Dear Rev. Graham: Obama was not born a Muslim and neither is anyone else

Evangelist (and hateful bigot) Franklin Graham said this weekend that President Obama was ‘born a Muslim’ because, he said, Islam is transmitted through the father just as Judaism is transmitted through the mother.

Presumably it is this sort of thinking that has led an increasing number of Americans to believe, incorrectly, that Obama is a Muslim.

Graham as usual is not only hateful but also plain wrong. The Talmudic rule that one is a Jew by virtue of having a Jewish mother has been responsible for imagining the Jewish people as a race as well as a religion. (They are not actually a race, of course, and most Jewish women are descended from a Gentile ancestor).

But Muslims are not a race even in the imagining, but rather a world-religion to which belong people of virtually every ethnic group in the world. Thus, unlike in Judaism, one is not born a Muslim. Rather, children of Muslim parents who embrace Islam typically recite the confession of faith around puberty and undertake to fulfill the obligations of Islamic law at that time. Until that time, they are not mukallaf or obliged to perform the rituals of the religion. Franklin’s allegation would imply that children are Muslim by birth and have to fast the month of Ramadan when they are 5. It is ridiculous.

(P.S. “Muslim” has many meanings, and some pre-Islamic figures in the Qur’an speak of being “muslim” with a small “m,” i.e. living in accordance with God’s will. Being a Muslim as a believer with duties under the divine law requires that one have achieved his or her majority. Children cannot be Muslim in this sense, but there is a saying from the Prophet that all children are born under a kind of natural religious disposition (fitrah) of which Islam is the adult manifestation. So prepubescent children are “muslim” with a small “m” the way Abraham was said to have been, but all children from all religious backgrounds are considered to be that way, so Franklin Graham was born under this fitrah or as a natural-religion “muslim” too– from this theological point of view. As for being a Muslim with a large “M” as a conscious matter, the question is whether one recites the witness to faith and observes the religious laws from puberty or young adulthood.)

While it is true that Islamic law gives custody of children in divorce cases to the father, and this principle could affect the children’s religious upbringing where the mother is, e.g., a Christian, in many families of mixed religion where there is no divorce, the children are given the choice of which religion to follow. (By secular Egyptian law, in fact, even non-Muslim mothers get custody of the children until age 15 in case of divorce, though some Muslim judges are declining to be bound by that law where the mother is Christian. But that the modern law of the land in Egypt (a major Muslim country of some 81 million) recognizes the woman’s custody of the children complicates Franklin Graham’s flat statement).

I discussed this principle in my posting in 2008 on the then artificial controversy whipped up by Neocon Daniel Pipes and columnist Edward Luttwak about whether Obama is an apostate from Islam and would be killed if he went to the Middle East. Uh, no and no. Did you see the warm and enthusiastic welcome he got in Cairo?

I wrote,

‘ So here is what the academic literature has to say about Islamic law on this issue (Rudolph Peters and Gert J. J. De Vries
Die Welt des Islams, New Series, Vol. 17, Issue 1/4 (1976 – 1977), pp. 1-25 ):

“Not only the act of apostasy is subject to certain conditions in order to be legally valid, but also with regard to the perpetrator (murtadd) specific qualifications have been laid down. He can perform a legally effective act of riddah [apostasy] only out of free will (ikhtiyar) at an adult age (bulugh), being compos mentis (`aqil [of sound mind]), and, as emphasized by the Malikite school, after his unambiguous and explicit adoption of Islam.” [- p. 3][P. 2, n. 3: "It is equally stated that this Islam needs to be evident in both qawl [speech] and `amal [deed]; a person who embraced the faith by merely pronouncing the shahadah [profession of faith] would not be considered qulified to perform a legally valid act of apostasy– Cf. Mawwaq in the margin of Hattab, Mawahib al-Jalil, VI, pp. 279-80]”

Barack Obama never accepted or practiced Islam as an adult (which would be age 15 in Islamic law) and therefore according to classical Islamic jurisprudence cannot be an apostate. Peters and DeVries are Arabists and are among the foremost scholars on Islamic law, unlike Luttwak, who does not have the slightest idea what he is talking about.’

