Netanyahu does not speak for all American Jews (COMMENTARY)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in his office in Jerusalem February 8, 2015. For use ONLY with RNS-VILKOMERSON-COLUMN, transmitted Feb. 20, 2015. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Sebastian Scheiner.
(RNS) Israelii Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in his office in Jerusalem February 8, 2015. For use ONLY with RNS-VILKOMERSON-COLUMN, transmitted Feb. 20, 215. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Sebastian Scheiner.

(RNS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in his office in Jerusalem February 8, 2015. For use ONLY with RNS-VILKOMERSON-COLUMN, transmitted Feb. 20, 2015. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Sebastian Scheiner.

(RNS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing unexpectedly strong pressure to withdraw from a planned March 3 speech to a joint session of Congress. The invitation from House Speaker John Boehner bypassed President Obama entirely. Intended to sway U.S. policy on Iran and support Netanyahu’s re-election bid, the invitation is eliciting unprecedented opposition.

Netanyahu, in defending the visit, has indicated that he is coming to Congress to speak as the representative of the “entire Jewish people.” American Jews are largely appalled by the notion that Netanyahu, or any other Israeli politician — one that we did not elect and do not choose to be represented by — claims to speak for us.

The math is clear: While 69 percent of American Jews (population 6.8 million) voted for President Obama in 2012, only 23 percent of Israel’s Jews (population 6.1 million) voted for Netanyahu.

This isn’t the first time that Netanyahu has claimed the mantle of the representative of the Jews, nor is it the first time that Jews around the world have been affronted by the idea that the prime minister of Israel would claim to speak for them. What makes this moment unique, however, is the unprecedented cracks in the bipartisan consensus that usually sustains unquestioning support for Israel.

Thus far, at least 25 members of Congress have publicly pledged to skip Netanyahu’s speech, including the heads of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Staunch Israel supporters, from Thomas Friedman to Jeffrey Goldberg, have expressed concern that the current brouhaha threatens the bipartisan consensus on Israel, while even the leaders of the Anti-Defamation League and the Union for Reform Judaism have called on Netanyahu to cancel his speech.

For years, some political observers have noted that there is an alliance of true belief between the Republican Party and the Likud-led Israeli government, while Democratic party principles should at least in theory require some criticism of Israel’s settlement building, human rights violations, and discriminatory policies. Of course, it hasn’t until now played out that way, as the pressure from donors and the skillful Israel lobby has enforced a virtual, if superficial, consensus on Israel.

Now, under the guise of supporting Obama and inter-party wrangling, some Democrats have the opportunity to express a little of their deep anger not only toward Israeli policies, but their perception that they’ve been forced to support those policies even when they didn’t agree with them to ensure their re-election.

This partisan split is why staunch supporters of the Israeli status quo want Netanyahu to cancel the speech — they fear this initial crack in the consensus could lead to a permanent split, with Israel becoming a partisan issue.

While coverage of the controversy over the speech has focused on violations of diplomatic protocol and Israeli officials attempting to play Democrats and Republicans against one another, the stakes are actually much higher. Netanyahu is not only trying to dictate American policy toward Iran, but is also using the issue of Iran as a way to avoid hard questions about Israel’s policies toward Palestinians and its own citizens.

The current controversy around Netanyahu’s speech has revealed what we have known for a long time: that the increasingly oppressive and hawkish policies of the Israeli government do not reflect the values of American Jews, nor of Democrats. Israel’s right-wing leadership — which justified a brutal war against Gaza last summer, continues settlement construction in the face of international censure, and allows ongoing attacks in the streets of Israel against Palestinians and anti-war activists — is not worthy of our support.

Rebecca Vilkomerson is executive director of Jewish Voices for Peace. For use with RNS-VILKOMERSON-COLUMN, transmitted Feb. 20, 2015. Photo courtesy JVP.

Rebecca Vilkomerson is executive director of Jewish Voices for Peace. For use with RNS-VILKOMERSON-COLUMN, transmitted Feb. 20, 2015. Photo courtesy JVP.

The long-standing bipartisan support for Israel even as it continues to flout international law and undermine the possibility for peace has long been an anomaly in U.S. politics. That’s why those of us who have long advocated change in U.S. policy towards Israel see the growing backlash against the speech as a hopeful sign.

A couple of weeks ago, Jewish Voice for Peace and a coalition of allies initiated an online campaign to ask our elected officials to #skipthespeech as a strong statement against warmongering and electioneering. Over 55,000 people have since taken action. Other progressive groups have issued similar calls.

Trends indicate a growing discomfort with Israeli actions among many Americans, including people of color and young Jews. Elected Democratic officials may increasingly find support among their base for taking a clear stand against warmongering and Israel’s assumed unconditional support by the U.S. Skipping the speech is turning out not just to be good policy, but good politics.

