From the news media:
On the eve of Pope Francis’s visit to Auschwitz, a US rabbi has called on him to remove a Catholic church from the premises of the Nazi death camp. The letter sent from Rabbi Avi Weiss, national president of AMCHA-Coalition for Jewish Concerns. Weiss says the presence of the church at the former death camp site is a “clear violation” of a 1987 agreement between Roman Catholic cardinals and Jewish leaders, which he says “stipulates in clear language that ‘there will be no permanent Catholic place of worship on the site of the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps.’”
Rabbi Weiss is wrong, and the World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder is right.
From the news media:
Pope Francis visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau former Nazi death camp in Poland, in what the World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said was an important signal to the world.
In a statement Friday, Lauder praised the pontiff, who has forged ever-closer ties between the Catholic Church and Jews since his election in 2013. “Pope Francis is one of the closest allies Jews have today in the fight against anti-Semitism, bigotry and hatred,” Lauder said. “He is a true friend of the Jewish people, a man who reaches out to others and embraces them. Never over the past 2,000 years have Catholic-Jewish relations been better.” The pope’s visit “sends an important signal to the world that this dark chapter must never be forgotten and that the truth about what happened seven decades ago must not be obfuscated,” Lauder added.
The late pontiff John Paul II, who was born in Poland, visited Auschwitz in 1979. His successor, Pope Benedict XVI, visited in 2006. “Pope John Paul II came here as a son of the Polish people,” Benedictus said. “I come here today as a son of the German people. For this very reason, I can and must echo his words: I could not fail to come here.”
I am, the author of this post, commenting on Holocaust-related events not as a historian, a rabbi or a spiritual philosopher – I am commenting on these events as a Jew who belong to the community of Holocaust survivors whose extended family lost about 30 people in Holocaust.
Yes, I know the local people who called themselves Christians murdered most of my expended family – yes, mostly locals who followed their dark anti-Semitic inclinations did it. Why? The answer is well known – before the WWII, we had almost no friends among the Christians to defend us the Jews as members of the God’s human community – or even as the people, who created the foundation of Christian faith. It was not our fault that we did not have Christian friends – that is how the history has played itself for the last two millenniums.
However, the WWII and Holocaust, and then Islamic assault on the “infidels” who are mostly the Jews and Christians, created a spiritual environment for spiritual unification of Jews and Christians in a contemporary Judeo-Christian civilization. That is the only way to make future holocausts almost impossible.
Nevertheless, many rabbis still prefer having their communities isolated from the entire Judeo-Christian world and Rabbi Weiss has acted as a sort of their representative. It looks like, those rabbis believe that the Jewish faith is not strong enough to not only survive but also flourish in the presence of other challenging faiths. However, that is contrary to the Torah guidance and the mission of Jewish people as the Chosen.
I am with a non-rabbi Ronald Lauder and with former President of World Jewish Congress Edgar Bronfman who believe in a strong Jewish faith capable to flourish and advance itself in the Judeo-Christian realm and be spiritually friendly with Christianity and Christian people. That is the only way for creating a better world for everybody and eliminating the possibility of future holocausts.
We the Jews have to encourage the Christian leaders to visit Auschwitz, to pray with us, to create various spiritual Judeo-Christian organizations for fighting anti-Semitism and advancing a framework for building a better world for everybody with everybody.
Cherishing special relations with God, the Jews have to nurture special relations with the Christians
Yes, Christians did not treat the Jews nicely or fairly in the historic past. We the Jews remember the calamities of our Christian-led expulsion from many countries such as Spain, Portugal, England, and France. We remember our Christian-led pogroms in the Tsarist Russia. We have survived all those calamities with the hope that someday the Christians would understand and appreciate the role of Jews in helping them understand the God’s guidance on creating a true God’s world for all the humans on this earth.
It looks like now the hope has been realized – more and more Christians are coming to understanding of the true role of Jews and Judaism in creating the Christianity.
However, this understanding is mostly at the level of ritual canons. And we need more than the mutual ritual canons. We need the joint actions aimed at strengthening and defending the Judeo-Christian characteristics of the entire world we live in, first of course in the USA. Those joint actions are urgently needed to resist the forces, which are hostile to the Judeo-Christian vision of the just world for everybody. Those hostile forces are of two different virtues. One of them is of religious nature, and that is Islam; the other one is of secular nature, and that is the Big Government playing the role of a human god.
We hear often that Islam is a religion of peace. Unfortunately, although there are many peaceful Muslims, religion of Islam is not religion of peace, and it is easy to prove.
Judaism and Christianity are truly peaceful religions since they welcome the people of other faiths in the Jewish and Christian holy places – in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Tiberius, Nazareth, or anywhere around the world. Contrary to this welcoming and peaceful approach, Islam prohibits the people of other faiths, the “infidels”, to visit its holiest places in Mecca and Medina. If a religion is not willing to share its holy places with the “strangers”, this religion is not a religion of peace. The majority of Israelis understand it, and some Americans have begun to understand it as well – thanks to Donald Trump.
