Israel’s Nation-State Basic Law is Not Based on Religion

There are a few democratic countries that do not have formalized constitutions such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the State of Israel. These governments occasionally issue broad laws to outline the basic principles of government. Israel did just that in July 2018.

Israel’s 2018 Basic Law of the Nation-State of the Jewish People was interesting for what it omitted as much as for what it included.

The focus of the law was about the connection between the nation, the land and the people. Specifically, the law outlined the connection between the modern state of Israel, the Jewish people and the Jewish Holy Land.

But the law clearly omitted the religion of the Jews, Judaism.

The law had no preamble about the God of Judaism’s forefathers of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the way that Ireland begins its constitution about Jesus and the Trinity.

The law did not declare Judaism as the State of Israel’s official religion, nor did it declare that there was an official “church” or head rabbi in the country. Such laws are found in several democracies such as for Roman Catholicism in Costa Rica and for the Eastern Orthodox Church in Greece.

Israel’s Basic Law did not declare that the leader of the country needed to belong to the official government church. Such a law can be found in Denmark’s constitution regarding the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

The law did not mandate that Judaism must be taught in school, a law that is found about Catholicism in Malta.

The law did not even state that Israel’s laws are based on Jewish values and inspired by the Jewish prophets as was stated in the country’s Declaration of Independence. Such a statement about Christianity features prominently in the constitution of Norway. Panama’a constitution mentions “Christian morality,” while Peru’s constitution calls out the “Catholic Church as an important element in the historical, cultural, and moral formation” of the country.

As a matter of fact, the Basic Law seemed to go to pains to not even refer to religion.

The law refrained from using the words “God,” “Judaism,” “Holy Land,” “sacred,” or “religion” anywhere in the text. While the law declared the “Hatikvah” as the national anthem, that anthem similarly avoids using any religious language. That’s in sharp contrast to 34 democracies that use “God” or “Lord” in their anthems including Canada, Italy and Switzerland, and others that specifically refer to Christianity such as in the Netherlands and Romania .

The 2018 Basic Law simply detailed that the Jewish people were connected to the land of Israel because of history. Yet in doing so, the law opted to not also underscore the deep religious and unique connection that Jews have for all of the land of Israel, and particularly for Judaism’s holiest city of Jerusalem.


Seal of King Hezekiah found at the southern Temple Mount in Jerusalem
who reigned c.715 – 686 BCE

The emphasis of Israel’s 2018 Basic Law related to the essence of Jews are a people, not adherents to a religion. International law in 1920 recognized “the historical connexion of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” In 2018, Israel took that same step of laying out the long and deep connection between the Jewish people to the land of Israel, realized in the modern state of Israel.


Tel Dan Stele from c.840 BCE found in southern Syria referring to the “House of David”

Jews are the modern Israelites that had kingdoms in Canaan, Israel and Judah. Israel’s 2018 Basic Law affirmed that historical connection between the people and the land, and laid out the initial markings which characterize the reincarnation of the indigenous people in the modern State of Israel.

It is remarkable that Israel chose not to define itself by religion when so many democracies do so.


Related First.One.Through articles:

A Response to Rashid Khalidi’s Distortions on the Balfour Declaration

750 Years of Continuous Jewish Jerusalem

Abbas’s Speech and the Window into Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism

From the Balfour Declaration to the San Remo Conference

In Defense of Foundation Principles

Squeezing Zionism

The UN’s Disinterest in Jewish Rights at Jewish Holy Places

Gimme that Old-Time Religion

Related First.One.Through videos:

Religious Democracies (music by Bob Marley)

God is a Zionist (music by Joan Osborne)

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Wearing Our Beliefs

There are a number of English expressions in which people describe their inner feelings by describing their external appearances.

For example, “Being comfortable in one’s skin” means exuding confidence and being content with one’s appearance.  The expression “wearing one’s heart on one’s sleeve” dates back hundreds of years. It is meant to convey the openness of one’s emotions for the world to see. The inner feelings are plain and visible for review, scrutiny, appreciation and/ or scorn.

What an individual decides to show to the outside world oftentimes says a lot about their personal beliefs and emotions.

The way a society dresses people, also says much about such society’s beliefs.

Nazi Germany Enforced Dress Code

During the Holocaust, the Germans made certain undesirable people wear badges on their outer-garments so the people could be easily identified. Jews were forced to wear yellow stars. Gays wore pink triangles. Jehovah’s Witnesses had purple ones. These symbols were not chosen by the individual as an outward expression of their faith, but by an evil society that chose to mark people for abuse, imprisonment, torture and death.

