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Passover: A new “Christian Festival of Freedom”


This is a guest post by AKUS

Those who have read my comments from time to time may recall that each year we celebrate the exodus by emulating it in our own way – making the long drive from Washington, DC, to Toronto, Canada for a Seder with our family there. Equipped with passports to prove our US identities in this age of terrorism, we humbly pass by the Canadian customs officials at the border who grill us about the possibility that we might be bringing wine into Canada before letting us pass dry-shod over the Niagara River like the Children of Israel crossing the Red Sea. Apparently, they fear we may be intent on destroying the entire basis of that country’s economy by bringing in a bottle or two of Manischewitz grape juice.

We always have a great time with our extended family there, but what also invariably catches my attention is one or other example of the extraordinary relationship that Canada has with its Jewish population. At a time of year when the American President has a new tradition of holding a Seder in the White House, there always seems to be, in Canada, some little bit of nastiness connected to Passover. This despite heroic efforts by some of its leaders, including the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, to oppose anti-Semitism in Canada (per capita, about 10 times more prevalent than in the USA) and his support for Israel reflected in his government’s policy towards Israel.

This year, one of my relatives, a teacher at a school with a very large proportion of Moslem students, showed me this extraordinary message sent to students and parents for Passover:

Passover

The historical significance of Passover is the quest for freedom in the face of oppression, bondage and slavery. This is a fundamental precept in the historical context of the birth of Christianity and in a multitude of religions.

One of the hallmarks of freedom is the notion of opportunities for individual self-fulfillment and human flourishing. As Canadians we enjoy many freedoms – hard won freedoms – freedoms that should be treasured, maintained and sustained. This is an opportune time to reflect on the freedoms and benefits that we enjoy as part of public education.

We wish those observing an opportunity for time with loved ones, time for reflection and time to enjoy.

In the message to these students and their parents we see an attempt to ignore the very fact that Passover is a Jewish festival. There is an attempt to co-opt Passover as a Christian festival since that was the occasion of the Last Supper, writing the Jews and even the mention that Jesus was a Jew out of their own history – hence “the birth of Christianity and in a multitude of religions”. My relative believes that it may have been written in this fashion to avoid upsetting Moslem students.

The United Church of Canada is, to a large extent, the home of activists of the BDS movement dedicated myopically to boycotting Israel while ignoring far greater conflicts. Unable to get a BDS resolution passed at its 2009 National conference, the conference still encouraged member churches to boycott Israel: No National Boycott but Churches Encouraged to Act. Brian Henry wrote about this at Harry’s Place: The United Church has a Jewish problem.

This school’s Passover message to the students seems to indicate that the vicious attacks on Israel orchestrated by the United Church among others are bearing poisoned fruit. Just as we see daily on the Guardian’s website, there is an attempt to write Jews out of their own history. What we can deduce from this Passover message is that it is becoming a global phenomenon.

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87 replies »

  1. Pretzelberg, I know you don’t like generalizations or maybe you are very literal in your interpretation of my comments, I don’t live in a hell hole but, I do live in a predominantly christian country (intentional low blow back at you), glad to hear that you were taught Pilate was the bad guy, not enough of you around. It seems Silke and Smtx01 have also been informed in their experiences that the Jews killed Christ(should we take a tally?)……. Whether this is the position of the church, any church, matters not, it happens…..being on the receiving end of it once is too often. I’m done now, moving on.

  2. @ modernity

    “The fact that you haven’t heard something personally doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen.”

    Absolutely right, and I never claimed anything to the contrary.
    Please do see my qualifying comments above.

    @ AKUS

    “Looking at the Huffpo thread Hawkeye referenced makes me feel that CiF attracts a better class of Israel-basher.”

    Given that “better class” is ambiguous in this context and as I’m about to go to bed, I think I’ll leave that link ’til tomorrow.
    (I’ve had more than enough nightmares recently)

    @ Jane schlitz

    Whichever country you live in, it is utterly foreign to me.

    On a peaceful (and, yes, lefty) note, I would kindly direct you all to my post on the Happy Easter thread.

    Hell – the song doesn’t even mention Israel!
    😉

  3. AKUS, another great piece that triggered an interesting debate. We also have some family in Canada; by now, their kids are out of school, but they also had some experiences like the one you describe here.

    pretzelberg, the “Jesus was a Palestinian” line is often pushed on Christmas — I think there even was a Cif article like this one time.

  4. pretzelberg,

    Have you actually read any scholarly works on antisemitism, the way it flourished under Christianity, or its lingering hold in many “Christian” societies?

    Have you?

  5. Pretzelberg:

    “I honestly don’t recall that post from Logic101. Contrary to what you might believe I am not on CiF 24/7.”

    Let me refresh your memory – as can be seen below it is near certain you saw the Logic01 comment.

    lusa

    15 Feb 2010, 3:58PM

    @ONeill70 – Don’t mention the Bible. The so called Old or New Testament (this one also a Jewish book, from A to Z). The book where Rabbi Yeoshua / master Jesus say that the Torah (“Old Testament) must be followed, where he says that he didn’t come for the non-Jes, but to the lost sheep of Israel and (my favourite) that “Salvation is from the Jews”. And so many people in (Still? Or Sharia was implemented?) Christian Britain side with muslim jihadists against the poeple of Jesus and his (where he was born, lived and died – long before the invention of Islam and the arab invasion, of course) country.

    *
    pretzelberg

    15 Feb 2010, 4:01PM

    @ lusa

    Do you do moniker requests? That last one’s a bit boring.

    How about francobaresi or kirstiinferno?

    *
    Logic101 Logic101

    15 Feb 2010, 4:01PM

    lusa

    but you killed jesus! (sorry – I cant help going medieval with all this bible talk in the air)

    *
    pretzelberg

    15 Feb 2010, 4:09PM

    @ ONeill70 / Logic 101

    That’s the combined age, surely. Then again: that’s an insult to toddlers.

    Their last post from 3:58PM has me thinking of the infinite monkey theorem.

  6. Whenever and wherever Muslims migrate to,they bring all their baggage with them.Whether it’s honor killings,anti-Zionism,anti-Israeli riots,riots for everything,they are anti everything.

    They forget that they are guests in that foreign land,and should behave as guests,not as the owners of that land,dictating their terms to everyone.

  7. wherever

    Whenever and wherever Muslims migrate to,they bring all their baggage with them.Whether it’s honor killings,anti-Zionism,anti-Israeli riots,riots for everything,they are anti everything. They forget that they are guests in that foreign land,and should behave as guests,not as the owners of that land,dictating their terms to everyone.

    A bit excessive. Before the 1980, many arrived in the Western Liberal Democracies to start a new life and to integrate into the local population as much as possible.

    The Islamic world saw an opportunity, especially extremist streams of Islam and started to insert their ‘representatives’ in mosques who corrupted and are corrupting now, the families of these immigrants and those who have arrived since.

    Western Liberal Democracy was ill equipped to deal with these subversive activities and is even now, struggling to develop the tools to deal with it without losing its core freedoms and ideals.

    That is what we are witnessing across democracies everywhere in the world today. How to maintain western liberal democratic ideals in the face of this concerted onslaught using the freedoms available in those democracies.

    The extreme left wants the Western Liberal democracies to fail so that Socialism and Communism can have another chance to triumph having been so decisively thrashed. This is why they go out of their way to covertly support Islamists and support increased immigration of persons who will assist them is overthrowing the supremacy of the Western Liberal Democracies.

    In short, the extreme lefties are promoting anarchy as the base condition for them to lead the world to ‘true socialism’.

  8. wherever

    ” wherever Muslims migrate to,they bring all their baggage with them…honor killings…riots for everything,they are anti everything.”

    When I first heard of a site for monitoring anti Semitism I imagined contributors would pay more attention to typifications . This site has to have higher standards.It is a , monitoring site…these asides…these throwaway smears will be giggled at by CIF …quite rightly …as lightweight.

    Silke

    “I am so sorry that my kind of irony is neither acceptable nor comprehensible to your heights of scholarly learning.”

    I apologise for my ill considered remark.I had forgotten you were speaking in a second language.I speak German but terribly. “Ich glaube Ich kenne genuche leutte die gutte do mere sint” I translated one of my songs into German and it should say “I think I know enough people who are ( merely) good to me” … I guess the spelling is awful!

    ..As for your remark about the pope…I am campaigning on CIF for confession to be banned for kids ….as well as for priests to marry to protect children.As a former Child Protection worker the idea of a man who is not the father ( if you pardon the expression) and a child being alone and having ” secrets ” is an accident waiting to happen.

    Confession is also potentially dangerous because sexual boundaries can easily be breached ..you dont know exactly what to confess and this could be exploited. My brother confessed farting ! ( Honestly! ) 🙂

  9. Obviously, this site with its open moderation policy is subject to the odd crank and windup merchant, etc along with a few agent provocateurs, they are best ignored and not made the topic of conversation.

    Back to the issues, I wonder if the regulars, Abandon hope and pretzelberg have actually read any scholarly work on antisemitism and Christianity?

    Well pretzelberg and Abandon hope, have you?

  10. modernityblog
    I don’t remember having read a scholarly work on either anti-semitism or christianity either. I just rely on personal experience and being revulsed by slander
    – does that meager background disqualify me from commenting every now and then in your book? I guess your answer would be “in no way”

    Seriously now Zuckmayer writes at the end of his autobiography that he found his housekeeper’s maxime the best and it went something like this:
    “if times are getting rough/bad then decent people (anständige Leute) just become a bit more decent”
    I especially like this view because it excludes nobody from the conversation while this going on about being well-read may frighten away a curious decent one who happens to pass by.

  11. modernityblog

    ” I wonder if the regulars…have actually read any scholarly work on antisemitism and Christianity?”

    I studied anti discrimination and learned it would be anti discriminatory to concentrate on anti Semitism! 🙂 The subject is mainly about weaker groups and the way they are exploited. …the subtle ways one can disrespect the disabled ..the effect of being a white male in a white male world etc etc .

    I look at anti Semitism as an historical issue ..I see little evidence of it now that is not the direct result of the success of the IDF. What there is will dissipate when Israel decides to go for peace.

  12. @ Hawkeye

    Give it a rest, mate.

    as can be seen below it is near certain you saw the Logic01 comment.

    Don’t be silly – it is not “near certain”!! Have you never seen posts deleted within 8 (!) minutes of them appearing? I have – many times. And I should know because I so frequently report posts.

    I do NOT remember that comment – which in any case appears to have been ironic, hence the “cant help going medieval” bit.

    @ modernityblog

    I already answered you yesterday. Stop pestering.

    May I also refer you to Silke’s not exactly unreasonable response above?

    You’re barking and pissing up the wrong tree, I’m afraid.

  13. So it is a NO from Abandon hope, he hasn’t read any works on antisemitism.

    Which would have surely been obvious to all astute readers, as he didn’t realise the connection between Easter, Christianity and pogroms, as evidence in his reply of April 4, 2010 at 12:04 pm:

    “I was unaware of this but even if true …”

    Why is this issue?

    Well, what you have is rather ignorant, complacent and bigoted people (Abandon hope is just one of them) discussing complex issues of which they know nothing, haven’t grasp the history, are oblivious of the basics and yet they wish to lecture others.

    It is as if knowledge would displace their prejudices and ignorance, they don’t want that to happen, and that’s why they don’t study these issues in any depth.

    Imagine someone in the West with full access to the Internet arguing about the topic day in day out, hour in hour out, yet knowing next to nothing about it?

    What a paradox!

    How mentally lazy or stupid must someone be not to have the intellectual curiosity to look up and study these complex things?

    There are numerous web sites which detail the history of antisemitism and yet Abandon hope and his would-be associates, can’t be troubled to even read them, they are all free and still Abandon hope & Co remain unaware of the basics.

    So what you have is ignoramuses, with no historical knowledge of antisemitism, no willingness to learn about it (as evidenced by their inability to look it up on the Internet), but a desire to drone on, wind people up, display their prejudices and ignorance ad nauseam.

    Which is extremely peculiar when you think about it.

  14. pretzelberg
    your lauding my comment is not appreciated by me

    because from all I have read to date on this thread you seem to be to me one of those who indulge in a very insiderish style of commenting which makes it, which I am my own witness for, extremely hard for outsiders to even learn to read stuff like this.

  15. modernityblog

    .

    ” as he didn’t realise the connection between Easter, Christianity and pogroms ”

    I knew about Christianity and pogroms …just not that it was worse at Easter. During my life the Jews have stopped being the victims ..it didnt seem worth thinking about. Still doesn’t.

    The past 3 Easters I have spent in Gozo, southern Spain and Portugal and was more entranced by the KKK- like hooded spectacles in these countries at Easter … now that was interesting.

  16. “I knew about Christianity and pogroms “

    This is the problem with such people one minute they say one thing, next another:

    “I look at anti Semitism as an historical issue”

    It is rather hard to look at something as a historical issue if you haven’t read any history on it, isn’t it?

    It’s like studying history without studying history, utter nonsense.

  17. Pretzelberg

    Let me ask you again. If Passover omitted any reference to “Jew” because it was done because of political correctness i.e., out of sensitivity to the Muslim students and parents. Why would that be offensive to Muslims, and why would educators get the impression that Muslims would be offended by a message explaining the (real) meaning of Passover?

  18. “I do wish that CiF Watch could procure Anthony Julius’s new book on English antisemitism and provide it free to Abandon hope/Berchmans and pretzelberg that way they could educate themselves on the elementary aspects of Christian antisemitism, its subtleties and not so subtle aspects.”

    It wouldn’t make an iota of difference, modernity.

    If Berchmans and Pretzelberg have anything at all in common, it’s the lack of any sense that other people can experience things very differently from they themselves and, in the light of that experience can come to very different conclusions about the intent of the speaker or poster than they do. If a post or remark isn’t offensive to Berchmans or Pretzel then they are totally nonplussed as to how anyone else can find it offensive. Berchmans has written some highly offensive antisemitic posts but insists that he isn’t an antisemite because he actually doesn’t think that he is.

    So we get the various inanities from Berchmans about how CiF isn’t obsessed with Israel – because he himself believes it, rather than because it’s actually true, and likewise the declamations and proclamations from pretzelberg about what is and is not antisemitic etc etc and calling rubbish opinions which are different from his.

  19. modernityblog

    “There are numerous web sites which detail the history of antisemitism and yet Abandon hope and his would-be associates, can’t be troubled to even read them, they are all free and still Abandon hope & Co remain unaware of the basics.”

    It’s one of the most difficult of human dilemmas. How to face the possibility that one may be wrong. So potent is the avoidance strategy that all evidence to the contrary position is studious ignored. Berchmans will comment on the behaviour of Muslims as if they harbour exactly the same sentiments as he does, and as if they hoped for the same outcomes. He has not the vaguest understanding of Islam and its exegesis, nor the way that it contributes to modern anti-Semitism, yet he will sing a song for gentle Muslims unaware that gentleness implies heresy and even apostasy. He is the classic cognitive ethnocentrist and ethnonarcissist and as a perfect example of his status, is predictably proud of his pathology.

  20. @ HairShirt

    Do yourself a favour and stop bracketing me together with Berch.

    You rather cheaply suggest I have a “lack of any sense that other people can experience things very differently from they themselves”.

    Strange. At the top I merely related my own personal experience while also expressly stating my awareness of the fuller picture, i.e. other people experiencing what I have not.

    So you’re wrong about me for a start.

    But my post triggered other comments that very much fit your description above, i.e. dismissing out of hand my own personal experiences.

    Why aren’t you having a go at them, I wonder?

  21. “…dismissing out of hand my own personal experiences.”

    More like dismissing your ill informed judgements, such as:

    “There’s no reason to assume an anti-Jewish element as such.”

    Well, there is no reason for *you* to assume that, but others who are slightly better versed or sensitive on the topic might.

    Your anecdotal experience and clumsy judgements are all that you have.

    You are (along with others) not receptive to ideas that you didn’t think of, you don’t read up on the subject, you have no specialist knowledge, etc

    It is a pity that you can’t be troubled to read a book or two, it might result in you displaying a slightly more intellectually flexible approach to thought and the exchange of ideas.

    But that’s not going to happen….

  22. AKUS
    Anti-semitism in Canada? My experience (anecdotal) is that is not a big issue here but of course the stats may say otherwise.
    What I find slightly bizarre is that some American friends of mine actually did a seder even though they aren’t Jewish. The justification was almost exactly along the lines of your note quoted in your piece. She said that the passover story is a lesson for all and Christians should do seder night too. I challenged that I had always thought it was specifically about the Israelites who became Jews, and that while the Passover story has messages for all of humanity, it was essentially a Jewish religious festival with a discipline attached (no bread, attendance at synagogue etc). Difficult conversation I admit but she saw where I was coming from….

  23. Canadaneil – simply do a search on “antisemitism Canada” and you’ll find loads of material.

    But I did try to make the point that the government – or at least the present one – I don’t know about earlier ones – is making a determined effort to oppose anti-Semitism in Canada. I recall a non-Jewish couple in one of the major cities – Montreal, I think – who have made it their business to oppose anti-Semitism very vigorously. Nevertheless, the number of incidents, and the violence that often accompanies them – e.g., firebombing a community center a couple of years ago – is alarming.

    A non-Jewish colleague of mine was delighted to be invited to a seder hosted by some friends – its not that uncommon here – my daughter at college has hosted seders for her research group, none of whom are Jewish. I think it provides a a feeling of an old tradition, a well-known story that people can follow along, and, if you are lucky, some good food (and lousy wine, unfortuantely) along with some pretty cheerful songs that non-Jews rather appreciate as having more content than some of their won festivals.

  24. Akus, perhaps even some social good. Perhaps it would help to reduce problems of alcoholism were more Canadian gentile children, like Jewish (and Italian) children, introduced to wine in small quantity young, as at the annual Seder.

    In any case, the less of a mystery Jewish habits are to their neighbours, the less fertile the ground will be for anti-Semitism as adults.

  25. pretzelberg

    “Do yourself a favour and stop bracketing me together with Berch.”

    It was always going to happen despite the fact that we are more like cousins rather than brothers! 🙂

    HairShirt

    “Berchmans has written some highly offensive antisemitic posts ”

    You might think such a statement would be accompanied by an example. Instead you get quotes of snatches of posts that ..if stretched out to mean what the complainer is certain they mean …then ..under the EUMC guidelines they could really be taken as “anti Semitic” they actually could.

    If out of thousands and thousands of posts begging for peace ..you get one or two which are questionable and could actually really be seen as anti Semitic by some fixated and biased reader I still think its a good ratio.

    What is your ratio of good to dross posts?

  26. Toko LeMoko

    ” the less of a mystery Jewish habits are to their neighbours, the less fertile the ground will be for anti-Semitism as adults.”

    Whilst this is sensible and the least caustic of any post I have ever seen you write…the present rise in anti Semitism has nothing whatsoever to do with hidden habits of Jewish people. “Building settlements on other peoples land”…I would slap that into google.

  27. Akus – to solve the lousy wine problem, check out the Golan Heights wines which are fully kosher for Pessach. I used to have the same problem until I volunteered to bring the wine to the seder every year. I buy a mixed case from the Golan Heights winery and now my mother-in-law is happy because it has all the right stamps and the rest of us are happy because it’s very enjoyable.

