Just Wait Till The Passion Opens Over There

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New at Reason: Nir Rosen gives examples of crazy anti-Semitic beliefs in postwar Iraq.

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  1. Obviously the whole “Jews are out to get us!” theme is very old, and we have all seen how far it can go. But what can anybody do about it? I guess just give the country time to come to terms with it’s situation and hopefully people will start to see that everything isn’t some grand Jewish conspiracy, but then again maybe not.

    It seems that everybody needs something on which to blame the evils of the world. For Muslims it is currently the Jews. For many in the US it is drugs or guns (or both).

    Me? I blame Jebus (the evil half-brother to Jesus) for my daily hardships.

  2. Iraqi’s hold anti-semetic views? I’m underwhelmed…

  3. “The widespread Iraqi hostility toward Jews stands in contrast to a more ambivalent Muslim tradition.”

    Ahh yes, the myth of “tolerant Islam.”

    “Although the Koran frequently condemns Jews, it mandates a modus vivendi with them, relegating them to an inferior but protected status.”

    You will find that this was the Catholic Church’s “official position” during the middle ages; it didn’t keep either faith from slaughtering Jews at will.

    “Historically the Muslim attitude toward Jews lacked the racial element of European anti-Semitism, holding that if a Jew converted he was to be treated like any other Muslim.”

    Well, to be blunt a significant amount of European Jews converted to Christianity without any further repercussions; furthermore, in practice, those who converted to Islam were openly discriminated against, and it generally took several generations for distinctions to disappear.

    “Arab and Muslim authors began to adopt European racist and anti-Semitic theories about Jewish conspiracies to explain Israel?s existence, strength, and American support.”

    Hmm, the notion of “Jewish conspiracies” has been common throughout Islamic history; indeed several massacres were precipitated by rumors of such conspiracies (and this was long before the 19th century). Perhaps Europeans added the element of “blood libel,” but animus towards Jews, conspiracy theories, etc. was never really alien to Islam.

  4. JB:
    “Hmm, the notion of “Jewish conspiracies” has been common throughout Islamic history; indeed several massacres were precipitated by rumors of such conspiracies (and this was long before the 19th century). Perhaps Europeans added the element of “blood libel,” but animus towards Jews, conspiracy theories, etc. was never really alien to Islam. ”

    Your claim might have some weight to it if you had substantiate it. A counter example of your claims is Andalusia (Southern Spain). When Muslims were in control, Jewish intellectuals prospered. But when the christian spaniards took over (regained control), you know what happened with the inquisitions. Many of the Jewish population fled Andalusia to Morocco, where thousands of them are still living relatively peacefully with the predominately muslim population.

  5. Tim, what makes you think The Passion will ever be shown in Iraq? This tireless on the part of some to smear this flick as somehow being anti-semitic is getting old. I’ve seen it and there’s nothing anti-semitic about it.

    I guess the folks at Reason must be alarmed at the thought the movie has had the number three ranked 5 day opening in history. Even better than the Return of the King.

  6. > For a journalist, not a day goes by without mention of Jews and Israel.

  7. I saw the Passion– straight up…it was a good movie.

    Worse still, is the fate of people’s who ARE considered pagans– Hindus, Parsees, Bahai’s and Mandaens, among others. Useful (in all kins of ways) would be to get Iraq to sign a peace treaty with Israel.

  8. The vicious, foolish hatred of Arabs and Muslims against Jews is well known. This is due to lies they are taught in their unfree societies. What this article misses is that, as bad as things are right now, the liberation of Iraq is a chance (the best chance, I’d say) to change the false impression and, perhaps, in the (very)long run, bring about peace in the region.

  9. That is not the original Mo. Please pick a new handle or feel the wrath of my RIAA tested lawyers.

  10. “What this article misses is that, as bad as things are right now, the liberation of Iraq is a chance to change the false impression and, perhaps, in the long run, bring about peace in the region.”

    I wish this were true. At most, it MAY be a narrow start.

    I just can’t fathom how you begin to undue the hatred of an entire population. They don’t portray their impression as false. For them, this is very real. Jews are trying to take over the world. Jews (me) are cockroaches, and because America supports Israel, ALL Americans are awarded the illustrious title.

  11. Eric,

    I don’t know; of course how anyone could measure if it reinforced anti-semitism I cannot say (I’ll just ignore the trolling sentences). ADL surveys state that 1 in 5 Americans are anti-semitic and that 1 in 4 Americans blame Jews collectively for the death of your “God”; perhaps some post-movie surveys would answer your question.

    BTW, I’ll assume from your mocking tone that you yourself do not take Jewish concerns seriously; of course Jews do, given what they have suffered at the hands of your compatriots.

  12. BTW, has anyone read Christopher Hitchens’ gentle review of the movie and creator Mel in Slate ?

    http://slate.msn.com/id/2096323/

    Hoo Boy ! Tell us what you really think, Chris …

  13. Eric,

    Rabbi Avi Weiss, a prominent Bronx rabbi, reported getting several hate-filled e-mails after he staged a rally protesting the movie.

    In another incident, an unidentified vandal painted swastikas on a synagogue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

  14. SM,

    Great article; thanks.

  15. JB,
    “BTW, I’ll assume from your mocking tone that you yourself do not take Jewish concerns seriously; of course Jews do, given what they have suffered at the hands of your compatriots.”

    Yes, I’m sure many Jews (not all) were concerned, and I think those concerns were overblown, as I think has so far been the case, despite the two very minor incidents you reference.

    But your response also seems to suggest (correct me if I’m wrong) that I bear some responsibility for what my “compatriots” did. Are you suggesting that their blood is on my hands, and on my children’s hands? If so, you seem to be subscribing to a theory that you condemn (and rightly so) when applied elsewhere.

