Wednesday, December 06, 2023

From Bethlehem - Merry Christmas 2023
عـيـــــد الـمـيــــلاد فـي بـيـــــت لـحـــــم

Article completed on December 14 :

Bethlehem [Arab.: bait lakhm] بـيــــت لـحــــم
Arabic: House of Meat - Hebrew: House of Bread
Latest body count on Dec. 9, 2023:
Palestinian death toll reached 17.487
including 7.729 children, 5.153 women
according to the Gaza Health Ministry
compared with 1.200 Israelis perished
on October 7 according to Israeli stats.
[about 1.150 according to Al-Jazeera]

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Recording of the declaration in Aramaic (Isaric dialect),
the language Jesus from Nazareth would have used:

Transcript: Yàlidïn ìnon čol-ènašëya čwaþ χeḁrrëya we šàwyëya va ǧurča we va zìdqëya. Bìyìzvədun yal χuešaba we yal þeḁrþa, we koyìsˀərun χàd ləwaþ χàd va ruχa di àχuþa.

Aramaic is a Semitic language which was the lingua franca of the Near East for a time comprising 1.400 years, i.e. from the 7th century BC until the 7th century AD, when it was widely replaced by Arabic, another Semitic language. Classical or Imperial Aramaic was the official language of the Persian, Babylonian and Assyrian empires, and it spread as far as Greece and the Indus valley.

At biblical times, Aramaic was the language of the ordinary people of Jerusalem and appears in some of the Dead Sea Scrolls. At the time of Jesus it existed side by side with biblical Hebrew which should have been preferred by the gentry of Jerusalem, the Pharisees and Sadducees. Today, Aramaic is still used as a liturgical language by Christian communities in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, and is spoken by small numbers of people in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Armenia and Georgia.

Christmas song in Arabic, performed by Fairuz فــيــروز,
a Christian Lebanese and a famous artist in the Arab world.

Christmas hymns from the Syriac and Maronite rites
تـراتـيل ميـلادـية من الـطـقوس السريانـيّة والمـارونـيّة
provided by the Lebanese Maronite Order. These are
religious chants sung in Aramaic and some in Arabic.

Jesus from Nazareth is being seen by followers of the Islamic belief as one of the Prophets or messengers of Allah, and there is a remarkable Sura quoting Jesus when naming his successor as the next messenger of Allah. Serious Christian theologists have stumbled on a related text included in the Bible and come to a similar conclusion, however by some complicated deduction which I would like to spare you:

And 'remember' when Jesus, son of Mary, said, “O children of Israel! I am truly Allah’s messenger to you, confirming the Torah which came before me, and giving good news of a messenger after me whose name will be Aḥmad.” Yet when the Prophet came to them with clear proofs, they said, “This is pure magic.”

[Qur'an 61.6 - The Qur'an sample above is shown in fully-vocalized Arabic and represents the writing already used in the 8th century when Arabic was fully developed to preserve the 'holy book'.]

The name of 'Ahmed' is likely to be mixed up with 'Mohamed', hinting at the Prophet of Islam. Both forenames are widely used in Islamic communities and have something in common which is characteristic for Semitic languages. Semitic idioms are based on an alphabet mainly consisting of consonants. Vocals, especially the short ones, are usually not included in the writing of Arabic, Aramaic and biblical Hebrew, while the root of a word consists of three consonants. Such, there is not much difference in the writing of two names closely related to each other:
احـمـد Ahmad
مـحـمـد Mohamed

Additional consonants can be added to the root and short vowels might change according to word meaning and grammatic rules.


'Bilingual' Israel

As to Arabic and its predecessor Aramaic, both languages have been used by peoples and tribes who came from the same region or the same state.

Israel, however is being regarded as 'bilingual': Modern Hebrew and Arabic should be used side by side.In fact, the Palestinians do what they always have done, they are speaking their regional dialect of Arabic. Some of them, in direct contact with Jews have adopted Hebrew as well.

