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‘This is not OK’: American Jewish students harassed for their support of Israel

Realize Israel @ NYU, a pro-Israel student group at New York University, celebrates Israel Pride Week by inviting passers-by to write what Israel means to them on a Post-it and place it on a designated sign near NYU's campus in New York on March 23, 2017. (Rainmaker Photo/MediaPunch/IPX via AP)

(RNS) — This summer, New York University junior Jordana Meyer posted a photo of women tank drivers in the Israeli army to her Facebook page. The response was swift, and ugly:

“Zionist whore. You and your family should be gassed.”

“You are a terrorist.”

“You are more cruel than the Nazis … ”

In early August, Meyer, who is spending the fall semester studying in London, posted a response:

“The behavior and rhetoric that I and other pro-Israel students have come to accept as normal is absolutely NOT normal. THIS IS NOT OK.”

She went on: “I know that I cannot regard this behavior as representative of an entire group; it is simply not. It is extreme. But it is also far too common to ignore, and met with far too much silence by activists who have no problem speaking out on other issues.”

NYU student Jordana Meyer. Photo courtesy of Jordana Meyer

Jewish students such as Meyer who take pride in their faith, and in their support for Israel, are increasingly at odds with proponents of a movement that has taken root on college campuses known as boycott, divestment and sanctions, often abbreviated as BDS. The movement shuns Israel as a way of pressuring the country to end what it considers the occupation of Palestinian lands.

Some of the anti-Israel agitation takes place on social media, where proponents of Israel are increasingly facing harassment or hostility — sometimes purely political, but as often blatantly anti-Semitic.

But the most recent flare-up is happening in “real life,” as digital natives refer to the offline world: Two instructors at the University of Michigan recently declined to write letters of recommendation for two Jewish students applying to study abroad after learning that their destination was Israel.

Abigail Ingber, a junior at Michigan, asked cultural studies professor John Cheney-Lippold for a letter to study at Tel Aviv University. He initially agreed but later refused when he found out where Ingber wanted to study.

Jake Secker, also junior at Michigan, asked teaching assistant Lucy Peterson to write him a letter for a semester abroad, also at Tel Aviv University. She too agreed, then declined when Secker explained he wanted to study in Israel.

Both the professor and the teaching assistant said they had pledged to boycott Israeli institutions to show solidarity with Palestinians — a method of resistance that has become popular among academic associations that want to support BDS. The American Studies Association, the National Women’s Studies Association and the African Literature Association have all endorsed boycotts of Israeli institutions of higher learning.

The University of Michigan took Ingber’s side, after a group posted her email exchange with the professor on social media. The university disciplined Cheney-Lippold by denying him a merit raise and postponing his sabbatical.

The BDS episode at Michigan comes as a wide range of anti-Semitic attacks has made the start to the 2018-19 school year among the most tumultuous in recent memory.

Earlier this month, flyers blaming Jews for the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh were posted on two University of California campuses, Berkeley and Davis, as well as at Vassar College in New York state.

College and university campuses had 204 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, up from 108 in 2016. Graphic courtesy of ADL

And at Roanoke College in Salem, Va., anti-Semitic flyers posted to utility poles this month were attributed to: “Your Local Stormer Book Club.”

“It’s not unreasonable that Jewish students, like all students, need to feel like they can study and learn in a safe environment on campus,” said Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League. “When you have the kind of vandalism or harassment or propaganda, that can be deeply concerning because they create a climate of fear for Jewish students.”

Greenblatt notes there was an 89 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents reported on college campuses in 2017 over the year prior.

In this climate, even Jewish students who have not personally been harassed by the boycott movement are feeling lonely and isolated.

Jamie Gottlieb, a Jewish studies major at American University in Washington, D.C., said she has begun to self-censor herself when she’s with friends who differ with her over support for the Jewish state.

“I hold back from expressing different political views I have, or different parts of my identity, because it makes other people uncomfortable because they have conflicting feelings about Israel,” she said.