    As for the ADL, it does a lot of good, but it also has a bad habit of finding anti-semitism where it doesn’t exist, and unfairly smearing individuals with that label.

  16. Here’s an interesting article on the treatment of both Jews and Palestinians in Iraq in the past 50 years.

    http://www.hadassah.org/news/content/per_hadassah/archive/2004/04_FEB/ltr-baghdad.shtml

  17. Eric,

    “Yes, I’m sure many Jews (not all) were concerned, and I think those concerns were overblown, as I think has so far been the case, despite the two very minor incidents you reference.”

    They were not overblown; passion plays are notorious for inciting anti-Semitic violence.

    “But your response also seems to suggest (correct me if I’m wrong) that I bear some responsibility for what my ‘compatriots’ did.”

    No, I am merely stating that there is a historical basis for such a concern and that Christians have to earn the trust of Jews (my wife included) due to that history.

  18. Anon,

    “Your claim might have some weight to it if you had substantiate it.”

    Your claim might have some weight to if it were actually true; which it isn’t.

    Jews living in Arab/Moslem lands were officially second class citizens, century after century, having to yield to Muslims, unable to testify in courts, often not allowed to build/repair synagogues and subject to pogroms.

    For example, decrees ordering the destruction of synagogues were enacted in Egypt & Syria (1014, 1293, 1301), Iraq (854, 1344) and Yemen (1676). Forced conversions (or death) in Morocco (1275, 1465, 1790) and Baghdad (1333, 1344). Even massacres and pogroms (5000 Jews in Grenada in 1066, all but 11 Jews in Fez in 1465).

    Indeed, the Grenada massacre is a perfect example of the conspiracy mongering that I wrote of earlier; on December 30, 1066, Joseph HaNagid, the Jewish vizier of Granada, Spain, was crucified by an Arab mob that proceeded to raze the Jewish quarter of the city and slaughter its 5,000 inhabitants. The riot was incited by Muslim preachers who had angrily objected to what they saw as inordinate Jewish political power.

    Muslims until today deny this massacre (like many deny the holocaust) and have also often tried to lie their way through this by arguing that the Jews were massacred not by Muslim Arabs but by European Christians; when it was clearly the Muslim population that perpetrated this act (so much for a “tolerant” Muslim Spain).

    Other mass murders of Jews in Arab lands occurred in Morocco in the 8th century, where whole communities were wiped out by Muslim ruler Idris I; North Africa in the 12th century, where the Almohads either forcibly converted or decimated several communities; Libya in 1785, where Ali Burzi Pasha murdered hundreds of Jews; Algiers, where Jews were massacred in 1805, 1815 and 1830 and Marrakesh, Morocco, where more than 300 hundred Jews were murdered between 1864 and 1880.

    Decrees ordering the destruction of synagogues were enacted in Egypt and Syria (1014, 1293-4, 1301-2), Iraq (854-859, 1344) and Yemen (1676). Despite the Koran’s prohibition, Jews were forced to convert to Islam or face death in Yemen (1165 and 1678), Morocco (1275, 1465 and 1790-92) and Baghdad (1333 and 1344).

    So much for your “tolerant Islam.”

  19. Historically, Passion plays were followed by calls from religious leaders to kill Jews in retaliation for Jesus’s death. However, it has been a long time since Passion plays were popular. Most 21st century Christians are more tolerant than their Midevil ancestors. There haven’t been mass progroms after Passion’s release. We shouldn’t judge tolerant Christians based on the biggotry of past generations or even the biggotry of a hand full of present day Christians. That’s a basic Libertarian principle; judge each individual based on his individual actions, not group membership.

  20. The movie’s been out for almost a week now. Other than one clueless church putting up a stupid sign, is there any evidence that this movie has created, caused, or reinforced anti-Semitism? Have any synagogues burned? Any hordes of slobbering, anti-Semitic Christians ravaging Jewish neighborhoods?

    In short, has the release of this movie hurt anyone?

  21. Are American Christians a threat to jews?

    Most evangelicals and conservative Christian types support Israel.

    Except for some fringe groups, the left in the US appears to be more anti-Semetic . . . the same left that trashes Christian values.

  22. ituf,

    “Historically, Passion plays were followed by calls from religious leaders to kill Jews in retaliation for Jesus’s death. However, it has been a long time since Passion plays were popular.”

    They were quite popular still; especially in the Third World church. And I myself have witnessed anti-Semitic ramblings at such events in West Africa; luckily no Jews were around to be killed.

    “We shouldn’t judge tolerant Christians based on the biggotry of past generations or even the biggotry of a hand full of present day Christians.”

    Who is “judging?” Wariness is my attitude. And to be blunt, a healthy historical awareness is one of the best defenses Jews have.

  23. Catholics today are very tolerant. In a recent poll they were the least likely of all christians in the USA to hold Jews responsible for the death of Jesus, and even still it was extremely low. Young Catholics, including the most conservative young Catholics have not grown up in an anti-semetic culture. As a young, conservative Catholic I have never heard an anti-semetic sermon at church, or lecture in a Catholic school. Our religion classes teach tolerance of Jews. Things have changed. Since young men are the most likely to carry out any anti-semetic violence it should be reassuring to Jews that almost no young, devout Catholic men are anti-semetic today. Today this would be viewed as being against christianity. In fact i would go so far as to suggest that there is a lot more anti-Catholicism in the mainstream than anti-semetism. When our churches are desecrated it doesnt even make the news. The only thing the media ever reports about us, is scandal.

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