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Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem

CHAPTER THIRTY NINE Part 2 of 3

Professor Max Weber, a renowned authority on comparative religion, describes the Jewish writers of the Babylonian exile as "political demagogues and pamphleteers. (147)

After the return of some of the Judeans to Palestine under Zerubbabel, this scion of the House of David mysteriously disappeared. "There is no explanation of what happened to the royal family. The monarch simply ceases to be mentioned. Neither the biblical nor the archaeological sources indicate what happened to the family of descendants of David." (148)

Professor Graetz intimates that the Jewish priesthood conspired to remove Zerubbabel and the royal house of David from Palestine. While "a circumstance in Zerubbabel's favor was the people's allegiance to the royal house of David, and he was a living reminder of a glorious past, and a pledge for an equally brilliant future," (149) he represented a secular tradition, not the religious ambitions of the Jews. Professor Graetz writes that "the prophet Zechariah had proclaimed that the high-priest Joshua should wear the crown, ascend the throne, and effect the realization of the Messianic hopes." (150) By thus claiming the secular power for themselves, the Jewish priesthood was both disloyal to the royal house of David and the Jews became puppets of the Persian occupying power over Palestine.

Indeed, the principal Jewish collaborator with the Persian overlords after the disappearance of Zerubbabel was Nehemiah, "who as royal cupbearer to King Artaxerxes I was a trusted member of the Persian ruler's immediate entourage." (151)

Nehemiah was assisted by Ezra the Scribe, who "laid the basis for the future form of Judaism. The Talmud also ascribes to him the final decision on the text of the Pentateuch." (152)

Complicity of the Jews and Persians in the fate of Zerubbabel is indicated in that Nehemiah and Ezra, in their writings "do not even note that Zerubbabel was of the House of David." (153)

Having disposed of the royal house, the Jewish collaborators of the Persians began an inhumane persecution. Much of the population was composed of mixed families of Jews and non-Jews. Even members of the family of the Jewish high-priest in Jerusalem had married non-Jewish wives. (154)

John M. Allegro, lecturer in Old Testament and Inter-Testamental Studies at the University of Manchester, England, describes the situation as follows:


The principle of the Jewish master race, founded upon the myth of racial purity, was being jeopardized by intermarriage on an increasing scale. (155)

Nehemiah decreed against the intermarriage of Jews and non-Jews:


Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves. Did not Solomon, King of Israel, sin by these things? (156)

Ezra the Scribe, who had been given "full powers from the Persian King Artaxerxes to impose the law of the Torah on the Jerusalemites, decreed that mixed marriages with non- Jewish wives were annulled." (157) Professor Neusner confirms that "it was only by force that the dissolution of families was effected." (158)

There was an inevitable reaction to the racist doctrines espoused by Nehemiah and Ezra, sparking violent opposition from the population. "It seems surprising that the accredited representative of the sovereign Persian court should, in carrying out his commission, have met with fierce opposition, leading to the imminent risk of skirmishes and battles." (159)

Professor Graetz writes:


The grief of the wives deserted by their husbands, and the sight of children disowned by their fathers could not fail to awaken and to increase the animosity of those who were closely related to them. (160)

Through Nehemiah and Ezra's policies "even the house of David, the royal family, whose ancestor had married a Moabitess" was "looked down upon as heathens." (161)

Nehemiah "built the wall of separation" between Jews and non-Jews so securely "that it was impossible to break through it." (162) "To him and to Ezra" is attributed the "spiritual current which has since attained an irresistible force in the Jewish world," (163) although even modem Jewish scholarship accuses Nehemiah of "pedantry and fanaticism." (164)

Despite the backing provided to their Jewish collaborators by the Persian Empire, "the attitude of Ezra and Nehemiah, who opposed the assimilation of other ethnic elements, did not prevail." (165) The remaining years of Persian rule saw a waning of Judaism and the flourishing of the Canaanite religions. "The faith of the Canaanites lived on and on - as long as the prophets themselves - because it was so securely anchored to their own daily existence." (166)