The passages are relevant to what Franklin Graham said, as well, since by insisting that one can be a Muslim by birth he is also implying that Obama would be an apostate if he became a Christian.

Those Americans who insist on seeing Obama as a Muslim are ‘othering’ him, and probably are using religion as a proxy for race. Since the Civil Rights movement, it has been unacceptable in the United States for a public figure to engage openly in racist discourse, as shock jocks Dr. Laura and Don Imus discovered. But apparently it is still all right to be a religious bigot, so Islam is being scapegoated by the Republican Party, as its ability openly to play on racial fears is being increasingly constrained. (Even if a majority of Republicans in Louisiana once voted for Klan figure David Duke, in most of the country sounding like Duke is a distinct political liability).

But what I observed was that the Republican presidential candidates in 2007-2008 who most stridently played the Islam card– Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee — crashed and burned. I can’t imagine that most Americans are really afraid of their Muslim neighbors (who are disproportionately likely to be physicians or businessmen and pillars of the local community). So I think the GOP is mistakenly playing to a lunatic fringe of proto-Klan elements in their party, and I think it will backfire on them, even with their own constituents. Big time.

55 Responses

  1. Republican opinionmakers are pandering to frightened Whites. Believe it or not, they’re also bringing in some aspiring Blacks. Hispanics are less likely to fall under their spell. Asians are harder to read as a group: being far better educated, they think for themselves. Jews divide into two camps: those who align themselves with Christian Zionists and those who think for themselves.

    The ‘us and them’ mentality is spreading as the USA slides deeper into the economic ditch.

  2. .
    Request for clarification, anyone:
    I’d heard from a Muslim acquaintance that everyone in the world is considered to be a proto-Muslim at birth, even an American with 2 Christian parents.
    IS this complete bunk, or is there something to it ?
    .

    • Muslims believe that before birth every soul acknowledges God and is born a Muslim, i.e. believer.

    • Dear Prof.
      The verse 30 from chapter Rome (30) in the Koran is presented in support of the argument mentioned by Brain above. What is your opinion about it?

    • This is a fairly crude way of putting it but according to my understanding of it all things that function as they are intended are more or less Islamic, at least in so far as they follow God’s law.

      According to this view nature and animals do what they’re meant to do because they’re obeying God’s law regardless of whether they have the ability to challenge their own behaviour or nature. To some extent that includes children because they are also unable to do anything but submit to their nature: they breathe, they eat, they sleep, they alternate between obeying their parents and defying them as they learn the bounderies between acceptable and unacceptable; that goes on until they’re able to make decisions for themselves and understand distinctions between right and wrong.

      They aren’t muslims exactly, but they follow God’s law by obeying their natures.

      Professor Cole is correct however, Islam isn’t a hereditary religion. Despite the insistence of some President Obama isn’t half-muslim because such a state of being does not exist; and having been raised by his mother’s family he was always more likely to take after them than to follow in the beliefs of his absent father, regardless of how much esteem he may have had for the man.

    • In addition to the Koran, Muslims are guided in matters of belief and practice by the sayings (hadith) and the lived example (sunna) of the Prophet Muhammad. One prophetic hadith among several that refer to this question:

      “Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The mother of every person gives him birth according to his true nature. It is subsequently his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Magian (Zoroastrian). Had his parents been Muslim he would have also remained a Muslim. Every person to whom his mother gives birth (has two aspects of his life) ; when his mother gives birth Satan strikes him but it was not the case with Mary and her son (Jesus).” [Source: Sahih Bukhari, Book 33, no. 6429]

      • The idea that all human beings are born with a fitrah or natural disposition that is “Muslim” is a spiritual notion, not a legal status. The word “muslim” has many meanings in Arabic, from simply being obedient to God’s will (so that pre-Islamic figures in the Qur’an talk about being ‘muslim’) to cultural identity, to belonging to a particular religion.

