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Favorite Jewish professor of Christians and Messianics

April 13, 2016

boyarinChristians and their Messianic coreligionists are always on lookout for the latest “Jewish evidence for validity of Christianity and Jesus”, that is any information that can be gleaned from Jewish sources that they believe can help support their Christian belief system and could be utilized to missionize the Jewish people. Quotes from rabbis, past or present, are especially popular, and few rabbis are as popular these days among Jesus-worshipers as one Daniel Boyarin, a professor who penned a sensationalist book titled “The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ”. This book has become a best seller for Christians and Messianics everywhere, endlessly quoted by them in their books, articles and blogs, with “proofs” contained therein rubbed in Jewish faces and used in Jewish evangelism.

But few Christians and Messianics, excited as they are to have found an avid Jewish advocate for Jesus and Christianity, know about Professor Daniel Boyarin and his other views. Perhaps they would have started taking his sensationalist opinions with a grain of salt. Thankfully, an article posted recently on Arutz Sheva news website granted us a closer look.

Daniel Boyarin is far from the typical Orthodox Jew.

A professor at the University of California at Berkeley, Boyarin is a renowned Talmudic scholar and Shabbat-observant Orthodox Jew.

But he’s also an ardent advocate for the LGBT community and an avowed hater of Israel.

Despite the Zionist ideals of his youth, today Boyarin is a self-declared anti-Zionist and proud supporter of the BDS movement, which denies Jewish people the right to self-determination.

Boyarin lived in Israel for years, but since returning to the US in 1990 he has refused to speak with Israeli media outlets. This week, Channel 10 managed to secure the first ever interview with Boyarin by an Israeli news organization.

When asked about the ongoing wave of Arab terrorism in Israel and whether he understood that in Israel he would be targeted for violent attacks, the professor claimed he had more to fear from “assassination attempts by right-wingers” angered over the interview.

It is not clear which “right wingers” have attempted to assassinate anti-Israel academics in the US in the past, or whether he has received any such threats himself.

Boyarin has been a leading advocate of the academic boycott of Israel, targeting Israeli universities, including the Hebrew University and Bar Ilan University, where he taught prior to his conversion to anti-Zionism.

Speaking to Jweekly, a San Francisco-area Jewish paper, Boyarin described his transformation from left-leaning Zionist to a die-hard anti-Israel activist, citing the First Intifada as the turning point.

“When I heard [then Minister of Defense] Yitzhak Rabin say ‘break their arms and legs’ [speaking about Arab violence], I thought ‘There’s something wrong here.’ And when I talked to people about it, who told me it’s necessary to break the arms and legs of young teenage boys to support this project [the State of Israel], then I felt that this project is rotten.”

This statement, of course, was taken out of context, as Rabin, while adamant about fighting terror, was also referring to the fact that he gave IDF soldiers police clubs to prevent their shooting in self defense at violent Arab rioters.

But unlike the mainstream Israeli left, Boyarin’s disillusionment led him to a total rejection of Zionism – and the very existence of Israel.

“The more I studied and looked at the discourse, the more I really came to believe it was not a question of right-wing Zionist versus left-wing Zionist. I realized that there is a fundamental flaw at the heart of the enterprise.”

He did not, however, appear to have any problem with brutal Arab terrorist attacks targeting Israeli women and children.

Today Boyarin sees Israel per se as illegitimate; a foolish decision and an illegal occupation – even inside the Green Line.

“I think Israel was a mistake, a big mistake,” he told Channel 10. “People in a desperate situation do foolish things.”

“It’s [Israel] all occupied in my opinion.”

In the past Boyarin compared Israel to Apartheid-ridden South Africa. In 2006 he called Israel an apartheid state, condemning it for the “destruction of human rights and democracy”, which he claimed “is at least as severe as that of the South Africans” – a strange allegation given that none of the racial segregation laws of apartheid-era South Africa exist in Israel today.

Many South Africans have spoken up against the comparisons, often promoted by anti-Israel groups, protesting the hijacking of the struggle against racism in South Africa for the purpose of anti-Jewish incitement.

During his recent Channel 10 interview, however, Boyarin went further still, making direct comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany.

“I would say that the actions of the government and some segments of [Israeli] society are very similar to the Nazis,” Boyarin said, though he did not elaborate.