In the Auschwitz concentration camp complex, prisoners were tattooed by the Nazis beginning in autumn 1941. The numbering system etched into the arms of men, women and children, was used almost exclusively on Jews. The system allowed the Nazis to track and process hundreds of thousands of people who were not killed immediately. The ink relayed the cold reality that these prisoners were not in charge of their bodies anymore. Society no longer recognized their names nor humanity.

The evil of Nazi Germany was not simply that they viewed the “Aryan race” as superior – they viewed others as less than human.  The Nazis marked the clothing and bodies of those Untermensch to relay the Aryan perception of these sub-humans.

auschwitz tattoo

Jews Wearing Tefillin

Jewish tradition is an important component of the Jewish religion. While there are specific laws in Judaism, such as wearing phylacteries/ tefillin, the manner in which some Judaic laws are carried out changes according to custom.  Some people wrap the tefillin around the arm in an outward motion, while others wrap them going towards the body.  Some traditions have the entire name of God appearing on the hand while others only write a portion of the three letter name of God.

When a person wraps the tefillin straps around the fingers, he recites a quote from Hosea 2:19-20: “V’erastich li l’olam; v’erastich li b’tzedek u-v’mishpat u-v’chesed u-v’rachamim; v’erastich li b’emunah; v’yadat et adonai.
And I will betroth you to myself forever; and I will betroth you to myself in righteousness and in justice, in kindness and in mercy; and I will betroth you to myself in faithfulness, and you will know God.”

teffilin
Grandfather, father and two sons wearing tefillin
(photo: First.One.Through)

Just one generation ago, the dominant force in Europe labeled Jews and stole their humanity.  Today, when Jews put on tefillin, they assert themselves and declare their connection to both God and family tradition.


Related First.One.Through

The Touch of the Sound of the Shofar

The Termination Shock of Survivors

The EU’s Choice of Labels: “Made in West Bank” and “Anti-Semite”

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Abraham’s Hospitality: Lessons for Jews and Arabs

The biblical portion of Vayera showcases stories of the patriarch Abraham welcoming strangers. The stories of Abraham’s hospitality became incorporated into the ways that the children of Abraham think of themselves today. However, the nature of the hospitality of Arabs (descendants of Abraham’s son Ishmael) and Jews (descendants of Abraham’s son Isaac) diverge in many ways.

Giovanni_Andrea_de_Ferrari_-_Abraham_and_the_Three_Angels
Abraham and the Three Angels
by Giovanni Andrea de Ferrari (1598-1669)

Man and God

Jewish perspective: Judaism prides itself in being a religion of actions, not faith. God gave the Jewish people 613 commandments to follow, some of which are active (make the Sabbath holy) and others that are passive (don’t kill). A division could also be made of laws between people (like murder) and those between man and God (like the Sabbath).

A casual observer of religions would imagine that laws about God would take precedence to laws about people.  The Jewish organization Limmud, posted an article about Vayera, which argued the opposite.

During the story of Vayera there was an encounter between Abraham and God. In the middle of the conversation, Abraham asked God to wait so he could welcome three strangers that were passing his tent. The author of the Limmud article, Jeremy Rosen argued that Abraham’s action taught Jews a lesson for today, “that however primary God is, there are certain types of human crises or obligations that are so important that one can actually tell God to wait. In the end religion must enhance our relationship with other humans.

Islamic perspective: The website “OnIslam” is dedicated to educating Muslims on a variety of subjects. An article on hospitality and the “joy of honoring others” made a clear effort to differentiate between the kind of hospitality that Muslims extend, and those of non-Muslims. The true concept of hospitality is not something that is widely practiced in most non-Muslim countries. For many non-Muslims, the entertainment of guests is of primary importance in many cases for worldly reasons only, not rooted in real hospitality for the sake of God. In Islam, however, hospitality is a great virtue that holds a significant purpose. Being hospitable to neighbors and guests can increase societal ties as well as unite an entire community. Most importantly, God commands Muslims to be hospitable to neighbors and guests. There is a great reward in doing so. Hospitality in Islam is multi-faceted and covers many different areas in addition to the hospitality that we show guests who visit our homes.”

In Islam, hospitality is performed because it is commanded by God. The act of hospitality may have benefits of creating communal harmony, but it is a derivative of the second degree. The primary obligation is to follow God’s command, and He commands all Muslims to be hospitable. God’s command leads man to action, and such action may, in turn, lead to friendship and social cohesion.

The difference in the approach of the religions is both subtle and significant. Judaism has a value system of helping others. Welcoming a stranger takes precedence to a direct conversation with God. In contrast, Islam focuses on obedience to God’s commands. Hospitality happens to be one of those commands and is therefore performed – within the bounds of religion.

Hospitality Today on a National Level

It is interesting to look at the nature of hospitality on a national level and how the one Jewish State handles hospitality compared to various Muslim countries (note that there are many Muslim countries, like Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia, that are NOT Arab and descendants of Abraham).

