Saturday, August 12, 2006

"Judeo-Christian"

As a Jewish American, lucky me, apparently I am spared the worst vitriol the religious right/neocons/Old Guard has in its collective stomach. Even Ann Coulter, I think, is purportedly on our side. Moslems and immigrants--oh, recent immigrants, you know, from those darker countries, certainly not my grandparents or yours, this lot is different--they're fair game; and, um, well, gay folk, well, if you lot just weren't so demanding. But anti-semitism--at least, overtly expressed--is RIGHT OUT.

How'd this come about?

Well, duh, the Holocaust; no one wants to see that again. At least, not with the same cast of characters.

And even before that, one could argue, the Jews were by and large among the "good immigrants;" at least there are plenty of less assimilated/more recently arrived/exotic folks to now take their/our place, same (sort of) as happened with the Irish and the Eye-talians.

And, oh, yeah...Israel.

And, well, the Jews, well, they and Christians should be like chocolate and peanut butter, right? I mean: same book (one of them at least); same God; come from the same general region. Same values. Not like those barbaric Moslems, who are certainly not People Of The Book, (hell, they may not be people at all), or monotheists worshipping a desert God; and clearly share nothing at all with the Judeo-Christians.

Well, well.

Here's my deal, before we go any further:

I've never been to Israel. Have no family there. Speak no Hebrew.

And I do not practice Judaism. (and therefore will never get to Carnegie Hall). Only went to synagogue for one year as a sprog. We've been "secular" on both sides of the family for at least three generations.

Which means, by the standards of both a number of more conservative Jews and, curiously enough, of much of the not-at-all-anti-semitic Religious Right, I am a "bad Jew."

Oh. Did you not know that there were two kinds of Jews? Well, there are.

You see, before the creation of Israel, much less the current conflagration involving the U.S. and the War On Terror, the Jews were commonly associated with...well, pretty much the Jewishness I know (and love): Yiddish-speaking immigrants, godless socialists, bleeding-heart, artsy-fartsy, effete intellectual liberals.

(Not to mention good at making money; and, oh, yes, plotting to Take Over The World, Pinky).

And those Jews, see, are still on the shitlist, more or less; it's just we don't call them Jews anymore. We say...o, I don't know, the Cultural Elite. Godless Hollywood. in a pinch, the gays will do nicely as a fill-in; after all, there's a lot in common there (artsy-fartsy, effete, bent on destroying Western Civ and/or taking over the world, Pinky).

At the same time, however: well, see...it goes something like this. We need Israel, for practical and more obscure reasons (more on the latter in a moment). Jews tend to support Israel; therefore, Jews R R Friends. also, we can unite in our emnity of the new Evil Empire (the Moslems); whereas before there was maybe a little too much association of the Jews with the former Evil Empire (Communism).

And, too: well, we all like the Old Testament. It's all full of xenophobia and fiery retribution and laying low of enemies and shit.

Funnily enough, I tend to favor the sandalled guy in the sequel, you know, the one who suggested that maybe we might all try to love our enemies and passionately sided with the underdog; then got nailed up for it (and is apparently associated with the nailing far more than the actual message for a lot of people; such is life).

Finally: everyone loves the whole Chosen People riff. Especially the U.S. right now; we can so relate. Hey, you're special! We're special, too!

So, hey presto: the religious right comes a-wooing, bringing the not-especially religious right in its wake. Nice Jewses. Good Jewses. Hey, we share morals, am I right or am I right? Ethics. Family Values. Love of country. A fondness for bagels. Everyone likes bagels. And God the Father. And Jesu-well, okay, we'll just agree to ignore that one for the time being. And Being Number One. And War. We agree on the need for this, right? ...oh, wait, you don't? well, back on the riffraff Commie-lesbo-witch-America-hating pile with you.

Well, spank my ass and call me Memorex: I'm a bad feminist, a bad lesbian, a bad Jew, and hell knows I'm a bad American.

It's just this little thing, see, where I don't care for bullying the underdog.

Which is, p.s. also part of my Jewish heritage, and as far as I'm concerned the best part.

As for the Religious Right being on "our" side: not buying it. And fewer and fewer people are these days. And for good reason: a temporary exemption from a catalog of bigotries is no basis for a lasting friendship. Particularly when, as it turns out, the exemption has nothing to do with anything but expedience after all.

More on this here:

Why the silence until now? Part of it has to do with Israel. Christian Zionism, inspired by end-times beliefs that make the return of Jews to Israel a precondition for the second coming, has made American evangelicals the world's staunchest backers of Israeli hawks. (Their Jewish allies usually choose to ignore the fact that the Christian Zionist's apocalyptic scenario ends with unsaved Jews being slaughtered and condemned to hell.) But while evangelicals support Israel for their own eschatological reasons, there have been threats, implicit and explicit, that such support might weaken if Jews oppose their domestic agenda too aggressively. Indeed, in response to Foxman's speech, Tom Minnery, vice president of government and public policy at Focus on the Family, told the Forward, "If you keep bullying your friends, pretty soon you won't have any.'"

