Jizyah for Jews in Jerusalem

The predominantly Christian town of Jifna in Palestinian Authority-controlled Area A of the West Bank was an opening scene from a horror movie in late April 2019. Members of Fatah, the major political party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, stormed into the town firing guns into the air and demanded that the Christian Arabs be forced to pay jizyah, an annual fee which non-Muslims pay to be allowed to live in Muslim-majority lands.


Town of Jifna

The incident is a continuation of the assault on the Christian population in Palestinian Authority-controlled towns and cities since Israel handed some lands to the PA.

Unfortunately, many well known Christian cities in the holy land are no longer Christian.

Nazareth, a city which was once majority-Christian, is now 70% Muslim. The Islamic influence changed things large and small, such as at Mary’s Well, the site where the angel Gabriel came to the Virgin Mary according to Catholic tradition. Until the year 2000, there was a large sign describing the name and Catholic views of the site. The Muslims removed the sign and renamed the location ‘Nazareth Stream’ to remove any Christian orientation.

A similar story played out in Bethlehem, where the Christian population has dropped from around 86 percent in 1950 to just 2 percent today. In Gaza, a rapid Christian exodus is happening post the Hamas takeover, with a decline from 5,000 Christians in 2006 to only 1,100 today.

Meanwhile, in Israel, the Christian population has remained relatively constant at around 2 percent of the overall population, about 165,000 people.

If the Palestinian Authority is given more Israeli territory, what will that mean for the non-Muslim populations? Will Jews and Christians be forced to evacuate their homes either be direct order or discriminatory policies?

What is the going jizyah rate, and when would it be forced upon the Jews and Christians in a PA-controlled Jerusalem?


Related First.One.Through articles:

Palestineism is Toxic Racism

Linda Sarsour as Pontius Pilate

Calls From the Ashes

Jerusalem’s Old City Is a Religious War for Muslim Arabs

The Undemocratic Nature of Fire and Water in the Middle East

25,000 Jews Remaining

Covering Racism

Al Jazeera’s Lies Call for Jihad Against the Jewish State

Palestinian Jews and a Judenrein Palestine

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Religious Countries Respond to Israel’s Jerusalem

The media has focused on US President Trump’s threats to withhold funds from countries that condemned the US for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the announcement that it will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the capital city, as an impetus for some countries to fund in a particular manner. Perhaps it is worth at least discussing – on Christmas Day – the vote on the basis of religion.

There were nine countries that voted against the United Nations General Assembly resolution of condemnation (in other words, supportive of the United States and Israel). They were Christian and Jewish countries:

  • Guatemala: Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Mayan beliefs
  • Honduras: Roman Catholic, Protestant, indigenous Mayan beliefs
  • Israel: Jewish 75.5%, Muslim 16.8%, Christian 2.1%, Druze 1.7%, other 3.9%
  • Marshall Islands: Protestant 54.8%, Assembly of God 25.8%, Roman Catholic 8.4%, Bukot nan Jesus 2.8%, Mormon 2.1%, other Christian 3.6%, other 1%, none 1.5%
  • Micronesia: Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 47%, other 3%
    Nauru: Nauru Congregational 35.4%, Roman Catholic 33.2%, Nauru Independent Church 10.4%, other 14.1%, none 4.5%, unspecified 2.4%
  • Palau: Roman Catholic 41.6%, Protestant 23.3%, Modekngei 8.8% (indigenous to Palau), Seventh-Day Adventist 5.3%, Jehovah’s Witness 0.9%, Latter-Day Saints 0.6%, other 3.1%, unspecified or none 16.4%
  • Togo: Christian 29%, Muslim 20%, indigenous beliefs 51%
  • United States: Protestant 51.3%, Roman Catholic 23.9%, Mormon 1.7%, other Christian 1.6%, Jewish 1.7%, Buddhist 0.7%, Muslim 0.6%, other or unspecified 2.5%, unaffiliated 12.1%, none 4%

There were also thirty-five countries that abstained from the UN vote.

  • Antigua and Barbuda: Anglican 25.7%, Seventh Day Adventist 12.3%, Pentecostal 10.6%, Moravian 10.5%, Roman Catholic 10.4%, Methodist 7.9%, Baptist 4.9%, Church of God 4.5%, other Christian 5.4%, other 2%, none or unspecified 5.8%
  • Argentina: Roman Catholic 92% (less than 20% practicing), Protestant 2%, Jewish 2%, other 4%
  • Australia: Catholic 26.4%, Anglican 20.5%, other Christian 20.5%, Buddhist 1.9%, Muslim 1.5%, other 1.2%, unspecified 12.7%, none 15.3% (2001 Census)
  • Bahamas:
  • Benin: Christian 42.8% (Catholic 27.1%, Celestial 5%, Methodist 3.2%, other Protestant 2.2%, other 5.3%), Muslim 24.4%, Vodoun 17.3%, other 15.5%
  • Bhutan: Lamaistic Buddhist 75%, Indian- and Nepalese-influenced Hinduism 25%
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina: Muslim 40%, Orthodox 31%, Roman Catholic 15%, other 14%
  • Cameroon: indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 40%, Muslim 20%
  • Canada: Roman Catholic 42.6%, Protestant 23.3% (including United Church 9.5%, Anglican 6.8%, Baptist 2.4%, Lutheran 2%), other Christian 4.4%, Muslim 1.9%, other and unspecified 11.8%, none 16%
  • Colombia: Roman Catholic 90%, other 10%
  • Croatia: Roman Catholic 87.8%, Orthodox 4.4%, Muslim 1.3%, Protestant 0.3%, others and unknown 6.2%
  • Czech Republic: Roman Catholic 26.8%, Protestant 2.1%, other 3.3%, unspecified 8.8%, unaffiliated 59%
  • Dominican Republic: Roman Catholic 95%, other 5%
  • Equatorial Guinea: nominally Christian and predominantly Roman Catholic, pagan practices
  • Fiji: Christian 64.5% (Methodist 34.6%, Roman Catholic 9.1%, Assembly of God 5.7%, Seventh Day Adventist 3.9%, Anglican 0.8%, other 10.4%), Hindu 27.9%, Muslim 6.3%, Sikh 0.3%
  • Haiti: Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16% (Baptist 10%, Pentecostal 4%, Adventist 1%, other 1%), none 1%, other 3%
  • Hungary: Roman Catholic 51.9%, Calvinist 15.9%, Lutheran 3%, Greek Catholic 2.6%, other Christian 1%, other or unspecified 11.1%, unaffiliated 14.5%
  • Jamaica: Protestant 62.5% (Seventh-Day Adventist 10.8%, Pentecostal 9.5%, Other Church of God 8.3%, Baptist 7.2%, New Testament Church of God 6.3%, Church of God in Jamaica 4.8%, Church of God of Prophecy 4.3%, Anglican 3.6%, other Christian 7.7%), Roman Catholic 2.6%, other or unspecified 14.2%, none 20.9%
  • Kiribati: Roman Catholic 55%, Protestant 36%, Mormon 3.1%, Bahai 2.2%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.9%, other 1.8%
  • Latvia: Lutheran 19.6%, Orthodox 15.3%, other Christian 1%, other 0.4%, unspecified 63.7%
  • Lesotho: Christian 80%, indigenous beliefs 20%
  • Malawi: Christian 79.9%, Muslim 12.8%, other 3%, none 4.3%
  • Mexico: Roman Catholic 76.5%, Protestant 6.3% (Pentecostal 1.4%, Jehovah’s Witnesses 1.1%, other 3.8%), other 0.3%, unspecified 13.8%, none 3.1%
  • Panama: Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 15%
  • Paraguay: Roman Catholic 89.6%, Protestant 6.2%, other Christian 1.1%, other or unspecified 1.9%, none 1.1%
  • Philippines: Roman Catholic 80.9%, Muslim 5%, Evangelical 2.8%, Iglesiani Kristo 2.3%, Aglipayan 2%, other Christian 4.5%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.6%, none 0.1%
  • Poland: Roman Catholic 89.8% (about 75% practicing), Eastern Orthodox 1.3%, Protestant 0.3%, other 0.3%, unspecified 8.3%
  • Romania: Eastern Orthodox (including all sub-denominations) 86.8%, Protestant (various denominations including Reformate and Pentecostal) 7.5%, Roman Catholic 4.7%, other (mostly Muslim) and unspecified 0.9%
  • Rwanda: Roman Catholic 56.5%, Protestant 26%, Adventist 11.1%, Muslim 4.6%, indigenous beliefs 0.1%, none 1.7%
  • Solomon Islands: Church of Melanesia 32.8%, Roman Catholic 19%, South Seas Evangelical 17%, Seventh-Day Adventist 11.2%, United Church 10.3%, Christian Fellowship Church 2.4%, other Christian 4.4%, other 2.4%, unspecified 0.3%
  • South Sudan: Christianity 60.5%, traditional African religions 32.9%, Muslim 6.2%
  • Trinidad and Tobago: Roman Catholic 26%, Hindu 22.5%, Anglican 7.8%, Baptist 7.2%, Pentecostal 6.8%, Muslim 5.8%, Seventh Day Adventist 4%, other Christian 5.8%, other 10.8%, unspecified 1.4%, none 1.9%
  • Tuvalu: Church of Tuvalu (Congregationalist) 97%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.4%, Baha’i 1%, other 0.6%
  • Uganda: Roman Catholic 41.9%, Protestant 42% (Anglican 35.9%, Pentecostal 4.6%, Seventh Day Adventist 1.5%), Muslim 12.1%, other 3.1%, none 0.9%
  • Vanuatu: Presbyterian 31.4%, Anglican 13.4%, Roman Catholic 13.1%, Seventh-Day Adventist 10.8%, other Christian 13.8%, indigenous beliefs 5.6% (including Jon Frum cargo cult), other 9.6%, none 1%, unspecified 1.3% (1999 Census)