We near often that a Big Government that is playing the role of a human god is a required prescription for peaceful coexistence of all diverse social groups. Unfortunately, although a limited government is needed for maintaining the order in a society, a Big Government is splitting the society into hostile social groups. This split is essential for a Big Government to seize the power and preserve it for its own material benefits.
Here are examples of the split created by an American Big Government by manufacturing the socially preferred groups and providing them with legal and financial preferences over competitors:
blacks against whites,
police against citizens,
poor against rich,
secular against religious,
natives against europeans,
one group of immigrants against other groups,
traditional families against LGHT “families”,
children against parents,
boys against girls in school bathrooms,
The preferred groups are voting for the Big Government to preserve their preferential treatment and welfare-type benefits they are rewarded with while the non-preferred groups are being legally robbed to support the scheme (it is called the wealth redistribution).
The time has come to translate the Judeo-Christian mutual understanding into the joint actions aimed at strengthening the Judeo-Christian parameters of the world we live in, and at resisting the forces, which are hostile to the Judeo-Christian vision of the just world for everybody. That means eliminating all preferences to selected social groups and treating them as equals – the equal opportunities for everybody to reach an individual God-guided maximum of results.
The Jews have been the originators of many social movements that created the foundation of the contemporary Western Judeo-Christian world – they have to begin nurturing the new relationships with the Christians, which are aimed at restoring and strengthening the Judeo-Christian parameters of the USA and the entire world we live in. It would mitigate the anti-Semitism and bring the Torah/Bible closer to the people.
Recently I have addressed this subject in a post “The rabbi is wrong on the roots of anti-Semitism”. However, the newly revealed acts of anti-Semitism in Europe moved me to address this subject again.
From the news media:
Writing in The Telegraph on 3rd May, the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis addresses the problem of anti-Semitism on the hard left of British politics. The Rabbi says: ‘To those who so eagerly reach for a vicious Holocaust reference in order to exact the maximum amount of pain and offence upon “Zionists”, I say: You are spreading that ancient and insidious virus of anti-Semitism. Look around you’.
From the news media:
In his May 4, 2016 article “This cannot be, it must not be our Europe!” the first vice-president of European Commission Frans Timmermans says:
Anyone who knows anything about our history knows that anti-Semitism is Europe’s most pernicious disease. It is the red line that we must never, ever cross.
A well-respected European religious leader, the UK Chief Rabbi, and a well-respected European political leader, the Vice-President of European Commission, described the anti-Semitism as a sort of recognized social illness. If it is so, the anti-Semitism has to be dealt with as we do with all recognized illnesses – by medications, in this case by social medications such as anti-hate-crime laws.
However, if we incarcerate the anti-Semites, in the jail they would not become the “pro-Semites” – contrary to this, many more potential anti-Semites will take their place under the banner of freedom of speech and of resistance to some mystical Jewish cabal around the world and in Israel. Below are just a few examples of that.
A UK prominent anti-Semitic politician Ken Livingstone: Creation of Israel was ‘a great catastrophe”.
London is electing first Muslim mayor – over a Jewish contender!
Finally, the time has come to realize we have wrongly diagnosed the roots of anti-Semitism and therefore our treatment is counterproductive. The anti-Semitism is not an illness and therefore cannot be treated as an illness by social medicines.
The anti-Semitism is a sincere spiritual believe among many gentiles that the Jews are moving the gentile world into wrong, destructive direction.
The anti-Semitism has to be dealt with by creating a sort of “Semitic”, Judeo-Christian spiritual movement led mostly by Christian leaders of various Christian religious streams with the goal of proving to the gentile communities that the Jewish ideas are moving the gentile world into right, God-guided direction. This spiritual Judeo-Christian movement has to be created by Rabbis working together with Priests.
Some prominent rabbis are already working with the Christians on strengthening the mutual “belief-foundation” of Judaism and Christianity where the Jews are respected and honored as the elder spiritual brothers.
The time has come to make the next step – to create the mutual Judeo-Christian, Bible-based foundation for the structure of a better world for everybody in our contemporary times for all crucial components of this structure such as rich vs. poor, individual freedoms vs. welfare, government vs. people, Supreme Power above us vs. supreme powers among us, etc.
This foundation has to demonstrate that the Judeo-Christian, Bible-based structure of the better world is superior over the Islamic, Communist/Socialist and many other structures at least in our “Western hemisphere”, and that the Jews should be recognized as the elder brothers in developing and promoting such structure.
This work would deliver to all potential anti-Semites the much-needed message: the Jews are moving the world in the right direction beneficial to you – they are not moving the world into the wrong direction contrary to your interests. This message has to be supported by demonstrating the Jewish achievements in creating the basics of contemporary Western Judeo-Christian civilization – in economics, science, social institutions and elsewhere. The most difficult part of this effort is to overcome the prevailing politically correct dogma that all religions and religion-like political/social movements are spiritually equal and our Judeo-Christian morality is not superior over the other moralities – of course, in our Western civilization.
In the contemporary world, the restoration of public Judeo-Christian morality/spirituality is the prerequisite for beginning the mitigation of the anti-Semitism. I believe Jewish leaders who are willing to begin this process exist.
From the Israeli news media:
Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef said that non-Jews should not live in the Land of Israel if they do not abide by a set of seven laws mandated by Judaism.
