mercredi 12 janvier 2011

Well, at least people will want to know what blood libel really means now

About a dozen years ago, I had a co-worker who was from Cuba. Al is a very nice, Catholic boy, but he didn't know jack about other religions. One day we were talking about religions, and Al said, "We have the 10 Commandments. What do Jews believe in?"

He was serious.

Of course my first thought was to tell him about how we slaughter Christian babies on Shabbos and use them to make flanken, but I thought snark would be lost on him. So I had to tell him about Who Had the Ten Commandments First.

It's still astonishing just how much ignorance people have about Jews, Jewish holidays, Jewish rituals. And it isn't just the orthodox practices of the Hasidim that are a mystery; the infamous hole-in-the-sheet nonsense is always asked when the conversation comes around to Judaism.

So in the spirit of "It's An Ill Wind That Blows No Good", I'm kind of glad that Snowflake Snooki, in her inimitable "IT'S ALL ABOUT ME!! ME!!! ME!!!!" fashion, brought the notion of blood libel to the foreground. Because on that day so long ago, if I had told Al that we eat Christian babies on shabbos, he might have believed it.

Here's why (for those who don't already know):
In 1144 CE, an unfounded rumor began in eastern England, that Jews had kidnapped a Christian child, tied him to a cross, stabbed his head to simulate Jesus' crown of thorns, killed him, drained his body completely of blood, and mixed the blood into matzos (unleavened bread) at time of Passover. The rumor was started by a former Jew, Theobald, who had become a Christian monk. He said that Jewish representatives gathered each year in Narbonne, France. They decided in which city a Christian child would be sacrificed.

The boy involved in the year 1144 hoax became known as St. William of Norwich. Many people made pilgrimages to his tomb and claimed that miracles had resulted from appeals to St. William. The myth shows a complete lack of understanding of mainline Judaism. Aside from the prohibition of killing innocent persons, the Torah specifically forbids the drinking or eating of any form of blood in any quantity. However, reality never has had much of an impact on blood libel myths. This rumor lasted for many centuries; even today it has not completely disappeared.

Check out a whole list of what Jews have endured over the centuries as a result of this "blood libel."

No one has said that Sarah Palin took a gun into her hands and shot over a dozen people. What people have said is that Sarah Palin uses the metaphor of guns and gunsights and other eliminationist rhetoric for political gain. You can argue whether she bears any responsibiility for the current climate of believing that those who disagree with the right-wing agenda should be "taken out" (Sharron Angle's expression). But that would be a difficult argument to make. What is easier to demonstrate is that for Sarah Palin, it's all about her. It's always about her.

Let's face it -- the decrying on the left (and among the more responsible, less-insane quarters of the right, including -- God help me -- Joe Scarborough) of this kind of rhetoric is something that Sarah Palin had better learn to accept if she is going to have a future on the public political stage. Because what I see in Sarah Palin is someone who talks a good game about grizzly bears and gun-totin', but say "Boo!" to her and she squeals like a stuck pig. And her disgusting self-serving performance today just further underlines her narcissism. Because there is a dead child and five other dead people whose families loved them. There are wounded people who aren't celebrities in the hospital, and there is a Jewish Congresswoman with a hole in her brain who is miraculously still alive, but has a long road ahead of her. But in Sarah Palin's world, they aren't the victim's of Saturday's crime. Only Sarah Palin is. Because for Sarah Palin, it's a Sarah Palin World. The rest of us just live in it. And die in it.

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