Gottlieb, who plans to study abroad in Israel next semester, said she feels safe at American, one of about 20 universities across the country with a Center for Israel Studies that offers an academic minor. But she notes that American has not entirely escaped unrest. During Gottlieb’s freshman year, a swastika was scrawled on a whiteboard of a classroom. And last year, flyers proclaiming “No More Wars for Israel” were spotted in the School of International Service. The school has also had some racial tension after bananas were found hanging from strings fashioned in the shape of nooses.

The resistance from the Michigan instructors to study abroad programs in Israel, however, is new, and for many students, troubling.

American Lara Alqasem, center, sits in a courtroom before a hearing at the district court in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 11, 2018. The graduate student has been held in detention at the country’s international airport since Oct. 2, 2018, over allegations that she promotes a boycott against the Jewish state. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Evan Weis of Indiana University said the experience of studying history and archaeology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem has been “difficult but worthwhile.”

“It forces you to confront your beliefs and re-evaluate them from new perspectives,” he said. “I will always support Israel’s right to exist but am not afraid to openly criticize the Israeli government when it acts in a way I don’t agree with.”

A total of 728 U.S. students came to study at Hebrew University during the 2017-2018 school year. Tel Aviv University drew about 1,000, as did other universities and colleges. Not all are Jewish, and certainly not all are supportive of Israel.

Lara Alqasem, a 22-year-old Floridian who was denied entry into Israel to begin her studies for a master’s degree at Hebrew University, is taking her appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court. Alqasem, whose father is of Palestinian heritage, has been detained at Ben-Gurion Airport since Oct. 2 over allegations that she is an anti-Israel boycott activist.

Last year, Israel’s Knesset passed a law that bars any foreigners who have publicly expressed support for boycotting Israel from entering the country.

American students studying in Israel said they wrestle with their own criticism of the government policies daily.

Itai Weiss. Photo courtesy of Itai Weiss

“Israel is a beautiful country, not perfect, but no country is perfect,” said Itai Weiss, an Californian pursuing a master’s in government, diplomacy and conflict resolution at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv. “To really understand Israel and all the nuance, you need to be here on the ground.”

Many American Jewish students said they don’t understand the singular focus on Israel when many other countries have worse civil rights and humanitarian problems.

And they say they are willing to engage with legitimate criticism of Israel. But they argue the BDS movement has become so virulently anti-Israel that many deny the right of the state to exist.

“At the end of the day, we all believe Israel has a right to exist,” said Adela Cojab, a Jewish Latina senior at NYU who founded the group Realize Israel to push back against BDS. “That’s so second nature to me. It sounds silly even saying it out loud.”

More recently, Cojab said, strained campus politics over Israel have devolved to where students and faculty want not only to boycott Israel but also organizations that affiliate with Israel, including her own.

Meyer, the NYU student who posted the photo of the Israeli women soldiers, wrote that she’s not giving up.

“I made a conscious decision to publicly refuse to apologize for my pride in and love for my people,” Meyer wrote. “Nobody should be made to feel like they cannot be proud of where they come from.”

(Yonat Shimron reported from North Carolina. Michele Chabin reported from Jerusalem.)

About the author

Yonat Shimron

Yonat Shimron is an RNS National Reporter and Senior Editor.

About the author

Michele Chabin

76 Comments

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  • But it can be asserted in ways that are antisemitic. Merely replacing “Jew” with “Zionist” is often a fig leaf.

  • So let me hear someone blame the right on this. This is nothing more than another case of liberal thugs brainwashed into thinking Israel is the oppressor, while Palestinians are the victims. They don’t want to see that every concession Israel makes in good faith to repair relations is met with Palestinian leaders reneging on their part.

  • If the pro-Israel students are silent about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, they deserve scorn. As long as the law is not broken.

