do great and wonderful things. It’s all at our fingertips. All we have to do is look in the mirror and see a sacred person. All we have to do is look at somebody else, and see someone who is holy.

God is One and we were created in His image. So it is as if God were one of us. It’s as if God is all of us, not as imagined in some mystic, eastern philosophical way, but because we are all of His image, His essence.

You are holy. So am I. So is the next person you see or speak to, no matter who they are.

As a person behaves here below, so he is treated above.

Perhaps someone once tried to tell you about the ugly deeds of another. Perhaps you responded, “I’m not interested.” And you didn’t listen.

Then there will be a time when a heavenly being will wish to report on your doings here on earth. If you have had the guts to respond this way, G‑d will also say, “I’m not interested. I don’t want to even listen.”

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“How to Not Listen”
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe
Rabbi M. M. Schneerson
Chabad.org

What if God was one of us?

Oh, one more thing. All this is far easier said than done, especially finding that “holy” guy in the mirror while I’m shaving in the morning.

A Christian Regarding Judaism

Such autonomy was made possible by God’s readiness to limit His say in human decision making and to grant the Jewish community the right to decide for itself how it should understand the commandments that it had received from Him in the Torah. Human reason, employed in clarifying and elaborating the halakhah, was seen as sufficient for that, without any need for divine intervention. Human responsibility for the conditions of life, moreover, was not confined to the religious sphere in the narrow sense, but included mastering the sciences and establishing institutional frameworks for alleviating disease, poverty, illiteracy, and other social evils.

-Rabbi David Hartman
Chapter 10, “Two Competing Covenantal Paradigms”
A Living Covenant: The Innovative Spirit in Traditional Judaism

This may not seem like a typical description of a religious framework if you’re an atheist or an agnostic. Most atheists I interact with seem to believe that religion and science are mutually exclusive terms. Some atheists also seem to think that religion and the moral responsibility to alleviate “disease, poverty, illiteracy, and other social evils” are also incompatible concepts and practices.

If you’re a Christian, you may also take some exception to Rabbi Hartman, since he appears to be advocating for the idea that God gave human beings the ability to decide just how to apply the Word and Will of the Creator in the world. I mean, wasn’t all this stuff made absolute and set in granite the second God caused Moses to create the Pentateuch (Torah) and the other authors to write the rest of the Bible?

I ask that last question ironically.

I can’t even say what Rabbi Hartman is proposing represents the entirety of Jewish thought since, as we’ll see, there are differing opinions in Judaism on just about everything. That, by the way, is the point for today’s mediation, but we’ll get to it all by the by.

In this chapter of Rabbi Hartman’s book, he compares and contrasts the viewpoints of two of the great Jewish sages: Maimonides and Nahmanides. You can learn more about these two Jewish philosophical luminaries by clicking the links I’ve provided, but certainly studying the wisdom and writings of both of these gentlemen would not be a waste of your time or effort.

I won’t go into too many of the details Rabbi Hartman presents, but I do want to draw attention to one critical area of disagreement between Maimonides and Nahmanides that should resonate with some Christians:

Messianism in Maimonides is therefore simultaneously a heroic and a realistic principle of hope anchored in the eternal covenant of Sinai. It is important for him because it does not allow Judaism to become merely a private existential experience. Messianism counteracts the heresy of turning Judaism into a faith for isolated human individuals. It springs from the essential concern of Judaism with the sociopolitical drama of the community. It also expresses the dimension of Judaism that goes beyond the tribal and national framework, since it makes the Jewish community aware that Judaism’s fullest expression requires a changed world order if there is to be a reign of peace.

Nachmanides, on the other hand, uncompromisingly embraced the assumption that Maimonides resolutely sought to eliminate: in the messianic era human nature will be changed. It will be redeemed such that human freedom will no longer lead to sin…

Clearly for him, the messianic age will be characterized by a fundamental transformation of human nature. The problematics of human freedom will be overcome, as all will then yearn to live always in accordance with the will of God.

In reading this chapter from Rabbi Hartman’s book, I immediately found the perspective of Nahmanides very familiar because it seemed to echo the viewpoint of Christianity (and I’m sure Nahmanides never intended such a linkage). As least as I recall my own early days in the church, I was taught that in the Messianic Age, we would lose all desire to sin and would only long to please Jesus in a complete and perfect manner.

