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Emet m'Tsiyon

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Did the Philosopher Theophrastos Observe Jewish Evening Prayers?

The philosopher Theophrastos [or Theophrastus] was the leading pupil of Aristotle. Upon his teacher's death, Theophrastos became the leader of the Peripatetic School. Like his teacher, Theophrastos had wide interests and wide knowledge. Among other things, he took an interest in different peoples, cultures and religions. Two other pupils of Aristotle, Clearchos of Soli and Megasthenes, also discuss the Jews in their writings that have come down to us. Writing about Jewish worship, Theophrastos first identifies them ethnically and geographically as part of the Syrians:
. . . Theophrastos says, the Syrians, of whom the Jews constitute a part, . . . [conduct sacrifices]
"Syrians" refers to the Semitic speaking peoples at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. The name "Syria" originally applied to the area around Tyre [Tsor in modern Hebrew, Sour in Arabic], the great ancient Phoenician trading city. Greeks broadened the application of "Syria" to the whole region, encompassing the Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Syria of today.

Theophrastos then went on to what he considered significant in Jewish worship:
During this whole time [of their worship], being a nation of philosophers, they [the Jews] converse with each other about the deity, and at night-time they make observations of the stars, gazing at them and calling on God by prayer. . .
Let's now look at some blessings that come near the beginning of the Jewish evening prayers:
Blessed art Thou. . . Who gathers the dusk by His word, opens the gates [of heaven] in wisdom, and changes the times and causes the seasons to follow one another by reason, and arranges the stars in their constellations in the sky according to His will, He is the Creator of day and night, [Who] rolls away light before darkness and darkness before light, and moves day away and brings night, and distinguishes between day and night . . . Blessed art Thou O Lord Who gathers the dusk.

. . . Thou hast taught us Law [= Torah] and commandments, statutes and judgments. Therefore, O Lord. . . when we lie down and when we rise up we shall discuss Thy statutes; we shall rejoice in the words of Thy Law [= Torah] and in Thy commandments forever. . . We will ponder them day and night. . .
Theophrastos wrote that the Jews are a nation of philosophers who discuss God and at night observe the stars. The evening blessings quoted show that the ancient Jews observed the stars and related natural phenomena at night and that they discussed and pondered God's laws and commandments day and night.

It is reasonable to conclude that Theophrastos may very well have observed the Jewish evening prayers at first hand or have heard reports from others who had observed them. In his lifetime, Alexander of Macedon had conquered Greece and other lands from northwestern India to Egypt, including the Land of Israel. These conquests increased the already existing contacts between many cultures and peoples of the ancient East and the Mediterranean Sea.Theophrastos' contemporary, Clearchos of Soli, another pupil of Aristotle, wrote that their teacher knew about the Jews and had had a discussion with a learned Jew years before Alexander's conquests. Clearchos' report demonstrates that ancient Greeks had some knowledge about the Jews as well as contact with them. This would have given Theophrastos an opportunity to know and observe Jews perhaps before Alexander's conquests.

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Quotes from Theophrastos based on Menahem Stern, ed., Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism, vol. I (Jerusalem: The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities 1974), p 10. I have made some changes in the translation. The Greek word translated here as "nation" is genos, also translated as "race" or "origin."

Quotes from the evening prayers based on the Hebrew text in Simeon Singer (translator), The Standard Prayer Book (New York: Bloch Publishing 1954), pp 130-131. The translation is mainly my own with help from Singer's translation.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

British Minister Suggested a Boycott of "Settlement" Products to the "Palestinian Authority"

