Friday, June 4

JEWS AND HATE

I had the chance on Thursday to chat with Ron Rosenbaum, the author of Those Who Forget The Past: The Question of Anti-Semitism. His previous work, Explaining Hitler, took a decade to compile. Both books are a collection of essays by thinkers, academics, and journalists.

Rosenbaum was asked to explain the reason for Jew bashing. His reaction was blank. Despite years of studying the topic, this prolific writer and editor was reduced to an exasperated shrug.

That's because there's no rational understanding when it comes to the Judeo-fixedness of hate.

Jews on this continent have been extremely successful, so, why the fuss? "North America is not a problem for Jews," Rosenbaum admits.

OK. If that’s true, then why all of the "media monitoring"? Why the public protests against desecrating Jewish homes, schools and cemeteries? Are normal people really for hate? It's really a case of constantly preaching to the converted.

Revealingly, in his book's introduction, Rosenbaum uses the word "equanimity" in the pejorative. He's really saying Jews should be vigilant--even around here. So, North America could be a problem then I guess.

This determination frustrates and disappoints me because he vast majority of Gentiles do "get it". Moreover, no one has not hired someone in North America in recent memory for being Jewish, yet, discrimination with other groups is still a problem; where some Jews also participate in the problem as discrimination knows no cultural border.

Even when we look to history, specifically WW2, we find a mixed response from some Jews. This, despite the fact that those of us who lost relatives to Hitler in war, where we lay in opposition against the Nazi worldview, it still, somehow, doesn't seem good enough.

However, the very idea of a dominant ethnicity, a majority that somehow has a collective voice derived from specific origins, is a thing of the past.

Where homogeneity once reigned, and Anglo-Saxon life was once agrarian--no Sunday shopping, and the main divisions existed within Protestant circles (with the main divide being Catholic), that society is now secular and diverse. Today, divisions are cultural, rather than religious.

Nowadays, being Anglo means an urban workaday existence. In most instances, the culture of thought is larger than the religious grouping. Two city dwellers, despite having different languages and backgrounds, will have stronger cultural links with each other than a couple of hicks from the sticks.

What does it matter if one of the urbanites is a Jew? Myself, I have more in common with Seinfeld than Stompin' Tom.

Rosenbaum's also book features a couple of pieces on Mel Gibson's sores and sandals epic, The Passion of the Christ. I pointed out that no one walked out of the movie theaters to hunt down Jews. The opposition from Jewish groups and individuals was hysterical, and not commensurate with the thing itself.

"Passion plays have a history of inciting hatred," Rosenbaum countered. Mel Gibson's dad, he informed me, is clearly an infamous anti-Semite, and Jews are again cloaked in the classic "deicide" role in this movie.

Well, so what? Can't the 1st century Pharisees be depicted in a certain light without painting all Jews as Christ-killers? Don't we depict Mafia types on TV without saying that this is what Italians are all like? Of course not.

I asked Rosenbaum what the problem was with Jews, given how Christ was a Jew. No answer.

How did the Romans get off so easily? They killed him, and Christ wasn't Italian.

Christ had to die for all of our sins--for Christian sins. No Christian sins, no death.

Maybe we should stop blaming Jews ... and look more at the Mafia.

The real problem lies with international relations: in the Middle East, the West has exacerbated regional divides through a militarized foreign policy in Iraq, and a heavy-handed--albeit effective from the perspective of suppression--support for Arab ghettos in Israel.

The hatred in the region is immense. This is where The Protocols of the Elders Of Zion is taken literally, and where 9/11 was started by Jews.

Where will it all end? Depressingly, Rosenbaum seems to believe that a second Holocaust, in an era of portable nukes and desperate enemies is all but inevitable. Where there's a will, there's a way. He calls it, "Hitler's posthumous victory".

There is only the whiff of the embers of this hatred in North America. What burns brighter is an urban society where everyone eats bagels--devoid of deference for its cultural associations, undeterred by texture.