...Jews in America aren't endangered, but the power of the religious right has clearly reached a point where a great many feel exceedingly nervous. The fear is not of pogroms or outright discrimination; rather, it's of the disappearance of the secular civic culture that allowed Jews to feel like full citizens of America rather than a tolerated minority.

Throughout the last decade, the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish groups had reached a kind of accommodation with the religious right that was based in part on Christian leaders toning down their more theocratic rhetoric. In 1995, Ralph Reed, then the executive director of the Christian Coalition, addressed the ADL and apologetically acknowledged that much of his movement's language alarmed Jews. "This is true not only of the blatant wrongs of a few -- those who claimed that 'God does not hear the prayers of Jews,' those who said that this is a 'Christian nation,' suggesting that others may not be welcome, and those who say that the only prayers uttered in public school should be Christian prayers. It is also true because of the thoughtless lapses of many -- the use of religious-military metaphors, a false and patronizing philo-Semitism, and the belief that being pro-Israel somehow answers for all other insensitivity to Jewish concerns."

Such sensitivity has virtually vanished from today's religious right, replaced with a triumphalist religious nationalism...

14 comments:

Veronica said...

Eh, the super-nutso Rapture-types don't actually support Israel. They support rebuilding the Temple and triggering Armageddon.

belledame222 said...

Well, yes, exactly. But meanwhile they are de facto Friends Of Israel, most of 'em; enemy of my enemy or some suchlike.

which why it makes me crazy when certain of My People embrace these crazies because "they're the only ones on our side, really." NO, fools. pay attention, will you?

Veronica said...

Yeah, it does generally sound like "enemy of my enemy," but some of them are honest enough to just cough up with the "similar goals" hints. Kind of like the recent (well, last ten years or so) thing wherein supernutso-Rapture types pretend they like Catholics because "we're both pro-life." Nevermind that on Sunday in South, the Vatican is aka "The Whore of Babylon" from Revelations.

belledame222 said...

yes, that part is rather deliciously ironic as well.

Jean said...

Even Ann Coulter, I think, is purportedly on our side

Heh. During a very heated debate recently, someone put out the challenge to name one bigot who was pro-Israel. Of course, the almost immediate response was a picture of Nightmareboat Annie.

But meanwhile they are de facto Friends Of Israel,

The farking Christian Zionists just want to get their 144,000. I wish I had handy the LaHaye quote on some radio show, which was to the effect of *Jewish minds had come up with evil things but... oh, um, you know, they've come up with some good stuff too... and um... um... they're awesome. Really. I mean it for reals. Jebus was a Jew and I love me some Jebus*

Kristin said...

Belle, I find it very difficult to follow intellectual discourse when shooting coffee out my nose because I'm laughing. If you expect us to take you seriously, please refrain from making comments such as: "It's all full of xenophobia and fiery retribution and laying low of enemies and shit." Keep blaspheming like that and you'll catch a smiting.

Renegade Evolution said...

<--- also a card carrying member of the "bad jew" club....

belledame222 said...

snerk, I just finally got "Nightmareboat Annie." nice.

Alon Levy said...

I'm guessing it's a tacit inclusiveness thing. You don't want people to accuse you of hating black people, so you name the city's most messed up street after Martin Luther King and continue ensuring that black people remain an underclass. You don't want people to accuse you of hating Jews, so you say you support Judeo-Christian values and focus on the "Christian" part.

A good example of this hypocrisy in action is the American version of Hanukah. There are by my count five holidays sanctioned in the (Hebrew) Bible: Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Passover, and Pentecost; in addition, Purim is rooted in a Biblical story (the Book of Esther). Hanukah commemorates a story that was intentionally left out of the Bible, and is therefore one of the two or three least important Jewish holidats. Unless, of course, you live in the US, in which case it's the Jewish version of Christmas, which allows people to pretend that it's not a singularly Christian holiday.

belledame222 said...

well, but now see in that regard, too, what with the whole "War on Christmas" business, you kind of get the notion that some people have basically gone, "screw concessions and full speed ahead! YEEEE-HA"

Veronica said...

It's AUGUST! Don't go getting me riled up over the War on Christmas just yet! I have what? Two more months before that shit should really kick in and make my teeth grind? You can tell that the WAR is ON, because they pit Xmas against that pagan, satanic Halloween thing.

Alon Levy said...

Veronica, I'm mostly recycling things I read last Christmas, when so many liberals, all of them Christians or Christian-born atheists, tried to pretend Christmas could be made into a non-Christian holiday.

Natalia said...

You're not a "bad Jew." You're a great Jew. Compassionate and caring. And I don't think so just because you agree with me on some political issues.

belledame222 said...

: )