        In classical Islamic jurisprudence, one is only Muslim in the sense of belonging formally to the Islamic religion if one has recited the witness to faith and practiced the rituals and laws of Islam. While sectarian groups such as Salafis and Wahhabis may feel differently about it, the mainstream Muslim legal tradition is clear on this matter.

        Note that saying all children are born ‘muslim’ is the same as saying that none are, with regard to the argument about Obama. It means that Franklin Graham was born Muslim. It means there is nothing distinctive about Obama. In any case, the hadith or saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad is not about legal status.

    • wouldn’t this kind of “pre-determined” association make us all scientologists too??….just askin’…..

  3. “Franklin’s allegation would imply that children are Muslim by birth and have to fast the month of Ramadan when they are 5. It is ridiculous.”

    No, it would not imply that. According to Jewish law, those born of a Jewish mother are Jewish, but they do not have to fast on Yom Kippur when they are five years old. They are not obligated to perform the rituals of Judaism until they reach puberty.

  4. Well done, Juan. So simple and compellingly stated that, circulated widely, it could keep cable news from talking about it the next four days. Not that it could possibly happen.

  5. From the start of reading this article, I found myself wanting to yell at Franklin Graham: “So what, if Barack Obama were a Muslim?”, which he is not of course. The Muslims I happened to know during my life in Canada, almost without exception, were fine and admirable people. As a man in my late ’50s, I lived and worked in the West Bank city of Nablus for more than two years and presently I live in a town in Morocco. I have never felt in danger personally, and rarely am I questioned on the subject of religion; I am well-liked due to my behaviour. Demonization of Islam and Muslims is a crime against a very large segment of humanity, and we all know who the perpetrators are. Let us rebel against this.

  6. Good point about not being born anything but a human being.

    I am interested in whatever Franklin Graham has to say because his actions remind me so much of GW Bush. Both men were given automatic prestigue and gravitas because of their fathers, and in this case I’m talking “Worldy” fathers. (you will remember when W was asked what his biological father thought of his decisions, W replied, “I only answer to my father in heaven.”)

    I would like to ask Graham about the scriptures which clearly state that you should not build treasures here on earth, such as mountain top retreats, helicpoteers, expense accounts, etc. and the request Jesus supposedly made to the rich man, “Go sell all that you have and give it to the poor!”

    • Yes, there is one quote you will never hear from a televangelist: “Give up everything you own and follow me”.

  7. I would like to point out that calling someone a Muslim is not hateful – neither is it bigoted. There are places in America – many of then NYC where it would be considered a compliment.

  8. I was very disappointed to see Franklin Graham interviewed on CNN, as if he were someone credible when he so clearly is not. I haven’t been this embarrassed by a fellow American since Pat Robertson made his equally ignorant statement about the Haitians being a cursed country for having made a pact with the devil in 1790, as his explanation for the terrible earthquake that caused such horrible damage and suffering. Graham’s pretense of being informed, coupled with his hatred for others in how he presents that misinformation to support a position so divisive, so calculated to cause fear and distrust, is abhorrent. That people like Gingrich and Palin and others who seek support to become leaders have said equally stupid and bigotted things is nothing less than frightening. Bush was bad enough, these fools, these nasty fools, may be worse. Each one of them needs to be challenged, loudly, and often, on their statements, on their political positions.

  9. [...] Dear Rev. Graham: Obama was not born a Muslim and neither is anyone else — Those Americans who insist on seeing Obama as a Muslim are othering him, and probably are using religion as a proxy for race. Since the Civil Rights movement, it has been unacceptable in the United States for a public figure to engage openly in racist discourse, as shock jocks Dr. Laura and Don Imus discovered. But apparently it is still all right to be a religious bigot, so Islam is being scapegoated by the Republican Party, as its ability openly to play on racial fears is being increasingly constrained. [...]