In a contribution to the anthology “Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” Boyarin argued that Israel had “killed” Judaism, and notably refused to refer to the biblical cities of Hevron and Beit El by their original, Hebrew names – an ironic choice given his supposed opposition to colonialism.

“It has been said by many Christians that Christianity died at Auschwitz, Treblinka and Sobibor. I fear — G-d forbid — that my Judaism may be dying at Nablus [Shechem], Daheishe, Beteen [Beit El] and al-Khalil [Hevron].”

Arabic place names were imposed on historically Jewish sites by Arab settlers following the Islamic conquest of the Land of Israel, as well as more recently as part of the Palestinian Authority’s struggle to wrest control of holy sites away from Israel

(From Arutz Sheva, The Orthodox professor who thinks Jews shouldn’t have a state.)

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    April 13, 2016 8:38 pm

    Wow, this is shocking. I have heard of him, but was not aware of his views. Thanks for making them available on this blog.

  2. Concerned Reader permalink
    April 19, 2016 1:41 pm

    Bashing the guy for his political opinions has no bearing on his academic Theses regarding the question of the Christian Bible and Judaism. You can disagree with his politics, but try to address the work.

  3. April 19, 2016 2:29 pm

    “his political opinions has no bearing on his academic Theses regarding the question of the Christian Bible and Judaism”

    CR, some scholars, like this fellow here, are the so called “activist scholars” with agendas and are sensationalists.

  4. M. S. permalink
    April 30, 2016 4:33 pm

    Boyarin’s ‘politics’ in this connection are not particularly different from those of Satmars, and are modeled on their position – as the writer must I think know. It doesn’t seem to me a very reasonable view, except from a religious perspective, but they are indeed advancing a religious perspective. The innuendo in this post is thus really groundless.

  5. May 1, 2016 12:22 am

    “Boyarin’s ‘politics’ in this connection are not particularly different from those of Satmars, and are modeled on their position ”

    No, Boyarin’s views are NOT modeled on Satmar’s brand of anti-zionism. Satmar rejects modern Israel as illegitimate because that sect believes that Jews should wait for a miraculous divine intervention, no doubt complete with a shtreimel-wearing Messiah, to gather Jews back to the Land. Boyarin, however, views Israel through a leftist, “progressive”, BDS-crowd lens.

  6. M. S. permalink
    May 1, 2016 11:14 am

    Right, you are now explicitly affirming what I detected as innuendo in the original post. The trouble is that Boyarin does “believe that Jews should wait for a miraculous divine intervention, no doubt complete with a shtreimel-wearing Messiah, to gather Jews back to the Land” though I think it’s shtreimel-optional. This is plain from the corpus, but you would detect it by googling at random, e.g.

    5) Do you have any favorite Orthodox thinker of the last 150 years?

    The Satmerer Rebbe, זצ”ל. I am deeply resonant with the view of the Satmar Rav that the oath “not to arise as a wall” לא לעלות בחומה meant that Jews were not to seek temporal sovereignty until the Messiah comes.

  7. May 1, 2016 11:15 pm

    “This is plain from the corpus, but you would detect it by googling at random, e.g.”

    Boyarin supports worldwide leftist and Palestinian BDS movement against Israel, chairs multiple LGBT studies, an avowed leftist, calls Jewish cities in Israel by their Arab names, refuses to condemn Arab terrorism against Jews. No, his positions on Israel are not aligned with Satmar. He’s a leftist radical in a Jewish garb.

    “Do you have any favorite Orthodox thinker of the last 150 years?”

    Yes, I have a few. However, one that captured my imagination is one Rabbi Yissachar Shlomo Teichtal זצ”ל, a Hungarian rabbi who perished in the Shoah during WWII. He should really have far more renown than he does, and perhaps one day he will. While he was in hiding from the Nazis, he penned his book “Eim Habonim Semeichah: on Eretz Yisrael, Redemption, and Unity”. In this book R. Teichtal outlines his own realization – made right in the middle of the Holocaust – of the grave error that was made by the European Jewish leadership, including many well-regarded rabbis of his time (including at one time Rabbi Teichtal himself, who before shared those same views and staunchly defended them), when they spurned and discouraged aliyah to the Land of Israel when the door was still open prior to Nazi onslaught, contributing to the untold number of Jews being trapped and eventually murdered, including Rabbi Teichtal himself.

