Guardian

Misrepresenting Judaism


This is a guest post by Akiva

A couple of weeks ago, CiF raised some hairs with the question “Should religions compete?

The prompt begins:  “Almost all monotheisms are missionary religions. It is not enough to worship one God: it must be the right one, and in the right way.”

To translate the vague ‘Guardian-speak’, “almost all” must mean “two out of three”. Judaism, the original monotheism, is not a missionary religion.  The question posed by CIF only applies to Islam and Christianity.

CiF claims otherwise: “Jews may not proselytise much in the outside world but they are happy to convert each other.”

This is just plain silly. A Jew is anyone with a Jewish mother. A Jew cannot convert to be any more or less of a Jew. A Jew is a Jew is a Jew, regardless of race, color, creed, or national origin.  Regardless of whether they go to shul on Shabbat or only Yom Kippur or spend Yom Kippur playing soccer, a Jew is always a Jew.

As for the claim of Jews proselytizing to non Jews – you can read the Guardians “not much” as “never”.  Unlike the other two monotheisms, Jews do not believe that everyone needs to be Jewish “get to heaven”.  While this CiF piece insinuates otherwise, Jewish law and tradition is clear that non-Jews can be righteous, have a relationship with our common Creator, and be rewarded.  Indeed, when a non-Jew comes to convert the typical first reaction is to talk him out of it.  When Shlomo (Solomon) built the Temple in Jerusalem, he opened it to all. The prophet Isaiah referred to the Temple as a “house for all nations”.  Sadly, the site of the Temple today is a house only for Muslims, who forbid other faiths from praying there, and have destroyed much of the archaeological heritage of the site with construction.

There are Jewish organizations (such as Chabad and Aish) that do seek out non-observant Jews to inform them of their heritage and encourage spiritual growth.  They are not seeking converts – as there is no conversion required.  They are combating the widespread ignorance of our 3000+ year old tradition among many modern and secular Jews. Their motivation is out of love for their fellow Jew.  Unlike the others, the goal of Judaism is not to unite everyone under the banner of Judaism for the glory of heaven.  Rather, we desire that everyone should have a meaningful relationship with The Almighty.

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11 replies »

  1. Get used to the word “IslamoChristian”.

    With the rapid rise and spread of islam in predominantly Christian West, there is an exploration (but mainly fictitious inventions) of common traditions taking place between these two monotheist beliefs. Christian hierarchy, in their Arch Bishops, primates, bishops etc. have come to realise that they must accept islam if they are to survive as a religion at all. A similar congruence was sought by Hindus in India where they were rapidly and often violently being converted at a rapid speed by the muslim invaders.

    If you can’t beat them, join them.

  2. It was market day yesterday in my town. Mine is a very mutlicultural place and, by and large, everyone gets along fine.

    However, slightly apart from the food, fruit plant and kitchenware stalls one stuck out like a sore thumb. Three young bearded Muslims, all identically and traditionally dressed, all smiling fixedly as though they were still learning how to, were manning a stall about Islam and wanting to talk to shoppers about it and handing out leaflets.

    They weren’t getting many takers but they were still “smiling” I stood in front of them and stared and they got shifty. I had to shop for food but I had scores of questions which I’d have liked to put to them. By the time I returned they had vanished. The police are very much in evidence on market day. I doubted that these missionaries had the necessary permit to block shop entrances and they had either been moved on or had gone somewhere to pray.

    Shame that. Among the questions I would have wanted to ask were some of those Stephen Hassan suggests one asks of cult members who are trying to recruit one (and let’s face it, Islam has all the characteristics of a cult):

    Supposing having joined Islam I didn’t like it and wanted to leave. Would I be able to do so? (Of course I already know the answer to that, but it would have been interesting to hear their spin on it);

    Why does your Koran say that a woman’s word is worth half of that of a man? (again I know the answer to that, too but – ditto -)

    Why does your prophet say that you must kill Jews wherever you might find them? (- ditto – )

    Why do you feel the need to convert people to Islam?

  3. Anyone, including Orthodox Jews like those in Lubavitch, who are driven to make everyone like them are very insecure in their belief at base level. It’s as if, like Tinker Bell in “Peter Pan” they have to make everyone believe in the fairies of their belief system otherwise their believe system doesn’t exist.

    And CiF long ago lost any distinction between telling the truth and telling fairy stories. I doubt whether the editorship or the writers can make that distinction any longer.

    Rural, or “IslamoJew” I was at a conference several years ago where a keynote speaker, a Jewish psychotherapist of renown in his field, told us that we could learn a great deal from Islam’s notion of submission. This person was among the original signatories to the IJV letter. He was not a gracious person either and got stroppy if his views were disagreed with or with the fact that some people had arrived late to his speech.

