Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A season of...

Good will toward men       When I work with Lloyd, my carpenter friend, I know he’ll turn on his fist-sized, battery-operated, portable radio. In the mornings, I know we’ll listen to his favorite show, Trading Post. Callers offer items for sale or ask for items to buy. Lloyd listens regularly; he knows almost every caller by name and phone number. His commentary about them is at least as entertaining as what they offer for sale.

That’s what I enjoyed most this Friday morning when Lloyd and I built cabinets. He didn’t know I wanted to buy a radio. Nor did he recognize the elderly man who struggled to describe the eight-band short wave he was offering for $25. When I called the man to ask about it, he couldn’t remember his house number. Because I knew his street, I asked what his house was close to.

“Right next to a rock house,” he said.

I knew exactly where he was; his home was just up the hill from my Mom’s. When I handed him my check, he asked whether I wanted to hear the radio. I told him that wasn’t necessary.

I looked forward to hearing foreign stations, listening to news, perhaps, as it happened. So far, however, my radio mostly sits like a silent companion. The only stations I’ve found featured American-sounding evangelists from a source somewhere in Italy.  Their topic was greed.

Disappointed, I turned off my radio. I’d wanted to hear stories about peace on earth, goodwill toward men. Since leading our Temple service Friday night, I’d been moved to hear more about brotherhood and brotherly love.

That had a lot to do with my sermon that became more of a lecture. Based on the story of Joseph being reunited with his brothers in Egypt, I decided to make my presentation at the beginning of the service rather than at its end. If that inversion worked, I reasoned that the service itself would be more meaningful especially because many times our service refers to Jews being freed from captivity in Egypt.

It seemed to. All of the four attentive souls who’d braved a cold, blustery night wanted to know more. As a result, my ‘sermon’ lasted much longer than planned. In a very real sense, I was talking about brotherhood, but not only the brotherliness that was shared by Joseph and his brothers.

I spoke about the unrequited kind, when the person you want to befriend won’t befriend you. Of course, I wasn’t referring to Face Book.

Instead, I spoke of the subservient position of Jews in Egyptian society. Considering Jews to be slaves and/or second class, they were rarely welcomed the way Joseph (and his brothers, after their reunion) was. He’d proven himself useful; still he served at the whim of the Pharoah.

Thousands of years later, in Egypt and the Middle East, Islamic neighbors regard Israeli Jews the same way. They’re taught that in the Koran; it also follows from the example set by Mohammad. Jews (and all other non Muslims) are infidels, part of Dar al Harb, the world of war. According to the Islamic faith, non-Muslims must convert to Islam or accept their second-class citizenship. If they don’t, war is inevitable.

I explained why there have been no peace treaties with Gaza; they can’t even say Israel is a Jewish nation. To the Gazans, it is the “Zionist entity” and all of Israel belongs to the Palestinians, i.e., the Muslims who once took over the area.

Then I referred them to a fact sheet from and I read the list of six countries that have populations that are 100% Muslim. Eight more are 97-99% Muslim. Six more, 90-96% Muslim.

“How did that happen?” I asked. The answer is clear: non-Muslims aren’t welcome in those countries. All of them share laws that do not and cannot contradict the Koran; they are theocracies.

Ultimately, the Islamic goal is to make the world Dar al Islam; it is to be ruled by a caliphate. As they vie for leadership in that steady progression (Muslims comprise 25% of the world’s population), Egypt is attempting to lead the way by forging its new sharia constitution, based on the Koran.

Egypt’s Muslim population is growing as Coptic Christians are under attack [What is the Muslim population in Egypt - The Q&A wiki  the population of Muslims in Egypt stated between 91% - 94.5% out of a total population also varies from 80 - 85 million all are Sunni Muslim ...]

As for Jews, one of the oldest religious groups in Egypt, by 2004, there were less than 100 remaining [The Jews of Egypt - Jewish Virtual Library - Homepage
1948 Jewish population: 75,000 2004: Less than 100...

Brotherhood there has a much different meaning than mine. Hopefully, I’ll find someone on my radio who understands my version. And yours?

                                             B. Koplen 12/26/12
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