Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Mister Cohen, my brother

Michael Lumish

Readers of Israel Thrives know that "Mr. Cohen" is a regular contributor and friend, but one who may be bowing out.

Given the modesty of IT, the loss of any significant voice is a blow.

Mr. Cohen's comment from beneath my recent piece entitled, Heritage Theft: A Response to Dani Ishai Behan, took me a bit off-guard.
Michael Lumish, you correctly accuse Muslims of heritage theft against the Jewish people.

But you are just as bad as they are, when you falsely slander the Jewish people by saying that they “emerged out of a mish-mash of competing peoples”.

This super-ignorant remark totally ignores and denies everything that is written in the Jewish Bible, also known as the Tanach or the OT (Only Testament)
This was my initial response, which I am only publishing now:
Mr. Cohen, my brother.

I want you to know that your contribution here has been greatly appreciated and I very much hope that it is not over.

Your links and commentary matter to me and to Israel Thrives.

I have respect for religious Jews, although I do not happen to be very religious, myself.

In truth, I am an agnostic when it comes questions of God.

I am perfectly comfortable knowing what I do not know.

The deity is unknowable.

My focus is on doing what little I can do to help stand up for the Jewish people and for the Jewish State of Israel.
The main source of the difference between us is that Mr. Cohen is more religiously devout than myself which is why he took exception to the aside wherein I mentioned that the Jewish people “emerged out of a mish-mash of competing peoples.”

I fail to understand, from a historical perspective, how such a notion could possibly be the least bit controversial.

And I hope that Mr. Cohen will be open for discussion.


  1. It may be more historically accurate to say that the Israelite people differentiated out of a mish-mash of competing peoples. It was the monotheistic understanding of the cosmos and observance of law set forth in the Hebrew Bible that was the yeast of what became Western civilization based on the individual.

    Imagine if the Canaanites had prevailed. Would another people like the Israelites have arisen?

    Part of Mr. Cohen's issue is the gratuitous language, and he gets a second here. Long ago gave up on the need to include it in comments, which are too easily misread in the best circumstances. It is needed rarely, if ever, to make a point, yet it seems to pop up much too often. Without it, discourse would not suffer.

    Of course, it's not as bad as at some sites, and among some segments, but would love to see less of it overall, just like less use of things like twitter. Who says we need to express an opinion or feelings to everything anyway? Was it better when we kept some opinions to ourselves?

    1. School,

      "gratuitous language"?


      That's what Shirlee says, too.

      I'm afraid that I have to defer to the philosopher and linguist George Carlin on this matter.

    2. Perhaps Carlin had a different purpose in mind. What is the attraction to profanity when it does not seem to add to the substance? In comments, it can ramp up the back and forth and take the train off the tracks of the intended destination.

    3. Pardon me, but I'm still looking for this alleged den of foul language. Whatever its extent here, and I believe it's rather minor, someone issuing threats as a means of persuasion is simply unacceptable. To me, that's worse than a naughty word.

    4. Of course, did not say this was a "den of foul language," unlike other places, but the questions remain. It's so easy not to be profane, so how or why, in almost every case, is it necessary?

      Why say, "I could give a fu**," when one could say, I could care." Now saying, "fu** the draft," that's a different story. Too often people fall back on foul language. As if what they say would not be understandable otherwise?

    5. A bad upbringing at dKos. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    6. Reminded of those videos of little girls and immigrant kids hating on Trump. Sick. More sick that a parent would allow it.

    7. Sorry, old school, but I wasn't addressing your rather anodyne comment. I have no problem with it.

    8. My target was Mr. Cohen's bill of particulars against Mike Lumish.

  2. Everyone's origin stories seem nutty to someone else. I suppose one could go really far back to Ur and find some proto-Ivri who wandered in from the fields one day and became the Hebrews. Not sure what the point of that is though.

    1. I don't even really know how we got onto the question of origins. I guess Mr. Cohen has concerns. My only point was that the Muslim appropriation of Jesus is part of the larger attempt to appropriate Jewish history for the purpose of delegitimizing the Jewish state.

    2. What is the point of anything? The rise of Israel after the Hebrews had become a people seems as worthy and interesting topic as any other, perhaps more because it is ours. And especially for cultural Jews who don't know much beyond Exodus or the history of the Jewish people.

    3. Which is one thing but not another thing. We are a 'people' but we are not, I think most of us, Israeli citizens living under a rubric of civil laws instituted in Israel by Israelis. We are kindred, at best. But don't forget that many countries have very similar laws of ingathering to the extent where it's not hard to get an Irish or Greek or Russian passport for example. The ornery fact remains, that Israel is a country now, today in every modern sense of the world in law and deed. Period.

    4. Did not realize that was in dispute or was the subject under discussion. Thought it had to do with how the Israelite nation formed and developed in antiquity and why it differed. Not earth shattering in terms of current events, but interesting in terms of identity.

  3. "I fail to understand, from a historical perspective, how such a notion could possibly be the least bit controversial."
    From a historical perspective it's not at all controversial. But it seems obvious that Mr. Cohen comes from a devout religious background. That being said, I doubt he would be open for such a discussion, which may be seen as a loss for all sides of such a discussion.

    1. Don't think there is a consensus about the notion among academics, however, unless it is determined that all humans emerged that way. The people that became the Jews not only were the first to practice monotheism and Hebrew law, but they reduced their history to writing, in a manner of speaking, and even after they were conquered and went into exile they did not assimilate into the "mish-mash" of Assyrians or Babylonians, but became Jews.

      Highly suggest the Yale lectures on the Hebrew Bible. It's not only the devout that it teaches.

    2. School, I agree.

      "they did not assimilate into the "mish-mash" of Assyrians or Babylonians, but became Jews."

      Indeed, they did not assimilate into the mish-mash, but developed as a distinct people out of the mish-mash.

      But please remember that this reference was merely an aside to the larger piece which sought to demonstrate that turning Jesus into a "Palestinian" was merely one example, among many others, of the Palestinian-Arab theft of Jewish heritage.

    3. Some did assimilate. The 10 tribes that lived in Israel, to the north of Judea, were conquered by Assyrians or assimilated. Apparently, they were not faithful to the covenant.

      Yeah, present day Muslims are the main culprit of heritage theft, from Jews and Christians. They are nefarious. It's why the recent news about the 2,700 year old coin mentioning the governor of Jerusalem is so nice.

      Is Jesus part of Jewish heritage, other than he was a Jew?

    4. Certainly some Jews assimilated into other religions / cultures throughout the period of the emergence of the Jewish people.

      All of this is made much more complex due to the fact that Jewish history, like the history of the Chinese, fades into pre-history.

      Nonetheless, we can say with assurance that the Jewish tribes emerged out of the larger tribal groups competing within the Levant and the land of Canaan.

      I am hardly an expert on the history of the ancient Israelites, but I regard this as commonsensical.

      It's interesting to me, tho, that this side-point to the main argument in the other piece has taken center stage in the conversation... so much so that it appears, along with my horrible vulgarity, to have driven away Mr. Cohen!

      As for Jesus, I don't think that there is too much doubt that he worked within the Jewish tradition which even then was ideologically diverse.

      In fact, somewhere in the New Testament - if memory serves - at one point Jesus is approached by a woman in great moral distress and asks what she should do.

      He essentially tells her to follow the Torah.

    5. And this leads to the question of whether or not to consider Islam as part of the Abrahamic tradition, as is generally claimed.

      I don't see it.

      In most religious traditions one must have been born into the faith or to have "sat at the feet of a master" in order to be considered part of the tradition.

      Jesus did both.

      Muhammad did neither.

    6. Whatever happens with Cohen happens.

      The main quibble with the above is that the Israelite tribes did not emerge out of competing larger groups, but were already constituted before they arrived in Canaan. From there they either conquered these other pagan groups or some of the latter assimilated.

      As to Jesus, he may have been a Jew with a messianic bent, and observant, but how does that make him, or even his Jewish followers, part of Jewish heritage? Muslims try to steal this Jewish man as theirs, but it seems more of an affront to Christian heritage and followers that see him as god, which is certainly not Jewish heritage.

      If the Israelite tribes did not develop monotheism, would it have developed? If so, how long would it have been delayed? And how different would human development have been without this revolutionary concept given to humans by the Israelites?

    7. Good article
      "Jesus and the Torah"

  4. Michael, After this 'article' referring entirely to Mr Cohen I doubt you will hear from him again.

    Wrong move. This should have been addressed privately, not publicly. If this had been done to me, I'd be long gone.