  10. Thanks for the excellent commentary, which confirms what I had suspected as to “being born Muslim.”.

    I agree with every bit of your conclusions as to what the demagouges are doing and why they are doing it. I wish I could be as sanguine as your expression as to their failure. Certainly Guliliani and Huckabee crashed then, but this is now, in a financial evironment that is not recovering, shows little sign of recovering, and shows some sign of worsening. Race baiting has always been the tool of demagouges in times of economic hardship, and it has almost always taken hold. It could do so in these times and speaking out against it, as you do here, is crucial.

  11. One is said to truly not be a Catholic until one is confirmed. I was not threatened or coerced into confirmation “at puberty, but at around 12 it was an ingrained family expectation. It never entered my mind that I could or should have refused. I would think in Islamic cultures the expectation would be even higher.

    Barack Obama though, is a horse of a different color (no pun intended). As the article states, his father was an atheist and abandoned him at a young age. I don’t know how he was raised. The President’s Islamic sounding name, Barack Hussein Obama, probably goes a long ways towards giving the impression of being or having been a Muslim. Considering the association, it’s remarkable he was ever elected. That being said, most of those who promote the President as a Muslim are either ignorant, gullible, or do so cynical, self serving reasons. If the lunatic right continues to hijack the Republican Party, I predict they will fail badly in the general election. Even Joe McCarthy managed to crash and burn in far different times.

  12. “…it is still all right to be a religious bigot, so Islam is being scapegoated by the Republican Party, as its ability openly to play on racial fears is being increasingly constrained.”

    The Republicans and to a lesser extent Democrats seem to be trying to cross every red line. So far, we have crossed the torture, habeas corpus, total information awareness, freedom of association, post-depression Wall Street regulation, and aggressive war red lines, to mention some examples.

    “Even if a majority of Republicans in Louisiana once voted for Klan figure David Duke, in most of the country sounding like Duke is a distinct political liability”

    I lived in Arkansas for a few years and that state can be added to the Louisiana category.

    “I can’t imagine that most Americans are really afraid of their Muslim neighbors ”

    Cases such as the “paint ball six” make me believe the reality is somewhat mixed and unstable. I think the U.S. is trying to decide which path to go down in the future. Will it go down the racist xenophobe path or will it follow a more high minded path? Can Americans recognize the complexities of the situation or are they limited to simplistic demagogy?

    • I suspect the answer is that some Americans deal well with complexity and genuine thought.

      While others operate on a dimplistic level, and let others think for them.

  13. Given the great range of prejudice in the USA, why would anyone bother to use religion as a proxy for race? We’ve always had religious bigots. A black Tea Partier called into NPR the other day to talk about why she was a birther. Was she using Obama’s religion as a proxy for race?

  14. I think you are correct in saying that Obama_as_Muslim is covert racism, and I also think that covert racism fuels the Tea Party gatherings. I read somewhere that hatred consumes (the haters).

    One can only hope.

  15. Common Sense tells me that if one is a practicing Christian, one cannot be Muslim.
    Last time I checked; Obama practices Christianity.
    I guess you can fix a lot of things, but you can’t fix stupid. I hope Franklin reads this.

  16. Your point is good, but your title is incorrect. Muslims believe that all of creation is Muslim, as it obeys God (either via instinct or obeying Physics etc.). All people are thus “born” Muslim, until they are raised by their parents into a different religion.

    I agree with your post, but technically, your headline is incorrect. Obama is born Muslim like all human beings, but was raised Christian. He is not Muslim.

  17. [...] But Muslims are not a race even in the imagining, but rather a world-religion to which belong people of virtually every ethnic group in the world. Thus, unlike in Judaism, one is not born a Muslim. Rather, children of Muslim parents who embrace Islam typically recite the confession of faith around puberty and undertake to fulfill the obligations of Islamic law at that time. Until that time, they are not mukallaf or obliged to perform the rituals of the religion. Franklin’s allegation would imply that children are Muslim by birth and have to fast the month of Ramadan when they are 5. It is ridiculous.” link to juancole.com… [...]