Welcoming Refugees
Israel: Israel has an incredible record when it comes to welcoming Jews from around the world. Whether in bringing Jews that were persecuted in the Arab world in the 1950s, or Russian and Ethiopian Jews in the 1990s, Israel took in so many Jews from around the world, that they dwarf the number of European Jews who came to the country due to persecution in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s.

Those Moroccan, Yemenite, Ethiopian and Russian refugees received Israeli citizenship immediately. They got housing and job training. They had teachers to teach them a new language (Hebrew) and lessons about incorporating into a society that was completely foreign to their old way of living.

Arab/ Muslim Countries: The Middle East has witnessed a large number of wars and corresponding waves of refugees fleeing the battles. Many Arab countries did not welcome their fellow Arabs.

  • When Arabs left the British Mandate of Palestine to Lebanon and Syria in 1948-9, they were forced to live in refugee camps. They were not offered citizenship nor given an opportunity to have white color jobs. Those conditions continue for their children and grandchildren almost 70 years later.
  • When the PLO sided with Iraq when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991, Kuwait expelled roughly 360,000 Palestinians that were living there.  Fellow Arabs that were neighbors for 75 years were evicted en masse because of the actions of people hundreds of miles away.
  • Most recently, the millions of Arabs fleeing the civil war in Syria, and ISIS in Iraq have been shut out of the wealthy countries of Saudi Arabia; Qatar; Bahrain; United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.  Westerners may wonder how these oil rich countries are not embarrassed to refuse to welcome fellow Arabs, especially as Europe and America open its doors.  Only Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey (Muslim, but not Arab) have shown these refugees Islamic hospitality.

Welcoming “Others”
Israel: The phrase in the bible “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18) has been interpreted by various scholars as both a model for treating fellow Jews and for interactions with all of mankind.

  • When Israel declared independence in 1948, it granted 160,000 non-Jews citizenship.  When Israel reunited Jerusalem after Jordanian and Palestinian Arabs attacked it in 1967, it offered citizenship to all non-Jews.
  • When Menahem Begin became prime minister of Israel in 1977, he brought in and gave citizenship to roughly 300 Vietnamese people fleeing their country.
  • Today the country is grappling with how to deal with Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers as many Israeli Jews believe in the principal of hospitality, even while the government considers issues of safety.

Arab/ Muslim Countries: The Arab countries do very poorly in regards to their hospitality with non-Muslims.

  • When Jordan seized Judea and Samaria in 1949, it expelled all of the Jews in the area and forbade them from even visiting their holy sites in Jerusalem.
  • Today, Mahmoud Abbas has laws preventing the sale of any land by Arabs to Jews and has demanded a new country to be established devoid of Jews.
  • After Israel was founded, the Arab countries forced over 850,000 Jews to flee their homes where they had lived for generations.

Helping Others
Israel: Israel has a reputation of rushing to assist countries around the world suffering from natural disasters.  Whether from earthquakes in Turkey or Haiti or tsunamis in the Pacific Ocean, Israel is on the scene with disproportionate numbers with life-saving assistance.

Arab/ Muslim Countries: The Arab world typically does not send much assistance to countries in need.  That fact is surprising since it is a core tenant of Islam.  OnIslam states: “In Islam, hospitality extends well beyond the walls of the home. Being hospitable also means having good manners and treating others with dignity and respect. Hospitality can be applied to the greater community and Muslims must strive to help out whenever there is a time of need. Natural disasters, for example, often result in community turmoil as residents grapple with the aftermath. This provides Muslims with an excellent opportunity to pitch in, whether delivering hot meals to those affected or donating gently used items to someone who has lost everything.”

However, the Charities Aid Foundation did rank some Islamic nations among the most generous in the world, including: Malaysia; Indonesia; and Iran in the top 20.  However, none of those three countries is Arab.  Israel, the Jewish State, ranked number 32.


Abraham taught Jews and Arabs about the importance of hospitality.  Each group interpreted his acts of kindness through their respective prophets and teachers over the centuries, with Jews extracting a primary value of the kinship of men, while Muslims placed hospitality as just one of God’s commands to be observed.  Jews learned a life-lesson from Abraham; Arabs stifled that more human example and took the message of hospitality from the Quran.

The children of Abraham – the Jewish State and the Arab states – should all be mindful of the importance of hospitality in their dealings today.


Related First.One.Through artices:

The End of Together

Joint Prayer: The Cave of the Patriarchs and the Temple Mount

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“Cast thy bread upon the waters”

שַׁלַּח לַחְמְךָ, עַל-פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם

On the holiday of Sukkot, Jews are reminded of the fragile nature of life. They live in temporary huts for a week and read Ecclesiastes, a philosophical book from the Old Testament. The book reviews the concept of a delicate life, and underscores the need to extend beyond one’s physical boundaries: to establish a good name that survives past death; and to learn about God who is not confined to the physical world.

