By: Engr. Edgar Mana-ay

IN MY previous articles, I have defined an anti-Semite to be someone who thinks Jews are worse than other people, and who wants to cause them harm. Anti-Semitism is the reason why since 2,000 years ago and until now the Jews all over the world are hated and the favorite whipping boy of all races especially the Arabs. It is also an irony that both the Jews and the Arabs are descendants from the same ancient tribe, the SEMITES, of which Abraham is their patriarch!

Abraham, the Semite and ancestral Patriarch of all Jews and Muslims, was chosen by God to leave his land in Ur of Chaldea 4,000 years ago and transfer to the Promised Land (present day Palestine/Israel) to establish a new nation.

Abraham, hence the Jews or Israelites, was chosen by God to spread His message to the world which is: There is only one God (the start of monotheism) over all mankind and one universal standard of morality. And that is for people to care for the poor, the widow, the orphan and the stranger, that people refrain from working one day a week. Monotheism (the worship of one God) is practiced by only three major religions in the world: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The Jewish belief that they are the chosen people has often provoked anti-Semitism and antagonism from non-Jews especially the Arabs. In 1973, in the aftermath of the Yum Kippur War, where Israel defeated the army and air force of invading Egypt, the Egyptian patron, the Soviet Ambassador to the United Nations, Yakov Malik said: “The Zionists (an international movement for the establishment of a Jewish national or religious community during the diaspora and later for the support of modern Israel) have come forward with the theory of the Chosen People, an absurd ideology. That is religious racism.”

The most damaging anti-Semitic document in history, the forgery known as “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” (movies were made based on this forged document) is based on the idea of an international conspiracy to rule the world by the “Chosen People.” By the way, the word Zion means one of the hills in Jerusalem, David’s city. It also stands for Jerusalem as the city of God’s Temple. First circulated by Russian secret police during the late 1800s, The Protocols’ original distributor claimed that it demonstrated that many head of state were under the domination of 300 Jewish leaders who were responsible for Europe’s major problems. The Protocols, of course, proved nothing of the kind.

In the light of these attacks, it is not surprising that some Jews have wanted to do away with the belief in Jewish “chosenness.” Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan advocated dropping “chosenness” for two reasons: to undercut accusation that the Chosen People idea was the model for racists ideologies, and because it went against modern thinking to see the Jews as a divinely chosen people. But does it? After all, how did the notion of one God become known to the world? Through the Jews. And according to Jewish sources, that is the meaning of chosenness: to make God known to the world and this is how God became known to mankind.

Why were the Jews chosen? Because they are descendants of Abraham. And why were Abraham and his descendants given the task to make God known to the world? The Torah (the Jewish Bible) never tells us. But what God says in Deuteronomy 7:7 is that: “it is not because you are numerous that God choose you, indeed you are the smallest of people”. Because of the Jews’ small numbers, any success they would have in making God known to the world would presumably reflect upon the power of the idea of God. Had the Jews been a large nation with an outstanding army at the start of Abraham up to the time of Christ, their successes in making God known would have been attributed to their might and not to the truth of their ideas. After all, non-Muslims living in the Arab world were hardly impressed by the large numbers of people brought to Islam through the sword.

The Chosen People idea is so powerful that other groups have appropriated it to their advantage. Both Catholicism and Protestantism believe that God chose the Jews, but two thousand years ago a new covenant was made with Christianity so that the idea of a chosen people had passed from the Jews to all Christian believers. Mohammed, likewise, didn’t deny Abraham’s chosenness. He simply claimed that Abraham was a Muslim, and he traced Islam’s descent through the Jewish Patriarch. It therefore insisted that Islam’s followers had become God’s messengers.

The Jews themselves rarely speak as being the Chosen People, perhaps out of fear of sounding self-righteous, or provoking anti-Semitism. In fact Maimodes (Abraham Joshua Heschel, the first person to write a systematic code of all Jewish laws), did not list it as one of the Thirteen Principles of the Jewish faith. Are the Jews still the chosen people by God until today? Only the unfolding of events since the birth of Christ until now and in the foreseeable future can affirm this manifest destiny of the Jewish people.