(Rebecca Vilkomerson is the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peacethe largest grass-roots Jewish organization working for equality and human rights for all the people of Israel and Palestine.)


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  • Netanyahu does not speak for all American Jews


    American Jews are largely appalled by the notion that Netanyahu, or any other Israeli politician — one that we did not elect and do not choose to be represented by — claims to speak for us.

    You turn around and claim you do. I think your effrontery is worse than his.

  • The math is clear: While 69 percent of American Jews (population 6.8 million) voted for President Obama in 2012, only 23 percent of Israel’s Jews (population 6.1 million) voted for Netanyahu.

    The fraud is clear. You’re comparing the result of a multi-party parliamentary contest with dozens of parties to a presidential election with a binary choice. You’re also comparing actual balloting with exit poll results of a demographic so small any reported result has huge confidence intervals.

  • Let Netanyahu speak before Congress. He rightfully fears the intentions of Iran and wants to sway our Congress in his favor…….so what? I do not think he speaks for all Jews, but he is a Jew who is willing to sound the alarm bell of a potential Holocaust. Perhaps if there was a Natenyahu in 1933 Germany……well……..

  • Interesting comment from Mr Lewis…thank you. I agree with the Palestinian self rule question and the lack of Jewish spirituality, but since this Holy Land is currently the prime target for destruction by almost every Muslim nation, I think Netanyahu should be able to address his concerns to the US.

    I am embarrassed that our President is having such a his sy fit over it.

  • That’s not fraud. The numbers aren’t equal, but they certainly still can tell us something.

    Thank goodness those who blindly support Israel are a (quickly) dying breed. They must begin to act morally and justly or lose their only support as well as their allowance.

  • It is a fraud and a manifest one for those who are not innumerate. It bothers the world’s anti-semites, but Israel is a going concern. In the most inhospitable environment, it has build an affluent industrial economy, integrated Jews from places as disparate as Germany and Yemen, maintained one of the two-dozen or so most durable parliamentary systems, and repeatedly fought off efforts to destroy it by rampaging Arab armies.

    The only ‘blind’ people are those who do not bother to observe the behavior of the political leadership (actually, crime bosses) on the West Bank and Gaza and to consult public opinion research on the Arab population thereupon. The Arab population is not interested in a deal. Period. There is not anything that PM Netanyahu can do about that other than see to the security of Israel. The same dilemmas would confront the red haze/watermelon parties in Israel if Zahava Gal-on was sitting in Netanyahu’s chair, and it would be disastrous if they tried to pretend those dilemmas were not there. The dim-witted peacenik who wrote this article has confounded her imagination with the mundane world which confronts people living in the Near East, and is wasting everyone’s time and donations.

  • Politician: A human who can become a ruler and usually does not please all the people it rules over all the time.

    Christ Jesus: The son of God, Messiah, and King of God’s kingdom or heavenly government (Daniel 2: 44) who will rule with love, righteousness and justice during his millennial reign (Isaiah 11:1-9) and will please all meek mankind on earth during that time.

    What choice will each of us make?

  • Netanyahu is being used by Speak Boehner and the GOP to embarrass Obama, but Netanyahu thinks it will help him in his election which is on March 17, 2015. Israelis know they depend on America. They know that their Prime Minister must manage the relationship with America well.

    As for American Jews, most Jews voted for Obama. They voted for Obama in larger numbers than any other group of White Americans. I don’t know how aware of this Netanyahu is. He is hurting his own cause, if he doesn’t support the negotiations with Iran. The Congressional Black Caucus is upset with his treatment of Obama.

    I do support Israel’s existence, but that does not mean that I agree with every action of the current Israeli government.

    Art Deco is right about Stephen Lewis. He calls himself a “Jewish Christian”, but he is neither. He has said the Christianity needs to separate itself from “the dead packhorse of Judaism.” He has created his own religion which exists only in his own mind.

  • Hey there, Art, care to tell us as a Zionist fable teller how European Jewish converts have any “Right of Return” to a land none of them or their ancestors ever saw?

    Again, you have repeatedly traded in discredited anthropological nonsense about the origins of the Ashkenazic Jewish population, and, while we’re at it, the majority of Israel’s population consists of Sephardic and Oriental Jews pleased to stay just where they are. Look in the mirror, Stephen. The man looking at you lies.

  • Netanyahu doesn’t even speak for all Israeli Jews.

    Maybe he can field questions as to why Israel is turning away Yazidi and Coptic refugees from Syria and Iraq.

    I have mixed feelings on the guy. I agree with his policy towards Gaza, but find prior actions in Lebanon and ongoing actions in the West Bank to be heavy handed. Netanyahu’s government has been at times way too chummy with ultra-orthodox parties at the expense of democratic principles.

