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friday, october 2, 2009
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Temple DeHirsch Sinai
One o the most memorable scenesin Judd Apatow’s morality tale o malematuration,
, is a brie bar-room discussion o the lm
. Temostly Jewish characters celebrate the“turning on its head” o the stereotypicalrole o Jew as victim, with Eric Bana “cap-ping mother%*@ers and taking names.”It’s a small, throwaway moment o char-acter development that seems just orlaughs but contains deeper insight andresonance.From the late 19th through early 20thcentury, Jewish writers, artists, philoso-phers and statesmen sought to vanquishthe millennia-old image o Jew as pow-erless victim. One o the critical themeso Zionism went beyond the re-establish-ment o a Jewish homeland to encompassthe re-visioning o the nature o Jewish virility, strength and potency.Te pale, emaciated and emasculated yeshiva
o 2,000 years o exile was
Th J-ür tsch
It’s violent, it’s bloody, it’s historically inaccurate, but
is also strangely cathartic to the Jewish soul
transormed through a cultural renais-sance into the tough Israeli
, ableto outsmart and outgun the Arab armiesthat surpassed the Jews in number butnot in moxie. Te archetypal myth o thetriumphant, imperial King David tran-scended the theology o Messianism,signaling a parallel return o the machoJewish male.It’s no coincidence that the creators o Superman were two Jewish boys, eager,like so many other Jewish contributors to American culture, to nd acceptance andsuccess not only through socio-economicachievement but also a redenition o American heroism as part Jewish in ped-igree. Superman’s story o displacement,immersion, sacrice and purpose wasJewish aspiration writ large on the Amer-ican imagination.Tis dynamic is at work in Quentinarantino’s latest,
. Assumedly based in small part on thehistory o post-war Jewish partisan Nazihunting as chronicled in the book
and most recently EdwardZwick’s
, arantino blends wish-ulllment, revenge antasy and revision-ist history rom an alternate universe to— believe it or not! — entertaining eect. Idon’t know i arantino is too big or pitchmeetings, but I can imagine it would havebeen something like, “Imagine
Te Dirty Dozen
— with Jews!” What Hollywood producer(even o marginally Jewish provenance)could resist?here are the typical arantinotouches: Quirky, tangential dialogue, theliterary ourishes o chapter divisions,and a soundtrack that makes atonalmusic seem cohesive (spaghetti Westernstrings into ’70s Kung Fu-ploitation hornsinto ’80s Bowie techno!).But ensconced within these now well-established arantino idioms is a pop-culture take on the Holocaust specically,and more broadly a Jewish response totragedy that would make the Maccabees whoop and spill their beers.Some have questioned the “trivial” useo the Holocaust as backdrop rather thanmain ocus. arantino isn’t going through a
rite o passage. He’s making
way, and illuminating the idio-syncracies, passions and oibles o thehuman condition in the process. And in ways that ar exceed the ham-sted attempts o made-or-V Entebberaids and Spielberg’s sanctimonious peek into the existential crises o assassins,arantino provides a ar more compellingand cathartic portrayal o the complexi-ties o Jewish vengeance and the broaderissue o retributive justice. I ound mysel uncontrollably smiling during the cul-minating scene o blood and re, and Idey any Jew who loves action, appreci-ates quote-worthy dialogue, knows a bito history and has an active antasy lie(and Y-dominant chromosomes) to beunmoved by the sight o the bullet-rid-den body o Joseph Goebbels paired to aShat-inspired beat. And arantino even manages a nodto the bizarre Jewish xation with Native American culture, though the scalpingo Nazis is ar removed rom a Rothianseason at a Catskills summer camp.he brilliant historian Ruth Wisseposited in her work
Jews and Power:
No daily reader o the Psalms could underestimate the might o God…The glorifcation o powerlessness was asantithetical to Judaism as belie in theson o God. Jews did not thinkthemselves powerless in the mostmeaningul sense: had they notreckoned on ultimate vindication, theycould not have claimed to believe in justice — one o the cardinal tenets o Jewish civilization. The power o God,emphatically including his eventual action in history, was the guaranteethat justice would ultimately triumph.Lacking such aith in God’sintervention, modern Jews could notclaim to be moral unless theythemselves intended to supply themissing dimension o power.
