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Religion, antisemitism, and the rebirth of Israel

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Le massacre des Juifs a Metz par les premiers croises, 1095, is a painting by Auguste Migette depicting the pogroms inflicted on the Jews of Metz by the first crusaders. (Image: uchicago.edu)

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I’m not in any way biased at all, at all. Totally focused on the facts.

We know about the Neanderthals and how they were replaced by Homo Sapiens. It is thought that one of the big differences between the two was the latter’s capacity to tell stories. With that comes the capacity to elaborate larger regimes, many supporting the ideas of a leader to elaborate large projects like kingdoms.

Archeologists tell us about the ancient regimes in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. In the latter we know about the Sumerian civilization leading to the Akkadian (Assyrian and Babylonian) supremacy. The Pharaohs of Egypt were to the south.

When the persecuted Jews bolted from Egypt, settling ultimately on both sides of the river Jordan, they persisted as a minor ethnic entity at the pleasure of the giant empires of the region. The glue that distinguished them was their devoted monotheism in the surrounding pagan world. 

Ahkenaton of Egypt offered the Sun God to the Egyptians during his reign, but was soon buried without a trace remaining of his belief among the Egyptian people. When Assyrians dispersed the population of the separated northern kingdom of Israel, the ten tribes vanished into the melting pot. Only Judah and Benjamin remained, of the twelve original tribes, in the southern Kingdom of Judea, to carry on their message.

Much later came the Greeks. The Jews of Judea had only a brief period of real independence under the Maccabees’ religious fervor, before falling under the tutelage of Rome. Unable, in the end, to tolerate the pagan intrusion into their religious life, in full revolt, they were subdued and ultimately dispersed as well, throughout the Roman Empire. Three hundred years later, it was Rome that surrendered to a version of Judaism renamed Christianity.

During the period of Roman rule, one of religious and political turmoil in then Judea, a preacher with a substantial following, one we know of today under the name of Jesus, challenged some of the traditional forms of religious worship of the time. Although his goals were religious, and he may have seen himself as the embodiment of a Messiah, come to redeem his people, the Roman Administration under Pontius Pilate saw him as a threat on a political level. They arrested him and crucified him in their traditional form of execution.

What followed has some mystery, but although the family claimed the corpse, it was reported that his body had disappeared. Followers reported seeing him alive and claimed he had ascended bodily to heaven. His Disciples, and many Jews who followed his teachings, played an important role in spreading the myth. One, labeled

 Paul, abandoning the traditional and arduous path to Judaism, was particularly active, and offered supporters a guaranteed path to salvation, and an eternal afterlife, by merely accepting the belief that Jesus had returned alive after his death before rising bodily to heaven.

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Those calling themselves Jews were eventually a significant element in the Roman Empire. Josephus, the Jewish historian, wrote that during his time they made up ten percent of the population of the Empire. They had persisted in their Promised Land for almost two thousand years, and their established community structure led to their survival as a scattered nation in exile. 

Jews had special status within the Empire, since they were the only ones who did not have to acknowledge that the Roman Emperor was a God. For this privilege they had to pay a special tax to Rome. This led to conflict between Jews who were avowed followers of Jesus, and traditional Jews.

The followers of Jesus refused to pay the tax, and when Roman authorities checked their status with Jewish community leaders and found the tax had not been paid, these Jews might be arrested and sentenced as victims for games in the Coliseum. As time went on, the majority of Jews returned to traditional practice.

Jesus’ followers, despairing of blanket Jewish adhesion, sought to make their offering more appealing to potential pagan followers, particularly Romans. Jesus was deified, a God-inspired virgin birth declared, and Saints and miracles became the order of the day. When the organized Roman Catholic Church formulated a New Testament, they chose to include the Gospel of St. Mathew, written some hundred years after Jesus’ death. In this tale, responsibility for Jesus’ crucifixion was shifted from the Romans to the Jews. The demonization of Jews was effected for all time.

An 1825 printing of the works of Flavius Josephus, a Jewish priest, scholar and historian in the first century. (Photo: buddenbrooks.com)

There followed more than 1500 years of Jewish persecution and exclusion. Tolerated when and where their knowledge and abilities were useful, Jews were seen universally as a source of the cardinal sin, Christ-killers, to be persecuted and punished for their judged collective crime.

A million slaughtered in the Rhineland during a Crusade to free Jerusalem, blamed for the Black Death plague, ghettoized everywhere, pogroms for any reason, expelled from how many countries, Church followers active in elements of the Holocaust, let me count the ways

Is this what Jesus would have wanted from his followers?

Shall I now recount the miracle of rebirth? Israel, as always, is tiny among the Empires. But, as the Jews around the world, and through history, have contributed to humanity, out of all proportion to their numbers, so Israel is counted among the mighty in so many fields, out of all proportion to its numbers.

With an Arab party, many of whose adherents are sworn enemies, as part of its government, it is a stalwart of Democracy, when in many countries it is shaky. Science and medicine, technology and defense, agriculture and politics, new and better answers are being produced from this tiny place every day.

Jews in the world take heart and feel new strength in every other country they inhabit because of Israel. Antisemitism and anti-Israel campaigns, we barely have time for that stuff, we’re so busy! Who hasn’t got problems? Less than two-tenths of one percent of the world’s population, what is the magic potion they are being served to yield such results? It almost makes one believe in GOD. Could it be a Hebrew God after all?

Max Roytenberg is an author, poet and blogger, with many published articles in Jewish periodicals in Dublin, New York, Winnipeg and Vancouver. After a career as an Economist and Executive in the Food Industry, in Canada and abroad, he writes, and lives with his Bride, in Vancouver. He has children and grandchildren in the US, Canada, China and Israel. His last book, “Hero In My Own Eyes”, is available through major booksellers and on Amazon.

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Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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