Like you, I'm absolutely sickened and disgusted by Muslim acts of terror. I make no excuses for the evil that's present in Islam, and I'm certainly a million miles away from being a 'Peace Now' person, or anything close. At the same time, if you look at the religious traditions of Islam and xtianity, it becomes much clearer that xtianity is actually far more ''anti-Jewish' and 'anti-Israel' than Islam.
The picture is completely mixed up and confused, because while it's the Arabs who are on the front lines trying to kill us, it's the xtians and the West who are encouraging them, bank-rolling them and supporting them. (For example ISIS was created by the Obama administration in the US, and then went 'off the derech'. And all the Arab armies in the 1948 War of Independence were trained and armed by the British.)
Also in the mix is the fact that God is behind everything - as we know from the first rule of emuna - and that on some level at least, He's just using the Arabs as a stick to send the Jews - and particularly the Jews who are very far away from Torah and mitzvot and a real relationship with God - a strong message about making teshuva and getting their priorities right.
See? It's super-complicated.
But I still think the subject is crying out for some birur, or spiritual clarification, of what is REALLY going on, and what is REALLY going to fix it. So, here's an abridged version of what I wrote on Quora. I welcome comments that don't attack me personally, and I appreciate this is a very emotional topic, and that I'm also not entirely clear about what's going on here, and what spiritual response God really wants from the Jews.
Again, just saying 'nuke Gaza' doesn't really get us anywhere useful, and when we remember that the Arabs are just a stick in God's hand, the true response may be much less about tanks and bombs, and far more about how we ourselves change and improve.
So without any further do, let's jump into the question of:
WHO'S THE REAL ENEMY OF THE JEWS IN ISRAEL?
The Jewish orthodox residents here are similarly respectful - people drive their cars around on the Sabbath without fear of being attacked for doing that (which sadly, sometimes happens in other exclusively ‘orthodox’ neighborhoods, despite this being in direct contravention of Jewish law.)
The Arab neighbors have lived next to the Jews here, particularly the Mizrachim, for half a century, and there’s an understanding between the residents that is rarely, if ever publicized in the press, which is much more interested in ‘flashpoint’ stories then stories of quiet co-existence.
Sure, there are also tensions sometimes. When I moved to Jerusalem three years’ back, it was the day the Arab riots started up in the city, and the whole area was extremely tense. Similarly, when there was a wave of Muslim stabbings happening in the OId City and around my neighborhood, the easy interaction between the Jews and the Arabs got much more fraught. When I saw a Muslim teenager heading towards me on the street, I got a little nervous when that was going on, whereas generally I wouldn’t even notice them.
But outside of the Old City of Jerusalem, most of the time there is a calm co-existence on a daily basis, UNLESS there is a wave of terror, or a war happening (which can be pretty often…).
Inside the Old City, there’s also a lot of surprisingly peaceful co-existence between the residents, as well as the flashpoints that are more reported on. For example, Jewish residents in the Old City have agreements with some of the non-Jewish stores that they can go and take a pint of milk if they run out on the Jewish Sabbath without paying, and then just come back and pay for it later.
While the Old City is more strictly segregated into areas - the Jewish quarter, the Muslim quarter, the Xtian quarter and the Armenian quarter - it’s a very small geographic area, and there is still a lot of daily, mostly peaceful interaction between the people who live there.
The point is, it's not as black and white as the press portrays the matter. A few years’ back, I knew an Arab muslim plumber called ‘Jihad’ who used to fix things for free the first time for new Jewish immigrants who had just moved to Israel, as a ‘welcome home’ present. There was another Arab in my yishuv over the Green Line called 'Eliezer' who sincerely wanted to convert to Judaism, but the Shin Bet wouldn't let him because he came from a family of Hamas-niks.
Eliezer used to put up the Israeli flags around the yishuv before Israeli Independence day...
So things are not so easy to categorise, and not all Arabs fit into the 'bad, evil murderers' box.
That's a look at co-existence when it's 'quiet'.
For believing Jews, Jerusalem is the holiest place in the world, and the place where we hope one day we’ll have a rebuilt Third Temple and a time of global peace and spiritual contentment for all of mankind, not just the Jewish people.
Judaism is not a ‘preachy’ religion - authentic (i.e. orthodox) Judaism doesn’t look for converts, and has a strong belief that God will do things in His own time.
At the same time, we have very strong beliefs about the primacy of God, and we find it very offensive when other religions try to ‘convert’ us to their religious beliefs, something that xtianity is particularly guilty of doing.