  18. Informative, as always, but I would hardly base my case on the “choice” made by a child entering puberty or the “practice” of Christianity by a politician.

  19. What a relief, I think, if you are right. I am not talking about Obama. I am talking about the rules for convicting someone of apostasy. I wonder if the conservative Ayatollah sin Qom, Gom, Qum or whatever it is called have the same standards as those that you quoted. I am free, free at last!

  20. I believe Reform rabbis now say the Israeli rabbinate should accept an individual with a Jewish father and a gentile mother as a Jew w/o conversion if he or she so self-defines as a Jew.

    • More than “self-definition,” whatever that may be, is called for: can’t find to cite the details of Reform movement patrilineal ruling, but — not entirely unlike topic here — I believe it requires education, affiliation, practice, assertion at age of ritual majority, i.e., something more than “calling oneself” (and the more so since Judaism is about commandments and communitymore than personal belief and redemption).

  21. Thank you Salayman:) Yes indeed in Islam all children are born Muslim, in submission to Allah. The covenant was made with Adam and imprinted upon every soul when born

    link to islaam.net

    Then it is through the father in Islam that a child is to be raised Muslim. This is a father’s duty in Islam to follow Islam and show by example and by teaching.

    So, yes, the title is incorrect as you stated. Free will exists in Islam, but the covenant Allah made with Adam has been passed down.

    One cannot take one’s own concepts of religion and place them onto another.

    • As I elaborate in another reply to a comment below, there is a difference between ‘muslim’ as a spiritual status and Muslim as a legal status. If a Muslim man is married to a Christian woman and they have a son, and at age 12, the son, having never embraced Islam, is confirmed in a church, then that is his and his family’s business according to classical Islamic jurisprudence. There are sectarian societies where such a situation may be difficult but not in the Muslim mainstream. A lot of Americans think Saudi Arabia is normative Islam when in fact it is a very minority approach within the broad Muslim tradition.

  22. If, according to Graham, Obama was born Muslim and Joe Lieberman was born a Jew, does that mean Graham was born stupid?
    Just askin’…

  23. As a parent used to dealing with childish arguments I think the correct response to claims Obama is a Muslim is ….”and so???” (vacant look, turn back and engage in other activity/conversation)
    Any other response gives credibility to the the notion of the (bad) ‘other’ ….a group to whom we must (actively) prove we don’t belong thus demonstrating their ‘differentness’/’otherness’.
    Don’t buy into it.

  24. on your take on judaism and race –

    on the whole, your comments are correct, in that the jewish community is hardly “purely” jewish, given the rapes of the crusades, etc. etc.
    however, your remarks failed to account for the nuance of a notion of a community caught between two poles, that of being a religion, in which one can opt in and out based on beliefs and practices (i.e. conversion) and an ethnicity (ethnos), into which one is born. both are true, in terms of being a jew.

    • It isn’t a matter of just rape etc. Genetic analysis shows that the European Jewish community appears to have been formed by Jewish men from Palestine from about 800 CE ['AD'] who took local European wives in each locality in which they lived, converted them and started a community. Thus among most Ashkenazim, the Talmud has it backwards.

  25. I want to recommend that Franklin Graham is a total prostitute, who by his actions was long ago found to be a fraud by all discerning Christians. That his father allowed him to become prominent in the Graham Ministries clearly demonstrates his father was a false Christians. No one who is a genuine Christian, who meets and prays with a man who claims to be a Christian, says, “I accept he is a Christian if he claims he is”. He says “yes, I believe he is a Christian”. Few families in the world have done more harm to authentic Christianity than the Graham family, in their decade old fraud that claims you become a bona fide Christian just be making a verbal statement. Nothing in the New Testament, if properly understood presents that view.

