A little over a month ago, I was sitting with my daughter in a darkened theater, watching with dozens of other horror-struck Americans as, on the giant screen, a little Jewish boy, accompanied by his new friend, a German boy of about the same age, were herded naked, in shocked confusion to their deaths in a Nazi gas chamber. Or the "ovens" as some slang would put it. The movie was The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.
For more than five minutes after the lights came on, no one in that theater moved. Barely a sound -- only the muffled sobs of a few -- could be heard. Then, one young man slowly stood, bowed his head, rose, and as if a signal had been given, others hesitantly followed. I heard not a single word passed between perhaps one hundred moviegoers, as somberly, one by one, we all filed out into the night to return to our warm homes and safe beds.
I'll never forget that night. In fact, for days after, I dreamt about it, waking in a cold sweat reaching for my own babies. I'm not Jewish; I'm human. Or at least, I like to believe I behave as a human should.
I grew up entrenched in a full-blown, segregationist, racist society. By the time I was ten, I had overheard more racist epithets than my own children will hear in their entire lifetimes. White, Southern racism, I understood by the time I was twelve, grew out of hundreds of years of a particular kind of slavery based upon skin color, and the people who continued to practice it in the nineteenth century were believing Christians. Enslaving other human beings and trying to classify them as less-than-human ran contrary to every belief, so dearly cherished by slaveholders and segregationists. Bible-belt, believing Christians all.
Now, one would think that even an idiot would have seen the obvious contradiction. I did, and I was a mere child. So, when Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King appeared on the scene, it took me all of two minutes to figure out who was right and who was wrong in the black/white race thing. Making sense of the Civil Rights Movement proved far simpler than the fractions I was forced to deal with in the fourth grade.
And, wouldn't you know it. It proved not all that difficult for nearly every other white person I knew then. Settled. They're right; our parents are wrong. End of discussion. Let's be friends. Let's be human.
The proof is in the pudding, and a mere forty-five years later, we've elected a black man President of the entire United States of America. In public or polite company, decent folk would no more utter a racial epithet aimed at blacks than they would blaspheme audibly in a Church.
It's simply not done. And no decent American would tolerate such in his presence.
It's not Christian.
It's not human.
So, what is it about the Jews?
Last week, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a woman wearing a Muslim headscarf, could be seen in this YouTube video, standing among Pro-Palestinian demonstrators on a public street, bellowing at Jewish counter-demonstrators, "Go back to the oven" and "You need a big oven; that's what you need."
Clearly, she hasn't seen The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, the new version.
It's the one where the little Muslim boy and the little Jewish boy make friends and head unsuspectingly for the oven, hand- in-human-hand.
Quite regularly, various leaders of various Islamic terrorist groups, and even an ex-CIA agent that the NYT uses as an expert on Mid-East affairs, refer to Israel as a "cancer" on the world. Louis Farrakhan, America's best-known Jew-hater, is honored by the twenty-year church home of our first black President, and hardly more than a few bat an eyelash in disapproval. A black minister can stand in the full view of esteemed dignitaries and spew anti-Semitic tripe, and it causes barely a stir. CNN can air terrorist-inspired "news" footage, and it takes a determined conservative blog-press to highlight the truth before anyone even notices.
Well, any time Israel gets the chutzpah to fight back against nonstop, deadly rocket attacks with any determination, nearly every Muslim enclave the world over can be counted upon to take to the streets in their propaganda solidarity. And leftist newspapers and television outlets the world over can be counted upon to broadcast the terrorists' anti-Jew poppycock as though no one will notice that it's woven of the same cloth.
The more things change...and the beat goes on...
But, really, hating Jews is as old and entrenched as, well, as old as the Bible. Long, long, long before Africans enslaved other Africans and sold them to European and American traders, there was Jew-hatred. Jew-hatred is so much older than the State of Israel that it would take a historical scholar to date it.
Way, way, way, way before there was the Holocaust, there was Jew-hatred. Jew-hatred runs through the 7th century's Koran like a consistent thread. Karl Marx himself was a self-loathing Jew. George Soros is a modern day version of Karl Marx. Louis Farrakhan thinks Hitler had the right idea. So does David Duke. So does Ahmadinejad. So does that American woman in Muslim dress standing on the street in Fort Lauderdale.
Isn't it about time someone, somewhere explains exactly what it is about the Jews that inspires this vile, purely diabolical hatred. Why, if even a fair number of Jews utterly despise their own Jewishness, and as this is an ancient hatred, persisting throughout the ages, there must be something pretty substantial to it. Hate this vile doesn't just spring out of pure air.
Jew-hatred is the elephant in the room of humanity.
Can anyone, anywhere explain why this is so?
I'll have a whack at it, I think.
What if that whole wallop of a tale spun in the Bible is actually true. What if there is one, indivisible, ever-living God. What if that one, indivisible, ever-living God decided -- all on His own, without any consultation with humans -- to reveal Himself in a burning bush to Moses. What if this one God, creator of all that is seen and all that is unseen, took it upon Himself, unbidden by humanity, to pick a people, call them His own, and then set about to reveal His own nature to them little by little, over centuries, through dire punishments and heavenly rewards and provident manna. What if these people this One God picked were the Jews?
Now, supposing this is all true, then what other creature is there in the Bible that would just be madder than hell's fury at that one people, those chosen ones?
Oh my goodness, Satan.
Now, this is what I love about my Christian faith. It takes very big, very tangled, very difficult concepts that seem to ensnare whole societies, whole rooms full of scholars and luminaries and intellectuals, and makes them all look like fools. My faith gives me the advantage of seeing through tangled webs of deceit, woven through many centuries and seemingly different ideologies. My faith tells me simply that there is only one reasonable assumption on the matter of Jew hate.
It stems from God-hate. And I must admit that if I were Jewish, and I didn't even believe in God, then I would hate being Jewish more than anything I could possibly imagine. Because as long as there is God, there will be Jew hatred. And the only cure is loving God, which inspires loving every other human exactly the way one loves oneself.
I'm not the first to say that. Jesus, the Jew, said it first.
Interesting. Maybe, just maybe, God Himself has a litmus test. And maybe, just maybe, it's the Jews.