Anti-Semitism

The Koran casts Jews and Christians as allies against Islam, but history tells a different story, now being renewed.

Both Judaism and Islam are Semitic religions, one born of Jews, the other of Arabs, both peoples of the Semitic linguistic and cultural family. Jews, though merely .2% of the world’s population (and only 2% of America’s), remain disproportionately influential. Muslims, 100x more numerous, represent 1 out of 5 human beings. Both are monotheist religions of prophetic sacred law.

I have spent time watching YouTube videos made by Jews for and against other Jews, debating issues within their Semitic religious group. And similarly with Muslims. Sunni vs Shia, Orthodox Muslims vs Nation of Islam, etc.

The similarities between Judaism and Islam are massive. They are far more like each other than either of them is like Christianity. You can find rabbis making that very clear, as the famous rabbi Maimonides did in 13th century Muslim North Africa. He described Islam as a religion far superior to Christianity because it shared the Jewish commitment to absolute monotheism, rejection of images, and prophetic teaching. He did point out though, that Christians were nicer people than Muslims!

The faiths of Moses and of Mohammed remain fully Semitic faiths, one characteristic of which is obsession with traditional and totalizing legal codes which determine all facets of life. Neither Judaism nor Islam are actually focussed on their foreground holy books, the Torah or the Koran. What takes up most of their attention by far is the Jewish Talmud and the Islamic Hadith: both of which are vast repositories of legal opinions and stories, far more determinative of how Judaism and Islam are shaped than the more famous scriptures. Both faiths have “Scripture Only” movements but, unlike Christian Protestantism,  they failed to thrive.

Christianity began with St Paul/St John IMHO as a Hellenization of Judaism and only developed more deeply in that direction over time. Where the Semites are obsessed with nomos, law, the Hellenists are obsessed with logos, meaning. Hence, Christianity developed a massive tradition of doctrine and very little law; the Hebrew and Arab religions are the opposite: thin in theology, robust in legalities.

The Greek foundations of the West (and later the Latin, Celtic, Germanic and Slavic) overtook the Semitic roots of Christianity, making of it a deeply European Gentile faith, quite starkly at odds with its parent religion, most notably in its foundational doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation. One evidence of alienation is that it is held in equal contempt to this day, in the eyes of both Semitic faiths of Judaism and Islam, as abominable idolatry and polytheism.

I no longer use or accept the newly-minted and self-serving term “Judeo-Christian” to describe Western or American culture. The West, American included, was not built by this Frankenstein, but by Christianity, for which Judaism was a rejected and failed alien faith, never a partner.

And for similar reasons, I reject the recent propaganda meme of the “three Abrahamic faiths,” which tries to add Islam to the previous Judeo-Christian house of cards, giving it, along with Judaism, an undeserved legitimacy alongside the only actual religion of the West and its European peoples, the religion that defined it, and defined it against the other two, Christianity: Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Christendom. The result of both these dishonest power-grab phrases is, of course, the minimization and relativization of the Christian faith. A consummation they both devoutly wish.

One of the painful realizations of my later life is that the Jewish-positive attitudes of the post Vatican II Church in which I was theologically educated, and which I fully shared, are entirely unreciprocated. All that cool and friendly attitude did was to weaken Catholicism and to privilege the Jews, whose sorrows in WWII have insulated them from any critique, either trivial or compelling. Indeed, the constant teaching of Christians since the end of the 1st century, that Judaism has been completely transcended and replaced by the Church, has now, in the last ten minutes, been relegated to a shameful and invented “anti-Semitic” ism, “supersessionism” and “replacement theology.” Again, this strengthens Jews and weakens Christians.

Anyway, listening to these Semitic rabbis and imams go back and forth among themselves gives you an insight into religious worlds that you could not otherwise have. And for me, the more I learn, the more my sense of their alienness only grows. For all its Jewish roots of long, long ago, European Christianity subverted much of the Semitism of the original and created, as Jews clearly know, a religious world quite starkly at odds with the faith of Old Israel.

 

 

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