  26. “The Talmudic rule that one is a Jew by virtue of having a Jewish mother has been responsible for imagining the Jewish people as a race as well as a religion. (They are not actually a race, of course…”

    Modern Jews are the descendants of a people from the ancient near east. There’s been enough confirmation of that. That’s no to claim purity over 2000 years, but the genetic links are strong.
    nytimes.com/2006/01/14/science/14gene.html
    news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/06/tracing-the-roots-of-jewishness.html

    And pace Shlomo Sand, that’s not a defense of Zionism. The Roma originated in India, but no one has suggested throwing 3/4 of a million of the current residents of Rajasthan from their homes. And the Palestinians may be the closest descendants of we have of the ancient Hebrews.

    • It has been pointed out that genetics in Israel works pretty much like archaeology has. There is a tendency to find what one is looking for. The fact that these self-proclaimed “truths” end up in the NYT is no proof of anything. Shlomo Sand makes an excellent case for Judaism being a prostelyzing religion, even using nothing more than plain numbers. He demonstrates fairly convincingly that there were Jewish communities living around the Middle East very early on, and extrapolating the Jewish population in Palestine into the Middle East and onward, even if all of them left Palestine, there just couldn’t have been enough active Jewish men to account for all those communities.
      Common sense should tell you that people convert from one religion to another all the time. So what’s wrong with being a descendant of Khazars? Why be so hung up on some idea of racial purity? After all, doesn’s this same genetics tell us that we can all trace our inheritance to some 13 females in Africa?

      • I doubt you read the first link, and I’m sure you didn’t read the second.

        The American Journal of Human Genetics,.

        For more than a century, Jews and non-Jews alike have tried to define the relatedness of contemporary Jewish people. Previous genetic studies of blood group and serum markers suggested that Jewish groups had Middle Eastern origin with greater genetic similarity between paired Jewish populations. However, these and successor studies of monoallelic Y chromosomal and mitochondrial genetic markers did not resolve the issues of within and between-group Jewish genetic identity. Here, genome-wide analysis of seven Jewish groups (Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, Italian, Turkish, Greek, and Ashkenazi) and comparison with non-Jewish groups demonstrated distinctive Jewish population clusters, each with shared Middle Eastern ancestry, proximity to contemporary Middle Eastern populations, and variable degrees of European and North African admixture. Two major groups were identified by principal component, phylogenetic, and identity by descent (IBD) analysis: Middle Eastern Jews and European/Syrian Jews. The IBD segment sharing and the proximity of European Jews to each other and to southern European populations suggested similar origins for European Jewry and refuted large-scale genetic contributions of Central and Eastern European and Slavic populations to the formation of Ashkenazi Jewry. Rapid decay of IBD in Ashkenazi Jewish genomes was consistent with a severe bottleneck followed by large expansion, such as occurred with the so-called demographic miracle of population expansion from 50,000 people at the beginning of the 15th century to 5,000,000 people at the beginning of the 19th century. Thus, this study demonstrates that European/Syrian and Middle Eastern Jews represent a series of geographical isolates or clusters woven together by shared IBD genetic threads.

        Sand is trying to undermine Zionism, which is fine, he’s the one now confusing science with politics.
        Sand responds: “This attempt to justify Zionism through genetics…”

        His response is illogical. The descendants of the Puritans have no “right” of return, but no one sees fit to deny their history. That’s all anyone has to understand.

  27. I would like to challenge Franklin Graham’s theological and historical comprehension of his own faith tradition.

    He is, apparently Baptist, either/or, General Baptist or Southern Baptist. I know that at the time his Father began preaching in Minneapolis in the early 1940′s, he was closely associated with General Baptists, mentored by General Baptists, and as a mark of respect for his mentor, established the headquarters of Billy Graham Ministries in Minneapolis. It is only in recent years Franklin has moved it to North Carolina.