Maimonides, by comparison (at least as Rabbi Hartman presents him) believed that the Messianic era will be a time of social and political change. Israel will be the head of the nations and the Messiah will rule “with a rod of iron” such that the other nations of the world will obey his laws. Man will still have the ability to sin and perhaps even the desire, but the rule of King Messiah in Israel will be obeyed as God establishes His kingdom on Earth. Certainly Maimonides does not deny a supernatural reality, but understands that it works in concert with the natural mechanics of humanity and politics. For Nahmanides, the supernatural power of God simply overwhelms mankind and our very natures are changed such that it is His miraculous power alone that brings about His rule with no intervention by human institutions.

Why do I bring this up?

To throw a monkey wrench into the machine.

More accurately, to present the idea which may not occur to some Christians (or for that matter, atheists and everyone else), that there is more than one way Jews look at God, faith, Torah, halakhah, and the Messiah. Rabbi Hartman even confirms this:

To prevent misunderstandings, I must emphasize again that I am not claiming that Maimonides provides the only possible way whereby an observant Jew can participate in a return of the Jewish people to history such as has occurred in modern Israel.

Rabbi Hartman was talking specifically about the establishment of the modern state of Israel as part of the Messianic plan and the rather troublesome divide in Judaism as to whether Israel should even exist before his arrival (return) or not. I’m not competent to answer that question and, as I said before, my main point here is just to point out that Judaism isn’t a single, cohesive idea, concept, or religious movement. There are different focuses and perspectives in larger observant Judaism, many that contradict each other and occasionally seem wholly at war (sounds sort of like how different Christian denominations treat each other, don’t you think?).

Even though I am married to a Jewish wife, I am an outsider looking in. But if I can say that and live with a Jew every day, I can only imagine what it must be like for the traditional Christian with little knowledge of Judaism and Jews, beyond what is preached from the pulpit, to try to understand what it’s like on the other side of the fence. I think, as Christians, it’s important for us to make that attempt, though. We often “demonize” that which we don’t understand, and history has shown us that such “demonization” of the Jewish people has led to pogroms, exile, torture, and death.

I want to present this tiny slice of Judaism as an example that Jews are not a “type” or a “thing” or an object of any kind. They are a people. They are dynamic. Religious Judaism has many shades and colors and textures. It is even possible for Judaism to teach us a thing or two about our own Christianity. But in order for that to happen, we have to be willing to let ourselves become uncomfortable and to explore new territory.

I’m not talking about walking out of the church, far from it. I’m only suggesting that the next time you look at a Jewish person, try to see a person, a human being. If they are a religious Jewish person, try to see their faith, their relationship with God, their desire to serve Him, not just a collection of “dead” rules and regulations.

Judaism is alive. Jews are alive. It’s kind of cool, actually. It shows the rest of us that in spite of thousands of years of enmity between Jews and the rest of the world that ultimately led to the murder of six million Jewish souls, God kept His promise that the descendants of Jacob would always be a people before Him.

Jews will always be a people in the world and among us, the Gentile nations. If you love and laugh and hurt, so do they. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). Perhaps we should learn to do so with all of our neighbors, including our Jewish neighbors because of the ways of peace. If all people, religious and otherwise, could put that into practice as well, it would certainly be a plus.

Oh, I’m sure people who are more informed about the history of religious Judaism may point out my mistakes. But remember, I sometimes stick my neck out to try and make a point, and I don’t know everything (alas).

Death in Toulouse

Rabbi Sandler of Kiryat Yovel in Jerusalem and his sons Aryeh, 6, and Gavriel, 3.5, were murdered in Toulouse Monday morning, as was 8 year-old Miriam Monsonegro, daughter of the director of Ozar HaTorah Toulouse, Yaacov Monsonego.

Binyamin Toati, Head of the France Desk of Bnei Akiva, told Arutz Sheva before the names were published that there are reports that the man who was killed is a rabbi who served as an Israel shaliach (emissary) at the school and that two of his children were killed with him.

French press reported that two children were among at least three people killed in a shooting outside a Jewish school. Two other children are reported fighting for their lives. The French news reports said the dead are a teacher and two children, and that two other children were badly wounded.

