Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

The Polite Gentiles

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

The Polite Gentiles

Article excerpt

Rabbi Daniel Lapin of Toward Tradition airs a question that I expect most Jews think should be aired, if at all, only among Jews. His reflections are prompted by the movie Meet the Packers, starring Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand. He is especially disappointed with Streisand because he had coached her in the film Yentl and hoped she was above this kind of thing. "In spite of having several Jewish producers and several Jewish stars," writes Lapin, "this film's vile notions of Jews are not too different from those used by Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels." The argumentum ad Hitlerum, as Milton Himmelfarb once called it, makes one nervous. Lapin continues, "The movie depicts the conspicuously Jewish parents as sexually obsessed, constantly concupiscent degenerates. Nice people, but depraved." He is put in mind of the defamatory depiction of Jews in Woody Alien films: "If Woody Alien were not Jewish, surely every Jewish organization would have roundly denounced him."

What is it with the Jews?-is Rabbi Lapin's question. He mentions potty-mouthed sexpert Dr. Ruth Westheimer, as well as the execrable Howard Stern and Jerry Springer, who also flaunt their Jewishness. Then there is the Jewish pornographer who goes by the name of Ron Jeremy and boasts of having acted in or directed more than 1,500 porn films, explaining, "Jewish families tend to be more liberal than Christian ones; they aren't obsessed by the fear of the devil or going to hell." A profile m Jewish Journal reassuringly notes that Jeremy plans to be married in a synagogue. "You'd have to be a recent immigrant from Outer Mongolia," writes Lapin, "not to know of the role that people with Jewish names play in the coarsening of our culture. Almost every American knows this. It is just that most gentiles are too polite to mention it."

Lapin says he is describing "anti-Semitism perpetrated by Jews rather than by non-Jews." He cites a passage from Hitler's Mein Kampf describing the meretricious influence of Jews and observes: "It does not excuse Hitler or his Nazi thugs for us to acknowledge that this maniacal master propagandist focused on a reality that resonated with the educated and cultured Germans of his day. Not once in Mein Kampf did that monster charge Jews with being complicit in the killing of Christ two thousand years earlier. He knew that long-ago event, shrouded in mystery and theological profundity, would never goad enlightened people to murder. Instead, he drew attention to the obvious and inescapable; that which every German knew to be true."

After listing more instances of the culture-debasing activities of Jews, Lapin writes: "We Jews routinely depict ourselves in repugnant caricatures of people you'd want nothing to do with in real life. Why do my colleagues in Jewish communal leadership never condemn this anti-Semitism? For, if it is not anti-Semitism, what is?" Yet Jewish organizations went all out in their assault on MeI Gibson's The Passion. "A year after its release, and after polls show increased regard for Jews among the film's audiences, Jewish organizations still condemn The Passion as defamatory to Jews. Yet, astonishingly, they don't consider the examples I cite as defamatory to Jews." "Do you suppose that people's view of what Jews are really like is shaped more by Caius, an obscure two-thousand-year old character in The Passion or by the contemporary couple played by Streisand and Hoffman? …

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