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Thursday, Aug. 03, 2006 at 4:15 AM
"Compassion" is not exclusive to any religious group. Nor is its opposite.
By Pretty Boy Freud
An extremist Jewish religious group argues that "compassion" is a strictly Christian (i.e, "non-Jewish") quality and lives out the worst antisemitic cliches.
Just when you thought you had supped full of horrors, it's time for a late-night snack. For years the Yesha Rabbinical Council, a group representing the most uncompromising Israeli settlers, has argued that under Jewish law the Israeli Defense Forces are "allowed to hurt so-called innocent civilians." Now they've topped that, if possible, with their repeated insistence that "compassion" itself belongs to Christian morality and to Christianity alone.
For a Jew this is like discovering that after all Jews do drain the blood of Christian children or stick knives in a communion wafer to watch it bleed. Far from rejecting the antisemitic stereotypes nurtured among Christians during two thousand years of exile, these Jews have embraced them and made them their own.
It doesn't take much study of Medieval and Early Modern European Culture (a close reading of The Merchant of Venice will do) to realize that Christian Theology set up an opposition between Jewish Law and Christian Charity, between the Jew as merciless castrating father and the Christian as infinitely forgiving mother. It doesn't take much thought to realize how much of a self-serving concept this is, that European Christianity has been forgiving, or peaceful.
Then again, this won't be the first time Jews (or any other oppressed group) go beyond identification with the aggressor and become their own worst nightmare. The Nazi rationale, whenever they first came to rule, was that Jews, being a genetically different people, should be allowed their own institutions, their own culture, and of course their very own ghettos. One German Jewish journalist reacted to the first anti-Jewish laws with an article headed: "Wear with Pride the Yellow Star!" He later committed suicide.
Not just a handful of half-crazed bigots in a trailer park in Hebron. The 92nd Street Y on New York's wealthy Upper East Side could pass for the navel of enlightened, assimilated, Westernized Jewishness. The Fall catalog is full of poetry readings and classical concerts - and it has nearly a page devoted to something called the "Jung Foundation at the 92nd Street Y." In other terms, you can get in touch with your Inner Jew according to the best precepts of Carl Jung, Hitler's favorite shrink and an enthusiastic supporter of the very specialness of Being Jewish, which of course happened to fit with the very specialness of Being Aryan. There's even a course at the Y on a "Jungian Approach to Fundamentalism," and it's taught by a professor at the (Christian) Union Theological Seminary. The Ghetto walls lock from within.
Come, father and mothers
Come, sisters and brothers
Come, join us in singing the praises of Zion.
Oh, fathers, don't you feel determined
To live within the walls of Zion?
- Old Christian Hymn
- Pretty Boy Freud
reprinted from WOID: a journal of visual language
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