    The upside to Hezbollah and ISIS is that they have diverted blood money and weapons away from Hamas and Fatah from their usual benefactors. Given the possibility of Palestinians in the West Bank and Jordan being home to Syrian refugees, maybe now is a good time to finally hammer out that 3 state solution.

  • As a Native American of Mixed Tribal affiliation (both parents are mixed Native American—Anglo) it was revealed to me many years ago that the “Jews” lacking a distinctive DNA cannot scientifically claim an identity as a “race”. They are a “religion” which also identifies itself as a “tribe” with several divisions/denominations which are connected by at least two language bases; Hebrew and Yiddish. Some groups even refer to themselves as “secular” but his is of course a misnomer in the truest sense.
    I have personally known Jews who expressed deeply rooted racist behavior; but this is also an error simply because they have no racial identity. Being a Jew is a willful act expressed in an initiation ceremony ironically segregated on gender terms the Bar/Bat Mitzvah and accordingly exemplifies a “choice” of religion -v- race.
    When the USA and the much of the rest of the world support “Israel” as the “Jewish State”; they simply are supporting a “theocracy” which according to the text known as the Torah/Old Testament is based entirely upon “narrative fiction” who’s authors are lost to a relatively short history (claimed to be 5-6 K years old) who worship a “Male/Patriarch” ‘deity’ that according to the text can create the entire Universe and even the things we have not discovered yet, in just six days; but cannot write his own book much less publish it; ‘HE’ also reveals in that ‘text’ that he is jealous (the first Commandment) —-an expression of insecurity in human and animal behavior—as well as a bigot and vindictive to a fault, constantly needing attention and propitiations much like a human toddler; and seems to be a very bad manager of money—needing it often at a given “minimum of 10%” of the “Gross”………………………….

    History will have no other choice but to define this entire scenario as “absolute insanity”; and as soon as humanity is able to divest itself of the ‘need’ for ‘deities’; they will truly know progress.

  • Stephen, you make no sense. You don’t understand who the Pharisees really were. You don’t understand the reason for Christian antisemitism and anti-Judaism. You need a good therapist.

  • Moonlight, the modern Zionist movement was a secular movement. It grew because assimilation did not work to end antisemitism. The German and Austrian Jews were the most assimilated and look what happened to them. David Ben-Gurion was an avowed agnostic. Many early Zionists were anti-religious.

    You also ignore that there are more Jewish refugees from Arab countries than Palestinian refugees from Israel. There are Jews from Iraq, Syria. Morocco, Turkey, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt. Yemen and Iran in Israel. They spoke Arabic or a Judeo-Arabic or Ladino before they came to Israel and learned Hebrew.

  • I don’t think that a Jewish state and human rights are incompatible. I still stand by the fact that I think you are mentally unbalanced and need a good therapist. You are the last person to lecture anyone on human rights and democracy.

  • I have not called you any names. I have just said the truth as I see it. There is no Jewish war against Gentiles except in your head. You ruin every thread with your tirades against Jews and Judaism. Your mind only runs on one track and you can’t discuss anything else.

  • Husband of Moonlight, according to Jewish law one is Jewish if one’s mother is Jewish. A Bar/Bat Mitzvah is when one becomes an adult member of the Jewish community. It has nothing to do with willfully becoming Jewish. One could also become Jewish by converting as well.

  • The Congressional Black Caucus does not speak for all black Americans.

    In fact, a little impeachment on national television, would help many of them get things right.

  • Stephen, for the SIXTH time, please just tell us the true meaning of the word Torah. Any educated layperson and certainly any rabbi can tell you it means teaching. I want to hear from you what it really means. I’m sure it’ll be just as nonsensical as “the Ashkenazim aren’t real Jews” (a conclusively debunked theory) or Israel is a portmanteau of Isis, Ra and El (the ancient Egyptians didn’t pronounce it that way, the Hebrew word is YISrael, etc.), but I want to hear it nonetheless.

  • One more thing: Netanyahu doesn’t speak for all US Jews, including those who lean left on the Israel-Palestine issue like me. But “Jewish Voice for Peace” speaks for even less. They support the BDS movement and do not support a two-state solution (they claim they don’t have a specific position, which means they’re fine with ending Israel’s existence). I realize RNS takes submissions, but an organization no more Jewish than Stephen Lewis shouldn’t get to label itself “the largest grass-roots Jewish organization working for equality and human rights for all the people of Israel and Palestine” on RNS without some fact-checking.

  • So you’re not Jewish or Christian, you’re Egyptian. I repeat that you are not a leader or a visionary prophet to anyone but yourself.