The countries that abstained from the vote were all majority Christian countries. A handful of countries had populations with more than 5% Muslims, including Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Malawi, Philippines, South Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uganda. Only Bosnia and Herzegovina had a Muslim population of over 25%.

Meanwhile, there were 128 countries that voted against the United States and Israel (for the UNGA resolution). Almost all of the 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) voted against the US, with the exceptions of Benin, Cameroon and Togo. Four of the five countries with OIC Observer status also voted against the US.

Why did Muslim countries vote against the United States and Israel, while Christian countries were much more likely to vote for Jerusalem? Some possibilities:

  • Muslim antisemitism: The Arab and Muslim world is much more antisemitic  (74%) than the Christian world according to various polls by the Anti Defamation League. It found that almost every Palestinian Arab was an anti-Semite, and that antisemitism was much less prevalent in the Americas (19%) and among Christians in western Europe (Muslims were 3-5 times more anti-Semitic). Voting against the Jewish state is basically de rigueur in Islamic societies.
  • Jewish and Christian history in Jerusalem: Muslim nations have been lobbying the United Nations for the past several years that Jews are recent colonialist with no history in the holy land and that the Jewish Temples never existed in Jerusalem. Palestinian Arabs have further inflamed Christian ire by claiming that Jesus was not a Jew but a Palestinian Arab. This is a direct affront to billions of Christians that believe in both the Old and New Testaments.
  • Israel’s Freedom of religion. Christians appreciate the freedom of religion afforded by Israel. They note that the Israeli government helped the Mormons build their church in Jerusalem, allow the Baha’i church to thrive in Haifa, and welcome pilgrims from around the world. They note that the surrounding Arab and Muslim countries have no such freedoms and tolerance. Where Muslim fanatics behead non-believers, and Arab and Muslim governments have laws against converting from Islam, Israel is an island of religious pluralism and freedom.
  • Christians in Jerusalem under Arabs and Jews: Christians note that when the Arabs ruled Jerusalem from 1949 to 1967, the Christian population dropped in half, but has seen a modest growth since Israel reunified the city in 1967. That is quite a comparison to Bethlehem, where the Christian population which stood at roughly 40% in December 1995 when Israel handed control to the Palestinian Authority, is now almost completely gone.
  • Access and Maintenance of Holy Sites: Christian pilgrims wander the streets of Jerusalem, Nazareth and the entirety of Israel every day of the year, and witness Jews and Muslims similarly accessing their holy places. But they remember clearly how Palestinian Arabs ransacked the Jewish holy site of Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus (Shechem) in October 2000 and attempted to convert it into a mosque, and how the Arabs forbade Jews from visiting the Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs in Hebron and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem when they held control from 1949 to 1967.

