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Friday, March 05, 2004

Re: Anti-Semitism
I have liked almost everything I've read from Charles Krauthammer - until today (link requires registration - don't you hate that?). CK contends Mel's movie is anti-semitic, and that Mel is anti-smeitic. I haven't seen the movie yet, but Nick assures me it is not.

Christians have their story too: the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Why is this story different from other stories? Because it is not a family affair of coreligionists. If it were, few people outside the circle of believers would be concerned about it. This particular story involves other people. With the notable exception of a few Romans, these people are Jews. And in the story, they come off rather badly.

Then what happened, you see, is that all of Christendom (once we had control of everything) started killing Jews. Gee, it sounds like he's blaming all Christians for the bad actions of some. So he commits the same sin he accuses Christians of - guilt by association. It's okay to paint Christians with the broad brush of guilt, but don't you dare blame the Jews! Well, I don't blame the Jews. You hear that, Charles? I don't blame the Jews!

But, you know what? Some Jewish leaders were intent to kill Jesus, and they got it done.

In none of the Gospels does the high priest Caiaphas stand there with his cruel, impassive fellow priests witnessing the scourging. In Gibson's movie they do. When it comes to the Jews, Gibson deviates from the Gospels -- glorying in his artistic vision -- time and again. He bends, he stretches, he makes stuff up. And these deviations point overwhelmingly in a single direction -- to the villainy and culpability of the Jews.

The Jewish leaders mentioned in the Bible were culpable and villianous. And it wouldn't be out of character for them to observe and approve of the beating of Jesus. That doesn't make any other Jew villianous and culpable. Peter, James, and John were Jews. They weren't villianous or culpable.

The rest of the gospel story is, of course, that I am culpable and so is every other person that has ever lived. Jesus came to earth to die just as he did. He died for my sins and for Charles Krauthammer's sins and everyone else's. No one should say, "if weren't for the Jews, Jesus would not have suffered and died on a cross." He would have. That was his mission. Hence we have the difficult juxtaposition of human choice and the sovereignty of God. That's a discussion for another day.

Back to Gibson. CK seems to think Vatican II decreed that Jews should no longer be mentioned in the story of the crucifixion. I don't know if that's true or not - I kind of doubt it. But, as I've already said, the Bible makes it clear that there was a certain group of Jewish men who were willing collaborators in Jesus' death.

Finally, CK points out that the Satan character appears only 4 times in the film, and two of those times were in the midst of the Jewish crowd. Giving the impression that the Jews are "Satan's own people." Come on, Charles. This should be seen as a positive. It was only through the influence of the prince of darkness himself that the Jewish crowd was moved to call for Jesus' death. The inference is, absent Satan's presence, they would not have done so.

Mr. Krauthammer has lost an enthusiastic fan.

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