  • Stephen, I gamely searched online to see what you were talking about. Everything for “Taurowet Torah” comes back to comment board postings by you. Then I searched for “Taurowet” only. Again, only stuff by you. You’d think the mother of one of Egypt’s most important deities would have more information. Maybe that’s because Set’s mother was Nut, or Newet, not “Taurowet.”
    There’s no such thing as Taurowet, except in your own mind. The Arabic name of Tawrat is cognate with Torah, not anything Egyptian. Ironically, you accuse Judaism of hiding the Egyptian origin of the name Moses, when in fact the Torah not only explicitly says it’s an Egyptian name, but that it means “taken from water.”
    No one is interested in the “revelations” you’ve received while tripping in a yurt with your aging Ojai hippie friends. That’s why your comments keep getting deleted — or, as one site did, move you to “Random Ramblings.”

  • Noah, what does “blindly supporting Israel” mean, especially in the context of today, with Israel facing more potential threats to her existence, starting with the prospect of a nuclear Iran, than perhaps at any point since 1948?

  • Susan, I am sure that Netanyahu knows that most American Jews voted for Obama. To be an Israeli PM is necessarily to be quite attuned to the politics of America and American Jews.

    The United States has a right to make its own foreign policy, including that with Iran, but since the prospect of Iran getting nukes is of direct concern to Israel, Netanyahu or any other Israeli PM has a parallel right to be concerned…..and most important, to advocate a foreign policy in line with his best judgments on the best interests of Israel, which he governs.

    How you can support nuclear talks with Iran — especially the sort we’re now pursuing — from any perspective as being good even for America, let alone Israel, is anyone’s guess.

  • Stephen, you’re reliably wrong on nearly everything you say, but your comment about DNA is readily debunked by the fact that Ashkenazi Jews have more in common genetically with Sephardic Jews than with Eastern European gentiles. That’s one of many problems with your Khazar theory.

  • Stephen seems to have a perverse need to deny the undeniable — that there is no more famous connection in history between a people and a land than that between the Jewish people and the land of Israel.

    And the telling thing is that Stephen, along with other enemies of Israel, rejects an Israel of any size. As it now stands, Israel is the size of New Jersey, a minute dot on a vast Middle East landscape. To deny the Jews even a miniscule portion of their ancient land is to succumb to bizarre ideological fetishes over the simple claims of justice and decency.

  • Stephen, 90% of your posts are filled with speculative gibberish that has little to do with established history. You need to ground your assertions in something other than your own belief in them.

    But you won’t because you can’t.

    Also, your attempted refutations of biblical history are based on long-discredited methodologies that contradict the way historians normally go about the business of discerning what’s historical and what isn’t. You ought at least understand the issues involved before plunging headlong into radical skepticism.

  • Stephen, do you know anything at all about the Pharisees? All they were was the party of post-Babylonian-exile Jewish teachers who instructed people at the grassroots level directly from the Bible. During the time of Jesus, there were at least two schools or “houses” within their movement — Hillel and Shammai. One school — Shammai’s — perished with the revolt against Rome. The other school – -that of Hillel — lived on and played a seminal role in the Judaism of the past 20 centuries.

    Many of Jesus’ specific criticisms corresponded to the problems with Shammai and his disciples.

    Moreover, Jesus pointed out that the Pharisees sat in Moses’ seat, meaning that there was nothing wrong with having a group of learned people doing their best to interpret Moses.

    From a purely human standpoint, Jesus’ teachings were most closely aligned with those of the Pharisees as opposed, say, to the Saduccees or Essenes, and Paul the apostle called himself a Pharisee, having studied under Gamaliel, a noted rabbi of his day.

  • Stephen, explain why you consider it “racist” for Jews to favor the right to return to a miniscule portion of their ancient homeland and establish sovereignty over that minute sliver. And dispense with the Khazar nonsense, because we’ve already refuted that.

    It sounds to me that you’re the hater, since you begrudge to the Jewish people the right that you take for granted for every other people in the world.

    What you are preaching is neither Judaism nor Christianity, but eccentric babblings based on thin air, rather than facts or logic.

  • Stephen, why do you deny the right of the Jewish people to a single square inch of their ancient homeland?

    In 1922, the British carved out nearly 80% of original Palestine and gave it to the Arabs. That left just 20% for the Jews.

    Was that not good enough for you?

    In 1947, the UN Partition Plan took a chunk of that remaining 20% and gave it to the Arabs as well.

    That still wasn’t good enough for you, Stephen?

    To oppose an Israel of any size is to lack any sense of proportion or justice….and is to endorse fanatical ideology over real people….not to mention the well-established facts of history.

