While Jewish communal leaders focus most of their current lobbying efforts on pressing the United States to take a tough line against Iran and its nuclear program, some are privately voicing fears that they will be accused of driving America into a war with the regime in Tehran.
There is one very simple way for Judaic leaders to avoid accusations that they’re driving the U.S. into a war against Iran–stop driving the U.S. into a war with Iran.
But that simply won’t do. They want to drive the U.S. into war on Iran, and, they want to do so free of accusations that they’re driving the U.S. into a war on Iran, even though that’s exactly what they’re doing. They want it both ways.
It’s rather similar to how the rabbis lobby Christian leaders to revise the Gospel to state that the Romans–and not the judges of the Sanhedrin–were responsible for Christ’s execution, even as the rabbis’ own texts record their gloating over their forebears’ responsibility for Christ’s execution to the degree that they relieve the Romans completely of responsibility. (Babylonian Talmud, tractate Sanhedrin 43a).
The American Jewish Committee issued an “inter-office memo” on the topic on their website in 2003 and then removed it quickly afterwards.
Jesus in the Talmud
September 24, 2003 Steven Bayme, National Director, Contemporary Jewish Life Department
… Consider … the following text from the Talmud:
On the eve of Passover Jesus was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, “He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Anyone who can say anything in his favor let him come forward and plead on his behalf.” But since nothing was brought forward in his favor, he was hanged on the eve of Passover. Ulla retorted: Do you suppose he was one for whom a defense could be made? Was he not a mesith (enticer), concerning whom Scripture says, “Neither shall thou spare nor shall thou conceal him?” With Jesus, however, it was different, for he was connected with the government. (Sanhedrin 43a)
This text, long censored in editions of the Talmud, is concerned primarily with due process in capital crimes. Standard process requires that punishment be delayed for forty days in order to allow extenuating evidence to be presented. However, in extreme cases, such as seducing Israel into apostasy, this requirement is waived. The case of Jesus, according to the Talmud, constituted an exception to this rule. Although one who enticed Israel into apostasy is considered an extreme case, the Jews at the time waited forty days because of the close ties of Jesus to the Roman authorities. However, once the forty days elapsed without the presentation of favorable or extenuating comment about him, they proceeded to kill him on the eve of Passover.
… the Talmud is here offering a subtle commentary upon Jesus’ political connections. The Gospels portray the Roman governor Pontius Pilate as going to great lengths to spare Jesus (Mark 15: 6-15). Although this passage may well have been written to appease the Roman authorities and blame the Jews, the Talmudic passage points in the same direction: The Jews waited forty days, in a departure from the usual practice, only because Jesus was close to the ruling authorities.
Lastly, the passage suggests rabbinic willingness to take responsibility for the execution of Jesus. No effort is made to pin his death upon the Romans. In all likelihood, the passage in question emanates from fourth-century Babylon, then the center of Talmudic scholarship, and beyond the reach of both Rome and Christianity. Although several hundred years had elapsed since the lifetime of Jesus, and therefore this is not at all a contemporary source, the Talmudic passage indicates rabbinic willingness to acknowledge, at least in principle, that in a Jewish court and in a Jewish land, a real-life Jesus would indeed have been executed …
The full article is still archived at this link: http://web.archive.org/web/20030925214732/http://www.ajc.org/inthemedia/RelatedArticles.asp?did=933
The article is not entirely honest, but it does make interesting reading, particularly in contrast with the one-sided “dialogue” taking place between the rabbis and Christian leaders: dialogue which has for nearly a century been directed towards rectification of the alleged Christian “teaching of contempt” but which never seems to get around to discussion of the very real and very contemptuous Judaic teachings of contempt. But since when have the rabbis ever applied standards evenly?
The objection inevitably arises that the Jesus of Nazareth mentioned in Sanhedrin 43a is not the Savior of Christianity but “some some other Jesus of Nazareth.” The Jewish Encyclopedia dismisses that silly notion handily:
“… some medieval apologists for Judaism, as Nachmanides and Salman Zebi, … [asserted] that the “Yeshu'” mentioned in the Talmud was not identical with Jesus; this, however, is merely a subterfuge. (Jewish Encyclopedia, “Jesus of Nazareth”)