    And Akiva, you haven’t mentioned (probably because it’s so obvious to you that you didn’t think you had to spell it out) another fundamental way in which Chabad, Lubavitch and others differ from Islam is that you can turn away from them if you wish without fear of harm.

    As HairShirt says above, Islam is a cult, and one of the main characteristics of cults is that they do not allow people to leave (because that wobbles their very tenuous grasp of reality and undermines the story they’ve told to the rest about the cult being perfect) and often induce phobias into followers about leaving, or threaten them or do them harm.

  4. “Jews may not proselytise much in the outside world but they are happy to convert each other.”

    What on earth is that supposed to mean? Convert to … REO Speedwagon? Stamp collecting?

    OK, it’s obvious what they mean, i.e. (I assume) drawing non-religious Jews back into the fold. But it’s plain stupid within the context of the murderous legacy of Muslim and Christian proselytism.

  5. “Almost all monotheisms are missionary religions. It is not enough to worship one God: it must be the right one, and in the right way.”

    This statement is a piece of ignorance and filth so twisted as, in my opinion, to merit prosecution of the bastard Rusbridger for publishing it — for Judaism has few beliefs about how gentiles “must worship”.

    In fact, Judaism does not believe gentiles must worship in the same way as Jews. In Jewish theology, a gentile will merit heaven not by obeying 613 laws (as must a Jew) but simply by obeying a tiny paragraph of core moral code procribing six evil actions (murder, incest) and mandating one positive action (system of justice).

    The Guardian has long resembled an anti-Semitic hate site, for — like the KKK or the NSDAP — it knows nothing whatsoever about Judaism, but makes up reasons for hatred anyway.

  6. … Chabad and Aish … They are not seeking converts – as there is no conversion required.

    But that’s not true, is it? Many/most secular Jews are not “[ignorant] of our 3000+ year old tradition” – they just don’t believe in God.

  7. Um – could it be that Al Grauniad is under a genuine misconception re Jews and converting?
    Guess not.
    It’s always “the Muslims might do this or that but the Jews do it too, so what the Hell’s the problem?” with them, isn’t it? – as in the lies, damned lies and statistics about Batei Din Guardianistas indulged in following the outcry about the Archdruid’s defeatist opinion that an element of sharia law in this fair land is inevitable and that he had no objection to Sharia Courts. I explained to Guardianista-types that to Jews “The Law of the Land is the Law”, but they all accused me of lying …

  8. Of course they know that Jews don’t proselytize – we have all (I should think) been “witnessed to” by Christians, and we know that Islam spreads by the sword, but no one in millennia has been proselytized by Jews.

    They WANT to believe evil things about Judaism, because they WANT to believe evil about Jews. They need to project their own evil thoughts and beliefs onto scapegoats, and Jews make great scapegoats, having had so much practice at it.

    I found this essay an excellent explanation of some of this Judenhass:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/06/books/06antisemtism.html?ref=books

  9. Irit- That N.Y. Times was one of the most insightful pieces I’ve read about the modern phenomenon of anti-Semitism. I’ve begun to believe that some manifestations of anti-Semitism are borderline psychotic thinking.

  10. terry malloy, no doubt some are, but they are certainly manifestations of the paranoid spectrum of behaviours. Paranoid people (ie by formal definition rather than the epithets which are hurled at people by others whom they’ve offended) are psychologically and emotionally split:

    Unlike those who are less challenged and handicapped (and who can recognise that they themselves are not perfect and can encounter their darker side and deal with the discomfort that encounter raises) paranoid people are not psychologically developed successfully to be able to blend the good and the bad in themselves to hold one psychological whole human being. Therefore any “bad” in them threatens to overwhelm them and they dare not allow it into consciousness.

    Instead they split it off from consciousness and project it onto others, so that they can feel “all good” and therefore above reproach.

    Almost all blood and bone haters of anything are psychologically damaged in this manner, whether they hate Jews or black people or people with red hair, but the most dangerous are those whose hatred cannot be reasoned with, who ignore any and all evidence that their hatred is misplaced.

  11. Religions compete all the time – it’s called the marketplace of ideas, beliefs, etc.

    What you do with the time, resources and energy available to you to explore this marketplace should it be your interest or hobby, in an ideal world, would be solely your own concern.

    Unfortunately for Britain, there would be appear to be many in positions of authority and influence who appear intent on meddling in the marketplace, tilting the table or widening the goal mouth to the advantage of certain belief systems over others – such as the endlessly interminable articles about Islam in the Guardian and the New Stateman, as if proselytising on its behalf might eventually produce the social utopia thus far denied the proponents of more secular forms of global justice.

    This, of course, is more than likely to lead to rage and resentment in those unimpressed by what Islam has to offer.