Anti-Zionism is the anti-imperialism of fools

We have said before that the United Kingdom is a great enemy of Israel. Of course, I realize that many British people in all four components of the kingdom, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, are sympathetic to Israel, even very sympathetic. But the British government has been hostile to Jews and Israel for many years, although this hostility is usually covered by a mist of slick hypocrisy, sanctimonious posing and the like. Yet the hostility goes back to the beginning of British mandatory rule in Israel, designated as the Jewish National Home by the San Remo Conference and the League of Nations. Since then the UK govt has perpetrated several velvet-gloved assaults on the Jews and Israel. Among the highlights are the 1939 "White Paper on Palestine," the refusal to bomb the railroad tracks leading to the death camps like Treblinka, etc., the use of the British armed forces to keep Jews out of the Jewish National Home during the Holocaust, when the Jews most needed a home, the pressure by British diplomats on southern European countries not to let Jewish refugees embark from their ports to escape Nazi genocide, the acquiescence by Britain's Foreign Office in the 1941 Farhud massacre of Jews in Baghdad, the post-WW2 refusal to let Jewish Holocaust survivors into the Jewish National Home, the encouragement to Arab states and the palestinian Arab leadership to fight against the rise of a Jewish state [as envisioned in the Jewish National Home principle]. The last item entailed supplying weapons to Arab armies and actual intervention in combat against the Jewish forces by British tanks, artillery, fighter aircraft, and ground forces.

The rise of Israel and its survival and demonstrated ability to defend itself caused great disappointment among highly placed persons in London and throughout the Empire. The failure of conventional warfare by the Arab armies in 1948-1949 led to an intensified psychological and cognitive warfare effort against the Jews and the Jewish national state. This effort culminated in production of the "palestinian people" notion, a people invented for political/diplomatic purposes, a people that had never existed in history as a people or nation. The harm done to Israel and the Jews by this invented notion is incalculable. Of course, it cannot be easily proven that British psywar experts invented the "palestinian people," but there is much evidence for this assertion.

Now British diplomacy shows once again that the UK is as hostile and dangerous for the Jews as are the Arab states as a group. The Palestinian Authority deputy minister of the economy, Abdel Hafez Nofal, revealed that the British minister of trade had suggested to him that the PA institute a boycott of products of Israeli settlements, that is, products of any Israeli community or factory or plant across the 1949 armistice line from the pre-1967 Little Israel, the rump of the Jewish National Home territory left to the Jews after the War of Independence. So a British minister recently prodded the PA into ordering a boycott by its population of Jewish products made in the wrong place, that is, on the wrong side of the armistice line. To be sure, since Arab workers too work in many of the Jewish-owned plants, we could say that the products are also Arab in part. Here is the quote:
. . . Abdel Hafez Nofal, 56 years old, Palestinian deputy minister of the Economy. He is "Mr Boycott": "Everything started when the English minister of Trade said to me, 'We have decided to boycott the products of the settlements. And you?'"
[Il Sole- 24 Ore, 22 October 2010; p12]

. . . Abdel Hafez Nofal, 56 anni, vice ministro palestinese dell'Economia. "Mister Boycott" è lui. «Tutto è incominciato quando il ministro del Commercio inglese mi disse: "Noi abbiamo deciso di boicottare i prodotti delle colonie. E voi?"
It is not fully clear whether, when the British minister said "We have decided. . .", that the "we" referred to the British or to the EU. In any case, it is likely that the UK took the lead in the EU in pushing for a boycott.

So here we have another British effort for greater peace and greater international understanding. And treating Jews like the British govt thinks that they ought to be treated. Of course, Britain, like the Arabs, does not want to admit any wrongdoing against Jews. But if the UK admitted its ugly Holocaust record of refusing refuge to Jewish refugees from the Nazis, that might be a contribution to Middle East peace. And if not to peace, then to a greater understanding of history.

The statement by the PA economics minister may not be totally accurate. This is because neither the EU nor the UK has an explicit, formal policy to boycott goods produced in Jewish communities across the Green Line [the 1949-1967 armistice line]. However, it's obvious that both EU and UK are tending in that direction.The EU requires products from Judea/Samaria to be labelled as such but does not require a distinction between goods made by Jews and goods made by Arabs. On the other hand, the UK government has a "voluntary" agreement whereby foodstuffs made/grown by Jews in Judea-Samaria are labelled differently from foodstuffs made/grown by Arabs in the same area.

