What Would Jesus Do–About Israeli Apartheid?
Tonight is Christmas eve. I read a tweet by a Palestinian which likened Jesus to contemporary Palestinians. But then I recalled that Jesus was Jewish (not Palestinian), a native son of Nazareth. As a Jew, how would he react to today’s Israeli apartheid?
We have an excellent historical example to guide us. More than anything, Jesus hated corruption and injustice. More than anything, he sided with the weak and powerless. Remember the episode with the moneylenders in the Temple? He became so outraged that he attacked them. cast over their tables and stalls, and drove them from the Temple.
So how would he react to Israeli apartheid? How would he react to his fellow Jews cutting down Palestinian women, old men and children? We’ve already seen he was not averse to sharply criticizing his fellow Jews when they strayed from the path of righteousness. Nor were his predecessors, the Biblical Prophets. You already know the answer. Jesus would go head-to-head with the oppressors. He would denounce them with righteous fury.
While today’s Israel would not crucify Jesus, the Shin Bet would definitely haul him in for questioning and warn him that his actions constituted “incitement.” That they stirred up trouble among Palestinians. It’s terribly inconvenient when a Jew defends a Palestinian. Gives them all the wrong ideas. The authorities might even get a judge to issue an order prohibiting him from entering the West Bank. Even from his birthplace, Bethlehem.
On this day of the Prophet’s birth, Christians (and humans) should be comforted, as Judeo-fascists rampage across the West Bank destroying precious Palestinian farmland, slaughtering farm animals and ramming cars into old women, that Jesus would be with them. Jesus the Jew. The uncompromising Jew. The Jew for justice. He would cast his lot with those suffering. He would suffer with them. He would tell them that God was with them no matter how much suffering Israel inflicted on them.
Merry Christmas. Eid Milad Majid.
NOTE: I posted a link to this post in the Reddit r/religion sub-group. It was removed by the moderator, who called it “hatemongering.” Apparently, religion and politics do not mix, and even when a post deals with human suffering, it isn’t compatible with religion.
19 thoughts on “What Would Jesus Do–About Israeli Apartheid? – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Richard, If any of what I’m saying here violates the comment rules like being off subject, you are welcome to delete whatever part does or all of this comment.
I’m for making Christmas a Jewish holiday just based on that Christ was a Jew and minus the resurrection, the buying of presents, trees and all the commercialism. He was a radical left-wing rabbi and like a Martin Luther King of his time, and can be celebrated for that. Maybe I can get something going on that.
I can’t speak to how theologically sound that idea is in Jewish terms. But, if you did have such a holiday it wouldn’t be in December.
Having Christmas at this time of year is a result of missionaries in norther Europe co-opting the pagan year end festival. This is also the reason why a lot of older churches are built on pagan holy sites. The idea was to use places and times that were already associated with the divine.
I can’t cite the sources but I understand contemporary records of the census would suggest Jesus was actually born in the summer.
A difficult question to answer insofar as Rome was sovereign at that time and ruled over many different peoples living in Judaea at that time.
@ Nate: Many different peoples living in Judea? Really? Like whom aside from Jews?
“What would Jesus have done..”
@Richard: interesting idea; food for thought.
Angry Jesus fashioning a whip and whipping cattle, sheep, merchants and moneylenders in order to stop oppression?
I’m no expert, Richard, but I’d be inclined to think that Jesus was strictly reacting to temple defilement in this instance, and not to a broader consideration like men oppressing one another.
@ Kareem: Are you saying there’s something wrong with a person resisting evil and oppression with force? But note, Jesus never resisted in any way that wounded or killed anyone. Which is more than I can say for the Saduccees and Sicarii zealots of that era who oppressed their fellow Jews (in the case of the first) or murdered them (in the case of the second).
There is clearly no distinction made between defiling the Temple and the issue of social justice (or as you called it “men oppressing one another”) in Jesus’ view and the view of the Prophetic tradition. Interesting that you would attempt to elide social justice from Judaism when clearly it has always been a key element of Jewish tradition.
From just war to Crusades to executing heretics, Jesus’ action in the temple has provided fuel for righteous violence and killing. John 2:13-25 has played and continues to play a role in Christianizing violence of all sorts.–‘Violence, Nonviolence and the Temple Incident in John 2:13-15’. Andy Alexis-Baker, Biblical Interpretation 20 (2012) 73-96.
The original Greek text is actually a model for non-violence, where Jesus doesn’t beat anyone, and takes care to drive out the animals in order to save their lives. (See, above).
The fact that Jesus deliberately refrains from overturning caged pigeons shows his carefulness with the animals.
Thankfully, some newer translations such as the NRSV and NIV have translated the text more accurately, which will hopefully begin to counteract 1,500 years of abusing this passage.
@ Kareem: And just how precisely is Jesus responsible for what Paul turned it into decades, if not centuries after he died? How is Jesus responsible for the Crusades? Was there anything he taught his followers that justified mass slaughter? Or hatred of non-Christians?
Of course Jesus was careful not to harm animals. How had pigeons ever engaged in oppression and violence against humans? Of course, with money lenders and other miscreants, his views were quite different.