  • Stephen, you are neither Jewish, nor Christian, nor a visionary…..You’re a zonked-out 60s refugee, probably a red-diaper baby who has come up with an eccentric blend of anti-Zionist radical-left ideology, Gnostic babblings, neo-Nazi Khazar theories, and your own hallucinatory fantasies. Most of your posts are littered with pure speculation, without grounding in history or logic.

  • Saying that Netanyahu does not speak for all Israelis is like saying that the president of the United States doesn’t speak for all Americans. While certainly true, it has little practical value. Whoever is a nation’s leader is going to articulate that nation’s policies, hopefully doing the best to advance the country’s bedrock interests.

  • Netanyahu is Israel’s prime minister, he certainly speaks for Israel and is an advocate for its government’s policies. The issue here was that he claimed, in the context of his congressional speech, to be speaking for all _Jews_ around the world on the issue of Iran. Even other Israelis, including many who have been in the security establishment, are to the left of him on this.

  • I think we’re nitpicking, because of course Netanyahu knows that not every Jew who cares about Israel agrees with every aspect of his views on Iran, especially regarding negotiations. I think he was trying to say that he represents the basic concern of every pro-Israel person about Iran….even though there will be disagreement on the particulars, such as negotiations.

    He should have been more precise, but sometimes it’s important to interpret a person’s intent based on what we already know about the person, not just on the words the person says at a moment in time. People aren’t always precise….and the lack of precision is not always deliberate, even with politicians.

  • Israel Finkelstein and others are injecting ideologically-driven, unfounded speculations, including contemporary versions of the old higher criticism, into their work, unlike earlier generations of archeologists who tried to be more objective. To be human is to have biases, but there’s a difference between attempting objectivity and abandoning the effort.

  • Stephen, when it comes to article after article, you contribute next to nothing of substance or value in response. That’s why the web site keeps flagging your posts.

    You are just a walking billboard exhibiting what’s in your head, a bizarre collection of groundless grandiosity mixed with a bizarre and random collection of prejudices, ranging from far left to far right, against Jews, Christians, and atheists, even as you inexplicably call yourself both Jewish and Christian in the process. Half of what you write is impossible to verify or falsify historically or logically….it’s just your own flights of imagination that have no coherent philosophical or theological core. I suspect that the closest there is to a core is the sum total of your life experiences, which are probably all over the ideological and political map.

    How about, just for once, writing something that has a real relation to the articles that are being posted here? How about dealing, for once, with the issues raised in the articles, without steering every post and every conversation back to yourself and your grandiosity?

    Try it sometime.

  • Stephen, just be a mensch. You’re not a prophet or visionary. If you want to know how real prophets and visionaries sound and behave, read Isaiah or Jeremiah or Ezekiel or the others. Or read the Sermon on the Mount.

    What you see in each case is a quality of mind and character and spirit that speaks for itself…..cogent words and phrases, penetrating insights and exhortations, haunting laments and lessons that people quote through the centuries and millennia.

    And yes, what you also find is amazing predictive capability.

    All you’re doing when you’re not pontificating about your own importance is bashing everyone else’s belief system and not backing up your critiques with anything other than long-discredited theories about the Bible that violate fundamental rules of how to do history and how to analyze texts.

  • Stephen, to “separate” in this context means to dedicate one’s self to living a life of holiness unto God. The idea that this is “gone now from God’s plan” is to deny the character of God as revealed in the Bible and as embraced by both Christianity and Judaism. The biblical concept, common to both religions, is that God is a transcendent, holy, and righteous Being who calls those who would follow Him to be holy as well. We all fall far short of it, and need to seek and find forgiveness. My harshness toward you, for example, amply demonstrates my own need to do likewise.

    The point is that once you dispense with the notion of separation and holiness, either through Sinai or Calvary, you’re no longer speaking the language that is recognizably either Jewish or Christian….and it’s not honest to pretend otherwise. You are talking about a radically different worldview.

  • Stephen, Shlomo Sand is a historian. He is not a genetic scientist, nor does he quote any real genetic scientists. He says what you want to hear so you believe him. Ironically, the early Zionists looked down on Yiddish culture as a product of oppression and exile. Israel is not a Yiddish culture. Real genetic scientists have studied European Jews and found that their genetics are closer to Palestinian Arabs than to other Europeans. I read this on a BBC website so you can’t unfairly say that Jewish genetic scientists cannot be objective.

  • OK Stephen, I found the article on the BBC web site. Here it is:

    Jews and Arabs are ‘genetic brothers’

    Jewish heritage has been maintained
    They may have their differences but Jews and Arabs share a common genetic heritage that stretches back thousands of years.
    The striking similarities in their biology have just been revealed in a study of over 1,300 men in almost 30 countries worldwide.

    Scientists compared the men’s Y chromosomes, the tiny structures within cells that carry the genetic instructions that tell a developing foetus to become a boy.

