Now that I have some time to post, though, I thought I'd issue the first ever Zhid Fatwa against National Geographic. No, not because of their publication of nude females (I suppose that would be a proper subject for a real Fatwa, but since I'm a Jew and I like images of nude females it would be a very silly Fatwa, at least as a first ever Fatwa).
What has National Geographic done to deserve the horrible sufferings that follow a Fatwa?
What "This" is is a story by the infidel Robert Draper titled "Kings of Controversy: Was the Kingdom of David and Solomon a Glorious Empire-Or Just A Little Cow Town?"
The story delves into the politics (both political politics and religious politics) of modern archeology in Israel and the competing theories that underlie biblical references and physical evidence that would corroborate the text of the bible.
Ok, I have to admit, the story was fascinating and well written. If you don't subscribe to National Geographic, you should, because even today, with all the advances in online publishing, there is nothing that beats a well produced, well written, well photographed glossy magazine like National Geographic.
But back to my Fatwa...
There are two main protagonists in Draper's story. First, there is Eilat Mazar, an archeologist from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Mazar's work provides evidence (if not absolute proof) that the Old Testament passages describing King David are based in fact. Second, there is Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University.
Don't let the first name throw you off. Mr. Finkelstein, as the story states, "has made a career out of merrily demolishing [the assumptions upon which Ms. Mazar bases her work]." As opposed to Ms. Mazar, whose work supports the notion that King David was at the center of a "glorious empire", Mr. Finkelstein claims that David and the bible stories about him are nonsense. Well, let me just quote from the story.
During David's time, as Finkelstein casts it, Jerusalem was little more than a "hill-country village," David himself a raggedy upstart akin to Pancho Villa, and his legion of followers more like "500 people with sticks in their hands shouting and cursing and spitting—not the stuff of great armies of chariots described in the text.
And thus, the Fatwa.
In case there's any confusion, the Zhid doesn't issue Fatwas. However, I would like to point out that had this been two archeologists debating the Koran, with one describing Mohamed in the same manner as Finkelstein described David (and generally casting doubt on the veracity of anything and everything in the Koran), National Geographic would have NEVER published the story.
Can you imagine what would have happened if National Geographic described Mohamed's followers as "people with sticks in their hands, shouting and cursing and spitting" or the Muslim holy cities as cow towns?
The point, of course, is that this story is a dramatic illustration of a primary difference between modern Jewish society (including Israel) and modern Muslim society.
I have never heard of orthodox Jewish organizations rioting in the streets, calling for Finkelstein's head on a platter. I assure you, though, that if the subject had been Mohamed or the Koran, you wouldn't have a problem finding mobs of people with sticks in their hands, shouting and cursing and spitting (and calling for the head of Finkelstein...even if his name was something less Jewish).
This is not a surprise anymore, since we've all seen the types of intolerance by Muslims that I've just described. However, the fact that National Geographic published this story, with no punches pulled and no hesitation exhibited, and there has been utter acceptance (or ambivalence) on the part of orthodox Jews of the right of National Geographic to publish the story and further the debate has to be acknowledged.
I wonder when National Geographic will publish a similar article on Mohamed...