The situation in Israel is not unique. Christians have witnessed the horror that has befallen minorities like the Yazidis who have been hunted by Islamic jihadists. They see the turmoil and terror in the Islamic countries of Syria and Yemen. And they note the Christian persecution in the world is almost exclusively in Muslim majority countries.


ADL’s map of antisemitism

The Christians appreciate Israel’s control of Jerusalem. Whether it is because of their faith, understanding of history, appreciation of tolerance, desire for the freedom of religious practice, or the availability to live and access holy sites, Christians see holy sites and cities flourish under Israeli sovereignty and control. Unfortunately, the opposite is found in Arab and Muslim countries.

The Muslim nations seek complete authority and control. The notion of Jewish or Christians rights in their holy city of Jerusalem is irrelevant, and undermines the supremacy of Islam.


Various Pilgrims in the Old City of Jerusalem
(photos: First.One.Through)

As the world becomes less reliant on oil from the Arab world, one can expect more Christian countries to actively support Israel’s Jerusalem on the world stage.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Christian Persecution in the Middle East, not in Israel

Israel, the Liberal Country of the Middle East

Murderous Governments of the Middle East

Every Picture Tells a Story: No Christians Targeted

The United Nations and Holy Sites in the Holy Land

The Arguments over Jerusalem

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Every Picture Tells a Story: No Christians Targeted

A horrific terrorist attack on a Coptic Church in Cairo Egypt killed dozens on December 11, 2016. The coverage in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal could not have been more different, and underline an ongoing difference between the two papers: the WSJ does not shy away from telling its viewers about radical Muslims targeting Christians and Jews in the Middle East, while the NYT would rather minimize that story, and highlight the Muslims are also victims in the wave of jihadists.

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Cover of The Wall Street Journal
December 12, 2016

The cover page of the WSJ had a single large color photograph of the carnage in Cairo. The boldface title of the picture read” “Bombing in Cairo Kills Dozens of Christians, Mostly Women.”  The caption continued: “Targeted: A nun surveys a church attached to Cairo’s Coptic cathedral, where at least 25 were killed in a bombing on Sunday. A8” The paper did not seek to place the blame on radical Muslims on the cover, but it did make clear that Christians were specifically targeted in the attack.

Now consider the coverage in the Times.

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Cover of The New York Times
December 12, 2016

The main picture on the NYT cover page was about discrimination against poor people. It was part of a multi-day story of the Times about injustices faced by people of color and the indigent.  The smaller picture on the bottom of the page discussed how ISIS marked up the pages of children’s books, presumably of Muslim children. There was no coverage of the attack on the Christian community in Egypt.

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Page A4 in the Times, December 12, 2016

The Times did cover the story in the middle of the paper. On page A4 there was a copy of the same picture that the Wall Street Journal posted in color on the front page. However, the Times posted it in black-and-white.  The Times shrunk the picture to such a level, that it was almost hard to notice it compared to the giant picture of Nigerian refugees (people of color) in the middle of the page. The headline of the bombing attack did state that the “Bombing Targets Egypt’s Christian Minority,” however, it is a question of whether anyone would pause to read the article compared to the prominent article on the page “Niger Feels Ripple Effect of Boko Haram.

