Genesis: Ideological Calendars and the Land of Israel

October 12, 2012 12:56 pm 9 comments

A map of biblical Israel.

Everyone is conditioned culturally to think in specific ways and to adopt specific timelines.

Christians think in terms of Before Christ and After Christ. Never mind how accurate that is or if there ever was such a point in time. The fact is that most of us live in a world where this Gregorian calendar is the common one. We Jews use it alongside our own, but prefer to talk about “the Common Era” (B for before, A for after) and we are now 2012 years after. Islam has its own calendar, the Hijri, going back to and named after Mohammad’s migration from Mecca to Medina. They are 1433 years into that one. Calendars don’t end there. The world has an Armenian, Assyrian, Bengali, Buddhist, Coptic, Hindu, Japanese, Thai, and even a Unix calendar, to mention only a few.

Since our religion is less personality based, our Jewish calendar chose to start with Creation, which at some stage the rabbis worked backwards to decide it happened 5772 years ago on Rosh Hashanah. This calendar emerged during the Talmudic era, some 1800 years ago. No one else agrees with us, either about which calendar to use or when creation actually took place, but agreeing with Jews is very much a minority pursuit, anyway! And we don’t even agree among ourselves, but it doesn’t matter, our calendar is our heritage and science has its own calendar as well.

Each of these calendars etches a mindset into the faithful that influences a lot more than what the date is! Much of Christianity thinks that anything before Christ was primitive and barbarian, and anything after is New and Enlightened. Islam believes that the history that counts started with Mohammad and the Koran. Claims about holy texts existing for a thousand years earlier and that Isaac was Abraham’s favorite son rather than Ishmael are simply wrong. The nasty, deceitful Jews fiddled the texts to suit themselves. This of course leads to the current mindset that there were no Jews or Israelites in the Land of Israel before Islam and therefore they cannot claim any right to their ancestral homeland.

I am bringing this up not in any way to support one political side or the other in the endless painful and explosive dispute over whether Israel should try to make peace with the Palestinians and compromise territorially to give them a state of their own. What happens in the Middle East is in the hands of Heaven, for I cannot see the Palestinians, supported by millions of Muslims, giving up their demands, nor the Jews of Israel upping and moving en masse to the USA. Any more than I can see the UN taking up the cause of Kurdish self-determination.

What interests me is why so few people seem to understand the historical claims of Jews to be in the Land of Israel in the first place. And why the Western mind, including Obama’s, seems to have been taken over, lock stock and barrel, by the absurd notion that Israel is only the product of European guilt over the Holocaust and had Hitler not arisen the Jews would have had no moral or political basis for being there altogether (except as tourists, perhaps). It is as if Balfour lived after World War II.

I can only explain this by turning to mindsets created by history. I do not want to link it to anti-Semitism, because the antis love to argue that Jews raise that issue whenever they are in a tight spot. To the Muslims, Dar El Islam is the territory that belongs to the Muslim religious world and good Muslims must try to repossess every inch of it. It was fixed by conquest. But it is argued that since this conquest took place in the seventh century it obviously trumps the conquest the Israelites made two thousand years before that at the expense of the poor Canaanites. (Does anyone still have any sympathy for them?) So what kind of conquest is more legitimate? Early conquests or late ones? Is last come first served?

It is not just religions that have subjective vision. Marx provided the Holy Text of the Left. History before him was just a turgid mess of class and religious oppression. His new religion of transnational economic and universal egalitarianism would sweep it all away. Jews, religious ones in particular, were the natural enemies of such pure Marxism. They stubbornly stuck to their religion. They symbolized the capitalist classes. They were rootless cosmopolitans always challenging the dogmas and doctrines of orthodox Marxism (hence the antagonism towards Trotsky as well as to Zionism).

The collapse of the old Soviet Union not only dealt a near deathblow to the Left, but it also revived the separatist nationalism the Soviets tried so hard to eradicate. Yugoslavia started to fracture. Europe now encourages separatism; Welsh, Scottish, Basque, Catalan, and ethnic minorities now fight for their right to separatism. And Palestinians are seen as another ethnic minority trying to free itself from an intruding colonial power.