    Mr Cohen, if you read this you are more than welcome to visit my website Jews Down Under.

    1. He began an open conversation.

      All I am doing is responding in an open manner.

      There is no point to any of this if you cannot discuss.

      That's why I do this, to help facilitate discussion.

      If Cohen wanted a private chat, that's fine, but then he should have emailed me.

      He didn't.

  5. I am willing to forgive and forget what Michael Lumish said about the origins of the Jewish people.

    I was also at fault, because ideally, I should have reacted with patience and diplomacy, but instead I allowed my outrage and frustration to control me.

    Jews who deny what is written in the Jewish Bible harm the Jewish claim to the Land of Israel, whether they realize it or not, and whether they admit it or not.

    Therefore, I suggest that from now on, the moderator of this blog should keep his agnosticism to himself, and not mention it, to avoid harming Israel, and also to avoid offending Jews who believe in Torah.

    I also suggest that the moderator of this blog adopt a new policy of zero tolerance for bad language. In a small way, this blog represents Jews and Israel; therefore, it must not say anything that brings shame or disgrace on Jews and Israel; for example, bad language.

    There are still many Jews who are offended by bad language, even if they do not live near you. Those Jews feel frustrated by the relentless flood of bad language that surrounds them on all sides, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Most hurtful of all, and most frustrating of all, is when bad language comes from our fellow Jews. One word of bad language coming from our fellow Jews is as painful to hear as 100 words of bad language from non-Jews.

    Using one word of bad language is the spiritual equivalent of holding a stick of dynamite in your hands, when it explodes.
    Pro-Israel Articles from Aish HaTorah:

    Articles Refuting the BDS Movement from Aish HaTorah:

  6. ***** Articles about Pro-Israel Arabs and
    Pro-Israel Muslims from Aish HaTorah: *****

    Dr. Shadman Zaman, a Muslim from Bangladesh, Praises Israel::

    Mr. Abdullah Al-Hadlaq a Kuwaiti Writer says Israel is Legitimate:

    How Mr. Kasim Hafeez became a Muslim Zionist:

    Why Mr. Noor Dahri is a Muslim Zionist:

    Mr. Walid Shoebat an Ex-Muslim-Pro-Terrorist is Now Pro-Israel:

    Farhana Rahman is a Female Muslim Zionist:

    Dema Taya an Arab-Muslim Female Defends Israel on Arab News:

    Sarah Zoabi is Proud to be a Muslim Zionist:

    Dr. Qanta Ahmed a Female Muslim Defends Israel:

    Articles about Media Bias against Israel
    from Aish HaTorah:

    Why is the Media Biased?

    4 Reasons Why the Media is Biased against Israel:

    Dishonest Reporting: Media Bias Against Israel:

    The Media: Destroying Jerusalem Again:

    European Media and Anti-Israel Bias:

    Palestinians: Western Media's Ignorance and Bias Palestinians:

    Huge source of high-quality pro-Israel videos:

    1. Who has the right to deny the right of expression? Not you, Mr. Cohen. A Jew can be an atheist.

      Some things hurt Jews and Israel more than others. Though you may be accurate in your interpretation of Jewish history and development, your view on profanity is awkward. There is too much profanity in general, but to claim it casts Jews in a bad light is exaggeration, and there are far too many things that Jews should worry about, like the hatred directed against Jews no matter if they are prim and pristine in their public presentation.

      In other words, lighten up.

    2. With all due respect, I think Mr. Cohen makes a serious and vital point. Agnostic, atheist or what have you, looking at how Jews have survived and thrived over the centuries while being assailed by the greatest super powers of various eras and were returned to Eretz Yisrael after 2,000 years of exile and not seeing the Divine Hand of HaShem at work is, to me short sighted. Even more interesting is the fate of those various powers who tried to destroy the Jews.

      There is a reason for all this. It is part of HaShem's plan. Without that context, without that Divine connection to HaShem, we are indeed nothing but a random group of people. And one with no real explanation for what has befallen us and the amazing good fortune we merit, something unique that has happened to no other people on earth...our nation
      s redemption after 2,000 years. Neglecting that aspect of Israel's redemption is a serious mistake in my opinion.

      I appreciate that some people choose to be agnostic or atheist. They certainly have that right. But then how can one explain the miracle that is Israel?