The period of Persian rule in Palestine witnessed the replacement of the various Canaanitish dialects, including Hebrew, by the Aramaic language, the Semitic language of the neighboring Arameans (Syrians). Even among Jews, "the Aramaic tongue displaced the Hebrew as the general language of intercourse. The reading of the portions on the Sabbath was supplemented by an Aramaic translation called Targum." (167)

THE HELLENIC INFLUENCE

In 332 B.C. the land of Canaan was conquered by Alexander the Great in the wake of his conquest of the Persian Empire. Thus began a profound Hellenic influence on the Palestinians under the influence of Alexander and his successor Macedonian dynasties of Ptolemies in Egypt and Seleucids in Syria. Greek culture and language dominated, even effecting Jews and non-Jews in their ancient commercial colonies abroad. In Alexandria, Egypt, "the Greek language had as early as the reign of Ptolemy II (285-247 B.C.) replaced the sacred Hebrew and the Aramaic vernacular to such an extent that the leaders of the community felt the need for a Greek translation of the Torah. Accordingly, the famous translation known as the Septuagint came into existence." (168)

Jewish priestly powers in the land of Canaan were assumed "by the House of the Tobiads, descendants of Tobiah the Ammonite. The Tobiads showed a receptive interest in the Greek way of life. Greek colonies were established at Gaza, in Samaria and around the central plateau of Palestine." (169)

The Seleucids replaced the Ptolemies as overlords of the land, but "the tendencies of Hellenizing groups such as the Tobiads, powerfully supported by the Seleucid rulers, continued." (170)

Joshua, the son of the Tobiad high priest even changed his name to Jason, and the aim of the Hellenists became "complete incorporation with the pagan Greeks." (171)

Rebellion against Seleucid rule began under the Maccabees, sons of the Jewish priest Mattathias of Modim. In 164 B.C. they captured Jerusalem. (172) "However, the original religious motivation of the Maccabees was replaced by dynastic ambition. Constituting themselves as the Hasmonean dynasty, they first engaged in a bitter struggle with the Jewish sect of Pharisees, and then against the Jewish sect of Sadducees." (173)

The Maccabees began in opposition to the Hellenization which had gone so far that the "statue of Jupiter was placed on the alter of the Temple and to him sacrifices were to be offered." (174) It ended with the Jews deploring "the rapidly increasing Hellenization of the professedly Jewish Hasmonean court, which was gradually assuming the Greek appearance of any small Hellenistic princedom of the time. Indeed, Aristobulus I (104-103 V.C.) of the Hasmonean dynasty even adopted the title 'Greek-lover' (Philhellene) as his preferred self-description." (175)

Circa 88 B.C. numerous Pharisees broke into open revolt against the Hasmoneans and seized Jerusalem, but lacking popular support, their revolt failed. (176)

THE LAND OF CANAAN UNDER THE ROMANS

The Romans conquered Syria and the land of Canaan in 63 B.C. Pompey occupied Jerusalem and from then on the Romans became the real masters of the land, which was divided into Roman provinces ruled by procurators. Hyrcanus II was made head of the province which the Romans called Judea. Julius Caesar himself later on appointed the Edomite Antipater as the director of the affairs of the State. (177)

The Edomites were not Israelites by descent. They had only recently been "forcibly converted to Judaism. Antipater had "widespread connection with the Arabs, with whom the Edomites (Idumeans) were ethnically related, and with the people of Gaza and Ashkelon," who were descended from the Philistines. (178) Antipater's son, Herod the Great, was proclaimed king of Judea by the Romans. "Herod's long reign from 37-4 B.C. was characterized by extremely cruelty ... To ingratiate himself with his Roman overlords, he embarked on a large scale program of construction and development, building cities in honor of Rome, erecting pagan temples ... He rebuilt the Temple of Jerusalem on a magnificent scale." (179)

Herod enjoyed little support among the Jews, Most of them viewed him as an "Idumean servant" who had seized power illegitimately. (180)

But, "Herod liked to be regarded as a true Jew in spite of his Edomite ancestry. He had much sympathy with Greek culture and literature." (181) That he did not trust the loyalty of the Jews and that many of his subjects were not Jewish is indicated by the fact that "in his administrative apparatus and in the military gentiles were primarily employed." (182) The Temple built by Herod the Edomite was four or five times the size of King Solomon's Temple. (183) "Herod placed a golden eagle on the facade of the Temple as a sign of his allegiance toRome ... Pharisee Sages destroyed the image, and Herod had them executed." (184)