The Times coverage of world affairs follows a familiar pattern: Christians and Jews do suffer, but hardly as much as Muslims and people of color. Racism and Islamophobia are the themes of the Times. Do not get distracted by tinges of hatred of Christians and Jews. To do so, would be to invert victim and perpetrator.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Every Picture Tells a Story- Whitewashing the World (except Israel)

Every Picture Tells a Story: The Invisible Murdered Israelis

Every Picture Tells A Story: Only Palestinians are Victims

Every Picture Tells a Story: Versions of Reality

Every Picture Tells a Story: Arab Injuries over Jewish Deaths

NY Times Discolors Hate Crimes

The New York Times Thinks that the Jews from Arab Countries Simply “Immigrated”

Every Picture Tells a Story: Goodbye Peres

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The End of Together

Over July 24-6, 2014, a chapter of religious pluralism ended in the city of Mosul, Iraq and its sister city across the Tigris, the ancient city of Ninveh. The Islamic militants of ISIS forced out all of the Christians, and blew up the Tombs of Seth (son of Adam and Eve) and of the Prophet Jonah.

Jonah

Jonah was the last prophet considered holy to each of the monotheistic religions. His story was unusual in several respects which enabled him to capture the imagination and dreams of Christians, Muslims and Jews.

Thousands of years ago, Judaism was the only monotheistic religion. The people in the Middle East practiced a variety of religions and worshiped many gods. The non-Jews were not particularly interested in the Hebrew Bible, and the Bible – seemingly – did not address them. The prophets in the Old Testament almost universally addressed the Jews: the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

That held true until Jonah. Jonah was given an unusual task by God: leave the land of Israel and go to a far away land because the people there did not behave properly:

Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim against it;
for their wickedness is come up before Me.

The story of what comes next is famous. Jonah fled from God and boarded a ship that was tossed in a storm. The sailors reluctantly threw Jonah overboard to appease his angry God whereupon Jonah was swallowed by a big fish. After three days, the fish vomited him onto land to fulfill his task of admonishing the people of Ninveh. The people of Ninveh – including the king- took Jonah’s words to heart, repented, and all was forgiven.

The story of Jonah has many messages. The Jewish rabbis consider them so important that the only time the story is read in synagogue is on the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur. The lessons of Jonah include that:

  • Repentance through prayer and action can save a great city (Ninveh) and a lone individual (Jonah in the fish);
  • It is not sufficient for Jews to only be concerned with the welfare of their people, but must work to help others as well;
  • A person should not run from a divine mission;
  • God is everywhere, and you cannot hide from Him

For Christians, the story of Jonah is not just about prayer and repentance, but about rebirth. They consider the story of Jonah’s reemergence from the great fish after three days as a precursor to the resurrection of Jesus.

For Muslims, Jonah was the only one of the twelve minor prophets mentioned in the Koran. Mohammed was said to recognize the holiness of Jonah and referred to Ninveh as “the city of Jonah”.

Three monotheistic religions embraced the mission of a man who (perhaps reluctantly) tried to help other people change their ways, while not trying to make them change their religion.


Religions in Modern Iraq

When Iraq became an independent state in 1932, roughly 120,000 Jews lived in the country comfortably. However, when the UN voted to partition Palestine in 1947, the Iraqi government and people turned on the Jews. Pogroms and public hangings became celebrated events. Operation Ezra & Nechemia from 1949 to 1951 got most of the Jews out of the country, with the balance leaving over the 1960s and 1970s. Almost no Jews remain today.

The Christian community in Iraq extends back roughly 1600 years, before the founding of Islam. As recently as 2003, the number of Christians in the country numbered about 1.5 million. However, the numbers declined rapidly during the US-Iraq war. In 2014, ISIS took over much of the country and actively pushed to remove Christians. In Mosul, the Christian community was given a choice that had historically been put before Jews in various countries over the past 1000 years: convert; pay a huge tax; or be killed. There may only be 100,000 Christians left in the country by the end of 2014.

