“Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.” — Deuteronomy, 24:16.
One of the things that always struck me as bizarre about old-fashioned Christian antisemitism was how anachronistic it was. Present day Christians persecuted present day Jews because of events that happened hundreds of years before either those Christians or Jews were, as my father used to say, “even a twinkle in their daddy’s eye.” Despite Deuteronomy’s strictures, Jews were persecuted as if they had personally laid their hands on Jesus. Fortunately, Christianity has, for the most part, abandoned that bizarre little foible.
Sadly, though, it lives on in Islam. Fifteen hundred years ago, Mohamed had a tiff with the local Jewish community, which not only led him to massacre them, but led him to command his followers to massacre all Jews into perpetuity — in its convoluted, archaic way, when it comes to Jews, the Koran basically boils down to “Fathers shall . . . be put to death because of their children [and] children be put to death because of their fathers.”
This approach to a racial group (because Mohamed’s hostility had nothing to do with specific religious practices, which he actually admired), is both logically and morally bankrupt. It’s one thing to say that, to the extent Group A routinely does X, as long as they do X, they’re our enemy. It is another thing entirely to say that, because Group B is descended from some people we hated fifteen hundred years ago, let’s exterminate them.
All of which leads me to Barry Rubin’s astute (as always) commentary about Obama’s misuse of the Passover story to support uprisings in the Middle East that have, as one of their stated aims, the extermination of the Jews:
I think the greater problem here is the endless universalizing of specifically Jewish experiences that are never seen as sufficient in their own right, as well as the basic opportunism of making Passover into an event backing Obama Administration policy.
Race-hating should not be the type universal experience derived from Holy Books, an “experience” that the books’ followers then use to justify their turning to ancient feuds and behaviors into current genocides.
I freely admit that Rubin’s excellent post, which is the actual useful lessons that one should draw from the Passover story, is not quite on point with what I’m discussing here. However, to the extent it touches upon the universality of Holy Books, I really like the way he reminds us that, while the morals of the Good Book’s stories are universal, one should be very careful when dealing with ancient specifics.