For example, last week was the Jewish festival of Shavuot, when orthodox Jews celebrate the giving of the Torah. That same day, a xtian group set up a whole big ‘ark of the covenant’ in the Tzahal Square right next to the Old City which had the Jewish ten commandments printed on one side, and a ‘xtian’ ten commandments printed on the other.
As an observant Jew, I found both the timing and the location of that extremely offensive and upsetting.
It’s like a Jew barging into the Vatican on xmas day with a loud speaker, shouting out to everyone that the whole story of the nativity never happened and was completely made up 300 years after the time it was supposedly describing…
Latest estimates are that there about 20,000 Western-funded xtian missionaries in Israel at the moment, trying to convert the Jews - a staggering figure, when you consider that Israel is home to only six million Jews!
This website has a lot more about xtianity’s ongoing missionising activities and attempts to take over Israel:
There is a turf-war going on in the Old City in particular, and while the press likes to focus on the flashpoints between the Muslim population and the Jews, the people who live here know that so much of the trouble is actually being stirred up by Western groups and their leaders.
The Quran itself actually supports Jewish settlement of the Holy Land, as the following quotes from Muslim scholars (taken from Wikipedia) show:
The Jordanian Quranic scholar Sheikh Ahmad al-Adwan, also called the 'Zionist Sheikh', claims that according to the Quran, the land of Israel is promised to the Jews. He wrote,
Indeed, I recognize their sovereignty over their land. I believe in the Holy Koran, and this fact is stated many times in the book. For instance 'O my people! Enter the holy land which Allah hath assigned unto you,’ [Koran 5:21], ‘We made the Children of Israel inheritors of such things.' [Koran 26:59] and additional verses in the Holy Book.
(The following stuff all comes from Wikipedia:)
"According to Khaleel Mohammed, an Islamic Law scholar, medieval exegetes of the Qur'an, such as Ibn Kathir, interpreted this Sura as saying that the land of Israel is promised to the Jews.
Imam Abdul Hadi Palazzi, leader of Italian Muslim Assembly and a co-founder and a co-chairman of the Islam-Israel Fellowship, quotes the Qur'an to support Judaism's special connection to the Temple Mount. According to Palazzi,
"The most authoritative Islamic sources affirm the Temples." He adds that Jerusalem is sacred to Muslims because of its prior holiness to Jews and its standing as home to the biblical prophets and kings David and Solomon, all of whom he says are sacred figures also in Islam. He claims that the Qur'an "expressly recognizes that Jerusalem plays the same role for Jews that Mecca has for Muslims".
When asked what the Qur'an says about the State of Israel, Palazzi replied:
The Qur'an cannot deal with the State of Israel as we know it today, since that State came into existing in 1948 only, i.e. many centuries after the Qur'an itself was revealed.
However, the Qur'an specifies that the Land of Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people, that God Himself gave that Land to them as heritage and ordered them to live therein. It also announces that – before the end of the time – the Jewish people will come from many different countries to retake possession of that heritage of theirs. Whoever denies this actually denies the Qur'an itself. If he is not a scholar, and in good faith believes what other people say about this issue, he is an ignorant Muslim. If, on the contrary, he is informed about what the Qur'an and openly opposes it, he ceases to be a Muslim.
Prof. Khaleel Mohammed, Islamic Law scholar of the San Diego State University, noted that Sura 5 verse 21 of the Qur'an, and the medieval exegetes of the Qur'an, say that Israel belongs to the Jews. He translates it thus:
[Moses said]: O my people! Enter the Holy Land which God has written for you, and do not turn tail, otherwise you will be losers." Mohammed here understands "written" to mean this is the final word from God on the subject.
In reaction, he was inundated with hate mail.
The Quran, chapter 17 (Al-Isra), verse 104:
And thereafter We said to the Children of Israel: 'Dwell in the land. When the promise of the Everlasting Life comes We shall bring you all together.
The Quran, chapter 5 (Al-Ma'ida), verse 20–107:
And [remember] when Moses said to his people: 'O my people, ... enter the Holy Land which God has assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin."
I know this flies in the face of all the intifadas and arab terrorism, but it's a crucial point to understand, because any Muslim who is true to the teachings of their own Quran actually supports Jewish ownership of Israel, and Jewish worship in Jerusalem. If this point was better understood and more emphasised, I believe things could really start to change in some radical ways.