  • No. The students who are pro-Israel do NOT deserve scorn. Anti-Semitism is never acceptable. However, if they understood and accepted more of the uncomfortable facts about the oppression of Palestinians, they might have a greater insight into why so many people, including many Jews, have grave concerns about Israeli policies.

    Jewish Voice for Peace https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org also supports BDS. https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/boycott-divestment-and-sanctions/jvp-supports-the-bds-movement/ This demonstrates that there is not just one Jewish position on Israel, or anything else, for that matter.

  • Greenblatt notes there was an 89 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents reported on college campuses in 2017 over the year prior.

    Perhaps that’s because Trump gave them permission crawl out from under their rocks when he said that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the nei-nazi parade in Charlottesville last year.

  • Well, I love Israel. I have time for Jews/Israelis who are nice people just as I have time for nice Arabs, though nice Arabs are increasingly hard to find when they follow the Quran.

    The moment Israel were to pull down the barriers the Arabs would kill them because killing infadels is at the very core of the religion of Islam.

    Don’t let MBS fool you Israel for he will make you his slave and begin the holocaust all over again.

  • That’s because left-wing Socialist Democrat Anti-fa nutcases were all over college campuses in 2017 as a result of the Resistance and believe Eric Holder and Hillary Clinton gave them specific permission to punch, kick, and be uncivil since.

  • College campuses- home to higher education and the free exchange of ideas – NOT.
    Welcome to the world of conservative students over the past 30+ years. Attacked at every turn and not welcome (except to pay outrageous student fees to support social engineering student groups).
    The open-minded liberals on campus (professors, students and administrators) are only open minded when you agree with their socialist drivel.
    I would bet spuddies life that the BDS is made up of a bunch of Israel hating liberals, anti-semites, ANTIFA wanna be’s and the like.
    Groupthink if there ever was any.

  • I gotta’ tell ya’ – as a former infantryman, there is something extremely attractive about a chick that can drive a tank.
    Some of the guys on these pages know what I mean. :).

  • About 40% of the world’s Jewish people are in the United States, about 40% are in Israel, and the remainder are smaller populations in dozens or countries. I have wondered, after WWII, why America did not seek to make itself the homeland for all or nearly all of these folks. What works for 40% would work for 80% and the land area of Israel is roughly 3% of Texas. Instead, we have a very, very contentious situation which results in a more-or-less permanent state of war between Israelis and Palestinians. What purpose is served by this?

  • “The behavior and rhetoric that I and other pro-Israel students have come to accept as normal is absolutely NOT normal. THIS IS NOT OK.”
    “I made a conscious decision to publicly refuse to apologize for my pride in and love for my people. Nobody should be made to feel like they cannot be proud of where they come from.”

    Now you know how LGBTQ+ people feel.

  • Israel’s government is certainly ripe for criticism, like all governments. But in supporting BDS one cannot avoid the fact that Omar Barghouti, who founded the movement, is indeed a raging anti-Semite who has all but called for the destruction of Israel, and makes no distinction between ‘Zionist’ and ‘Jew’.

  • Since the other party tried to lynch Clarence Thomas 27 years ago, that dog won’t hunt.

    The other party is the party of the “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” theory.

    In fact if you were looking for scapegoats, you would not have to look further than Trump’s predecessor, who surrounded himself with bigots like Eric Holder who fanned the flames of identity politics.

    No, it is not attributable to the party of Trump.

  • Dumbazz bigot doesn’t realize Israel has a rather sizable Arab population. Since inception of the nation no less.

  • Palestinians are Semites. Those “anti-semitic” incidents are actually anti-Zionist incidents. The only reason Jews were in Palestine in the first place is because they invaded it millenia ago. Now, the Zionists have been engaging in a creeping invasion of Palestine since the mid-1880s.

  • Nope. Jerusalem is just being used as a pretext for extremists on both Israeli and Palestinian sides for continuing a conflict which has lost all steam. It is a symptom, not a cause.

