Okay then, here's an article about one of Hutton's posts in which I intend not to engage in Bob-bashing (unless it takes a different track as I write, from that which I have in my head as I begin). There may or may not be the occasional side-swipe at the Broadstairs Buffoon but, for the most part, I'm going to address the same thing he's addressed, rather than talk about his addressing of it.
Umm. Yeah, I think that sentence made sense.
And, I have to say, I strongly suspect that by the time I get to the end of this post, I'll have asked a lot of questions without having come up with many—if any—answers. The subject he's talking of, messianic Jews (people of Jewish descent who acknowledge Christ as the Messiah) is soaked in nuance and context, and requires a much greater knowledge of Jewish culture than I have. I've talked to Jews, both religious and non-religious, who struggle to define just what it means to be culturally but not religiously Jewish; yet they all seem to agree that, ill defined or hard-to-define as it may be, such cultural Jewishness is a real thing. And if they find it hard to define, then, I, as a non-Jew—and one who knows little of the culture, to boot—am not even going to attempt the task.
But here's where it all gets very hairy.
There's this group called Jews For Jesus—who appear, I should point out, to be genuine messianic Jews, rather than non-Jewish Christians—and who apparently expend a large amount of effort on proselytising to Jews. And they've produced this video (which, according to Bob, has caused much hysteria amongst the ungodly; though my very-much-ungodly blog- and news-feeds show no signs of it).
Take a look.
Now, if that video were to have been produced by non-Jewish Christians, the decision would be a slam-dunk. We would quite rightly abhor it.
Which is where all that nuance and context stuff comes in. To an evangelical Christian, like the Boy Bobby, this is quite clearly a case of the ends justifying the means; people's souls are at stake, for (literally) Christ's sake! Anyone not still living in the dark ages, however, has a few, possibly uncomfortable, questions to ask.
On the face of it, this video appropriates the worst of the many horrors that the Jewish people have had to face, and uses it to tell observant Jews that they should convert to the very religion which has historically been the major cause of those horrors. It also (yet again) misappropriates scripture (The Songs Of The Suffering Servant in Isaiah) which clearly addresses the Jews exiled to Babylon, by treating it as if it refers to Christ as the Messiah. Which under normal circumstances is nothing more than a petty debating-point with fundies, but in this case, that scripture as originally intended is very pertinent to the more modern persecution of Jews (indeed, the situation addressed by it is very commonly used by Jews as a metaphor for, among other things, the Nazi holocaust), and to misuse it in such a fashion is disingenuous to say the least.
On the other hand, this has been done by people of the same culture, who've grown up under the shadow of those same horrors, with the same weight of history bearing down on them. And if anyone has the right to make holocaust-related metaphors, surely it's the people who such horrors have been visited upon. Which brings us back to that question of just what "culturally Jewish" actually means. Just how far can a person of Jewish descent deviate from usual Jewish cultural practice before they should be considered no longer culturally Jewish, but merely a person with many Jewish ancestors?
If the video's makers are to be considered no longer culturally Jewish, then it is, to be frank, a tasteless, highly offensive video which uses Jews' own history of persecution in order to further persecute them. No non-Jew has the moral right to use such images to target Jews.
If the video's makers are still to be considered in some way Jewish, then yes, as I see it, they do have the moral right to use their own culture's history of persecution in order to make a point. That it's a point I disagree with is neither here nor there. (They bloody well should know that their reading of Isaiah will, at the very least, be rejected out-right by practicing Jews though. Which makes that part pointless at best; and probably counter-productive.)
That's not to say, though, that the video isn't plainly and obviously tasteless and offensive, whoever made it. Because, yeah, it is. They should be ashamed. Having the right to do something doesn't make it the right thing to do. The only circumstances I can see that metaphor being a good one would be when addressing Christian anti-Semites.
Well whoop-de-doo, I've actually come to some sort of conclusion, though it's tentative, and I'm certainly willing to listen to alternatives.
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