And now you’ve become a New Testament scholar, eviscerating the figure of Jesus & telling us how to accurately interpret and translate Christian Biblical passages and traditions. First you’re a Hasbara apologist and now a scholar of early Christianity. What varied talents you possess!
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Brother Caruthers was only quoting the scholar, Andy Alexis-Baker, whose paper, Richard, you’ve obviously not read.
A shame, insofar as Alexis- Baker’s scholarship is highly respected, and oft cited.
Nate: Of course he’s your “brother.” Hasbaroids have to stick together, don’t they?
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As you called Jesus a Prophet, that goes against Jewish tradition. I’m confused since you identify as Jewish, perhaps you can explain.
As I understand, if Christians and Muslims want to follow Jesus or Mohammad that is fine for them, but for us Jews it is not. We only expect the goyim to follow the 7 Noahide Laws.
What would Jesus have done? Here is my take:
More than likely, he would have sided with oppressed Palestinians who desired peaceful co-existence. But he would have roundly denounced Hamaz, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and those who share their ideology which inclues suicide bombings. Jesus would have denoucned the the corruption of the PA.
He would side with the oppressed you say, but did he side with any non Jews in his time? Would he have sided with the oppressed Romans in Biblical Israel? I doubt it.
Jesus would also side withthe Mizrachim who were expelled from Arab/Muslim lands.
Jesus was a Jewish nationalist. He opposed Roman rule. He supported a Jewish Israel, his followers thought he was the Messiah. The Jewish Messiah.
@ Tiff: The phrasing of your comment clearly indicates you are Orthodox. I am a Jew. But I am not Orthodox. I do not interpret the traditions as you do. Nor do I give you license to interpret them for me. I can do that quite well myself, thank you.
I used the term “Prophet” to show respect to my Christian readers. I do not agree that he was the Son of God as they do. But I certainly understand how his views were prophetic for Christians.
How do you, an Orthodox Jew, tell us what Jesus would do, say or think? Or are you closer to Jesus than you let on? Your rebbe would not approve. Unless of course you’re a Christian evangelical spewing language you learned from your Orthodox Jewish friends.
BTW, Jesus had little interest in non-Jews. He barely considered the Romans in his teachings. His interests during his life were in reaching out to his Jewish brothers and sisters. So would he have cared more about the corruption of the PA or the corruption of Israeli society? I think we know the answer to that question.
As for Mizrahim, he would have sided with them for sure…and denounced the racism in Israeli society which has dogged Mizrahim for generations.
Jesus was NOT a Jewish nationalist. He did not oppose Roman rule. If he did, he would have been taken up as a hero by those Jews who did rebel against Roman rule. He wasn’t. Nor did Jesus ever say or think that he was the messiah. Much later his disciples put that claim upon him. But he never did.
Don’t come here to spout propaganda without knowing what the hell you’re talking about.
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Portraying Jesus as a Jewish nationalist like Tiff does in his comment is lets say “hard to believe”, a moral reformer of religion and society would be more closer to those stories told to us.
I suppose the faith of the Jesus of today would be the same the original Jesus had to encounter. To be ordered to be killed by the Jewish elite when his influence among to public had/has become somewhat significant.
Would the Jesus of today have watched the Jewish “peace building” efforts, the laughable nowhere leading two states negotiations for 50 years? The wast majority of Jewish moral “guides” the rabbis have approved and even encouraged building the increasingly violent apartheid system and most of tribe members have more or less eagerly participated and benefited in this massive robbery and human rights violence operation as soldiers and settlers.
Surely there are plenty of Jews who had and have condemned what is done towards Palestinians in Israel, but they are tiny majority with no real influence in the events and to the “tribe’s moral”.
What all “Israelis” should remember, that if what happened and is now done in Israel is morally right and “legal”, then treating Jews outside Israel like Palestinians (citizens and occupied slaves) are treated in Israel must also be right when equal laws and moral “rules” are used.
In Islam Jesus or Issa Ibn Maryam is a Prophet too and he’s mentionned various times in the Coran as al-Masih.
Richard, There is no contradiction between Jesus being a Jew and being a Palestinian, they’re not mutually exclusive.
Jesus was born in Roman Palestine and he was Jewish, so he’s a Palestinian Jew.
There were many Palestinian Jews who continuously lived in Palestine for millennia before the establishment of Israel in 1948.
What are your thoughts?
@ Thaer: I’m aware of this. What I meant was distinguishing his religion from that of Palestinian Muslims or Christians. I see all religions in the Holy Land having common bonds that should unite, rather than divide them.
I agree with you and that was mostly the case before Zionism. You probably know more than I do on the topic.
Did you ever write on the Muslim-Jewish relations before Zionism?
Because it’s hard to find a fact-based neutral articles on the topic that haven’t been influenced by Zionism or Radical Islamism.
There were many prominent Jews throughout Islamic history, there were many times when Jews found protection and refuge in Muslim countries especially during the crusades, inquisitions and the Holocaust (Albanian Muslims).
I hope you’ll one day find the time to write on the topic (if you haven’t already), it will be a step in the right direction of healing wounds and rebuilding bridges between the Muslim and Jewish communities all over the world.
Happy New Year Richard. May your year be filled with peace-of-mind, health, wealth, joy and happiness.