    Baptists are distinguished within the Reformed Church (Calvinist) branch of Protestantism by their argument for Adult Baptism, as opposed to Infant Baptism as practiced by Lutherans, Catholics, Anglicans, and many others. In the 1500′s there was much “burning-at-the-stake” and city state wars over this detail of Protestant Theology in the Baptist tradition, with Baptists insisting that only when a young adult could make a profession of faith, and on a free will basis, accept a full imersion Baptism, was one authentically a Christian. Actually one of the sections of Bill Clinton’s autobiography I found most interesting was his discussion of his own Baptism in the mid 50′s, and how significant this was as a rite of passage in his Arkansas culture. It strikes me that Franklin Graham’s discussion of “Seeds” is not at all in conformity with Baptist particular views on the importance of Adult Baptism and profession of faith — and with the manner in which Calvinist Reform Churches generally dealt with doctrine such as “Original Sin” as propounded by Roman Catholicism, and how that characterized the souls of infants and unbaptised children.

    Someone should ask him to clarify his own understanding of the Baptist Theological position on this.

  28. I hope some people will read this and understand that the Franklin Graham view of Islam is inaccurate.

    However, you’ve put another myth out there. You wrote: “While it is true that Islamic law gives custody of children in divorce cases to the father…” No, it is not true. You may be referring to Shia laws, but in Sunni Islam, the mother has custody of the children unless she remarries. Even if she remarries, the children often stay with her mother (they often live with her in large extended families anyway).

  29. Graham could just be ignorant without being hateful. His comments are stupid but dull. Hateful add a certain luster, like Douche Limpballs.

  30. What difference does it make what religion his parents were. I thought the whole point of christianity was that if you took Jesus Christ as your lord and savior you were born again and are Christian. Obama says he is Christian, goes to a Christian church, what right does anyone on the right wing have to say otherwise?

    I wish people would stop donating money to the Grahams, their kind of hatred and political medaling doesn’t belong here.

  31. Seth Edelbaum, above, says “the gentic links are strong” –but he might want to research the broader truth in context.

    Rabbinical Jews CHANGED the original –patrilineal– defintion of Jewish identity, which itself existed for many millenia, even as they developed the post-Christian talmud. Indeed the Karaites, who reject the Talmud, who were themselves
    declared “heretics” and who numbered greatly over the centuries, retained the original
    patrilineal definition and use it, among other demarcations, to this day, to demonstrate they are the real descendants of Ancient Israelites in a spiritual sense.

    But as for the “legitimacy” of Zionism the Jewish Forward recently published a piece
    on “Jewish genetics” which though itself seemingly slanted to a pro-Zionist view,
    referred to a study which in my view does nothing to bolster and even undermines Zionist claims.

    That is, the study mentioned that Diaspora European Jews, though supposedly having more in common with Middle Eastern Jews than Sand would admit, also have more in common genetically with their respective Gentile hosts than they do with “Middle East Jews” who never strayed away from that part of the world.

  32. Franklin Graham’s likes are the creators of Al-Qaeeda. At least Al Qaeda keep saying they have political motive. Franklin Graham is just a crazy,misinformed ,ignorant bigoted fundamentalist imbecile who is not only a waste of time but someone who should be weeded out of the American society. In fact this guy is an embarrassment and an imminent danger to all right thinking intellectuals of the country and of the world.

  33. Judaism is not a race. If it is a race, then why are so many other Semitic peoples Muslim?

  34. [...] Graham as usual is not only hateful but also plain wrong. The Talmudic rule that one is a Jew by virtue of having a Jewish mother has been responsible for imagining the Jewish people as a race as well as a religion. (They are not actually a race, of course, and most Jewish women are descended from a Gentile ancestor). [...]

  35. [...] Christopher Layne 4. The Taylor Rule and the “Bond Bubble” — Paul Krugman 3. Dear Rev. Graham: Obama Was Not Born a Muslim and Neither Is Anyone Else — Juan Cole and The Ground Zero Mosque and Cognitive Biases — William Easterly 2. The Surveillance State [...]

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