The alleged wall of Herod's Temple is the subject of one of the greatest modem frauds perpetrated on the Jews and gentiles of the world. This wall known today as the Wailing Wall is not a part of the Temple built by King Solomon or of the Temple built by King Herod. It is a wall built by Muslim Arabs. This was the conclusion of the investigation carried out by a League of Nations Commission in 1929, confirmed by the Mandatory power in an Order in Council in 1931, which stated inter alia:


To the Moslems belong the sole ownership of, and the sole proprietary right to, the Western Wall, seeing that it forms an integral part of the Haram-esh-Sherif area, which is Waqf property. To the Moslems there also belongs the ownership of the pavement in front of the Wall and of the adjacent so-called Moghrabi (Moroccan) Quarter opposite the Wall, inasmuch as the last-mentioned property was made Waqf under Moslem Sharia law, it being dedicated to charitable purposes. (185)


ROMAN RULE AT THE TIME OF CHRIST

After Herod's death the country was divided between his sons Archelaus, Philip and Antipas. Archelaus ruled Judea and Idumea with the title Ethnarch. Following complaints by the Jews against his cruel rule, he was exiled by the Romans (6 A.D.), Judea became part of the province of Syria and was ruled by a Roman procurator. (186) Later on the whole country of Palestine became part of the province of Syria and was placed under the rule of Roman procurators, who were responsible for the Roman prefect in Antioch. (187) Pontius Pilate was the Roman Procurator of the province of Judea at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. (188)

All real power was then vested in the Roman Procurator, including the death penalty. "A baraita of the Jerusalem Talmud (Sanhedrin 41 a) states that 'forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the right to exercise capital punishment was taken away by the Romans.'" (189) In the puppet Jewish councils, the Sanhedrin, Pharisee and Sadducee sects vied with each other in pandering to the wishes of the Romans. At the time of Jesus Christ the Jewish high priest was Caiaphas, "a protege of Pilate who maintained him in power for some 18 years, from 18-36 A.D." (190)

Many, perhaps a majority, of the population at the time of Christ were not Jews. The Romans renamed the land of I Canaan "Palestina," a word derived from the Philistines.

GALILEE HAD MIXED POPULATION

Jesus Christ and most of his disciples lived in Galilee. The Palestinian district of Galilee had a very different history from that of Judea and Samaria. Galilee had been ceded "by King Solomon to the Phoenician King Hiram of Tyre as payment for his work in conveying timber from Lebanon to Jerusalem," (191) and the district was occupied by diverse peoples. For this reason the Jewish prophet Isaiah used the term "Galilee of the nations." (192)

"It is probable that these people of diverse nations increased in number extending themselves also over the surrounding country. They gave to their new territories the old name, until at length Galilee became one of the largest provinces of Palestine." (193) "As early as Old Testament times the populationof Galilee was greatly mixed, its inhabitants partly pagan, partly Jewish." (194)

JESUS CHRIST A PALESTINIAN

No Palestinian had a greater influence on the history of the world than Jesus of Nazareth, a Galileean. His legacy is the foundation of Christianity, and he is revered as a great prophet in the Islamic world as well. His Palestinian antecedents in his native land have such clear continuity that until this day Christians are called "Nazarenes" (Nasara) in the Arab world. (195)

The New Testament describes how the Jews demanded the death of Jesus. The Gospel of St. Matthew states:


Pilate said unto them, What shall 1 do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.

And the Governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying. Let him be crucified.

When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.

And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head. and a reed in his right hand: they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! (196)

Modem translations of the Gospels incorrectly refer to Christ as the "King of the Jews." The actual Latin words in the Scriptures were "Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudeorum," which properly translated reads "Jesus the Nazarene Ruler of the Judeans." Thus Jesus was not identified by his Roman crucifiers as a "Jew" but as a "Judean," a territorial rather than a religious designation.