Further, the constant vilification of Israel in UK media --not all to be sure, but significantly on the BBC which is a state body with its policy on foreign affairs dictated by the Foreign Office-- indicates the direction of UK state policy. The Guardian, Independent [sic!] and several other UK papers specialize in vilifying Israel, often using traditional Judeophobic themes. Then several ostensibly non-governmental bodies in the UK, such as the university teachers union, advocate a boycott of Israeli universities, whereas the Trades Union Congress [TUC], I am informed, advocates a boycott of settlement products. I have no doubt that these non-governmental bodies are not only influenced by hostile UK media but by govt officials as well as govt operatives within their ranks.

Both the previous Labour govt and the present "Conservative" govt are capable of favoring a boycott of settlements as well as a total boycott of Israel, as some loud-voiced academics already advocate. These "civil society" groups provide a moral cover for any anti-Israel move by the govt itself now or in the future. The British govt may have already taken a decision to implement a boycott of settlement products at some opportune moment in the future. In such an eventuality, it would be helpful if the Palestinian Authority were already implementing such a policy so that the UK govt would not seem to be "more Arab" or "more palestinian" than the Arabs/palestinians. If such a decision has already been taken and conveyed to the PA, as Minister Nofal asserts, then his statement would be both accurate and instructive.
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The palestinian Authority's boycott policy in action [here].
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The notion of a "palestinian people," previously unknown to history, including to Arab historians, has its parallels in other states/peoples/nations without a history created for political convenience by Great Powers. Consider "Panama" which was simply part of Colombia, created in order to facilitate building of the Panama Canal by the USA, and Pakistan, formed by Britain out of mainly Muslim regions of India, to fulfill the demand of the Indian Muslims for a separate state so as not to be ruled by Hindus who were the majority in India.

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Other links on British hostility to Israel and Jews.

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The "peace activist" who waved the knife arrives in Gaza

The Reuters press agency used to be an outfit that you could respect. Today it regularly shows its contempt for truth. The time traveler from the seventh century, or was it the eighth, who waved his curved dagger [is it called a khanjar?] on the Mavi Marmara recently arrived in Gaza where he was photographed by Reuters and labelled "an international militant for peace." In French that is "Un militant international pour la paix."See the caption of the first photo. Reuters has no shame. Reuters is a British outfit, if I'm not mistaken. Maybe that explains it. In any case, Reuters is also notoriously unreliable on account of the photoshopping done of photos during Second Lebanon War by a Reuters correspondent who was also a Hizbullah supporter. View the photos below even if you don't know French. Look for the phrase: Un militant international pour la paix.Also look for the phrase: l’aide humanitaire, that is, humanitarian aid. When these "militants for peace" were on the Mavi Marmara, it was found that little practical material to help poor people was on the ships of that convoy. And much of what might seem to fit under the definition of "humanitarian aid" was unusable. That is, Gaza physicians complained that the medicines sent to Gaza by the "humanitarians" and "peace militants" had already expired their use dates.

“L’activiste international pour la paix”

Dernière mise à jour Dimanche, 31 octobre 2010 04:11 Ecrit par admin Dimanche, 31 octobre 2010 04:01

Le 21 octobre dernier l’agence de presse internationale Reuters publiait (voir ici) la photo et la légende suivantes:

Un militant international pour la paix fait signe de l’intérieur d’un véhicule à un policier du Hamas lors de son arrivée à la frontière de Rafah dans le sud de la bande de Gaza le 21 octobre 2010. Des centaines de militants Internationaux pour la paix sont arrivés à Gaza jeudi dans un convoi transportant de l’aide humanitaire, pour exprimer leur solidarité avec les Palestiniens dans la bande de Gaza sous blocus, a dit un représentant du convoi.

Ce beau visage respirant l’amour et la paix, ne vous est-il pas familier ?

Si c’est le cas, la dernière fois que vous l’avez vu, son expression était moins radieuse.

C’était sur le navire Mavi Marmara, alors qu’il se préparait à recevoir à bord l’inspection de l’armée israélienne. Et la suite, nous la connaissons tous.

Source : Bivouac-ID

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