(Of course, ultimately all non-Jews will become Noahides, i.e. following the 7 Noachide laws, and turning their back on their man-made, idolatrous religions, but that's a stage further down the line, and this post is looking at the current reality, not the future one.)
Which brings me neatly on to the next crucial point we need to understand about what's really going on re: Israel and Jerusalem.
Excerpt taken from THIS article:
"The site known as King David’s Tomb is the major target in the Vatican’s plan. It’s a complex of buildings of some 100,000 square feet where David and Solomon, and kings of Judea, are said to be buried, although this is disputed by historians.
The Upper Room, or Cenacle, as it is known, is on the second floor of the Crusader-era building. During his visit to Israel in 2000, Pope John Paul II held Mass there. The Roman Catholic Church has been fighting for more than 450 years to win back control over the sanctuary, which was seized from Franciscan monks during the Ottoman Empire's rule around 1551.
The building was granted to the Diaspora Yeshiva over 40 years ago, and yeshiva heads fear that the Vatican wishes to turn it into a pilgrimage site for hundreds of thousands of Catholics and hold religious services there.
The Vatican wants Israel relinquishing sovereignty at the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. The Holy See uses the expression “Holy Basin”, which refers to the area of the Temple Mount, the Mount of Olives, Mount Zion and a variety of Christian holy sites which the administration of former U.S. President Bill Clinton began reccomending be administered under a
The Obama plan also calls for resolving the two thorniest issues in the conflict by sharing Jerusalem and settling Arab refugees in Arab countries or a future Palestinian state, but not in Israel. According to Obama, the Old City of Jerusalem would be designated an “international zone”.
There are SO MANY articles by xtians talking against the Jews 'owning' Israel and Jerusalem, so if you really want to dig into the subject, just go and google it and see what comes up. In the meantime, here's another article quoting another notable xtian leader:
"We cannot speak about the promised land for the Jewish people. There is no longer a chosen people. All men and women of all countries have become the chosen people." - Greek-Melchite Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros"
In stark contrast to Islam, Xtianity, particularly Roman Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy, are completely against Jewish ownership of Jerusalem.
The Vatican, in particular, feels like it ‘owns’ Jerusalem, and they throw their money around liberally to make sure the Old City is given as ‘xtian’/ ‘international’ /non-Jewish a character as possible. From what I understand, there are Roman Catholic prophesies saying that the Jews would never return to rule Jerusalem again, and the church has been doing everything in its power to make sure its prophecies stay ‘true’, despite the facts on the ground.
Evangelical xtians (mostly from America) are ‘pro’ Jews in Jerusalem, but really only so they can convert them. Evangelicals are also buying a lot of influence in the country, in various ways. As an observant Jew, I find it all extremely disturbing.
SO WHY ARE THE JEWS HAVING PROBLEMS WITH THE MUSLIMS?
(Again, this is an extremely complex question. The response below is literally just the tip of the iceberg, and I welcome more thoughtful, non-abusive input on this matter in the comments section or via email:)
Despite the Quran’s positive approach to Jews living in Israel and Jerusalem, most religious Muslims are today very distrustful of Jewish aspirations for the Temple Mount (and rightfully so!), as they know that the ultimate goal of authentic Judaism is to rebuild the temple where the current Mosque of Omar (or ‘Dome of the Rock’) is currently standing.
And here is where you have to understand that the Jewish community in Israel is not at all homogenous, and that the situation in Jerusalem is far, far more complicated and complex than is ever reported.
The Jews who run the government, and who control the army and the police, are nearly all exclusively secular Jews, and also very often ‘anti’ orthodox Judaism and religious Jews.
These ‘political’ Jews who are effectively running the country are completely disinterested in having more of a religious Jewish presence on the Temple Mount, or frankly anywhere else in the country. They dislike the Jewish religion, and religious Jews, more than anything or anyone else.
Many of the most religious Jews in Israel who aspire to having a Third Temple rebuilt for the most part don’t serve in the Israeli army, don’t hold government office, and aren’t found in the police force.
So while these very orthodox Jews definitely ARE yearning for the temple to be rebuilt, for the most part they know it’s going to come about via prayer, when God decides the time is right, and not via military force or superficial and unrealistic politically-motivated ‘peace’ processes. In that respect, they are probably the most ‘peaceful’ people in the country.
Again, there are so many nuances in this picture, and so many different aspects to it, I can’t really do the complexity of it justice in one answer, even a very long one. For example, there is also a group of more ‘modern’ orthodox Jews, often called ‘national religious’ or dati leumi, who DO serve in the army, and sometimes go into politics.