Except that Israel was not colonial. It was there first, if you could free yourself from the artificial mindset of your ideological calendar. And the collapse of communism has meant that the Left has no center or cause to rally around anymore, except attacking capitalism and what it likes to call its running dogs–namely and once again, the Jews, the Israelis.

This is not polemic to justify the status quo. Nor is it intended to gloss over the mistakes and tragedies on both sides. It does explain the absurd alliance between religious fundamentalism and left-wing political correctness. It is not an argument against criticizing Israel. But it is an argument against trying to delegitimize it.

I have always been struck by the explanation of the great commentator, Rashi, writing in Europe a thousand years ago, for why the Torah begins with the Genesis narrative rather than laws. He said that it was so that if ever anyone challenges our right to our land we could argue that since God created the world, He could decide who goes where. It is not an argument that many would agree with perhaps, but it shows the challenge to our rights is a very ancient one.

Our calendar starts with Genesis as the simple physical act of creation, whenever it was. The world continues regardless. But intellectual fashions come and, eventually, go.

9 Comments

  • I WANT TO THANK JEREMY ROSEN AGAIN FOR AN ARTICLE WELL WRITTEN AND BALANCED.
    HE IS A CREDIT TO YOUR NEWSPAPER.
    PIM

  • The fault is beginning with the stage of Jews that are describing the debate as they were from the UN.
    This is the deadly track used by our politicians. If it is a debate then you are expected to be elastic and to pay for the peace more and more. Our stage is that our rights for this country is not any one except the fact that G-D gave us this country and there fore it is holy for us. Our policy should be that our country is from the Prate to the Nile as it is described in the Torah. This will be the only one reason for the Arab to look for peace because otherwise they have what to loose.
    Our leaders are making a great mistake saying that we have Historical rights. These Historical rights are not better than the Historical rights of the German tribes on Ukraine today. All the time we will not have religious leaders that may say this true we will loose. The secular leaders can not say it because they will be blamed to be full of Hypocrisies.

  • SPECIFIC TIMELINES ARE VERY NICE TO ORIENTATE OURSELVES ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED WHERE AND WHEN IN HISTORY.

    HISTORY WRITING BY ITSELF IS PROBLEMATIC,YOU NEED CONFORMATION BY AN OUTSIDE SOURCE WHO HAS NO REAL INTEREST IN YOUR HISTORY WRITING.

    JUDAISM HAS SEVERAL CONFORMATIONS THROUGH ARCHAEOLOGY.

    THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO OUTSIDE PROOF FOR THE EXISTENCE
    OF A JESUS CHRIST(Joshua ben Joseph)AT THAT PART OF THE TIMELINE.
    CHRISTIAN RELIGION HAS DONE THE JEWS ABSOLUTELY NO FAVOUR, NOT IN THE PAST AND NOT TODAY.

    ANCIENT GREEK CIVILIZATION DID US ALL A FEW FAVOURS
    BUT THE VATICAN LIKES TO KEEP THIS BURIED AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
    PIM.

  • rodney allsworth

    if I may part quote- It does explain the absurd alliance between religious fundamentalism and left-wing political correctness. I find this revealing to those of us who believe the new testament of the bible, the reason is simple, the fundamentalist and left have taken over the bible believers pulpits with a reworked theology, this theology insists that man will finally develop a -4th reich, – 1000yr reign, or a millennium period of never ending peace on earth, the new testament actually tells us that Jesus Christ will return deal with the warring nations and he will reign for a thousand yrs. the 3rd reich was germanys war effort, the the current global UN world unity is an attempt to bring all nations under one law and religious system, all this to be achieved under such as the climate change ppoliticial movement-its global politics, nobody can deny global happenings or so they think./like thats gonna happen, and the humanists and secualists simply dont believe in god and therefore dont want god in the mix and want all humankind to believe that they are their own god, live any lifestyle you want and we will have no reason to fight each other, hmnn, the only other answer is the written biblical understanding that nothing is going to become a rality untill the lord JESES CHRIST RETURNS TO THIS SAD EARTH,sadly though, the author of this article wouldnt believe the biblical new testament even is actually relevant, and so the debate goes on-and on-and,get it.

