Today, I’m going to take this time to explore some Jewish-related subjects that I’m in the mood to rant about to you, my Jewish and non-Jewish friends. I’m not sure why it occurred to me to write this today. Maybe it was the bagels and lox I had for breakfast.
I’m usually much of a ranter. I don’t have too many hang-ups over religion. I’m not overly-touchy about Israel. I don’t see anti-Semitism in every joke. That would make me hypocritical, especially since I spend a good deal of my day making jokes about Catholics and Mormons. We all have our own ethnic and religious prides and foibles, and the great thing about America is that we can freely express it.
It’s pretty clear that I am a Jewish guy, right? So, I think it might be interesting to you to hear what I think about some of the following topics. And if you disagree with anything I say, don’t be afraid to say it.
1) Merry Christmas – Happy Holidays
Remember me? The guy who throws the online Christmas-Hanukkah-Kwanzaa concert every year? I like all holidays. Maybe next year, we can throw in a Muslim holiday into the concert mix as well! I’m all for inclusiveness. However, every year, I find myself in the middle of the same boring argument — should Christians say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays?” Some are adamant that America is really a “Christian” nation and are upset that outsiders are undermining the sacredness of this three month consumer bonanza we call “Christmas.” Naturally, the haters always come out to play. And we all know who are the biggest kvetchers about Christmas, right? The Jews. First Jesus, now Christmas. What spoilers!
Here’s my take. If you live in a big city were there are many religions and minorities, you should be able to make a big public display of your holiday. There are plenty of those not celebrating your holiday, so we don’t feel bad. We go for Chinese food. Everyone loves Christmas trees. However, if you live in a small town in mid-America where there is only one Jewish and one Muslim family, it probably would be nice if you went OUT OF YOUR WAY to make the outsiders feel comfortable, which means stop pushing for nativity scenes outside of the public library and city hall! Who wants to be told “It’s a Christian nation” right to your face? It isn’t polite.
2) Israel and Gaza
Is God playing a joke on the Jews with Israel? What a pain in the ass this country is! And have you ever tried to date an Israeli woman. Talk about tough! Israel is a tough subject for liberal Jews to talk about in public. I have no problem with it. During the recent election, I found it extremely annoying how the McCain campaign was trying to appeal to American Jews by creating “Obama is a Muslim” fear, as if we were a bunch of idiots. Jews go to college. We’re not that stupid. On the other hand, I don’t find much of the progressive community a big fan of Israel, since these good-hearted souls prefer to side with the underdog, and not the American-allied bully. And who can honestly root for a country that bombs poverty-stricken innocent women and children in their mosques and schools?
So what is a liberal Jew supposed to do?
I’ll never forget when some columnist wrote a post on the BlogHer political site advocating shipping all Jews from Israel to some place in Siberia, which would help defuse the problem in the Middle East, and friends of mine, normally outspoken political women, were protecting this writer, saying, “Well, perhaps it is an issue we should discuss.” Maybe conservatives are right about liberals being the Jewish people’s worst friends! My mother went to Boca Raton to escape the cold. No Jew WANTS to move to Siberia!
Some of my favorite progressive bloggers, especially the ones in Europe, were very angry over the recent fighting in Gaza. Many Europeans dislike the Israeli government, and think the American media is controlled by the pro-Israeli propaganda machine. Two bloggers I know wrote pieces demanding that Israel be held for war crimes for the murder of innocent children. On one of the posts, the word HAMAS was never used once. The scenario in Gaza was presented as “Israeli occupiers vs. people of Gaza.”
“What happened to the real bad guys in the story?” I commented.
Talk about propaganda! While I was worried that I was losing my liberal credentials by bringing this up, it bugged me that someone could complain about slanted views, and substitute it with another man’s propaganda! Wasn’t Hamas shipping in increasingly powerful weapons and hiding them in schools and mosques AND purposely endangering innocent victims for their own purposes? What the hell was Hamas doing (with Iran’s help) by sacrificing their innocents for power and ideology? Shouldn’t THEY be put up for war crimes? The deaths of so many innocents is shameful, and it angers me that so many excuse the actions of Hamas as if they a local boy scout troup.