(Israeli politician Naftali Bennett belongs to this group).
But this group is still pretty marginalised within the Israeli power-structure, and usually has very little real power to affect the decisions being made. They are also the favorite whipping-boy of the secular press, especially outside of Israel, who like to paint this sometimes naively idealistic group of Jews as ‘extremist settlers’ and ‘Jewish supremacists’.
That’s why it’s so frustrating when journalists ‘parachute’ into Jerusalem, and try to paint a simplified picture of what is actually an incredibly complicated situation.
ISRAELI POLICE BEAT UP A LOT OF JEWS, TOO, ESPECIALLY ORTHODOX JEWS
A large percentage of the Israel police force and Border Police in Jerusalem that are often pictured supposedly manhandling Arabs are non-Jews (including many immigrants from the Soviet Union), and Arab Druze. While the media likes to portray the Israeli police as solely beating up Arabs, the truth is that the Israeli police beat up anyone they’re told to, including 'extremist settlers', chareidim, and other religious Jews!
Police violence against the orthodox Jewish population in Jerusalem (and elsewhere…) is becoming an increasingly obvious problem, but one that is hardly ever reported because it doesn’t fit the stereotypes the (mostly secular…) media are interested in reporting on.
The following excerpt comes from a news report of Israeli police beating up Orthodox Jews in Meah Shearim, that occurred this past Friday (June 3rd, 2017)
"MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) submitted a proposal Sunday for an urgent session to discuss the phenomenon of police violence, following what she claims was an unprovoked assault by police on peaceful haredi demonstrators in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Meah Shearim on Friday.
"Over the weekend, there was severe violence perpetrated by the police against demonstrators in Jerusalem's Meah Shearim neighborhood," she wrote in her request. "Recently, there has been a disturbing trend of police brutality, which affects many sectors, including haredi protesters, political activists, and others," MK Zandberg said.
"Police violence often violates the basic right to demonstrate and police violence should not be accepted as a matter of routine, especially in light of the disturbing data about the extent of the closure of files by the Police Department of investigation of cases involving violence.
"The Knesset must urgently discuss police violence in order to preserve the basic democratic values of the citizens of the State of Israel," she added."
So religious discrimination happens all the time in Jerusalem, but here’s a newsflash:
When it’s the Muslim festival of Ramadan, the Old City is closed to traffic, and the Jewish residents of the Muslim quarter are often confined to their homes for hours at a time, forbidden by the authorities to come out.
When it’s Easter, the Old City is closed to traffic and passersby - including religious Jews, Arabs and anyone else - are forced to stand on the side of the street to let the xtian religious processions go by.
When it’s Passover, the Old City is closed to traffic, and on certain days the Arab population will be confined to their homes…
What I’m trying to put across here is that although Jerusalem is the holiest place in the Jewish religion, and although Jerusalem is technically controlled by the Israeli government, orthodox Judaism has very little say about what really goes on in Jerusalem, or our holiest places.
That stuff is mostly being decided by secular politicians who are ‘anti’ religion, anti-God, and really only interested in their own prestige and bank accounts. Western countries and xtian groups take advantage of this to try to get things their way as much as possible, playing the orthodox Jews off against the ‘orthodox’ muslims as much as possible, to shore up their own influence in the country.
Ironically, on a day to day level, orthodox Jews and orthodox muslims often get on OK, and respect each other, more than many other groups in Israel. Again, this is not a story that the mostly secular, anti-religious press is at all interested in covering, as it flies in the face of the usual stereotypes.
Take a look at this article from the Washington Post, (excerpted below):
And on Tuesday night, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties in the Knesset suddenly realized that a law preventing religious institutions from using loudspeakers could mean curtailing their Sabbath call, too.
That prompted Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, from the United Torah Judaism party, to appeal the bill. This means it will not be brought to a vote in the Knesset in the meantime.
“For thousands of years, in Jewish tradition, various instruments have served for this purpose, among others, the shofar [ram's horn] and the trumpet, and today the loudspeaker,” Litzman said in his appeal. Another ultra-Orthodox minister, Aryeh Deri, supported shelving the bill.
Odeh, chairman of the Arab Joint List, sent Litzman a note thanking him for blocking the bill.
“I believe that a significant step was taken today in cooperation between the weaker sectors of society,” he told the lawmaker.