    rod qld aust

    • Thank you for your comments but alas they are irrelevant to us Jews since for us the Bible is simply what you call the Old Testament. The Old Deal for us is far superior to any New Deal.
      Therefore nothing in the New Testament is any more relevant to us than the Koran or indeed Greek Mythology.
      Now if your Jesus Christ turned out to be Elijah we might have something to talk about.Either way were he here today he’d be wishing you Shabbat Shalom
      Jeremy

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    “Girls” creator Lena Dunham responded on Tuesday to charges of antisemitism over an article she had penned for the New Yorker, saying it was all in good humor. Speaking to Variety, Dunham reflected on her “tight-knit Jewish family, where Jew jokes were part of the essential fiber of our communication.” The article Dunham referred to was called “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz,” with options such as “He doesn’t Tip” and “He’s Crazy for Cream Cheese.” Among Dunham’s critics, Anti-Defamation [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Retired NBA player Keyon Dooling tweeted a link on Wednesday to a wildly antisemitic article that accuses Jews of seizing control of the world’s media and using it to promote their own interests. The article, published by an obscure blog in April 2013, highlights six companies it claims are owned by Jews — such as Time Warner, Inc. and the Walt Disney Company – that allegedly “control 96 percent of the world’s media.”  The post includes allegations of “Jewish control” and says [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz responded to an outcry from Jewish fans on Tuesday, saying he will go ahead and play in the season opener despite the fact that it falls on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. “Keep getting tweets about that being the first night of Rosh Hashanah… Don’t know what I’m supposed to tell you. It’s a tough break,” the Jewish athlete wrote, referring to the Giants’ on-the-road game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Sept. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    JNS.org – When David Blatt was hired as head coach of the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers last June, he was not often recognized when he walked the streets of downtown Cleveland. What a difference a year makes. Now, Blatt can go few places without being recognized. For good reason. The Jewish coach has the Cavaliers in the mix to win the city of Cleveland’s first championship in a major sport since the Browns won the National Football League title in [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    A Hebrew tattoo sported by Croatian soccer star Mario Mandzukic became an internet sensation in Israel after it was exposed on Tuesday during a Champions League match between Ateltico Madrid and Real Madrid A first glance, the tattoo, on the athlete’s back, might leave one with the impression that it was an unfortunate artistic mistake, since the Hebrew letters do not make sense as they are written. However, a closer look at the tattoo shows that it was actually written [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    For the past two years, I have served as Opinion Editor at The Algemeiner. I’m perhaps most proud of the paper’s commitment to publishing diverse and opposing viewpoints on the controversial issues of the day. We pride ourselves on voicing different opinions because we know that most issues are not black and white, and because our community is better served by a public debate. In my life outside of the paper, I am a professional actor and playwright. And similarly, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    JNS.org – “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic Parker Brothers board game, requires imperial ambitions. Players imagine empires and are pitted against each other, vying for world domination. Amid this fictional world war, beginners learn fast that no matter the superiority of their army, every advance is a gamble determined by a roll of the dice. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Weighted reinforcement cards provide the only opportunity to reverse a player’s fortunes and resume the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Sports Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    JNS.org – For Daphna Krupp, her daily workout (excluding Shabbat) at the Jewish Community Center (JCC or “J”) of Greater Baltimore has become somewhat of a ritual. She not only attends fitness classes but also engages with the instructors and plugs the J’s social programs on her personal Facebook page. “It’s the gym and the environment,” says Krupp. “It’s a great social network.” Krupp, who lives in Pikesville, Md., is one of an estimated 1 million American Jewish members of more [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.