ISIS belongs to the Salafi movement of Islam which is against the worship of the dead, and therefore opposes the use of tombs as shrines. They have destroyed many tombs of Muslim leaders, in addition to those that are important to Jews and Christians. They razed the tomb of Seth, the fifth person created in the Bible (not as famous as his siblings Cain and Abel) for the same reason. They are also slaying fellow Muslims who practice differently by the thousands.


Religions- God and Practice

During the time of Jonah, most people believed in many Gods. When Jonah addressed the sailors on the ship and the king of Ninveh, they readily accepted the words of the Jewish God – not exclusively- but alongside the other Gods they worshiped. Their openness to various Gods let them listen and pray openly together. Such receptiveness to a new God was not universal as demonstrated by the Greeks and Romans who defiled the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem centuries later.

As new monotheistic religions emerged – first Christianity and then Islam – that openness was further challenged. As each religion accepted a single God, the uniqueness of each religion became based on either: 1) unique Gods; or 2) the same God, but with a different set of practices. If the Gods were different, then only one religion could be correct. If the religions had the same God, then distinction between them was based on the method of worship and priorities.

Religious scholars debate whether the monotheistic religions all believe in the same God, just with different names and observances. In practice, the religions have battled each with the fervor of unique Gods for centuries: Muslim invasions; Christian Crusades; enforced Inquisitions. Religious wars scar most of mankind’s history.

For Muslims, it has been intra-religious battles that have been the bloodiest. Since 1948, 90% of all deaths in wars involving Muslim countries have been at the hands of other Muslim countries. In 2014, ISIS killed many more Muslims than other religious groups, and Syrian President Assad killed many more Muslims than people of other faiths. The peculiarities of practice position the battle lines.


The Demise of the Shared

July 2014 yielded a sad watershed moment. The Tomb of Jonah, whom Jews, Christians and Muslims all revered as a religious leader, was demolished. The Tomb of Seth, for whom Bible believers consider a common forbear, was destroyed. In a single week, religious fanatics dismantled physical and metaphysical symbols that united the three monotheistic faiths. If the religions shared a common God, they had a common prophet. If they had different Gods, they still had the same forbears. The tombs were not just shrines to the ancients; they were opportunities for Jews, Christians and Muslims to meet and re-establish their common bonds today. No longer.

Thousands of years ago, a Jew left his homeland to help non-Jews. He did not seek to convert or change their methods of worship, just to pass along a message from God to end evil behavior. He became a celebrated hero to billions of people of different faiths and different practices. As recently as 70 years ago, Jews, Christians and a variety of Muslims (including Sunni and Shiites) prayed together at the tomb of this common hero. But the advance of bigotry consumed them: first they got rid of the Jews, then the Christians. Now they are ridding fellow Muslims.  God’s message through Jonah of reaching out to “others” has been replaced by man’s effort to destroy the “others”.  Perhaps that was the original wickedness of Ninveh 2600 years ago.


Part of the magic of the story of Jonah was that there were no casualties: Jonah; the city of Ninveh and all of its inhabitants; the sailors; and even the fish, all escaped harm.

In today’s dark reality, we may marvel more at that part of the legend and forget what we all have lost.


Sources:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/07/25/after-leveling-iraqs-tomb-of-jonah-the-islamic-state-could-destroy-anything-in-the-bible/

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1701.htm

http://www.newsweek.com/isis-destroys-shiite-mosques-and-shrines-iraq-257683

http://www.jewsnews.co.il/2014/07/25/muslims-just-made-history-in-mosul-killing-and-exiling-every-last-christian/

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2014/07/26/ISIS-destroy-Prophet-Sheth-shrine-in-Mosul-.html

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/anti-semitism/iraqijews.html

http://nypost.com/2014/07/27/iraqs-abandoned-christians/

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/isis-militants-destroy-tomb-jonah-mosul-1458469