      I saw a video last Thursday (10 Tevet) with literally thousands of pious Jews praying at the Kotel, led by eminent Rabbis in the prayer for rain. This happened after the Chief Rabbi of Israel Jews all over the world to join them in a day of prayer and fasting to alleviate a serious drought in which Israel had received only 40% of the usual rainfall.

      A few days later the skies opened up, the rains came down in torrents, and Mt. Hermon got 12 inches of snow pack.

      Coincidence? Maybe, but the exact same thing happened in 2010, with the prayers in response to an appeal by The Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Shlomo Amar. The rains fell three days later.

      None of us truly understand the Divine Will. That's very fitting, since we are on an entirely different plane than El Shaddai. But we have the Torah given to us at Mt. Sinai to help us understand on the level we are capable of, to know where we have been and where we are headed.

      The way I see it, to ignore that is a serous mistake.

  7. Mr Cohen, where do I start.

    Jews can be atheist. I am one, but I am a member of a shul, which I attend on the High Holydays, not because I am religious in any way, but because I feel it is something I should do being a Jew. If that makes any sense. Besides the fact it gives one a chance to catch up with family and acquaintances one hasn't seen in a year.!!!

    I too abhor profanities and have NEVER used one, nor will I ever. It makes my blood boil and I see no necessity for it. I was educated at a public (private) school in England where I was taught that swearing is a poor knowledge of the English language and one only uses such words when one is poorly educated. I think using them shows a person up in a poor light. Mike knows how I feel and tells me to alter words if I want to when I publish one of his articles. I don't impose my will on him.

    Your comment "One word of bad language coming from our fellow Jews is as painful to hear as 100 words of bad language from non-Jews." is disgraceful and racist. You are putting Jews on a pedestal, which we do not merit.

    It's Mike prerogative to do what he sees fit on his Blog. I don't like it on my web site and when one has been posted on it, or the Facebook page associated with it, I privately ask them not to do it again as I don't like

    I come from a family which in the main is Lubavich. That's their choice but they never judge others, as you are doing, and each is entitled to his/her own opinion of their religion. We are taught in Judaism not to judge others, which is precisely what you are doing.

    As for where we came from, no one really knows and I doubt most really care it's a fait accompli. We are in the main good people.

    The Muslim part I missed and don’t have time to look for it. Sorry if I have repeated anything. I don’t have time to read through either.

    Mr Cohen…Shoyn genig. Loz es.

  8. Well, this is a conversation that I did not expect to be having here.

    There are two aspects, that of faith and that of language.

    As for the first, people are free to express their faith or their agnosticism or their atheism as they see fit in this venue. I will absolutely not impose some sort-of religious litmus test on Israel Thrives.

    As for my personal feelings, I respect people of faith but am in no position to make any claims on the nature of the deity.

    As for language, my tendency is to err on the side of freedom of speech and expression.

    The truth, of course, is that this joint is pretty tame.

    Perhaps a bit too tame.

    1. I'd use the word 'civil' rather than tame, Micheal. It only seems too tame because we've all become so used to uncivil discourse, online and in the media in general, I think.

    2. Heya Rob, thanks for dropping in.

      I've been aware of Joshua Pundit for a long time.

      Peace to you, please, my brother.

    3. Michael, freedom of speech does not mean we should allow and accept the profanities which have more than permeated our lives.

      My husband was watching film on TV yesterday and I kid you not, every second word was the F word. I commented that clearly the script writer must has not attended school.

      I felt ill.

    4. Shirlee, can I take this to mean that were disgusted by Trump's "Sh*thole" comment?

    5. Profanity is much like fake outrage, there's way too much of it.

      That is not to say it's never appropriate to use, but in almost every instance it does not have to be and adds nothing to the meaning of the communication.

      It's not hard to make the distinction. In fact, it's rather obvious. More people should make it and think twice before throwing in the profanities as if it provides cred.

    6. Michael, it's now well known he said no such thing. I have tweets and also comments from people who were there. Once again the vile leftist media you have in the US has invented news.

  9. Likewise, Michael. And todah rabah.

  10. Truth be told there is very little "profanity," here. When there has been it has been more like a big old exclamation mark more than anything else. Course it is a gateway drug to progressive rhetoric so.......

    1. Agreed.

      See the videos I mentioned above with the young girls and feminism or the young kids and Trump. Starting very early.

    2. I agree too.
      There is a funny running gag in Star Trek IV about the use of profanity.