VERY FEW JEWS IN SAMARIA AT TIME OF CHRIST

There is no question that by the end of His Ministry Jesus openly healed and preached to Jew and gentile alike, and that many of his early followers were non-Jewish Palestinians. For example,


A notable convert was Simon the magician, whom his fellow-countrymen credited with powers nothing less than divine. It is extremely probable that this individual was the pries! of Kore and the Dioscuri, evidence of whose cult at Samaria is provided both by a temple and by monumenls. (197)

Although many Christians mistakenly believe that all Palestinians were Jewish at the time of Christ, this is a total fallacy. The entire province of Samaria was practically devoid of Jews, for example. Professor Andre Parrot, Curatorin- Chief of the French National Museum and Director of the Mari Archaeological Expedition in Palestine, writes of archaeological evidence concerning the city of Samaria at the time of Christ:


Such accurate knowledge of the kind of city Samaria was, gives colour to the episodes in the Gospel narratives in which the Samaritans play a part. It makes it easier to understand why the Jews refrained from entering a city so permeated by paganism, and why so deep a hostility should have divided inhabitants of the same country, subject to the same Roman occupation under the proeurators. (198)

Even those Samarians who worshipped Jehovah were officially outcast where the Jewish community was concerned, and these people, called Samaritans, continued for centuries to wage political war against the Jews in Palestine. (199)

In the Christian era, "a rising number of Samaritans relinquished their faith and embraced Christianity," (200) as did most Palestinians, but a very small number of Samaritans remained, where they survive today in Nablus.

REVOLT AGAINST THE ROMANS

In 66 A.D. a revolution started in Jerusalem against the Romans. In 67 A.D. the Roman Army led by Vespasian and his son Titus came to Palestine, subdued Galilee and Northern Transjordan and besieged Jerusalem. Jerusalem was occupied in 70 A.D. and was razed to the ground. The Temple was destroyed and many of the rebels were killed or taken prisoner. Palestine became a Roman colony.

The Zionists misrepresented the facts about this revolution and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. They glorify the common bandits and terrorists of Masada as heroes. The facts about the so-called "Jewish revolt" are as follows: In May, 66 A.D., a revolt against the Romans broke out in Palestine. Most of the Jewish clergy were puppets of the Romans and many, "including the priest Ananias and Aristaeus, the clerk of the Sanhedrin," were put to death as traitors to the Palestinian people. (201)

The Palestinian forces were primarily composed of Jebusite-descended Jerusalemites and non-Israelite Edomite Idumeans, in an uneasy alliance with the Israelite faction called the "Zealots". According to the historian Josephus, "Jerusalem was defended by 10,000 Jerusalemites. Their Idumean allies were 5,000. Later they were joined by the Zealots, who had laid aside their quarrel. These numbered 2,400." (202)

Thus the Israelite partisans comprised less than 14% of the soldiers defending Jerusalem. Yet Zionist propaganda misleadingly calls the entire Palestinian resistance to the Romans "a Jewish revolt."

The myth of the "heroes" of Masada is an even greater travesty of historical truth. Masada was the base of the Sicarii, a splinter group of terrorists that had broken with the Zealots. Their name, "daggerman" (from Latin sica, a dagger) described their insidious modus operandi. The Sicarii spent far more effort in terrorizing their fellow Palestinians than in fighting against the Romans. The Sicarii inflicted great barbarity on the Palestinian populace, "looting their property, rounding up their cattle, and setting their houses on fire."203 These common brigands, who contributed nothing to the defense of Palestine against the Roman legions, are today the great so-called "national heroes" of Israel.

Naive tourists are taken to the ruins of Masada by the Zionists in a perverted pilgrimage to banditry and terrorism. Real Palestinian heroes, such as the Jerusalemites and Idumeans who died in the defense of Jerusalem, are ignored by the Zionists.