“Toulouse: Rabbi Yonatan Sandler and his Children among the Dead”
-by Gil Ronen
First Published 3/19/2012, 10:18 a.m.
Arutz Sheva News

I’m sure you’ve heard this tragic news by now. I’m sure you’ve heard that a Rabbi, his two children, and a third child were all murdered in cold blood outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, France yesterday. The story has been covered by virtually every news agency on the planet. Sixty-seven years after the end of World War II and the end of the Holocaust, Jews are still being murdered just because they’re Jews.

I guess I’m taking it personally.

No, I’m not Jewish, but my wife and children are. That means the killer who cut down Rabbi Sandler and three innocent children just because they were Jewish is quite capable and willing to kill anyone who is Jewish, including my family. Yeah, I’m taking it personally, so forgive me if what comes out in this blog isn’t exactly “rational”.

I took a walk by the greenbelt on the Boise river over my lunch hour. It’s the first day of spring and it’s snowing and windy outside. It’s the perfect day to reflect on horror and terror and sadness in the world. It’s the first day of spring, when new life is beginning to trickle back into the trees and grass and flowers are soon to bloom.

And it’s snowing and windy and bitterly cold outside. It fits.

And four Jewish people were murdered yesterday in Toulouse, France for no other reason than just because they were Jewish.

I’m not trying to be insensitive. I know that, in the grand scheme of things, this is just one more harsh thing to happen in a world of harsh things. Many people, including children, are hurt and killed all over the world every day. Just point your web browser to CNN.com and you’ll see all of the headlines. Syria’s maimed children cry out, Slave master becomes abolitionist, 7.4 earthquake hit Mexico, and the beat goes on.

I’m not just upset because kids were murdered, although that upsets me. I’m not just upset because Jews were murdered just because they were Jews, although that upsets me. I’m upset because some people think it’s OK for Jews to be murdered just because they are Jews. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t think it’s an exaggeration to accuse the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, of saying that three Jewish children being murdered in cold blood is exactly the same thing as the children being killed in Gaza because the IDF is retaliating against the Palestinian terrorists who are firing an endless stream of missiles into Israel.

She spoke of remembering “young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances — the Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy and when we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world — we remember young people and children who lose their lives,” she said, according to a transcript of the speech distributed by the European Union.

Ms. Ashton’s spokesman issued a statement of clarification on Tuesday, following the criticism, saying that her words had been “grossly distorted” and that she had not intended to draw any parallel.

“Israel Criticizes E.U. Official for Comments on French School Attack”
-by Isabel Kershner
Published March 20, 2012
The New York Times

To detail Netanyahu’s statement a little better according to the Times:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said that he was “infuriated” by what he called “the comparison between a deliberate massacre of children and the defensive, surgical actions” of the Israeli military that he said were “intended to hit terrorists who use children as a human shield.”

The New York Times viewpoint on the “defensive, surgical actions” of the Israeli military includes:

During the four days of fighting, 26 Palestinians were killed, according to the Israeli military. Most were militants, but four of the dead were civilians. A 12-year-old boy was among those killed in Israeli air strikes; another boy, 14, was killed by explosives in disputed circumstances. During the same period, Palestinian militants fired more than 150 rockets into southern Israel.

Notice the Times uses the term “militants” instead of “terrorists”. A subtle difference? Perhaps.

I just keep thinking that it’s been less than 70 years since the end of the Holocaust, and Jews are still not safe. They’re not safe in France and they’re certainly not safe in Israel. They’re also not safe in the world of public opinion or the news media. We’re supposed to live in a modern, civilized, enlightened world, but that’s what made it so difficult for Germany’s Jews to understand the danger they were in when the Holocaust began. They just couldn’t believe that a nation as civilized, as educated, and as enlightened as Germany was in the early 20th century could be capable of such evil. That’s what made it so difficult for the rest of the world to understand, too. That’s why some people didn’t believe it was happening. But is that an excuse for not believing it’s still happening today?

What do you do when you want to kill someone? That’s not a random question. For most of us, it would be almost unthinkable to actually kill someone, even in self defense. We have to weave all sorts of extreme and violent mental scenarios to even imagine ourselves pointing a gun at another person and pulling the trigger. Even if the killing were justified, such as defending your family from violent home intruders, the aftermath; actually living with the memory of having killed someone, would be horrendous.

So unless you are inherently violent or violently insane, it would be extremely difficult to point a gun at someone and to pull the trigger, knowing that they’d be dead in the next few seconds.