    The comparison also showed that Jews have successfully resisted having their gene pool diluted, despite having lived among non-Jews for thousands of years in what is commonly known as the Diaspora – the time since 556 BC when Jews migrated out of Palestine.

    Genetic signatures

    Throughout human history, alterations have occurred in the sequence of chemical bases that make up the DNA in the Y chromosome, leaving variations that can be pinpointed with modern genetic techniques.

    Related populations carry the same specific variations. In this way, scientists can track descendants of large populations and determine their common ancestors.

    The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that Jewish men shared a common set of genetic signatures with non-Jews from the Middle East, including Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese.

    These signatures were significantly different from non-Jewish men outside of the Middle East. This means Jews and Arabs have more in common with each other, genetically speaking, than they do with any of the wider communities in which they might live.

    Good opportunity

    Dr Mark Jobling of Leicester University, UK, one of the authors of the new study, told the BBC: “The kind of DNA we have used to analyse this question is the human Y chromosome. This represents only 2% of our genetic material and it is passed down from father to son.

    “This makes it particularly interesting to use in a study of Jewish populations because Jewishness is passed down from the mother to children – it is maternally inherited. So using a paternally inherited piece of DNA gives us a good opportunity to see the signal of mixture with other populations if this has occurred.

    “The fact that we don’t see it suggests that after the Diaspora these populations really have managed to maintain their Jewish heritage.

    Dr Jobling dismissed the idea that the study could have any political implications. “It seems that in many of these situations where groups are in conflict with each other they are likely to be pretty much genetically indistinguishable, and this factor, to the peoples involved in these conflicts, clearly isn’t the point and isn’t likely to change their behaviour very much.”

  • Isidore is a name of Greek origin and does, in fact mean adored by Isis. Isis was the deity’s name in Greek. Completely different from Aset, the way ancient Egyptians would’ve pronounced it. Just like pronouncing the Hebrew Yeishua is completely different from pronouncing Jesus. None of this comes anywhere close to proving your Isis-Ra-El theory. In fact, it disproves it. Please explain to us how the adoption of Isidore as a popular name starting in THE LATE 1800s by Enlightenment Jews has anything to do with Isis worship. Are modern Jews named Mark, Matthew or Paul secretly Christian?
    One more thing, Issa is the Arabic word for Jesus. It is cognate with Yeishua. Neither is cognate with Aset or Isis. That’s because Hebrew and Arabic are both Semitic languages. Egyptian is not.

  • Stephen you are the one using dubious genetic science for your anti-zionist propaganda.

    I would like to get my DNA tested but it’s expensive and all Jews are not rich. I will eventually.

  • Stephen, all that Israel Finkelstein has done is recycle century-old, long-discredited speculations and thought processes and try to invest them with the prestige of the archeological profession. The problem he has is the mountain of archeological evidence over the past century which confirms, rather than refutes, the historical assertions in the Bible. It is as though he has leapfrogged back in time, over precisely that evidence, back to 1900, when German higher critics were spinning their colorful theories that archeology went on to demolish in the decades that followed.

    But the problem here is not just the evidence of archeology. There’s a methodological problem, too. It concerns what constitutes historical evidence. When it comes unremarkable, mundane assertions — about people, places, things, events — the burden of proof is not on those who accept the assertions, but on those questioning their veracity. That is a basic, foundational premise of historiography, similar to the legal assumption that a purported eyewitness is telling the truth unto proven otherwise. It is the presence of contradiction, internal or external, and not the paucity of corroboration, that refutes a document. Radical skeptics forget this fundamental rule again and again and again.

  • Moreover, such scientists have found that the genetics of Eastern European Jews resemble those of Sephardic Jews more than they do other Eastern Europeans. In addition, the NY Times did a story a decade or a decade-and-a-half ago that Jews who are presumably of priestly background, ie those with suggestive names like Cohen or Levi, bear a striking genetic resemblance to the Lemba tribe in southern Africa, which has long had customs, traditions, and beliefs leading anthropologists to believe they were of Jewish, and specifically priestly, origins.

    In other words, the Khazar theory just doesn’t pan out in real life. It was never taken seriously by anyone but those with an ideological axe to grind against Zionism or Jews.

  • Stephen, with all due respect, if you don’t know how burden of proof works when it comes to historical evidence, you are in no position to assess what is or isn’t “unreliable” when it comes to historical documents.

    All you’re doing is regurgitating theories by people who are not historians and thus don’t understand how historical proofs work or don’t work.

    Again, when it comes to mundane and unremarkable assertions as to people, places, and things in a text, the operating premise of historians is that they are factual until proven otherwise. Even if they are found nowhere else but the documents in question, the starting premise is one of veracity. Again…..it’s because historians generally believe that when it comes to simple, unremarkable assertions, what’s required to refute a document’s veracity is not a lack of corroboration but a presence of contradiction.

