We need a new “umbrella” religion

by Dr. Ichak AdizesToday, I read that a Jewish Rabbi requested that the Seattle airport authorities add a menorah to their Christmas tree decoration.That is interesting.What would have happened if a Christian religious leader requested the Tel Aviv airport that a Christmas tree be added on display in addition to the Jewish menorah?There would be a Jewish religious uproar in Israel.There is no chance the airport authorities would have complied.Why?Because Israel IS a Jewish state. The USA, however, SHOULD NOT be a Christian state.Hmmmmm! We are different, eh?I have difficulty with two sentences in my Jewish prayer book. I always skip them or remain silent when it is time to recite them: "ata behartanu"—“you have chosen us" and "baruh ata adonay she lo asanu ke goyey ha adama"—“blessed is the Lord who did not make us like the goyeem, the non Jews." I have difficulty with this superiority complex. It can cause a resentment and rejection; A force in one direction calls for a responding force in the opposite direction.But wait a moment. Is it only us, the Jews, who are separatists and have this superiority complex?All religions have many rules and rituals to cause separation and seclusion. Jews, for instance, cannot “share bread” with non-Jews because Jews eat only kosher food. Another point. We live within walking distance from the synagogue, because it is forbidden to ride/drive during the Sabbath. The result is that we congregate in our separate section of town. Furthermore, we speak a language, Yiddish, which no one else shares; and if our son or daughter intermarries, we mourn their death; we disown our own child. (Obviously I am referring to orthodox religious Jews.) Christians ask the believers to get on their knees at some prayers. Jews can not do that. Moslems have forty days of fasting. Who can do that if he or she is not a Moslem?Religions do everything they can to prevent assimilation. They have  detailed rules and rituals that I believe are based on fear that if the believers  are not different, they  will become the same.Hmmmmm.Can we be different without fear of assimilation, without having to reject others because they are not like us?Take me for instance. I feel Jewish and I am proud of it and would like my children and grandchildren to be Jewish, to continue the two thousand years’ commitment to a certain set of values, to a certain point of view about life and our responsibility to “Tikun Olam”, to work hard and responsibly to create a better world...; but I do it out of pride, not out of fear.I feel proud to be Jewish and need no rituals to segregate me and to keep me Jewish. I have no fear or any problem with an airport that has only a Christmas tree, as long as no one forces that tree into my home. There I have my Menorah. And I admire other religions that have other values that deserve admiration, too.If the Seattle airport has a menorah, I wish the Tel Aviv airport would have a Christmas tree.I think the world needs a “new religion”, one that accepts all other religions as equally legitimate.  Like the hand: all fingers are different, but they still work together.Do facts generate one’s point of view or is it vice versa?There is a big debate over Carter’s new book: "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid."It reminds me of a joke:Moish is sitting in a subway seat reading an anti-Semitic newspaper.Haim, his friend, is very upset.“How can you, Moish, a Jew, read a Nazi newspaper?”“Well,” says Moish, ”when I read Jewish newspapers I get depressed. All I read about is persecution, pogroms, troubles, dangers…. When I read Nazi newspapers, Amehaye, (I feel good) we run the world. We own the media. We control the money. We are powerful.”What is Carter’s point? “He is asserting that pro-Israel lobbyists have stifled debate in the United States over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; that Israelis are guilty of human rights abuses in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories; and that the editorial pages of American newspapers rarely present anything but a pro-Israel viewpoint. "NY Times," December 14 2006.Hmmmmm. Ask the Israeli or the Jewish community and what would they say? Just the opposite: Our PR stinks; the world does not understand us; the media is biased against us. The real abusers of human rights are the suicide bombers who kill and maim civilians—men,women and children—in coffee shops, pizzeria or buses. That terror is the real abuse. What Carter calls Israeli human rights abuses is the unfortunate reality of dealing with Hammas followers and potential suicide bombers who  refuse to negotiate a peace settlement and Iran which openly and publicly propagates the destruction of the state of Israel and is probably developing nuclear devices that can make that threat a reality.Now, whom would you, my friend, believe: Carter or the Jewish community?Years ago I was up for tenured professorship at UCLA. That is a major event in the life of a young assistant professor. Will they give me a lifetime secured appointment or not?The staffing committee met to decide.The vote was seven against me and one in favor.I asked to meet with the staffing committee to make a presentation.I spoke for half an hour.They voted again.The new vote was seven in favor and only one against.A TOTAL REVERSAL!!!!Now, PLEASE NOTE: During this half hour, I promise you, I did not publish anything new. I did not do any more research. There was nothing of what I told them that they did not know. All I did was change their frame of mind, or should I call it, their “hypothesis”.You see, scientists, who are people, start with an hypothesis and then  look for data to prove or disprove their hypothesis.Usually they prove their hypothesis, because then they have discovered “The Truth”. If they disprove the hypothesis, they did not discover anything yet; so, they have to continue their research until they find data which proves an hypothesis.But what is this “hypothesis”?It is a point of view.So, my dear friends. It is not true that people are value-free, that they first look at the facts, totally unbiased, and then formulate their opinion.May I suggest that we first formulate an opinion and then look for the facts, or color the facts, to support our position.Now my dear friends, you tell me, which newspaper was Carter writing for?

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Dr. Ichak Adizes