In honor of the Jewish New Year, which reaches its culmination on Yom Kippur, a solemn day of fasting and repentance that falls this year on Oct. 9, I'd like to take a moment to recognize the open Jew-baiting that is enthusiastically enjoyed by our nation's leading newspaper.
The Oct. 7 edition of the New York Times featured a cheerful article about a video that is circulating on the web called "The Great Schlep." It stars (if that's the right word) a comedienne named Sarah Silverman. The Times identifies Silverman as having "created an Internet sensation" back in January with a video that "declared, in the starkest possible language, that she was having a torrid affair with the actor Matt Damon." That's New York Times speak. If you look it up, the video is called "I'm F-ing Matt Damon." Ms. Silverman is all class. But hey, she's obviously mainstream. Her video won an Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics. That's 21st century American popular culture folks. Didn't "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" win an Oscar?
Silverman's new video is equally sexually vulgar but adds a new dimension. She begins her little romp by offering that if Barack Obama loses the election in November, she plans to blame the Jews (picture of a hooked nose in background). Yes, says Silverman, she's aware that Jews are the most "liberal, scrappy, civil-rightsey people there are" but some Jews, specifically those in Florida otherwise known as grandma and grandpa, are not planning to vote for Obama because he has a "scary name." She then proposes that younger Jews persuade their grandparents to vote for Obama by showing them how much blacks and Jews have in common. They all love "Cadillacs," and "things and bling and money and jewelry." Younger Jews can swing the election by threatening not to visit their grandparents unless they pull the lever for The One.
The Times finds it charming: " to Ms. Silverman these provocative comedy bits are all reflections of a consistent sensibility, one that trusts her audience will know when she is totally kidding and when is only sort of kidding." And if Barack Obama "emerges victorious on Election Day, with the swing state Florida in his win column, a modicum of credit may be due Sarah Silverman."
As Silverman admits in the Times profile, she isn't really Jewish. Though she comes from a Jewish background and can pronounce a few Yiddish words, she is not a Jew. "I have no religion. But culturally I can't escape it. I'm very Jewish."
Maybe from the point of view of the Times she is. And certainly because she claims Jewish ancestry, she gets a blanket immunity from the charge of anti-Semitism -- and apparently from the charge of racism as well.
Silverman may think of herself as edgy and new, but she is actually a stereotype herself -- the non-Jewish Jew who substitutes liberal politics for religion. For at least a century, large numbers of nominally Jewish Americans have demonstrated far more attachment to liberal politics than to actual Judaism. They declare that Judaism demands social justice, equality, gun control, liberal abortion laws, and an increase in the capital gains tax and they adhere to these tenets, well, religiously. Columnist and radio personality Dennis Prager likes to say that Jews are the most religious people in America -- but their religion is not Judaism. (This does not include observant Jews.)
Judaism does command social justice of course -- just start with the prophets. But normative Judaism is not the Democratic Party at prayer. Abortion, for example, is traditionally forbidden except to save the life of the mother. The Ten Commandments take a dim view of open marriage. Capital punishment is sanctioned for some crimes. And above all, Judaism demands that human beings worship God, not themselves.
It's a free country and secular Jews can believe and say whatever they like. But it is tiresome as well as false for them to parade their liberalism as the authentic expression of a great faith.
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