At the risk o diminishing Wisse’serudition or elevating arantino’s sig-nicance, the philospher’s words seemample caption to the ilmmaker’s pic-tures.
This column was taken rom Rabbi Daniel Weiner’s Good God: Faith or the Rest o Us blog, www.goodgodorus.com.
syMpathies and RegRets
During this refective time around yourYom Kippur and just ater my Islamic EidAl Fitr, I would like to send my sympathiesand regrets regarding the hate crimes inci-dences that occurred recently (Sept. 12) inone o our Seattle neighborhoods.I posted the
Seward Park van-dalism article yesterday on the SeattleMuslim Activist site, where we Muslimsregularly communicate with one anotherregarding issues we all should be aware o.I am so sorry this hate incident hap-pened to this quiet, respected commu-nity, a part o our larger Abrahamic Seattlecommunity.I sincerely hope whomever has com-mitted these crimes will have an opportu-nity or historic diversity training; perhapsthe expansion o knowledge will takeaway the possibility o uture negativethoughts and actions.
Janice E. TuteIslamic Ciic Engagement CalitinSeattle
Ron Kampeas’s insightul ront pagecolumn was quite inormative (“Iran policyreveals split between U.S. Jewish andIsraeli let,” Sept. 11).It is not surprising that there is thissplit. U.S. Jews do not live in Israel andhave not been the target o violent Hamasterror rocket attacks. Yossi Alpher rightlypoints out that “Iran doesn’t deploy prox-ies like Hamas and Hezbollah against theU.S. on its borders.” Obama has said heis determined to contain Iran whetheror not Israel plays ball on the Palestinianissue. Obama’s approach o sanctions andnegotiation with Iran is not going to makeIran abandon its goal to manuacturenuclear weapons. Iran has now enteredinto agreements with Venezuela or sup-plies o gasoline to thwart any additionalsanctions that may be imposed by West-ern governments.Since Israel has been threatened byIran “to be wiped o the map,” it may beorced to unilaterally take military actionagainst their nuclear sites. The U.S. shouldsupport this action, as Israel’s survivaldepends on such action.The U.S. public needs to be aware o Iran’s growing presence in Latin Amer-ica, especially in Venezuela and Ecua-dor. This poses a uture threat to the U.S.i Iran acquires nuclear weapons shecan provide to terrorists as well as anti-American leaders like Chavez o Vene-zuela. It is in America’s national interestto stop Iran rom becoming a nuclearpower.
enorcing sanctions outside the bound-aries o the Security Council, althoughthe Europeans preerred to bring the Rus-sians and Chinese on board. Sarkozy’sDecember deadline or Iran to make goodon Western demands reected a Euro-pean-Obama administration consensus,the diplomat said.Te U.S. Congress, too, is ratchetingup the pressure.Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali.), thespeaker o the House o Representatives,and Rep. Howard Berman, the body’sForeign Aairs Committee chairman,said they were prepared to advance ar-reaching sanctions legislation.Berman, with Pelosi’s backing, hasresisted moving the Iran Rened Petro-leum Sanctions Act out o his commit-tee in the hope that Obama’s policy o engagement would prove ruitul.“We must use the tools at our disposal,rom diplomacy to sanctions, to stopIran’s march toward nuclear capability,”Pelosi said in a statement.In a Washington
Op-Ed, Bermanmade clear he was skeptical that this week’s talks would produce anythingtangible.“We should be ready immediately toimpose what Secretary o State Hillary Clinton has called ‘crippling sanctions,’”Berman wrote.Te revelation o the existence o thenuclear plant — beneath a Revolutionary Guards base near Qom, Iran’s holy city —apparently have won over even the mostsanctions-skeptical U.S. lawmakers,among them Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.),Berman’s Senate counterpart.“Now is the time to supplementengagement with more robust interna-tional sanctions,” Kerry said in a state-ment.Te bill in Congress under discussionmandates sanctions targeting the exporto rened petroleum to Iran. Tough theIslamic Republic is a major oil producer,its reineries are in shambles and thecountry imports up to 40 percent o itsrened oil.Israel-supporting insiders say they back Berman’s timetable — to pass itbeore Congress’ winter break so thatObama can sign it in early 2010.
Iran Nuclear Threat