    Palestinians have no realistic claim to East Jerusalem. Ramallah has been the de facto capital of the Fatah Palestinians since 1967. No reason it shouldn’t be the de jure capital. Israel reunited Jerusalem fair and square it is theirs. The only people who had a claim to the territory were the Jordanians it was taken from.

    Israel’s settlement of the West Bank is pointless, counterproductive, and a waste of IDF resources to defend.

    The only solution involves 2 states and friendly diplomatic/economic ties between them.

  • Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    “The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother’s womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. “

  • Yes, I know. Those “certain groups” elected Donald Trump in America—but none of this particularly coincides with the beliefs of the Jewish people in Israel.

  • I absolutely love these discussion boards. Gives me lots of fodder for illustrating the intolerance, irrationality, hyper-emotionalism, and hatred of the left.

  • Most American Jews, including myself, have grave concerns about Israeli policies. But they have little interest in joining fringe anti-Israel groups like JVP.

  • America of the mid-1940s was not exactly the most hospitable place to Jews and I doubt anyone would be keen on setting aside land. You think Israel’s small compared to Texas? Try comparing it to the Arab nations that surround it, even excluding Egypt and Jordan with whom it has signed peace treaties. Now add in non-Arab Muslim countries like Iran that have sworn to its destruction. And you have a problem with the Jews wanting a place there?

  • Except it is when BDS is only against Israel and ignores the far worse atrocities of other countries. BDS specifically targets the only Jewish country in the world while ignoring the Christian, Islam, and nonreligious ones. Wheres the BDS movement against China? They’re literally putting muslims in reeducation camps.

  • What’s the point if your comment? Did you know that Judaism is the queerest religion? If you pick a random Jew they’re twice as likely to be queer as if you just picked any american. Plus theres the face that if you take the sum of human history then the Jews are the absolute most oppressed people. So yes. They already know that shit.

  • Or we could just admit that all sides are antisemitic and DEAL WITH IT rather than squabbling about who is the worst.

  • And any BDS activist not preaching BDS against China deserves scorn. In fact, let’s expand this further. Any person who is silent about anything that even tangentially relates to them deserves scorn. That good enough for you?

  • Well it’s not really a pretext on the Israeli side. When Jordan had control of the Old City they didn’t allow Jews to visit the Western Wall. Israel will never allow that to happen again as long as it exists.

  • Well it depends on if you see the Torah as any type of historical document. Plus it honestly doesn’t matter to many religious people if the people outlined existed. Parables are valuable teaching tools even if they are fiction.

    But you also can’t hold religion up to the same scrutiny as science. Hold it up to the same scrutiny as any account of history at the most.

  • Stop trying to change the colloquial meaning of the word. Antisemitism has always meant anti Jewish.

    And a millenia ago was 1000 CE. The Jews were actually a tribe of caananites and are indigenous to the land going back thousands of years.

  • Not on this forum, apparently. Homophobes and transphobes are allowed to run rampant around here all the time, and I’m sick and tired of it.

  • I don’t “have a problem” with Jews at all. In the last election, 71% of the Jewish voters in this country joined me in rejecting the crazy Trumpism. I appreciated that. This was while 81% of Evangelicals went the other way and shunted our whole nation off to meanness.

    I’ve come to realize that the best way to treat the Jewish question and Israeli question is to suggest we would rather be kind and welcoming to those who are HERE, to offer this people a safe place HERE, a life HERE, a future HERE. We Americans are not called to be Zionists. Seriously, we are not. We are called to be hosts, kindly welcoming hosts to those who want to assimilate here. We got 40%, for goodness sakes, and most of them are not itching to leave here for there. Why are we “supporting” a contentious state of war somewhere else when our calling was to simply open the doors to people horribly mistreated in Europe?

  • Jordan isn’t the only nation to deny Jews the right to worship as toward the end of the British mandate over Palestine, the Brit’s wouldn’t allow the Jews fleeing Europe post war to enter the land, which effectively prevented Jews from worshiping at their holy sites.