King Solomon, the author of the book, mostly expounds upon the frivolousness of daily physical activities through the opening chapters. Towards the end of the book in chapter 11, he explores the nature of uncertainty in the world:

  • Ecclesiastes 11:1 begins with “casting bread upon the waters.”
  • To verse 5 “thou knowest not what is the way of the wind
  • and verse 6 “for thou knowest not which shall prosper, whether this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good

We do not know what will happen in life. We do not know which piece of bread will catch a fish, what kind of fish it will be, or whether it will be worthwhile to eat. As such, one could conclude that we should use our best efforts to put several pieces out there in the right environment and hope that a “favorable wind” will yield an amazing catch.

With that idea in mind, “First One Through” began.

Knowledge surpasses the physical world, and in a digital world, is easy to “cast many pieces of bread upon the waters.”

The articles and posts of FirstOneThrough were made to educate and entertain people about Israel and Judaism. The posts have been shared directly with family and friends of Israel, who in turn, passed them along. Due to Facebook, Twitter, email and other sources, the posts circled the globe to 110 countries and have been read 25,000 times since the launch six months ago in May 2014:

  • The main readers have been the US (55%) and Israel (15%)
  • Significant readers come from: Australia; UK; and Canada, which together account for 16% of views
  • Modest readership came from: South Africa; Netherlands; Germany; Brazil; France; Denmark and Sweden which totaled 6%
  • 98 other countries accounted for 8% of views

The Arab and Muslim countries read the posts as well, including: Turkey; UAE; Malaysia; Indonesia; Pakistan; Egypt; Saudi Arabia; Morocco and Lebanon. There were a handful of readers from: Kuwait; Iraq; Tunisia; West Bank; Jordan; Qatar; and Yemen.


Ecclesiastes does not end with the discussion on uncertainty in chapter 11. The book concludes that anything in the physical word – even spreading knowledge – is subject to uncertainties and frailties due to the physical limits of people. However, reason and intent are the “hidden thing” behind “every work“.  Hopefully sharing the posts on the merits of Israel and Judaism covers the good intent of the sender, and enables the recipient to gain knowledge, and have the good judgment to pass it along as well.

“The end of the matter, all having been heard: fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole man. For God shall bring every work into the judgment concerning every hidden thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.”

סוֹף דָּבָר, הַכֹּל נִשְׁמָע:  אֶת-הָאֱלֹהִים יְרָא וְאֶת-מִצְו‍ֹתָיו שְׁמוֹר, כִּי-זֶה כָּל-הָאָדָם

“Flowing with Milk and Honey”

On the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, Jews have a tradition of eating fruit (usually an apple) dipped in honey. People eat the tasty combination and pray for a sweet new year. The meaning of the apple-and-honey combination extends deeper into the physical land of Israel and human behavior.

The Bible uses the expression “a land flowing with milk and honey” for the first time in Exodus 3:8, when God tells Moses at the burning bush that he will bring the Jews to a “good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey”. The biblical commentator Ramban (Nachmanides b.1194-d.1270) said that the phrase has nothing to do with milk or honey. “Milk and honey” refers to the nectar of the fruit, and a land “flowing with milk and honey” is an expression used for a particularly fertile land that could produce abundant and juicy fruit.

The saying is used several times in the bible, each time meant to convey the richness of the land of Israel. In some cases, the phrase is paired with a threat or caveat. In Exodus 33:3-4, God uses the expression after the sin of the Golden Calf:

“Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you,
because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.
When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn.”

Years later, when the spies returned from scouting the land as the people of Israel prepared to enter it, the spies paired the richness of the land with a warning in Numbers 15:27-28:

“it is also flowing with milk and honey and here is its fruit,
however, the people who dwell in the land are fierce.”

The promised land is identified as rich and fertile, but there are obstacles to getting it. God warns the Jews that their own behavior could keep them from reaching the land. Conversely, the spies described how other people may try to keep them out of the land. God’s words of warning direct the people to improve themselves or risk never reaching Israel; the spies caution that enemies will fight them for the land. God tells people to look inward; the spies, outward.

As Jews around the world welcome in the new year, they consider more than just the sweetness of the foods they eat. The honey dripping from the apple is a reflection of the fertility of the land of Israel. To continue to merit that promised land, Jews must consider and always improve upon their own behavior. Internalizing the blessings of Israel and the necessity to behave properly will fortify the people to defeat its enemies.

Let the New Year of 5775 be a year full of blessing for the land and people of Israel.

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