How Not to Express Concern and Defuse Bigotry
Consider the implications of what Rabbi Avi Shafran is saying here:
I realize that such thinking may be par for the course of modern inter-religious dialogue, but consider the sheer audacity and offensiveness of it. To a Christian, the hours of the Passion and Resurrection were the most significant in all of human history and beyond. The imagery inherent in the event itself perfectly encapsulates humanity's relationship to God. We spit on Him, we torture Him, we kill Him and declare Him dead. But He rises and gives Himself to us again. Shafran is suggesting that dwelling on this event this core of Christian belief is too ugly, hateful, and prone toward ignorance to be presented to the public.
But this is not enough for Shafran. No, not content to insist on ignoring a dark time in Jewish history, he must go on to emphasize dark times in Christian history. Yeah, that's the way to defuse the hatred of those inclined toward anti-Semitism. One might be justified in wondering whether the good Rabbi considers Christians "today to be blameworthy" for the atrocities that he lists. One might also suggest that Shafran get his facts straight when writing that it "is not clear whether Mr. Gibson considers Jews today to be blameworthy for the crucifixion." This likely comes from Frank Rich's New York Times deliberate misrepresentation of Gibson on Bill O'Reilly's show (could one call that "blood libel"?).
Rabbi Shafran would do well to observe mainstream Christians' responses when such events as the Inquisition are raised. Some insist on keeping it in proper historical perspective, but none deny that it was a time of theological perversion. Rather than declaring the Biblical description of the Crucifixion as something akin to historically inaccurate hate speech, Jews who are concerned with the message that some might take away from works such as The Passion should ensure that it is not left up to Christians to explain that Jesus and all of his followers were Jews.
It is understandable that Shafran and others are concerned about the hatred of Jews that festers in the Middle East and seems once again to be fashionable around the well-decked tables of European high-society. But I'll tell him this: publishing such essays as his in American newspapers is not winning them any friends.
Posted by Justin Katz @ 03:53 PM EST
c matt @ 08/19/2003 06:07 PM EST