Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Must-read: on Israel, chosenness, supercessionism

Richard Landes of Second Draft and Augean Stables has written what just might be the definitive answer to those who--like Norwegian writer Jostein Gaarder--accuse Israel of heinous crimes and intents based (among other things) on the accusers' complete misunderstanding of certain principles of Judaism such as the knotty problem of "chosenness." There's also a clear and concise discussion there about what's known as "supersessionism," and how various religions stack up on that score.

One of the many problems with discussions on these topics is that people of good will often feel they are starting with a basic agreement on concepts. They are not. A phrase such as "chosen" is one that people often think they intuitively understand. Because Christians and Jews have a common history that goes way back, it's easy to jump to the conclusion that the religions have more in common than they actually do.

The problem is compounded by the fact that many--if not most--Jews in this country and elsewhere consider themselves secular and have very little grounding in the tenets of their own nominal religion. Therefore even most Jews probably share the misconceptions common among non-Jews about some basic Jewish concepts such as that of having been "chosen."

So, please read.

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