Sometimes I think the best thing for the Palestinians to do is to accept that they lost the endless war and start to figure out a way to live peacefully with their strong victors, like Japan did after World War II. Forget talking about 1948 and 1967. Much of the Arab world likes to keep the Palestinians angry and in poverty, so they can keep them as a symbolic thorn in Israel’s side, and control their own corrupt governments. HAMAS needs to accept Israel already, stop throwing bricks at the big bully’s head, and start asking their Arab brothers to help build some nice hotels by the Ocean and trying to really compete with Israel by offering better vacation packages.
But no one progressive would ever say that.
3) Beautiful Barcelona
January 27th was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day to remember the victims of the Holocaust. This date marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.
As I mentioned, Europeans were very angry over the recent fighting in Gaza. And many European cities have large Muslim populations that are a growing political power. Because the local Barcelona media had run stories comparing the Israeli stance on the situation in the Strip to Nazi atrocities, the Catalunya government called off the city’s public memorial service. This was to be the only public event marking the day, and was scheduled to take place in Barcelona’s central piazza.
“Marking the Jewish Holocaust while a Palestinian Holocaust is taking place is not right,” a local City official told Barcelona’s La Vanguardia newspaper.
Despite my love for the beautiful city of Barcelona, I found this quite disturbing. Even if one is upset over Israel’s actions, why exactly is this the fault of those exterminated in Nazi death camps? They don’t live in Israel. They’re already dead. If the Barcelona government was more logical, they would CELEBRATE this occasion, because if these six million would survived, there is a strong chance that THEY would be living in Israel themselves, as well as their children and grand-children, and the Israeli population would be three times as large, and Israel would even have a larger army in which to go into Gaza! So next year, rather than pooh-poohing the holiday, I say free Tapas in Barcelona for everyone!
4) 1/3 of all Europeans
A week after the Bernie Madoff scandal broke, I was having coffee with my friend Barry. We were discussing the amazing hubris of this guy. How could he pull this off?
“There’s one thing that is cool about this country,” I said. “Bernie Madoff is clearly Jewish and his victims were wealthy Jews, but Americans never say things like, “Oh, the Jews, they’re always ripping people off. All they care about is money.”
My friend laughed and said, “In Queens, they don’t, but believe me. they’re are doing it everywhere else.”
Call me naive, but I would assume most of those old stereotypes have died already in a country with an African-American President. That’s why it is good to have Europe around for some of that old-fashioned anti-Semitism. Good ol’ Europe — home of the Crusades, the Inquisition, forced conversion, and the Holocaust. Even when most of the Jews are killed off, it is still the fault of the Jews… especially during economic downturns. It has to be someone’s fault, right?
The Anti-Defamation League said Tuesday that a survey it commissioned found nearly a third of Europeans polled blame Jews for the global economic meltdown and that a greater number think Jews have too much power in the business world. In Spain, 74 percent of those asked say they feel that Jews hold too much sway over the global financial markets. That is the highest percentage in the survey. Nearly two-thirds of Spanish respondents said Jews were also more loyal to Israel than they were to their home countries.
Did I ever tell you that Sophia and I honeymooned in Spain? We loved it, except for the fact that it was almost impossible to find anything to eat that wasn’t made from the pig! Hmmm…
Can you believe that until I read this post on Her Bad Mother, I didn’t know that circumcision was such a big issue and that there are many ANGRY over it?! I know that Americans tend to be circumcised more readily than Europeans (uh-oh, I can feel the American Jewish doctors having a hand in this… more trouble), and that it is considered unnecessary to many. But what is the big deal? I say, if you don’t want your son to get circumcized, don’t do it. Who cares? I don’t remember any discussion in the locker room between circumcised and uncircumcised men, or any laughing and pointing. They are just penises.
But the fact is that circumcision is a big deal in Judaism. It is probably one of the oldest traditions in the book, a symbol of the convenant between God and his people. Jews have been doing it a long time without much trauma (unless research shows that circumcision is the cause of our neurotic behavior, but how would we then explain the neurotic Jewish women?).
