Thursday, 1 March 2018

Can a “Good” Gentile Replace a “Not so Good” Jew?





Time and again and more so lately, we have noticed some trying to convince us that a “Christian Zionist” is better than a “non-Zionist Jew.”

We will not tire you, again, with definitions though we believe that such an approach stems from lack of understanding of Jewish terminology. At times, when discussing issues such as “Zionism” and “religion,” it seems as if many are speaking completely different languages and not communicating at all.  We are dealing with Jewish concepts here, concepts that, due to inadequate education and after centuries of being defined by others, are not clear to some Jews, not to mention non-Jews. 

Frankly, we care about Jews knowing Jewish ideas and concept first albeit that we see Gentiles, some utterly disconnected to the Jewish reality, engaging in efforts to define us and invariably falling short.

We also realize that many non-Jews are sincere and genuine about their desire to educate themselves on Jewish subjects, some from sincere interest, others looking for the roots of their own beliefs. Nothing wrong with it. Too often, unfortunately, such interests are in support of an agenda that is not always consistent with Jewish concerns and realities.

Why is it that so many non-Jews, Christians, Muslims and others get offended when we tell them that only Jews can be Zionists and can really understand what Zionism means to Jews since only Jews have practiced Zionism through their hopes and prayers over several millennia?

That is not to say that help and sympathy from Gentiles is unwelcome.  On the contrary, in a smaller and smaller world where we are all more and more interconnected, in a world where there are so many hostilities, interest by non-Jews in the justice of Zionism and the welfare of the Jewish People is most welcome, and those that speak out about the truth for us are most appreciated.

 There is, however, a line that must be drawn.  While support, help, advice of a real friend is always welcome, there is a line not to cross, and that is where non-Jews take it upon themselves to tell Jews what Jews should believe about Jewish issues and concepts.

Why?  Because it is akin to having a Chinese man who has read Shakespeare in Chinese only, thinking about it in terms of Chinese tradition and culture, going to Oxford University and lecturing English Shakespeare experts on what Shakespeare really meant, with the British experts afraid of offending the Chinese enthusiast.  Sounds silly?  Of course, it is. 

 When it comes to Zionism and Judaism, though, we too often see Christians crossing that line, telling Jews what Judaism and Zionism should mean to them, in some cases representing Jewish organizations as paid speakers and lecturers, other times as Missionaries aiming to convert Jews to their faith systems.   In some cases, we have seen Gentile activists from persecuted minority groups themselves, spending their energies telling Jews what to believe, while ignoring the plight of their own peoples.  A shame indeed when their own people need their help and energies.

Try to understand something.  Most Jews would love to see Kurdistan, for instance, as a free, independent and prosperous state.  After all, Kurds are one people among a small number of nations, that were always hospitable to Jews.  But while we support, argue for, and want to help Kurds achieve their freedom, that does not mean that we will ever fully understand what it is like being a Kurd, as we do not have their history, we do not speak their language, and we can’t see the world exactly as they might.  So, while we can be pro-Kurdish nationalism, we cannot be Kurdish nationalists.  We do not find that insulting or offensive if a Kurd says that to us. It is realistic and factual. 
In the same way, Gentiles can support Zionism, can help, and that help is welcome, but they cannot be expected to see and feel Zionism’s ancient historic role, it’s effects and consequences, as Jews experience it and see it.

The same goes when it comes to Judaism.  No one can see Judaism better than through Jewish eyes. No one can replace a Jew no matter how “bad” anyone believes that Jew is and no matter how saintly any non-Jew who wishes to replace them is.   That is why conversion to Judaism is not just a change in theology, but more akin to naturalization into an entire culture.

One more point that we hope will be understood as meant.
Some Jews who see Gentile support for Israel as great flattery and who are afraid of saying something that might offend even missionaries that are trying hard to convert us, how about those gentiles who threaten to stop supporting us if we call them and their agenda out?

Consider this: Friends love you for what you are and who you are.  If they do not, if they are so easily offended, they are not friends and never were.

Let us say it again, this time louder and clearer. If anyone attaches their support for us to being able to appropriate that is which is ours and threaten to cease that support at the drop of a hat if we resist and object to it, then they have never been genuine friends in the first place.

And with friends such as these, who needs enemies?

This article was written jointly by Roger Froikin and Bat-Zion Susskind-Sacks

Shabbat Shalom.


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