Saturday, February 11, 2006

Although “Cathy” does make me want to riot sometimes, I will admit

Ok, I'm going to get a little more philosophical and wordier than usual in this post. I've had a few cocktails with friends, and feeling a bit expansive, so bear with me.

We were talking over dinner Friday night about this controversy in the Muslim world about those now infamous Danish editorial cartoons, that are apparently so offensive to Islam that riots have erupted, embassies have been torched, people have died, flags have been burned, yadda yadda.

And I seriously can't get my mind around all the anger and hatred from this faction of the world – and not even just about this cartoon issue, necessarily.

Some of it, I know, is genuine angst at the actual cartoons, and I appreciate that there is a general prohibition against depicting Muhammad in human form, even benignly (although burning a building down does seem a tad extreme) – but let's be honest as to what this is really all about: the never-ending antipathy against Jews.

Because, despite the fact that the cartoons appeared in a Danish newspaper, and were drawn by Danish artists, you knew, somehow, the Jews would end up getting brought into it.

Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that “casting doubt or negating the genocide of the Jews is banned, but insulting the beliefs of 1.5 billion Muslims is allowed."

Uh, yeah, sure. So now we're comparing 6 million deaths in the Holocaust to some drawings?

And, in fact, as the great Michael Kinsley said: “Nothing is easier and more common in the West, including the United States, than criticizing the United States -- except for criticizing Israel.”

Kinsley also noted: “A government-controlled Tehran newspaper announced a contest for cartoons about the Holocaust...(and) in a spirit of "see how you like it," a European Muslim group posted on the Web a cartoon of Anne Frank in bed with Hitler.”

I didn't hear about too many riots erupting in Israel over that one - but, whatever, as the kids say.

Listen, I certainly understand there is anger among Palestinians in particular against the state of Israel. Some of it for good reason.

But, let's face it, you know -- you absolutely know -- that even if Israel somehow didn't exist, there would still be this bizarre hatred toward Jews coming from the Muslim and Arab world.

And this is what I always wonder: have these people actually met any Jews? I mean real Jewish individuals. Not a vague entity, not the powerful state of Israel and its military might, but I mean personally do they know any Jews?

A little background. I come at the whole religion topic with a bit of a disadvantage, I suppose. As in by not really having too much first-hand, in-depth experience. (Although the passion it inspires has always fascinated me.) But my family was never religious at all. We are what you would call baaaaaad Catholics. In the circle of friends and family I grew up with in waspy Connecticut, no one really bothered about religion one way or the other. I suppose we knew a few religious types who went to church every Sunday, and, you know, we “tolerated” (hah!) them, but, seriously, no one cared; just don't bug me about your faith was always the unspoken motto. If I'd grown up in Alabama or Mississippi, I guarantee you my family would probably have had a burning cross thrown on our lawn by now, we would so much be the town heathens.

But, if I had to be religious, if, God forbid, I was told: ok you have to choose a faith right now and follow it, I'd probably choose to be Jewish.

It just seems to me to be one of the most benign of the major religions, and a lot of them aren't particularly benign. It seems to involve a lot of nice family get togethers for meals and enjoying togetherness in general, which I've always loved when I've been to a Seder dinner or other such gatherings. (Ok, the food ain't always the best, but, hey).

And, most important to me, Judaism doesn't go out of its way to convert non-believers – which, let's face it, the Protestant fundamentalist Pat Robertson-types do. (And trust me, Pat Robertson is basically considered the devil incarnate in Connecticut, home of Joe Lieberman, no less).

Even on a purely personal note, most of the girls I date tend to be Jewish (which is why I ended up at a lot of those family gatherings and suffered through many a stringy brisket over the years – oy). And most of my friends, male and female, also tend to be Jewish.

Who knows, maybe that's simply a factor of living in Manhattan for several years now, home to a large Jewish population, obviously, but that's the way I like it.

So that's why I wonder, when I hear these Muslim fundamentalists rail against “The Jews,” how they would possibly react if they actually got to know my friend Sarah or my friend Nel or my friend Dan (and I usually create names for my buds on this blog, but those are real names, and I checked with each of them that it was okay to use in this post).

I just don't know too many people any nicer or kinder, who would give you the shirt off their backs if you needed it or go to bat for you more.

And when these fundamentalists do their little war dance against “The Jews,” I wonder what the story is?

Do they actually believe the hatred they spout, or is it all just a button-pushing issue, to keep their masses riled up -- like the right-wingers in this country do with gay marriage or flag burning amendments or abortion, or what ever other issues they can gin up to keep red state America happy?

So that's why I always wonder if these Muslim leaders actually know any Jews? Because if they knew people like my friends, I can't believe they would preach hate like they do.

Then again, I'm guessing for them it's just so much bullshit, and that even they don't believe it for real.

Alas, it gets them in power and pays their bills, I guess.

It's a very strange world we live in.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post and its not just the muslims of course. Every religion is screwy if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

You just made my head spin jbk but right on!

Anonymous said...

Jews dont have to go to Iran for trouble. I lived in Missouri for 4 years and it was not a great place to be Jewish, trust me on that. And I was in a college town. I can't even imagine what some of those little redneck places were like

Anonymous said...

Pat Robertson is actually friends to Israel and the Jewish people. You shouldn't really mention him in this particular post.

Anonymous said...

I think the people marching in the streets really believe the slogans and crap they are chanting, but you're right, they are being manipulated by those in power in Iran and the other places.

J said...

Bloopsie, Pat Robertson and his relationship to Israel has been covered before on this blog and plenty of other places, so I won't rehash it, except to say I would take his so-called friendship with a large grain of salt, as the Israelis realize themselves. But if you read the post, he was't even mentioned in the context of his relationship with Israel, one way or the other, it was about the proselytizing he and other Christian fundamentalists do.

Not a hipster said...

I won't rehash the Pat Robertson/ Israel link, either, except to say I don't understand how people don't realize what happened between him and Israel. It's been in the news quite a bit.

Anonymous said...

The hatred that comes from there is just unbelievable to me! I don't know why we don't just drop a nice big bomb on the whole place and start over again.

Anonymous said...

Well thats one way to look at it anonymous but doesnt that make us as bad as them? Why should we be as big a group of animals and killers as they are.

Anonymous said...

If they don't want to live in the 21st century the hell with them, but why do they want to impose their views on the rest of the world!

Anonymous said...

nice jbk!

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