Israel is bad!
Its existence keeps reminding Muslims what a bunch of losers they are.
"There will be no peace until they will love their children more than they hate us."
'If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel'
"Peace of us means the destruction of Israel.
We are preparing for an all out war, a war which will last for generations.
Throughout his authorized biography (Alan Hart, Arafat: terrorist or peace maker) Arafat asserts at least a dozen times: "The Palestinian people have no national identity. I, Yasser Arafat, man of destiny, will give them that identity through conflict with Israel."
~ Yasser Arafat ~
"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel. For our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of Palestinian people, since Arab national interest demand that we posit the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism".
What is the Most Important Thing Christians Should Know About Jews and Jews About Christians?
I am frequently asked, "What are some of the common stereotypes and misconceptions Jews have of Christians and Christians have of Jews?" At times the question is posed differently such as, "What is the single most important item Christians should know about Jews and Jews should know about Christians?" In either case, my response is the same.
For the most prevalent misconception Christians and Jews have of one another, and the single most important thing they should learn is how members of the other community define themselves. The fact is that Jews tend to define the term "Christian" in an entirely different manner than Christians themselves do. Likewise, the Christian conception of who is a Jew is often at variance with the way Jews, themselves, characterize their identities.
Christians and Jews are so far apart in their understanding of one another that they misjudge the very core of each other's identities. It is only reasonable, therefore, to suggest that the starting point for both communities is to learn the other's self definition. For if we skip this initial step, Christians and Jews will continue to talk past each other without ever understanding where the other is coming from.
Incidents in which they will accuse one another of intolerance and insensitivity will, no doubt, increase when, in fact, the root of the problem may not have been a deliberate provocation or intentional slight, but a distorted view of who is a Christian and what is a Jew. Instead of stopping and learning how the other group defines itself, we tend to transpose our definitions of ourselves and the categories of experience we are most familiar with, unto others. We assume that what is true of ourselves, Particularly the way we define our identities, must be true of others, as well.
It may come as a surprise for Christians to learn, for example, that Jews tend to view most non-Jews as Christians (except, of course, those who are Moslems, Buddhists, or members of another specific religion). Jews are by and large unaware that Christianity is not something you are born into but a faith one personally and consciously accepts. Moreover, they are not familiar with the differences among the various Protestant denominations and, to a lesser extent, those between Catholics and Protestants. It is much easier for them and, indeed, for all outsiders, to simply lump American gentiles together as "Christians", without distinguishing among them.
How Do Jews Define Themselves? — Part I We saw that Christians and Jews are largely ignorant of each other's true identities and that they can, as a result, be led to distortions and stereotypes. In the process of generalizing due to ignorance, they transpose their own categories of belief and view of their identity, unto others. While Christianity is a faith a person accepts, being Jewish is something we are born into.
Every child born of a Jewish mother is, willy nilly, Jewish, a member of the Jewish community. There are black Jews and white Jews, Orthodox and Reform, Hassidic and even secular and agnostic Jews. There are good Jews and bad Jews, indeed, all types of Jews; all sharing a common history, peoplehood, and even destiny. And so, when a person is born into this Jewish community, even if he strays from it, he remains a member of that group. Being Jewish, therefore, is not so much accepting a faith system as is true with Christians, but being part of a covenanted community and peoplehood that one enters into at birth.
To be sure, being Jewish hopefully includes a commitment to the Jewish faith which is at the core of our system and community. But, much like people born in America, who are American citizens, even though they may not profess strong nationalist fervor, so, too, Jews born into this covenantal community, whatever their beliefs and despite their differences, they remain part of the Jewish peoplehood.
Of course, it is possible for a person to not only turn his back on his faith and community, but to actively work against its best interests, much like the American who commits treason against his nation. In such circumstances, we might say of such people that they are renegades or "bad Jews" but they remain Jews nonetheless. I should point out that there are Rabbinic and secular Jewish authorities who make one exception to this view, that is in the case of a Jew who not only abandons Judaism but actually accepts another religion upon himself. In such a situation, these authorities maintain, the individual forfeits his Jewish identity and membership in the community in favor of his having joined another faith and community.
How Do Jews Define Themselves? — Part II We learned that Jews define themselves as such by being born to a Jewish mother. Despite this concept, however, Jews are not a race. For anyone who accepts the Jewish faith and goes through a conversion process can become Jewish, part of the Jewish peoplehood. However, as we will see, this is not something Judaism strives for, and we, therefore, do not have any missionary outreaches toward non-Jews. For Judaism affirms that one need not adopt the Jewish faith or become Jewish to achieve salvation.
The Christian can achieve salvation or, as we Jews prefer to call it, redemption, through their Christian faith itself. For Judaism, unlike classical Christianity, is what is called a non-exclusivist religion, meaning that it is the redemptive faith system for Jews. However, Judaism maintains that ethical monotheistic systems like Christianity and Islam can also bring salvation for gentiles.
Be this as it may, I should point out that the liberal Jewish Reform movement, representing approximately 25% of the Jewish community, and which we will share more about in the future, recently adopted the novel concept of "patrilineal descent," meaning that if either the mother or the father is Jewish, the child is Jewish, as well. Furthermore, the conversion process under Reform auspices is a much more lenient one than that required by the Orthodox or Conservative denominations and which, in most instances, would not be viewed as acceptable by them.
We have also seen that Jews view themselves not only as members of a faith system, but as part of a peoplehood, culture, civilization, nation and more. This self definition, however, is quite different from the way Christians define themselves—namely, as individuals who accepted a faith system for their lives. It should come as no surprise, therefore, to learn that Jews will likely transpose their definitions of themselves unto Christians, and the reverse, so that when Christians search out the Jew, they seek the Jew of faith only, and when Jews look for the Christian, they see him as every non-Jew who is not a member of another faith.
What Are Some Of The Distorted Views Jews and Christians Have Of Each Other's Identities? I have often heard Christians remark about Jews who may be secular or agnostic, that such people are not "really Jews." Such comments reflect their own transposed Christian definitions unto Jews and a great ignorance as to how we Jews define ourselves, as well. For in our system, these people may not be religiously faithful or observant, and I am not condoning that, but they remain members of the Jewish community. They may not represent the "ideal", but they are full-fledged Jews, nonetheless.
Similar kinds of distortions arise in the reverse, namely, in the Jewish misconceptions of Christians. Jews will often accuse Christians of anti-Semitism, when perhaps only one group or denomination may have been guilty. Indeed, given that Jews regard all non-Jews as Christians, even atheists and "cultural Christians" similar to the way they regard all Jews as Jews, they may even accuse "Christians" of anti-Semitism because of the deeds or views of people who are actually non-Christians.
Jews are totally unaware that some conservative Christians define the term "Christian" so narrowly as to actually exclude their Catholic and liberal Protestant coreligionists. Jews would have a difficult time accepting this—it would come as a real shock that they might not easily or readily grasp. For in the Jewish system, those whom we feel do not correctly represent our views we might call bad Jews or irreligious Jews. But they are Jews nonetheless, because we are all part of the same peoplehood.
So, too, when the Jew views the Pentecostal, the Baptist and the Roman Catholic, he sees them all calling out and praying to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ. The cross, for them all, is the central symbol of faith and Jesus' death and resurrection is their shared cardinal belief. To the Jew, who certainly is an outsider, all Christians are part of what we Jews call a peoplehood and what Christians refer to as, "The body of Christ."
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -