Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Sunday Times and the Jewish Midrash (UPDATED)

One aspect of that Scarfe cartoon has so far, I think, escaped comment.

As my good friend, Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald, had written, the Passover festival has a special focus, a

...frequent emphasis on children, especially at the Passover seder...the Bible and the Midrash emphasize that the Egyptians singled out the Jewish children for persecution. Pharaoh instructs the midwives to kill all male children. 

The Midrash says that Pharaoh, a leper, bathed in the blood of Jewish children, had the Jewish children burned in Egyptian furnaces, and, if the Hebrew slaves failed to produce their quota of bricks, Jewish children were plastered into the walls to fill the gaps. *

The Egyptian strategy was to disrupt Jewish family life and prevent the birth of Jewish children. And, even when Pharaoh (Exodus 10:10) finally agreed to allow the Israelites to worship for three days, he would not allow the children to accompany the adults.

That Jews could be portrayed as placing Arabs, adults and children, into a wall being built when that wall is intended to bring Jews security from Arab terrorism, especially suicide-bombers who destroy themselves in their hatred, is to be so upside-down and backwards a reality that it boggles the minds of all humanists, of which the caricaturist is not.  Nor his editor.



With thanks to Rav Amnon Chedri.

From Midrash Shemot Rabbah 5:21, on the verse, "and you caused our savior to be abhorred..." but the Hebrew actually reads: "you caused our smell to become an offensive odor".  And the Midrash comments:

Rav Yochanan said: from the blows that they were struck, their smell became foul.  Resh Lakish said: from those [children] that they had sunk into the building, they died and their smell became foul. 

And from 2:5 [9], 

Such was the Egyptian oppression the most difficult in the world before the Holy One that He said 'oh how I have seen the poorness of my People'.  And what can be learned from this, that the verb 'to see' is said twice [for emphasis]?  That they [the Egyptians] would dunk the children into the river and then insert them under pressure into the building.

A comment I left at Salon.

Melanie Phillips has published:

...the assumptions behind the drawing of this cartoon flow directly from the intellectual sewage now poisoning British attitudes towards Israel and the Middle East.  The cartoon was monstrous because it portrayed Netanyahu as a psychopath using the blood of Palestinians to cement them into the evil wall he was building.  It thus fused antisemitic images and grotesque lies about Israel -- an infernal cocktail which is now the mandatory accessory of the British intelligentsia, even as this cocktail incites violence and mass murder by Arabs and Muslims across the world...

And Elliott Abrams ism after all, in America:


Blaming the Jews—Again
Dec 20, 2011

If you were an anti-Semite dedicated to spreading your hatred of Jews, what charges exactly would you make in 21st century America?

You would avoid the blood libel—too medieval to write of sacrificing Christian children to make Passover matzo.  That kind of stuff circulates in Arab lands or Pakistan, but won’t sell in suburban America. 

Martin Ivens said at a meeting with Jewish community reps:

“I’m grateful so many community leaders could come together at such short notice. You will know that the Sunday Times abhors anti-Semitism and would never set out to cause offence to the Jewish people - or any other ethnic or religious group. That was not the intention last Sunday. Everyone knows that Gerald Scarfe is consistently brutal and bloody in his depictions, but last weekend - by his own admission - he crossed a line. The timing - on Holocaust Memorial Day - was inexcusable. The associations on this occasion were grotesque and on behalf of the paper I’d like to apologise unreservedly for the offence we clearly caused. This was a terrible mistake.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

FYI http://www.jdl-uk.org/2013/01/fiyaz-mughals-faith-matters-tellmamauk.html

The wiki entry is also full of lies.