Hachrazah 5770 Tishrei 27
Informal translation from Hebrew of the 27 Tishrei, 5770 (15 October 2009) statement:
Meeting with Bedouins - Summary
Last night a visit was arranged of Sanhedrin Rabbis in the Bedouin community of Rahat.
After the Roman conquest of the Land of Israel at the end of the Bar Kochba Rebellion, millions of Jews were killed and many more were exiled. However, as experience shows us, when a state conquers its enemy, it is interested in the conquered territory continuing to be active, as it is then possible to collect taxes from it. Thus the Assyrian and Babylonian kings did, as it is written:
- Kings 2 24:(11) And Nebuchadnezar, King of Babylon, came upon the city, and his servants besieged it. (12) And Jehoiachin, king of Judah, went out to the King of Babylon, him and his mother, and his servants, heis ministers, and his officers, and the king of Babylon took him, in the eighth year of his reign. (13) And he took out from there, all the treasures of the House of G-d, and the treasures of the King’s house, and he cut off all the golden vessels which Solomon, King of Israel, made in the Temple of G-d, as G-d has said. (14) And he exiled all of Jerusalem and all of the ministers, and all of the mighty men, ten thousand exiles, and all of the craftsmen, and smiths, no one remained, but the poor people of the land. (15) And he exiled Jehoiachin to Babylon, and the king’s mother, and the king’s wives, and his officers, and the chief men of the land, he lead in exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. (16) And all the men of might, seven thousand, and the craftsmen and smiths, a thousand, all of them, might men of war, and the King of Babylon brought them to exile in Babylon.
Thus also the Romans acted. But it was done in an intense process at the end of which Jews were left in distant places without leadership.
This population represented, without spiritual leadership, easy prey for the armies of Islam as they galloped northwards. The Muslim regime of Mohammed’s rule, by the sword little by little forcefully converted to Islam all the descendants of the survivors that the Romans left behind. Joining them were also many of the tribal Jews of Arabia that fled the destruction that Mohammed perpetrated against the Jews of Arabia, who were also converted by force to Islam over the course of generations.
That being said, the descendants of these Jews hold in their heart (apparently with pain) the memory of them being of the seed of Israel, and they are connected to the ground of the land (of Israel), the land of their forefathers, zealously. It is proper to assume that in their understanding that their religion is Muslim because of the persecution and threats on their fathers and mothers does not add sympathy in their hearts to the Islamic religion (in conservative language). Normally these people married amongst themselves, which raises the chance that assimilation is not a widespread concern. Historical, geographic, and genetic studies prove that this population is very similar to the Jewish population, in particular to the Ashkenazi population, for the Ashkenazi Jews were the ones that the Romans exiled to Europe. So much so that from a genetic perspective there is closer kinship between Ashkenazi Jews and “Palestinians” than from Ashkenazi Jews and Yemenite Jews. The opinions regarding their status, Jews, doubtful Jews, gentiles, still needs to be studied in full halachic depth.
By the Bedouins, whose forefathers adapted themselves to desert fluctuations, the Roman hand was less upon them than the Jewish farmers in the land, and therefore it becomes clear that in spite of their dark appearance, they are even closer to Jews genetically and in their customs.
The “Palestinian” population is accompanied with Jewish traditions in different fields. Circumcision on the eighth day (not like in Arab countries), village names with the word “Kafr” (like the Hebrew “Kfar”) like Kafr Kassam, Kafr Kana, etc, that is a Hebrew word that doesn’t appear in the names of Arab communities outside of the Land of Israel. Many of them refrain from eating camel meat, which is permitted according to Islam. They slaughter animals like the Israelite custom.
Sheikh el-Hozeil, who invited the Sanhedrin Rabbis, said explicitly that he has, like most of the Bedouin, a tradition that they are Jews. These words were heard already at the time of the War of Independence by the people of the Israeli government by Bedouins, but they were neglected. Information on the Jewish descent of the “Palestinians” in the country existed already at the time of the War of Independence, and much precision and detail was gathered by the Hagana’s information service. Today, the Bedouins act as Muslims, but they have special Jewish customs in addition, more than the general “Palestinians”. For example, the Bedouin law is not Islamic Sharia law. Rather, it is a law that is very close to the law of the Torah of Israel. For example, the Bedouins separate challah from their dough, like the custom of Israel. The Sanhedrin Rabbis found proper to develop connections with the Bedouins on a religious basis, principally on the common faith in One G-d. In Islam, there is a stream that backslid to observance of the Seven Laws of B’nei Noach. The Sanhedrin has found fit to develop this stream. The acceptance by the Bedouin will bring greater understanding and closeness of opinion of the Bedouins to the Torah of Moses which, as it appears is the Torah of most of their forefathers.
The Bedouins also received an explanation of the difference between the Yahud (which the Quran uses expresses harshly the need to kill them), and the children of Israel, for which the Quran gives a special role in spreading the faith. The Yahud in the Quran is called idol worshippers, and therefore the identification of them with the children of Israel, as is often done by the extremist preachers, is mistaken. According to research of the doctoral student Kazik in Britain, the meaning of the name Yahud is a tribe by the name Hud who were indeed idol worshippers.
This step is very complicated because the Bedouins today do not have a desire to convert as a public and return to the religion of their fathers. But they do have a desire to develop ties of faith and indeed the Seven Commandments of B’nei Noach, and even to develop the hidden national ties of old.
The Sanhedrin Rabbis were present to see, as expected, that the subject is found in a process of complicated ambiguity in the Bedouin population, as there are those Bedouin who are very interested in developing ties, and there are those that are influenced by groups from the Islamic Movement and who even attempted to stop the meeting.
The reception of Sheikh Salim el-Hozeil was pleasant and warm. Among the Sanhedrin Rabbis that came were Rabbi Yoel Schwartz (Av Beit Din), Rabbi Professor Mordechai Kislev, Rabbi Yeshaya Holander, Rabbi Meir HaLevi Hakak, Rabbi Tzvi Idan (Among the founders of the Sanhedrin and its first President and representative), Rabbi Professor Hillel Weiss, and others. In front of the audience a few matters were said regarding the meaning of accepting the Torah of Moses (Moses our teacher is very respected in Islam), and the obligations of Gentiles, by Rabbi Tzvi Idan (Writer of the book “Asot Mishpat” which obligates in his book the halachic force for reestablishing the Sanhedrin). And by Rabbi Dov Stein, Secretary of the Sanhedrin, who spoke on the importance of opinion connections. The difference between blood connection and opinion connections were explained, and the need to bring the Bedouin population to closer opinion with the Jewish nation and its Torah.
Also honoring the occasion with his presence was former minister Rafi Eitan, who was one of the founders of Rahat, as an intelligence officer of the IDF during the War of Independence, whose base of operations was the northern Negev, including of course the area of Rahat. The event was also followed by researchers who worked in the field of the roots of the “Arab” population of the country – Tzvi MiSinai (one of the heads of the hi-tech field in the country), lawyer Elon Yarden, and Dr. Mordechai Nisan-Mizrachan from Hebrew University.
The audience that was present received the matters in a positive spirit. There were photographs taken of those who participated shaking hands, and even more than that. The audience also watched on this matter a documentary showing the Jewish traditions and Jewish identity that exists among the “Palestinians”.
The representatives of the Sanhedrin already received an additional invitation for an another visit for strengthening of ties. The hope is that the moment that the Bedouin population will stand up in observance of the Seven Laws of B’nei Noach that, at the very least, there will be an end to hostilities between them and Jews.
Rabbi Professor Hillel Weiss – Speaker
Rabbi Dov Stein – Secretary
This ruling in the news
- Sanhedrin Sponsors Unique Bedouin-Jewish Get-Together - Arutz 7 (10/13/09)