This is a lot to take in, I know, and I still didn’t really do the subject justice, it’s so complex and complicated. So let’s try to sum it up:
Almost without exception, the Israeli politicians, judges, policy makers, police chiefs and heads of the army are secular Jews who are ANTI Judaism and anti-religion. For these people, orthodox Jews are public enemy number one, and they aren’t at all interested in rebuilding a third temple or doing anything to promote the interests of orthodox Judaism in Jerusalem, or elsewhere in the country.
Excerpted from THIS article:
"One gets the impression of late that if left up to the top command of the Israel Police and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the entire Temple Mount would be sealed off to all visitors, left to gather dust atop the Old City.
That’s not possible, of course, as it would entail a radical change in the status quo, and banning access to one of Islam’s holiest sites would only inflame tensions further.
Still, this past week, Israel Police commissioner Yohanan Danino blew away whatever illusions were left about how his agency feels about recent visits by right-wing MKs to the Mount, finally saying out loud what police have said behind closed doors and in off-the-record comments to journalists throughout Israel’s recent tensions.
On Tuesday, Danino sparked the ire of many on the Right when he said, “Anyone who wants to change the status quo on the Temple Mount should not be allowed up there,” leveling criticism at what he called an “extreme right-wing agenda to change the status quo” there.
His comments recall ones made earlier in November by Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, who said that while the status quo will remain unchanged, they will ban visits by inciters of any faith – including MKs."
(NOTE: THE ARTICLE QUOTED WAS WRITTEN A WHILE BACK, LONG BEFORE THE CURRENT TERROR ATTACK AND IT'S AFTERMATH ON THE TEMPLE MOUNT).
By contrast, most of what’s termed the ‘ultra’ orthodox’ Jewish community in Jerusalem and Israel don’t serve in the army, aren’t in the police or government, and believe that the third temple will come about when God is ready, and probably when all the Jewish people return to observant Judaism.
TO SUM UP THE MAIN POINTS:
1) OBSERVANT JEWS AND MUSLIMS OFTEN GET ON PRETTY WELL
Again, this seems very strange, but my experience is that the closest ties between Muslims and Jews exist in the West Bank and other 'mixed' areas, where they are forced into co-existence with each other on a daily basis, and often come to some sort of understanding with each other.
Of course, when there is a war, or other wave of violence going on, or when secular politicians of all backgrounds and religions are trying to play them off against each other for their own ends, that understanding is easily shattered.
But it can and does exist.
2) THE QURAN IS IN FAVOR OF JEWS LIVING IN ISRAEL, AND RESPECTS JERUSALEM AS A HOLY JEWISH SITE
When Moshiach comes and all the false, man-made religions finally fall, this will be a moot point. But in the meantime, Islam is NOT ideologically opposed to Jews being in Israel, or owning Jerusalem, as a matter of theology.
3) XTIANITY IS TRYING TO TAKE OVER JERUSALEM / ISRAEL
In two main ways:
The Roman Catholic church, et al, is trying to wrest control of the holy sites in Jerusalem away from the Jews, so that they don’t have to explain away all the ‘false prophecies’ they hold by that state the Jews will never return to 'Zion'.
They are the main movers behind the trouble between Jews and Muslims in Israel, and have been for decades. But strangely, they don’t seem to do a lot of missionary work within Israel trying to convert Jews.
That’s left to:
Evangelical xtians (mostly Americans), who are ‘pro’ Jews in Jerusalem, but only because they think that will lead to the second coming (and so that they can convert us.)
Both groups are using their big bank balances to ‘buy influence’ with Israel’s (and other countries') corrupt politicians, leaders and policy-makers, to achieve their own ends, and are also affecting things in great measure 'behind the scenes' when it comes to demonizing Israel and religious Jews generally, and supporting and paying for Arab terror.
I know the knee-jerk reaction is to hate the barbarism and cruelty of the Arab muslim murderers in our midst, that’s only natural, and the Torah itself commands us to ‘rise up and kill’ whoever is trying to kill us.
The point I’m trying to get across here is that xtianity is actually still trying to kill us, and is using the Arabs as their main proxies. That’s a very uncomfortable thought for a lot of us Westernised Jews, especially if we still live in externally PC xtian, ‘Western’ countries.
It’s much easier to go on about the ‘rag heads’ who seem so culturally foreign to us, than it is to acknowledge that the sweet looking, well-dressed, polite, wealthy xtians up the road are actually far more dangerous on a number of levels.
But if you look at the theology of Islam and xtianity, it becomes really clear who hates us more, and why.
Next up: the missing bits of my husband’s class on the founder of xtianity. Stay tuned!