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Monday, November 14, 2011

Re-Writing Jewish History: Muslim/UNESCO Admiration of Maimonides Leads to Calling Him Muslim

Nadene Goldfoot
The Muslims of the yet uncreated state of Palestine through UNESCO have been busy trying to claim that many of the Jewish sites and people so popular with tourists are actually Muslim.  One such person is the well-known Jewish doctor and rabbinic scholar, Rabbi Moshe ben-Maimon or Maimonides, also called "The Rambam."  In December 2010, UNESCO published a report on the history of science in the Arab world listing him as a Muslim but renaming him as "Moussa ben Maimoun."  He had lived in Egypt for a period of time and that may have been his name there, but he was not an Arab or a Muslim.  He was a highly known Jew.  UNESCO has been busily doing many things like this cited by Caroline B. Glick in her "Deligitimizing the deligitimizers." 

Moses Ben Maimon or Maimonides, also called the Rambam was born in 1135 CE in Cordova, Spain and died in 1204CE.  He was a philosopher, halakhist, doctor  and medical writer.  He left home at 13 with his family to escape the Almohade persecutions of Moslem sectaries from North Africa in the 12th Century who conquered Southern Spain in 1149 to 1174.  They forced all non-Moslems to  convert.  Northern African Jewry finally recovered from this blow, but in Spain it brought final disaster to the communities living under Moslem rule, for they ultimately converted to Islam or fled to Christian Spain.  The Maimons did not convert.

The Maimon family wandered about in Northern Africa and then went to what was called "Palestine", Judea renamed by the Romans in 135CE.  By then he had already written treatises on the Jewish calendar called Sepher ha-Ibbur and on interalation in 1158 at age 23 and works on the technical terms of logic.  The most important thing he also wrote was the list of 613 precepts.

They  couldn't settle in Palestine as it was still suffering from the aftermath of the Crusades, so the family traveled to Egypt.  Moses signed a paper in 1167 showing he was a Rabbi and soon became the spiritual head of the Cairo community.  Our Rambam finished his commentary on the Mishnah, Kitab as-Siraj in 1168 which he worked on as he was traveling.  He was explaining the exact meaning of the text and to show which opinions were accepted as halakhah.  The prefaces which he wrote to Avot (Shemonah Perakim) and to the 10th chapter of Sanhedrin (Helekk) are often printed and studied separately.  The latter leads up to the famous 13 Articles of Faith. 

For a paying occupation, he traded in jewels with his brother David. After David died he beame a physician to the viceroy of Egypt in 1170 at the age of 35.

All these earlier books were written in Arabic and translated later into Hebrew.  from 1170 to 1180 he worked on his Hebrew compendium of the entire halakhah, Mishneh Torah so that when he was very old he wouldn't have to look up facts in the Talmud every time he needed to check on something.  The systematic arrangement is unsurpassed.  This famous doctor was able to show  the principles of the Jewish religion and wrote in the technique and spirit of Aristotelian philosophy which was accepted by the educated.  He wanted to prove to Jews with a secular education that Judaism was rational within that framework. 

 He died at the age of 70 in 1204 CE and was buried in Tiberias where his tomb still attracts pilgrims.  One can surmise  that Hamas and Fatah didn't bother to read anything Maimonides ever wrote; that they just knew he was the author of something in Arabic.  However, I think they certainly knew that he was a famous Jew and are taking advantage of the fact that he at one time lived in Egypt.  Next to Abraham, he is certianly one of the most important men in Judaism.  UNESCO, you certainly have made a gigantic boo boo by listing Maimonides as a Muslim.  He was the most Jewish of all of us Jews. 

UNESCO is a 194 member UN organization.  They needed 81 votes for a majority and 173 voted.  107 nations voted for a Palestine, even though they did not meet the regulation of being a peaceful nation.  52 abstained.  The 14 brave nations that voted against a Palestine were the following:
Australia, a country which I admire for sticking up for their beliefs with fantastic Prime Minister Julia Gillard who also told Muslims in her country that Australia would not accept Sharia Law, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sweden, USA and Vanuatu. 

Not surprising were all the Muslim states that voted for Palestine membership into UNESCO.  There are at least 48 nations with a majority Muslim population and the Organization of Islamic Conferences lists 57.  Among the yes votes were France, Spain, Austria, Norway, Korea and Greece. 

Resource: Caroline B. Glick's Delegitimizing the deligitimizers
New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia

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