Nobody understands the Jews better than the Mormons

Israel Open Thread Zionism

Salt Lake Assembly Hall

There are no people in the world who understand the Jews like the Mormons.

Quote attributed to no less than David Ben-Gurion himself by none other than Ezra Taft Benson.

And, boy, was I glad to run across this quote today.

Because a question has been bugging me, and I’ve been wondering who to ask.

Now I know.

So, to all my Mormon friends: W.T.F.?

9 thoughts on “Nobody understands the Jews better than the Mormons

  1. I don’t know why you’re surprised. Everyone knows that Muslims aren’t people. Especially stateless Muslims whose houses and land you stole.

  2. By the way, I didn’t include this in the OP b/c I’d hoped for a wide-ranging, wide-open discussion before weighing in with my POV, but nevermind, I’m impatient, so here goes:

    I agree with Bernard Avishai:

    Israelis face [a moment of truth], between global Israel, in which moral reciprocity is taken for granted, and Greater Israel, where the claim of “historic right”–of really, really wanting something–seems the only necessary justification.

    As far as I can tell, it’s a familiar drama (Global Mormonism vs. Morridor Mormonism) writ large (only difference: unlike most LDSPA/Bloggernacle performances, the Israelis are staging theirs in an actual theater of war).

    In any case, I do agree with ETB to the extent that we, as Mormons, ought to understand this moment better than most. Whether we actually do, or not, is another question entirely. No doubt, the moment will pass, and we’ll get back to safely discussing John D. Lee.

  3. Im simply asking Mormon friends to find time outside their PR and navel-gazing day jobs for engaging in a grown-up discussion here about current events.

    I remember reading a story once about a Jew who attended a Mormon sacrament meeting on fast Sunday. When everyone was bearing their testimonies, the Jew found this rather strange. He said: “At my synagogue, we don’t all stand up and talk about the truth of our Jewishness.” The moral of the story is that Mormonism, being so young, is heavily engaged in establishing itself in the world. The effect this has on its members is that they constantly navel-gaze. If you expand to larger historical issues, though, there’s a lot of work to be done to make Mormonism “fit.” And simply saying, “I know the Church is true” doesn’t make it fit.

    In terms of current events, I’m pretty sure that Mormons (by and large) are interested in taking a fair stance on the Isreal/Palestine conflict. One can see this stance emerging as early as the 1970s, when Howard Hunter wrote in Ensign that “A cabinet minister of Egypt once told me that if a bridge is ever built between Christianity and Islam it must be built by the Mormon Church.” There isn’t a sort of anti-Muslim zeal in Mormonism like there is with evangelicals. ( This LA Times article relates warm Mormon relations with US Muslims due to both being alienated.) In terms of Jews, I think Mormons have always held Jews up on a pedestal for historical reasons, which has made them historically less anti-Semitic. But like with Muslims, there isn’t much success on the proselyting front in Jewish communities. Kimball tried to venture into Israel in the 1970s and failed. Armand Mauss suggested in All Abraham’s Children that Mormons feel that because Jews reject Jesus right now, there’s still time to convert Muslims. This all seems crazy to me, but I forget how much Christianity is about making “every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Christ.”

    The last thing I’d note, because I find it personally interesting, is that when it was “proven” that there’s a huge Jewish community in Ethiopia (because white people needed mitochondrial proof that there are “black Jews”), their existence raised historical problems for Mormons because of the “no blacks” policy. Of course, leaders would shrug this off now, but it really goes to show how constructed a lot of this stuff is.

  4. Last week we had a Jewish friend visiting us (someone who family members living in Israel), and, naturally, we talked about some comparisons between our two tribes.

    One interesting point he mentioned was that — in Israel — if you want to just stay home and study Torah, you can do it, and the Israeli government will pay you for it, like a job. My friend explained that it’s a problem for Israeli politics because it creates a whole insular class of people; insulated from reality-world economics, etc.

    Then he asked what would happen if Utah or the CoJCoL-dS did the same thing for full-time Mormons. Interestingly, Mormons manage to have super-extremist politics even without such a system. Of course the corporation would never pay people to stay home and study Mormonism on their own. LDS Inc. already views this whole “studying” thing as suspect, and on top of that, that system would mean the money is flowing in the wrong direction. If, OTOH, you want to do data-entry for them on your own time and call it a “mission”, well, that’s a horse of a different color…

  5. This blog has friends in Israel. I wonder what Danielle would think of (ex)Mormons wringing their hands over the costs of nursing the orthodox? Crazy to think that the COB craziness is nothing compared to Shas and the rest of it. That said, I do think there’s a similar dynamic. Everyone’s familiar with welfare cases like Christopher Bigelow or Orson Scott Card, but beyond that pair of famous Mo losers, there are plenty of others discreetly suckling at the COB teat.

    And there *was* a system that funded super-extremist Mormon politics, but Bush was only allowed to serve two terms.

  6. Helen Thomas. Wow. Josh asks the right question:

    This is a bloody history, filled with a lot of suffering by Jews and Arabs alike. The West Bank is full of people whose grandparents were kicked out of Jaffa and Haifa and other now-Israeli cities. And where do the Mizrahi Jews go? Should they go back to Iraq? Iran? Syria? And Egypt? Can they get their homes back? It’s a bloody history and there’s a way to solve it — along the Green Line. And people need to go back to living in the present not in history.

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