On the other hand, modern Hebrew is being used by a certain percentage of educated Jews as an everyday language. That idiom has been developed on the the basis of biblical hebrew, still used in religious rites, and avoids the shortcomings of its predecessor by applying rules to identify vowels. However, those speaking modern Hebrew belong to a mixed community of people coming from all parts of Europe and the Near East and belonging to all kinds of races and tribes.

As there is no 'Semitic race' like there is no 'Arian race', both expressions being promoted at the times of the holocaust but lacking any scientific evidence,there should be no consistent Jewish race either.

Even though members of the Jewish diaspora are being regarded as the descendants of historic tribes originating from Palestine, they had been uprooted in their homeland for some reason and were scattered all over Europe where they suffered a changing fate as outsiders within closed regional societies. The distinction between Sephardim (from Portugal and Spain), Ashkenazi (from Western Europe) and Mizrahim (from the Middle East) is therefore nothing more but an indicator for their main locations of settlement, while being entirely different from their historic predecessors after a process of delocation lasting some 2.000 years and the steady need to cope with new realities.

Therefore, modern Hebrew is the language of the descendants of a mixed population, united by religion and/or nationalist loyalism to their State of Israel, and which had been planted 75 years ago on the ground of an Arab people. The new settlers, however, failed in finding some kind of modus vivendi with the 'indigenous people' on the basis of equality. And here we are today ......

The current population of Israel is 9,2 million as of December 2023.
About 2 million are considered as native speakers of Literary Arabic.
About 5 million are regarded as native speakers of modern Hebrew.
However, 9 million Israelis are being considered as having at least
some basic knowledge of modern Hebrew. Editor's Remark: When
IDF invaded Gaza in November / December 2023, they declared
having deployed 'Arabic speaking Israeli soldiers' in the process.


I was raised and educated at a time, when there was much sympathy for the lucky survivors of German concentration camps, and nobody earnestly contested their wish to settle in Palestine where they could hope for a new beginning.

What we didn't realize at the time was the fact that founding a new state for different people was closely related with the concept of replacing the original inhabitants, the Palestinian Arabs, by reducing their civil rights and confiscating or destroying their dwellings. It must have been clear to Ben Gourion and his co-founders from the beginning: This would not be a morally clean process. And it wasn't. When I visited Israel after the war of Yom Kippur, I met with two entirely different generations of Israeli citizens: The survivors of the holocaust, friendly people to speak with, and their young descendants of my age who never had made the experience of their ancestors, yet showing a militant attitude towards the Arabs whom they regarded as human waste that must be kept under control by an 'invincible' Israeli army and Israel's 'world-famous' secret service.

The catastrophe of forced Jewish settlement (An-Nakba) in the late 1940ies was covered up by some kind of 'brain washing' in Israel's presentation abroad, in combination with a long-standing German taboo regarding any criticism of questionable activities whatsoever, especially when it comes to Israel's => policy of illegal settlements in the Westbank. Another typical example is Israel's treatment of => Günther Grass, German laureate of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and who dared to respectfully critisize Israel on the subject of military upgrading their army with German submarines. This was leading to his public evaluation as an 'antisemite' and 'persona non grata'.

This time, however, it is different. The world is mourning at least 20.000 Palestinians, comprising many children and women, who became the victims of a modern genocide that brought Israel nothing more than one single hostage freed from Hamas by IDF while three further hostages were accidentally shot by Israel's army. Furthermore, 2.000 Israeli soldiers have been disabled during the invasion of Gaza [Al-Jazeera / BBC in December 2023].

Even tedious negotiations between Israel and Hamas, both sides employing diplomatic channels, finally proved to be more successful.


Jews seem to have their difficulties with Christmas.
In a question on the Rabbi Phone, somebody asks
if he were allowed to attend a Christmas party of
his company, fearing to loose his job if he doesn't.
The Rabbi allows his participation in general, but
not without a stern warning against what he calls
"villageous sky activities" and which should mean
praying in front of a Christmas manger marked by
the 'Star of Bethlehem'. He should eat kosher food
and refrain from drinking too much, thus avoiding
to get his brain caught by the company. And of
course no wrong entertainment !

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