Her Bad Mother’s post was intelligent and well-reasoned about her personal decision not to have her son circumcised, but if you do some googling on the subject, you find some scary stuff, and not just from crazy people, but from seemingly “loving” people who care about their children. Circumcision is called “primitive” and “barbaric” and “genital mutation.” It “destroys a man’s sexual pleasure” and “torments” the baby and should be “made illegal!” WTF are we talking about? Jack Bauer’s interrogation techniques on “24?”
Even if a person did have these beliefs about circumcision, I would think it impolite to blast a tradition so integral to another religion — in public! There are all sorts of weird rites and rituals that occur around the world, and we appreciate them as part of some other culture. Do people really want to make the bris illegal? Would the same person feel as comfortable saying that wearing a burka should be made illegal? Can you really compare the bris to female genital mutilation?
The whole issue sort of amused me. Have you ever been to a bris? The ceremony is done quickly, and then everyone eats a lot of food. The only thing barbaric about the event is the amount of cholesterol in traditional Jewish food and the overly-sweet taste of the kosher wine.
Danny told me that he once wrote a post about the Jewish bris on the Huffington Post, and it received so many anti-Semitic comments that they had to remove the post from the Huffington Post.
Here is Danny’s post, which is on his own blog, Jew Eat Yet.
This was his reaction after taking the post off the Huffington Post. And remember — the Huffington Post readership is a progressive one, believers in freedom of speech and religion.
Last Friday I posted my piece about circumcision which was mostly a family reminiscence based on an old discovered film I saw of my 1959 bris. I added a few comments about the people who oppose circumcision and I adopted an over-the-top and I thought humorous tone of intransigence about Kendall’s ambivalence towards the procedure. When I first saw my post zooming to the “Top Posts” list on Huffington, a way they have to track the most-read pieces, and the comments started pouring in fast and furious, I was excited that my post was generating such controversy. But I was unprepared for the level of hysteria that the “anti-circ” people would unleash, some of it accompanied by blatant anti-Semitism. Never in a million years did I mean to imply that circumcising your male child was the “right” thing to do, I was just sharing my own very personal feelings on the subject, all the while saying that this anti-circumcision group makes some valid points (which I still feel they muck up by resorting to outrageous hyperbole and propaganda).
I thought I had a very tough skin when it came to people sharing opposing views but I am not used to the level of personal attacks I received on the Huffington Post. Here is a sampling:
—Pull your head out of your egotistical Jewish ass.
—Let’s make a movie…at least this time it will have sound to preserve your pompous Jewish pontification (or should I say rabbification?).
—Your wife has a better sense of what a woman wants a penis partner to look like. Unless you’re planning to raise a gay son.
—Would you think the same thing if all male babies had to have their ears cut off at birth? Let’s dress up and make a fucking ritual of it and have a party with covered dishes!
—This last bit of animal sacrifice needs to end no matter the sentimental charm it has over older Jews.
—While you’re at it, Danny, you should really think about having all your children’s fingernails removed. After all, they are unnecessary in the evolutionary sense.
—YOU are the reason there are self-hating Jews, asshole. Your son would have every reason to hate you for being a coward.
—I demand that you CUT YOUR SON’S PENIS YOURSELF. See if THAT brings you closer to God!
—Fascism comes in all forms and degrees…you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.
—Is this “mark” kind of like that yellow star the Nazis had all Jews sew on their clothes during WW2? They tried tattoos, too. How did those work out?
—Kendall, don’t damage and risk your child’s life by allowing some idiot to chop off the most sexually pleasurable part of his penis. Chop off that idiot you married instead, and do it before you get pregnant. Find a human being for a father for your children and replace this monster.
—Being Jewish and circumcised is no excuse for the kind of abusive behavior Miller exhibits. Many Jews are humane, decent people. This bozo is a disgrace to the good name of Judaism.
—Circumcising infants is a Satanic blood ritual. That is the only possible explanation for the persistence of this heinous evil. Human beings are not this evil. Only Satan himself is. All children circumcised are severely injured for life.
All I can say is that I am blessed with my friendly readership. You seem to like me, despite my circumcised Jewish talking penis.