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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

US ambassador compares ultra-Orthodox Judaism in Israel to Islam in Saudi Arabia

It was widely reported yesterday that US ambassador to Israel Richard Jones suggested that those living in overcrowded Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) neighborhoods in Jerusalem might have to move elsewhere.
"Sometimes people do have to move to a different location. They cannot always stay close to their families."
The 'hint' was that Jews might have to move out of a (God forbid) divided Jerusalem if the city is unable to build new housing and expand to accommodate them. That comment was bad enough. But Jones made another comment yesterday while on the same 'tour' that was less widely reported.
During a tour through the fervently religious Mea She'arim neighborhood of Jerusalem Monday, US Ambassador to Israel Richard H. Jones compared the haredi community to religious communities in Saudi Arabia.


"Well, there are a lot of similarities, more than you would think," said Jones during a tour on foot of various haredi institutions. "Particularly, I served five years in Saudi Arabia and many of the religious practices are quite similar to Orthodox practices."

Jones said that he was talking on a superficial level, referring primarily to the outwardly religious lives of the communities such as the dedication to the learning of holy texts, the adherence to a strict dietary law, conservatism, and large families.

The ambassador made it clear that he was not talking about the political ideology, theology or content of the religious texts.
Then what was he talking about? There's not much of a comparison on any level and any 'superficial' comparisons are not worth making. There are no 'honor killings' in Orthodox Jewish communities. Our women don't wear niqabs or burkhas and they are allowed to work outside the home and to drive.

The comparison is frankly odious. Someone in the State Department needs to get a clue.


At 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as I'm concerned, the comparison are there and are indeed very superficial. It does not shock me that someone, whether from the State Dept. or not, would note such comparisons.

It also doesn't shock me that the JPost would consider this news, with the likely intent of publishing this to associate Hareidim with the Taliban. This is the favorite pastime of JPost "reporter" Matthew Wagner, who seems to be in charge lately of the JPost's main stabs at Orthodox Judaism.

The Ambassador is the straw man in this issue. Keep your eye on Wagner.

At 3:01 PM, Blogger Yoel.Ben-Avraham said...

For years I've been thinking about a systematic comparison of articles of belief and ritual. The religions compared would be Judaism, Xianity and Islam. In my personal appreciation of the three, Xianity and Islam borrowed and adapted the beliefs and rituals of Judaism. Therein lies their abivalent relationship. To deny Judaism is to delegitimze their very roots. Food for thought!

At 4:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yoel, Christianity doesn't "deny" Judaism, per se. It doesn't delegitimize Tanach at all. Quite the contrary. It tries to prove itself mostly through pathetic mistranslations and misinterpretations of Tanach verses. Furthermore, their New Testament is filled with Jewish edicts of kindness and compassion, as well as blatant plagiarism of verses from numerous parts of Nach.

Islam denies Judaism by claiming that Jews have corrupted the Torah (example: the Quran says it was Yishmael who went with Avraham to the Akeidah) and Jewish law. In fact, Islam claims that Jews were actually Muslims. Lying seems to be dominant in their genes.

At 7:50 PM, Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

I don't know that "plagiarism" is the correct word. How about "quoting"? Nobody used footnotes or even quotation marks at the time of Paul. He figured people would know he was quoting.

At 7:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, Lydia. How would pagan worshipping Assyrians, Greeks and Romans have an inkling of an idea that the NT is quoting an already existing scripture they had absolutely nothing to do with, at a time before the printing press was invented, unless it would prefix its quote with something as simple as "as the Torah already says......".

As the good dictionary says:


–noun 1. the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work.

2. something used and represented in this manner.


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