PALESTINE BECOMES MOSTLY CHRISTIAN IN RELIGION

Christianity, although persecuted by the Romans, grew rapidly in Palestine and elsewhere. However, many Palestinians still worshipped the Canaanite religion, often under the Greek or Roman form of the old gods. Recent archaeological excavations show that Sepphoris, the then capital of Galilee, "was a mixed city of Jews, pagans and Christians. A Third Century mosaic recently found in Sepphoris clearly draws its inspiration neither from Judaism nor Christianity, but from pagan Rome."204 It was not until the Fourth Century that "the Emperor Constantine brought an end to the ancient sanctuary of Ashtoreth at Aphaca and generally suppressed the worship of Ashtoreth throughout Canaan."(205)

During this period the Christian teaching found many converts among the inhabitants of Palestine. (206) The Jewish Mishnah and Talmud were compiled during this period in which the number of Jews in Palestine was rapidly declining. Perhaps the increased assimilation of Jews into Christianity provoked an extremist backlash in some of the sentiments found within the Talmud, just as the extremist editing of the Pentateuch by Ezra had been provoked by the mass assimilation he found in Palestine on his arrival from Persia in the 6th century B.C. (207)

In the early years of the Fourth Century A.D. Christianity became the official religion of the vast Roman Empire. The old law of Hadrian, barring Jews from entering Jerusalem on pain of death, was revived. (208)

In 395 A.D. the Roman Empire split into two halves. East and West. Palestine became part of the Eastern Empire, Byzantium. Until 614 A.D. Byzantine rule over Palestine resulted in mass conversions to Christianity, due in part to religious zeal and in part to the strictures placed on all other religions, including that of the Jews.

"The Samaritans, who were still in considerable numbers, revolted in 529. Afterwards, most were converted to Christianity and only a small group remained." (209)

"Palestine, in fact, became a Christian country," (210) adopting the Faith of its native son, and providing leadership to the religion, not only the Apostles but also such figures as "St. Everistus, Pope from 100 to 109 AD., who was a Bethlehemite." (211)

Professor Graetz describes the situation of the Jews in Palestine during the sixth century A.D.:


Christianity had made itself master of Judea. and had become the heir of Judaism ... Jerusalem had ceased to be a center for the Jews; it had become a thoroughly Christian city ... The law forbidding Jews to enter the Holy City, which had been revived by Constantine, was, after the death of Julian, most rigorously enforced by the authorities ... (212)


JEWS IN PALESTINE COLLABORATE WITH PERSIANS TO MASSACRE CHRISTIANS

Meanwhile, in the summer of 614 A.D. the Persians invaded Palestine and "stormed Jerusalem where 90,000 Christians are reported to have been massacred by the victors, who were assisted by the Jews." (213) This collaboration by the Jews with the non-semitic Persians at the expense of their fellow Palestinians was in the tradition of the Persian collaborators Nehemiah and Ezra in the fifth century B.C.

A Jew of Tiberias, Benjamin, enlisted and armed Jewish troops to help the Persian invaders. These Jewish troops, "filled with rage," according to Professor Graetz,


spared neither the Christians nor their churches in Tiberias, and probably put an end to the bishopric. With Sharbarza's army they marched on Jerusalem, in order to wrest the Holy City from the Christians. The Persian general took Jerusalem by storm. Ninety thousand Christians are said to have perished in Jerusalem ...

In their rage the Jews relentless destroyed the Christian sanctuaries. All the churches and monasteries were burned, and the Jews undoubtedly had a greater share in this deed than the Persians ...

With the Persians the Jews swept through Palestine, destroyed the monasteries which abounded in the country and expelled or killed the monks ...

The Jews seem to have deluded themselves with the hope that the Persians would grant them Jerusalem and the surrounding territory whereon to establish a cornmonwealth. (214)


JUDAISM AND ITS TRADITIONS WERE DEVELOPED OUTSIDE THE LAND OF CANAAN

Judaism rests on two books, the Old Testament, which Jews call the Torah, and the Talmud. Professor Graetz states:


The text of the Torah was written in an antique script with Phoenician or old Babylonian characters, which could be deciphered only by practiced scribes. For the Judeans in Persia, even more than for the Judeans in Palestine, the Torah was a book with seven seals. It was therefore necessary to transform the old-fashioned characters of the Hebrew Scriptures (Khetab Ibrith) into others, which were familiar to the inhabitants of the land between the Euphrates and the Tigris, and which the Judeans of Palestine and of the Persian provinces used also for the ordinary purposes of everyday life. In order to distinguish it from the old writing, the new style was called the Assyrian (Khetab Ashurith), because it had arisen in one of the Assyrian provinces. The Samaritans, animated by a spirit of contradiction, retained the old Hebrew characters for their Pentateuch, only in order to be able to reproach their opponents with having introduced a forbidden innovation and falsified theTorah. Until the present day, their holy-writ exists in these old-fashioned characters, and it is a closed book even to most of their priests." (215)