So how to you kill someone? How do you train soldiers to kill someone? How do you train a populace that it’s completely acceptable to send an army to another country to kill a lot of people? Today in the United States, the Government doesn’t do a very good job of training the citizens to accept war and so most people don’t accept war. During World War II, we had a fabulous propaganda machine that depicted the Germans and Japanese as non-human, murderous monsters. That made it possible for normally non-violent young men to go overseas and to shoot, bomb, and gas a bunch of other human beings who were trying to shoot, bomb, and gas them. That’s what made it possible for the average U.S. citizen to completely support sending an army to different countries around the globe to shoot, bomb, and gas non-human murderous monsters, who would certainly shoot, bomb, and gas us if they got half a chance.

Ironically, what the United States fails to do in terms of war, it does all too effectively in terms of abortion. What do you have to do to kill an unborn human baby? (I know…you didn’t see that one coming) You make them an “embryo” or a “fetus” but you never, ever make them a human being. It’s the same thing that let U.S. soldiers kill the enemy. It’s the same thing that let U.S. citizens approve of U.S. soldiers killing the enemy. It’s the same thing that let Nazi soldiers and the Nazi SS (Schutzstaffel) round up, torture, starve, shoot, and gas Jewish men, women, and children during the Holocaust.

It’s what let one (reportedly) neo-Nazi killer shoot and kill one Jewish adult and three Jewish children yesterday in France.

To France’s credit, they are (literally) up in arms over these deaths and are diligently searching for the shooter. According to news reports, the shooter has killed prior to this incident and there’s every reason to believe he’ll kill again. I want him caught too, and swiftly. I want him taken off the streets and put in prison.

But he’s only one man.

I know what you’re thinking. He’s only one man. He’s an extremist. He may be mentally ill. He is an aberration. If he’s stopped, things will become safe again.

Will they? I’m sure that the Jews living in Germany in the mid-1930s felt something similar. They couldn’t imagine any irrational hatred of Jews being anything but an aberration; something extremely unlikely to occur, and only involving one or two extreme individuals.

Except they were wrong. It involved thousands who committed horrible atrocities against human beings and millions who condoned it by the actions or their silence. Over the past 70 years tens or hundreds of millions of people have chosen to ignore or to deny the Holocaust, which murdered not only Jews but many other “undesirables” including the physically and mentally handicapped, gypsies, homosexuals, and anyone else who didn’t fit the “Aryan ideal”. All you have to do to kill them is to believe they aren’t human; to believe they aren’t like you, that they’re inferior, that they’re “less,” that they’re “monsters” or “things.”

Because if they’re humans just like you are, then you know that they want to live, just like you do. You know they have feelings, just like you do. You know that they can be scared and hurt, just like you can be scared and hurt. And if you have empathy for someone, you can’t hurt or kill them unless they’re doing something that’s very scary and threatening to you. One Jewish Rabbi and three Jewish children are very unlikely to be doing anything to scare or threaten anyone. They just died because they were Jews.

If we, who represent the rest of the world, don’t speak up and speak out and say “Stop!” to the rest of the world, then our silence is tacit acceptance that it’s permissible to kill a Jew for being Jewish, or to kill a person for being mentally ill, or gay, or for the color of their skin, or for the language they speak, or for being an inconvenient pregnancy.

If we believe that it’s acceptable to kill Jewish children for being Jewish, then we’re saying some people aren’t human and that’s OK with us. We like to think we’re civilized and enlightened, but if we are silent and do not protest injustice, then we are accepting injustice. We live in a world that still generally does not condone the murder of Jews, or African-Americans, or Gays, but we do condone the murder of millions of unborn baby boys and girls every year all over the world (and we’ve got a terrific propaganda machine in operation in America that justifies the whole damn thing and makes it sound enlightened and reasonable). Some people still believe it’s OK to kill Jews. A bunch of them live on land that used to be within the borders of Israel until other enlightened nations made Israel surrender that land to people who like shooting missiles at Jews. It’s a crazy world.

I told you I was taking this personally and that I wouldn’t be rational. But murder isn’t rational either. I figure you have a couple of choices. You can stand up and protect the defenseless and the victims from their murderers, or someday you’ll become either one of the murderers or one of the victims.

What? You don’t believe me? Neither did the German Jews in 1930…and neither did their German Gentile neighbors.