A New Exhibit Brings the Samaritan Past and Present to Life

To Christians, the word “Samaritan” evokes the famous parable in the gospel of Luke—and has thus given its name to the “Good Samaritan” laws that exist in all 50 states, not to mention a recent movie starring Sylvester Stallone. To learned Jews, Samaritans are a quasi-Jewish group mentioned in the latter books of the Bible and in the Talmud who had an often-adversarial relationship with ancient Jews. At present, there are nearly 800 Samaritans in Israel, where their ancestors have lived since the 5th century BCE. Menachem Wecker describes the new exhibit on their history at the Museum of the Bible.

The Museum of the Bible exhibit, which includes artifacts spanning from the 2nd century before the Common Era to contemporary paintings made in the past couple of years, notes that Samaritans, who are mentioned in both Jewish and Islamic texts, have often clashed with both.

One wall text tells of the 16th-century Huguenot Hebraist Joseph Scaliger, who requested texts from an Egyptian Samaritan community, only to have those texts lost in a shipwreck. They were recovered, sparking further Christian interest in Samaritans.

Another vitrine contains the custom typewriter that Rabbi Moses Gaster (1856–1939) used to correspond with Samaritans living in Nablus, at the base of Mount Gerizim, [which is the site of their temple]. When he typed in Jewish Hebrew letters, the text was printed in Samaritan Hebrew letters. His pen pal, Jacob, son of Aaron, the [Samaritan] high priest, “saw an opportunity to harness Gaster’s academic platform and reputation to amplify Samaritan culture,” the wall text states.

The show highlights many Samaritan religious practices, which often resemble Jewish ones. Samaritans sacrifice paschal lambs annually, drawing many outside spectators. It is the only monotheistic group that still sacrifices animals, according to the documentary.

Read more at Religion News Service

More about: Hebrew Bible, Museum of the Bible, New Testament, Samaritans

How to Turn Palestinian Public Opinion Away from Terror

The Palestinian human-rights activist Bassem Eid, responding to the latest survey results of the Palestinian public, writes:

Not coincidentally, support for Hamas is much higher in the West Bank—misgoverned by Hamas’s archrivals, the secular nationalist Fatah, which rules the Palestinian Authority (PA)—than in Gaza, whose population is being actively brutalized by Hamas. Popular support for violence persists despite the devastating impact that following radical leaders and ideologies has historically had on the Palestinian people, as poignantly summed up by Israel’s Abba Eban when he quipped that Arabs, including the Palestinians, “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Just as worrying is the role of propaganda and misinformation, which are not unique to the Palestinian context but are pernicious there due to the high stakes involved. Misinformation campaigns, often fueled by Hamas and its allies, have painted violent terrorism as the only path to dignity and rights for Palestinians. Palestinian schoolbooks and public media are rife with anti-Semitic and jihadist content. Hamas’s allies in the West have matched Hamas’s genocidal rhetoric with an equally exterminationist call for the de-normalization and destruction of Israel.

It’s crucial to consider successful examples of de-radicalization from other regional contexts. After September 11, 2001, Saudi Arabia implemented a comprehensive de-radicalization program aimed at rehabilitating extremists through education, psychological intervention, and social reintegration. This program has had successes and offers valuable lessons that could be adapted to the Palestinian context.

Rather than pressure Israel to make concessions, Eid argues, the international community should be pressuring Palestinian leaders—including Fatah—to remove incitement from curricula and stop providing financial rewards to terrorists.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion