(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, – The state comptroller’s report notes with concern the
increase in illegally-built structures in Silwan, and criticizes the Jerusalem
Municipality for “lax enforcement” (“State comptroller criticizes municipality
for illegal structure increase in Arab Silwan neighborhood,” October
The state comptroller should ask the Jerusalem Municipality how many
Arab applications for legal building licenses it has refused. He should
investigate the policy of not granting building licenses to Arabs.RUTH
State of the nation
Sir, – In his criticism of Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish
state, Larry Derfner states: “The Palestinians should not be asked to do that,
anymore than Israel should be asked to recognize the US, Canada, Britain, France
and other countries of the Jewish Diaspora as Christian states” (“Any more
doubts about Bibi?,” October 14).
The Jews share more than a religion;
they are a nation, as defined in the Bible. Moreover, the Jewish nation was
defined as such by the Balfour Declaration and by the UN decision of November
1947, following which Ben-Gurion declared Israel as the nascent Jewish
MONTY M. ZION
Sir, – Islam and Muslim societies
throughout the Middle East and elsewhere have always related to the Jews as a
people, not as a religion in the Western sense.
Historically, and as
stated clearly in the Torah, our people’s charter document, the Jews are first
and foremost a people.
Our religion is called Judaism. This is how we
have defined ourselves for eons and – but for about the past 300 years – how
non-Jewish societies have defined us.
Following the 18th century
Emancipation and Enlightenment, it served the social, political and economic
interests of Jews in Western countries to accept a redefinition of themselves as
Frenchmen, Englishmen and later as Americans “of the Mosaic persuasion,” i.e.,
loyal nationals whose religion just happens to be Judaism.
The apogee of
this notion in the US was the formation in 1942 of the infamously anti-Zionist
American Council for Judaism, comprised over the years mainly of nominally
practicing Jews who insisted that the Jews were solely a religious
American sociologist Will Herberg’s classic work “Protestant,
Catholic, Jew” (1955) bolstered the image of Jews as one of America’s three
primary religious affiliations.
That Judaism is a peoplehood not limited
to the parameters of religious beliefs or practices is patently obvious by the
existence of millions of Jews, today as in the past, both in Israel and the
Diaspora, who define themselves as atheists. These same individuals would never
deny being Jews.
Even the most anti-religious and politically-left
Israelis recognize that they are Jews.
In the United States secular Jews
who readily acknowledge that they are Jews are satisfied to get around the
paradox of their non-practice by seeing themselves as members of an American
Promoting this nomenclature over the last century made it
easier for Jews to find acceptance in American society along with other
Americans who were not White Anglo- Saxon Protestants. An ethnic group in the
Western political context is not a national group. It offers no competition and
poses no threat to its sovereign host.
That the Jews are a people and not
a religion today comes as a shock to many, including many Jews, who from a young
age were taught the opposite.
However, Muslims know this, including the
leadership of the Palestinian Authority. Modern Zionism is the national
liberation movement of the Jewish people, not Judaism.ARDIE GELDMAN