    The burden is thus not on the biblical text to prove Moses existed; rather, it’s on the critics to prove he did not. The fact that Moses is not mentioned elsewhere is, by itself, insufficient to call his existence into question. Instead, we’d need something in the text itself, or some outside text, something of a material nature which actually contradicts the assertion that Moses existed.

    This rules of historical evidence as to texts is similar to the rules of legal evidence regarding eyewitnesses. When a witness is sworn in, the premise is that the witness is attempting to be truthful until proven otherwise. While corroboration is ideal, it is not the absence of corroboration which impeaches the testimony…..rather, it is the presence of material contradiction, either within the testimony or outside of it, which refutes it.

    The Bible should be treated like any other document or set of documents on this score….and when it is, the result is that it comes through surprisingly well. While this by itself doesn’t prove its assertions about God and His role in history are correct, it is what we would expect were that the case.

    One thing we do know for sure….and that is that most of the more sensationalist, conspiracy-obsessed claims of higher criticism of the past century have been refuted by sober scholarship, not just through modern archeology, linguistics studies, and biblical criticism, but through simply doing history the right way. Unfortunately, this fact has failed to make its way down to the popular level, and so to this day, people can write best-selling books filled with lurid conspiracy theories which people accept as factual. But they are no more factual than 9/11 truther or Holocaust denial nonsense – -and they are plagued by the same radical skepticism that ignores how historians or courts weigh evidence in the real world.

  • Note how Stephen, when his theories are rejected by actual science or scholarship, resorts to trafficking in conspiracy theories: the scholars and scientists somehow are corrupting the research — or the “Zionists” are somehow forcing them to come up with results that are not to his liking. Rather than admit he is mistaken, he pulls out the conspiracy card.

    Note as well how he projects onto objective scientists and scholars political and ideological motives which are his own — ie the naked attempt to force science and scholarship to say what he wants it to say regarding Zionism and the Jewish people.

    He would like us all to forget that it’s his theory — that of the Khazars — that has been advanced for generations for the express political purpose of refuting Zionism. In contrast, all the scientists are doing is genetic studies and reporting their outcome.

    Resort to conspiracy theories is often an act of desperation when someone is losing an argument or debate….and the fact that most conspiracy theories are readily refutable once we understand how the rules of evidence work is one that conspiracy theorists would rather we forget or never know.

  • Susan, you don’t have to get tested for his sake. If you did, he’d probably say you were in on the “conspiracy” anyway.

  • Well Stephen I did some more digging. “Hippo goddess” led me to what you must be trying to talk about. Taweret, the Egyptian fertility goddess. Note the correct spelling vs. your spelling. You switched it. You’ve invented “Taurowet” to make it seem closer to Torah. You’re either dyslexic, deluded, or a complete fraud. Just to be sure, I googled “Taweret Torah.” Guess whose ramblings litter the results pages? Stephen Lewis.

  • Note how Stephen never answered the question of why he begrudges the Jewish people the right to declare even a single square inch of their ancient homeland to be theirs.

  • Note again how Stephen has failed to respond to pertinent historical questions relating to the decades prior to the establishment of the state of Israel.

    Not a peep out of him on why he sides with Arab rejectionists who refused to let the Jews have a single square inch of sovereignty over their ancient homeland without a fight….even when Britain and later the UN gave the Arabs upwards of 90% of original Palestine.

    Why does Stephen support the kind of ideological and political fanaticism that wouldn’t even let the Jews have 10% of what itself was a sliver of their original homeland?

  • RNS is censoring my posts under my own name now in accordance with Zionists protecting Judaism’s racist core that propels Israeli Jews to genocide Palestinian society. Atheists and Jews can post their opinions but a Celestial Torah Christian cannot post on RNS without being censored if he criticizes Judaism as a Jew. If Jews cannot criticize Judaism, who can? You all lose religious freedom America protects by allowing Jews to control media venues like RNS that is for everyone’s benefit.

    What are you going to do about RNS censorship of anti-Zionist Jewish comments? Anything?

  • Jack, I would be doing it for Stephen, I would be doing it for me. I would like to find more about my ancestors. They even claim to tell you if you have Neanderthal DNA.

  • ‘SO HOW DO you pronounce Isis’ Egyptian name? For, as most people who have had any involvement with Isis know, Isis is what the Greeks called Her. They would have said “Ees-Ees.”

    So, how far away linguistically is Esa from Ees-Ees? Pleeze tell us your definite answer that absolutely establishes that esa cannot be ees-ees in any way even though Isis had more names for her than most any of the other Egyptian gods or goddesses.