    His book is available for sale in print form.

    Here’s an excerpt:

    A large portion of our Israelite [European Jewish] brethren who were killed would have been saved if they had already been in Eretz Yisrael. And now, who will accept the responsibility for the pure blood which has been spilled in our time? Similarly, all those who deterred the Israelites from going to Eretz Yisrael and participating with those building [the land] cannot purify themselves and say: “Our hands have not shed this blood.” Those [anti-Zionists] who have a predisposition on this matter [fleeing to Palestine] will not see the truth and will not concede to our words. All of the evidence in the world will not affect them, for they are smitten with blindness, and their inner biases cause them to deny even things which are as clear as day. Who amongst us is greater than the [twelve] spies [meraglim]? The Torah testifies that they were distinguished, righteous individuals. Nonetheless, since they were influenced by their desire for authority, they rejected the desirable Land, and led others astray, causing this bitter exile… [These] spies were prejudiced by hidden motives. The same holds true in our times, even among rabbis, rebbes, and Chassidim. This one has a good rabbinical position; this one is an established Admor, and this one has a profitable business or factory, or a prestigious job which provides great satisfaction. They are afraid that their status will decline if they go to Eretz Yisrael. People of this sort are influenced by their deep-rooted, selfish motives to such an extent that they themselves do not realize that their prejudice speaks on their behalf. People of this sort will not be convinced to accept the truth, even if they are shown thousands of proofs from the Torah… The holy kabbalist [Rabbi Eliyahu of Greidetz] who resembles an angel of the Lord of Hosts states explicitly that the reason there are tzadikim who oppose [aliyah] is because the kelipot [evil forces] have become strong within them. It entices them to nullify this great matter for which the Holy One Blessed Be He constantly longs. He longs for us to return to our forefather’s inheritance, for every Jew has an obligation to strive to return to our Holy Land, as I will prove unequivocally from the words of our Sages.

  8. May 2, 2016 5:15 am

    The Gimel Shvuot are misused by Satmar, because we did not come and conquer Israel by force (לא עלינו כחומה), rather, it was given to us by the nations. Now that we’re in Israel, we have an obligation to defend ourselves.

    Besides for that, I believe the Ari z”l stated that the Gimel Shvuot didn’t apply after 1,000 years of exile. Meaning we could have come up by force to conquer Israel after. But we didn’t even do that.

  9. M.S. permalink
    May 26, 2016 8:00 am

    Sorry, I didn’t notice you had responded. When I said “Do you have any favorite Orthodox thinker of the last 150 years?” I thought it was clear I was quoting a readily available interview with Boyarin, which includes a characteristic encomium to the Satmarer Rebbe; I included a couple of sentences from the response. You reject this out of hand with zero evidence, but the use of the Satmar model is totally characteristic of Boyarin in the period after he (re-)emigrated from Israel. Your attempt to bring Boyarin under the heading of a ‘false prophet who comes to you in [tzitzit] though inwardly he is [a dangerous leftist radical]’ belongs to an alien thought structure, and seems to be based on academic affiliations like the LGBT one; it leaves out these affiliatioms are based on particular works from an immense corpus, many of which have had influence e.g. among the pious of Jerusalem. It would be interesting to hear your critique of e.g. ‘Unheroic Conduct’, but on the evidence you seem only to be interested in political persuasion.

  10. August 23, 2016 1:51 pm

    ** CHRISTIAN ORIGINS OF NAZI LAWS **

    “In most places in which anti-Jewish laws were promulgated, they were not revolutionary concepts, but merely a return to the legal regime that had only recently been replaced.

    As historian Raul Hilberg has demonstrated, the anti-Jewish laws passed by the Third Reich and its allies all had clear precedents in church law. Indeed, almost every anti-Semitic provision passed by the various church councils and synods throughout the centuries found new life in Nazi legislation.

    While the Nazi-era laws had a new, racial justification, they fit neatly into a preexisting space in the European imagination.”

    SOURCE:Standing With Israel (chapter 1, page 30) by David Brog, year 2006, Charisma House Publishers, Florida, ISBN-10: 1591859069 ISBN-13: 978-1591859062

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