The Torah "was created over the course of more than a thousand years by a host of writers, many anonymous, and in various countries." (216) Most scholars today "regard many of the biblical books as of composite structure, having been compiled from various sources and edited by one or more redactors." (217)

Much of the Torah was written in Babylon, as Jewish religious thought "adopted much of the Babylonian culture." The scholars who wrote The Book of History, state:


Our material still remains incomplete for ascertaining in any detail how far the sphere of Jewish religious thought had been influenced by that of Babylonia. Certain evidence that we do possess makes it very apparent that we cannot estimate this influence too highly; some day, probably, many of the institutions of Judaism which seem to be "Jewish" will be shown to be Babylonian in the sense that much of the Mosaic code of legislation is now proved, by the discovery of Hammurabi's Code of Laws, to have been directly derived from Babylonia ...

Modem authorities are persuaded that not only the Jewish religion, but all the traditions of Judaism were developed in Babylonia during the exile. (218)

... It was in Babylonia that Judaism first became that which it was and still is; and it could never have reached this stage unless it had come into close contact with the highest civilization of Western Asia. (219)

To Ezra the Scribe in Babylon is attributed the "settling of the canon of Scripture, and restoring, correcting, and editing the whole sacred volume." (220) In 458 B.C. Ezra "journeyed from Babylon to Jerusalem" and brought with him his version of the Torah, along "with full powers from the Persian king Artaxerxes to impose the law of the Torah on the community there." (221) Ezra may have returned to Babylonia and "there was a Jewish tradition that he was buried in Persia." (222)

THE TALMUD

There are two parts of the Talmud, the Mishnah, or the Palestinian Talmud, and the Babylonian Talmud. These two books are a collection of the writings, sayings and commentaries of thousands of scribes and commentators over many centuries.

The Palestinian Talmud, incorrectly called the Jerusalem Talmud, "was written in rabbinic Hebrew, which contained Greek and Latin words, and mostly Aramaic." (223) The old Hebrew language was only a dialect of the Canaanitish language, and rabbinic Hebrew was never a living language. (224) The Babylonian Talmud was written in the eastern Aramaic dialect spoken in Babylon. It also has "many Persian words in it." (225)

The Babylonian Talmud "is nearly four times as large (2,500,000 words) as its Palestinian counterpart (750,000 words)." (226) The Palestinian Talmud, although compiled in Palestine, was strongly influenced by Babylonia. Examples of Babylonian born contributors include Hillel, one of its most notable authors, who was born and raised in Babylon, immigrating to Palestine as an adult, (227) and Ze'era, who "occupies a prominent place in the Halakah as well as in the Haggadah." (228)

The Palestinian Talmud "was hastily finished at Tiberias, circa 400 A.D." and the "final redaction of the Babylonian Talmuds was completed circa 500 A.D." (229)

Talmudic Law, to which much of the Babylonian Talmud is devoted, owes its greatest debts to Assyro-Babylonian and Persian laws and traditions. "There can be no doubt that the Assyro-Babylonian laws outlived the state by centuries, while their influence was felt even in the Christian period, and may still be traced in Talmudic law. The most common terms for written contracts, 'shetar' and 'get,' are Babylonian ... Even the post-Talmudic literature, as in the 'Sefer ha-Shetarot' of Judah b. Barzillai, there are distinct reminiscences of Babylonian formulas ... the theory is also advanced that (Persian) Sasanid law influenced the code of the Babylonian Talmud. (230)

Professor Graetz confirms the Persian origins of the Babylonian Talmud in his assessment:


The Talmud contains much that is immaterial and frivolous of which it treats with great gravity and seriousness; it further reflects the various superstitious practices and views of its Persian birthplace, which presume the efficacy of demoniacal medicines, of magic, incantations, miraculous cures, and interpretations of dreams, and are thus in opposition to the spirit of Judaism. It also contains isolated instances of uncharitable judgments and decrees against the members of other nations and religions, and finally it favors an incorrect exposition of the Scriptures, accepting, as it does, tasteless misinterpretations. The whole Talmud has been made responsible for these defects and has been condemned as acollection of trifles, a well of immorality and falsehood. No consideration has been paid to the fact that it is not the work of any one author, who must answer for every word of it, or if it be, that that author is the entire Jewish nation ...

