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For the record, Alfred Nobel was a Lutheran Christian and the prize he created from making a fortune on dynamite he ordered administered by a Norwegian Nobel Peace Price Committee. (See my point)?

I have always battled this analogy between the comparatively small global community of Jews, fewer than 14 million worldwide, and the astoundingly large and varied community of Muslims, the Ummah comprising a subscription of about 1.6 billion.

Although Moses flees Egypt with the Jews and a “mixed multitude” — a note given much consideration by those who study the Torah — the fact from the beginning is the doctrine is defensive, not expansive, the people gathered out of necessity (perhaps opposition to Pharaoh may be likened to opposition to Bashar al-Assad) and existing as a people together in common cause, together in history and scattered by history, cannot be compared to either the myriad societies courted or conquered by generals Constantine and Muhammad and their like through the generations (world Christian population: 2.18 billion according to the Pew Forum).

About 1.7 million Israelis live in poverty, which in turn lends Israel the distinction of sustaining one of the highest — if not the highest — poverty rate in the developed world.

So much for having produced great wealth and disproportionate numbers in Nobel laureates: imagine 1.3 billion Jews and extrapolate accordingly if other factors were not to be brought into play.

If one is to assess a “global state of affairs for Muslims” with contemporary Jewish achievement and fortitude in mind, one may be well advised to revisit the wellspring of Jewish thought plus the near 0 CE revolution in Jewish argument and law explored by Hillel the Elder. If Jewish energies seem both more confident in the world, more resilient in the shadows of immense disasters, more free to argue, discuss, research, and discern how things work in many fields, and less obsessed with other means to power and status, it may have to do not only with intellectual behavior traced from before Moses to Hillel to Maimonides but with the progressive temperament and smaller numbers to suit or facilitate that growth.

Oppression, ironically, also places a premium on what may be carried in the mind — knowledge and relationships — and what must be abandoned (in materials, workshops, and stores) from time to time and place to place.

The embrace of humanity and values that propel Jewish accomplishment, so I believe Hillel would be the first to note, are not exclusive.

Hillel the Elder has been noted as living between 35 BCE and 10 CE but precise dates vary.


The premise for the response “from the awesome conversation” (FTAC) seems voiced regularly from within Islam as encouragement and goad supporting education and modernization within the Ummah.  While one may suppose jealousy and resentment powerful motivators of ambitions shaped to suit individual and national self-concepts, and those emotions fit the pattern of the statement that is essentially “Jews win more Nobel Prizes than Muslims”, the comparison itself bears examining, and so I whip something together like the above (pointing out the disparities in numbers and the character of the communities involved) and the rest adds its very small dot to contemporary cultural and political influence.

My conclusion echoes what I’ve invented — distilled, proposed — and written into the column to the left: the Jews are a global ethnic commune with its heart in Jerusalem and its soul invested in the body of the Land of Israel.

More or less.

Moreover, the Jewish People share a mythos that is ancient and not “overwritten” by whatever johnny-come-lately plus ambitious writer-leaders arrived to in essence scoop up more loose human energy from the sea of humanity surrounding them in their time.

The Romans were a mixed lot by the time Jesus-Paul-Constantine arrived (over time too, but not so much by millennial standards) to sweep through the continent and establish Rome as capital of a Christian civilization.

Perhaps centuries later, Muhammad conceived of a more difficult and sudden task, i.e., the imparting of some facets of Jewish spirit as if the Jews were decadent impious cheats and himself the voice of God on Earth, perhaps fair reason, fair license, to develop pretext to inveigle, murder, and plunder the Banu Qurayza for arms, women, and the pleasure of their silence.

Jewish rejection of the new monotheist religions, each in their time, sets the stage in each for enterprise-wide supersession to be leveraged by anti-Semitic libel and slander accompanied by discrimination in law and other persecutions aided by clever (like “dhimmi status”) devices.

For squabblers (and a few malevolent narcissistic sadists) beating each other’s brains out over the matter of God’s favor, the gentle Hillel the Elder — whose life overall precedes the Christian concept and rise of Christianity but also at 0 CE — at the end of his life — approximates its inception — effectively challenges rote observance within Judaism and expands the space in law and in social relationships given to good principle founded in knowledge of the Torah.

Perhaps all of the rest has been bloody commentary as well.


Wikipedia: Hillel the Elder.

Jewish Virtual Library.  “Hillel and Shammai”.

Jewish Encyclopedia.  “Hillel”.

Telushkin, Joseph.  If Not Now, When?  Schocken, 2010.

Possibly Hillel’s Four Most Telling Epigrammatic Statements

“That which is distasteful to thee, do not do to another.  That is the whole of Torah.  All of the rest is commentary.  Now go and study.”

* * *

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?  If I am not for others, what am I?  If not now, when?”

* * *

“Whosoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whosoever that saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.”

* * *

“Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving your fellow creatures and drawing them near to the Law.”

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