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The Jews as a chosen people



Sharon has called the Palestinians Nazis, to which they retort that the Jews think the are a chosen people, just as the Nazis did. Hank Levin discusses the concept of Jews as a chosen people. He says. "That is a theological concept found in the Bible that does not say that Jews are deserving of more than the others, but that in recognition of the early monotheism (a very unusual concept in those days), God looked with favor on the Jews. Surely, if the Holocaust is a sign, one would not wish to be so favored. In a modern sense I have heard that Jews must set an example in the spirit of this early communion with God. The only other times that I have heard it raised in my 63 years have been by ultra-orthodox Jews, hardly spokespeople for the Jewish mainstream any more than the Islamic fundamentalists are spokespersons for the Moslem mainstream".

My comment: As a choirboy in an Anglican church I sang about "Thy chosen people, Israel", without the analysis given by Hank. The Jewish attitude toward the concept ranges from the Jewish comedian who said "God, please choose some one else!", to the Orthodox Jews who dominate Jerusalem. In between are the Jews of Tel Aviv, including the Soviet Jews who grew up in an atheistic state. The Shas Party represents the Orthodox Jews who were forced to flee North Africa after Israel was created, Their fate is similar to that of the German Jews in that they had been respected members of their communities before World War II.

The shading of attitudes is very subtle. How many Nazis thought that the Germans were a superior race? The concept was found outside of the Nazis. Well after Werld War II, a German woman told me that the Germans were "ein Herrenvolk",a master race. US politicians love to say "The Americans are a religious people!", but here again there are all kinds of shades. The idea of Manifest Destiny had its roots in the Old Testament, but how much of that concept remains in the American pysche?

Ronald Hilton - 10/26/01


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