Category Archives: Zionism

Love Thy Neighbor Explained

Many Christians claim a personal relationship with Jesus but show little regard for his commandments to serve the poor and love thy neighbor. Some conceal these contradictions by narrowing the definition of “neighbor,” as Rev. Howard Bess explains. 

Jesus set his ethical agenda in a conversation with a Scribe, who asked Jesus about the greatest of commandments. Jesus responded with not one but two: “You shall love God with heart, mind, strength and soul” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus’s response is recorded in Mark 12:28ff, and similar statements are found in the Matthew and Luke gospels. Since then, Christians have never disputed his standards; however, over the centuries Christians have argued over who constitutes a neighbor.
“The Parable of the Good Samaritan” by Jan Wijnants (1632–1684)
The vast majority of Christians over the past 2,000 years have conveniently avoided including all human beings in the embrace of a loving God.
And Christians have lots of company in this selectivity. Ancient Israelites had the same problem. Indeed, when Jesus recited his “love your neighbor” commandment, he was not cutting an entirely new path. He was quoting Leviticus 19:18. However, put into the context of the larger Leviticus passage, neighbor went no further than members of one’s own family and clan or tribe.
The story of limiting the meaning of neighbor has a long history among the Israelites.  According to these historical traditions, Yahweh, the God of the Israelites, delivered them from slavery and gave them a great leader in the person of Moses. With the aid of a series of miracles, Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, with their first significant stop at Mount Sinai, where God gave Moses the laws by which Israelites were to live.
But Sinai was not their destiny. They were headed toward a land of their own, what we call Palestine. There was a problem, however. The land was already occupied by coalitions of tribes that were ready to fight for what they had.
Scholars, using both Biblical and non-Biblical sources, have pieced together the story of how the Israelites came to control the entire Palestinian area. These Israelites were not a peace-loving people. They had experienced many cruelties in Egypt and were not about to submit easily to the tyranny of another powerful ruler.
In their view, Yahweh had freed them from slavery in Egypt, and it was Yahweh, who would keep the dream of a new life in a new land alive. To the careful reader, the nature of their God is found embedded in their tradition. Exodus 15:3 states “Yahweh is a man of war. Yahweh is his name.” The Israelite God was not a peace lover, and neither were the Israelites.
In their wilderness wanderings, the Israelites made contact with another wandering, landless tribe, the Habiru, whose name is related to the word Hebrew. The word habiru can properly be translated “outlaw.”
The Habiru’s existence is well established by Near East documents, though they existed outside the social and political structures of the era. They were a tribe skilled in war and often hired themselves out as mercenaries. Scholars today believe the Habiru and the Israelites joined forces and became a lethal war machine.
In forming the partnership, the requirement of the Israelites was that the Habiru had to submit to the Israelite God, Yahweh, making the Habiru a part of the Israelite clan.  Under loyalty to Yahweh, the two groups became kin, family and neighbors.
The new Israelite war machine systematically conquered the coalition tribes that controlled Palestine. The Israelites were ruthless, requiring that the tribes that occupied Palestine bow down to Yahweh (the war God) or be killed. Those who did not were slaughtered without mercy.  However, most chose to bow down to Yahweh and also became neighbors worthy of the love and courtesies of the growing Israelite clan.
Old Testament law makes it very clear that love was reserved for people, who embraced Yahweh as their God and who were thus absorbed into the Israelite nation.   This was the dominant definition of neighbor in Israelite history and tradition. But it was not unchallenged.
During the entire history of the Israelites, special people, called prophets, appeared to critique the behavior of leaders, whether kings or priests. Prophets seemed to appear from out of nowhere. They might be farmers, poets or actors. But the position was not inherited, nor were they elected. They were not controlled by leaders.
The word “prophet” can be translated as “delegated messenger” or “one who is called.”  But their weapon was the simple phrase: “thus says the Lord.” The Old Testament prophets can best be understood as protesters who contested the standards and actions of those in power. It was the prophets, who had differing opinions about the definition of the neighbor, who was to be loved.
Jesus from Nazareth lived and taught in the tradition of the protesting prophet. A lawyer once asked Jesus “and who is my neighbor?”  Jesus did not give a direct answer but rather told the story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus was including the Samaritan, though coming from a despised group, as a neighbor.
My argument with most of my Christian brothers and sisters is that they have abandoned the Jesus expansion of the definition of neighbor. Indeed, Jesus’s definition of neighbor made him the unique person that he was.
By the Rev. Howard Bess;  a retired American Baptist minister, who lives in Palmer, Alaska.  His email address is:


Peace is possible between Childeern of Ishmael and Israel, according to the Tanakh and the Koran

“PEACE IS POSSIBLE BETWEEN CHILDREN OF ISHMAEL AND ISRAEL,  ACCORDING TO THE TANAKH AND THE KORAN” is a booklet written by Dr. Asher Eder, Jewish Co-Chairman, Islam-Israel Fellowship. Aftab Khan an independent freelance researcher and writer, found it interesting and held a friendly dialogue with Dr.Asher Eder through e mails exchange. The summary is reproduced here. Keep reading as WebDoc >>

A Friendly Dialogue Between  Dr. Asher Eder and  Aftab Khan  

Islam and Judaism are the nearest to each other as both are linked to their Father Abraham (peace be upon him), the true monotheist, who had totally surrendered his will to the Will of God. He even did not hesitate to sacrifice his only beloved son as fulfilment of the Will of God. Apart from some initial set backs historically Muslims and Jews have been with ease with each other, rather the Jews enjoyed a privileged status under Muslim rule in Spain and Jerusalem. The Zionist passion to rebuild the temple, and expansion of Israel at the cost of Palestinian Muslims (Children of Ishmael not pagan Biblical Palestinians) and their lands has created an ever widening conflict. The solutions proposed at various forums have been torpedoed by the ambitious politicians to gain votes and power.
The Solomon’s Temple is not there, which is sacred to the Jews and Muslims. 13 centuries back, the house of worship of the Yahweh, Allah (God) was restored by the children of Ishmael. In my humble personal opinion; ‘the worship of the same God by the Jews and Muslims, for the time being,  could continue to be done at their respective places in their own way [status quo] without any contempt to others (no one is idol worshipper, or pagan). It would provide cooling effect and more time to reach the amicable settlement in due course. Let’s not be in a hurry.
Peace is possible among the children of Abraham [from Ishmael and Israel], by agreeing to the commonalties: “Say: O People of the Scripture. Come to an agreement between us and you: that we shall worship none but Allah, and that we shall ascribe no partners unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside Allah. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him).”(Qur’an;3:64).

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