  28. “the present rise in anti Semitism has nothing whatsoever to do with hidden habits of Jewish people. “Building settlements on other peoples land”…I would slap that into google.”

    So there you have it, the pronouncements of a CiF bigot.

    Abandon hope/Berchmans hasn’t suffered antisemitism himself, he hasn’t read any historical works on the subject, has no knowledge of antisemitic attacks on Jews in Britain, yet he feels perfectly happy pronouncing on its causes and giving a prognosis.

    It takes a certain twisted and misplaced individual to want to proclaim on a topic without any specialist knowledge of it, or indeed in Abandon hope/Berchmans’ case any knowledge whatsoever.

  29. modernity

    ” has no knowledge of antisemitic attacks on Jews in Britain”

    I accept that this is indeed an area of major concern. The rise in attacks in England are a major concern and CIFWatch is right to bring this to the attention of its readers.

    If these attacks follow anything like the same pattern as the Scottish attacks at least we will know when they are likely to occur . As you may know , one of the most serious incidents in Scotland and the only one ..I believe ..that a person has claimed to have been physically hurt , occured during the attack on Beirut.

    Let us hope the situation in the ME remains calm as our experience is that some reflection of the horror there is played out here.

  30. “I accept that this is indeed an area of major concern. “

    Certainly, Abandon hope/Berchmans’ ignorance on these topics is a worry, but not a concern, he like many other people spout off on things he doesn’t know anything about.

    However let’s examine his proposition, which is that antisemitism in Britain is a direct result of the settlement building in the West Bank.

    That’s his argument.

    Let us ponder how that would work, suppose there are a couple of violent thugs who like nothing more than physically attacking Jews, do you suppose that one day they will say:

    “Oh, if only Israel stopped building settlements we’d give up violence against Jews, for sure”

    That hardly seems credible.

    We are meant to believe (following Abandon hope/Berchmans’ point) that these violent racists are truly concerned about what happens with the settlements?

    Who would seriously believe that?

  31. modernityblog

    Why is that you’re being so aggressive towards me? Nowhere did I e.g. dismiss anti-Semitism. All I did was relate my experiences growing up going to Sunday school and knowing countless Christians.

    It seems you are simply not interested in that and instead resort to insults.

    You are (along with others) not receptive to ideas that you didn’t think of

    But you have shown yourself to be guilty on that charge on this very thread!

    you don’t read up on the subject, you have no specialist knowledge, etc. It is a pity that you can’t be troubled to read a book or two,

    But you’re not having a go at e.g. Silke on that front, are you?

    Strange that …

  32. pretzelberg ,

    You take things so personally.

    You are dismissive of others’ arguments, you are offensive occasionally (see your comments about Israelinurse), and basically you don’t know much about the topic.

    That’s all I’m pointing out.

    I would have thought that had you really been interested in this topic that you:

    1) might listen more
    2) might read up on the subject
    3) make an effort to understand subtleties that people are suggesting

    If you are personally offended then can I recommend an easy solution of actually studying the subject with some vigour, that way you would at least have something informed to say, rather than anecdotes and subjectivity.

  33. just heard a talk with Davd Baddiel on BBC Start the Week – it seems to me like his intentions with the movie “The Infidel” was to prove that Islam and Judaism are not so far apart – everybody wants to be closer to the original but wants to be better than it at the same time
    – being a kind of simple minded agnostic from a Christian mould myself I am all for upholding quite a bit of reverence for the original
    we are all the same is good on a purely human level, other than that I think Jane Austen is so good none of her offshoots ever could come close
    – the ones who showed due reverence might apply for being called delightful

  34. his intentions with the movie “The Infidel” was to prove that Islam and Judaism are not so far apart

    As Silke probably would agree, the media seem to have missed the instances of
    – Jews blowing up German pizzerias in revenge
    – Jews stoning women and executing gays
    – sedition being preached in synagogues across Europe and the USA
    – Jews flying civilian aircraft into the sykscrapers of third-party countries
    – Jews bombing the trains and undergound of third-party countries
    etc