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Wednesday, February 18, 2004

O'Reilly's Talking Point Memo on 'The Passion"

I saw this on tv last night; it was very upsetting.
"The Passion of the Christ" is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo." Mel Gibson's movie, which opens next week, is a faithful daptation of the execution of Jesus, according to the four gospels...

According to the gospels and most historians, some powerful Jews resented the popularity of Jesus. Is that a shock? Of course not. Any preacher straying from orthodoxy will be vilified, then and now.

Is it a shock that some Jews behaved badly? Come on. As the Islamic killers on 9/11 and the Catholic priest scandal have proven, people of any religion are capable of evil.

"The Passion of the Christ" is certainly not an anti-Semitic film. And those who say it is are to be pitied. I saw the movie with a Jewish friend who believes the danger of possible resentment against Jews overrides the worthiness of the film. Now I don't believe that. Hateful people will find a reason to hate.

This film is not anti-Jewish. It is an exposition of how good triumphs over evil.

Oy, "some Jews behaved badly"... Like people of "any religion," they are "capable of evil." Which is it, O'Reilly? Bad behavior or evil? Or do you accuse the Jews of both?

O'Reilly obviously wants to believe that Jews are like "people of any religion." Like many Jews, in fact, he wants us to be "capable of evil" so the comparison with others is not uncomfortable. Nobody wants Jews to stick out -- but face it, we do.

We stick out in lists of Nobel Prize winners, in the genealogies of this election's Democratic candidates, in panels of experts on talk shows and the news; we stick out for our history of miraculous survival and in every generation, as objects of hatred and scorn.

You're wrong, O'Reilly, that we're "like people of any religion" -- We don't hold Inquisitions or pogroms, and our rabbis don't molest little boys. We don't blow ourselves up or fly planes into buildings. We haven't conquered anyone in the name of our Gd since about the 12th century BCE, and these days, in spite of having a formidable arsenal, we only barely defend ourselves when attacked:

We do make Arabs stand in line to get into Israel, so we can check their bodies for bombs. That's because, if given the chance, they have a tendency to blow themselves up in our vicinity. We do demolish their houses when they cover tunnels for smuggling in weapons which they intend to use to kill us. And we do demolish the houses of killers as a deterrent to the practice of suicide bombing. Oh, and we're building a fence. Bad behavior, or just plain evil? I would say, neither.

What people (including Mr. O'Reilly) have yet to understand is that the Romans were haters and persecutors of the Jews. They didn't beat and crucify Jesus because of the Jews, but rather because he was a Jew! During the Roman occupation of Judea, over 250,000 Jews were crucified. Hullo? Is anyone awake out there?

It's ironic that if people become inflamed with hatred or anger from this movie, it will be identical to that which led the Romans to kill JC in the first place, Hitler to seek the Final Solution, and these days, has Arabs blowing themselves up on buses in Jerusalem. . . hatred of the Jews, antisemitism, that eternal cosmic mystery that just doesn't get resolved.

My question is, how many Jews have to die for the sins of humanity? Or put another way, how much sin is there, anyway?

Recommended reading at KosherTorah.com: The Violence in the Passion by Ariel Bar Tzadok.