  • Well hello Stephen. You may have been born Jewish, but once you accepted Jesus, you stopped being Jewish. I don’t think that you are really Christian either, but I leave that up to Christians to comment on.

    One way to tell the difference between legitimate criticism of Israel and antisemitism is when the commenter veers off into antisemitic stereotypes like Jews supposedly controlling media venues like RNS. That is classic antisemitism.

  • That’s hardly the issue with Stephen, since he is not a Christian, either. As I’ve noted, he’s neither…..his Gnostic beliefs are completely incompatible with any historical form of Christianity as well as anything recognizably Jewish.

    As for the difference between legitimate criticism of Israel vs. anti-Semitism, Natan Sharansky’s three-D test of a decade ago still works.

    The first “d” is demonization — making the state of Israel the embodiment of all evil.

    The second “d” is that of “double standards” — criticizing Israel selectively while giving other nations a pass.

    And the final “d” is that of de-legitimization — completely denying the legitimacy of Israel, not just criticizing particular policies it pursues.

    Based on this three-D test, Stephen is anti-Semitic.

  • I said not a word about Sand or his findings, Stephen. I was focused on your particular criticism of the Bible, both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. I noted how you were slavishly following long-discredited views that were based on embarrassingly faulty methodologies that violate the basic canons of historiography. In other words, you’re clueless on the key issue of burden of proof, and hence how one goes about proving or disproving Biblical claims — or any other claims — on historical matters.

    As for the genetic issues, you’re the one making the claims that Jews aren’t really Jews….for the sole reason of stripping away the claims of the Jewish people to their homeland. Then when Jews defend themselves by showing genetic evidence to the contrary, you turn around and say genetics don’t matter after all, because that would give you a right to Finland and so on. You conveniently change the rules when you’re losing the game.

    So the question, Stephen, is what really matters? I say what matters is the evidence across Jewish culture, religion, and history that even after the people of Israel were forcibly ejected 20 centuries ago by the Romans from their homeland, they never relinquished either their claims to their land or their yearning to return to the land. Moreover, Jerusalem, which was long the symbol of that land, continued to have a Jewish population for that entire two-millennia period.

    Given their undeniable historical connection to it and the evidence from their history, culture, and literature that they never gave up claim to it, but continued to hold it dear to their hearts and minds, there is no rational reason to insist they have no right to sovereignty over even a single square inch of their land.

    Only an ideological fanatic would deny them any right to any of it. Only a person who cares more about their own theories and ideas than about real people and real lives would side with the old Arab rejectionists on that score. Only a person who hates Jews or is completely indifferent to them as real people rather than stick figures could possibly side with those who would lock all of them out of their own land if he had the chance.

  • Stephen, you weren’t “censored;” your posts were simply marked as “low quality” by the editors. (They can still be read by clicking onto the requisite link next to the designation.) It probably is because so many of them are non sequiturs — rather than responding to the article posted, they’re advertisements for you and your particular belief system and attacks on Judaism, Christianity, Zionism, and atheism even in instances where these had little or nothing to do with the article. In one instance, a rabbi wrote a piece and your response was to attack the rabbi and Judaism personally rather than deal with the substance of his writing.

    I suspect that if your posts bore more of a relationship to articles and the subjects they raise, you’d be in better shape.

  • Stephen, unless you have expertise in genetics that you can demonstrate, I have no reason to accept your assumptions on anything to do with genetics. You are the one who is cheating as far as I can see. You just belittle anyone who disagrees with you, but you have no expertise on genetics. Your comments are not backed up by real science. Can you quote a real genetic scientist to support you? You haven’t yet.

    Jack is right. Jews have nursed a desire to return to their land for thousands of years. That is real. Jews have remained a people for thousands of years. They have been hated and persecuted, but they remained Jews.

  • Because humans have a finite number of simple sounds to make with our mouths. So humans all over the world make the same sounds, but people in different geographic regions put them together differently and they have different meanings. That’s why English words like “dove,” “ear” and “peel” mean “bear,” “city” and “elephant” in Hebrew, respectively. They have zero to do with each other, aside from superficially sounding the same. In the same geographic regions you have similarities, and that’s how you get language groups, like Semitic. That’s why “ben” in Hebrew and “bin” or “ibn” in Arabic both mean “son.” Yes, Isis and Issa sound alike – IN ENGLISH. Not in Greek and not in Arabic. It’s not that it’s impossible for Hebrew or Arabic to borrow from Greek. Hebrew does it with words like “afikoman” [“epikomion”] for the dessert at the Passover seder, or “apikoros” [heretic, from Epicurus]. Islam calls the Gospels al-Injil from euangelion, the good message. These are documentable by people who know what they’re talking about. It’s a far cry from making stuff up as you go along.