“According to Jewish law, gentiles should not live in the Land of Israel,” Yosef said Saturday in a sermon. “If a gentile does not agree to take on the seven Noahide Laws, we should send him to Saudi Arabia. When the true and complete redemption arrives, that is what we will do.”
The only reason non-Jews were still allowed to live in the Jewish state was the fact that the Messiah had yet to arrive, he said. “If our hand were firm, if we had the power to rule, that’s what we should do. But the thing is, our hand is not firm, and we are waiting for the Messiah,” he added.
I personally do not think that the Torah, which is believed containing all God’s guidance on creating a better world for everybody, can direct us the Jews to be isolated from the others since God created everybody, Jews and non-Jews, in His own image and likeness as equals – of course, with a special mission for the Jews as the Chosen. However, I am not asking the Rabbi to clarify this my thought – I am trying to clarify for myself his thinking on the Torah-guided role of the Jews in the contemporary world.
It looks like the Rabbi believes the Jews have to be isolated from the non-Jews since only strict isolation prevents assimilation and provides ideal conditions for following the Torah and serving God. It looks like the Rabbi believes that everyday collaboration and encounter with the non-Jews is detrimental to the spiritual health of the Jews.
My own Torah-guided definition of being Jewish conflicts with all that and I am asking the Rabbi to address my concerns.
- (1) If the Rabbi believes, our Jewish spiritual health requires the total separation from the non-Jews, does the Rabbi reward the non-Jews with the right to preserve their Gentile spiritual health by separating themselves from the Jews – in other words, does the Rabbi provide a very spiritual justification for the anti-Semitism?
- (2) If the Rabbi believes, we the Jews have to separate spiritually themselves from the non-Jews, does the Rabbi rewards the non-Jews with the right to build a God’s better world (politically, socially, economically, spiritually) without Torah guidance provided by Jewish intellectuals?
- (3) If the Rabbi believes, the Jews have to be separated from the non-Jews, does the Rabbi reduces the Torah-guided mission of the Chosen mostly to prayers and family/synagogue life preventing the Chosen from fulfilling their God-given mission of the Chosen – the mission of assisting everybody in building a Torah-guided better world for everybody?
Many Jews and non-Jews are eager to see/listen to the answers.
After all presidential contenders have spoken at AIPAC conference, it is clear only Donald Trump has a strategic vision that, while improving the leading role of the USA in the Judeo-Christian world, can significantly benefit the State of Israel.
It is easy to see if we compare the ideas on USA-Israel collaboration presented at the AIPAC conference by all four contenders – Hilary Clinton, John Kasich, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.
All non-Trump contenders – Hilary Clinton, John Kasich and Ted Cruz – clearly understand the importance of the State of Israel in advancing strategic goals of the USA and of Israeli existence in the spiritual health of America. They proposed a variety of actions to help Israel to survive such as to provide Israel with the qualitative military edge over her potential enemies; to oppose any attempts by outside parties to impose a solution on Israeli-Palestinian coexistence; to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons aimed at destroying Israel; and so on.
However, the leitmotif of all those proposals is pessimistic: the Israeli-Palestinian situation cannot be changed, Israel is and will be always in danger – therefore, the USA under the Presidency of any of the three contenders is and will be ready to help Israel to survive.
Of course, among the three contenders John Kasich and Ted Cruz look much more trustworthy – under Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State working together with President Obama the Middle-East situation has become much more dangerous for Israel in spite all her proclaimed good intentions. However, what Hilary Clinton with John Kasich and Ted Cruz have in common is that none of them has a strategic vision on how to change the existing political situation in the world to end the discriminatory, biased and anti-Semitic treatment of Israel.
Donald Trump has it. His vision looks like the following.
- Islam as religious ideology is an adversary of the Judeo-Christian civilization where Israel belongs. We have to build our relations with Islamic countries based on this understanding – preventing mass Islamic immigration to the USA to reduce the probability of terrorism, applying economic pressure and demonstrating unquestionable military superiority to create a sort of “negative stimulus” for peaceful spiritual Islamic reformation.
The economic pressure and military superiority requires rebuilding the American economy. Just better management cannot improve it – the government should be sharply reduced in size, the taxation principles should be changed, the international money-losing trade agreements should be renegotiated and energy-independence policies should be introduced. Since Israel is a part of Judeo-Christian world, this strategic vision would improve international support of Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation.
- The United Nations should be treated as a hostile organization and all anti-Israel and anti-Christian proposals should be vetoed. This policy should politically benefit Israel since the majority of anti-Israeli movements are officially “blessed” by various UN organizations.
- Iran has to be confronted everywhere politically, economically and militarily – not negotiated with, since Iran is the chief instigator of major anti-American and anti-Israeli actions in the Middle East and in the entire world. Of course, that is what Israel is interested in because Iran is the greatest threat to the existence of the State of Israel. With this vision, Israel would be transformed from a recipient of the US military aid to an equal partner in the American-Israeli pro-Western defensive strategy.
The March 22, 2016 Brussels terrorist act is another proof of the validity of the Trump’s strategic vision of the world.