    A friend (he’s about 73 y.o. now) of mine had an uncle who was a British officer stationed at the King David Hotel when the irgun, –yeah, I think it was the Irgun, not the other militant Jewish group the ‘hagannah’, if I remember their name correctly– bombed the hotel. My Friend’s uncle survived the blast but he’s the officer whose pet dog was famously killed in the blast along with all the human victims.

    I think that if the British had have just let the Jews in en masse, so much would have gone down differently. The Brits were clinging to the old Sykes-Picot agreement in a bid to hang onto empire… radical Jews re-invented guerilla bombing as way to remove those unwanted overlords.

    Anyway, good point Arix re Jordan though honestly, I wouldn’t waste time on spuddie as he’s not going to admit he’s wrong and will ignore facts to maintain his fragile ego.

  • “Anti-semitism” means “against Semites”. Palestinians are Semitic people. The term “anti-semite” was invented in 1879 by the German agitator Wilhelm Marr. He was Jewish, an Atheist and a Communist who later renounced anti-Semitism. The term came to be used by Zionists to a ploy to eliminate the Palestinian people from participation in their own country and to mute objections to the Zionist invasion of Palestine. It is similar to the tactic employed by the phrase “a land without people for a people without land” that promoted the start of the current Zionist invasion of Palesitine in the 1880s.

    “Millenia” is the plural of “millenium” so it means many thousands of years. Canaanites, is the collective term given to many tribes, one of whom were the Jews who invaded what is now Palestine. Those predatory Jews were defeated, in turn, by the Egyptians, the Philistines, the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Crusaders, and the Ottoman Empire.

    If you want to cede Palestine to the group that has ruled it for the longest time then it should become Egyptian, Italian or Christian.

    Zionists are merely trying to promote a stealth invasion of someone else’s land.

    Incidentally, the only reason that Zionists are in Palestine for the moment is because Chaim Weizmann invented a process for producing acetone which, in turn, was need to produce cordite gunpowder for British field weapons in WW1.

  • The history of Britain is ignored far too much in my opinion. They instituted aparthied against the Jews with the White Paper of 1939 and then sent holocaust victims to internment camps on Cyprus when they tried to find refuge in Israel after the war. The British have some of the worst history of discrimination and violence and yet they’re somehow saints now and “better”. Everything that’s happened with Labour shows they aren’t better in the least.

  • Ah so you blame the Jews for their own persecution. The term antisemitism was used to replace the term judenhass or jew hate. Yes the very first use of the term was not but every other use after was. Hence why I said the colloquial meaning used for over a hundred years. It was literally used by the Nazi party.

    You’ve got your history wrong. The Jewish religion and the Hebrew people evolved on that land. They did not invade. The God of the Hebrews is traced back to the Caananitr pantheon.

    Israel was founded by Jews and Jews are indigenous to the land. Every single major city in Israel was founded by Jews.

    Some guy figuring out how to produce acetone has nothing to do with Israel existing.

  • Your denial doesn’t change the facts. Jews are not indigenous, they are and were invaders. “Israel” is just another attempt by Zionists to invade another people’s land. It won’t last.

    Interestingly, if it wasn’t for WW1, acetone, and resulting Balfour Declaration (which you may have heard of) the ersatz land of Israel would not exist today.

  • The lack of moderation on this forum tries to ignore and diminish homophobia and transphobia. Sucks, doesn’t it?

  • You may see that as the calling of the United States now, but it was not seen that way after World War II, a war in which the US turned a blind eye at best to the specific suffering of the Jews and other peoples, in favor of its other war aims. A sovereign Jewish homeland is the single best guarantor over time and geopolitical changes of Jewish safety. Yes, the US is a great home for Jews — most of the time, and only if we are ever vigilant.
    Btw, I know you didn’t mean it this way, but the phrase “Jewish question” is highly unfortunate from a historical point of view.

  • I gave actual history. You didn’t. Just because you say it doesn’t mean you’re right.

    Heres a wiki link with sources: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israelites

    Literally the only evidence of your statement is the Torah saying Abraham came from the land of Ur which was in modern day Iraq outside of Canaan. DNA evidence proves you wrong. Archaeology proves you wrong. Even parts of the Torah prove you wrong.

  • No, l did not. Might want to peruse some reviews of rigorous historic testing of books like the bible.

  • I have. Probably more than you. Judaism actually has a lot of historical backing since Judaism is more than just “Santa claus syndrome” and includes ancestor worship backed up by archeology.

    Also, you showed you know very little about Judaism. Even if Abraham and Moses didn’t exist it doesn’t destroy Judaism. Especially Abraham. If it’s proven Abraham didn’t exist, which is impossible btw, nothing would really change in Judaism. Moses not existing would destroy Orthodoxy but reform would be fine. Passover would have to be changed but it’s already moved somewhat away from the Exodus story in reform circles so it wouldn’t be that big a change. Shavuot would be changed sunve it revolves around Moses getting the Torah but reform doesn’t celebrate it that much anyway since Mosaic authorship of the Torah or Moses being given the Torah at Sinai have evidence directly against them.

    All other holidays are historical or based on God not the patriarchs or events dealing with the patriarchs.

    Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur
    – Based on God, forgiveness, repentance, and becoming a better person

    Sukkot
    -Historical harvest festival

    Chanakah
    -Historical festival of lights
    -Note that the oil lasting eight days myth is less than 200 years old. Historically it celebrated the Maccabees gaining control of the Temple from the Roman’s and a revival of Temple Judaism.

    Purim
    -Historical festival celebrating Queen Ester and the fact that Haman, a politician of Persia, tried to kill all the Jews and failed.

    Passover
    -Exodus from Egypt

    Shavuot
    -Moses being given the Torah at Sinai

    There are also newer holidays celebrating or commemorating more recent historical events like the foundation of modern Israel and the Holocaust. Theres also holidays mourning the loss of the two Temples, and celebrating love similar to valentines day.

  • I am aware that “Jewish question” has a dark history and I probably typed it above as more of a mental slip than intentionally. However, there was such a question and it should have been met with kindness there and kindness here. I don’t know why it wasn’t. The dawn of civil rights and respect for minorities of all kinds which we began to develop in the 1960’s should have happened sooner, IMHO, in Europe and in America.

    Please don’t imagine I am “against Israel” as it stands. History is history. We are where we are. But, in older age, I have developed a skepticism about nations trying to build themselves on particular religions. Our American “Christian” nation is going nuts and mean, because we are now turning away from secularism and strict separation of church and state (the source of “freedom of religion”). Most of the Islamic nations are weird and repressive places. Hinduism is not doing India any favor. And Judaism should not have to retreat to a defensible fortress in order to avoid persecution.

    It’s out of style now, but Robert F. Kennedy quoted George Bernard Shaw’s play and said “I dream of things that never were and ask why not”. I tend to that sort of musing in the comment sections. Why else are we here?

  • Do you realize that you have disagreed with yourself with the Abraham reference. Your Torah reference is self -serving and dismissed.

  • What 1.5 million Conservative Jews and their rabbis concluded? See below:

    New York Times origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

    New Torah For Modern Minds

    “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob·a·bly

    Adverb:

    Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).

    The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was
    later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions — the product of findings by archaeologists digging in
    Israel and its environs over the last 25 years — have gained wide acceptance
    among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these
    ideas or to discuss them with the laity — until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million
    Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and
    commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called ”Etz
    Hayim” (”Tree of Life” in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that
    incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and
    the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it
    represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious
    mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine document. ”

    The notion that the Bible is not literally true ”is more or less settled and
    understood among most Conservative rabbis,” observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at
    Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to ”Etz Hayim.” But some
    congregants, he said, ”may not like the stark airing of it.” Last Passover,
    in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said
    that ”virtually every modern archaeologist” agrees ”that the way the Bible
    describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all.”
    The rabbi offered what he called a ”LITANY OF DISILLUSION”’
    about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological
    lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said,
    archaeologists digging in the Sinai have ”found no trace of the tribes of
    Israel — not one shard of pottery.”

