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March 22, 2007 - Image 29

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2007-03-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Opinion

Editorials are posted and archived on JNonline.us.

Dry Bones II TFFAtrine

ISRAEL WAS
JUST VOTED
THE COUNTRY
WITH,,.

Editorial

Getting Farra-Conned

I

magine the field day the news media
would have if a national religious
figure called for the end of American
democracy and the adoption of that
person's religious vision as the one to rule
the world.
Imagine the reaction if the religious
leader claimed that God's anger at various
American policies and lifestyles caused
Hurricane Katrina and other natural
disasters?
Imagine the uproar if the leader said
that America's biggest concern about ter-
rorism should be God's wrath because
"nobody can terrorize like God?"
Well, as it turns out, you don't have
to imagine it because Minister Louis
Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam said
just these things in his Feb. 25 Savior's
Day speech in Detroit — and the media
ignored it.
When some Christian evangelical
leaders made comments approaching
Farrakhan's, the coverage and reaction
was damning. But amazingly and sadly,
Farrakhan frequently speaks this way
and headlines and news stories across the
nation herald him as a righteous voice
calling for religious unity and peace.
Wasn't anyone listening when
Farrakhan praised Iran, Hezbollah and
Hamas for doing God's work by trying to

establish and export their vision of a the-
ocracy — a vision that subjugates other
faiths, women and those not adhering to a
strict Islamist vision?
Why did no major media report
Farrakhan's comparison of theocracy
and democracy, and his conclusion that
"democracy is no replacement for the
rule of God"? Or his comment about "so-
called Jews and Christians" who are "so-
called" because they don't subscribe to his
politics? Or how he believes they should
understand and practice their religion?
How about his warning to Republicans
and Democrats to purify themselves in
Islam, saying: "Are you so wrapped up in
democracy, you better be careful because
you're in the world, and the world is
urinating on you and you have to have a
place where you can purify yourself?"
Farrakhan's belief that there have been
at least two Muslim prophets since the
Prophet Muhammad, and that he is one
of them, puts him well outside traditional
Islam. But Farrakhan and fundamentalist
Muslims share a vision of Christians and
Jews that the media, and everyone, needs
to understand what is really being said.
Islam considers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob,
Moses, Mary, Jesus, Peter and Paul to
be Muslims. Therefore, unlike most
Christians who damned Jews and claimed

God's covenant only for
themselves, Christians
and Jews are given an
honored place within
Islam as long as they live
BUT WHAT ABOUT "I
according to the way the
THAT'S
Muslim narrative and
ALL THE REPRESSIVE
WHO GOT
faith defines their exis-
DICTATORSHIPS ?
TO VOTE!
tence. Those who don't
AND ALL THE
become, in Farrakhan's
COUNTRIES THAT
words, "so-called Jews
APPEASE THEM ?
and Christians:'
To Ken Stern, the New
York-based American
Jewish Committee
expert on anti-
Semitism and extrem-
ism, Farrakhan is just
DryBonesBlog.corn
"another example of
an extremist who says,
played. The "he said, she said" reports of
`We are comfortable with everybody as
the Jewish community challenging the
long as they agree with how we define
Nation of Islam, and their specious deni-
their religion.'" Stern also cautions not to
als accepted at face value, obscure the real
be misled by Farrakhan's latest turn of a
story. It's time the media stood up, looked
phrase but to look at the Nation of Islam's
around and stopped getting "Farra-
ongoing promotion of anti-Semitism and
conned."
racism through its publications, confer-
ences and pronouncements.
E-mail letters of no more than 150 words to:
But the media has been misled and,
letters@thejewishnews.com .
in turn, they've misled millions. Rather
than having a field day with Farrakhan's
rhetorical flourishes, the media got

Reality Check

Seder Debates

M

y favorite Woody Allen
movie is Crimes and
Misdemeanors. It is a dis-
turbing look at life's nasty realities and
raises the question that is as old as Job:
Why do bad people prosper while good
ones get it right in the teeth?
A respected physician arranges for his
troublesome mistress to be murdered and
feels no remorse. An arrogant dolt gets
the girl. A kindly rabbi goes blind. The
poor shlemiel who tries too hard loses
everything.
The scene that always gets to me is
when Martin Landau, who plays the doc-
tor, puzzled by the fact that he feels only
relief at the crime he has set in motion,
returns to his childhood home.
Standing in the doorway to the din-
ing room, he sees his family as they once
were at the Passover seder table, arguing
over points raised in the holiday nar-
rative. Each time I see it, I think that it
could be my family sitting there — and

probably yours, too.
Every family has its own way
of making the upcoming holi-
day seder personal and mean-
ingful. Some with songs or
special recitations — or maybe
a dish served only on those two
nights and brought over from
Europe generations ago.
With my family, it was loud
discussions. My father relished
few things more than a good
argument, and he always felt
the seder was a perfect venue for that.
My Aunt Shirley, who wrote the book on
disputatious dinners, would usually have
a few points to bring up. An apparent con-
tradiction or a vague meaning that she
wanted clarified.
We kids were encouraged to join in,
and my dad would often ask his grand-
children to add their own interpretation
to the stories in the Haggadah. My daugh-
ter Courtney was especially imaginative

and seemed to be as heavily
influenced by the plot lines on
Beverly Hills 90210 as the
Book of Exodus.
I've been to other seders
that featured quizzes, some
that added rather fanciful
songs to the old standbys like
"Dayenu" and "Chad Gadya."
My favorite is "Don't Sit on
the Afikomen" as sung to the
tune of "Battle Hymn of the
Republic."
My father was fond of a story told to
him by his father about the seder night
when someone went to open the door for
Elijah, and the kids pushed a goat into the
living room. Those Litvaks, what a crazy
bunch.
But I also like Woody Allen's film
because I am fond of movies in which
comfortable precepts of right and wrong
are turned upside down. Almost anyone
can put himself in Landau's shoes, and

they are an uneasy fit. He was a deeply
flawed man. His paramour had threat-
ened to expose him as an embezzler,
destroy his family and end the good life
for him. So he had her removed, one
choice among many.
Why aren't I feeling anguish, asks
Landau. How can we believe in God's
morality anymore, responds his aunt
at the phantom seder, in view of the
Holocaust?
In a more recent Allen film, Match
Point, the protagonist also gets away with
murder; two of them, in fact, because the
victims got in the way of his monetary
ambition.
Isn't it kind of like Joseph and his
brethren, the story that sets the whole
Passover tale in motion? How I'd like to
have that argument at my father's seder
table.

George Cantor's e-mail address is

gcantor614@aol.com .

March 22 2007

29

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