...The Babylonian Talmud is especially distinguished from the Jerusalem or Palestine Talmud by the flights of thought, the penetration of mind, the flashes of genius, which rise and vanish again ... The Talmud introduces us into the laboratory of thought, and in it may be traced the progress of ideas, from their earliest agitation to the giddy height of incomprehensibility to which at times they attain. It was for this reason that the Babylonian rather than the Jerusalem Talmud became the fundamental possession of the Jewish race, its life's breath, its very soul. (231)

Thus "the basic Talmud is known as the Babylonian Talmud..." (232)

According to such authorities as Dr. R. J. Zwi Werblowsky, Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities and Professor of Comparative Religion, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and Dr. Geoffrey Wigoder, Institute of Contemporary Jewry, also Hebrew University, Jerusalem, in their Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion:


In more recent centuries the center of talmudic study was in the yeshivot of Eastern Europe, which concentrated on the exclusive, and often hyper casuistic, study of the text and commentators. (233)

According to all these authorities, neither the Old Testament, nor the Talmud, have any exclusive connection with Palestine, and both have a closer relationship to Babylonia than to Palestine. Furthermore, in recent centuries, the center of Talmudic Judaism was transferred to the non-Semitic Khazar converts to Judaism of Eastern and Central Europe.

THE FATE OF THE JEWS OF PALESTINE

Following the fall of a band of Jewish fanatics at Bethar in 135 A.D., Jewish influence in Palestine diminishedconsiderably. Followers of the Jewish religion were forbidden by the Roman Emperor Hadrian from entering Jerusalem "on pain of death." (234)

Many of the Jews in Palestine adopted Christianity. Some of the Apostles had been Jews. When the Christians were a minority they were persecuted by Jews and pagans in Palestine. When Christianity became the established religion of the Roman Empire, of which Palestine was a part, the Jews and pagans in turn suffered persecution andeconomic disabilities. Those Jews who did not adopt Christianity trickled out of Palestine to live in the long-established Palestinian commercial centers in the neighboring countries where they suffered no persecution or economic disabilities.

Some of these Palestinians living abroad, as in Palestine itself, were Jews, while some were followers of Canaanite religions. Some communities were so ancient, such as that of Jerba Island off Tunisia. that in the sixth century B.C. it had been cursed by the fanatic Ezra the Scribe for its refusal to cooperate with his racist policies. (235)

Economic opportunity was also an important factor inducing Jewish and non-Jewish Palestinians to emigrate at that time. The Apostle St. Paul visited many of these Palestinian commercial colonies abroad, preaching to both Jewish and non-Jewish Palestinians of those communities. (236)

Although the Jews allied themselves with the Persians against the Palestinian Christians and helped the Persians to massacre tens of thousands, discord arose between the Jews and the Persians "which ended in the Persian general's seizing many of the Jews of Palestine and banishing them to Persia." (237)

In 629 A.D. the Byzantine Empire reconquered Palestine and revenge was taken against the Jews for their collaboration with the Persians and the atrocities they had committed. (238) Emperor Heraclius instituted a persecution of the Jews throughout Palestine and massacred all that failed to conceal themselves in the mountains or escaped to Egypt. (239)

Heraclius seized upon this occasion to renew the edicts of Hadrian and Constantine by which the Jews were forbidden to enter Jerusalem or its precincts (628 A.D.). (240) Only "the conquest of the country by the Arabs saved the Jews of Palestine from complete destruction. In 638 A.D. Jerusalem surrendered to the Caliph Omar." (241)

THE ARAB CONQUEST OF PALESTINE

The Caliph Omar took possession of Jerusalem about 638 A.D. "Bishop Sophronius, who handed over the keys of Jerusalem to Omar ... is said to have made arrangements with the Caliph in capitulating, that the Jews be forbidden to settle in the Holy City." (242)