  • You literally just proved my point that the existence of Abraham and Moses isn’t absolutely foundational to Judaism.

  • Except I didn’t. One piece of evidence vs multiple sources of scientific evidence. Jews are indigenous to Israel based on scientific evidence that you have continuously ignored.

  • Orthodox followers would disagree. Then there are all those Yahweh approved atrocities in the OT. And since there was no Adam and Eve, Genesis is all myth. You already noted Exodus is all myth. The Ten Commandments is based on the Egyptian Book of the Dead so it appears the tribe of Scribes were very inventive fellows in the fields of fiction, plagerism and embellishments. Might want to add that as a forward to your Torah.

  • And? Orthodox Judaism is only one form of Judaism.

    It’s illogical to say Adam and Eve didn’t exist actually. Same with all the others in the Torah. It’s impossible to know so saying one way or the other is an illogical and irrational statement.

    Your conclusion that if Adam and Eve are myths all of Genesis is, is also not a valid logical argument. The story of Adam and Eve is only one part of Genesis.

    Source for the ten commandments being from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Back up your assertions please.

    PS. Being myth doesn’t mean having no value anyway. Fables and parables teach important lessons.

  • Many OT, NT and koran thumpers are actually thumping the rules and codes of the
    ancients like King Hammurabi and the Egyptians who wrote the Book of the Dead
    and who did NOT need revelations from angels or mountain voices to develop
    needed rules of conduct for us hominids.

    “Hail to thee, great God, Lord of the Two Truths. I have come unto thee, my Lord,
    that thou mayest bring me to see thy beauty. I know thee, I know thy name, I
    know the names of the 42 Gods who are with thee in this broad hall of the Two
    Truths . . . Behold, I am come unto thee. I have brought thee truth; I have
    done away with sin for thee. I have not sinned against anyone. I have not
    mistreated people. I have not done evil instead of righteousness . . .

    I have not reviled the God.

    I have not laid violent hands on an orphan.

    I have not done what the God abominates . . .

    I have not killed; I have not turned anyone over to a killer.

    I have not caused anyone’s suffering . . .

    I have not copulated (illicitly); I have not been unchaste.

    I have not increased nor diminished the measure, I have not diminished the
    palm; I have not encroached upon the fields.

    I have not added to the balance weights; I have not tempered with the plumb bob
    of the balance.

    I have not taken milk from a child’s mouth; I have not driven small cattle from
    their herbage…

    I have not stopped (the flow of) water in its seasons; I have not built a dam
    against flowing water.

    I have not quenched a fire in its time . . .

    I have not kept cattle away from the God’s property.

    I have not blocked the God at his processions.”

    “The Book of the Dead was written circa 1800 BCE. 2 The Schofield Reference Bible
    estimates that the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt and the provision of the Ten
    Commandments on Mount Sinai occurred in 1491 BCE., some three centuries later. Many
    religious liberals, historians, and secularists have concluded that the Hebrew
    Scripture’s Ten Commandments were based on this earlier document, rather than
    vice-versa.”

  • Israel is becoming an apartheid state. Therefore we should seriously question anyone’s motive who supports such a state. Of course there are plenty of other states we should seriously question support of around the world. The US would be wise to withdraw from all middle eastern countries and let them fight it out until such time as countries are really interested in a multi ethnic and multi religious state with equal rights for all. .

    It is one thing to support your tribe but not at the expense of others.

  • Who is to say what is “Okay” and what is not? is it Okay to be Islamophobic but not Zionist-phobic? Is it okay to be Homophobic but not Heterophobic? who dictates to Americans what subject is okay to criticize and what is not? is that how free speech is exercised?

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