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March 05, 2004 - Image 32

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-03-05

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RABBI YOSKOWITZ from page 31

that has been accomplished globally
now is in danger of being reversed
by Mel Gibson's interpretation of
the Passion, the suffering of Jesus
before and leading to his death.
This film frequently distorts histo-
ry. Pontius Pilate, the Roman gover-
nor portrayed sympathetically by
Gibson, in reality was so brutal he
was recalled from his post by Caesar.
The line from the gospel of
Matthew; "His blood be on us and
on our children," though removed
from the English subtitles, is force-
fully stated by a mob of Jews: Will
that line be included in foreign lan-
guage subtitles in the director's cut

on DVD?
I was repelled, even appalled, by
the way the film depicts the unruly
mob of Jews and Jewish priests
dressed to look like modern-day rab-
bis. These characters are garbed in
the kind of tallit (prayer shawls)
worn by Jews for prayer today but
not during the era of the film.
Mel Gibson's film has the poten-
tial to put a halt to the existing
openness of Roman Catholicism to
acknowledge other faith minorities
as worthy of salvation and to undo
the good that was initiated by
Vatican II. It can undermine the
progress made in relations between

Jews and other Christians, too.
Some argue this movie is a
Christian matter alone. Let the
Christian community debate the
theology and the accuracy of this
film. I wish it were so. Though the
film is not for us to judge as a theo-
logical treatise, its depiction of the
Jewish role in the death of Jesus is of
major concern.
We should not wait until we hear
Christians dissent from Gibson's
interpretation of Jesus' death. We
should actively express our views
with an understanding of the impor-
tance of the Passion for Christians,
of the importance for Christians and

Jews to review the history of rela-
tionships with each other and of the
importance to affirm once again that
pluralism should not merely be
preached but practiced.
Only by reaching out to each
other in mutual respect and under-
standing can we effectively progress
I urge us not to stand by in silence.
A setback, hopefully only temporary,
sparked by a new religious fervor
and fueled by The Passion, may be
approaching. How much of a set-
back will we be experiencing?
Nobody knows for sure.
A momentous challenge is before
us. ❑

Myths Amongst The Mayhem

Ann Arbor
hatever your religion or
politi c . s, the plight of the
Palestinian people truly is
tragic. But the search for justice and
relief should not take place in a his-
torical vacuum; it should not
deprive the issue of its origins by
confusing mythology with fact.
One charge, for example — that
homeless Palestinians are relegated
to permanent "refugee" status until
they regain control of their confis-
cated lands — is a manipulation of
history. The fact is that much of the
plight of the "homeless Palestinian"
is more the consequence of political
exploitation by their extended fami-
ly than by the tragedies of war.
Refugees are hardly a new phe-
nomenon in the world of wars and
upheavals, but until now it has
always been met and resolved by the
people themselves or by their neigh-
boring nations. The census figures
of worldwide refugees in 1980- .
1982, for example, reveal a two-year
reduction of refugees in Africa from
6 million to 2 million, and of Asian
refugees from 2 million to 1 mil-
lion. These were exiles who found
aid and refuge among sympathetic
brethren and neighbors — as has
been the refugee absorption process
throughout the ages.
But in the Middle East, disloca-
tion has unfortunately taken on a
new dimension. Fifty years after the
war, Palestinian refugees are still


Robert Faber, an Ann Arbor resident


and businessman, served on the city
council 1969-1973.

unwanted outcasts, still shunned by
their fellow Arabs. The nearly 2 mil-
lion Palestinian Arabs languishing in
refugee camps in neighboring Arab
states are ignored by all their broth-
ers except for their value as irritants
against Israel.
Such community needs as security
and job opportunities — common
to both nations — must be
addressed, but satisfying those needs
requires a level of cooperation not
yet evident in that region.

Little Logic

One of the very many problems is
that logic and fairness and humani-
tarian concerns play very limited
roles in the political affairs of the
region. While such gangs as Hamas
and Islamic Jihad and other groups
outside of government continue to
target school buses and civilian
gathering places for their suicide
bombings, Israeli responses are con-
demned as over-reaction, even as
peace remains its primary goal.
Criticism of Prime Minister
Sharon's hard stance is worldwide,
but his predecessor Ehud Barak's
attempt to dismantle the settle-
ments, returning 95 percent of the
disputed land to the Arabs, was dis-
missed out of hand by Arafat, leav-
ing Israel with little alternative to
applications of strength.
Unfortunately, the real rulers of
the Palestinian people are the inde-
pendent warlords who answer to no
one. When Mahmoud Abbas was
appointed prime minister by Arafat,

3/ 5




their society.
his search for peace was
Wherever the survivors
trashed by those gang lead-
settle and for however
ers' renewed suicide bomb-
might remain,
ing campaign.
they would never be more
It is much as if Mexico
than visitors in that country,
were taken over by the
forever outsiders and subject
mafia, who then proceeded
to all the continuing horrors
to blow up our pizza parlors
of discrimination, oppres-
and dance halls and school
and destruction that
buses. If there was no
them through-
responsible government
Comm unity
— an expe-
with which to negotiate, I
Perspe ctive
rience still warm from the
suspect we would go after
their mafioso with a goal of
Reasonable people should be
eliminating their Al Capones and
appalled at the violence in the
Don Corleones and other murder-
region and at the conditions of life
ers. The collateral civilian damage
for the Palestinians, but with the
would be tragic, but doing less
current authoritarian Palestinian
would be worse.
political structure, and with the
Meanwhile, from all available evi-
control of their people in the hands
dence, the Palestinian people want
an end to the conflict, but they have of ruthless and irresponsible gangs
not the voice to give that desire sub- like Hamas and others, and with a
society increasingly willing to accept
and encourage its little children to
stand on the front lines throwing
rocks at soldiers and to blow them-
Defeat Not An Option
selves up in the midst of purely
civilian gatherings, hope for peace is
The problems facing Israel are
potentially catastrophic. Unlike
It is now largely dependent on the
other nations at war, a single defeat
supportive actions of neighbors like
for Israel would not merely be a
loss, however devastating, but would Syria and Egypt and Saudi Arabia
and Jordan; but for Israel it is also
mean the end of its existence.
Given the bellicose proclamations
dependent on its ability to survive
until that support is forthcoming. It
of the Arab leaders, there is no way
that the nation of Israel would be
is true that Israeli policies may at
allowed to exist on or near Arab
times appear to be extreme and
soil, which would leave them pre-
counterproductive, but then, we
don't have to wake up each day
cisely where they had been for the
wondering if our kids will see night-
previous several thousand years —
existing only with the indulgence of
fall. 111
their hosts, never as full members of

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