Although under Omar restrictions were placed on both Christians and Jews, few of these were carried out during Omar's lifetime, and the Jews considered the Muslims their liberators from the yoke of the Christians. "The first Mohammedans treated the Jews as their equals; they respected them as friends and allies, and took interest in them as enemies." (243)

"The Jews in the ancient Babylonian district (called Iraq by the Arabs) attained a great measure of freedom through the victories of the Mohammedans." (244)

The Arab conquest of Palestine in the seventh century A.D. transformed Palestine as it did the other Semitic nations of the Middle East. Many Palestinians converted to Islam, although a significant number of Christians remained. The Muslim Arab conquerors put an end to the persecution of those few Jews left in Palestine and gave the Jews "physical security and economic and religious freedom." (245)

Arabic culture and language, sharing the same Semitic roots of the majority of Palestinians, easily replaced the Greek culture and language of the Byzantines as well as the Aramaic vernacular.

As the Encyclopaedia Britannica stated in 1911:


The Arabian peninsula has been the origin of the long succession of Semitic waves - Babylonian, Assyrian, Canaanite, Hebrew, Nabatean, Arab- that have flowed over Mesopotamia and Palestine; there is every reason to suppose that the Arab will remain master at the end, as he was at the beginning. (246)

The indigenous population of Palestine adopted the Arab language, and many converted to Islam. .The Palestinian Arabs are the descendants of all the races that settled and warred in Palestine from the time of the Canaanites until the conquest of Palestine by the British forces in World War I. This fact was verified in amemorandum to the British Cabinet dated October 26, 1917, submitted by British Statesman Lord Curzon, who stated therein that the Arabs are


a mixed community with Arab, Hebrew, Canaanite, Greek, Egyptian and possibly Crusaders' blood ... They own the soil, which belongs either to the individual landowners or to village communities ... They will not be content either to be expropriated for Jewish immigrants or to act merely as hewers of wood and drawers of water to the latter. (247)

In an article he wrote in 1917 entitled "Towards the Clarification of the Origin of the Fallahin," even David Ben- Gurion at least conceded that


The inhabitants of the villages which became subject to the new rule were the natives of the country that preceded the Arab conquest and who later adopted the language and the religion of the victors. (248)

The Arab entrance into Palestine was accompanied by the new faith of Islam, which honored the same prophets as Judaism and Christianity before it. Just as Christianity had by this time converted practically all of the Jews and pagans in Palestine, Islam in turn converted many. Yet the Muslims respected the "peoples of the Book," and Christians and Jews survived.

As the Muslim world expanded to encompass many of the Palestinian commercial colonies outside of Palestine, the Jewish communities therein experienced their "golden age" (249) under Muslim rule. Great figures such as Maimonides wrote in Arabic, and Arabic became the mother tongue of the Oriental Jews.

The majority of Oriental Jews became Arab in culture and language in the Palestinian commercial colonies abroad, just as the Palestinians at home had become Arabs by adopting Arab culture and language.

THE GREAT MAJORITY OF JEWS TODAY HAVE NO HISTORICAL OR ETHNIC RELATIONSHIP TO PALESTINE

The Jews of today are composed of the Ashkenazi and the Sephardi Jews. The Sephardi Jews are the Oriental Jews who are descendants of the Jews who left Palestine during the Christian era and migrated to neighboring Arab countries, North Africa and Spain. Some of the Oriental Jews were also converts to Judaism, such as some Berbers of North Africa who were converted to Judaism. The Tunisian Jew, Albert Memmi, a Professor of Sociology at the Sorbonne in Paris, has expressed doubt as "to whether his own ancestors in the Sahara had any historic connection to Palestine. Perhaps, he suggested, they were just Berbers converted to Judaism, since according to his information, most North African Jews are simply Berber nomads who have accepted Judaism." (250) Arthur Koestler maintains that there were many Jewish converts outside of Palestine with no biblical family roots:


Witness to the proselytizing zeal of the Jews of earlier times are the black-skinned Falashaof Abyssinia, the Chinese Jews of Kai-Feng who look like Chinese, the Yemenite Jews with their dark olive complexion, the Jewish Berber tribes of the Sahara who look like Tauregs, and so on, down to our prime example, the Khazars. (251)

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Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem
By Issa Nakhleh

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